The End

The metronome clicked at the required intervals as Kai completed her pre-travel report. She had no idea how many times she had completed this same activity in her lifetime. Her life was not the focal point of a single timeline now. Kai happened throughout time, completing this same activity when she finished what she was asked to start along one point in time before traveling to another, thus requiring another pre-travel report, or a PT as referred to by all field agents of Traveler’s Quest, Inc. The only consistency in Kai’s timeline was that Cole Rainier was present at every point in time she landed in this plain white box of a room for PT completion.

“I see you are not quite done yet with your pre-travel report. Are you feeling fatigued from your most recent activity?” Cole walked up on Kai like he always did. She could hear his self-important breathing before he even spoke.

“How would I know? I don’t remember what I did. I only fill out PTs. I assume someone else is collecting the results of what I did last,” Kai snapped.

“Fair enough. You wouldn’t be here though if you didn’t want to be. This is your choice.”

“What made you think I was complaining? I’m just stating a fact. I was simply having a moment wondering how many PTs I have filled out.”

“I could tell you, Kai, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t mean much other than a number to satisfy your sudden curiosity. Curiosity is the first sign of burnout in our agents according to a recent study,” Cole said as he shifted his substantial weight from one foot to the other and placed a hand on his hip.

“No need to get bothered by my curiosity, Cole. It is not that important. You should be more worried about me finishing this PT before the metronome hits my travel click.”

“I was simply checking on your well-being. We do care about our agents here at Traveler’s Quest. The world needs your service to determine how The End arrived. It is the only way we will find The Begin Point.”

“So you say. I would very much like to be the agent that finds Begin Point.”

Cole stepped away without further word at this. He was skilled at talking in generalities or disappearing when it came to a discussion regarding the purpose and importance of agent work. Kai was sure it also had something to do with his strong concern over agent burnout. She quickly averted her mind back to the PT in front of her as time was waning based on the clicks, which she learned to count in the background like a concert pianist.

She took her chipped hand with her assignment in it, held it to her empty report screen, holding her hand there until her PT populated. The next step was to review her PT assignment and agree to it by once again touching her chip to the screen.

Kai found it odd sometimes that there really did not appear to be a clear process for disagreeing with the assignment. She always just agreed to what was in front of her. Today should be no different until she started to read the screen.

“For this assignment, you will be sent back to 2020 on the afternoon of October 10. You will report to a bar called The Green Door in Lansing, Michigan on the night of October 10, 2020. You are a waitress named Kate at this bar, and you will report there for your shift at 21:00. You have a vial of poison in the travel pack on your right thigh. You will empty this vial in the drink of Cole Rainier, your customer, at approximately 23:00. He will die. You will leave. PT complete.”

Kai gasped and looked around the room in vain for anything which could be recording her or provide some sign of how to reject this PT. Had she been asked to kill before? And why would Traveler’s Quest want one of their own dead? If they she and Cole were here working, they were part of the solution to get to Begin Point, not a part of the problem that led to The End.

Kai started to scream just as her metronome hit the travel click, and her world went black.

She is Water

She is water,

Flowing, dripping, dropping, water-falling.

Washing the inequity from the streets of

your indifference.

She’s a tidal wave, a force to level out

the wrong done upon her sisters.

The tides are made of her opinion.

You can bathe in her beauty, her fresh, pure springs.

She crashes, white, frothy surf, commanding

the attention of her audience on the beach.

She is holy water. She is nature.

You must drink her for life.

She is water,

Cascading, swirling, drowning in strife.

Mimi: Part 1

I watched tentatively as she let her cigarette dangle out of the side of her mouth and ash while she cooked a substandard meal. I don’t think she heard me when I said I didn’t like mushroom soup. She was not helping her case as she worked to stir the salty, gelatinous blob in a soup pan while burning some grilled cheese to dip into it.

My grandparents seemed to have a lot of this soup though from a ten for eight dollars sale at Publix. I was only here for two weeks, and Mimi was trying her best to be a Grandma. I knew she would prefer to do hair and nails in her back salon rather than tend to my care, especially since I arrived ill, unkempt, and sad.

I was interrupting the weekly gossip collection from her elderly clients on the island. As she gingerly cut and styled what remained of their hair, they were more interested in whom Mimi’s bookish granddaughter from Michigan was dating. For once in my plain life, I could count two young men in the mix. They were also the reason I ran away for two weeks to the exhausting heat and solitude of Anna Maria Island.

I always wondered what it would be like to travel back in time to my grandmother’s salon in Detroit. I could see from the old photos she was pinup gorgeous, and her nails were always perfectly manicured and painted. I was currently somewhere between goth and grunge, and I’d prefer to pick at my nails versus painting them. I had big plans, and they did not involve being a pinup or small business owner. I still appreciated the glamour of Mimi. Even with time marching against her, she had a way of preparing and carrying herself that called for your attention.

It was already in the nineties today, and there was a minimal breeze coming in from the waters of Tampa Bay across the street. I finished what I could of the misbegotten lunch when Mimi asked me what I would do for the rest of the day. I think she was ready for me to venture out on my own for a bit.