What a cruel joke life turned out to be. The world was going to hell- so much chaos, war, famine, political corruption, economic ruin and only he could change it.
Blurring display panels slowed to a halt. Atomically energized fluid that surged throughout the translucent bubble quickly calmed from hot raging orange to cool tranquil green.
Walker McNeel remained still until normal heaviness returned to his body, his nervous system ablaze with stinging throbs.
When he could remember where he was, and why, he touched the glowing plate labeled HATCH. A concealed latch clicked softly and the thick plexi-shield hissed slowly apart like a giant synthetic clam pretentiously displaying its treasure.
He coughed as unfiltered and unadulterated air filled his lungs, a rich bouquet of unrecognizable pleasantries.
Unaccustomed to the heaviness of his attire he stumbled stepping out onto the crusty earth. The costume should be accurate enough not to attract unwanted attention, at least until his task was accomplished.
It was, however, a personal mission, supported by no one, family or friends- few as that was. The major disappointment, though, was professor Dayton Halstead, his partner in developing the experimental craft he had just exited and Walker himself had christened the Day Walker project.
He squeezed a tiny disc then secured it in a hidden pocket. The hatch closed and the vehicle disappeared into a preprogrammed loop between now and three hours hence when it would reappear in this same spot.
If his calculations were anywhere near accurate that should be plenty of time.
He surveyed the area and saw no one then took inventory. One automatic stun pistol preloaded with a hundred jolts, one anti-grav bubble to secure his prey and two sonic immobilizer grenades which would render powerless for thirty minutes any living creature within four hundred yards- provided that they were not deaf. He inserted a small filter in each ear and could plainly hear an unseen jeering crowd.
Walker headed toward his destination just beyond the nearest rise.
From within the crowd he quickly spied his target. The man turned his head looking directly at Walker and his expression changed from one of great pain to sorrow, or maybe disappointment, it was impossible to tell.
Walker’s heart skipped as he held his breath. His tunic absorbed the dampness from his palms.
When he returned home with this charlatan and proved he was, is in fact, a fraud all the campaigns and conflicts in his name would cease and the World Concord Authority would surely place Walker in a position of privilege and power.
He made his way to the edge of the crowd lined street examining the mob. His clothing may be proper for this time and place, but his natural color was much darker than any of these sun-weathered natives and he was easily a head taller.
He thumbed the safety off the grenades, his fingers tingling to the gentle hum of standby mode.
The man again met Walker’s gaze then stumbled and fell.
This was his cue. With one hand on a grenade he stepped forward. A guard shouted something so quickly Walker could not translate, so he paid no heed. He ran to the battered man who was now on hands and knees in the dirt.
Before Walker could produce the bubble the man touched his arm. Electricity, or something, dazed his body.
The man spoke in a fatigued whisper, though each word eternally etched Walker’s mind and soul.
His heart froze then melted.
This time he understood the demands as the sentry lifted Walker off the ground.
Still stunned and no time to think Walker hoisted the cumbersome hand-hewn burden from the man’s stained shoulders and dragged it with effort to the top of a nearby hill.
Though Walker acted alone and without consent in this maneuver someday another misguided fool would attempt the same- or worse- if presented with the capability.
Walker looked once more upon the lifeless figure he had despised his entire life then return to his life’s work, closed the hatch, and wept.
His destiny now unmistakable he reprogrammed the Day Walker.
Instantly he recognized the lone figure bent over the familiar glowing console. He clutched the pistol in his pocket.
Walker called out his own name and his very image, except fifteen years younger, turned to stare shedding expressions of shock then disbelief then exhilaration and finally bewilderment.
Seconds of awkward silence passed before Walker spoke to himself, “We have to talk.”
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