Note: This was inspired by a friend who wanted to write a story about time-travelling agents.
Leo found himself drifting aimlessly at the outskirts of the park again, despite his vow not to do so. It was dangerous, especially given recent events. A small boy had been kidnapped some months ago, and the tabloids were still brimming with stories about him. Public outrage over an incompetent police force, passive politicians and lacking morals were abound ever since, and here he was, loitering on a saturday morning watching a five-year old girl play in the swings. He tried to look relaxed and carefree, as if he was simply enjoying the crisp november morning, but he knew he was being stupid and not just for that reason. It was dangerous because he was beginning to doubt himself. Sometimes he thought about filing a false report; ”Insufficient data to support action.”- it wouldn’t help, they’d just send someone else and when they thawed him out it would be done anyway and they’d eat his ass for breakfast, but at least his conscience would be clear.
Or would it? If they were right, if this really was her, then he could in a way be responsible for all those deaths, the years of political instability, the resulting civil war that would throw North America into disarray well into the 2070s. But then what if he filed his report, and they sent someone for her to get the job done. What then? All those deaths, all that chaos and bloodshed and sorrow would never happen. All those deaths, except one, that is. That would still make him an accessory to murder, wouldn’t it? A life is a life, right? He’d been throwing these questions at the empty, hollow halls of his brain for weeks, it was keeping him up at night. He’d never asked to do something like this, and until now the agency had never asked him to do anything like this either. Sit in judgement over a life, deciding whether a little girl should live or die at the gentle age of five, rather than fifty-five? Who could do that? Much more importantly, who could actually carry out such a sentence? He shivered; He’d met some of the terminators. He knew exactly who could carry out such a sentence.
Something hit his ankle. He looked down and saw a red ball. He craned his head back up and almost cried out in shock. Bright pink dress, pigtails and a face with wide-open eyes; A slight smudge on her left cheek from when she’d dug the ball out from some bushes or something- The ball had a similar splash of mud on it. It had been raining that night.
”Hi!” Leo stood in horror and panic as the little girl bent down to pick up the ball, then turned her attention back to him again with an uneven smile; She’d just lost a baby tooth.
”Hello.” Leo’s voice cracked.
”Why are you standing out here all alone?” Behind her Leo saw the father walking lazily towards them, muttering something about not bothering people. He’d never seen her up close before.
”I’m thinking about a friend of mine.” The words came involuntarily, but at least he hadn’t stuttered.
”What’s your friend’s name?”
”Sally.” The girl’s smile widened.
”That’s my name, too! What does your friend do?” Leo felt like he was floating.
”She’s a scientist.”
”Really?! When I grow up I wanna be a scientist, too!” Her father was nearly upon them now.
”And I bet you will be.”
”Come now Sally, don’t bother the nice man. Sorry about that sir.”
”It’s perfectly fine, thanks.” She cast another look over her shoulder, smiling and waving. And he waved back. Strangely, when he looked back on that day, the smile and the wave was when he decided to finally file his report. All the children who would never be born on the east coast of America because of her deserved life just as much as she did. It was simple math when it came down to it. In time, he learned to live with it. But he never stopped seeing her crooked smile at night. The smile of Sally Lebrowhich, the little girl who all of America would come to mourn after she, along with all her family, was murdered on February 25th, 2007 without ever knowing what her true destiny had been. Such a sweet legacy, compared to being the woman responsible for letting loose the mindlessly replicating machines that would turn five american major cities along with over twenty million people into a pulp of living grey goo.