Year 17

Chapter 16
Talking the talk

by E.Escher - 26th Jan 2017
Carmen smiled sweetly at the baffled assassin. She could almost see the little gears turning in his head as he tried to work out what had just happened.

'You hired somebody to steal my car?' he demanded.

A swing, and a miss! 'Nope, just bad luck, I guess. Was it something nice?'

'It was a Ferrari, you daft bitch!'

'Right? Sorry, I don't know what that is.'

Her computer understood the reference, and prompted her with some rapid-flash images. Apparently it was a desirable sports car, traditionally painted red.

Oops. Judging by the guy's expressions, everybody in this time was supposed to know what a Ferrari was. Terrific.

She rolled her eyes. 'I don't do cars, okay? Does it matter? I'm from the future!'

Brian opened his mouth to say something, but she raised a hand to cut him off. 'Yeah, you heard me. I'm a time traveller.'


She cocked her head as the street outside flashed blue, and a wail of sirens dopplered past them. The police might notice them and log a traffic collision on their communication system. That could work to her advantage. She just had to keep Brian talking.

'That's not even the freaky part,' she said. 'The freaky part is that I'm not even human.'

He gave her a flat look of disbelief. 'Oh yeah? What are you then, a time lord?'

'I don't think so. Hang on...' She waited for the computer to catch up. 'No. Not a time lord. Pretty sure that's not a real thing. We'd have noticed.'

There was a clunk from the front of the taxi as the driver took his opportunity to slip away. Brian turned and looked like he was going to shoot out the windows, but then decided his real targets were more important.

'Go on then, I'm listening.'

'I guess you'd call me a zombie. Well, technically. Former-human. We call ourselves Revenants, it's a long story. Short version, there's a virus in the future that corrupts a cybernetic implant in the brain... It's the future, brain implants are a thing, trust me. Anyway, it's a nanovirus, reprograms the human brain for super-violence, and after they apply the cure, well, things don't go back to normal.'

'So you're a time travelling zombie, from the future, with a thing in your brain?'

'More or less, yes.'

'Just so you know, the only reason I haven't killed you yet is because I'm still waiting for answers. Real answers, not this fairy-tale shite.' He turned his gaze to Colin. 'You're being very quiet over there, mate. Nothing to add?'

Colin shook his head. 'I'm only just learning this myself, since you ask.'

'And you believe it? Jesus Christ.'

'In my place, you'd believe it too.'

'Oh aye? And what place is that?'

Carmen grinned. 'I've found photographic evidence that Colin fought in both world wars.'

Brian laughed, a hard, brittle bark of sarcasm. 'Oh, that's perfect. So you're both time travellers?'

'Yes,' replied Carmen, just as Colin said 'No.'

'Come on, get your story straight. Which is it? Were you in the wars or not?'

Colin nodded.

'How did you manage that, then, eh? How is it you're here in the 2016 if you're not a time traveller?'

'The hard way. I'm immortal.'

Brian's eyes narrowed. 'Are you bulletproof?'

A shrug. 'I've been shot before. It hurts. Leaves a hole. I don't bleed much, and then it just stops.'

'Holy shit, you are a zombie. Is that why death follows you around like a pet? You're cursed damn monsters?'

Carmen frowned. 'Don't be silly. We're not cursed. The virus is a technological affliction, after which normal biological functions are maintained indefinitely. We're not sure how long Revenants live, it's a relatively new situation.'

Colin let out a long, heavy sigh. 'I've been here since 1732, probably longer.'

It was Carmen's turn to stare. 'That's nearly three hundred years!'

'I'm well aware of that.'

'That's, well, not actually impossible, obviously, but I never even considered... You must be the oldest Revenant in the world!'

'That sounds about right. I mean, I can't remember anything before that year, I figure I must have lost my memory. God knows how much longer I was around before that.'

Brian was out of his depth, and he clearly knew it. She gave him a smile.

'Might as well put the gun away, Brian. You're not killing anybody today.'

'That's what you think,' he countered. 'Zombies can die, you just have to shoot them in the head.'

'Works on zombies, not on Revenants. Our brains are mostly computer, and there's a lot of redundancy built-in.'

'What if I cut it off?'

'Cut my head off? Here in the car? For starters, mister professional killer, I'm a lot stronger than you, and for seconds, if my heartbeat stops for more than thirty seconds, the incendiary bomb implanted under my ribcage will reduce this car and everything in it to glowing ash.' She pulled a face. 'You wouldn't believe how much of my insides they took out to make room.'

'You're bluffing.'

'It's pretty draconian, sure, but my government doesn't do things by halves. We can't risk revealing our tech hundreds of years before it's invented; can you imagine the paradox that would make? Your culture is full of time travel movies, you've got to know the risks by now.'

'Those are just movies…' he began.

'Go on, what were you going to say? Time travel's not real? Haven't you listened to a word I've said?'

'At this point, I don't think I care whether it's real or not. I think I'll just put a bullet in both your heads and then get out of here before the thirty seconds is up.' He raised the gun and pointed it at her face. 'Thanks for the warning, by the way.'

Carmen slapped his hand aside, as hard as she could. The gun flew from his grip and smashed through the side window.

'Arrgh! My hand! You broke my hand, you freaky bitch!'

'Good. Colin? Be a dear, break his neck and let's get out of here before the police arrive.'

Colin raised an eyebrow, but that was enough of a prompt to get Brian moving. He leapt from his seat and shoulder-barged the door, opening it with his left hand and lurching away.

'You haven't heard the last of me!' he shrieked. 'This isn't over!'

Carmen chuckled. 'Feel free to tell everybody you know.' she called back. 'I'm sure they'll believe every word.'

Colin gave her a questioning look. 'Are you insane?'

'Mebbe a little. Does it matter? I scared him away. Now let's go follow him. I want to know who his bosses are.'
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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