Year 19

Chapter 20

by E.Escher - 9th Feb 2017
Brian sat in silence as the Range Rover drove them through the outskirts of Manchester, presumably to some secret location. The man in charge, who'd called himself Harbinger, messed with his phone and paid Brian no heed whatsoever.

The driver drove, while the other man, presumably one of Harbinger's staff, watched Brian like a hawk from the passenger seat.

Brian managed to get a glance at the screen of Harbinger's phone, but it was all in foreign and he couldn't read a word.

The journey was mercifully short, and the car pulled onto a private driveway. Gravel crunched beneath the tyres as it swung into position at the front of a posh-looking brick mansion, all ivy-covered pillars and leaded windows. From a professional viewpoint Brian found the visible wealth unimpressive, but the cameras and overlapping viewpoints got his attention. This place was a fortress.

More guys came to open the doors, and everybody got out. Brian followed suit, since nobody told him not to. 'Nice place,' he remarked to one of the dark-suited goons. The goon didn't bother to reply, he simply gestured toward the front door, where two more men waited patiently.

Harbinger walked past him toward the door. 'Come on in. This shouldn't take too long.'

'It'd better not, I got stuff to do, people to kill.'

Harbinger gave him an arch look. 'I'm well aware of your mission. Who do you think sends you your objectives?'

Brian gave him a flat look in return. 'I honestly don't know, and so long as I get paid I don't particularly give a flying stuff.'

The older man beamed with approval. 'Good answer! This way, to my study. One of the goons hurried ahead and opened the door to a wood-panelled room. Brian bought up the rear, and dropped himself into a plush leather seat.

He waited for Harbinger to settle down in the chair behind the table. 'Why did you send me after Colin Campbell?' he demanded. 'How much do you know? About what he is, where he's from?'

'Aha, well, it's something of an embarrassment, now that you mention it.'


'We didn't send you that mission.' he actually blushed. 'Apparently a rival agency accessed the channel and placed several requests that just so happened to coincide with our encoded messages.'

'Somebody hacked your system?'

'That's what my IT people tell me. I've been trying to recall agents all day, we've got a dozen unsanctioned hits to pay out for, hits that nobody ordered. Do you know what this will do to us, professionally? If word of this gets out our reputation will be ruined.'

Brian scowled. 'You think somebody is doing this to ruin your reputation?'

'It's the most likely possibility. The odds of some civilian making those calls by accident are millions to one.'

The floor dropped out of his stomach. 'Millions to one, eh? Do the requests get recorded?'

'Of course. We log everything. That's how we know the call was made from here in Manchester.'

'It was a woman, wasn't it?'

Harbinger looked at him sharply. 'How do you know that?'

'Call it a lucky guess. What's the odds, you think, fifty-fifty?'

'Guessing male or female? There are probably other factors, but it's either one or the other, so fifty-fifty is close enough, yes.'

'I bet she sounds like she's in her twenties, too. How's that for a guess.'

Harbinger sat up straight in his chair. 'You know who it is! Who did this? Who's she working for?'

Brian glared. 'I know who it was, and I was on my way to shoot her when you picked me up. I was this close.' He held up a thumb and forefinger to illustrate. 'She was buying chips with my target, maybe 200 yards down the road.'

'You were going to kill her?'

'That's what you pay me for, remember? I kill people.'

'What I pay you for is following orders. You're valuable to us because you only kill when I tell you to. We don't need killers, we need professionals. No, we need this girl alive, to find out what she knows.'

'She doesn't know anything about the organisation, she's just a girl with a run of peculiar luck.'

'You suggest this woman made those calls by accident? We run a radio station with no advertising, playing old unpopular songs by little-known artists, and she chooses, at random, a track that we have encoded with secret information?'

'It had to happen sooner or later, right?'

'No. Normally our DJ would ignore requests from any outside source.'


Harbinger bit his lip. 'He was unwell that night and asked a friend to stand in for a few hours.'

'And I'm guessing the friend didn't know that particular rule.'

'He did not, but that is irrelevant! This woman called in sixteen song requests, one after the other, and every one ended up triggering a sanction order. Sixteen out of a library of millions of unedited songs.'

Brian turned this over. 'That doesn't make sense. Are you telling me you had a golden oldie track specifically prepared with the order for me to kill my mate Colin?'

'Don't be ridiculous, that's not how it works at all. Each track contains encoded segments which, if read as part of a greater whole, can contain very detailed instructions.'

'So the odds of somebody picking that one radio station to listen to, and calling in requests the one time that there's a stand-in DJ manning the post, and then those songs being the particular elements needed to complete a bunch of assassination orders...?'

'Are unfathomable.'

'And the odds of one of those orders saying that I should kill my mate, with additional notes that he's a trained combatant, protected by an enemy operative, and that he'll go to ground if I don't kill him on the first try?'

Harbinger looked impressed. 'It said all that? That's rather verbose, as random chatter goes. I had my team decipher the messages sent out, to find out who the targets were.'

'So you could stop them?'

'In some cases, yes, if the ramifications are far-reaching, or the bill too high to bear. Some of the smaller kills, like your associate Mister Campbell, well, I decided to let them go ahead.'

Brian frowned. 'But you stopped me before I could do it. What changed your mind?'

'Our initial search came back empty. Inconsequential, irrelevant. We let you kill him, it's not a big job, won't cost us much, not worth the hassle of trying to stop you.'


'And then our american friends came back with the results of our image search. Facial recognition, a wonderful new technology, lets computers sift through millions, billions of images to find our targets. According to photographic evidence, your friend Campbell fought in the second world war.'

Brian kept his face carefully neutral. 'He's in his mid-thirties.'

'In the photo we found, he was in his mid-thirties. We also found a photograph of him serving in the first world war. He looks the same in both photographs, so of course we assume they are fake. An elaborate hoax.'

'That's what I'd think, too.'

'Would you really? I think you know better. You have a terrible poker face, so let's make this easier for both of us. Tell me what you know, and we can go about the rest of our evening in peace.'

Brian grimaced. 'I could tell you what she told me, word for word, and you wouldn't believe any of it.'

'I might. Try me.'

'Okay, I'll tell you. I'll tell you the whole bleedin' mess, but first, I could use a drink. Whisky if you've got it.'

Harbinger raised a brow, but relented and gave a small nod to the goon by the door. 'Bring two glasses, and the bottle. I think our man has something to get off his chest.'

Brian sat stubbornly silent, arms folded across his chest. This guy clearly thought he was something important, but for all his security nobody had bothered to divest him off his handguns. He had sixty-six rounds. He didn't know how many staff he had, or how many were armed, but it was reasonable to assume he could fight his way out of this place if things turned sour.

The whisky arrived, and the goon poured out two glasses. Brian took the glass nearest the older man, and took a sip. 'You like crazy stories, Harbinger? Our man Colin is some kinda cursed creature. Every hit I've made for the past couple of years, you thought I was making them look like accidents and suicides.'

'Yes. We paid you some quite substantial bonuses, according to our records.'

'Those accidents and suicides really were accidents and suicides. Every last one.'

'I find that exceedingly unlikely.'

'Yeah, me too. It freaked me out for the longest time, until I finally made the connection.'

'Mister Campbell?'

'Aye, Colin. I kept him nearby for each hit, and every single target was dead when I arrived on the scene.'

That got his attention. 'You've been taking our money under false pretences?'

Brian shrugged. 'All I ever did was report dead targets. I never claimed credit for anything, your system doesn't give us any way to do that. The target dies, we send the signal, we get paid.'

'All right. Say I believe you so far. It's fanciful, but I'm still listening. How does the woman come into this?'

'Well, whatever this thing is that Colin does, he doesn't know he's doing it. I figure he's my lucky charm, making life easy. Turns out this girl, she's the same. They create coincidences, wherever they go, and now there's two of 'em in the same place, at the same time, so when it comes to coincidences, all bets are off.' He drained the rest of his glass. 'Anything can happen.'

'So they cause coincidences? How does that happen? What are they? How can this be possible?'

'They're time travellers.'


'The girl said she's from the future. Time travel.'

Harbinger frowned. 'And the man? Campbell?'

'Him too, yeah.'

'Is that how he ended up in the wars? As a tourist?'

'No, heh, I think he went way way back and got stuck, somehow. The year seventeen-something, I don't remember.' He reached for the bottle and poured himself another glass. 'That's the other thing with these two; they're not human. They're some kind of zombie. Basically immortal. Colin's been thirty-five years old forever.'

'Immortality. Huh. Are you saying these future people can cure death as well as travel through time?'

'Naw. Something happened to 'em in the future, some disease, and the cure left 'em not quite human anymore. She said it was some kind of techno-virus thing. She said their biological functions were maintained indefinitely, which I guess means they live forever.'

'But they can be killed. You were on your way to kill them, you said.'

'I was going to give it my best shot. At the very least I was going to mess them up so bad they couldn't keep it a secret anymore.' He clenched his fists. 'Time travellers! Who knows how many of them have been coming back and messing things up? Who knows what they've been doing? We don't know who they are and we don't know what they're doing.'

Harbinger sat back, his expression thoughtful. 'You're not the first person to be paranoid about the possibility of time travel. After seeing these photographs of Colin Campbell I did a little digging, and it seems the internet is full of people doing their own image searches, finding bizarre matches separated by decades, or even centuries. Ancient photos of people supposedly using mobile phones.'

'But those are hoaxes, right? Those conspiracy nuts are, well, nuts.'

'Oh without a doubt, but if there's a nugget of truth behind their theory, how would we ever know? How many times have they come back to fix things? If somebody were to find solid evidence, some conclusive proof of visitors from the future, the game would be up, we'd be alert to the possibility. Secret task forces would be set up. It wouldn't be safe for them to visit any date after the discovery.'

'Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I can't do anything about the ones who've already been here, but if I can blow the secret wide open it'll put a stop to any more of 'em. The future will be safe.'

'Foolish boy. You're talking about time travel like it's a linear process. Events that are sequential to us are not sequential to them. If I found proof today, they could simply travel back to yesterday and erase that proof before I find it.'

Brian frowned. 'But if you never found the proof, why would they need to come back? That's a paradox, isn't it?'

'It might not be, if they had a policy of cleaning up after themselves, and I imagine their image-matching technology is far more advanced than ours.'

'So you think the secret could have been found already?'

'And retrospectively erased prior to discovery? Yes, if any of what you're saying is the truth, then this is the only reasonable extrapolation of events. In fact, I think I may have saved your life.'

'No! My plan would have worked. Killing these two is the only way to get noticed.'

'They would have sent another agent to stop you, perhaps fatally. They could have poisoned your morning coffee, and then nothing you've done today would have happened.' He pursed his lips. 'Although, given the reports, that might actually benefit everybody.'

Brian just glowered at him in response.

'There is some good news, though, regarding these meddlers from the future. It seems obvious they can't change too much of their own history.'

'Yeah, else I expect baby Hitler would have died a thousand ray-gun deaths by now.'

'I was referring more to the fact that if they change their own past too wildly they might never actually invent time travel. So, for example, if they have some horrible infection that turns people into zombies, they could go back and prevent it from happening, but for some reason they don't. Likewise Hitler, and any number of other historical atrocities.'

'Unless they have stopped a bunch of atrocities and tin-pot dictators, and we just don't know about it.' He frowned. 'These paradoxes are making my head hurt. How do they get around it in Doctor Who and stuff?'

Harbinger raised a brow. 'The time lords are an alien race from the other side of the galaxy, and they discovered time travel millennia ago. Nothing that happens on Earth would affect their own timeline in the slightest.'

'Oh. You actually watch Doctor Who, then?'

'I have grandchildren.'

'Right. So you think me attempting to kill these two is a bad idea? Because, I figure, if they can't undo somebody like Hitler, it's because he made a big impact. And I think the nearer we get to their own time, the harder it'd be to put things right if they alter my future.'

'You mean if they kill you, and you're destined to kill a whole lot of people in the future, that causes a lot of damage to the timeline.'

'That's how I see it. Whether they like it or not, I made a pretty big impression on a lot of people, and I aim to keep on doing so.'

'I'm more interested in capturing these two. Do you think you could hurt them enough to take them alive?'

Brian folded his arms. 'I don't do capture.'

'Very well. I'll send some of my men to accompany you.'

'Oh, so now I can go back to my job?'

'Yes, and this time I expect you to come back here and make a full report, in person. God speed and good luck.'
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
30 Apr 24, 03:15
Michale Anivitti says:
Hi We noticed your website is only listed in 9/2,500 directories. We have a service that lists your company in all the directories globally. It supports all countries, all services, to boost your SEO and get you those high quality back links that directories offer. We have a promo running for a one time fee of $99 Visit us on to get listed.
25 Apr 24, 02:03
Annett Brookins says:
Hi, Do you have a digital product you would like to see promoted for free? Do you target companies with your product? We promote your product for you on a commission basis. Come check us out:
24 Apr 24, 00:02
Leroy Murry says:
Hi, If I can tell you exactly which Businesses (B2B) visited your website today - would you be interested? Here is what I mean. You get 100 visitors today. 2 of them fill out your form. 1 of them calls you. 97 of them are gone forever... Until Now. Our software can track: -Who was on your website -How they got there -What keyword they searched -Their Name, Phone and Email address. Don't lose any more leads or sales opportunities. We've been in business since 2015 with clients around the world. Interested? Send me your name and number for a no cost demo on YOUR website. Regards, Website Detective Don't Miss Any Opportunity.
19 Apr 24, 19:35
Alonzo Brand says:
Hi, Do you have a digital product you would like to see? Do you target companies? We promote your product for you on a commission basis. Come check us out:
19 Apr 24, 05:44
Brenda Seamon says:
Hi, I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out to you today to discuss logo products and apparel for your business. Quick question: Who would be the best contact to discuss your company logo products and apparel such as: -Printed T-shirts -Logo mugs -Branded water bottles -Custom USB flash drives -Logo pens -plus 300,000 other products for your business With over two decades of experience in the promotional products industry, our company is dedicated to helping businesses like yours leave a lasting impression. Our wide range of custom-branded merchandise is designed to elevate your brand, foster customer loyalty, and drive sales. From captivating trade show giveaways to thoughtful employee incentive programs and impressive corporate gifts, we have the expertise to create unique promotional items tailored to your specific needs. Our team of promo product specialists will guide you through the entire process, from selecting the perfect items for your business to designing and creating custom logos that speak to your brand identity. As your one-stop-shop for branded merchandise, we ensure top-quality finished products are delivered right to your doorstep, making the process seamless and hassle-free. Let's connect and explore how our promotional products can enhance your brand awareness and fuel business growth. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you soon. Best regards, Creative Specialist Branded Products
17 Apr 24, 03:47
Buddy Benson says:
Hello, We noticed your domain: is listed in very few directories. Directories have a very high Page Rank Score and provide really good back links Company visit us on Company Registar and list your domain in all the directories.
25 Mar 24, 18:45
Rowena Walden says:
Hi, Want thousands of clients? We have compiled a list of all consumers and business's across 149 countries for you. We have a special that is running today and valid till the end of the day. Come check us out: Consumer Records: 294,582,351 Business Records: 25,215,278 Selling at $99 today only.
1 Mar 24, 06:48
Leonie Epperson says:
Hi We noticed your website is only listed in 12 out of 2500 directories. This has a severe impact on your online global presence. You can get listed in all 2500 directories for a once off fee of $99 Come visit us on
8 Feb 24, 03:37
Pasquale Frost says:
Hi, LeadsFly is a lead provider for companies all over the world. We provide high quality fresh leads for all business types, we are collecting new leads for all interested parties daily. Leave us a request or check out the data we have on hand for instant delivery. Visit us here:
1 Feb 24, 14:35
Gabriella Quintanilla says:
Hi veritycomic We are proud to present our new website for all your B2B and B2C data and advertising needs. We offer a large range of products and to assist you in getting ahead this new yeah with better advertising and reaching more clients in your specific niche. Our products include all of the following: We provide a free live search on site so you can see the amount and type of data we provide. Pre-compiled B2B and B2C data sets with all the necessary fields\columns included to assist you reach your clients. If we do not currently have the data you are looking for we are also willing to assist with custom data collection. Mail servers setup for you able to send over a million mails per day or as per your specifications. “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” Henry Ford. Regards,
31 Jan 24, 20:02
Sophia De Vis says:
It's About Time For You To Learn Effective Facebook Marketing!
29 Jan 24, 20:08
Chloe Hermann says:
Hey! Come test out our beta project and come get your free business leads. Regards, Chloe
22 Jan 24, 18:19
Errol Agar says:
Hello, Happy new year! Get your 25 Million Free Companies database from us!
10 Jan 24, 13:25
Lisa Cooper says:
Hello, has made available our Google Maps Database for everyone. I am shutting down the company to spend more time with my family. I wish you a prosperous new year! Lisa Cooper
21 Nov 23, 22:37
Lynette Tyrrell says:
Hi, is only listed in a 8/10,000+ Directories We have a black friday deal going on at the moment to get your website listed in all 10k+ for $19.95 Visit us on
21 Oct 23, 13:33
Andrea Griffin says:
Hello, We noticed is only listed in 8 out of 2500 directories. This severly impacts your backlinks and search engine rankings. Come get listed in all 2500 directories on
8 Oct 23, 21:50
2 Oct 23, 18:31
Harley Nicholas says:
Hey! Want some free leads or data for your business? Visit us:
12 Sep 23, 05:24
5 Sep 23, 21:21
Eva Harbison says:
Hello, your website is only listed in 8 out of a possible 3142 directories. We offer a service where we list you in all the directories, thereby boosting your online presence. <a href="">Visit us here</a>
19 Jun 23, 01:51
Vaughn Mahomet says:
It is with sad regret we are shutting down. We have made all our leads available for a one time fee on Regards, Vaughn
18 May 23, 06:19
Jefferey Hugo says:
Hi, Your website is only listed in 8 out of a possible 12,489 directories. We are a service that lists your website in all these directories. Please visit us on to find our more. Regards, Jefferey Hugo
1 Apr 23, 21:24
Kristina Mahn says:
22 Mar 23, 04:03
Lauren Barker says:
Hello, we visited and noticed you do not have a mobile application. We have a service that provides mobile Apps to companies just like yours. You can learn more by visiting us on Regards, Lauren
18 Feb 23, 11:27
Cyrus McConnan says:
Hello, is shutting down. We have made available all our leads in 145 countries at a one-time fee. Visit us on
16 Jan 23, 10:40
15 Jan 23, 20:57
14 Jan 23, 15:40
Crystle Tse says:
Hello, We noticed you are only listed in 18 out of a possible 10k+ directories. You can view your ranking here: Get more traffic, leads and sales by having your business rank high on search engines. We've automated everything that we possibly could to make submitting your website a breeze. Visit us on and get submitted 10k+ directories.
14 Nov 22, 06:03
13 Nov 22, 16:17
Latest comic: