I don't own Crime Traveller; it's been a while.
Please let me know what you think.
The Second Time Machine.
The cold was beginning to get to her, but Holly wasn't really thinking about that. She was numb (no freezing pun intended, she was trying not to think about the fact this room was in effect flash-freezing her alive, just as she was trying not to imagine how long it would take before somebody actually ventured to this part of Webb's damn scientific empire, found her and called the police) with shock.
Stephen was the killer, he had murdered Chapman and Haywood, two scientific experts…but why? What was the point? What was going on? That was shocking enough, the most shocking thing she had learnt was Stephen had a time machine!
Holly supposed it made a degree of sense; after Danny's slip, which she had not really paid much attention to although now she thought about it in detail - it really was amazing how ones' life flashed by and you could see things so clearly in hindsight - Stephen had seemed desperate to get away from the friendly caretaker of the block of flats she lived in.
She hadn't paid it much heed at the time, but she had been so excited to show Stephen the time machine, Holly hadn't paid it any attention but it had registered in her mind; if she had been more objective, just like she had been when she had reluctantly revealed the machine to Slade, she would have questioned it. But she hadn't.
Still, Stephen had shown a suspiciously strong knowledge about the workings of the machine, but Holly had been working with Slade long enough to make logical deductions (Holly might get frustrated by Slade's now dependent use of the time machine nowadays, but despite that when he was given enough clues on something, he made the leaps in the sequence to make perfect sense out of it all; it made sense she would have picked up on a few of the details) like she had when they'd helped clear his name after he'd been framed for the theft of those diamonds.
When Stephen had pulled out that gun in her own car, startling her, Holly realised he was the killer. But during the drive to the Webb Biotech facility, Holly had both been concentrating on the road ahead, and the revelation of what Stephen had been doing. But it hadn't made any sense; if Stephen had been the murderer, and if he was the one who had shot Slade, as Slade had pointed out, then how could he have done it?
How could he have committed those murders and yet he had been somewhere else at the same time?
How could he have attacked Slade, only to get injured himself, and yet not have a mark on him?
The answer had been obvious, but Holly had just refused to accept it. Stephen just could not have a time machine. He couldn't and yet she remembered how he had identified the collection of parts, wires, crystals that were in her flat as a time machine. She also remembered how he had known so much about the workings of the machine, the photon rods and his question about whether or not she could control the timeline, his eagerness for her to take him back in time a bit, his understanding of the electromagnetic crystal and how he knew the damage to it would make the time machine useless…
But what had worried her the most was how Stephen had kissed her, and that was startling because why she was attracted to him…she did not like him that way, and she had realised how wrong it was to kiss him, but that worried her the least compared to how he seemed determined to use time travel for fame.
Stephen made that same observation when they'd gotten out of the car, and Holly had been unable to deny the truth, no matter how much she wished she could have done. Stephen had access to a time machine; that was how he knew of the photon rods, and it explained a great deal about why he had decided to kill her.
She knew too much. If he had a time machine, and he wanted to use it to gain wealth, fame, then it would make sense he would want to keep it to himself; her machine might not be working anymore since the electromagnetic crystal had cracked, but if Holly had really wanted to, she could have revealed the existence of the time machine to the world.
In fact, Holly would have done and Stephen knew that only too well. Time travel had been her father's life work. He had pioneered the machine after he discovered how tachyon particles could create a wormhole, which would 'rewind' time back. He had spent so long experimenting with the time machine and learning about the laws of time from scratch.
Stephen hadn't; she had no idea how he had built the time machine, even with Webb Biotech's resources - he was capable, but she had never realised he had planned to build a time machine, even though she knew he had the resources and likely some technical knowledge to make it possible - but after what she had learnt he had been doing with her father's science and knowledge, she had felt physically sick.
As she hung like a slab of meat in the cold room, Holly cursed herself for being so easily taken by Stephen. She wished she had Slade's talent in self-defence, otherwise, she would not be in this mess. But at the same time, if she wasn't hanging like this then she would never have reached these realisations.
No, she wished she hadn't pushed him away, not after all they'd been through, but in this case, he had seemed so threatened by Stephen that she'd considered him petulant and childish; what made it worse was Stephen hadn't done anything wrong. Or so she had thought at the time, but now she knew he was a time traveller, and he was using his machine to cover up his crimes which made her angry since it was her father's own work he was wrecking, Holly just wished she had listened…
Was someone outside? She thought she could hear her name, but that couldn't be, not so soon.
For a moment she thought she had been hearing things, but Holly forced the cold away and she almost screamed for joy when she saw Slade's face in the door window.
"Slade!" She managed to say after a few failed attempts, it was so cold in here she was stuttering. "Slade, help me!"
Slade left quickly, likely to find something to open the door. She heard something metallic knock against the outside of the door, and she spotted Slade's trademark and eye-watering suede jacket in the window, but she didn't know what he was using to try to get her out, but Holly genuinely did not care if he used a battering ram which it sounded like to get in…
Through the door and over the alarm which registered the freezing temperatures, Holly could hear the sound of something metallic hitting the ground and she saw Slade's form bend down through the window and pick something up before he was back at the door again. This time he got it open, wrenching off the lock in the meantime - she thought she saw a bar of metal in his hand, but she didn't care what it was, and he rushed into the room looking around desperately for something for him to use to cut her free. She heard his teeth chattering in the cold of the freezer.
Finally, he found a pair of scissors and cut her loose before he wrapped his arms around her while she spluttered and coughed with relief; she hoped she was not coming down with a cold. Holly sighed with relief when she felt the miracle of heat, before he gently pulled her out of the room, keeping her wrapped in his arms.
Holly squinted in the daylight, but while Slade pulled her out of the Webb biotech facility, something didn't make any kind of sense.
How did Slade find her so quickly? By her own personal sense of time, she had only been inside that freezer for five minutes, and she had left the office an hour ago. How had he caught up with her so fast?
"How did you find me?" She asked giving in to her curiosity. "You couldn't have found me…. You've time travelled?" She said, catching sight of the car in her peripheral vision; it was a BMW, and totally different from the car Slade usually drove.
"Yeah," Slade said.
"With his machine-."
"No, it wasn't his machine," Slade said making her look at him in confusion. So many things were happening all at once, not only had an old ex-boyfriend of hers almost tried to kill her by freezing her to death, she had learnt there was another time machine in the area, Holly was having a hard time concentrating on it.
"Chapman and Haywood built it," Slade explained as he opened the car door and gently set her down in the passenger seat. Holly was reminded of the times she had been a toddler, and her parents were strapping her in… "There we are. I'll see if there's something in the boot," Slade said referring to her shivering before he left.
Holly nodded her thanks. "Okay," she shivered, hugging herself slightly, but it was no use she was just too physically cold.
"They were moonlighting at Webb's expense," Slade called while he opened the boot and came back with a tartan patterned blanket. He bent down and he gently wrapped her around in it. Holly smiled at him, thinking it was sweet of him to do that, especially after the way she'd treated him recently but she had the feeling he couldn't see it.
In any case, she was too busy thinking about what she'd just heard. It made sense in a way; Stephen was good, but Holly could now see he couldn't have built such a machine by himself without help. And then she realised something important.
"He was helping them," she stated through her shivers, knowing that while Chapman and Haywood had the technical and scientific ability needed to recreate her father's machine, he would be the one with the experience.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Slade snorted sarcastically, though she couldn't blame him after what Stephen had done to the two scientists and he spoke while he fixed the blanket around her shaking body, "when they finished it, he killed them, using the time machine to give himself an alibi. And he used it again when he tried to kill me. Alright?" He added, looking at her with a smile, but she could see his worried expression.
"Yes," she hissed through her chattering teeth while her mind went over everything she had learnt.
Slade nodded and he stood up, closing the door and headed to the driver's seat.
"You shot him," she said when he got into the driver's seat, remembering something from Slade's earlier accusations towards Stephen, how he had been lured somewhere and shot at only to shoot back at his attacker, and how there wasn't any kind of gun wound on Stephen when he was examined. If he had a time machine, and he was injured during the time travel…
"Yes, whilst he was time travelling and when he back to the present the wound had cleared up. You okay?" Slade finished while she nodded in relief; she could feel herself getting warmer even though they weren't moving but she felt better. But Holly was too busy thinking of what she had just heard, both of them remembering how they'd sometimes been injured when they'd travelled through time on their cases, or in Holly's case, her controlled experiments in order to better expand her father's work. On one of those tests, she had done was to cut herself with a broken piece of glass from a beer bottle. It had been a deep cut which was what she'd been aiming for, but when she got back to the present the wound was gone. She didn't even have a scar.
Slade leaned over and fixed the blanket around Holly's neck; there was no doubt in her mind at all he would turn on the car's heating system full blast to thaw her out. But her mind was on what she knew what Stephen had done.
She could see how it was all part of a big plan; Stephen would use Chapman and Haywood to build the time machine, giving as much expertise as he could while they built it and tested it. When they were finished he killed them so they couldn't lay any kind of claim to it, but when he had discovered she had a time machine of her own, Stephen had ignored their old friendship and he'd chosen to kill her to get rid of the competition.
Suddenly something serious occurred to her. "How long have you got?" She demanded desperately.
"Til you have to be back at the machine," Holly clarified; she didn't doubt for an instant Stephen's time machine was superior to her own and could allow him or anyone else to travel back further than hers could on a good day, but the principle it worked by was identical.
Slade's eyes widened as he reached into his pocket and drew out a silver digital timer which was more sophisticated than the bulky strappy watch they were used to. "Urgh, twelve minutes!" He said sheepishly and worriedly.
Holly leaned back in her chair and let out a frustrated huff. "Why do you always leave it so tight?"
Slade grinned at her and he quickly started the car. As they drove at breakneck speed towards Webb Biotech, Holly wondered what was going to happen when they reached Webb, but Stephen could not use the time machine when Slade had the clock but he was still dangerous.
She only wished there was another, better way.