PARADOX

By

Dana Bell

Didn't these fools realize in a few hours most of them would be dead? Miss Parker mused as she scanned the faces of the early Twentieth Century elite. Most of them were ridiculously dressed, jewels dripping from ears and necks, light wraps instead of the soon to be needed heavy coats. And damn those musicians. Her ears ached from the bouncy happy tunes they were playing.

Miss Parker fumed and cursed Jarrod for choosing a doomed ship to play hide and seek on as she burrowed further into her borrowed fur coat. The damp chill of the North Atlantic cut deeply into the heavy fur and pushed icy fingers through her long black hair. Her hand rested comfortably on her gun, slipped innocently into the deep pocket. Maybe she wouldn't shoot him. Maybe she'd just let him die of hypothermia.

Her dark eyes watched women and children being boarded into lifeboats. Most went reluctantly crying not to be parted from their husbands. Some of the children wept while others just appeared confused. She felt the touch of history for a moment and then returned to the business at hand. Finding Jarrod.

The Titanic was a very big ship. She had spent most of the last two days searching for her prey with whispers of his presence. She talked with someone who had just seen him on the grand staircase, while someone else swore Jarrod was sleeping in steerage.

Not for the first time did she berated herself for foolishly following Jarrod into the time machine he, and some young crazy scientist named Dr. Becket, had been working on. Undoubtedly, her elusive Pretender had planned this all along. When she finally captured him, she'd personally drop him into the ocean.

The ship began to list. She grabbed the shiney rail to keep from slipping. What she wouldn't give for a decent pair of tennis shoes instead of these of long heeled, button up boots. Her feet ached and she hated long, cumbersome skirts. How had women survived for so long in such unrealistic clothing? And all in the name of modesty.

Humpf. She wondered how they would have viewed her if she had been so foolish as to have been seen by any of them. Figuring out she was on the Titanic had only taken some simple observation and eaves dropping. Her two young lovers had helped, unknowingly.

She smiled at her memories. The two of them dancing swirling in each other's arms, her face lit up in laughter, his in delight. Briefly she frowned at the tail she spotted on the young woman. Miss Parker knew his type. He'd do anything for his master. Loyal, like a dog, to use an old cliché. She remembered seeing them later, kissing on the deck, keeping each other warm in the biting northern cold. Chunks of ice skated the deck, and Miss Parker knew it wouldn't be long before they'd start loading the lifeboats.

She saw the two then. The young blond man pushing the red haired woman toward a lifeboat. Her resisting, obviously not wanting to go. She spotted the loyal dog-man and his master. Anger burned in her. The woman would get into the boat and her lover would die. Most of the men did, according to the history books.

She knew that kind of loss. First with her mother's murder when she was a child, and then later, when Thomas had been killed. For some strange reason, she didn't want to see this young woman bear the same pain.

Miss Parker rudely pushed her way through the crowd. She shoved aside one of the Titanic officers, who's face registered shock. She didn't care. She overheard the two men reassuring the woman there was a boat on the other side waiting for them. It was a lie. Those boats were already gone.

She grabbed the young blond man by his collar and propelled him into the lifeboat.

"Madame!" an alarmed officer yelled, "only women and children. No men."

Gun in hand, she faced him. "Shut up. He's going."

"Madame," the officer began again.

"You don't have any idea how many die tonight." Miss Parker calmly responded. "You," she directed the men lowering the boats. "Get this lifeboat in the water."

They eyed her gun and obeyed. The dark haired man made a movement to get into the same boat.

"I don't think so." A male voice behind him stated. Jarrod grabbed the man and hauled him back.

"Are you crazy!" he shouted. "Do you have any idea who I am?"

"A rich man too big for his britches." The Pretender responded, smiling in his disarming way. "You just stay here until they're safely away."

"Hello, Jarrod." Miss Parker greeted him, delighted to have finally seen him, but annoyed he had helped her.

"Hello, Miss Parker." He took a small device out his pocket. "Ready to go home?"

Before she could answer, he pushed the red button. Bright blue surrounded both of them and the bone chilling cold she remembered feeling the first time filled her.

"Welcome back."

Miss Parker blinked her eyes. She found herself staring into laughing blue eyes.

"At least we know the retrieval process works." The man turned his head to address someone.

"Yes, we do." Jarrod agreed. "How do you feel, Miss Parker?"

"That's a stupid question." Wearily she sat up. She was sitting on a modern hospital bed still in her 1912 black dress.

"Congratulations. You just proved we can change history." The man stated.

Miss Parker wondered why he was so excited.

"Or did she correct it, Dr. Becket?" Jarrod asked.

Evidently that was a new concept. The young man paused and pushed a nervous hand through his short blond hair.

"I did some checking." Jarrod pulled out a computer disk and handed it to Dr. Becket. "In the original history, the one all of us remember, Jack Dawson died. In fact, other than Rose's memory, there was no record of him being on the Titanic. From what I learned of her life, she never told anyone until recently."

"And now?" Dr. Becket asked.

Jarrod smiled. He crossed the sterile white room and opened the metal door. An old woman entered, stately, her gray curls fashionably done. "I'd like you to meet Rose Dawson."

She smiled at all three and then zeroed in on Miss Parker.

"I'm so glad to see you."

A flood of confused memories hashed through her brain. In one set of her recollections, the Centre, her mother's death, her father's remarriage, Jarrod's escape and Thomas's murder. Superimposing over them were happy thoughts of a rainy afternoon in a cozy kitchen baking brownies with her mother, a calico cat named Sophie laying on her bed, her parents proud faces when she graduated college, her marriage to Thomas and the log home they had built in Portland.

A smile crossed her normally cold face giving it a softer look. Her dark eyes glanced at Jarrod unsure why she felt she should know him. He was only a scientist. Probably part of this strange project. Whatever it was.

She rose shakily to her feet and ran to embrace the old woman.

"I love you, my dear." Rose said as she hugged Miss Parker. Her old eyes met Jarrod's saying a silent `Thank you.'

He nodded. He understood.

Miss Parker pulled away and placed an arm around Rose's frail shoulders. "Let's go home, grandma."