Read Parts 1 – 4 HERE
* * *
Elle and Paul race to the alley, silently pondering whether their plan will actually work. When they arrive, Elle peeks down the alley. It appears empty.
“Okay, Paul. We have one shot. I don’t see Dr. Bruge, but we have to enter the alley together as he expects us to. When he comes out to confront you, I’ll move to Dr. Bruge’s side and do what we discussed, okay?”
“Where is he? What if he gets the jump on us?”
“Paul, he doesn’t have a weapon. We didn’t bring one over. However he plans on killing you, he has to get up close and personal to do it. You’ll be fine. I promise. Do you trust me?”
The look on Paul’s face makes Elle wonder if he is second guessing the whole plan. What if he runs?
“Yes. I trust you. Let’s get this over with.”
She beams at him, a feeling overtaking her that she hasn’t felt in years. It could all be over soon.
They slowly enter the alley. She takes note of their surroundings, awaiting the attack of Dr. Bruge. About halfway down the alley, she feels Paul tense as the nerves settle in.
“Where is he?” he whispers.
Elle has no time to answer as a brutal shove throws her to the ground. She turns to see Dr. Bruge smash a pipe into the back of Paul’s head. He falls to her side, out cold. She stares at Dr. Bruge in horror as rage takes over. She jumps up and grabs his arm.
“What are you doing, Elle? I have to finish this!”
“Sorry, Dr. Bruge. It’s over.”
She closes her eyes, forcing herself to concentrate on where and when she wants to go. She prays it will work. Dr. Bruge had always told her she couldn’t control her travels.
He had lied before. What if he had been lying about everything?
She feels the tug of the travel and opens her eyes to wilderness. She jumps back, away from Dr. Bruge. He gazes around them in shock.
“How on earth did you do that?”
“Quit the act, Dr. Bruge. You’ve been keeping secrets for far too long.”
“What do you mean, Elle? I’ve always been there for you!”
“Of course you have, when it serves your own purpose. I am not yours, Dr. Bruge. I am a person; a person with very wonderful gifts. I will not be manipulated by you any longer. You’re through in our world. I’ve seen to that.”
“What are you talking about, Elle? What crazy ideas has Paul filled your head with?”
“Stop it! I know everything, Dr. Bruge! I know how you found out about Paul’s vaccine and sent me to kill him. I know that you lied about the other traveler who supposedly died. I know you’ve lied about the full extent of my powers. Who knows what else you’ve lied about? I don’t care anymore. I’m through with you.”
Elle steps away and closes her eyes, preparing to return to Chicago. She has to get back to Paul as soon as possible.
“No! You can’t leave me here! I don’t even know where I am.”
He grabs her arm, but Elle shoves him to the ground again.
“It’s not so fun feeling helpless in an unknown place, is it Dr. Bruge? Every time I close my eyes, I have that feeling. I never know where I’m going to wake up or what I’m going to be asked to do. But that’s all about to change. Paul is going to fix me and any other traveler who wants to be fixed. We are no longer your puppets, Dr. Bruge. Good luck in your new world. Be careful of the natives. I hear they’re quite brutal.”
With a final smile, she closes her eyes and feels the tug. She senses Dr. Bruge trying to get to her but he’s too late. She opens her eyes to the alley and finds Paul on the ground, dead still.
A deep moan erupts from him, and she cries out, thankful that he is still alive.
“It worked,” she whispers into his ear. “I’m free.”
One Week Later
“How’s the head?”
Paul looks up, unable to stop the grin from spreading across his face as Elle bounces through the door of his shop.
“It was worth it.”
An unexpected silence engulfs them. He’s terrified of the next question.
“Have you made your decision?”
“I have,” she replies, “but I have a request.”
He takes her in his arms for possibly the last time.
“And what would that be?”
“I want to stay here. With you.”
His heart stops, not believing what she just said.
“What?! Are you sure? You’d be leaving everything!”
“Everything? What do I have? Dr. Bruge was one of the few people I had contact with back in my world. With him gone, I have no one. At least here, I have you. That world has nothing but bad memories and endless nights. I like it here. I want to stay. Can you do it?”
He laughs, pulling her closer. How could he feel so connected to someone he just met?
“Yeah, I can do it,” he says sheepishly. “I must confess that I made two vaccines, depending on where you wanted to stay. I must say that I think you’re making an excellent decision. When do you want to do it?”
“Yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough.”
He takes her hand and leads her to the back.
“Lie down on the couch. You’ll be out for a few hours as the vaccine works its magic.”
She stares at Paul as he readies the vaccine, thinking that she never imagined she could get to this point in her life, a point where she might actually get to be happy.
He turns to her, holding the syringe.
“I’ll ask you one more time. Are you sure about this? There is no turning back.”
“Are you kidding? Of course I’m sure. Now get over here and stab me with that thing, already!”
He laughs as he approaches her and kneels down to take her arm in his hand. She gazes at his face to avoid the needle and doesn’t even feel the pinch. It takes effect almost immediately and her eyelids begin to close. He leans in to her and grazes her lips with his.
“Are you ready to sleep, Elle?”
She barely hears him as she drifts off to sleep for the first time in twelve years, a smile dancing on her lips.