SPOILER ALERT – only read this AFTER you’ve read the book.
This chapter didn’t make it into the final edit because I ended up liking the characters Josh had created and I wanted to leave the door open for more Adam and Bree adventures. In the earlier version of the story there are two things you need to know before reading this:
1. Bree didn’t use the door handle to fight her way out of the cell and still had it in her pocket,
2. Jackson had provided Bree with a small dose of Rippa to soothe her time travel symptoms. That is the package she finds in her pocket in this scene.
Nothing had changed.
Her son had sacrificed himself for nothing.
Bateman had done this. She felt a cold flame of rage replace her anguish. She’d allowed herself to be manipulated by Bateman and, in the end, it had been for nothing. She couldn’t allow that. Bree tried to focus on her rage and to ignore the wave of giddy exhaustion that threatened to overcome her as she hauled herself to her feet and back towards the time machine.
Swaying and sweating Bree stood in front of the machine and thought about what to do. Adam’s logic had been correct, but they had missed something. Despite his sacrifice, it had been the same result. It was possible that someone else had seen the opportunity that Rippa presented and used the machine at some date between now and 2018. But, if they knew that time travel was also a death sentence, it stood to reason that it was more likely Bateman than anyone else. And, if he’d persuaded her to come so quickly, there would have been others like her. She had to go back. She had to stop him. Bree felt something inside her turn to steel and took a breath to steady the tremors the shook her torso.
Thinking back to Bateman’s decrepit state it wouldn’t take much. In fact, she reasoned, all she’d have to do was stop him approaching anyone else. The time travel and the after effects of his Rippa addiction would do the rest. If the door handle had broken so quickly for her, then all she had to do was break the door handle in 2018. She could keep herself, and Bateman locked in the machine room until nature took its course. She felt in her pocket for her stash of Rippa. If she took her dose now, then she’d be, at least for a short while, stronger and more able than Bateman. She’d be able to hold him off until the drug and the time travel took their inevitable toll on them both.
Bree shuddered thinking about the zombie-like specimen that had thrashed against the glass. The thought of turning into that terrified her. But she had to stop Bateman. She sat up, swung her legs over the edge and reached, with a trembling hand to retrieve the tiny dose that the pharmacist had given her.
The metal bed beneath her jerked sideways. Bree glanced at the clock and frowned. She still had a few minutes left. Bateman must have triggered the return too soon. The machine shifted again and the bag of drugs dropped from her hand onto the floor. Bree froze. Should she retrieve the drugs and risk missing her return journey or make the trip knowing she was too late for Adam and would be too sick to stop Bateman?
She dropped onto the floor and knelt down to retrieve the Rippa.
The lights in the room flickered and cut out briefly before returning. The gurney began to move. Dammit, she was too late.
Bree watched as the sliding bed began to move back towards the front of the room. She sprang across the room to check the screen of the machine. Perhaps there was some way she could override it. The screen though was blank. She stabbed at a few buttons the screen remained unlit and grey. Nothing happened. She glanced at the gurney.
Something shimmered and, like a pole in water, the light seemed to bend above the machine. Bree looked more closely. Steaks of coloured light took shape and slowly the outline of someone on the gurney began to emerge. The lights solidified and began to take on a natural hue, and a body began to consolidate on the platform.
Bree looked on in horror as Bateman emerged from the doughnut. One moment he wasn’t there and then he was. As his body came in to focus, he moved fast, sitting up and swinging his legs over the far side of the machine before pulling up a red lever that Bree had overlooked. She froze in a crouched position trying to make sense of what she was seeing. What was he doing here?
Bateman came towards her. Blood had collected at the corners of his sunken eyes, and his lips were pulled back in a rictus grin.
“Adam Smith’s mother. Not an economist after all,” he snarled before lunging across the metal bed towards her. Bree scrambled backwards, knowing that this man should be dead but seeing terrible manic energy emanate from him. Bateman advanced upon her. “Give me the package.”
Even as she told him she didn’t have it, Bree felt her hand instinctively go towards the tiny dose hidden in her pocket. Roaring Bateman pitched towards her. Bree felt her feet leave the ground as the momentum of his backhanded blow flung her backwards. Her skull cracked against the wall and she felt the world spin and dim around her.
“This is why the result didn’t change,” she heard as she began to fade.
“This is why the result didn’t change.” The words swam and shuddered through her mind. Bree felt her chin droop towards her chest.
“This is why the result didn’t change.” The voice was insistent and familiar. She was so tired. She’d just rest here a moment.
“This is why the result didn’t change.” The shout seemed to come from inside her head. Opening her eyes, Bree squinted through her swollen lids and saw Bateman, upright and energetic. She felt in her pocket. The Rippa was gone. It was too late. Bree’s vision began to fade back to grey.
“This is why the result didn’t change.” The voice – she knew it was imagined – was her son’s.
“Adam,” she slurred. What a robust and resourceful man he had turned into, she thought and smiled. So determined and sure of doing the right thing. Even if it meant his own death.
“This is why the result didn’t change.” It was almost as if she could hear Adam saying the words.
“What result, baby?” she mumbled.
There was something. Something she needed to remember. About the drug. About Bateman. If only she weren’t so exhausted. Exhausted and sick from her injuries and from the time travel. Sick! That was it. The Rippa stopped Bateman from feeling the effects of the trip. It took all the effort she could muster, but she opened her eyes and looked towards the man. He seemed to glow with energy and well being. He must have taken Rippa. But didn’t she have the Rippa? Bree couldn’t remember. She looked at him again. The opened parcel was in his hand. There was still some of the powder in it.
Bateman scrambled up and lay down on the gurney. He turned to her and grinned.
“There’s still enough for me to synthesise more.” He held up the tiny packet and shook it at her. “Adam loses.”
This is why the result didn’t change! Bateman had enough that he could get back to 2018 and create more of the drug. Bree felt again in her pocket. Her fingers closed around the jagged edge of the broken door handle bite into the tip of her finger.
The outline of Bateman began to lose focus.
Bree lurched to her feet and stumbled across to the machine. Pulling the handle from her pocket, she used her momentum and weight to drive the metal handle into the machine’s console before collapsing on top of it. Sparks flew from the housing, and the gurney shuddered to a halt. Bree turned her head. Bateman’s body, fuzzy only a second before began to crystallise into focus.
Bree smiled, Bateman was contained in the future. She felt the room began to darken around her one last time.