Brenton slammed the plans down on the table. A blueprint, scattered with geometric shapes, measurements, mathematics equations, and seemingly enormous draw out of a machine. He placed empty bottles of whiskey in each corner to hold the paper down. He took a swig from another bottle and wiped the excess from his mouth as he oversaw his plans.
“It’s not right,” he said to himself. “The mechanism will fail if I the regulator to the transistor.”
He pulled a pencil from the back of his ear and began erasing a piece of the blueprint.
“Two thousand times pie…. ughhh. Hey Siri.”
His phone beeped.
“What is the formula for the square root of space divided by time to the tenth power times uhhhhh.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what times uhhh means.”
“I’m never going to figure this out,” he sat back in a chair and looked up at the ceiling.
The room was dirty. The little sunlight that entered the bar covered windows, reflected on the dozens of empty liquor bottles scattered around the room. Dirty clothes covered the old, dusty couch, the refrigerator was left wide open, dishes stacked in the sink, and the only objects that rivaled the liquor bottles were the empty Chinese food containers. It was obvious that Brenton had not only been in the place since the last HOW event, but he mind was also completely occupied, allowing him to completely ignore basic sanitation and self hygiene. His beard was overgrown, he desperately needed a haircut, and he smelled… mostly of booze.
He stood up and paced around, mumbling to himself, trying to figure out the perplexity of whatever plan he had in his mind. He picked up his phone, seeing he had several missed calls: HOW Headquarters, HoTV, and one “Unknown Caller” that had at least twenty attempts. He ignored the message of the missed calls and swiped down to access the calculator. He eyes were completely bloodshot as if he had also ignored clear signs from his body to get some sleep. He told himself that the darkness of the room was making him tired, so he flipped on the lights. The room lit up and there it was in the corner. A machine.
Brenton had been spending countless hours assembling from modern 2020 parts, a time machine. Surrounding the machine, he treated the apartment walls like a cork board. Pinned with thumbtacks, the walls were completely covered with newspaper clippings, schematics, and in the middle of it all was a giant poster of Max Kael. Threads of yarn acted like pathways from one news source to the other, all with the same destination to the Kael poster. It had become evident to Brenton, that every story related to global strife led to Max, he was sure of it.
“Ah ha!” a realization came to Brenton, he jumped on the chair of the machine, unhinged a piece of covering above it and began changing some wire configuration. He jumped back after a couple of sparks nearly singed his eyebrows off and then the machine made a rather loud humming sound. Lights turned on on the machine and it powered up.
“Fuck ya!” yelled Brenton.
Then the power to the entire building shut off. The machine, the room lights, the fridge, everything died, leaving Brenton in darkness.
“God damnit! I have to get the fuck out of here!” yelled Brenton.
He’d clearly given up. He exploded onto the scene in HOW, hot coming out gates, and took out three opponents before coming to screeching halt in Max Kael. He then would go on to lose to Scott Woodson and Joe Bergman. He had a quest in mind to dominate the Lee Best Invitational but had come short to expectations. Brenton had spent months preparing for his mission, endless hours of studying intel of this time, only see failure after failure. The fact that he was still not out of the tournament, and even that the LSD Title was on the line this week had absolutely zero impact on his current state of mind.
Possibly it was the failure getting to him, maybe it was he missed his wife, or just feeling like he didn’t belong in the year 2020, possibly all of the above. He had numerous kills in battle, out-witted military geniuses, but he couldn’t beat the best of HOW. It was beyond him, and the evidence that was piling up on Max Kael being the one constant that, he knew, was the biggest threat to civilization, only made it harder to bare his failure. He was done. Brenton had justified in his mind that he gave a noble effort in this fight, and in the end… all the sweat, time, blood, effort he had put into defending his country over the years, this mission truly was not something he HAD to do. He did his time, he fought his fight. Anyone else in his ranks could have taken on the burden to save mankind. Hell, the Commander would have been a better choice. He could have beat Kael.
So Brenton thought, he could go back, and if anyone was actually still alive, he could reevaluate their plan. They had already sent Brenton back, that had to be able to do it again, but this time with more intel from Cross himself. Then, with hope, he could see his wife again. With hope, his replacement would succeed where he failed, and the Great War would be something that never have seen their lifetime.
Brenton fooled around with the wires more, taking a sip from the whiskey every few seconds. But the power failed to come back on. He began kicking the machine.
“Stupid fucking thing!”
He kicked it some more until, in his drunkenness, he missed a kick and wiped on, falling flat on his back. He took a deep breath, acknowledging his idiocy and then got back up.
He cried. He literally started crying. This was desperation at first… now it was depression. He finished off the bottle and tossed it across the room, only to pick up another. Most of the earnings he had made so far in HOW had gone towards his mission, but this week, he splurged to purchased the parts he needed for the machine, sparing no expense. The remainder, of course, went to the cases of whiskey in the corner. Now the machine didn’t even work. He didn’t create the original. He was a soldier, not a scientist. Sure, he had some sort of sense of how it worked, but he didn’t have the brain capacity to build one of his own, especially in his state. Mixing depression with alcohol, and complete lack of sleep didn’t really help.
“Fuck this,” he said.
With a full powered swing, he swiped the blueprints off the tape in anger. The whiskey bottles smashing on the floor and he dragged the table to the center of the room. He walked over to a cabinet and opened it to find himself a long rope. He stepped up onto the chair, and took another step onto the table and tied the room to the support bar on the ceiling and let the rope fall to his side.
The tears continued to flow down his cheek as he wrapped the rope around his neck, breathing heavily as he tied the knot to create a noose. He sniffled to clear his nose and coughed to clear his throat. He stood up straight with his feet together and saluted.
“Lieutenant Brenton Cross! Fourth division infantry! United States Marine Corps and the Allied Brigade! It has been an honor to serve my country, my fellow man, and my allies! It has been my greatest pleasure to be a husband to my wife!”
His lips trembled, and he wiped the tears from his eyes taking one last deep breath. He clenched his jaw and kicked the table out from under his feet and he dropped with the rope tightening.
Gravity took and as the rope reached maximum distance, the support beam on the ceiling snapped in half and Brenton fell straight to floor, hard, knocking the wind out of his lungs. He was near decapitated by the falling beam, but was not spared by pieces of the ceiling falling down on him. Dust and drywall covered him white as he let out a scream, but was cut off by the dryness in his mouth. He coughed and spit out the dust and did his best to wipe his eyes, as the dust stuck to his tears. He sat up and looked and looked at the fallen beam. He didn’t even notice, but it was clearly cut at the end.
Then he heard the door slam shut behind him.
“Relax… I just saved you from the worst pain you were ever going to feel. A broken neck is no joke, trust me.”
Brenton turned around to take a look at the assailant. The light from outside the door silhouetted him, making it impossible to make out his face. Who the hell had the nerve, or even the knowledge to know that Brenton would try and take his own life? All Brenton knew, was that he was beyond pissed that some asshole had the audacity to take this power from his hands. He had to find out who this was, so he got to his feet to get a better look. The man, closed the door behind him and Brenton was able to get a clear picture of the person. Then Brenton’s jaw dropped, and his eyes widened. He wiped more dirt from his eyes, and smacked his own face to make sure he was really seeing what he was seeing.
“I don’t believe it,” said Brenton.
He slowly took the noose off from around his neck, never removing his eyes from the individual and he walked closer to him.
“Yes, I sawed the beam,” said the person.
Brenton stepped face to face with him. Brenton inspected his gray hair and beard, his aged skin, but not much more had changed. Figure was still close, he had a scar running over his right eye, and familiar tattoos.
“Unbelievable!” said Brenton.
It was Brenton…. only older.