“How did you know… about this?” she asked, as Petersteel was sitting comfortably on her bed, his grin etched onto his face. She couldn’t help but think he looked annoying. He took a deep breath, looked her in the eye, and started his narration.
“As I explain in the letter, Hugh was hiding some things from you. The most important thing you need to understand is that he really wanted to protect you. That’s why he never told you about his real job. Hugh and I… we used to work for the Government. We were working on a project, a top-secret project called ‘Second Chance’. It was about time travel.”
“I can now see that” Emilia replied. “So, you and Hugh were scientists. And you succeeded in creating a time machine. And Hugh didn’t want to tell me.”
“He told you he was a middle-school teacher, right? That’s what he told me” Petersteel smiled.
“And you guys went rogue, as it seems. Why?” asked Emilia, ignoring his attempt at lightening the mood. She was satisfied to see his grin drop for the first time.
“The Government… they wanted to alter certain events. Like the invention of certain important stuff… the outcome of the World Wars… it would’ve turned out pretty nasty. They wanted to create the atomic bomb before the U.S. did. They wanted to allow Hitler a little bit more time. They wanted for us to enter and win the Space Race. Crazy, crazy stuff… with no regard of what this could cause to the present we all know.”
“Altering history… that could mean…”
“We’d never be born. Probably. Who knows, really?” Max replied.
Emilia got up, panicked. “I’ve just done that! I changed time! What does that mean? This was a stupid idea, a stupid, stupid idea!” she cried, making Aru growl nervously.
“Shhhh! You want everyone to hear you?” Max said and put his hand over her mouth. “I thought you had more nerve than that.”
Emilia was trying to bite his hand, but Aru intervened and bit his leg instead. Max released Emilia from his grip, and quickly bit down on his hand, in order to stop himself from screaming. Tears were forming on the corners of his eyes. Emilia grabbed Aru’s collar and pulled him back.
“No! Down!” she ordered. Aru’s ears folded and he lowered his head submissively. “Sorry about that. Actually, not sorry. You assaulted me in front of my dog! And to think, you created a time machine…” She paused, having just remembered something.
“The detective… the detective knows. How could he?” she muttered to herself. Max, who was trying to tie a piece of cloth around his wound, turned to her.
“Who knows what?” he asked.
“The detective. He knows about the watch. Yester-, I mean, this morning, he’s going to come here and ask about you. Someone saw you entering from this window the last time. This old guy came to ask, and when I wouldn’t let him upstairs, I used the watch… and he recognized it” Emilia replied. Aru was breathing so fast, her hand was jerking a bit. “I thought this was a top-secret project.”
“It was. Only us and a few high-ranking officials knew. What was the guy’s name?”
“Bogart. His name was Bogart.”
Emilia saw Petersteel’s face lose the last shades of color it had. Alarmed, she got up and grabbed his arm, just as he was about to fall. He was sweating.
“Why are you so scared? What’s with him?” Emilia asked.
“Bogart was one of us. Crazy motherfucker. Brilliant, but crazy. If he’s sent after us… we gotta move. But first, you’ve got to do something horrible.”
“And what’s that?”
“You’ve got to kill yourself.”