The Power of Then

(800 words)

The Speaker’s voice was as loud as empty beer trucks in a stone street, and the people at the meeting were jammed up close, cobblestones, that great voice booming over them. Lexor was somewhere on the other side of the hall. She had to get to him.
In the darkness, she pushed against the bulk of a huge fellow, ‘Excuse me.’ But he didn’t shift. Instead, there came a cry from the stage, “The Homoy are taking our jobs, cheating us in their shops and money-changing booths, collecting together in their secret societies to plot the downfall of the non-Homo. You and me!”
There came a huge cheer that echoed around the hall like waves crashing and foaming on a rocky promontory. The Speaker was visible on giant screens on either side of the stage. His black, greased-back hair surmounted a pasty face with small black eyes and a small square moustache beneath a greasy, wide nose. Beads of sweat lined his forehead, cheeks, and thin, upper lip, where the moustache wasn’t.
Freya had to get to Lexor. It was getting urgent now. “Excuse me!”
The great black bulk in front of her raised his arms, letting out a roar, “Death, death to the Homoy!”
Freya took something out of her coat pocket. She pressed a button and a razor-sharp blade flicked out. With all the power she could muster, she thrust it into the back of the hulk barring her way. In the dark, she wiped the blade with a tissue and popped it back into its recess, whilst the gargantuan figure swayed, then toppled forwards. Freya stepped over his back and pushed her way through the throng. Ah, yes, there was Lexor, not far from one of the screens.
The Speaker was raising his fists, beating the air. “It is our duty, our duty, d’you hear me? To wipe these vile Homoy out!”
Freya squeezed her wiry body through the black sea of raging bodies and into Lexor’s arms. She felt his lips in her hair, kissing her scalp. Then she was reaching into her coat for a pipe-shaped piece of material, one designed to evade the groping hands of security guards and x-ray machines. She handed it to Lexor, whilst the crowd chanted, “Death, death to the Homoy!” Lexor attached it to a butt and, with practised movements, sweet as oil, raised it to his shoulder and took aim.
On the screen, The Speaker grew a hole in his forehead. There was a simultaneous, lung-emptying gasp from the assembled hundreds, then The Speaker was on the floor, a black pool growing around his head. As the realisation set in, the lights came on, and the blinded crowd began scanning around for the culprit, ready to tear them to pieces. Lexor took out a glowing red sphere. “Freya, quick!”
Lexor and Freya placed their hands on either side of the sphere, and it was as if the room blinked, a momentary blackness, the raging voices diminishing like a cage of barking dogs dropped over an enormous cliff, and they were in an empty park where beds of vibrantly coloured flowers were set against tennis-court-green grass and trees reaching out sunwards with their lime and copper-coloured leaves.
There was a bandstand, and upon the bandstand, a man in a black suit, a white shirt, open at the collar, and sunglasses. He leaned against a rail, waiting for them.
Lexor and Freya climbed up the steps, Lexor two at a time, laughing. “Mission accomplished!” he called.
The man gave a wry smile. “Rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated.”
Freya gasped, “What d’you mean? Lex shot him. Dead as a piece of meat. One ugly piece of meat!”
The man sighed. Yes, The Speaker was killed, but another, let’s call him The Orator, replaced him, rounded up a couple of million Homoy and had them sprayed with a deadly pathogen. They all died an agonising death.”
Lexor pulled a face. “What the fuck!”
“Yes, quite.” The man took his sunglasses off and looked at them with eyes the colour of nothing, the pupils, tiny black dots within. “Orders are for both of you to go back. Take out this … this Orator fellow.”
Lexor rolled his eyes. “I’m not sorry I did it, but it was a horrible experience. Not something I’d want to do again.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
“Well, what if someone takes over after The Orator?”
The man replaced his sunglasses. “Then you go back and take him – or her – out.”
Freya almost exploded, “For fuck’s sake!”
“Look, you and Lexor, take a holiday. Go to the moon or Mars, wherever, there’s no rush.”
Freya squeezed Lexor’s hand. “It’s OK, let’s do what the man asks.”
The man smiled, “Look, I didn’t make the rules. If you want to change the future, you have to change the past. Go on, time will wait for you.”


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