The Mistake

by Cruncher

Copyright© 2015 by Cruncher

Science Fiction Story: Mistakes will be made. I once read that, don't remember where or when. Doesn't matter. I made one today and it's a doozy. It's the kind that can end one's life. Well, not literally, I don't expect to die but I'm pretty sure the life I knew is over and a new one has started. Not sure the new one is better but it sure is going to be different.

Tags: Fiction   Science Fiction  

Mistakes will be made. I once read that, don't remember where or when. Doesn't matter. I made one today and it's a doozy. It's the kind that can end one's life. Well, not literally, I don't expect to die but I'm pretty sure the life I knew is over and a new one has started. Not sure the new one is better but it sure is going to be different.

I am travelling with friends. Was. I wonder if my friends lives have changed as well because of this. I wish I had more energy. I can't see them but my guess is that they have been detained as well.

We were at LaGuardia airport waiting for a connecting flight when I spotted him. He was buying a newspaper at a kiosk when I saw the bomb he had strapped around his chest. Since we were behind the security checkpoint I am assuming the checkpoint failed at its job, or it's the kind of bomb that can pass through screening without being detected. He was here, that was the important part, and I had seen him.

I was with my friends at the time and not all of them know about me so I wanted to avoid attracting any attention. Since I was low on energy I couldn't make a long distance connection, heck I couldn't even make a local one. I used a internet stand nearby to alert the authorities. A short while later I saw security guards converging on him and talking to him. Then he was led away.

They came for me a short while later. I messed up. They figured out which stand I used and looked through security footage and found me, and here I am.

They want to know how I could spot the bomb. Their theory is that I worked with the terrorist and turned him in. They don't have a theory about the motivation yet, only that I turned in my "colleague". I can't tell them how I spotted it without sounding like a crazy person so for now I'm keeping my mouth shut. FBI is on its way and I asked for a lawyer. Not sure I can tell him either.

Her. The woman that walked in the door was my lawyer. She looked the part, if my "experience" with seeing movies where lawyers figure in was correct. Her credentials identified her as a lawyer with one the smaller lawfirms in New York. She had a copy of my arrest warrant in her briefcase but it had very few details, only that I was being detained for questioning in a terrorist investigation. She said her name was Jane. I looked through her files and saw that her full name was Jane Aulden.

She said that unless they could prove a connection between me and him they had a shaky case, but since it was a terrorist investigation, everything was being turned up a notch so I shouldn't expect to be cleared today. She too wanted to know how I had spotted him.

I told her. As expected she didn't believe me. I then told here minute details from the files she kept in her briefcase, files I would never have seen, files I shouldn't even know about. She had been driving back from a prisonvisit with another client when she was called and asked to make a stop at the airport. I read word for word some of the text of the files for that other client. She still didn't believe me but started to think that there may be some truth to it.

I am what you would call a freak. I can see things that nobody else can see, I can do things that nobody else can do, and I am things nobody else am. A freak, though not a freak of nature. I am a freak of man.


Back when my mother was carrying me, the local hospital in the small rural town she lived in had an X-Ray machine installed. The hospital, being owned and operated, by locals, was fraught with cheap labor and poor construction. The X-Ray machine was set up in a room adjacent to the room where expecting mothers was being cared for, and not shielded.

The machine was also installed by local labor, having no knowledge of anything medical, so it was incorrectly set up. The end result was that any time it was used it flooded the nearby rooms with X-Ray radiation, and radiation a lot stronger than it was supposed to as well.

My mother was subjected to this as was about dozen other mothers and medical staff. I know a few of the mothers died during childbirth, most of the babies were stillborn, and a few deformities as well. Since neither my mother nor me showed any signs of deformities, sickness, or death, it was hoped that we were unharmed.

Not quite. My body absorbed all the radiation, sparing my mother but changing me.

Now you probably think I have X-Ray vision, "Mr. X-Ray". I wear green tights and a mask. I'm assuming the airport autority would've asked me questions long before I managed to get past security if I had. No, nothing so flashy. I look and sound normal. Which is why I'm a freak. What you can't see is harder to explain.

Actually, explain how I can do what I can do is one thing I can't do. I don't know. Honestly. I can see through stuff, though it's not exactly vision. It feels more like I'm recalling a memory of seeing a piece of paper, or that bomb. If you've seen the inside of something, for instance the inside of a phone while you're inserting the SIM card behind the battery you can look at the back of your phone and recall what it looks like inside. That's how it is for me. When I looked at the terrorist I could "recall" that he has a bomb strapped around his chest.

How my mind comes up with the details I don't know but it does.

Jane still has a way before she believes me, I can see it on her face. She can't dismiss it though since I could read verbatim parts of the files she had with her, files I would never have seen, even text she had handwritten during her prisonvisit, text that nobody had seen but her.

I was told that my friends had been detained but seeing as they already had a somewhat shaky case tying me to the terrorist they were on even shakier grounds with them so they had been let go. They had missed their flight so they had found a hotel nearby. They were worried Jane said. I was worried too.


FBI finally turned up. 4 burly guys who looked every inch the agents they identified themselves as, and one that identified himself as the group leader. He was taller than the rest but more lean, not as heavyset as the other 4. I'm guessing he is here to interrogate me and the other 4 to intimidate me. Two of them positioned themselves outside the door and two inside, on each side. The leader, who said his name was Jack, took a seat at the table. What's with all the J's? Jane? Jack? The terrorists name was Jonas.

He went straight for the jugular and asked me if I worked with the terrorist. I said no. He said OK, and moved as though he intended to leave, leaving it at that. He had probably hoped I would panic or react and call him back but since I didn't he stopped himself before reaching the door and sat back down.

> Nothing is that simple. The bomb was hidden so well that we thought you were kidding until we asked him to take of his shirt. We don't believe there is a way for you to have spotted him from where you were standing. You must have known about it. So tell me.

> Not here. I will tell you, but not them, indicating with my head the other agents by the door as well as the mirror. There was a twoway mirror in the room as well, two guards looking in on us. One from airport security, the other head of security. An S this time, Samuel. I didn't tell him that I knew of the two on the other side of the mirror but my nod indicated I understood that it was a twoway mirror, and not just a "mirror".

> Where then? I am awaiting an upgraded arrest warrant, until then I cannot take you with me.

> What if I go willingly?

> You would do that?

> Yes.

> Why?

> If I don't, won't we have to go somewhere else eventually anyway? You said you were waiting for an upgraded arrest warrant, no doubt a federal warrant, and when you get it, won't what I say or don't say make no difference anyway?

> You're right. When I get the new warrant, you're coming with me.

> "Dead or alive"?

I smiled when I said it, hoping he would catch the reference. He smiled as well, a bit more tight lipped though.

> Not anything as dramatical. But if you're willing to come with me before I get the new warrant there is no point in sitting around here. Assuming you meant it?

> Yes I did, I may make your life difficult at some point, when we start talking, but now is not the time for any of that. I will come with you willingly.

We left. We drove towards New York and entered the city, ending up at a big nondescript building where we entered the sub level parking garage. We took an elevator up to the 17th floor where I was led to what clearly was an interrogation room. My lawyer had come as well though in her own car. We were now sitting in the interrogation room waiting for the agent to come back.


Jack entered the room and turned on a wallmounted display. He showed me several angles of the surveillance footage they had retrieved from airport security showing me, my friends, and my not-so-much-friend terrorist. You could see me looking around, stopping to look at him a few seconds, before looking around.

He paused and asked me if I could provide my side of what happened. I told him sure and started talking.

> I was standing with my friends, we were just chatting about the trip ahead, the trip behind us, the prices at the foodmarts at the airport, mundane stuff.

> I was just looking around out of boredom when I spotted our friend here and saw the bomb he had strapped around his chest.

> Yes, about that...

the agent started.

> No, not now, we will get to that. I spotted him and pondered what to do. I didn't want to attract attention to myself since I was travelling with my friends, so I started looking around for a payphone or similar. You can resume the video and play a short while further.

He did, and we could see me looking around, then excusing myself from my friends and then walking over to the internet stand.

> I saw the internet stand and realized I could use it to alert the authorities about the terrorist without calling attention to myself. I guess I was wrong on that last part. I thought I had done it correctly as well but I'm not used to talking to computers like this, no doubt I messed up. I tried to use a 3rd party server to send the message but something must've identified me.

> Actually, he said, we log all keystrokes on those terminals. Whether the message itself came with anything that would identify you was irrelevant, we found the entire message in the captured buffers.

> Oh, right. As I said, I am not used to talking to computers like this. I sent the message, went back to my friends, and waited. I was hoping someone would detain the terrorist before my connecting flight was here or I would have to come up with a different way to call attention to him. Luckily you did, so I didn't have to.

He resumed the video and we could see everything unfolding as I had said. I walked back to my friends, and was seen glancing over at the terrorist every few seconds, until the security guards came to detain him.

He also played the part where me and my friends were detained. He had no questions about that part though.

Again he wanted me to describe how I had spotted the bomb when the door opened. Another agent, I presumed, entered and whispered something to Jack. "There's more of them, we need you to take a look at this".

Jack looked at me and excused himself and started to leave.

The agent that entered had a file in his hands. It contained information about evidence found on the terrorist, including a paper with a list of words. One of the words was the main name of the kiosk where the terrorist had bought his newspaper. In parenthesis the full name was written. The other 4 words had similar names, all corresponding to kiosks, shops, or restaurants at the airport. I remembered walking past a few of these though I didn't recognize them all.

> I can help.

Jack turned to me and asked "How".

> I can help you identify the terrorists.

He turned and looked at the other agent, they both turned and looked at me. No doubt they were wondering if I was ready to give up the rest of my "colleagues" as well.

> You'll come with us then and we'll see how helpful you are when we get there.

We headed back to the airport, my lawyer in the same car as us this time, leaving her car back at the bureau. At the airport we were taken to a room which clearly was part of the security station at the airport. There were displays showing what several surveillance cameras captured. They were all showing the 4 other places. One fastfood restaurant, a book shop, the entrance to the taxfree shop, and an electronics boutique.

Jack motioned me to come forward and asked if I could see the terrorists.

Still being low on energy I couldn't see anything through the cameras, I would have to be down there.

> It doesn't work that way, I need to be down there, see them with my own eyes.

> Sorry, it definitely doesn't work that way. You're staying here. Now, can you make yourself useful and tell me if you see them?

I looked around and saw a refridgerator, some cupboards, and a kitchen sink. A makeshift kitchen for the security personnel no doubt. I asked if I could take a glass of water and was escorted over.

I asked if I could look to see if there was some salt there, as it would regulate my stomach, and the agent that escorted me told me he would look himself, opening the cupboards and retrieving a bag of small salt packages, typical fast food stuff.

I emptied two in a big glass of water and drank it all up. I drank two more glasses before the agent stopped me, no doubt thinking I was trying to make myself sick or something to facilitate an escape or something similar.

No need, I was going to be at peak energy in a minute or two when the salt had been absorbed by my body, I just had to wait it out.

Joining the agents in front of the monitor I asked why we didn't see any agents down there.

We don't want to spook your friends he said, for the first time voicing his suspicions that I was in league with the terrorist and his potential friends. He look at me pointedly before turning back to the monitors.

I stood beside him looking at the monitors waiting for the salt to disolve.

I asked why the terrorists, assuming they were down there, hadn't already detonated their bombs since if they were already at their targets, motioning to the displays making it clear I understood we were looking at the places which corresponded to the words on the list.

The list I was not supposed to know about. He turned slowly back to me and asked how I knew this was the places they were supposed to be, probably thinking that he had caught me in a lie.

> The list your fellow agent had when he entered the room contanied the names of the kiosk where I spotted the first terrorist, as well as the names of these four places.

> And how do you know about the list? Did you write it?


My energy had come back.

I reached out my hand towards him and said

> I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to help

Hesitantly he reached out his first hand, probably wondering how well they frisked me when I was first arrested. He took my hand and shook it.

I stopped time. Only him and me appeared to be able to move, everything else was frozen, the monitors showed still frames from the airport, my lawyer was drinking from a cup of water besides me and the two other security guards were frozen in motion in their seats.

> What

> I am sorry but this is the way it has to be

I held his hand firmly and made sure he could not remove his hand from mine, removing the link which made him part of my timeline.

> I am not who or even what you think I am. I can do things you wouldn't believe and I can see things nobody else can see, like the list of words in your agents hand, as well as the bomb on the terrorists body.

> I have frozen time so I can explain this. I will help you now that I have my energy back. The three large cups of water laced with salt gave me my energy back. Before I could only briefly see things, now I can act upon them.

> When I let go of your hand in a little bit I will disappear, I will move down into the terminal and I will look for your terrorists. They are not my friends and I hope you will believe me after you see what I can do.

> Unfortunately it means that my secret is going to be exposed to you, your fellow agent, the woman that is my lawyer as well as the two security guards, everyone in this room.

He tried to pull his hand free

> Now wait a minute, you can't

I held on, not in a crushing way, but making sure he could not retrieve his hand.

> Yes I can, and I will. I'm going to let go of your hand now and we'll see if I can find you some terrorists. I seriously hope not, because that would mean they are actually down there, but if they are, I will find them for you.

I let go of his hand and teleported out. Since my special way of seeing things doesn't work when I'm outside the normal timeline I would need to reenter it to use it, this would also make it possible for the terrorists to detonate their bombs. I could probably deal with that. Probably, but was hoping I would not have to find out.

Instead of going to a separate, seemingly frozen, timeline I entered the normal timeline but entered it at a frequency which would make me invisible to the naked eye. I teleported to the book store and looked around and quickly found my target, a man in his late thirties who was on the phone. He had a bomb strapped to his chest similar to the first terrorist.

I followed his phonecall back through the system and ended up at another phone and teleported there, which took me to the fastfood restaurant with the second terrorist, also with a bomb. I made a mental note of the two people and teleported to the third place, the entrance to the taxfree store. A man, also on the phone, was standing near the entrance seemingly reading a magazine while talking on the phone. Again a bomb. His phonecall led to a completely different part of the country so I made a note of the place and went back.

At the fourth and final place I could not spot anyone so I branched out and started analysing everyone in several 100m radius to see if they were carrying bombs, but found nothing.

I teleported back to the security room where all hell had broken loose when I had teleported out. There was an additional agent in there compared to before, and one of the security guards had left the room. They were arguing loudly when I teleported in.

They all froze, not because I had frozen time but because of the shock of suddenly seeing me standing there in front of them.

Jack, apparently having wrapped his mind around the fact that things were suddenly a lot more complex than he had bargained for, asked me what I had found.

I told him about the three terrorists and the lack of the fourth. I also told him about the other place, where the phonecall has ended up, and then I asked what I should do.

> Can you pick them up?

> Now that I know who they are I can do it in the blink of an eye. I am a bit concerned about not having spotted the fourth terrorist, assuming he even exists, but the first three can be brought out of there now.

> Do it, take them out.

> Where should I take them?

> Can you remove or disarm their bombs in the process?

> I can remove the bombs, teleporting the bomb and the terrorist separately, but I have no idea if the bombs will detonate because of it. I can also blast them with something like an EMP that will fry them but that may also make them detonate.

The new agent decided to intervene.

> Now just a minute, what the fuck are you talking about? Teleporting? EMP?

Jack motioned with his hands, dismissing him.

> If you can teleport the bombs to a safe place, like out in the desert or similar, and the terrorists to somewhere else where we can pick them up, that would have to suffice, and we can hope the bombs doesn't detonate.

> I can place the terrorists in holding cells back at the bureau. I can see that you have 5 that are empty besides the one occupied by my "first friend".

I said that last part with emphasis, making sure he understood that I had nothing to do with them.

> Do it.

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