Melanie thought back to her first meeting with the professor. She’d been so sure of herself in class that it irritated her teacher greatly. He went from calling her Miss Traynor to simply calling her Missy. It was meant as a slight put down but Melanie took it as an endearment. The name stuck and two years later her teacher hired her as his assistant. Since then, he’d shared all of his secrets with her and her alone; or so she thought.
It wasn’t Missy who now stared at the time machine with interest. It was Jesse. While the two individuals shared the same body, they couldn’t be more different. For one thing, Jesse was more male than female. He loved playing pool and getting into bar fights. He also loved riding his Harley whenever he got the chance.
Jesse knew everything that Melanie/Missy did but she wasn’t at all aware of him, except for the scrapes and bruises that sometimes mysteriously appear on her body. She couldn’t explain them. Melanie wasn’t aware of any of her other personalities. There were more than one but Jesse was the strongest. That’s why he took over and began resetting the time machine. He knew exactly where he wanted to go. He wanted to go back to the time when he believed Melanie’s personality first split.
Melanie’s thoughts turned to full blown panic. Jesse knew it had everything to do with the time situation. She was supposed to push a certain button at a certain time in order for the professor to find his way back home. Jesse didn’t care about that. He wanted to make Melanie’s father pay for what he’d done. That was the only thought he held inside his mind.
He had 45 minutes. He thought that enough time to do what he needed and return to the push the red button for the professor. If he didn’t make it, so be it. He snidely hoped the professor enjoyed the future he chose since he could be stuck there forever.
Entering the chamber, Jesse pushed the keyboard inside and closed his eyes. He didn’t know what to expect other than a chance to even the score.
Moments passed with him bathed in a bright light. Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. Jesse opened his eyes and found himself outside the home Melanie once shared with her father. A scream tore through the night. He knew what it was. It was Melanie trying to fight off her attacker – her father.
Jesse rushed inside, realizing he was about to find out what happened when two versions of the same person occupied the same space. Something inside him said it could mean his death but he didn’t care. If he could stop the pain Melanie endured every night for 10 years, his death was worth it.
“No, Daddy,” he heard Melanie scream over and over again. “Daddy, stop. You are hurting me.”
Jesse burst through the front door and headed down the hall to Melanie’s room. He kicked in the bedroom door and stared at the overweight man with disgust. He loomed large over Melanie’s six year old frame. Without a second thought, Jesse pulled the man off the child and began to pummel him with every ounce of strength inside his body.
“Who are you?” The big man beneath him asked between punches.
“Look closely and see,” Jesse screeched. “Don’t you recognize the eyes?”
The man looked uncertain at first and then recognition hit him straight on. “Melanie?” It was part question and part statement.
“Don’t you want to see the damage you did to your own daughter?” Jesse smiled with evil. “Let me introduce you to the others. With that he called the name of Melee. A calm reserve came momentarily over Melanie’s lovely face.
“Where are my glasses, the little girl asked, visibly confused. “I can’t see without my glasses, Papa,” she finished. She didn’t even seem to notice where she was but then she didn’t stay long. Another face emerged. It was cockier, harder, and notably sexy.
“Well, it’s about time you let me be on top,” Tammy drawled sexily. “I prefer it that way,” she mumbled as she bent down to kiss the man. You’re such a dirty bird,” she whispered.
One more face then made an appearance. It was cold, cruel and calculating; even more so than Jesse. “I’ve waited a long time to get the upper hand,” the woman seethed. With that, she landed a solid punch, breaking her father’s nose.
Jesse returned immediately. “See what your abuse brought about you stinking bastard? Now, I think it is time you pay. With that, he removed a knife he’d concealed inside his boot. Melanie always carried it for protection. She even slept with it underneath her pillow. Without another word, he slid the knife into the man’s stomach. “Goodbye, old man,” he said through gritted teeth.
Little Melanie screamed as she watched her father’s murder. Part of her, however, was glad he was dying. It was something she’d hoped for since he started molesting her the month before. But then her mind snapped and she became quiet. Jesse suddenly worried he’d done more harm than good.
Taking out the mechanism he’d brought with him, he pushed the button. Almost immediately, he snapped back in time. He landed back in the lab, still himself. Nothing had changed. He hadn’t managed to alter Melanie’s burden in the slightest. With a frown on his face, he looked at the clock. It was 10:30; time to push the button and return the professor to the present.
Before he could do so, however, the professor appeared on the floor in front of him. He looked up at the frail figure before him and spoke. “It never works, Jesse. You have to stop trying. It seems that one cannot alter time no matter how much they try.”
“How do you know me?” Jesse looked at the professor with shock.
“I knew Melanie as a child. I lived next door to her. I heard her screams night after night but I was little more than a child myself. I was powerless to do anything to help her. I built this machine in hopes of changing the outcome. I have failed. The past cannot be changed,” he whimpered.
“You’ve tried this before?” Jesse looked shocked. “Without Melanie here with you?”
“Yes,” the professor admitted. “That’s why I wanted to go to the future this time. I wanted to see if there was hope for her there.”
“And is there?” Jesse’s face looked hopeful.
“Yes, there is,” the professor said with a smile on his face. “In the very near future, Melanie finds the cure she needs. She eventually becomes president of this university. She’s strong and vibrant. She’s married with children of her own. She’s also a major advocate against child molestation. She even sponsored a bill to strengthen punishment for child molesters.”
“But you said you wouldn’t go anywhere near the university. How did you find all that out?”
“I visited myself, of course. It turns out I’m a fountain of knowledge in the future,” the professor smiled.
“And time travel? Does it flourish there?”
“No, sadly it doesn’t, at least not by my discovery. I abandoned the project after this night.”
“But why? You could bring hope to so many people who are suffering presently,” Jesse argued.
“Or I could bring them massive pain,” Martin whispered. “This experiment doesn’t provide a solution to all the world’s problems. In fact, it could cause irreparable damage.”
“How do you know that if you abandon the project?”
“Do you honestly think I am the only person exploring time travel? The government has scientists everywhere working on the project. What they do with it is most unspeakable,” Marvin Martin said, his head bowed in disgust. “I won’t be a part of that.”
“I don’t understand,” Jesse wailed.
“You don’t have to understand,” the professor stressed. “All you need to know is that years from now Melanie will be fully integrated and a leader for this university. Who knows, maybe you did make that happen when you killed her father in the past.”
“You know about that?” Jesse’s eyes clouded over with shame.
“I do. I often thought of doing it myself, as a child and as an adult. I just wasn’t sure it would solve the basic problem. The damage was already done.”
Jesse nodded. “I’ll let her come back now. Promise me you will make sure that future comes true,” he begged.
“I’ll do everything within my power,” the professor promised. “But you must stay away and give her time to heal in her own way. Can you do that?”
“I can,” Jesse said firmly. “I’ll keep the others in check as well. Thank you, professor Martin. Thank you for caring.”