A Change of Destiny
June 1, 2049
"When are the time coordinates set for, Dad?" Brock Dylon asked as he studied the video chart that appeared as a hologram in front of him. "Make sure it's not for a busy time of day. I wouldn't want to end up in a twentieth century jail for kidnapping."
"Don't worry, Son," Dustin Dylon said softly. "I'm sending you back during the staff lunch hour. If my calculations are correct and you follow the plans we've worked out with the hologram as a decoy, you shouldn't encounter anyone except Holly. Do you remember all the pertinent information on how to find her location?"
Brock nodded his head. "I've had everything memorized for weeks. Just make sure you're at the Institute waiting for us after I retrieve her and have the purifying chamber waiting. She'll need it as soon as possible after our arrival."
Dustin nodded. "I'll be right there waiting for you. Do you have the computer program ready?"
"Yes, and I'm ready to leave whenever you say the word."
"Okay then, have a good trip, Son, be careful, and I'll say a prayer that everything goes as we planned."
Brock grinned at his father. "These plans have been in the makings for decades. I don't see how anything could go wrong."
The older man shook his head and sighed. "This is not a simple feat we're attempting, Brock. We're playing with the space time continuum and one little mess-up could spell disaster for Holly Reed."
"I'll be careful, Dad," Brock told his father as he pulled the microcomputer from his pocket. "I'll be back in a few hours just as we planned, and I'll have Holly with me. That's a promise."
"Thanks, Brock. I knew I could count on you. Take good care of Holly, she's very sick and her body won't be able to take many shocks."
"I'll take good care of her. Good-bye, Dad."
"Good-bye, Brock. Godspeed."
"Scan on," Brock told the computer, then he suddenly melted away into a flood of flashing lights and sounds, traveling at the speed of light to a distant decade in order to rescue his father's "damsel in distress."
June 1, 1999
"Dr. Phillips, pick up line three. Dr. Phillips, line three."
Holly Reed lay in her lonely hospital bed, sick and afraid as she listened to the hospital intercom. Unlike the television or the radio, it was one thing she couldn't turn off when she got tired of hearing it. And she did get sick of it. It made her days pass slowly and woke her up most nights to make them go even slower.
She looked over at the vase of roses on the nightstand, their scent obliterated by the antiseptic smell that permeated the entire room. She presumed that someone had placed them there from hospice while she had slept. Their fresh red petals mocked her as she realized she would probably never see them wither and die. They most likely would outlive her.
If what the doctors had just told her was true, then her time on this Earth was almost up.
No donor had been found for a bone-marrow transplant and she couldn't last much longer without one. It hadn't really taken a doctor to tell her she didn't have much time left. Her body had been telling her that for the last couple of months or so.
Twenty-nine years old with no future to look forward to. Her dreams for a rich, full life were just that. Nothing more than dreams.
She fingered the large blue medallion she faithfully wore around her neck. She'd found it early in her illness at a hospital charity sale, right after she'd been diagnosed with leukemia. The words inscribed on it were almost etched on her heart. She read it again for the thousandth time.
"EVERYONE NEEDS A CHANGE OF DESTINY"
The medallion had been a source of strength and hope throughout her illness, but now, with death only a short time away, she'd given up any hope for her dreams of the future. Her destiny had already been proclaimed. She was going to die, and soon.
She'd always thought there would be a lot of pain when death drew near, but she had very little. She just felt tired. Tired of being sick from the chemotherapy and tired of not knowing what was ahead for her.
"Good morning, Holly," Nurse Conner said as she walked into the room carrying a tray. "I've brought your breakfast."
"Thank you," Holly responded automatically, grimacing at the tray the nurse was holding. It held a glass of milky-white liquid that was supposed to meet all her daily requirements. It was the only nourishment that her body had been able to handle for some time, even though she longed for the days when she'd been able to eat real food.
"Take it away, please," Holly begged as her stomach ached at the thought of anything. "I'm really not very hungry right now."
"You should eat, Holly. You need to keep up your strength."
"Does it really matter any more?" Holly asked, her voice flat and lifeless.
"I'll tell you what," the nurse said softly. "I'll take it away if you'll just take a few sips. Is that a deal?"
Holly did as Nurse Conner bid her and took a few swallows. After the nurse left the room, she was again left with her thoughts.
She stretched a pale, thin arm across to slowly pick up the mirror beside her bed so she could study her reflection. As she did, she noticed the bruises on her arm where the needle from the I.V. had infiltrated her vein. It was yet another one of the many battle scars she had to remind her of her impending death.
Holly peered at her reflection with a frown. Her skin looked almost as pale as the white hospital gown she wore. Her blue eyes appeared lifeless, and her once beautiful long blonde hair was gone and in its place was complete baldness. The chemotherapy had really taken its toll on her. She looked like a ghost.
She cringed as she remembered watching movies about nuclear disasters as a child. How she'd cried when she'd seen the victims. Now, as she stared at herself in the mirror, she felt like an actor straight out of one of those movies, except she wasn't acting.
Five years ago she'd had it all, for all the good it did her now. If she'd learned one thing in the last several years it was that all of the money, possessions, and education in the world didn't mean a thing if you were too sick to enjoy them.
But even after everything she'd been through, she would never regret saving little Dustin Dylon's life.
If she hadn't been there five years ago when he had strayed away from his parents he would have died so she would never regret having saved him.
"You're deep in thought," Nurse Conner said as she came in the room once again. "I'm on my break and thought I'd come to visit with you for awhile. What was that magical thought that put a smile on your face."
Holly smiled at the nurse. She was one of the sweetest nurses around, always there to talk to and care for her patients.
"I was thinking back to five years ago when the accident happened that did this to me."
Nurse Conner gave Holly a confused look. "I'm not sure I understand how that would make you smile. Would you like to talk about it?"
Holly once again let her thoughts travel back five years in time.
"I was working at Indy Grayteck Corporation, the division that does nuclear testing and this little boy had strayed out of the neutral zone."
"What was a child doing at a nuclear testing facility?" Nurse Conner asked interrupting her.
"I worked with his parents, and you have to understand about Indy Grayteck. Although at other testing facilities, children and guests are not allowed, Indy Grayteck welcomed them. It was said to be the safest testing facility on Earth because of their use of such low levels of radiation during testing. One of their PR sayings was that you get exposed to more radiation sitting in front of a color television than being at Indy during a test. Of course everyone now knows that's not true because of what happened to me."
"What happened?" Nurse Conner asked?
"We were doing a test to see how low levels of radiation affect plant life. I was doing a last minute check on a reactor in the test wing when I saw the little boy. I knew the tests were ready to begin so I picked him up and carried him toward the thick iron doors that sealed off the underground test wing from the rest of the facility. The problem when I reached the doors is that they had already been sealed. They shouldn't have been because that was my job when I'd finished testing the reactor. As soon as I realized we were locked in I picked up the emergency phone, but it was dead."
Nurse Conner shook her head. "But since Indy Grayteck used such low levels of radiation, you should have been all right."
"Should have been is right, but even low levels of direct radiation in the test wing could be harmful to a growing child, I quickly put a radiation suit on Dustin. The test had already begun before I could get mine properly sealed. At the time I thought I'd only been exposed to small amounts of radiation. The truth came later."
Holly shook her head. "I still don't know how I could have been locked in the test area, even accidentally. There were too many safeguards against that type of accident happening. It took me years to come to the conclusion that it was done on purpose. The nuclear investigators had determined it was an accident, but I know better. That report was to save Indy Grayteck from a lawsuit and to stop a nation-wide panic that someone could tamper with a reactor during a test."
"Are you saying that someone tried to kill you?" Nurse Conner asked, shocked by Holly's words.
"Well actually they did kill me, I just haven't died yet."
"But why, Holly? Why would someone want to kill you?"
Holly rubbed her weary eyes and took a shaky breath. "I've asked myself that a thousand times over the last five years and I still don't have an answer. I don't have an enemy in the world that I know of, but someone hated me enough to sabotage the experiment and expose me to lethal levels of radiation. I'll probably never find out who or why and I've left it far too long to try to get an answer now. I should've insisted on another investigation years ago. I guess now I'll never know."
Nurse Conner stood up and walked over to the window. "I'm sorry, Holly. I never knew that was the reason you were ill."
"I don't regret saving little Dustin. I wish there had been a different outcome for me, but I don't regret being there to save him. He's a sweet little boy. At least my death will not be in vain."
Nurse Conner walked slowly toward the door. "Thanks for sharing your story with me, Holly. I have to get back to work so the other nurses can take their breaks, but I'll be back in later to talk with you. You get some rest for now."
Holly nodded her head as the nurse left the room, once again leaving her alone with her thoughts.
The mirror she'd been holding in her hand mocked her as her pale image reflected back at her. A sick shell of a woman that was nothing like the Holly of five years ago. She threw the mirror at the wall and watched as the glass shattered and splintered across the floor.
She was nothing like the Holly of five years ago. Her life had seemed so complete then.
The most horrible part of her illness was having to lie there and wait for death to come. She didn't even have the strength or willpower left in her to fight back anymore. Only a few short months ago she'd promised herself she would fight her cancer till there was no fight left in her. She swallowed hard as she realized that she'd reached that point now.
She was dying; she knew that, yet there was nothing she could do about it. There was nothing anybody could do about it.
Holly closed her eyes to sleep, hoping when the time came and death claimed her, she wouldn't suffer very much. God only knew she'd already suffered more in the last half decade than most people had to endure in a lifetime.
* * *
Brock Dylon silently crept into the hospital room and checked the woman's identification bracelet to make sure he had the right person.
When he was positive of her identity, he looked down and checked his solar watch. He was running right on time. He unhooked her from the multitude of tubes and machines that monitored, and gave her sustenance. He then lifted her carefully, and cradled her small, frail body against his large frame. He didn't bother with a wheelchair or stretcher because he was in a hurry. He knew no one would notice as he left with her.
If everything went as planned he wouldn't need any props except the one he'd planted in the north wing to get Holly out of the hospital without anyone stopping him.
As he took long strides toward the elevator, he studied the sleeping woman in his arms.
Her illness was well advanced. In the natural course of events, she didn't have much time left. She was also very pale, her thin body weighing no more than that of a small child. Yet even through her illness, she maintained a beauty that still managed to radiate from within her. This woman touched a part of his heart that had never been touched before, not even by the young children he routinely cared for. Of course he'd known that Holly was special. His father had been telling him that all of his life.
* * *
As Holly slept she felt herself being lifted and held in a pair of strong manly arms.
Was she finally dying, she wondered? She breathed deeply and smiled as she thought about how right this was. The aroma was purely male. The most wonderful man she'd ever encountered was carrying her out of this world. She'd dreamed about such a man. A man who was handsome, yet rugged; strong, yet gentle, but she'd never realized that she'd been dreaming about her very own personal angel.
She snuggled closer to her dream. Her mind pictured him smiling at her, and she could drown in his smile. He was an angel of fantasy, one she'd conjured up as she left the world behind her. It was the only explanation she could come up with that went with her dream angel.
Holly opened her eyes as she woke from sleep. She was still cradled in a pair of masculine arms and the face of her angel looked glorious. He was exactly as she had pictured him. He was the most rugged, yet handsome man, she'd ever seen. His rich black hair and smoke-gray eyes gave him an aura of mystique and sexiness. He was every fantasy she'd ever visualized all rolled up in one virile package.
Had her dream come true, she wondered? Maybe she was still dreaming or maybe she'd already died and gone to heaven.
No, she couldn't be in heaven, she thought looking around her, unless heaven looked an awful lot like the inside of a hospital elevator.
"It's okay," his deep voice assured her. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"Who are you?" Holly asked in a weak voice, surprised at how she was reacting to him. She hadn't had any sensual feelings for months, not since her illness had progressed to the final stages. But there was no mistaking her feelings now. Her skin tingled where one of his warm hands had slipped inside the open back of her hospital gown, and her breathing was definitely not normal.
His touch on her bare skin made her feel slightly giddy, like a wonderful, magical kind of brilliance had ignited her insides.
Until this moment she'd almost forgotten what the heat spreading throughout her body had felt like. She remembered it now though. This man was reminding her what it felt like to be a woman.
"My name is Brock Dylon." His deep voice sounded sexy as he whispered in her ear.
"Are you an angel?" she asked, staring up at him, totally confused by the emotions raging within her.
At her words, he chuckled deeply, holding her even more closely to him.
"Where are you taking me?" Holly's voice sounded frail, even to her.
"I'm a doctor; I'm taking you to my clinic where I can treat you," he answered softly in her ear.
Holly swallowed hard, going rigid in his arms. He'd seemed trustworthy enough, but could he possibly be some kind of medical quack hoping to do experiments on her dying body? He could be dangerous.
With a surge of adrenaline, Holly struggled with everything in her to free herself from the strong arms that held her.
Brock continued to hold her tightly while she struggled without success to get free. "Please trust me, Holly. I promise I won't harm you. I'm only here to help, but you're going to have to trust me."
Holly stopped fighting him for a moment to look up at his handsome face. She was at once impressed by his sincerity.
"My doctors told me there was nothing more they could do for me."
"I know that, Holly. I also know how bad you feel right now, but I can help you; if you'll give me the chance, I can make you well again."
Holly continued to study his handsome face as he talked to her, trying to figure him out. "Then you are my guardian angel?"
"Not quite," he answered, grinning, "but I promise I can and will help you."
Once again Holly closed her eyes. The struggle had used up every ounce of her energy. This man had promised to make her well, but as weak as she felt, she didn't see how he could possibly help her.
As sick as she felt at this very moment it would take a miracle to help her. As much as she wanted to believe what he'd told her, common sense also reminded her that it was much too late for anything or anyone to make much of a difference to her prognosis, but since he was a doctor, what could it hurt? She was dying and she didn't have anything to lose anyway by going to his clinic.
As she drifted off, she wondered what part of the hospital his clinic was in, and what type of treatment he had in mind for her. She thought she'd already been through every type of treatment imaginable.
* * *
"What's the read-out look like?" Dustin Dylon asked Brandon Scott, the technician who was working on the time-link computer at the Institute.
Normally Dustin didn't feel this nervous during an experiment or test run, but this time it involved his son and that made a difference. If anything happened to Brock, he'd never be able to forgive himself, because he'd been the one to send him back in time.
"All the data hasn't come in yet, Sir, but Brock did have a successful land. He didn't overleap space or cross-span time. It looks like he's right where he's supposed to be to the exact millisecond."
Dustin breathed a sigh of relief. So far so good. Now if they could just finish their objective and have a safe return.
"Thanks, Brandon," Dustin told the technician as he stood up to leave the room. "I'll be in my office working on a report. Make sure you tele-page me when you have any further details or when Brock gets back."
Dustin left the room, knowing all he'd get accomplished was to pace his office till he received word about Brock and Holly's return. Hopefully Brock would find her without any problems cropping up, and he wouldn't have to wait long for the information to come in.
* * *
Brock looked down at the sleeping woman in his arms. She was dying. He could feel the life force slipping out of her body even as he carried her. He had to hurry; she didn't have much time left. His computer had confirmed her time of death to be twelve hours from now, but in her weakened condition, she'd never be able to survive the trip. He'd have to give her an infusion of steroidax before they went much further to keep her stable.
When the elevator doors opened, Brock reached down and pushed the button on his watch then waited for the explosion in the north wing. He heard the loud booming sound, then listened to the intercom as security was called. He wasted no time walking toward the front entrance of the hospital.
He'd had to create a diversion to get Holly out of the hospital, so he'd set a holographic detonation to go off, and it had perfectly, right down to the second. Hospital security would think it was a real bomb when in reality it was nothing more than a harmless holographic image that only lasted a few seconds accompanied by a loud noise. But it would give him enough time to get Holly safely out of the hospital while security was busy in the north wing.
He quickly headed for the waiting van, parked in the patient pick up area. Twentieth century security was not as advanced as the security in his own time frame or he would never have been able to get away with taking Holly out of the hospital like he'd just done.
Carefully maneuvering the woman so he could open the van's door, he placed her on a stretcher in the back then strapped her in. He didn't bother using the blanket at the end of the stretcher. The June sun had warmed the vehicle's interior so a blanket would only serve to make her more uncomfortable than she already was.
Deciding he was safe from being stopped at least for the time being, he opted to give her an infusion of steroidax now instead of waiting. She needed all the strength he could give her for the journey ahead.
He prepared the air-invacked serum, then gave her the medication via the air-invactor, which took the place of the twentieth century hypodermic needle. With this method the steroidax would not only get to her system faster, but she also wouldn't feel any pain from the sting of a needle either. He smiled when he thought about all the old classic twentieth century science fiction movies about the future he'd watched on the tele-viewer that had predicted this procedure almost exactly.
After administering the steroidax, he waited for a few minutes before he moved. The effects of the medication should begin almost immediately, so when she woke up he'd have to watch her carefully.
He continued to study her while she slept. He'd been hearing stories about this woman since he was a toddler, but nothing could have prepared him for her beauty. Even in spite of her illness, her loveliness shown through.
A tightening in his lower stomach told him he was supposed to be this woman's doctor and he shouldn't be having the feelings he was having right now. It was unethical.
Brock smiled as he lightly brushed his palm across her soft cheek. Holly had been a part of his fantasies since he'd become a teenager. It was hard to turn off those feeling now to become her healer.
Making sure the van door was shut securely, he got behind the wheel and started the engine. His father had told him about Holly's braveness and beauty for so long that she'd become a part of his sexual thoughts without him even having to think about it. He'd have to wait until she was healthy again before he could explore those feelings. By then he hoped she would be receptive to them.
* * *
"I've just received confirmation from Brock's personal computer, Sir," Brandon Scott told Dustin through the tele-pager.
"He's completed his objective, stabilized the patient, and he's about ready to transport back to the twenty-first century."
Alone in his office, Dustin closed his eyes and uttered a prayer of thanks. Half of Brock's journey was over. He'd secured Holly without getting caught or stopped by hospital security. Now all he had to do was get her safely to the twenty-first century before...before...Dustin shook his head. He refused to even think about Holly dying. He couldn't let it happen. They'd already come this far, everything had to work out.
"Thanks, Brandon. You've done a great job. I'll be right down to get everything ready for their return."
"Yes, Sir," Brandon said, turning off the tele-viewer and turning the time-link coupler back on.
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