J.M. Blackman’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Have Yourself a Merry little Christmas--The Rabbit Hole Part 12
Samir jammed the door. He used something that looked like rigid cellophane, about the size of a credit card, but criss-crossed with the veins of technology. He slipped it between the locking mechanism inside the door. He said it should jam the door. No one would be able to override it. They would have to cut through. That would give us more than enough warning and time to get away.
Next, we set to getting control of every system running through that particular control room. We made mirrors so that the other control rooms thought that nothing had changed. It would reflect that moment, loop it upon itself for an extended moment, before choosing another moment to reflect. The signal could be tricked, could be redirected only so many times before the other control rooms noticed the inauthenticity of the patterns.
Then, we had to figure out where and when the agency had discovered all of Samir's transgressions. Of course, there was no way we could search and review every instance of Samir breaking their codes. We set programs to doing that. And by all of this "we" talk, I mean Samir gave me needles to inject and wires to split and combine. I simply followed his hurried instructions.
My heart thudded in my throat and my collar grew hotter and hotter with every shaky breath. Sam had said we shouldn't take more than eight minutes. Four minutes had already passed. I focused on the wall ahead of us. It was one big screen--covered in snapshots of time, like a colossal spiderweb of YouTube videos. The images ranged the gambit of human experience--the darkest, most private moments to the most public of celebrations: fireworks of existence.
"Are y'all the NSA of all time and space?"
Samir shrugged. "That's fair."
"Are these...live feeds or what?"
"Moments in time where an agent has traveled."
"Oh." I let my eyes lose focus. And then an image caught my eye. A Christmas tree.
"What's today's date?" I really didn't know. The last I'd seen it had been October.
"At your mother's house in McDonough?" Samir asked.
I froze and he said gently, "Don't let the loop close without a different mirror." I went back to following his instructions, but his knowing where my mother lived was odd. "It's your Christmas Eve."
"Weird," I said. I hadn't missed a Christmas Eve, or Christmas at my mother's in...years. I couldn't remember how many. But I didn't feel bad about missing out. In fact, I was weirded out by how OK I was with it all.
"It's weird that I know where your mother lives?"
"Yes, definitely, but I was referring more to the fact that I'm not broken hearted about not being there."
He stared at the side of my face for a brief moment. "I looked you up once it seemed like you were going to stick around." I nodded. Still odd, but what about this wasn't odd? "I'm glad you don't mind being here."
There was a sharp trill and I turned to Samir. "No worries. We're all done."
Five minutes had passed. We were early. "Let's be going then?"
"One more thing." He tapped a plate and the images on the screen started to change. Beautiful snippets of time flittered, a few Christmas themed but most just shining with the light of life. I found myself staring at a small, white church and tearing up. I didn't go to church. Not anymore. But I believed in something more and I believed I was right where I should be.
"Merry Christmas," he said. And I knew he didn't celebrate Christmas. I'd have to ask what he celebrated. I'd have to ask why he'd been so kind, if a little off base. I didn't celebrate Christmas the way most people did. For me, it had always been a time to express how grateful I was in one way or another. But always by giving. And being amazingly humbled that anyone would think to get me anything.
Maybe Samir celebrated in the same way, though. And that's why he had given me this moment. Too soon, it was time to go. But I didn't mind going. I'd had enough Christmas.
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J.M. Blackman is a Language Arts teacheri and a feminist. She endeavors to review nearly everything she reads and is a happy wife. She's a SFF enthusiast, loves dark humor, and has an unhealthy need to protect the image of Batman.