‘Guilty as charged on all counts,’ was the last thing I heard anyone in the courtroom say. There was more, a lot more, but I sure as hell didn’t care after that statement. In less than half an hour I was led out of the courtroom and back to my cell to sit for who knows how long. I knew damn well no one was about to tell me, even if I had asked.
After three days of waiting in a standard muted green cell, without a single exercise or shower period, I found myself back in the courtroom before the judge with my old shackles on. “Simon Sorenson, you have been found guilty on seven counts of murder in the first degree. Your automatic appeal has been denied and verdict upheld. On this day, the fifteenth of October in the year 2027, I hereby sentence you to either imprisonment for life, with no possible parole, or erasure. Your sentence is to be determined by a special court appointed psychiatrist. May god have mercy on your soul, if you have one.” The judge motioned for the bailiff to take me away.
In no time at all I was back in my old cell without getting a chance to say anything in my defense. Two hours later, I sat shackled to a desk waiting for the one who would decide my fate. Three men came in, all were dressed in white and wearing glasses. I had to chuckle at those old-fashioned glasses, as if they didn’t look like big enough geeks without them. One pushed a cart full of shiny medical gadgets, another held an antique clipboard and pen, third holding an e-pad gave the orders. They poked and prodded me in near silence. One with clipboard wrote down whatever the other two called out.
After half an hour of this mild abuse, one with the clipboard handed it to the order giver. Without a word he turned and followed the one pushing the cart out the door. “Mister Sorenson, I am Doctor Anderson. I am here to help you.” He looked to be in his early sixties and I’d bet almost everything I had he spent most of the time buried in some lab hunched over a large pile of books.
“You’re only here to draw your paycheck and lock me away for the rest of my natural life with a clear conscience,” I replied, without looking at him directly.
“Mister Sorenson, I am here to find the truth as well as to help you, if at all possible.”
“You heard the verdict, there’s no god damn help for me, now. Since the day I was born there was never any hope, or help for me. I’ll let you in on a little god damn secret, doc. I’m guilty of all those crimes and many more, so you can give me my sentence, and leave me the fuck alone.”
“There is no reason you have to use that kind of language in front of me. There was no doubt of your guilt, but thank you for your admission of said guilt. But, being guilty is not enough, I need to know why you did what you have done. We are gathering information, trying to find a way to prevent heinous crimes such as yours.”
“Not only have to serve a life sentence, but I’m to be a fuckin’ lab rat too. No thanks, give me my piss-ant cell, and leave all that medical bullshit to someone who gives a damn,” I tried to turn away, but was shackled tightly to the floor.
“Will ask you one more time to control your language while I am here. It might interest you to know, your sentence could be reduced, if you were to work with us. You tell me what I need to know, perhaps I could help you with erasure.”
“What’s this erasure?” I asked trying to stretch with no success.
“I am sorry about the chains, but they are mandatory.” He looked around and leaned in close, like he was going to tell me a secret. “Erasure, is a very special project that a group of people have been working on for a few years now. In essence, it is a simple form of time travel, of course the science is more complex than that, but all you need to know is traveling back in time is now possible.”
He backed away, before adding, “Technicians that came in earlier took what was needed to send a time tech back down through your specific time line. If I can find out what has started you on this course of abnormality, perhaps it can be repaired in the past.”
“Don’t understand any of this god damn shit you’re talking about. Time travel and time lines, it’s all bullshit!!”
“Calm down Mr. Sorenson, and I will explain. A time tech could conceivably travel back down your time line and modify certain things ever so subtly. This could change your future life drastically, and in turn alter this very moment. In order for us to do this, I must first know the crime facts and reasons behind them. If I can establish a cause, I might be able to find a cure.”
“Are you saying that if I tell you what you want to know, then things might be changed? I wouldn’t spend any more time in this prison?”
“It is possible if you tell me, and I find an answer, you will not spend another night here. It is even possible you were never here.”
This was confusing, but I thought I could play an angle. “Doc, could this time tech dude give me a bit of inside information on a few horses, or that year’s football and baseball champs? If I just had a little money, bet that would’ve changed my life for the better.”
“Does not work that way Mr. Sorenson, nor would it be permissible if it did. A time tech is not even seen in what we have come to call real time. They are phased out in the past. There is very little they can do physically in your specific time line,” he explained, pacing back and forth gesturing wildly with his hands.
Keeping his back to me he took the time to calm down. He came back to the table, and leaned against it. “What they usually try to do is remove your problems, strengthen your good points, and allay your fears. You cannot leave something from this time there, or take something from the past to the present.”
Just gave him a hard stare, judging rather he was feeding me a line. What did I have to lose. Maybe he had something to offer. “Any assurances?”
“Absolutely none. You will tell me what you know to help yourself. That should be enough, if not have a nice life in here. Have other things to do if you wish for me to leave?” Dr. Anderson headed for the door.
“Awright, hold up a minute, Doc. What the hell you want to know?”
He turned around slowly and smiled slyly, almost evilly. “First, need you to sign this form giving permission for erasure if it is found reasonable.” He put the clipboard on the table directly in front of me. “It is just a standard consent form. But if you want, go ahead and read it.” Stretching my chains to the maximum I was able to sign the form at the spot he pointed at, without bothering to even look it over.
“Last thing I need is your fingerprint on the e-pad.” He pressed the machine into my right thumb.
“Now that this is all legal, tell me why did you deliberately kill those seven people?”
“Two men were simple accidents,” I shrugged, “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“What about Cynthia Briggs?”
“Who the hell’s she?”
“You mean, who the hell was she? Cynthia Briggs, was the first girl you killed. Does her name ring a bell, now?” Doctor Anderson stated, looking down at the clipboard.
“First girl I killed was name Mary Jane, or Mary Jo, something like that. I was a senior on a field trip to a museum. She a classmate that was nothing more than a dick tease, and acted as if she was so much better than everyone else. Doubt if she thought she was such hot shit when she fell over the balcony railing five stories up. It was ruled a tragic accident. But it was me who gave her that extra little push as she leaned over to see the floor below.”
“No Mister Sorenson, Cynthia Briggs was the first girl you were charged with killing and convicted of recently. Let us take care of these charges before you tell me about the others,” the doctor corrected shaking his head.
“Oh, her name tag said, ‘Cynamin’. Figures, her whole life was a damn lie. She worked at a grocery store I used to shop at.”
When I did not continue he barely raised his head and peered at me over the top of his glasses. “Fine. It was on Halloween night almost five years ago. She was wearing one of those see-through dresses that changed color with nearly transparent black lace underwear. I asked her out and she snottily declared, ‘I don’t date customers.’ I left.”
“That was it?”
“No. I waited for her after the store closed. As she was walking to the tramway I asked her out again, after telling her I would no longer shop at her store. She laughed in my face. ‘I don’t go out with fucking low-class losers, no matter where they shop.’ She just kept laughing at me while walking away.”
“And what did you do then?”
“Voice in my head wondered why she thought she was any better than me. Especially, with what she was wearing, I mean calling me low-class while parading around like a half-naked whore.” I looked around the room, then stared at the large mirror on the wall to my right. “Stepped back in front of her, and before I could say anything nasty bitch sprayed me with that rape spray. Emptied the whole can, then started screaming. Began choking her, just trying to shut her up.”
I refocused my attention on the Doctor. “My eyes burnt, and I could barely breathe, but I would not let go. Was yelling at her to shut up as the voice in my head cried out louder and louder. Bitch! Whore! She finally shut up and I left.”
“You broke her neck. If I may ask, how did you get rid of the dye she sprayed you with?”
“That filthy little bitch made me stay in my house for two months with that god damn stuff stuck to my face.” I took a couple of deep breaths. “As you know from the papers I worked out of my house most of the time. So it was not unusual for me not to show up at the office for a few months. But, I damn near starved that first month. Grew my beard out, and once a week had to go out shopping. Always late at night, with dark glasses and a big floppy hat, all the way across damn town.”
“So, when you read on the disc-news she had died, did you feel any guilt at all?”
“Truly didn’t think I killed her. Hell, it was a shitty neighborhood, thought someone came and robbed her after I left. Never wanted to kill her. I just wanted her to shut up.” I looked at the mirror to further plea my case. “None of these people’s deaths were my fault. Second was a stripper.”
“Guess so. I saw her show and she agreed to see me for seventy-five dollars that night after her shift. Waited for her over an hour. Spending more money than I had planned, which is their whole damn plan.”
I tried to stand, and make a point, but was yanked back down to my seat. “Then she finally comes out with another god damn guy. I confronted them and she tells me, ‘he’s giving me a hundred dollars for a date.’ Told her I would give her twice that. She said, ‘two of you will have to figure out who is going home with me, because I’m too tired for both.’ What was I to do?”
“And that is reason enough to kill him?”
“No way was I thinking of killing that big son-of-a-bitch. He asked me to step around back to settle the problem while rolling up his sleeves, and grinning like an idiot. There was nothing else I could do, so I followed him around to the back of the building. He was telling me the whole time we were walking, how he was going to kick my ass, then come back to tell me how good she was.”
“Before he could turn around I hit him in the back of the head with a piece of pipe that was lying on the ground. He went down hard, and slowly tried to get up. Hit him two more times, and he didn’t get back up. I left with the girl after telling him I’d come back to let him know how she was.”
“You fractured his skull in two places and broke three vertebrate in his back. He was in a coma for nearly four months before finally dying. Do you feel any remorse for that crime?”
“For what? Only did to him what he was going to do to me. You can see how big he was in the damn report, red-neck bastard was going to kill me. As I said, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was all there was to it.”
“No, Sam Jones was the first for the evening. What about Alison?”
“Yeah, her. Anyway, bitch talked in the most incredibly annoying, whiny nasal voice the whole time as I drove to her apartment. So, did that voice in my head. Her voice was nothing like her body. I mean, wanted her real bad while she danced, and even got a raging hard on just watching her. But, under brighter lights and after talking to her, it was different.”
“You were never inside her apartment?”
“No, I was in there. It was where that other little voice started screaming about what a tramp she was, and how could I do what I was thinking about. Place was a pigpen, shit everywhere. How can anyone live that way?”
“She got a death sentence for being a slob?”
“No. It was just a combination of that, the voices and the disgust I now felt for her. I wasn’t able to perform. She started yelling and screaming in that grating foul nasty voice, ‘I want paid in full, it isn’t my fault you’re such a pathetic little limp dick.’ She finally shut up, and I was able to get hard.”
“You hit her with a brass lamp fifteen times?”
“What?” I replied softly, “It was just to stop all the voices.”
“Did you have sex with her?”
“No, I wasn’t able to perform. I mean I could’ve, but there was too much noise. Left cause neighbors were hollering to be quiet, and some nosy pricks were coming down the stairs.”
“Were you able to perform, with the rest of the women you killed?”
“Yes, after the voices stopped.”
“Do you mean after you had killed them?”
After a few moments of silence, and glaring at the mirror I admitted, “Yes, after the voices stopped I’d become aroused. I could then perform and there was no laughing or screaming at me. The last one was the only one that did not scream. She was crying a little, but she was willing. After a few minutes of being inside her the voices were screaming so loud I thought my head would explode. Choked those shrieking voices, until they shut up.”
“Simon, her name was Lydia. She was just fifteen years old. Do you know you choked her to death while you were having sex with her?”
“I just wanted the voices to stop screaming at me. She was already doing it with that kid in the park. Hit him in the head with a tree limb as he lay on top of her. She never told me no.”
“You broke the young man’s neck. His name was Jose, and he was also just fifteen.”
“He was an accident.” I shrugged. “Just wanted to have a bit of fun. It was all the voices that didn’t want me to have any fun.”
“Did you recognize any of these voices?”
“I’m not sure. There were too many of them.”
“Do you think you could guess who they were?”
“Everyone. There were all those women I met before, laughing loudly. Another screaming all the damn time I was a wimp and stupid useless bastard.” I shook my head, and spat towards the mirror. “That’s what my old man used to say whenever he came around. Heard my mother, telling me all girls were filthy dirty, full of disease and would take my money, while screaming at me to get her another drink. My teacher’s voices telling me what I was doing was wrong and sinful as they watched the boys in the shower, or took the girls into the back room for special studies. The whole evil world was yelling as they fought their vile wars, raping and pillaging each other’s and sometimes even their own countries. This is the way it is, and has been since the first day we crawled out of that primordial ooze.”
“Are you justifying your acts of violence against all of these defenseless women, and claiming self-defense against the men?”
“Did what I had to do to stop the voices.”
“How many others have you killed that the police do not know about?”
“Right after high school I took a vacation to the Grand Canyon, and tried to have a relationship with a girl I met. At first she seemed to like me, but then she wanted nothing to do with me. She eventually had a small accident, swimming in the hotel pool late one night. Her name was Sharon Albright, a college student from somewhere in Iowa. That’s how it began. One or two every vacation, most I never even knew their names. Let’s see Hawaii, New York, Mexico, Colorado, then Mexico again. Think that was the order of my vacations, almost all of them were whores, or might as well have been.”
“Could you write down the dates you were in these places, and how many victims there were? It will help your case.”
“It’d be easier if these shackles were a bit looser.”
‘You know very well I can do nothing about your chains, even if I wanted to. Do the best you can, I am sure the judge will understand if you are not able to clear up all your crimes, if you know what I mean?”
Nodded my head, and painfully wrote down the information I remembered about my long ago conquests. Doctor stood there nodding every minute or so and grinning like a fool, while staring at the papers I was filling out. It took nearly an hour of reminiscing to remember these so called victims.
Doctor took a few minutes to thumb through the small stack of papers on his clipboard. “Very good, I am sure this will help. Simon, I have read your personal history.” He looked directly at me. “Your father was in and out of jail your whole life, until he died there, from a stabbing in the meal line. Your mother, a junkie and drunk on her best days, with at least two dozen men coming in and out of your young life.” His eyes seemed to soften. “She left you for days at a time, but that was a long time ago. You left home before turning sixteen, and there is no record you ever went back these last ten years. At least you were smart enough to finish high school, even went to college off and on. Have you been in trouble before?”
“Went home several times, but nothing changed. I never stayed too long, an hour or two at best. I’ve been in no trouble to speak of–”
“Except, you were arrested for stalking a younger classmate when you were barely fifteen. You also have three other arrests for the same thing, and have been warned on numerous occasions since.”
“I got nothing but probation, and never saw any of those women again, just as I was told. Have already explained to you, I did what I had to do to stop the voices yelling at me. Is this eraser going to help me or not?”
“It is called erasure. I have a few more questions before we are through here. Did you have this rage when you stalked these people?”
“Not at first, was just curious and only wanted a girlfriend. I’d describe my first feelings as frustration or confusion. At first they smiled, talked to me and was nice, then they changed, and I have no idea why. Rage began about six years ago, about the time the voices started. I know you’ve already decided about this erasure. Tell me, I can take it, good or bad.”
“All right, good news is you are a perfect candidate for erasure. Bad news is, you are going to be given a complete erasure.”
“Just exactly what you are thinking it is. A time tech will visit you five years in the past, and you will cease to exist then and now.”
“That’s murder, or at the very least capital punishment. Which you know, is illegal,” I said, trying unsuccessfully to rise.
“Simon, just take it easy, and accept your lot in life. You’re not going to break through those chains, no matter how hard you try. This will not be called murder, or even capital punishment. It is more like rectifying a problem, a simple mistake of fate. They were all just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or in this case, to be more precise, perhaps you were in the wrong time at the wrong place. If you were not alive five years ago the seven people you killed just might be.”
Tried to shake loose from my shackles with no success. “If you do this it will be god damn cold-blooded murder. I won’t have done anything five years ago.”
“You have already admitted to crimes committed way before that,” the doctor replied. With a slight smirk he gave me a shrug. “It is just a miscarriage of justice that you have not been charged with any of them. That shall soon be rectified, and those crimes solved.”
“Haven’t been convicted of any of those crimes.” I yelled, “You can’t take the law into your own hands.”
“I must remind you of the form you signed earlier. In clear precise language it gives us the right to perform erasure if you are deemed acceptable.”
“You tricked me!!! I had no idea what the hell I was signing!!! What you’re going to do to me is not only against all the laws of man, but against every religious belief of mankind as well. I'll take life imprisonment, instead of this erasure.”
“So, now you claim your religious convictions are bothering you, and you wish to live with all these pestering voices? Funny, you have no religious affiliation in your records. Did you by chance find god after being sent here?”
Did not bother to even answer the question. Doctor continued his assault, “I know your childhood was tragic, and unfortunately there is nothing that can change that. But, I do not believe you hear voices ringing in your head. You are smart enough to know these voices will make it easier on you.” He stared into the mirror, just letting me sit there and sweat. “Nor, do I believe you have any religious beliefs either. I think your only real problem is, this will take away from your little moment of notoriety and infamy. You will not be able to sit in your cell and dream about what all those women would think of you now, while masturbating like a madman.”
“You can’t deny a man’s religious freedoms,” I wailed.
“If you were so religious, would it not be better to meet your maker with those extra seven murders off your hands? It could be erasure will allow you into your version of heaven.”
“You can’t do this. I’ve my god given rights as an American, no matter what I’ve done, or might do.”
“Calm down Mister Sorenson, as I said you have signed your rights away and given us permission for your erasure. I have to admit, you are perfect for erasure. You are a sociopath devoid of morals or any remorse for crimes you have committed. And in my expert opinion you would undoubtedly commit against the first woman you saw, if given the slightest chance. The time tech will make your pathetic life just as insignificant as it should have always been.”
“I’ll tell everyone I see what’s about to happen to me as soon as I leave this room. You god damn crazy fucking people won’t be able to get away with this,” I screamed, shaking my chains loudly. “There’ll be questions about my murder.”
“Simon, it will do no good to yell and scream. You will not be able to tell anyone about this, or anything else. Because you will never leave this room, and all this will have never happened. In fact, you only have about ten minutes in this time line left. As for your murder five years ago, it will appear to be an accidental death, with no foul play. Your DNA was taken a little earlier, it will be the only instrument of your destruction.”
“You’re mad, fucking mad,” I mumbled, shaking my head, “this is fucking impossible, and can’t be really happening.
The doctor continued his explanation calmly, “Basically, we used some of your DNA to establish the time line we wished to travel. We have only been able to travel back in time, and only up to five years in the past. What we also have found out, through unfortunate trial and error, is that the time tech cannot occupy the same space as their younger self.” He clasped his hands together. “This causes the two bodies to try to merge, and a human body cannot handle the shock. When this happens their deaths appear as an aneurysm, massive stroke, or heart attack. The time tech is out of phase, as is your DNA.” He gave me a shrug. “If you have not deduced already, the rest of your DNA will be introduced into your younger self at the base of the skull while you sleep. When they find your dead body, no doubt an autopsy will be performed.”
He waited a few seconds, then causally shrugged again. “Even if the needle mark is discovered, all they will find is your own DNA. Nothing suspicious or harmful, resulting in the ultimate conclusion of, death by natural causes. Your life will have ended with no fanfare or fame.”
“This isn’t right, I’ll do anything you, or anyone else asks of me. You said you were going to help me, but it was a damn lie.” I started to sob. “There’s only one thing you can do when you go back in time and that’s assassination. Would be on my knees begging you for help, but I can barely move a few inches.”
“No one wants anything from you, and what I said earlier was true. You will not spend any more time in prison, and you will finally find the peace you have sought. It has been far too long for us to repair the damage that has been done to you in your life. In all honesty, you had plenty of chances over the years to get help, but refused. Every time you were arrested you could have received free psychiatric care. I am sure all those innocent people would have begged and pled for their lives if given the chance.” For the first time the doctor was starting to sound angry.
He calmed down a bit, then smiled at me. “There is another use for traveling the time line. It enables us to see what really happened at the time in question. Your time tech made two journeys along your time line. First was to verify your presence the night Miss Briggs died. Second, to give you back your DNA we took, if we found you were the one that committed the crime in question. You are well aware of what we found.”
“Do you think you won’t have to answer to someone for this? If nothing else you’ll burn in hell. When it’s found out you people are doing this, our government leaders will want to know why?”
“I doubt if there is anyone of importance that does not already know about this process. Why do you think the government abolished capital punishment? Why do you think the violent crime rate has fallen so drastically these past years? Do you think you are the first who has seen this room?” He just kept smiling at me. That half-ass, ‘I’m better than you,’ smirk. “No, erasure has been going on for nearly eight years, although the first six were only in tightly controlled laboratory experiments. By your reasoning, do you think you have more rights to your life than those you killed?”
I did not answer. Doctor did not say anything for a moment then calmly remarked, “Perhaps I will burn in some kind of hell for what I have done, or been a party to. If that is true, then you can gloat for eternity over the things you wanted to do, but I cheated you out of. My only regret is that we are unable to go back far enough to change the fate of all your victims.”
“Doc, if you do this you could change the future as we know it. You must stop this erasure for the sake of all mankind.” I strained hard at my chains. “I could be the father of a future president or doctor. What if one of those I killed were the next Hitler or Stalin?”
“A good philosophical argument, but as you know you have fathered no children in the last five years. To be blunt, you can’t be a father by screwing corpses. If you would spend the rest of your life in prison it is very unlikely you would ever father any children.” He gave me a half ass shrug. “Besides, could not stop the erasure even if I wanted to. Yes, this time line will have changed, but for all we know it was supposed to happen this way. Erasure has recorded the reversal of several assassinations of high government leaders. I do believe they would have a much bigger impact on this time line than you, and nothing has happened. There are many of my colleagues that belief the future is always uncertain, which is why we cannot travel forward. Some even say the future is not really even there. At any rate, it is too late for you.”
My fingers and toes began to tingle a little. I thought it was from the lack of blood, courtesy of my ever-present chains. Looked down at my hands as I sat back in my chair. They radiated a faintly pulsating greenish glow. My head began throbbing and I shut my eyes trying to block the constant pain. Felt as if I were floating away.
“It has already begun. Good luck on the other side, Simon. If it is any comfort to you, your erasure is for the greater good,” Doctor Anderson stated quietly. That silly ass smirk was gone, and there was a sadness in his eyes.
It suddenly grew extremely cold, and I could no longer feel my hands or feet. Tried to open my eyes, but all I could see was more blackness. Opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Last thing I heard were my shackles hitting the floor with a ghostly clang.