She waited until the cop passed the lightpost and rounded the corner to step up behind her and put a hand to her throat and a knife to her ribs. It was a stupid way to make friends. Stupid had not been working out well for Nicole lately, but that only meant that her good luck was overdue. From the way the cop shifted in her grip, leaned forward and braced herself tentatively against Nicole’s hand, Nicole’s luck was stuck up a tree somewhere. Or had stopped for a latte.
“This isn’t a good idea,” the cop said calmly.
“This a freaking terrible idea,” Nicole said, just as evenly.
The cop eased back, taking the light pressure off Nicole’s hand immediately.
“I need your help,” Nicole said.
The woman turned, just enough so that Nicole was looking at the slanted lines of her cheek and jaw instead of her ear. “The emergency number is in the phone book. I think. I’ve never actually checked, but I’ve always assumed.”
“And if I needed the police’s help, I would have called the police,” Nicole told her. “But I need your help.”
The cop hesitated. Then she nodded. “Okay. What do you need?”
“I need you not to die today,” Nicole told her.
Pausing, the woman’s chin dipped a scant quarter inch, and Nicole imagined she was looking down at her ribs.
“It’s hard to get your attention,” Nicole explained without apology.
“So,” the woman said carefully. “If I promise not to die, you stop threatening to kill me and we go our own ways?”
“I wish,” Nicole said. She shifted her grip, and glanced over her shoulder to make sure she hadn’t caught anyone’s attention. The street was empty except for the man smoking on his stoop across the way, as usual. She didn’t expect anyone to be there, but it was hard to break the old habit of checking. “I need you to come with me,” she told the cop quietly. “And I need you to stay where I put you for twenty-four hours, and not talk to anyone. Including me.”
“Why would I do that?” the cop said.
“Because it could save a couple billion lives,” Nicole said.
The cop didn’t respond.
“I don’t have the time to convince you that I’m not exaggerating,” Nicole said.
The cop was leaning forward again. “I’m going to keep walking now. If you turn around and pretend you didn’t do this, I won’t file a report.”
“Look,” Nicole said. She shut her eyes and sighed at how sharp her voice had become. She swallowed it back. “It’s very hard to explain. But the point is that if you die today, which is statistically likely if you talk to anyone, it will start a media incident. The incident will start riots. The riots will start a civil war. The civil war will start a bigger war. The bigger war will start a nuclear explosion. The nuclear explosion will catch the attention of extra terrestrials. The extra terrestrials will make it their goal to civilize us since we obviously don’t know how to run our planet. The extra terrestrials will fail, and then they will destroy the planet, because they have some weird laws still on the books from the last eon when it was still socially acceptable for them to be speciesist. Then me and about a thousand other humans will be the first of our species to learn what it’s like to be interplanetary refugees.”
Nicole could almost feel the cop start blinking.
“I would rather none of that happened,” Nicole told her. “I would rather you just spent the rest of your life thinking I was that crazy woman who locked you in a hotel room for a day with unlimited cable and bacon cheeseburgers.”
“I do like bacon cheeseburgers,” the woman murmured.
Nicole shrugged. “We’ve done this a couple times.”
“So,” the cop said conversationally. “You time travel?”
“I do,” Nicole said, just as easily.
The woman took a breath. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Nicole didn’t move her hands.
She shook her head, just a little. “Why am I going to die if I talk to someone?”
Nicole resisted the urge to drop her head onto the woman’s shoulder and groan. She just shut her eyes and took a breath instead. “Because one of my least favorite people in the world decided to make my life as difficult as possible, because he resents that I’m only doing this because I’m getting paid.”
“You’re getting paid?” the woman asked, feigning curiosity.
“Only if you stay alive,” Nicole said. “But my least favorite person put a spell on you, so that anyone you talked to would get annoyed enough to commit homicide.”
“A spell?” the cop asked.
“A spell,” Nicole said. She gritted her teeth, took another breath. “And we’d better get you to your cheeseburgers soon. Because I think it’s starting to work.”
I’m a thief! I have stolen the first line of this piece from my friend, Kid. In fact, all my friends have robbed her this week. Be sure to stop by their blogs to see what other threats are being made.