Boyfriend had continued to read the Mars Tribune on his tablet while sipping
his own coffee. I had just finished brunch when we heard his sudden, quick intake
Jeffrey and I looked up, waiting for him to speak.
Boyfriend took a moment to review it again before reading the article aloud to us.
"At precisely 7:57AM Saturday morning," Boyfriend began, "a massive explosion rocked a luxury suite on the 27th floor of the prestigious Mars Towers complex."
"We left fifteen minutes early yesterday morning, so we were already docking with the Athena by then," Jeffrey murmured.
Boyfriend continued reading the news report. "The Mars Towers' security office advised that no injuries had been reported. According to the building's spokesperson, Theodore Lizardo, a fortuitous transport scheduling error was responsible for the suite's occupants having escaped serious injury or possibly even death.
The residents had departed earlier than originally planned, when their HoverPOD somehow arrived fifteen minutes ahead of time. A team of Housekeeping 'Bots were also spared. The 'Bots had originally been scheduled to service the suite simultaneously with the occupant's planned departure at 8 AM, but they appeared to have been running slightly late."
"My God, that was Boyfriend's suite," I whispered, totally aghast.
"The cause of the explosion is still under investigation," Boyfriend read on. "The blaze which resulted from the explosion was quickly extinguished, but the apartment suffered significant damage, much of which was concentrated in the living room and foyer areas.
According to Lizardo, the unit was fully insured, and the suite is expected
to quickly be restored to its original condition. The name of the apartment's
owner, rumored to be an off-planet corporation, has not been made public."
The three of us sat there in total shock. My face was white as a sheet and I felt lightheaded. "It wasn't a coincidence that we left early and the Housekeeping 'Bots were late," I said shakily "Those things don't just happen."
Jeffrey was stunned. "We were dead," he said flatly. "We were all dead."
"No, that can't be right, Jeffrey. One of us must have survived the blast," I said. I was voicing aloud what each of us had just begun to realize.
"One of us must have gone back to change the scheduling," I said. "The signs of a time manipulation are far too obvious. It's staring us right in the face."
"Not possible," said Boyfriend, frowning thoughtfully. "Even if one of us had managed to survive the blast, the level of traumatic injury would have been too great. We'd never have been able to do it. The blood loss alone would have been massive, the injuries far too severe to have permitted intellectual functioning, much less be able to meet the physical demands implementing those changes would have entailed."
Jeffrey picked up his mug and took a sip of coffee.
"How did you know what to do, Dimitri?" he asked casually.
The little 'Bot turned away from the sink and faced Jeffrey.
"You told me, Sir," he said softly.
"His Grace and Madame Alyssandra were . . . were still breathing, but they were unconscious and they were . . . in very bad shape," Dimitri told him. "It's unlikely that either of them could have survived. You had lost your . . . you had lost a great deal of blood, Mr. Rhiez, but you were conscious and your mind was still working reasonably well. I am equipped with an extensive emergency medical program. I tied a tourniquet around your thigh to stop the bleeding."
"You could not see the others from where you lay, but you seemed to instinctively know how bad it had to be, judging by the extent of your own injuries," Dimitri told him.
"You managed, with some difficulty, to reach into your pocket. You pulled out a coin of some sort and handed it to me," Dimitri said. "You told me what needed to be done. And I did it, Sir, to the best of my ability."