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by Richard Tornello



Richard Tornello


By Richard Tornello © 2012, revisited © 2012/ 2013



Time Line: 2020 CE, Chantilly VA,  Detective Bradley


He just couldn’t sleep and he loved his sleep. It was nagging at him. Detective Erwin Bradley lay in his bed wide eyed, awake. It was the latest case he’d been assigned. It stank. It was dismissed, quashed, but in his mind, it was swept under the rug. Extra-legal eliminations were part of his past along with other activities. With all the available evidence, that investigation pointed to, in his mind, pure and simple, first degree, premeditated murder. He didn’t care if it was part of a Black Operation. To detective Bradley, as he thought of himself, he was sure the killing was outside the assignment, and therefore prosecutable.

Bleary eyed, he went to his computer and started looking up the addresses of his past associates. He especially the wanted the one, who through channels, told him, no ordered him, to drop the case against Mr. Arthur Titillo. He found the numbers. They were all unlisted. He had the tools to get them. He was a cop.

One of the first things he did when he got to the office that morning. He said his usual hellos and had his coffee. Then he went into his office and shut the door. He got the number off his notebook. He punched the buttons.  “Frankie, its Irwin. You have a few minutes? Yeah I know, it’s been a while but I need a favor.”



Time Line: 2020 CE,  An Undisclosed location, Sterling, VA



Detective Irwin Bradley said to his oldest and closest military and Black Ops buddy, Dr. Francis Malloy, otherwise known as Frankie to his friends, “Frankie, let me get this straight, whatever I hear see or do, once I get past those doors,” pointing,  “I can never, ever repeat, speak about, or prosecute against anything I see or? What gives you that right? And By-the-way, I know you’re the one that squashed my investigation. Yeah I got that much but nothing else. It really fucking pissed me off. It was wrong!”


Dr. Malloy, Chief Scientist of this Black Operation, and former military buddy to Irwin, looked at Detective Irwin Bradley with respect. He knew something related to his case and he meant to call him. Dr Malloy stated as a matter of fact, “It’s a directive from the highest parts of our government and military. It’s as simple, or as complex as that. All activities that are related to this operation are outside the normal jurisdiction of any court anywhere on this planet. It’s a different type of war. We have the upper hand. That’s all I can say right now. I’m doing you a favor letting you in at all. Then again maybe I’m not. Please sign here or leave now. Any mention of this will cause your immediate elimination. Irwin, I am deadly serious. By signing this, you also allow us to implant a microchip in your skin. We will be able to track you anywhere,” and he adds, “at any time. The process painless, quick, and you will never know it’s even there.”

Detective Irwin Bradley has never seen his friend like this, even in the most pitched battles they conducted together. “You’re serious,” he said. It was not a question.

“Sign it. Then we can talk, or leave now,” commanded his friend.

Detective Bradley signed it. “Okay here it is, Now what?”

“You come with me,” Frankie said while offering a hand shake, and pat on the back.

“Ow! What the …?”

Frankie smiled and said, “See, I told you, painless, you big baby. Do you want a cup of coffee anything to eat? We have a first class food service here. We have everything you could possibly want.”

 “I want some answers,” growled the detective. Then he realized, yes, he was hungry, “How about a margarita pizza, a side of meatballs, and a glass of wine?”

 “Done, it will be here in about fifteen minutes” Francis Malloy knew his friend, and knew when he had to eat. Combat made one intimate with your comrades. And Francis could always tell, especially when Irwin bit your head off for no reason. It was either food, or he was getting ready to fight. Today it was food.

Frankie showed him around, purposely waiting for the food to arrive and ingested. The story was best told on a full stomach, in a relaxed and calm environment.

“Irwin here it is. Eat. As Irwin was chomping down on the last slice of pizza Frankie calmly said, “We conduct time travel experiments, and a bit more.” Frankie was waiting for some reaction.

He got a reaction. “Bullshit!” and pizza flew out of Detective Bradley’s mouth.

“Yep, that’s what I said when I was briefed. Listen, this gets a bit stranger. You ever read H.G. Wells the Time Machine?

“Yeah, when I was a kid, saw a few time travel movies, along with all the other Back to The…”

He was cut off. Frankie began in all seriousness, “Well the process is real. And Wells was on to something. We found one of his notebooks that had been mis-catalogued. One of our researchers was going through the stacks at Library of Congress and came upon it. He realized that it was a book of formulas, and technical drawing. The name H.G. Wells made him take a closer look. He said he almost had a heart attack while reading it.”

“Come on that’s all fantasy,” said Detective Irwin Bradley, in almost total disbelief.

“Some of it is, and some is hard science. Even physics says there is no law that forbids time travel. From his drawings, we rebuilt his machine as he made it. Then we analyzed every part and remade it with current technology. We had some initial problems. We were using the Mallet Conjectures,” continued Frankie.

“What are those?” asked Irwin.

Frankie continued, “There is no need to go into details but suffice to say, forward time travel from here is no issue. But travel to the past is, or, was. What we discovered was that in order to go back in time we need something that was actually manufactured, or created from that said time. Otherwise, the machine would lock into the latest time of the ring-laser’s manufacture. And there was no way to get around that. We have to have a piece from that time. That’s THE key element. Wells stumbled upon that and destroyed the keys, and hid the book. Note, he didn’t destroy the book. The invention was to him, his baby, more so than any child he ever sired. But he never mentioned the nature of the keys anywhere. Or if he did, we lost them or he destroyed that evidence.”

Frankie could see Irwin was taking this all in. He also knew that if it were anyone else stating these facts, Irwin would have walked out in disbelieving disgust. “Okay so now you know. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go?” asked Frankie.

Irwin knew he could never prosecute Artie. Maybe he could stop him. “New Jersey, this date at these coordinates 1972.”

Francis looked at them, realized a similarity to another traveler, but said nothing except, “What do you have from that time period?”

Irwin pulled out the two spent casings that he carried in his pockets. He would fumble with them like marbles when he was thinking. He handed both of them to Frankie. “To stop this,” he says.

Dr. Malloy said, “I only need one, and we’ll just require a microscopic shaving of the material. I’ll be right back.” He handed the other one back to Irwin with a rye smile. He could not know that Irwin was now aware of Titillio’s travels, but he had a hunch. He wasn’t worried. And that was about to change.

“Hey Frankie, does the name Artie Titillio mean anything to you?”

Dr. Francis Malloy stopped in his tracks. He thought for a minute and then turned around and said slowly, “Yes, he used to work for us. He’s retired. Why do you ask?” He thought to himself, Mr. Titillio is a dead man.

He’s someone that I had been investigating. Reading Frankie’s mind he quickly added, and no, he never mentioned you or anything about this organization or time travel. I worked that out after being told to drop the case. That’s why I came to you. I want to go to the same place, the same day Artie did, only fifteen minutes later.”

Dr. Francis Malloy, PhD., gave it some thought. ”Okay but what ever happens in time travel, stays in time travel. This can not ever leave this place, nor can you ever bring anything you discover to a court of law. Is that understood?"

"Of course, I do understand, now."

"Irwin, I’m not kidding. You will be cashiered."

Irwin Bradley knew his friend was not kidding. But he had to go and, and what? He wasn’t really sure. Would he stop the event from happening? Then he realized what the war his friend was talking about actually was. He said, “No my friend, you do not ever have to worry about my saying anything. And please, Mr. Titillio never ever mentioned you, or this at all. In fact he was frustratingly and surprisingly quiet about the whole investigation. It was so unlike I thought he would be.”

Francis took him at his word. “Good,” was all he said, “let’s get moving.”

A short time later Detective Irwin Bradley was in the projection booth. Frankie was at the controls, and gave him a thumb up. There was a slight humming as the instruments came on line. There was nothing too spectacular. He felt a little queasy and attributed it to nerves. He looked up and saw Frankie with somewhat questioning look and then one of panic. That was the last thing he saw right there and right then.

It was not coincidence that he emerged in roughly the same location that Artie did. He didn’t know exactly what to expect. He thought maybe he would be at the bar. There he was standing in front of the BLACK CROW. What a run down structure this place was. Someone only maintained it at a minimum observed detective Bradley. Right next door with a small ally way between them was dojo in a modern brick building. He went up to the door of the Crow and banged in as loud a cop bang as he could.




“Detective Bradley, could I see you in my office?

Detective Bradley looked up and answered his captain, “sure, now or later?”


I wonder what’s up he thought as he followed him into the office. The Captain closed the door and said, “Please sit down, coffee?”

“What’s up?”

The captain looked down at something in a plastic bag and then at detective Bradley. He passed the bag over to him and then asked, “You know what these are?”

Irwin Bradley took a look and knew instantly. “They’re nine millimeter casings.”

“That’s right,” said the captain. He continued, “And they have your prints all over them. They were found near a shooting, a shooting that occurred over 50 years ago. These are modern casings and modern ammunition. What is going on here?”

Detective Bradley had no answer. He couldn’t. But now he was sure he knew what happened. He was not a good liar. He did his best. “I have no idea,” he said, because he didn’t for that spit second.

“I need to see your gun,” demanded the captain.

As Detective Bradley unloaded the service Sig 226 and handed the captain his gun, he thought back to that day. It was coming back to him. He barely heard the captain speaking.

“I need this for ballistics testing,” stated the captain.

“Of course,” replied Detective Bradley. Snapping out of the memory trip, he asked, “Does that mean I’m…”

“No not at all this is too weird. But still this is policy,” stated the captain, who was looking at Irwin expecting, hoping for some answer. As before, none was forthcoming.

“How long will it take?” Irwin knew but had to ask. Detective Bradley attempted to lower the level of conflict. “Tell you what, while you’re waiting for the results, I’ll take a couple of sick days. Once this straightens out, and I know it will. I’ll get back to work. Trust me, it will be just like this didn’t happen.”

In a way that’s exactly what the captain wanted to hear. And yet, he knew there was something to it. “Yes, that sounds good. Take a few days off, sick leave or administrate leave, it’s your choice. At this point this is a private affair. It’s too weird.” He looked at Irwin again hoping that maybe he would shed some light on this affair.

That was not going to happen. “Sick, it looks better that way,” said Detective Bradley as he left the captain’s office. He was thinking about that day. The events were as clear as the view of the office in front of him. He could remember every detail. He was good like that, even years later.


Time Line: CE 1980 NJ and 2020 VA,

“Irwin, remember, you ONLY have an hour to do what you need. That’s it. We yank you out no matter what’s happening. No if, ands, or buts,” said Frankie just before they began the travel procedures.

Knocking on the Black Crow’s locked door a few times brought no one. He thought he knew what was happening. It didn’t work. He did notice some pretty young thing staring at him from in the store and some movement. He had to move fast to do what he wanted to accomplish so he gave up on that one approach he had considered. Now it was on to plan number two.

Knowing that the map said the topless bar where DeMartino was killed was down the road, he jogged toward it. He had to get there before Artie did. When he hit route 516 he made a left. He could see the bar about a quarter mile away, just down from a grammar school. That’s way too close, he thought, for any gun play.

He slowed down to a brisk walk to calm down and cool off at the same time. He felt better when he got to the bar. On the way in he bumped in to a guy about the same height and not as bulked up as he was. But he was a big guy just the same. Bouncer he thought. “Excuse me, sorry,” he said.

The big bouncer just gave him a dirty look and kept talking to two others. They looked him up and down. It was dark so there wasn’t much to see. Well the girls were up dancing.

 “Coke please,” he said to the bartender.

 “That will be $5.00.”

 “$5.00 bucks?” Detective Bradley asked the bartender in disbelief. 

 “Yep, that’s the price when they’re dancing. The bartender pointed up to the girls on the platforms.

 Detective Bradley laid out a five dollar bill.

“Hey, you trying to be funny? This ain’t any US money, Shit it ain’t even Canadian. Hey Tony,” he hollered. "Check this shit out. He’s using funny money to buy a drink.” The eyes in the bar all turned toward the bartender as he held the bill up in the air.

“Shit, I forgot, damn it. What a screw up, I should have used singles,” the detective said to himself, grabbing the bill back out of the bartender’s hand before he could get a good look or keep it. Detective Bradley began to sweat just a little and then he began moving toward the door. He didn’t want to leave any evidence of his time travel. And he wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Time was almost up.

 Just as he got the door, he heard a voice calling to him.

 “Hey you, freeloader! Thief. Yeah you, you trying to get away with something?” It had to be Tony the dead thug.

 Irwin was at a loss for words. What Can I say, he thinks? Hey I’m from the future, and I forgot to exchange my money for this current time. Right, that was going to work.

“Sorry, I just got back from a trip outside the country. And I forgot to change my bills for US currency.” Quick thinking he said too himself, proud of the answer.

Tony was having none of it. “No, Mr. Big Guy, you bump into me, and then you try to stiff the bartender. Not gonna happen. You’re going to pay, now,” declared Tony DeMartino, holding a bat.

“Hey, I said I was sorry when I ran into you. What more do you want?” Maybe reason would work.

“It might have been okay, if you didn’t try to rob the joint asshole. No you’re going to pay my way.”

Irwin was backing up out side moving to the back of the building. If there was going to be gun play he wanted to make sure he wasn’t facing the school. “Listen Tony, it is Tony DeMartino, right?”
"You know my name. What are you a cop?” asks Tony with a sneer.

"As a matter of fact I am.” Irwin pulls out his badge. He doesn’t give his name.

“A badge, wow, a fucking badge. Big fucking deal,” says Tony as he closes in on Detective Bradley. The two others are flanking him and driving him toward the back of the bar toward the woods.

Detective Bradley opened his coat; he heard a clink or two but didn’t have time to look. He hoped that by showing the black Sig 226, they’d back down. Tony ignored the gun, lifted the bat to take a swing. Irwin backed up; the bat just missed his head and pulled the gun. Before Tony could take another swing, he double tapped, and two in the head. The casings fell to the ground. Tony’s two associates stopped. They understood fire power. Irwin picked up the 9mm shell casings, always facing the other two, gun at the ready and slowly walked away. He heard sirens. Just as he got to the road he was pulled back to the present time. Frankie looked at him and asked in all seriousness, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah why?  What’s the problem?” he asked. He recalled Frankie’s worried face just before he jumped back.

“The scrapings we took from the casing were modern! But they also had a tag from the1980's. The machine was going nuts attempting to calibrate. We were worried. We knew from the implant you were somewhere. We assumed where you wanted to be. But because of the casings we were never sure. What gives with these 9mm casings?” This was Dr. Malloy talking not his friend Frankie.

“The casings are from both times,” replied Irwin Bradley.

“What are you talking about?” demanded Dr. Malloy.

Detective Bradley told him the whole story.

These memories shot through Detective Bradley’s mind as he was looking at his captain. I can’ say shit, he thought. This is what Artie must have been thinking when I was questioning him. He couldn’t say squat. Son of a bitch!

“Irwin you okay? You look funny, asked the captain, very concerned. “Sit down. I‘ll get you some water.”

“No captain, I’m okay, really. I was just thinking about an old case that didn’t go so well. Sorry. I probably need something to eat.”

“Detective Low Blood Sugar,” the captain said trying to lighten up a situation, all of which he was not sure he understood. His best detective had fingerprints on 50 year old shell casings that were discovered near a shooting in New Jersey. To top it off, the bullets were manufactured in the last few years. And finally, Detective Bradley was fifty something years old!

Detective Bradley holstered his back up gun a Sig 238, and headed toward his car. Home or food he questioned himself? La Fornio in Reston, I haven’t been there in a while. Yep, a good plate of Italian food. I’ll say hello to Doug, sit at his table and say hello to Chef.

And as he was walking toward the door of the restaurant, which is below the condo’s that Artie Titillio lived in, who should be coming out the door of the condo, but Artie Titillio with a tall blondish woman on his arm, who looked vaguely familiar.

Detective Bradley stopped, a big smile grew across his face and he said, “Mr. Titillio, how are you today. I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Artie looked at him in shock and replied, “Sir, who are you? I never met you before in my life.” Artie looked back at the slack jawed detective, and increased his withdrawal pace, ever so slightly. As he walked away he heard Artie state, “Nancy that was weird. I never met the guy. I seem to draw the loonies.” He looked at her. This was so off the wall. He thought back to that day.

He remembered, I went back there for a reason, a mission that I never fulfilled. For some reason...oh right the cop cars. I remembered all the cop cars were speeding in the direction I was supposed to go. That squashed the task. I stayed in the head shop and talked to the two of them for another half hour before I had to leave.

Nancy looked back and thought Detective Bradley looked familiar. It was an incident from somewhere in her past. It was a past she’d rather forget.

Irwin began to say, “Ti……. ma,” lowered his voice and stopped. He had to get to Frankie as soon as possible.



Small print:

This is a work of fiction. Names places and incidents are totally fictitious. Any resemblance to persons, locations and incidents in this universe, time line or any other for that matter are pure coincidences.

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2013-05-01 09:29:12
micheledutcher - I really liked the style of this story, the visceral quality of the dialog. And I'm always glad when there's a tip of the hat to HG Wells.

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.

by Richard Tornello