To Prevent a Murder

Lieutenant Edwige Barre found the wind from the mountainside much colder than she expected. It was nighttime, 19 January, and there was a blanket of snow covering the streets, and more was threatening.

She had to hurry, as she didn’t have much time and didn’t want to get caught. Her all-black bodysuit and the shadows would help camouflage her movements.

Though alone for this part of the mission, Edwige was a member of a much larger team. Five other time-transitioning units were training to continue the experiment, should this one fail.

“What happens if we change something and some members disappear?” she had asked.

“We don’t think anyone will be affected, but if that does, we’re five-deep, and someone will take our place,” the project director said. “That includes you and me.”

To know anything more beyond preventing the murder of this woman was above her pay grade.

Not only was she selected because of her physical skills and courage, but also like the woman and man she was tracking, she spoke French and Cajun fluently. She was also the average height of a woman for the time and could blend in if somehow she were to become trapped.

It had been a painful transition from where her journey started, and her body felt like a pincushion, her mind slightly muddled. She had never experienced anything like it during her lengthy training period.

Though disoriented, she found the female target’s home with ease. Entry was even less of a problem as she forced the backdoor open.

While the team had no idea of the home’s layout, it took Edwige seconds to locate the bedroom and slip beneath the bed. While she didn’t have any way of measuring time, she figured she had less than 30 minutes for her target to return home.

Juliette was angry. For all the good she did for Virginia City, its people still treated her like a two-bit whore.

She stormed down the hillside street from Piper’s Opera House, where Mark Twain was lecturing, towards her small home on D Street. On the opposite side walked Jean Marie.

He called out, “Bonjour, Mademoiselle Juliette!”

She did not return the greeting as she continued hurriedly down the street.

Jean Marie looked back at her in anger and gruffed, “Ignoré par une pute maudite.”

Jean Marie spoke no English and could barely order the beer he was drinking. As he stood, back against the far wall, the loner thought about Juliette’s snub and growing angrier by the minute.

After four more beers and six shots of whiskey, he left the saloon and wandered about the town, looking for a place to sleep that was out of the wind. Then he had an idea.

The door to the house opened and closed. Edwige could hear Juliette muttering about her treatment and how one-day people would realize how much she had done for this ‘trou de merde’ of a town.

Within a couple of minutes, Juliette was in bed, and less than half an hour, she was sound asleep. Quietly, Edwige slipped from her hiding spot and took a position in the far corner of the room, near the closed door.

Then there was a loud thump from somewhere beyond the bedroom.

“Jean Marie,” Edwige thought.

The noise startled Juliette from her sleep, and she rolled over to listen. Juliette pulled on a pair of crinoline drawers she had at the foot of her bed, then picked up a piece of wood as she got out of bed.

How she saw Edwige, the Lieutenant had no idea. She was practically invisible in her black clothing and the lightless room.

At five-two, Edwige was nearly a head shorter than the woman with the piece of wood, who was now swinging wildly at the dark figure cornered in her bedroom. The blows were landing, but not all of them with efficiency.

Edwige tried to get out the door but couldn’t as the woman would not let her near the handle. So, she decided she had to fight back, striking the woman in the head with the butt of her Glock pistol.

The blow sent Juliette back and against the bed frame, but it didn’t stop her. Instead, she rushed Edwige, and the two ended up on the floor, Juliette straddling her smaller opponent, manually strangling her.

Unable to breathe and amazed at how strong her target was, Edwige picked up the piece of wood and clubbed Juliette in the side of the head. On the fifth strike, Juliette finally slumped forward, unconscious.

Then Jean Marie tried to enter the bedroom, shoving the door against the still trapped Edwige. As Edwige wiggled from under the woman’s body, Jean Marie moved away from the door.

It took all of Edwige’s strength to get the half-nake woman onto her bed. It was then that she noticed that Juliette was bleeding severely.

She started to administer first aid, but the woman gained consciousness, grabbed a pair of scissors from her nightstand, and stabbed Edwige in the stomach. Surprised, Edwige tried to stand up, but again the scissors found their mark, this time in Edwige’s right shoulder.

Knowing she could die if she didn’t stop her attacker, she jumped on top of Juliette and pressed her left forearm into the woman’s throat. In response, Juliette rammed the scissors into Edwige’s lower back, piercing her left kidney.

Within a minute, the battle ended, and Edwige pulled herself from the unconscious body of Juliette, collapsing to the floor. Then she heard the door open and instinctively rolled over and clambered to her feet, prepared to defend herself.

“Mon Dieu!” Jean Marie exclaimed, springing on Edwige, punching her, and yelling, “Meurtrier.”

Her strength zapped, Edwige fell back on the hardwood floor and waited for the man to strike her again. Instead, he got to his feet and checked on Juliette.

Understanding that she was dead, Jean Marie turned back to Edwige and kicked her. He was in the process of kicking her a second time when she vaporized before his eyes.

The violence of his kick, married to the sudden lack of a target, caused the still intoxicated man to flop violently onto his back.

“Type A, stat,” said the emergency room doctor as she worked feverishly to save Lt. Barre’s life.

The injuries were many, and blood leaked from nearly all of them. The Lieutenant tried to remain awake but finally slipped into unconsciousness.

It would be two more days before she could speak and be coherent in doing so.

“So odd the way it went down,” the project’s director said.

“It was Jean Marie coming into the house as he did that caused everything to go off the rail,” Lt. Barre said. “It had to be.”

“Well, you’re fortunate to be alive,” the director said. “I guess we can’t change the past after all.”

“Yeah, why’s that?” Lt. Barre asked.

“According to the historical record Juliette Bulette still died in 1867, murdered, and Millain went to the gallows the next year for the crime, continuing to claim he was only there to steal, but that someone else killed Juliette,” he said.

“Oh chère Dieu,” the young Lieutenant exclaimed, suddenly feeling violently sick to her stomach.

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