The sign was battered and faded, with a couple of bullet holes for good measure. We looked at it with a dull satisfaction of a job well done. While it wouldn’t win any awards, we knew it was a work of art even if it would hopefully never be noticed.
Our lack of joy at this moment of achievement was down to the number of times this week we’d had to do this. I don’t know what it was about landmarks but the invaders seemed to take a positive delight in obliterating them. Maybe it was a psychological warfare thing – that was what some suited analyst from the fifteenth floor had suggested in a briefing when this all started.
I wasn’t entirely convinced. Perhaps it was the cynicism for which I’d received a number of pointed reprimands, but I was beginning to think they were messing with us. We’d hijacked their technology to be able to fight back, that had to be annoying them.
We’d been so close to the brink before our troops had captured enough pieces of the puzzle to realise that they were using time travel to achieve what had seemed impossible feats of coordination and repair. Once the boffins and egg-heads had got their collective heads round it all, then things got weirder than usual – I mean weirder than an alien time-travelling alien invasion. Yeah, let’s use the word weird, it’ll do.
So, bootstrapping ourselves up to their level on that side of things meant we could level the playing field. The first rewind put us all the way back to six months before the invaders arrived, and preparations started. Why that date? I have no idea, it’s above my pay grade; but now you have two sides that have access to time travel.
Just to add another wrinkle, there’s some application of the tech that permits people working with it to retain knowledge of the time shifts. It’s a bit of a headache, and prolongued exposure seems to have a depressive effect on the users’ moods, so that’s where we come in. There are teams of us all over the place tasked with keeping things business as usual until this vast time-travelling chess game is resolved.
Keeping everyone we can in the dark is the least awful option, but remembering that is getting hard to keep fixed in our heads. I’ve heard of teams walking away en masse in recent months – or I suppose that could be days, or hours. I’m losing track myself. I really am. It’s almost enough to make me gather the teams and strike out, to see if we can stop all this dead in its tracks.
You see, what not many people know is that the invaders seem to be human, or at least human-like. It wouldn’t take much to disguise ourselves and make use of the confusion to take both sides out if the battle.
We looked again at the Hollywood sign looming above us and at the ghostly after images of the loops we’re caught in. Maybe we should do this, become the invaders? Are you with me?