And so the criminal disappears after the inventor.
Whipping backwards through time, into the deep, jungled past of the Earth.
There is freedom to be found, of a sort. Freedom to be captured, seized, taken. The device whirred, like the sound of a hundred frenzied violins, like the droning of a monastic order, like the squabbling of infants. He opened his eyes, into the brilliance of unfiltered sunshine, into a dawn that chased away the shadows.
She must be here, somewhere. She must be nearby.
It comes upon him in thunder bolts, the dirt shaking beneath his feet, the trees leaning drunkenly aside.
It comes upon him in a storm of tearing claws and snapping jaws.
She was worried, about interfering with the past. She was worried, by the butterfly effect and other serious things with pretty names. It didn’t take long to abandon her worries – she needed fire, and shelter, and food. She needed the silence of the echoing jungle, she needed this virgin world.
The past needed feeding.
The flames spread – she had left the fire unattended while attending to something else; a third thing attended to her.
It was still hungry, as the smell of ozone cleared and he staggered into the clearing, appearing from nothingness.
It was over in an instant.