Guardians of Time – Part 4

bat.jpg“Accessing dream variables,” the computer announced.

“What are you doing?” Sam asked, inching his chair over to get a better view.

Earl ignored him. He scrolled through the various templates looking for something that may help him. Finally, he selected NIGHTMARE, subcategory VAMPIRES. Then, under additional details he added TWINS. He selected the date for the dream to be the night before the proposal.

“I don’t get it,” Sam said.

“Of course you don’t,” Earl muttered. “If the Josephine and Frank changed their path last time because they remembered their own twins, then maybe we can scare them back onto the path by overriding that memory.”

“But how do they have a memory of the twins they’re going to have if it hasn’t happened yet? Or isn’t going to happen at all. Didn’t we erase their twins existence the last time back? So, shouldn’t they have forgotten?”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not going to happen anymore. It only matters that it did happen at one point. They won’t have any solid memories of their past lives, but there will be a reside of the memory that sticks to the brain. It alters their actions because those moments are what make them into who they are. We can’t completely erase the past even if we can undo it.” Earl grabbed the training binder from the shelf and tossed it at him. “Read this and be quiet.”

Sam absently flipped through a couple of pages then went back to watching Earl intently as he reversed the timeline to their proposal again.

* * *

Josephine and Frank walked hand in hand through the woods. She glanced up at him and he grinned back. Suddenly, there was clattering behind them as two bikes appeared out of nowhere and nearly hit them as the flew past.

As the last second Frank grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the way as the boys flew past. “You okay?” Frank asked. She nodded.

The second boy skidded to a stop up ahead and looked behind them.

“Gee, sorry mister,” the first boy said. “We didn’t see you.”

Josephine looked at their identical faces staring at her and something jolted in her memory and she was hit with a wave of horror as she remembered the terrible dream she’d had the night before. She grasped Frank’s arm.

“No harm done.” Frank said. “Just be more careful next time.”

The boys grinned and nodded in unison.

The memory of the dream washed over Josephine as she remembered two identical boys chasing her through the woods trying to catch her.

“C’mon Ricky!” the other boy called.

Frank and Josephine watched them race off on their bikes. “Come on,” Frank grinned at her, holding out his hand for her. She slowly relax as she as they continued on their hike.

* * *

“He still didn’t yell at them,” Sam said.

“Thank you for stating the obvious,” Earl said, keeping his eyes glued to the screen.

“Why didn’t you give the dream to Frank?”

“Because Frank loves vampire movies. It wouldn’t have scared him. He’d have thought it was funny and nothing would have changed. Josephine, on the other hand, finds those movies terrifying.”

“How do you know that?” Sam asked, flipping through the binder. “I didn’t see any of that in here.

Earl ignored the question.

The proposal played out exactly as before. It wasn’t until they were back in the woods at the bottom of the hill that Earl and Sam perked up in their chairs to watch.

* * *

Josephine and Frank smiled as they discussed when they’d get married and how many kids they’d have.

“Twin boys,” Frank said, as they walked through the woods back to the road.

Josephine stopped abruptly causing Frank to stumble a bit as his hand was jerked backwards.

“Why would you say that?” Josephine asked.

“I don’t know. I could just see it.” He shrugged. “Ever since we ran into those boys on the path earlier. It’s not a big deal.”

She reached up and rested her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I had a really weird dream last night about twin vampires.” She shuddered. “I think it just stuck with me.” She gave forced little laugh.

He took her hand again. “Ok, no twins and no vampires.” He grinned at her.

“Hey mister!” a voice called behind them.

They turned around to see the boys were back. “You want to see something really neat?”

“What is it?” Frank asked.

“Ricky found a bat in our fort!”

Frank looked at Josephine and waggled his eyebrows. Her eyes opened wide in surprise and fear.

“Sure,” Frank said.

“No, let’s go,” Josephine said, pulling on his hand.

“It’ll just take a second.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”

* * *

“Noooooo!” Earl shouted at the screen as the couple followed the boys into the woods.

Guardians of Time – Part 3

the path among the trees

Josephine held hands with her steady beau as they walked through the woods to the hill they liked to hike. She looked over at Frank and he grinned down at her. They both turned when a clattering sounded behind them as first one bike appeared on the path behind them followed quickly by a second.

Frank grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the way as the boys barreled past. “You okay?” Frank asked. She nodded.

The second boy skidded to a stop up ahead and looked behind him.

“Gee, sorry mister. We didn’t see you,” the boy said. He appeared to be about 10 years old.

The other boy had by now realized his brother had stopped and turned back to see what was happening. Josephine looked at their identical faces staring at her with concern and something in the moment felt so familiar, but she couldn’t place it.

“No harm done. Just be more careful next time,” Frank said.

The boy closed to them grinned and nodded.

“C’mon Ricky!” the other boy called.

Frank and Josephine watched them race off on their bikes. “Come on,” Frank grinned at her, holding out his hand for her to take as they continued on their hike.

* * *

“No, no, no! That’s not supposed to happen,” Earl muttered, shuffling through his papers. He glared over at Sam who was still cowering in the corner. “Frank was supposed to yell at the boys for almost running them over. Why was he nice this time?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders. “So he was nice? Isn’t that a good thing?”

Earl closed his eyes and heaved a giant sigh. Without saying anything he continued working.

“I guess not,” Sam whispered.

* * *

Frank and Josephine continued their hike up the mountain hand in hand. When they got to the top they found a flat, smooth rock to sit on so they could look out at the city below. They chatted and laughed for awhile. Josephine had always loved how easy it was to talk to Frank.

Finally, she said, “I think we should head back down before the sun sets and we’re stuck hiking in the dark again.”

“Oh come on! That was fun!”

She laughed. “Maybe for you! I was scared out of my mind.” She gave him a playful shove and started to stand up.

“Just a minute.” He reached into his pocked and pulled out a ring. Before she could process what was happening, he was on his knee looking at her. Her face broke into a huge smile.

* * *

“There! See, we’re back on track!” Sam leapt up from his chair and pointed at the screen. “She marries Frank. Walter isn’t in the picture. It’s all back to normal.” He flopped back into his chair and gave a great sigh of relief.

Frank raised his eyebrows. “We are not back on track. He didn’t yell at boys back there. Something has changed.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Worrywart.”

* * *

Josephine and Frank couldn’t stop smiling the whole way down the hill. They discussed when they’d get married and how many kids they’d have, joking and laughing the whole way.

“Twin boys,” Frank said, as they walked through the woods back to the road.

“You know it’s funny you say that, but I’ve been thinking that ever since those boys almost ran us over,” Josephine said, suddenly serious. “I could just see it, you know. Like a memory I couldn’t quite reach.” She laughed nervously, “I sound crazy.”

“No,” Frank said. “I get it.”

“Hey mister!” a voice called behind them.

They turned around to see the boys were back. “You want to see something really neat?”

“What is it?” Frank asked.

“Ricky found a bat in our fort!”

Frank and Josephine shared a look and smiled. “Sure.” They turned off the path and followed the boys to their fort.

* * *

“What are they doing? No, no, no! Go back!” Earl shouted at the screen.

“It’s just a bat,” Sam muttered under his breath.

Guardians of Time – Part 2

photo of person typing on computer keyboard

“Can’t we just go back and undo it?” Sam asked. He sat with his back against the wall, hunched over and cowering. The giant screen in front of them continued to play as Josephine and Walter lived out their morning.

Earl narrowed his eyes at Sam, but didn’t say anything. He grabbed the binder and started flipping through the pages. “When did you take them?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“How do you not know?” Earl asked. “How have you made it this far into training and you don’t know when you reversed her timeline to?

Sam shrugged his shoulders. “I input the information just like I was supposed to.” He pointed at the worksheet on the table.

Earl scrolled through the input information, double-checking the worksheet all while muttering expletives under his breath. Finally, he reached the line he was looking for. He closed his eyes and gave a large sigh before crooking his head towards Sam. “Under purpose you wrote wedding ring,” he said.

Sam nodded.

“Do you think that maybe it would have been a good idea to give a bit more information?” he asked through gritted teeth. “That could mean anything,” he shouted the last word. “It could have been their wedding day, or the day they pick out their rings, or even some random day she took them in to get cleaned!” Earl pounded his fist on the table. “You didn’t even specify who’s wedding ring you were trying to get back.”

“Oh.”

Earl began typing more information into the computer. Walter and Josephine began to slowly move backwards, gaining more and more speed until it was just a blur. A voice echoed over the intercom in their booth: “Attention, you have exceeded the reverse time limit for trainees. Unauthorized changes could severely threaten the present. Please return immediately.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” Earl muttered. The intercom message continued to repeat as the images on the screen in front of them slowly sharpened into view and a young Josephine appeared. Earl punched in the override command and the intercom voice stopped. “You better pray this works,” Earl said.

Guardians of Time – Part 1

simple dining table

Part 1

Josephine Vaughn knew something was horribly wrong even though everything around her was exactly where it was supposed to be. It was 6:14 am and like every morning she was sitting at the kitchen table staring out at the road. It was a quiet neighbourhood road and the only traffic at the moment was her next door neighbour walking his Yorkshire Terrier. The newspaper had just been delivered and she had it neatly laid out before her on the table, but she had yet to read a word.

She had lived in this house for over 50 years. It was where she raised her kids. Where they brought home her grandkids. It was where she had spent her entire married life to Walter. So why did everything feel so unfamiliar?

She could hear Walter in the bathroom getting ready for the day. He whistled the same song he always whistled. It was something he had picked up when the kids were little. They thought it was hilarious. Normally, she didn’t notice it, but today, somehow it felt different and grated at her.

Thinking she must just be short on sleep, she got up to make more coffee. As she moved into the kitchen, family pictures that usually filled her with contentment and joy stared back at her like strangers. Her brain knew these faces as her family, but the feeling of home when she looked at them, for the first time in her life was missing.

* * *

“What did you do?” Earl shouted at his trainee, Sam.

Sam whirled away from the screen depicting Josephine Vaughn. His eyes were huge.

“You were supposed to take her back in time so she wouldn’t lose her husband’s ring. One week! That’s it. We only ever go back one week!”

“I didn’t—I mean I only meant—but then suddenly they were young. I tried to get it back, but then,” he trailed and said weakly. “It all happened so fast.”

“Who is that?” Earl jammed his finger at the screen. Walter had just stepped out of the bathroom and joined Josephine at the table.

“Errr.” Sam quickly started shuffling through the papers in front of him, glancing quickly between the screen and his binder. “I-I think it’s her husband.”

“That’s not Frank,” Earl whispered. “You’ve rewritten her entire life!”

The Haunted House – Part 9

pexels-photo-235727.jpeg

 SEPTEMBER 8, 1972

“Bernard when are you going to give up on that fool idea,” Betsy asked.

“It’s not a fool idea,” he muttered. He’d been trying to build a time machine since he was a kid. Granted, after years of physics classes and reading a library of research, his attempts had become much more sophisticated.

“Sure, love.” Betsy leaned down to where he was hunched over and kissed his neck. “I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning. Do you mind putting the garbage cans out before you come to bed?”

He finally looked up. “Is it Monday already?”

She laughed, “It is.”

“I’ll be darned.” He set down his screwdriver and went to take the cans out to the curb. Years later he would swear he’d only been gone for 30 seconds. He hadn’t even had time to pick up one of the cans, let alone drag it down the long driveway to the curb.

There was what sounded like a huge explosion from inside. All the windows in the house shattered and cascaded to the ground. He raced across, crunching the glass with his slippers, terrified of what he would find inside.

There, blown clear from the office door and down the hall was Betsy lying in a crumpled heap. The door to his office was open and a dim blue light scanned across the door.

“What happened?” he shouted, racing to Betsy’s side.

He tried to wake her, but it was too late. She had blood running down the side of her head and wasn’t breathing.

By the time the ambulance came, the blue light had faded. They assumed she’d fallen down the stairs and he didn’t correct them. Maybe he should have.

When the police came they thought it was him. Accused him of atrocities that he’d never thought of, let alone done. He loved her dearly. He was lost without her. But they arrested him anyway. But with no evidence to convict, he was released to his now empty home.

It took some time to realize that every time he entered his house he was jumping forward a month in time. He rarely left his house anyway so people didn’t immediately notice he’d been gone. It wasn’t until the bill collectors showed up that he realized he’d missed months of payments in only a few days.

But for the first time since Betsy had died, he felt the dark cloud of hopelessness lift. He’d done it! He’d created a time machine of sorts. If he could create something to take him forward, then surely he could invent something to take him back. He could save her!

The Haunted House – Part 7

afternoon-beverage-break-1549706

It took some time to calm her mom down when she got home, Thankfully,her mom’s friend Bernice had stepped in and come over every day Sarah had been missing. The downside was that she was forced to answer an avalanche of questions.

She decided to use Bernice’s extreme curiosity to her advantage. Together, they began to do some research on the history of the house and just who Mr. Shutz was.

There were a multitude of articles in the local paper during the 70’s about the supposed murder of Betsy Murphy and the disappearance of her husband Bernard. Initially, Betsy’s picture was splashed across the front page. Then as the story lost steam, it fell deeper and deeper into the back pages and most often came without a picture.

But then, in a local interest piece, exactly one year after the murder, the paper did an anniversary piece. This time, the picture featured both Betsy Murphy and her husband Harold. Although the photo was a bit grainy, he was the spitting image of Mr. Shultz. How was it possible? He was the same age in the photo from the ‘70s as when she saw him both when she was a child and the other day.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Sarah said to Bernice as they were discussing everything over tea. “Maybe Mr. Shultz is their son?”

“They didn’t have any kids that anyone knew about.” Bernice said. “Not unless they were hiding him in the basement. Maybe he’s their nephew?”

“Maybe,” Sarah said. “Pretty strong resemblance for a nephew.

“Well, you already know my theory,” Bernice said, folding her hands on the table of in front of her.

“What? That’s he’s really Bernard Murphy’s ghost? Get real, Bernice. There’s no such thing as ghosts. And even if there were, he was far too real and opaque to be a ghost.” She frowned.

Bernice just shrugged her shoulders again. “There’s a reason that house is believed to be haunted all these years. Mark my words. He’s a ghost.”

But Sarah wasn’t listening anymore. Something had just snapped into place. She had another idea forming.

She stood up suddenly from the table and announced she had to go. Her idea fit both the mystery behind the ageless man and her missing two months, She had to go back to the house.

The Haunted House – Part 6

brown and black chair on brown surface

Déjà vu hit hard and she was instantly thrown back to when she was a child. She turned around to see Mr. Shultz sitting in a chair staring at her through the open doorway.

He stood slowly and walked towards her, but stopped on his side of the door frame. “I knew I should have fired you the moment I saw you.”

She stood frozen in the office. She couldn’t understand how he had appeared so suddenly and quietly and with a chair that definitely hadn’t been there when she first walked in.

“No matter,” he said. “You’re fired now.”

She couldn’t be fired. She was so close to having answers. She didn’t move.

“C’mon. Time to leave. Chop-chop.” He clapped his hands as he motioned her through the door.

When she still didn’t make a move to leave, he sighed in impatience. “Seriously, Sarah, this is the second time I’ve caught you breaking into my office. Don’t make me call the police,” he said, quietly.

She narrowed her eyes and walked towards him. “So you do recognize me?”

He shrugged. “Not at first. But once you broke into my office again, you triggered a memory. Clearly Andrea didn’t do her research on my new assistant as well as I paid her to.”

“What happened to me?” she asked. “Why can’t I remember the time I was gone.”

He shrugged. “You tell me. You broke in, then you ran away.”

“I was a gone for a month!” she said. “How do you explain that?”

“What you do with your time, and where you spend it is none of my business. Now go.”

“Alright, let’s talk about you. That was twenty years ago! Explain how you haven’t aged a day!”

“Suntan lotion and great skin care.” He smiled while simultaneously glaring with his eyes

She glared back at him as she walked by him. “I will figure out what happened to me.”

“I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, but they simply aren’t here.” He shut the front door firmly behind her. Then, she heard the bolt snap shut.

As she walked home, a feeling of dread slowly fell over her like molasses dripping down, dragging her heart to her toes. She’d been fired. She’d never been fired before. And she still didn’t have any answers.

The phone in her purse started buzzing. She yanked it out and saw her text messages, emails, and voicemail blinking. The numbers slowing racking up with each ping. The last time her phone had done that was when she’d gone to Mexico and come back into the country. Her phone had gone ballistic trying to catch up on two weeks worth of missed messages.

But she when she looked at the screen now she barely registered the increasing tally. She only had eyes for the date. It was exactly one month later than she thought. Somehow, she’d just lost another month. A smile slowly spread across her face. Maybe she was closer to some answers than she thought.