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NaNoWriMo Widgets - 2009









Title: Make the Time

Synopsis

In year 4000, time travel is discovered to be genetic, and babies who might have the ability are taken and raised in government facilities, to be studied and trained. They are trained to become mentors, and sent into the past to train budding time travellers, and prevent mishaps. Time travel is an ability triggered by thought, and therefore dangerous in the hands of the untrained, as it can be, and frequently is, unleashed by accident.

The main character is one of those mentors: born in the year 4008, raised in captivity, on his first assignment, sent from 4023, at the young age of fifteen, to train a girl not much older, in the year 1835. He sees her, with her close-knit family, and starts thinking about his own lonely life.

Excerpts

"Oh, bugger."

o o O o o

All that time tutoring other time travellers, and, once she got them not to distrust her on sight, introductions never seemed to be of much importance, beyond the standard 'polite' mandated greeting of 'I am J'klel and I will be making sure you don't bugger up time for the rest of us.'

o o O o o

Ethan blinked at J'klel, but shrugged, and poked at the device, mentally, engaging manual operation. There was a dull click from the wrist device itself, and then he mentally pulled up the EMP screen, as instructed. He blinked at it, and then sniggered, desperately tried to suppress his sniggering, snorted instead, and then finally burst out laughing. "It's, it's really. That. That's really it?" The display? A button. A big button. A big threatening button. A big threatening red button. A big threatening red button that under no circumstances must ever be pushed. Ever. So he did the most natural thing, the only thing he could do, he pushed it, jamming his palm right in there, relishing in the slight resistance provided by the device -- it seemed just like light in the air, but there was another element to it, something satisfyingly tactile. "Oh, wow." he murmured, as his wrist device chimed deeply, like a massive bell. Then, with a faint crackle in the air, and a metallic tang to the taste, a slight shock wave -- really more of a gentle breeze -- swept the room. Every piece of electronic technology, including Ethan's own wrist device, deactivated. "Oh, whoa. That, that's amazing." It only took a moment before Ethan and J'klel's wrist devices beeped back into life. "Not the most, er, stealthy, is it?" That gigantic booming bell sound, for one.

o o O o o

It was raining, absolutely pouring down, and Ethan's first thought was to check his wrist device, but, when he raised his arm, he saw it had been chopped off from halfway down the forearm. He opened his mouth to scream, but not a sound came out. On closer inspection, his arm wasn't even bleeding, whatever had caused the wound had apparently cauterised it so cleanly it was as though his arm had always ended there. Skin had even grown over it, it looked completely natural, completely natural but also fundamentally wrong. He shook his head, and tried to figure out where he was the old fashioned way, by looking around. In the rain, he really couldn't see very far in front of his face, the dark dreary grey rain. He thought he heard sounds of thunder in the distance, though he had no lightning, because that would only be helpful, flashes of light to light up the dark.

He started walking. He had no idea which direction he was headed, or even if it would turn out to be any kind of right one, but he couldn't stay where he was and get drenched, that seemed utterly daft, he'd catch his death of cold. He went forth, heading blindly on, in the naively optimistic hopes of finding some sort of shelter. Slowly the thunder died out, taking with it any hope of lightning to show him the way, but he did hear another noise now that the thunder was quieter, a noise that he realised had been there all along, a sort of high pitched wailing noise. He thought he could pinpoint its location by sound, and he veered off to try and chase the sound, kicking it up into a jog when the noise got louder. It was closer now, he was closer now, if he just went a little bit faster. Maybe there was shelter there? There had to be something there, noise doesn't just happen on its own.

As he ran, Ethan found his footing becoming increasingly slippery, and he found himself tripping more often than not. As a result, he was forced to slow down a bit, though even just walking only reduced the number of times he slipped and fell. Before long he was feeling very bruised and battered and wet and lost, and all he wanted was to go home, but that, that noise, that high pitched wailing. He was so close now, so very close, he could almost make out the more precise sounds, because, he now realised, they weren't just indistinct wails, there were actually three or four different voices, if not more, and they seemed to pause briefly and frequently, as though it was a series of short cries by many voices, a chorus if you will, rather than one long wail.

And yet, something in the tone gave him pause. There was something about it, something familiar, something vaguely terrifying, but he could not put his finger on what, exactly. This frustratingly nebulous feeling, just a gut instinct really. Suddenly, a thought occurred to him, and panic set in. He wanted to run, he wanted so very desperately to run, run and hide and never come back. He'd rather die lost in the rain than keep going, but his feet evidently had other plans, plodding resolutely onwards. This way, this way, we're going this way. They seemed to be laughing at him, or someone seemed to be laughing at him, he heard the distinct sound of laughter on the wind, though until now he could have sworn there was no wind, only rain, lots and lots of never ending unceasing rain.

Just then, the rain stopped. Ethan looked around, and realised, it hadn't stopped raining, he'd entered some sort of a building. He was standing in a large octagonal room, very large, and he moved away from the doorway nervously. It was dark inside, but, as he took a step, another ring of lights in the ceiling turned on. He glanced upwards, and saw a massively domed ceiling, with lights hanging down in concentric rings. The first three outer rows of lights were lit up, and he took another step. The fourth row lit up. He ran a short way, and several rows blinked on as he went, in perfect time with his footsteps.

He was beginning to feel a bit unsettled, even uneasy, thanks to the eerie lights, so he tried instead to focus on the building, the single room he apparently found himself in. He seemed to be in a corridor actually, he was not sure how he had known the room was octagonal, he just, had. He knew it. Ethan shook his head, and decided he must have seen it from outside, in the blinding rain. Yes. That had to be it. He noticed just idly that he was now bone dry, and that apparently his hand had grown back, though sans that useful bracelet, but amazingly enough, these were not his most pressing concerns. He started towards the centre of the room, trying to get a look at the either side of the corridor he was in. He noticed the walls sloped downwards, and it wasn't too far until they'd be low enough to see over, so, onwards he went. He tried to ignore the electronic sounds of row after row of lights flaring up into life.

It was a few more rows of lights, a few more steps, before Ethan could peer over the edges of the corridor's walls, even standing on tiptoes. When he finally did, he saw rows and rows of bleachers, empty benches, just waiting for an audience, and the sound of laughter only got louder. A round of applause cut through the laughter, and Ethan realised that he'd been hearing the invisible audience all this time. He shuddered at the thought, and peered down towards the end of the corridor, the darkened centre of whatever this room was. He wasn't sure he really wanted to proceed, but, as before, his feet gave him no choice in the matter, proceeding on their merry way. It seemed he was headed for the centre of that thing whether he liked it or not, he only hoped he wasn't the evening's entertainment for those disturbing invisible crowds.

He'd almost forgotten about that constant noise, the wailing that wasn't wailing, but suddenly the audience hushed, and he realised he was at the end of the corridor. For a moment, he thought all was silent, and then he picked up that wailing, the wailing he'd begun to tune out by now, as it was so present and consistent, and not the least of his worries. Now though? Now it was his only worry. It was so worrisome that it pushed all other worries clean out of his mind. He realised finally that his feet had stopped, and the final step was his own choice to make, but somehow he doubted that whatever had brought him here would be content if he were to up and bolt, he rather doubted that it would even let him. Taking a deep breath, he took the final step into the arena, lighting the final light, which appeared to in fact be the very sun itself. It was about now that Ethan really started to have serious doubts as to the reality of this situation.

There, in the centre of the arena, sitting on pedestals each of them, were four of the smallest and most adorable kittens, feebly mewling for their mother. This, Ethan realised, had been the wailing sound he'd heard, all the way out in the rain. The dome must have amplified the sound, or something. It made no logical sense for it to be louder out there in the rain, and so far away, than in here right by them, otherwise. He took a tentative step towards the kittens, and then the mother cat returned, only she was no cat at all, she was a liger – half lion, half tiger, larger than either animal, through some freak of biology. Ethan really didn't care to ponder the logistics of it, or how such a creature could exist, he was far too busy being terrified to really think much at all.

Ethan was never sure whether he screamed first, or woke up and then screamed, but either way, when he stopped screaming, he realised he was sitting bolt upright in bed, drenched in sweat, his lungs heaving and his heart racing. Where did that nightmare come from? What did it mean? He called up his wrist device automatically, summoning the clock feature. Three am? He was awake at three in the morning? And he'd never get back to sleep now. He sighed, and slipped out of bed, heading off to the showers to try and clear his head a bit. Hopefully later he'd be awake enough to study the bracelet's many features some more.