The Gravel Road

            He looked at her, her fragile body sitting in the wooden chair, rocking back and forth. She sat outside catching the few last rays of the setting sun. She was planning something again, she was always planning. He made her the way she was and she in her turn made him. How he hated her… He knew there was only one option left, she made sure of that.

He looked up at the sky the sun was slowly dying away, the last sunrays vanishing beyond the horizon leaving the ground to the dark night. If only he could die just like her, that would be better but he couldn’t. things could never be that bad. He sighed and sat back on his wooden chair. Their houses looked like replicas in front of one another stuck in an endless struggle a struggle he was now losing, why he was losing he did not know. The centuries long fight was finally setting the end stage it was time to end it.

He looked down, at the desert road between their houses. A swift wind blew some dried out bushes on the desert road there was only one thing now he had to be ready…

           

The ground shook, Richard had to grab hold of the wall next to him to stop from falling.

“What the hell is going on?” he cried.

“It’s an earthquake dude, can’t you tell??” answered Michael.

They ran out of the house and looked at the street. Everything was shaking, the ground seemed alive, about to devour everything and everyone.

“This must be at least an 8.5!!” called Richard.

“No way man, I felt an 8.5 once and it wasn’t like this at all. It was a lot worse. Half the houses were breaking and me and Lisa were running as far away as we could…”

“You were with Lisa?!” Richard interrupted looking at Michael in disbelief “You lucky dog”

“Lucky?? I finally get a date with Lisa and there’s a fucking earthquake!!! And you call me lucky?”

Richard smiled. They watched their house shake. The shaking stopped as abruptly as it began. Car alarms sounded all along the streets. They waited a few more minutes before they went back in the house.

“Well that was exciting” said Richard as they walked towards the sofa.

“Yeah right” answered Michael sitting down.

“So how come I never heard about that date with Lisa?!” asked Richard, sounding somewhat annoyed

“If I would have told you anything, you probably would have shown up at the door and ruin my date” answered Michael knowingly.

“Yeah well, you had an earthquake, so there are other forces at work here to stop you from dating that hot chick” Richard said smugly.

“I have a date with her on Tuesday so how’s that?!” He said, regretting saying that as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Richards face was worth it though. He looked shocked, for the first time words failed him which was a big thing with Richey.

“You have a date with her Tuesday?” he said finally in disbelief.

“Yeah, she said I was an old style knight with the way I protected her against the earthquake” Michael said proud of himself.

Richard burst into laughter. “That’s really what she said? Man, I thought she was hot I guess she is also as dumb as a shoe” he said laughing.

Michael’s face turned red. “It was romantic you idiot. She’s very smart, she has all these imagination games she likes to play and I was the only one who didn’t just try to get into her pants so there!” Michael said with conviction.

“Just so you know, if a girl actually says that, she means you are a loser and you will never get into her pants” Richard returned.

Michael looked at him angrily. “You are just jealous; you always were a sore loser”

“A loser?! me?! I don’t remember ever fighting over her or even trying to pick her up”

“Just forget about it, I had enough arguing about it.” Michael shouted and went to the kitchen.

He returned with two beers, one in each hand.

“Here” he said and handed a beer over to Richard.

“Just so you don’t get too pissed at me, here is too a good date between the both of you” Richard called lifting his bottle in the air.

“Thanks mate, appreciate it” Michael answered lifting his bottle in turn, hitting his friends bottle gently.

They both took a big gulp of beer.

“Just for the record, not that I’m jealous or anything, what did you plan with her?” Richard asked eyeing Michael curiously.

“Well, I didn’t really plan anything just a romantic kind of get together nothing else really”

“Don’t tell me you don’t want to get into her pants!! I can’t believe that, she’s so fucking hot!!” Richard said loudly nearly screaming.

Michael stared at the floor. “It’s not that I don’t want her, it’s just that it feels good. I don’t have to have her. At first when I saw her I really thought she would turn out to be stupid and I would just bone her and that’s it. But it was great, we talked really talked and I had a lot of fun” he paused contemplating “I never even thought of sex” he added.

“Bullshit!” interrupted Richard. “I don’t believe any of this drivel, how the hell can you sit here next to me and lie?!”

“I’m not lying” Michael replied somewhat annoyed, looking straight at his friend.

Richard looked back at Michael and sighed. “Ok maybe not. I’m happy for you, don’t look at me like that, I am… really”

Michael eyed Richard somewhat suspiciously, waiting for Richard to make some kind of comment, but he said nothing being uncharacteristically quiet.

They spent the rest of the day sitting on the sofa drinking, until the early evening when Michael got a call from Richard’s mother telling him send Richard home. Richard left and promised to come back some time later.

            Michael sat bored at home by himself. His parents divorced a long time ago. He lived with his mom who worked about 10 hours a day, leaving him to do whatever he liked for most of the day hours. This usually wasn’t much. He looked at the time; it was nearing 22:00. He wondered if he should call Lisa, their date was in 2 days, but he really couldn’t wait to hear her voice. After picking up the phone and putting it down again a few times. He cursed for his nervousness and quickly dialed the number before his courage could fail him. He was just about to hang up again when a feminine voice spoke on the other line.

“Lisa?” Michael inquired, not completely sure he recognized the voice. Lisa and her mother had very similar voices over the phone.

“Yes, who is this?” she asked.

“It’s Michael” he answered.

“Oh, hi Michael I was just thinking about you” she said laughing.

“Cool” he said smiling, then realizing she couldn’t see him he laughed awkwardly.

“Thing is, my mom just told me there is some kind of air show in the army base next to here and she already bought the tickets”

“Oh…” She was going to cancel the date. Michael thought and felt his world slowly cave in.

“Wow you sound bad, what’s wrong?!” she said with concern.

“Nothing, I… I just thought we had a date and…”

“Silly I didn’t say the show was in 2 days did I?” she said amused.

“I eh… assumed it was” he said feeling stupid.

“It’s tomorrow, and I thought you might like to go with me” she said.

“oh… Oh? OH!!“ It took Michael some time to realize she was asking him to come with her. He was in the game now, Richard and his stupid ideas.

“What’s with all that moaning? Are you coming?” Lisa sounded impatient.

“Yea, of course I am!!” as soon as the words came out he regretted them. He sounded too anxious, he should play it cool. That’s what Richard told him. He thought about it and changed his mind it was Richard who got him in this mess in the first place.

“Great, I thought you might have something else to do, Mary told me the soccer team had practice”

They did have practice but Michael quit the team last week because of a big argument he had with the coach. But Lisa didn’t have to know that.

“I would prefer you over practice any day” Richard said.

Lisa burst out in laughter. “Trying to be smooth?” she said still laughing.

“No, I was being honest…” He was surprised to realize he really was.

“I’m sorry, but it sounded like a line from a movie. I didn’t mean to laugh. So I’ll meet you at my place?” she asked.

“Sure, when?”

“Come at 14:00, mom will be at work and the show starts at 16:00”

“Ok, great I’ll see you then” Michael hung up and jumped in the air. Not only did she ask him out she also wanted him to come early! That could only mean one thing; they were going to make out or maybe even something better if he was lucky. Michael jumped around the room and stopped only when he crashed on the sofa and fell on the floor. But he hardly took notice of it. Everything was going along great.

 

The wind was slowly picking up. She was definitely planning something, shaping things to suit her needs. She had to move quickly she was almost out of time.

A man of average height, and age, sat in an armchair, looking at the wooden house across the street. The sun was shining brightly. It was always shining so that you could always pay attention. The man smiled. There was no joy or happiness in his eyes, they were cold. Very cold, as though the life that once flowed within them was sucked out leaving the cold lifeless stare of a corpse.

He could feel things slowly taking shape; she was too busy to notice he changed something as well. Let her go on; let her have the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately she will fail.

The wind blew dried out bushes on to the empty desert road.

 

Michael looked at his reflection in the mirror, scrutinizing for any faults.

Richard looked at Michael his face contorted into disgust. “Damn man, it looks good, will you stop already”

Michael put a hair back in place and said “I have to look good man; I don’t want to be all messy and stuff”

“Look at yourself! Your putting every single hair back in place, I mean enough is enough go already”

Michael gave the mirror one more look and turned to face Richard

 “ok I’m ready, let’s go”

“Finally”

            Richard brought his car, so he could drive Michael to Lisa’s place. Richard had already passed his test a year earlier, while Michael still needed to pass his. When they finally arrived, Michael got out and went to Lisa’s house. “Good luck” called Richard from the car. “Call me when your back… I want to know everything” he added. Michael smiled and set out for the business at hand. He stood in front of the door a few moments building up his courage and rang the door bell.

The door opened and Lisa stood in the entrance “Hi Michael” she called “Come in”

Michael obediently stepped into the house. It was a big place very different from where he lived. He walked into a spacious living room. At the right side of the room was a big sofa with a 50 inch TV in front of it. On his left was the kitchen. In front of him were steps leading to a second floor. Lisa led him up the stairs to her room. The second floor was a hallway with some closed doors. Lisa opened one of them and they entered.

“This is my room” she exclaimed “maybe this time there won’t be an earthquake” she said smiling.

“With our luck we will have some weird fire storm or something” Michael said smiling.

Lisa’s room was a typical girl room, or at least that’s what Michael thought. The leading color in the room was pink. A vast amount of items was all colored in various shades of pink. The curtains, the bed cover were all pinkish. The funniest however was the small TV. It had a fur like cover surrounding it also in pink.

“Your room is eh… very pink” Michael managed finally.

Lisa smiled “You don’t like it?” she asked.

“Yes of course I do, it’s really nice…”

Lisa burst out in laughter “its ok you don’t need to lie, you don’t like it do you?!”

“Well eh… no” Michael admitted “It’s really way too… pink”

“Do you want to continue talking about the room or should I show you what we will see tonight?” she asked.

“Sure”

            Lisa took a big flyer from her desk in the corner of the room and came to sit next to him.

“Here you have a map of the army base and the aerial show they have planned. There is also some lunch they provide for us and there are also tours of the base” Lisa stopped and looked at him waiting for some reply.

“Cool” It was the only thing he could come up with. Lisa seemed a bit disappointed. Richard told him that if she seemed to expect something it usually was a kiss. Thinking of this Michael moved his head closer to Lisa’s. He pressed his lips together and slowly moved with his head forward closing his eyes.

“What the hell are you doing?” Lisa demanded.

“I… I wanted to kiss you” Michael said and lowered his head in embarrassment.

Lisa lifted his head looking straight at him. “If you want to kiss me why don’t you just do it?” she asked.

“Never mind just forget it” Michael muttered

Lisa looked at him amused. “Haven’t you ever kissed a girl before?” she asked.

“Of course I have I’m not 12” he answered angrily.

“So what is the big deal? It’s only a kiss”

“What do you mean it’s only a kiss?”

“Well you know everyone kisses, it happens like all the time”

“Yea well, It’s only because you’re so beautiful and it makes me nervous” It escaped his lips before he really noticed. Great. He had better success when there was an earthquake. He turned his head away from her. Her hand reached out for his and grabbed it firmly. He looked up at her. She was smiling.

“You know” she started “You are the first guy I’ve met that’s not afraid to say what he thinks and feels”

She grabbed hold of his head with her other hand and pushed it towards her. She kissed him hard on the mouth and let go.

“We can practice again later” she said winking. “We have to go if we want to get there in time”

Michael’s head was spinning “Go where?” he asked.

“To the show silly, remember?”

“Oh yea, right” he replied feeling somewhat disoriented.

They went out, Lisa locking the house behind her. The Army base was a 25 min walk from Lisa’s house in an area just outside of the small village. The village of Knowringle was so small you could cross it from one side to the other in about an hour walk, although nobody really walked anymore, why walk when you can drive? There weren’t any other cities in the area, just mountains. This was probably why the army chose this area from the beginning. It was isolated, there were no neighbors who could complain, just a natural mountain range stretched far into the distance adding an extra plus for survival exercises that the army regularly preformed.

Michael and Lisa chatted happily while walking on the road towards the base. The day was perfect for a hike. The heat wasn’t too bad and a cool wind blew every now and then. They were absorbed in their conversation until suddenly a strong gust of wind thrust them backwards a few steps.

“What the hell was that?” asked Michael

“I don’t know, sometimes the winds can pick up from one second to the other” the words were not sooner said, or another gust of wind hit them, this time bringing sand and dust with it. The wind slowly swiveled and turned becoming stronger and stronger.

Dust blew inside of their eyes causing them to be temporarily blind. The noise of wind became increasingly loud; they couldn’t hear one another and were stumbling blindly. Michael grabbed hold of Lisa when the wind had picked up, but he lost her when her hand was swept away from his when the wind suddenly picked up. He couldn’t see where she was, the dust was burning his eyes. He screamed Lisa’s name but it was no use, he could barely hear his own voice, it was drowned by the endless winds surrounding him. His shoe hit something hard and he fell forward hard on his face. The air was knocked out of him, the dust burning his lungs, he felt as if his throat was on fire, his lungs burning with an excruciating pain. He felt his mind drift away into unconsciousness. He tried to fight it but he could hardly even breathe let alone get up. Darkness slowly surrounded him, and he drifted away…

 

Michael felt a searing pain in his eyes. He blinked a few times to get the dust from his eyes; he could breathe although he was coughing a lot, the taste of sand lingering in his mouth. He could see a desert seemingly going on forever. All sign of the road he walked on was gone. He looked around; Lisa was nowhere to be found. He called her name a few times, but no one responded. He was alone, with nothing but sand to keep him company. It was then he noticed the mountain range had also disappeared. No wind could have pushed him that far away he thought bitterly. The mountain range was visible for about 100 miles all around Knowringle. Wherever he had arrived it was far away from home. He checked his pockets looking for his cell phone. It was gone; it had probably fallen out of his pocket when he was tossed around by the wind. He was pondering what the best thing to do was when a distant cry made him literally jump. He turned towards where he thought the sound was coming from and slowly walked in its direction. It could be Lisa he thought and broke into a run. Images swept his mind, Lisa hurt, tortured, maybe even killed. The anger combined with fear made him run faster.

After about 10 minutes he could see some shapes in the distant. It was hard to make out what they were. The desert heat, which was considerably hotter than in the afternoon, made everything look as though it was on fire. Circular lines faded in and out in the distance making it very hard to see anything clearly. As he got closer he could see the shapes were actually two wooden houses facing one another. A gravel road appeared a few steps before the two houses and created a way between them. The strange thing was that that same gravel road disappear some steps after the houses. Why would anyone make a gravel road for just a few meters? Michael pushed the thought out of his mind and carefully walked towards the house on the right.

The houses looked just like the ones in the old western movies did. They were made from a dark colored wood and had a big porch with an armchair on it. At least that meant people lived there, Michael thought. As he got closer to them he noticed they both looked exactly alike. They were both of same height and color. Even the armchair looked the same. Michael noticed there was but one window in the houses and it overlooked not the desert but the house in front of it. Whoever lived here was very strange, all alone in the middle of nowhere with a window towards one another.

Michael decided to just knock and enter the house on the right. If Lisa was anywhere the people here could probably help him. They might even have a phone or something he thought, although no power lines were visible anywhere. Maybe they were underground he wondered. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. To his surprise it opened immediately and he very nearly fell in. In front of him stood a black woman, he couldn’t tell what her age was. She seemed old but there was something young about her as well, she stood straight and kept her hands at her side. Her blue eyes watched him closely like a hawk studying its prey. It made him feel uneasy; her eyes seemed old somehow, as if she had seen many things. She must have been very beautiful once he thought. Her eyes, although they were still blue seemed to lose a bit of their color, as if for a split second her eyes rebelled, soon however the color was the same as it was and Michael doubted seeing it.

“Hello Michael, I was expecting you” She said and pulled Michael inside.

Michael was so surprised that everything he planned to say just flew away from his mind.

“I’m sorry, this must be quite a shock to you, but there is no time to explain. Falcner has Lisa and he will use her to his own benefit. It’s all my fault but that can’t be helped now. I don’t have much time left” She stopped and looked at Michael. She sighed.

Michael was caught off guard only thing he could think about was Lisa. This woman knows where Lisa is. But before he could ask anything the woman already answered. “Yes I know where Lisa is, I told you Falcner has her, if you want to save her you need to trick him into letting her go. I guess I have to explain although we really don’t have much time” She took 2 chairs and sat herself in one of them. Michael sat in the other one.

“You arrived at the gateway between times. We are the last keepers of this way. Don’t look so surprised” she added seeing Michael frown “there are many things that exist not only in legend. Falcner thinks this is a competition he has forgotten his true self. He only wants to win he doesn’t understand that to win, one must first lose. It doesn’t matter. I’m dying I am nearly gone already” The woman looked down at her hands and gritted her teeth in disgust; she quickly regained her posture however and continued.

“I thought I could persuade someone to take over. You see, this gateway is always open. Sometimes people from many different times reach it. We keep this way closed to them. One cannot move through this way without causing another way to close. You see this gateway could transport you in time, but there is a catch. It is based on laws that exist in this world. One of the laws states that there is always a loophole, meaning a way out. But to use this loophole is to undue everything that has been done. I know it’s hard to understand” she said looking at the perplexed look on Michael’s face “I am the last of the first guardians. I was here when this gate first opened because of someone’s thought. There were two of us” Her voice broke off and it looked like she was struggling with something. “Time flows differently here. Minutes are hours and hours are minutes. One day someone broke the code and arrived here. He was surprisingly quick; he realized what we were and understood what needed to be done in order to go through the gateway. He killed Shar who with me was the first. We learned to read thoughts, emotions and Shar had to end his life in order to keep the gate closed before everything was undone. You see death is an end and a beginning and with a sacrifice must come hope. It was enough for a new guardian to appear from a different time and to send the one who broke the code back to wherever he came from. The new guardian Falcner slowly lost his mind. He thinks I tricked him and that when I die I will win. I thought nothing of it and sent for a new guardian”

“How can you send for a new guardian when that other guy had to die to get one?” Michael asked. This story was bull, she was lying. Who could every believe anything like this?!

“I… “The woman looked embarrassed “Cheated. I called on a new guardian by moving time around”

“Of course” Michael said sarcastically “Forget this, just tell me where Lisa is and how I get out of here”

“Falcner who lives in that other house, has Lisa. I don’t know of any way to leave the gateway when you haven’t broken the code”

Michael was losing his patience. Anger rose within him, he had had enough. He walked out of the door without looking back. His eyes were temporarily blinded by the sharp light. He went straight towards the other house and without knocking went in. The house was empty from the looks of it no one had lived there for a very long time. He turned around in anger the old woman was playing some very sick game with him. The door to her house was still open; he walked in and saw to his surprise a man. He quickly walked in “What the hell is going on here?!” he screamed. The man turned around. He had grey hair and was white, this was too weird. “Who the fuck are you” he shouted back at him.

“Where is Lisa?” Michael demanded

“Who?” The old man replied.

“Don’t play dumb, the old woman told me she was here”

“Then I’m very sorry to say that she lied. Stupid bitch wouldn’t know anything anyway. Thinks all these weird things all the time, but she won’t win I won’t let her” The old man was whispering, it appeared as if he had forgotten all about Michael being there. He continued whispering Michael only got little bits and pieces. “I will manage… Wait and see… Sun all the time…”

“Are you Falcner?” Michael asked finally

The old man turned to Michael and seemed surprised to see someone standing there. Then slowly his face registered recognition. “Yes, I am my boy. Are you my grandson?”

“No, my name is Michael I’m searching for Lisa…” Michael replied his voice breaking, despair slowly drowned him. He had no idea where he was, Lisa could be anywhere as far as he knew, and no one could help him.

“Do you mean that young blond girl?” Falcner asked.

“Yes” Michael answered a flicker of life returning to him.

“I’m sorry my boy but I threw her in the gate”

“What?” Michael’s head started to throb. All this talk of gates just went pass him. He couldn’t understand anything anymore.

“Yes, it was the only way to save her. You see Dianova was going to use her for a mind switch. That would mean she could be free and be able to go into the world. I couldn’t let that happen, I had to do something” the old man seemed sincere.

Michael straightened his posture and looked at the old man. “Tell me your story Falcner, I need to figure out what the truth is” he said.

“If that is what you want, have a seat my boy. You see we are at the gate to the world…”

“The world? We already are in the world” Michael interrupted.

The old man smiled a sad smile. “If only it was that simple. The world as you know it is incomplete. There are fragments of it moving in and out of time. Some times centuries separate it; this is a gateway that connects time together. A long time ago someone tried to change the flow of time. That someone was me… I was young in those days and I thought I could combine time into a singular level. Let’s just say it didn’t work. I’ve been trying to undo what I’ve done; you see time shifted even worse when I tried to get it back on track. I had a young assistant to help me. He at the end stabbed me in the back; he got the secret of time from me and opened a gateway. He was going to control time, but that is impossible. Time cannot be controlled, he would have destroyed time. I managed to separate the area before the gate from the regular flow of time. It should have worked perfectly but it didn’t. Simon my assistant managed to trap me at that same area as well. Only difference was, Time changed. I was stuck in a slow time pocket and Simon in a fast time pocket. This means he gets older a lot faster then I do. He already created 2 time changes. In the first one a black woman called Dianova arrived here. He used her and was able to switch minds with her. He had to do that because he was close to death. Same as now, only this time I pushed the girl into the gateway before he could use her. You on the other hand, I don’t know. What did he, I mean she tell you?”

“She said she was expecting me and that I had to go and save Lisa from you. Then she talked about guardians and stuff, I didn’t really understand any of it” Michael stopped abruptly “There was one weird thing though. I walked to this house and it was empty then I turned back to the other house and you were there”

“What?” A look of shock appeared on the old man’s face. “He tricked me, it’s over” The old man put his head between his hands.

“What? I don’t understand what’s wrong?” Michael asked. The shock on the old man’s face couldn’t be good news.

“Simon switched times; he used you to turn time against himself”

Michael looked at the old man. After a few seconds he said “I still don’t get what you’re talking about”

“I told you I set this area off as an out of time area. This means you can’t come to this place unless you manipulate time. You and Lisa were manipulated to come here. I thought he would use Lisa to do another mind switch, but as it turns out that’s what he wanted me to think. He needed to break the time barrier in order to be free and he just did that. He used you, you walked through the gateway and came back in, so the gate was momentarily open and he could have gone wherever he wanted”

“That’s bull; I didn’t pass through any gate. I only walked from his house to yours.”

“Look out of the window and tell me what you see”

Michael walked towards the window and stared. The desert had disappeared behind a moving transparent wave like substance. It looked like a little like water, the only difference being the changing background. It seemed as if nothing could make up its mind. Everything morphed into different things never staying always changing.

“It’s like there is an ocean or something and behind it there is like things changing. I can see parts of the desert changing into sky or something. It’s really weird”

“Then it is as I feared. He succeeded in freeing himself, thus breaking the time pocket I created” Falcner looked as if he had suffered the worst defeat. He sat on the chair his head lolling down towards the floor.

“There must be some way we can stop this, I mean can’t you make another force thingy or just change things back?” Michael asked. He felt his head throb when he tried thinking about what was going on around him.

Falcner looked up from his seat. “I can’t just create a pocket like that; I don’t even remember how to manipulate time. I’ve been here for so many years; I nearly forgot my name at times. The only thing I lived for was preventing Simon from getting his will and now I failed” the old man seemed broken; the sparkle he had in his eyes gave way for despair. Michael felt pity for this man, this weird old guy. Slowly the pity subsided and anger rose. This was entirely his fault in the first place!

 

Michael felt anger mount within him. Everything was out of his control slipping from his grasp. This morning the only thought he had was kissing Lisa, and now? Everything was in danger because some idiot was playing with time. Everything he knew would be gone. Lisa would be gone. Richard…

Well there must be something he could do! Something this old guy could do.

“There has to be something we can do! I mean this is just too absurd. You are supposed to be this great time expert and your assistant beats you?! How pathetic is that!” Michael screamed. He didn’t know what he was saying anymore, he just wanted something to happen, for someone to take control of the situation and do something about it.

“Look at me, I’m too old. I’ve been here for so very long. I just want it to end” Falcner said, he lifted his face and looked at Michael. His eyes were sad, thick lines encircling them.

“Ok, fine then show me what I can do”

The old man smiled a sad smile. “Wish I had you as my assistant, maybe then things wouldn’t have turned out the way they did” he said.

“Well science was never my strong side” Michael muttered. He was still too angry to except any compliment. He had enough of the fantastic tales he had heard. All he wanted was for things to go back to the way they were.

“There is one thing I still have to tell you. I’m not sure you will understand it now, but when you will you will be able to… let’s just say your limits will not be the same” Michael muttered something under his breath. Falcner heard nothing of it and continued. “You live in a place that thinks time is just another phenomenon, and moves forward as a constant. This isn’t the case. Time is dynamic, it can expand and retract, it moves differently, in impulses we don’t really understand yet. As soon as you realize time is not a constant you will be able to see the different forms of time in a manner of speaking…”

“Yea man, whatever” Michael interrupted “Why don’t you tell me something useful like how to freeze time or something?”

“I can’t, you have to understand it that’s the only way” Falcner opened his mouth to continue his explanation but closed it again. There was no use. He could only hope that when time would be right Michael would at least be able to do something. “Good luck” he said. The sad smile returned to his face. “But what am I supposed to do?!” screamed Michael “how do I get Lisa back how do I do anything?”

“I’m sorry, the only thing I can tell you is that the only way to help your friend is to go through the gate and stop Simon”

“But how can I stop her, him whatever the fuck he is!!”

“Go through the gate I will try to help you from here” Falcner turned his back to Michael and stared out the window.

            Michael walked out the door and towards the end of the gravel road. The light flashed in his eyes once more, blinding him temporarily. He had the strangest feeling of Déjà vu, walking on the same gravel road again, with the wooden houses on either side. As he reached the end of the road, he felt a slight fear creeping up from inside of him, slowly making its way up from his stomach to his mind.

Michael shook his head and quickly walked the last steps the fear turning into anger.

            A dazzling light shone into his eyes. His step faltered, he nearly lost his balance for the ground seemed to slip from beneath him. It wasn’t the hard gravel road anymore, it was moving as if alive, Shaking like a big jelly being from one side to the other. He tried to see where he was but the light was too strong to make anything out, he continued walking forward careful not to lose his footing.

            As the light slowly resided he could make out his surroundings for the first time. Lines of gold surrounded him, tracing the strange kind of hallway he saw in front of him. It was a strange feeling, looking at all these strange gold lines running through and around everything. On both sides he could see some kind of glass structure going as far as he could see. It seemed like a big looking glass cracked in many different places, all of which had their own story, but somehow still connected to this one massive piece of glass. In certain glass pieces he could see people at others landscapes. Some were with strange animals and others with animals he recognized.

            Michael had the feeling of walking through a museum of some kind. He had actually expected the different things in each glass to move, but they were all frozen. It was then he noticed how silent it all was. There was no noise of any kind, and he had the strange feeling of walking not through a museum but rather through a tomb. He looked down at the red jelly like floor which was the only moving thing. A shiver ran through him. He turned around. The strange hallway like place seemed to continue on without an end in sight.

            Falcner hadn’t told him anything about this. What was he supposed to do now? Walk through this endless place?! Not knowing what to do, he continued walking occasionally looking to his sides at the strange picture like things.  A flicker of movement on his left caught his attention.

            On the glass in front of him stood a picture like the million others he saw all around. But something was different. He looked at the picture closely, another flicker. Some things in the picture were moving. He felt an urge to touch it, grab hold of something real in this deserted place. A gasp came out of his lips as he moved his hand forward in order to touch the glass. His hand went right through the glass as if it didn’t exist. He quickly pulled his hand back staring at it in disbelief. He tried touching a different picture but that didn’t work. The glass was cold and uninviting stopping his hand from reaching the picture. He thought for a second. He tried a few more pictures all with the same result. The only place he could enter was the picture that had some movement in it. He stood in front of the moving picture. This was the only way back into time he thought because this is the only moving picture moving. Does this mean there are many time lines? Or does it mean that everything is frozen except for one instant? It was no use thinking about the different things the only option he had was going through the picture. Everything was better then walking aimlessly through this quiet hallway. Michael took a deep breath and walked forward through the picture.

            Colors from every spectrum flashed around him. It was such a strong contrast to what he had just come from that he stumbled a few steps blinded. He noticed that the further he walked the more colors appeared. There were reds, blues, and yellows all around him. The combination of so many colors made everything seem black or sharp white. It made his eyes water forcing him to blink a couple dozen times in an effort to block out the colors. The colors disappeared just as sudden as they appeared.

            Michael stood in a vast grey landscape. He could see people around him but they were all frozen, stuck in whatever they were doing that moment. He walked towards a big guy and experimentally waved his hand in front of his eyes. The guy continued to stare straight in front of him his mouth open as though he was talking, presumably to the girl standing next to him.

            Michael looked around trying to locate the movement he had seen before he entered. Slowly as his eyes got used to the grey frozen picture around him he could see long thin golden lines. They looked like small rays of light. The same ones he had seen in the hallway. This is time he thought. I can see these threads because time is frozen. But how can I make it go again? As he was thinking his hand absent mindedly went up and down through the air, the fingers fumbling the dead air around him causing thin golden threads to swirl and turn. Sound, very slowly moved away from him carried on waves through the air. He abruptly stopped moving his hand, trying to focus on the origin of the sound which was now fading. He stared at the small fading golden threads noticing them now for the first time. Michael moved his hand in an effort to recreate the threads and saw to his great surprise that new golden lines moved away from him. As he was slowly realizing what was going on he felt a tug, as if something was pulling the picture. He moved clumsily forward, learning as he goes how to move in the awkward environment. He could now feel where the push came from, this must also be where time was being forced to except something he realized. He ran and at the corner of his eye saw a guy he assumed to be Simon, holding Lisa.

“Stop!” Michael shouted, regretting almost immediately he had done so.

Simon turned towards him, a big smile showing a row of teeth, covering his face “Well well, if it isn’t the little idiot. Come to stop me have you? That’s a laugh” The guy laughed loudly at his own words.

“I will stop you if you don’t stop right now!” Michael retorted. It was an idle threat but it might buy him some time.

“Foolish boy, have fun with this while I take care of some business” With a quick move of his hand circles of light appeared and came racing towards Michael.

Michael, more out of reflex than anything else, moved his hand in a circular motion. A golden circle appeared swallowing the created riffs. Simon looked surprised and stopped to appraise Michael a new. “How did you do that?” he asked after a short pause.

“None of your business” he answered “Now let Lisa go!”

“What for? There is nothing you can do for her” Simon let go of Lisa and Michael saw she was the same grey lifeless image everything was.

“Free her!” Michael shouted

At this Simon laughed. “I can see you have no idea what you are doing I guess it was a lucky shot what you just did. Let me explain something to you. I can manipulate time by giving it memories. If I give it memories I can flex areas of time involving myself. The more memories I have the more control I can exert. I can tell by the look on your face that you have no idea what I’m talking about, so why don’t you go back to where you came from and get lost.”

Michael stared around him there must be something he could do.

Take mine echoed a familiar voice inside Michael head. He turned around trying to find where the voice came from. Simon in the meantime started moving his hand again in a complicated movement. He had to buy some time. “What did you do to the body of Dianova?” he asked. This seemed to stop Simon.

“Let’s just say she is gone, she was just a shell anyway” he retorted, he seemed cautious however.

“I don’t believe you, I think she was regaining control, I don’t think you can just perform a mind switch, you can only push her back and like a leech try to suck her dry, but she was fighting back wasn’t she?“

I will meld with you, and I am not alone together we can win the voice this time it seemed like two voices a female voice that was cold and angry, and another old voice. Falcner? Michael wondered. And Dianova. Prepare yourself.

The voices disappeared and Michael’s mind was flooded by memories. Thoughts of two people were now mixed with his own. He immediately saw all the patterns of time, millions of lines intertwined with one another.

Michael fell to the ground the weight of all the new memories literally pulling him down. Michael fought for breath as an amazing amount of memories surged through him, filling everything, lives went past, years, centuries, as slowly everything began to reside he knew where the memories had come from, he knew what he had to do. “You always were too obsessed” Michael said in a calm voice.

Simon was startled and with a few quick moves pushed a spiral of gold towards Michael. Michael lifted his hand and with a few circular motions let go of an exact replica of Simon’s spiral.

Simon smiled in triumph “I knew you had no idea what you were doing” he laughed “now you just added your memories to increase the strength of mine”

The two spirals now stood fully in front of one another, circling around one another. Simon’s spiral started to swallow Michael’s spiral sucking more and more from it, instead of stopping however Michael continued releasing more spirals creating a line of spirals that were all slowly consumed by Simon’s spiral.  Simon looked at the continually increasing size of his spiral and a look of doubt crossed his face. “What are you doing?” he asked

Michael didn’t reply he continued his movements, creating more and more spirals. It was now so big it easily topped the world’s highest building and still it looked like there was no stopping it. It increased into the air soaring like a pillar from the heavens and still it grew taller, its edges flowing through the atmosphere. Fear washed Simon, a moment ago he had complete control, he was about to devour all the memories and body of a young girl. He could now easily defeat even Falcner, what was going wrong?

The spiral reached the edge of space where it appeared to be stuck, there it grew in width until everything looked unstable, time shook violently and cracks started to appear on the until now dead image. Simon screamed in agony as he was sucked into the spiral. Michael felt his body growing weaker and weaker. This was the final moment he knew; he had to break Simon’s hold over time. He had to break time itself in order to set it free to roam as an entity by itself, uncontrollable from any outside interference.

He had nearly nothing left, he felt torn, his last feelings, thoughts, ideas sucked out of him, leaving him with a dreadful nothing. An empty shadow of what he once was a broken shell. His knees started to shake, his body as young and agile as it was, was still human and although bendable still sustainable only as a human.

Dizzy he stared around him and saw he had nothing left, he would fail.

A figure slowly stood up and stumbled towards him. “I am here, let me help” said a female voice, Michael knew but couldn’t place anymore, a beautiful voice filled with color and light. Gentle hands held him and he felt something of what he was come back to him. With the last power he could muster he gave one final push and collapsed on the floor. His eyes shutting…

“Michael? Stay with me please…” a voice soft and frail, tinted with a heart wrenching sadness, beckoned to him.

He looked at the figure that was now cradling him, his eyes were open but he could see nothing.

Fractures appeared around him, the spiral was destroying the picture, sending shards to every direction shattering every image on its way. Time slowly moved again and each movement, his own.

Well done my boy echoed a familiar voice in his mind I could have never done any better.

“What will happen now?” Michael asked his body unwilling to move.

Time will go on moving, and because all my and Simon’s memories are gone there are no strings attached, time is free in its own way.

“So what will happen to me then?”

You need to make friends with time…

The voice faded away. “Wait what about me, what will happen to me?” called Michael

“Michael? Are you alright” asked a worried female voice.

Michael looked up to see Lisa holding him in her arms. He was lying on the flood in some strange place, he struggled to get up. “Are you alright?” he asked looking at her with concern. “Yes I think so, but what happened? And where are we?”

Michael looked around and saw millions of colorful pictures all around him. You are outside time. The words echoed silently in his mind, he remembered where he was.

He looked at Lisa she was beautiful. What could he say to her?

“Lisa I’m sorry for all of this” voice trailed off. He couldn’t face her, he stared at the floor. Hands lifted his head up. He was surprised to see Lisa was smiling. “It’s not your fault. So why don’t we find a way out of here”

Michael smiled and held Lisa in his arms. “Well for that we need to make friends first”

 Notes: The gravel road (2007)

I had a picture in my head, way before I set out to write anything, of two small barn like houses facing each other, placed in the middle of a deserted gravel road. This image haunted me for a while and I kept seeing it over and over in my mind. Somehow these two houses were alone, and together they possessed some power as if they were the center for some event, or a doorway perhaps. I could see all this quite clearly but I had no story to attach all this to, so I came up with this story all so I could get rid of that image from my mind.

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