A thrill ride through time that will make you hold your breath.
Sitting by the campfire, Brandy admitted a secret to her friends. She swore she saw a ghost when exiting a cave earlier that day. Was she seeing things? Did they believe her? The next day, breaking a cardinal rule, she snuck back to the cave alone. No one knew where she was. What if she fell or was trapped? There would be no rescue.
For ten thousand years Alexander had kept the time streams of this universe safe from an eternal destructive force that continually threatened to tamper and destroy all. Locked in an unremitting battle, the two foes become sidetracked by an unexpected visitor. An entangled journey begins with chilling twists and turns until becoming locked into an inescapable death in a submerged cave.
Who will come out of the watery depths alive?
A hundred years had passed and Alexander came to accept that he was holding onto something he could not have. A memory, a ghost, a linear who had been. For what? Why? The thought occurred to him that he could go find her, hear her laugh. He had never seen her laugh after her friend had died. Did she mourn only inside this cave or when she was outside as well? He had to let go of this. How do you let go of a thing that you see for all eternity? Forever visible? Forever part of your life.
The universe threatened to pull from its course, time had been altered in too many places. What if all others had stopped as well and this was the end he was looking for? He could hope. His vision was tinged with red as the time stream pulled over its banks and rushed towards entropy. He didn’t see the red in his vision. He didn’t feel the pain that pulsed through his body. Instead, he sat opposite of her. How could he let it end and not know the color of her eyes? She was beautiful to him.
A linear. Hadn’t he learned not to love them?
A new thought encompassed him. It was slow, deliberate and drowned out all pain. He could end her sorrow, release her. Enough with this self indulgence, a weakness. Remorsefully, he reached forward and back in time to when the rock still rested on the ledge.
He wasn’t going to look at her, but his eyes betrayed him.
He saw her sad face.
He touched the rock in the past.
He didn’t say goodbye.
He loved her.
He pushed the rock into the pit.
*Note to reader from author: If you could picture Benedict Cumberbatch seated in a chair playing the role of Alexander, please. When this book turned into a romance—which was most unexpected (but not super steamy) I fought it for a while then cast Benedict as Alexander. It was oddly easy after that. After the book went into final edit, I was introduced to Dr. Strange, and I think my casting was spot on.*
Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?
*Alexander smiles gently and crosses his ankles*
I would have to consider this deeply. If you would afford me a moment, I will answer.
*Alexander flickers out of vision for a split second. When he returns his ankles are uncrossed. His shoes are dusty.*
There is this special moment in time that I visit. It takes some effort. If a spell could capture that and allow me to visit it easily I would stay there forever.
Can you share that moment with us?
There is a cave that once existed, eons ago. It has since collapsed. Inside, the rock ceiling is—was—covered with glowworms. A spectacular view if you visit at night. I took Brandy there and the look of surprise on her face—was—brighter than the sun.
Tell us about how you met Brandy.
She crawled into my cave. Her and a friend. Exploring. Her friend, Brandy, died. A horrible incident when a rock dislodged as she was climbing out of a tall pit. The rock’s movement had not been an accident. Remind me to tell you about the manipulator and our struggles. Brandy visited every month for years and mourned at that pit. You see, due to my nature I could see every visit. I see through all of time.
Having visitors in my cave means that I see every visit—forever. I became accustomed to seeing these ghost images of her. I had been alive at that time for more than 10,000 years and was on the brink of madness. I began to talk to her image. For one hundred years I kept company with her mournful ghost.
Do you think you were in love with her? Wait, so you didn’t actually meet her?
Correct. And yes. I fell in love with everything about her and had never spoken to her or been in the same time with her. Then it occurred to me I could not tell the color of her eyes. That one singular thought burrowed through my brain until I was nearly crazed by it.
You said the accident had been caused.
The manipulator. Yes. My kind keeps the time stream in order. I can see all of time and move in and out of it. The manipulators are beings that inhabit linears.
*Alexander drops his eyes for a moment*
You are a linear. Those that are trapped into time and must live…linearly. A manipulator inhabits a linear’s body. In my case, Yindi, is the name of the manipulator that I encounter the most. His only drive is to destroy time. By changing things in the time stream he gets a rush from it, I suppose. His only hope is to push the universe into destruction. He had pushed that rock so that when Susan, Brandy’s friend, stepped on it she fell to her death. I suppose if he had not done I would not have seen Brandy enter my cave so often and then would not have loved her. Perhaps.
So what do you do when Yindi disturbs things?
First, it is a physical pain to me—when time is molested. Though I am not synced to time and do not experience it—it is a part of me. I ignored the pain for a hundred years, so I could keep the company of Brandy’s images. Self indulgent, I suppose. My role is to undo what Yindi has done.
Why don’t you just kill him?
*Alexander smiles an evil grin*
You are not supposed to. It is dangerous. The energy being that is Yindi jumps to the first living thing it can when killed. I do not want that to be me.
*He leans forward, a conspirator.*
I have been creative with what that black evil has been encased in. In fact, right now you are having a moment in time where this area is not being manipulated and torn apart by Yindi. It will be a peaceful sixty or so years.
Why did he try to kill Brandy and …?
Why did he want to kill Susan and Brandy?
Yindi moves on raw instinct without thought. His only concern is to destroy and feed his cravings. Though when he realized my feelings for Brandy he focused his destruction on her just to spite me.
*His face droops as sadness overcomes his features.*
I tried to save her. Brandy accused us, Yindi and myself, of using her as a “simple dalliance” for a couple of decades. She did not know. I had struggled with Yindi through multiple time streams to keep her safe, saving her and changing what Yindi had corrupted. Between that and the hundred years I stayed in a slipping time stream just to see her, I had been with her a total of a couple hundred years, in actuality. Still a short amount of time.
So you can just change things over and over again?
Yes and no. I can change things, and should only change things to be correct for this time stream. Else, as I mentioned, it hurts. Dreadfully. Yet, not everything can be fixed. I have limitations to where I can go and what I can do. And if one adjusts things in time too much, they become entangled. A string of events become locked in time, and they can not be changed no matter how much you try.
That’s all the time we have–that’s funny–that’s all the time I have for this interview. Thank you for taking a moment to talk with us.
Thank you for meeting me during the evening hours.
*He bows his head gently and disappears. The air makes a slight pop as it rushes into fill the space he had occupied.*
Tina O'Hailey (author of animation textbooks Rig it Right and Hybrid Animation, Associate Dean of digital media at SCAD Atlanta, professor in animation and game programming, caver and occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves (if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet), whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee) was struck by lightning as a baby.
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