Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the FANTASY and/or SCI FI Genre (10/16/14)
TITLE: The Timemaker
By Lori Othouse
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Pushing open the heavy wooden door, she heard a little bell jingle as light flooded the dim, damp room. A man sat behind a counter, bent over an intricate timepiece. He wore a lab coat, of sorts, and his long dark hair flowed over his shoulders. He was part scientist, part rock star and not at all what she expected.
“Are you the Timemaker?” she asked.
He looked up over his glasses, nodded, and resumed his work.
“I have some questions,” she continued, “if you don’t mind.”
He motioned for her to come forward.
“My name is-”
“Eleanor, yes.” The man put down his work and stared at her with steely blue eyes.
“How did you know that?”
“How I know is not important, my dear. It’s what I know.”
“That’s what I wanted to ask you. They say you have great power. Power over time. How is that possible?”
He raised an eyebrow, “Like I said, how is not important.”
Just then the door opened and a man stepped inside. He was young, twenties or thirties, good-looking and dressed as though he may be one of the royal court.
“Geoffrey! Come in!” the Timemaker gestured widely at the man, “I’m just finishing up.”
Eleanor stepped aside as the Timemaker placed a watch on Geoffrey’s wrist and gave him some instructions. Geoffrey then emptied a considerable bag of gold on the counter. With a handshake and a smile, he was out the door.
Trying not to stare, Eleanor stepped back to the counter. “He paid you all that for a watch?”
“Oh no, my dear. He paid me that for time.”
“What do you mean?”
Sighing, the Timemaker sat back down. “You can set a clock to any hour you choose, but you can’t change what time it is. I can.”
“So you can send people back in time?”
“Back in time, forward in time, whatever they choose.”
“But, how-” she stopped, knowing the answer, “Right. Not important. But, why?”
“The reasons are as vast as people themselves,” he began, “Most have some kind of regret they hope to rectify. Some long for the past and others must know what is to come.”
Eleanor frowned. “But if you send them back to change something, then doesn’t-”
Suddenly, the door flew open and a disheveled man burst inside. After a moment, Eleanor recognized him as Geoffrey, the one who had just left, but barely. He looked at least twenty years older, was dressed in rags and had a large scar on his neck.
“I need more time!” he demanded.
“That will cost you,” the Timemaker replied with a marked coldness.
“I, I don’t have anything. Not anymore. But, please, just a little more-”
“Sorry, you know my price.”
He began to sob. “Please, I’ll do anything!”
The Timemaker circled the counter, put his arm around the pitiful man and escorted him to the door.
“When you can pay, time will tick for you again.”
Geoffrey reluctantly exited as the stunned Eleanor looked on.
“What happened to him?” she whispered.
“What happens to most of them,” he replied, “they learn the truth.”
“People will always want more time in their life, which I can give them, but what they are really seeking is more life in their time, which only they can give themselves. After coming to me, they realize they've only wasted more of the thing they desire most.”
“So why don’t you tell them that, instead of taking advantage of them? It’s so wrong!”
“It wouldn’t matter, my dear. Without exception, they would all rather pay a hefty price for another chance rather than change the way they live. So I give them that opportunity.” He nodded toward the door, “Unfortunately, things sometimes turn out for the worst.”
“But you could’ve given him more time.”
“And he would still be the same person, making the same mistakes. The only real change comes from changing this,” he tapped his chest, “not from changing the hands on the clock. And even I don‘t have power enough to do that.”
Contemplating the harshness and truth of his words, Eleanor heard a little bell jingle as the door slowly opened.
A hesitant voice called out, “Are you the Timemaker?”
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