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July 04, 2022

Anachronocity v9p8

By Josh Brown

Mama's Pride - Part Eight

Alex knew the moment his brother told him that he'd be the double in the date that it'd end in a disaster; and it did.

Daniel and his date -- who looked exactly like Sela -- ordered pancakes and champagne. Alex's date -- who looked exactly like Franky -- ordered the house peanut butter in a bowl the size of Mars. Unable to find a menu, Alex told the waiter to bring him whatever. So, he ended up with a jar of baby food, carrot flavored. Alex hated carrots.

The meal for the most part went well, if you ignored the fact that Franky's face was literally buried in the peanut butter bowl the whole time.

As the dessert cart made its way toward their table, everything changed. A foot away, the cart shook violently and then, like countless clowns emerging from a tiny car, police erupted from the cart and filled the room until there wasn't a single space not possessed by a body.

Daniel sighed sadly. "How many times, Alex? You are aiming to get yourself killed, aren't you? What is it called... suicide by cop? Why must you always drag the police into our dates?"

Before Alex could triumphantly announce that the cops were there for Sela and not him, Franky jumped onto the table. His face was a mask of oozing peanut butter. He screamed at the top of his lungs, "Beware the Key of Time! It will consume you!" Then he exploded into a flood of peanut butter that washed over the police force, sticking them together. Alex, Daniel, and Sela swam through the gooey mess and out the door with the flashing exit sign.

Once outside in the cool evening breeze -- and amazingly peanut butter free -- Alex turned to Sela and started. Instead of Sela, he found another version of Daniel. This second Daniel looked crazy, smeared in blood, haggard from lack of proper hygiene and sleep.

"Are... and... don't forget..."

Daniel Two's words were cutting in and out, a jumbled mess of non-coherent babble that Alex instinctively knew was important. He waved and stomped and shouted back at Daniel Two in a vain attempt at... what? He attempted to somehow adjust his volume and signal.

A long narrow path led away from the restaurant and toward a bright light that Alex couldn't identify. Daniel One wrapped his arm snuggly around Daniel Two's shoulders and started down the path.

"Don't go, Daniel...s," Alex pleaded.

When they didn't listen, or even bother to glance back at him, Alex followed reluctantly. Somewhere behind him he heard a screeching noise that almost made him drop a fresh load in his pants. The fear kept his eyes locked firmly ahead on the growing light.

"Oh my God," both Daniels said in unison.

Alex gazed up at the now visible sign floating over the light. Blinking in a rainbow of colors were the words: KEY OF TIME.

Before Alex managed to shout, "No!" the Daniels stepped through the light.

On his knees, staring into the endless light before him, Alex wondered what was so bad about the Key of Time. Then he wondered what was the Key of Time -- and more importantly, what the hell did he eat to have this vivid nightmare?

Then Katlyn appeared from with the light. She glowed fiery red as if her entire body were made of blazing flames. She stepped in front of Alex and stared down at him contemptuously.

"You of all people are not worthy to look at the Key, much less enter it. Your folly will cost everyone their lives. The fate of your brother was just the start. Time cannot be undone. You cannot stop that which has happened before and will happen again. Even the Elders are mistaken in thinking they've changed the future. It is their meddling that made it possible for them to 'evolve' in the first place. Time is a loop, Alex -- a loop that cannot be undone. Your brother's suicide was not a call for help; it was an instruction book for what to do if you're trapped in the future. Do Time a favor, do everyone a favor, and kill yourself."

***

Alex rolled out of bed and faced-planted on the floor. The blankets wrapped around him constricted him, flooding him with claustrophobia. He whirled and struggled, freeing himself from the cloth before it swallowed him whole. Gasping for breath, Alex raised his eyes at the presence he felt in the room.

A blood-soaked Daniel stood before him, worn to the point of exhaustion. Alex knew this was the final Daniel -- the Daniel on the verge of committing suicide centuries in the past.

"You've had the d-d-dream," Daniel said. His eye ticked involuntarily as he tried to say "dream."

"Don't do it, Daniel." Alex clamored to his feet, trying to grab at his brother but only meeting air. "Don't kill yourself. It will stop all of this if you just don't kill yourself!"

"I've seen the Key, Alex. The Key of Time exists and I've seen it. I know THE TRUTH, Alex. The blood is the truth. THE BLOOD, Alex. From the start I knew. And now you must understand. You must comprehend this, Alex. There is only one way for you to return home. You must cleanse the timeline. You must, Alex. All that have meddled must be destroyed. It is on you, Alex. Do not let anyone escape. TIME IS NOT A LOOP! Break the circle, Alex. Break the circle and you will come home. Beware the Key, but use it to end this all. I start my part tonight. You do the same. Do you understand?"

Alex threw his hands into the air and screamed, "I have no fucking idea what you're talking about!"

No parting words, no last minute revelations that make sense -- Daniel just vanished, leaving his convoluted message hanging in the air like his final dying breath.

Alex curled up on the floor, rocking back and forth. Somewhere in his brother's message, and possibly in that nightmare, lay the answers he sought. Now all he had to do was find them.

***

For several days, Alex holed up in his room. He refused to eat. He refused all attempts at company. The rest of Katlyn's recap waited on the other side of his door, but it felt inconsequential to him after the visit from Daniel.

Alex believed in the circular nature of time. Once he realized his brother had been communicating with him at random intervals and from random points in the past, his theory seemed to solidify. Now, Daniel was telling him Time's circle could not only be interrupted, but he had to interrupt it in order to get home.

Was it possible... oh, no. Alex jumped to his feet, stiff and achy. He slammed his fist on the intercom and called out for Katlyn.

When no reply immediately came, Alex plowed through the door in only his boxers and pounded on Katlyn's door across the hall.

The door opened to reveal a disheveled Katlyn, fresh out of bed. Alex's ripe odor and wrecked appearance didn't do much for him in Katlyn's eyes, he was sure -- but none of that mattered.

"Alex, what is --"

"Sela! Sela! Tell me what happened to Sela! Please tell me she's still aboard."

"Alex, slow down."

"I need to know. Katlyn, don't you see? The League is vital to our return. We have to destroy the Elders."


To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-01-23
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