More TTC to start off the New Year right!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and that you’re all looking toward a bright, new 2018! To kick it off right, I wanted to share another chapter of The Time-Traveler’s Cat!

CHAPTER THREE

Piper rubbed his face, looking at the clock. If it hadn’t been important, the time would have dragged by, but now that it was, it seemed like time was standing still.

He shook his head, blowing a breath between his lips as he looked down at the paper he’d been scribbling on all day. Formulas and graphs filled up the page, with lines crossing out some parts, and pencil-eraser marks nearly wearing holes through the paper.

“Well?” Daniel called, turning in his chair.

Piper shook his head, handing the mess of mathematics to his friend. “I just don’t know what I’m missing,” he said, his throat hoarse with exhaustion.

Daniel took the paper and looked over it, his glasses sliding down his nose as he did so. “Some of this looks like math,” he said slowly. “And some of it looks like you’re crazy.”

Piper scowled as Daniel tossed the paper toward him. “Not helpful,” he snapped, turning the paper over to reveal a blank backside.

“Look, it’s nothing to worry about, okay?” Daniel said, leaning across the cubicle. “Just finish running the wires tonight and we’ll bring the team in tomorrow to review the formulas.” He offered a helpful smile. “You always think best when you’re surrounded by those morons.”

Piper’s lips quirked slightly. “This is true.” He leaned back in his chair. “I still need to tell Charlotte the news.”

Daniel waved his hand as he turned away. “Good luck with that.”

Piper moved to his feet and dug his comm out of his desk drawer. He left their lab and stepped into the hallway, lifting the device to try to get a good signal. Beyond the window at the end of the hallway, Piper could see clouds gathering, lightning illuminating the sky. Tonight would have been a great night to stay in.

He leaned against the wall, scrolling to Charlie’s number. He pressed the call button, holding the phone out in front of him. It rang a few times before she answered, her smile filling the screen.

“Hey there, cutie,” she said teasingly. “Thinking about later?”

Piper felt the tension ease a bit as he returned her grin. “Well, yes and no,” he said slowly. He watched the smile slide from her face.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“Bobby’s making me stay late since I was late this morning,” he said, slumping back against the wall.

Charlie’s face fell and Piper felt his heart twist. “Oh,” she said.

“I’m so sorry, babe,” he said quickly. “I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

Charlie glanced over her shoulder and Piper got a glimpse of the dining room table set with candles and plates, prepared to host a meal. “I guess I’ll put the food in the warmer,” she said, her voice heavy with disappointment.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Piper promised. “I’ll be on the seven o’clock train and home before seven-thirty.”

Charlie nodded as she looked at him. “Okay,” she said. “Just be safe.”

Piper nodded. “I will.” He tried to smile at her. “Can I get a hint at what your surprise is?”

The mischievousness returned to her eyes then. “Nope,” she said, the comm jiggling a bit as she walked into the kitchen. “You’re just going to have to wait.”

Piper sighed in annoyance, even though a grin was on his face. “Fine,” he said. He made a kissy-face at the camera. “I gotta get back to it. I love you.”

Charlie smiled. “Love you too,” she said.

Piper disconnected the call, tucking the comm into his pocket. He turned to go back into the lab, feeling a strange mixture of excitement and irritation. He wanted to go home and eat dinner with his girlfriend. His eyes landed on the machine inside the containment room. He did not want to be here messing with that thing.

He managed to sit still at his desk until the clock struck five. He also managed to keep his mouth shut as Daniel ragged on him on his way out the door. Once he was alone, he looked at his computer, pulling up the design schematics for the machine. He sent the wiring codes to his comm, standing and walking to the refrigerator in the corner.

It was small, but the perfect size for them to throw their lunches and extra sodas in. He popped the top on one, taking a sip and setting the can on his desk as he put his hand on his hip. He glared hard at the machine through the glass.

“This better not take all night,” he said to it.

The machine, of course, didn’t answer, but it looked like it was taunting him as it sat there, shining in the bright laboratory lights.

Finally, Piper knew he had to do the inevitable. He walked toward the door to the containment room, shrugging off his coat and opening the door. He pulled on a different white coat, one that was supposed to be ‘clean’, and headed toward a toolbox nearby. He pulled out the comm, flicking it to make the diagram jump into a hologram.

He set the schematics next to the machine on a work bench and pulled out a tool. His heart was pounding as he stepped inside the door to the machine. It was cool and crisp inside the door as Piper knelt under the dashboard of flickering lights. He found wires that still needed to be connected and run, and he set to work.

For the most part it was pretty mindless, but his fingers were raw from splicing and twisting the copper pieces. He glanced at the clock beyond the room after a while, thankful to see that it was almost time for him to go. He reached for the last green wire, feeling a smirk coming to his face.

It seemed like he’d be home earlier than he thought.

He lifted a pair of pliers and stripped the rubber away, leaving the copper innards bear. He did the same to a black wire, his mind in other places. He was thinking about what Charlie had made for dinner, and what they would get up to afterwards. His brain was on auto-pilot as he pulled the strands together, giving a good twist.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A siren suddenly began to blare in Piper’s ears, making him drop the pliers and cover his head. He jumped to his feet, fear filling him as he thought back to his uncertainties about the math. He was almost to the door when it suddenly slammed, the dashboard flickering brightly as all the lights turned on.

“Oh, hell no!” Piper yelled, pulling desperately at the door. He knew it had a lock that was trigged from the outside, but none of it should have been functional yet.

“Hello!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “Help!”

The machine suddenly began to vibrate, the sound of motors whirling to speed filling his ears. Piper was yelling curses over the siren as he ran to the dashboard, trying to make heads or tails of the code that was racing across the screen. He pushed buttons, trying to get it to slow down, but it just sped up.

“Come on!” he yelled angrily, slamming his fist on the console. He blinked stupidly when the scrolling stopped, four bright green numbers stuck on the screen.

2028

“What the…?”

The machine suddenly rattled, throwing him backwards, away from the console. A deafening sound filled the machine, like the sound of a gun-shot. Then, just like that, everything was still.

Piper was breathing hard as he stared at the console, wondering what had just happened. He scrambled to his feet when he heard the lock on the door slide open, a hissing sound filling the room. He dashed out, desperate to get away from the damn thing, but unprepared for what awaited him just beyond the door.

As he staggered out into darkness, a cold feeling of dread came over him.

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

The machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, the lights flashed, the siren still sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had the machine worked? Had his worries about the numbers been accurate?

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088. The sky was too clear, and the night air tasted too clean.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He was definitely going to be late for dinner.

Advertisements

Another Sneak Peek!

Hi all,

This week has been really crazy. Some family stuff has come up and made writing difficult. I’m pretty behind on TTTC, but I wanted to share another chapter with you! Enjoy!

CHAPTER TWO

Piper let his head flop onto his desk. The clock had finally struck noon, meaning lunch time, but Piper knew he wouldn’t get away that easily. He’d come sliding in just behind the big bosses, just in time for them to not know he was late. He’d seen the way Bobby glared at him, but there was nothing Bobby could say as they gave the men in suits a tour of the lab and showed them the formulas they were working on.

Piper could tell it was all way over their heads, but they acted impressed, and made sure to shake his hand as they left. Bobby had flitted behind them all the way out, allowing Piper the time to sneak to his desk and crumble into a heap.

“Bro, what the hell happened this morning?” D suddenly appeared over the top of Piper’s cubicle.

Piper sat up quickly, his eyes blazing. “You didn’t remind me they were coming!” he hissed.

Daniel laughed, throwing his hands up. “Should I remind you to wipe your ass too?” he asked. He shook his head. “Come on, man, put a reminder in your comm next time.”

Piper scowled down at his desk, feeling his heart jump into his throat as the lab door slid open. He tried to look busy as Bobby walked into the room.

“Miller!” he barked, causing Piper to jump.

He turned slowly in his chair, forcing a smile. “Yeah, boss?” he asked, trying to play it cool.

“You were late,” Bobby growled, crossing his arms over his rather rotund middle. “That’s the second time this month.”

Piper shrugged. “It happens sometimes, boss,” he said. He knew he’d said the wrong thing when Bobby’s face turned red like the tomatoes he used to look at in books as a kid.

“You’re goddamn lucky you’re so smart, Miller,” Bobby hissed angrily. “Otherwise, I’d have kicked your ass out of here months ago.” He lumbered closer, intimidating as he towered over Piper. He lowered his voice. “You think you’re immune because you’re some sort of prodigy, but three strikes and you’re out, Miller.”

Piper was leaning back in his chair, his eyes focused on Bobby’s face. Truth be told, he didn’t have a lot of respect for the man, but he was scared of him. “Sorry, boss,” he said quietly.

Bobby was scowling darkly as he leaned away. “Youngest scientist in his class,” he muttered to himself. “Still a dumbass.”

Piper’s eyes felt huge as he watched Bobby exit the lab.

“At least he let you off easy,” D said, appearing over the top of Piper’s cubicle timidly.

Piper started to agree with him when the doors suddenly slid open again and Bobby charged back in.

“And one more thing, Miller,” Bobby all but yelled. “You’re staying late tonight!”

Piper caught sight of the maniacal grin on his face as he turned. “Tonight?” he demanded, jumping to his feet. “But, I can’t!”

Bobby waved his hand, silencing him. “You’re working on the machine tonight or you won’t have a job tomorrow, understood?” he barked.

Piper slunk back, knowing Charlie would be furious. “Yes, boss,” he said, letting his hand rest on the top of his desk. Once Bobby vanished for good, he groaned, sinking into his chair and pressing his hands against his face. “She’s gonna kill me.”

Daniel was still barely peeking over the cubicle wall. “Why?” he asked.

Piper rolled his eyes. “It’s our ‘six-month anniversary’,” he said, air-quoting the words.

Daniel suddenly grinned. “Bet she even had something sexy to wear, too,” he said teasingly.

Piper groaned again, leaning back in his chair. “I can’t believe this.”

Daniel leaned his arms against the top of the wall. “Is six months even a thing?” he asked.

Piper shrugged. “Hell if I know,” he snapped. He turned in his chair, looking at a plate-glass wall. Beyond it, a door opened into a room the size of a closet, blinking panels of lights winking back at him. “I just don’t want to be in there with that thing.”

D followed his gaze. “It’s not operational,” he said slowly. “Nothing to worry about.”

Piper gritted his teeth, a bad feeling in his gut. He knew that he should always trust his gut, but this time the need for a job out-weighed the weight in his stomach. “I dunno, D,” he said slowly. “Something’s not right with the numbers.”

Daniel sighed then, swiveling around in his chair. “You and your damn numbers,” he grumbled. He looked up at the clock. “Guess you have five hours to figure it out.”

Halloween Story – Part two!

Scary_pumpkin_5_less_border.svg

Henry jumped out of the van first as it made a stop at the front of a neighborhood. All around, kids with their parents were milling up and down the street, knocking on doors. Excitement filled Henry as he looked at the three other Power Rangers beside him in the fading light.

“I’ll be back in an hour,” Andy’s mom said. “Then we’ll go to the next neighborhood.”

Andy waved her off as he closed the door. “Come on guys,” he said, leading them away. “Let’s go!”

Henry followed after his friends, watching Andy’s mom turn her car around and roll slowly down the street. “Your mom’s not staying?” Henry asked, knowing his mom would have a cow if she knew.

“No bro,” Andy said, plopping his helmet over his head. “I’m not a baby.” He turned to elbow Josh beside him. “What’s the matter, Henry? Scared?”

Henry sighed and pulled his helmet over his head. “Shut up,” he said, leading the way up a path to the first door. A cheesy skeleton sat outside the front door and he rang the doorbell.

The front door, with it’s Halloween wreath, swung open, and a grandma stood there, smiling wide.

“Trick or Treat!” the boys yelled in unison.

Henry didn’t listen to her words as she plopped a couple of candies in his bucket. He wasn’t entirely happy with her offering, but it was something as they walked to the next house.

The time felt like it flew by as they reached the back of the neighborhood. Their buckets were pretty full and becoming heavy, while the sun had finally sunk down behind the houses. The streetlamps were flickering on and a light chill was beginning to fill the night.

“Hey, you guys heard about the ghost house?” Andy suddenly asked.

Henry turned to look at him, watching him and Jeremy trade candies. “Ghost house?” he asked.

Andy grinned, his helmet perched on his brow. “It’s at the back of the neighborhood,” he said confidently. “Come on, I’ll show you guys.”

Henry and Josh traded looks, but followed Andy. Sure enough, at the very end of the last street, where the neighborhood street curved and went back toward the front of the subdivision, sat a lonely house. As they came closer, Henry could see that the doors and windows were boarded. The street lamp at the curb flickered every so often. A chill went down Henry’s spine.

“Let’s check it,” Andy said, walking toward it.

Henry trailed behind the other boys, feeling more creeped out as they came closer. “Dude, won’t your mom be back soon?” he asked half-heartedly.

Andy turned around then, backpedaling toward the house. “Don’t tell me that the baby’s scared,” he said teasingly. Josh and Jeremy laughed.

“I’m not scared, asshole,” Henry quipped. He glanced at the house again. “It just looks dangerous or something.”

“Well, you know the story, right?” Josh said.

Henry shook his head.

“The family that lived there was murdered,” Jeremy said ominously, wiggling his fingers in a dramatic way. “My older sister says their ghosts haunt the place.”

“How would she know?” Henry asked weakly.

Jeremy crossed his arms and lifted his chin proudly. “She said she and her boyfriend were here fooling around and a ghost chased them.”

Henry tried to summon some bravado. “You know she was lying,” he said. “Ghosts aren’t real.”

“Then why don’t we go inside?” Andy called, scaling the porch steps.

Henry stopped at the bottom, clutching his helmet tightly under his arm. “I don’t think we should,” he said. “Your mom’s waiting for us.”

“Stop being a pussy, Robertson!” Andy snapped then. Henry recognized his tone as something he’d heard Andy’s dad say to him. His mom said Andy’s dad wasn’t a nice man, but Henry pushed the thought away.

“I’m not!” he said, climbing the steps quickly. “I’ll prove it to you!”

Andy surprised Henry when he yanked the front door. Surprisingly, it swung open noiselessly, allowing the darkness inside to peer out.

 

Hope you guys are enjoying so far! Part three coming next Friday!

[WP] You’ve found your soul mate. There’s only one problem…

I had known for a long time that I had lived many past lives. I didn’t need regression therapy or hypnosis to help me realize that. The memories were always in the back of my mind, even though I was always in the present. I’m not sure why my brain was wired that way, but every body I occupied, it was the same.

I was okay with that. For several lives, I knew what to expect and what my purpose was. But all of that changed when I met Sylvia. Or, actually, the first time her name was Bakari. Born into a rich Egyptian family, she was beautiful, with dark hair and dark eyes that stopped me in my tracks the day I saw her in the market place. I knew she was meant to be with me, but she died at age 10, shortly before my 37th birthday.

Over the centuries, she’d been born into different bodies. She had different faces and different colors of skin, but I always, always knew it was her. No matter how the gods tried to hide her from me, I always found her.

I’ve never spoken to her. We always exchange glances in passing, but I know she knows. Most of the time, she’s too young to understand, or I am, but we know. Nothing needs to be said.

That’s the problem with soul mates. These days it’s somewhat of a romantic term, used to describe people who couple off and live happily ever after. But this…this is different. She’s the other half to whatever it is I carry inside me.

I like to think of it like pizza. She may be pepperoni and I may be pineapple, but we’re still halves to the same whole. We still have the same contents, underneath our toppings. But, unlike pizza, our halves never get made at the same time.

It was frustrating and demoralizing. For a long time, she would come into my life when I was an old man at the end of his days, and she just a small child. Then, it switched and she was a dying elderly woman every time I was born. No doubt some sick joke by the powers-that-be. But, there seems to be a cycle, and I think we are finally in the right place to meet. I hesitate to think that too hard or believe it too readily. It makes my insides twist like they do in the moment before death.

But this time, I have found her. I am a student at a university, much like I was the first time I saw her, but this time she is a student as well. I saw her in the library, bent over a book at a desk, reading, and when someone called her name she lifted her head. Gold strands of hair fell around bright blue eyes, which she happened to turn on me before to her friend.

I felt it then. That electricity that makes you feel like the world has stopped. If the confusion on her face was any indication, she felt it too. She hid it though, which makes me think that she doesn’t remember all of those lives; all those little moments when we were near but so far.

I have to remind her. I have to keep her this time. I need to know what the other half of my insides look like. I have to stop the cycle. I have to understand why we’ve been kept apart all of these years.

She’s sitting at a coffee table now, in an on-campus bookstore. She’s sipping her latte and reading, and I’m walking across the parking lot. My knees are shaking and my hands are tucked tightly into the pockets of my coat, but I won’t turn back now.

Finally, I’m within feet of her table, and her eyes are lifting to meet mine.

There it is again! That look…

I stop in front of her, offering a nervous smile. “Sylvia?” I ask tentatively.

For one long, heart-wrenching moment, she is confused, on the verge of telling me to go away. But then, her face eases and a smile pulling at her lips.

“Asim.”

My heart lurches at the sound of that name, from so long ago. “It’s Henry now,” I say easily.

Sylvia’s smile widens. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

[Writing Prompt] Once Upon a Time…

https://promptuarium.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/once-upon-a-time-2/

This week’s prompt comes from the Promptuarium. Sorry for being lazy the last few weeks! If nothing else, there will be a writing prompt every Friday.


The actual prize didn’t matter. It was just a chunk of gold metal, or silver or whatever they were made out of these days.

No, what mattered was the roar of battle: the scent of leather and lathered hide, the snort of her mount, the sound of hoofbeats in the sand.

You’ll just get hurt, little girl.

She adjusted the goggles across her eyes, feeling the strap of her helmet digging into her chin. Her horse quivered beneath her, straining against the gate that kept them still. She leaned into the black stallion’s neck, grabbing a fistful of his hair.

A countdown had begun, the ring of a starting bell muted as the gate flew open. Her horse was all muscle as he plunged forward, her heart racing as he nearly unseated her. She realized she was holding her breath as he charged forward, taking the rail.

I wonder if you ride as well as you talk shit.

Her vision was a tunnel, all that was important was the stretch of sand before her. The dim sound of the crowd, the racing beats of the other horses; she couldn’t hear them. The wind in her face nearly took her breath away, and she had to remind herself to breathe as the black stallion carried her across the quarter-mile stretch.

His legs were strong and sure, his strides long and even and quick. He pulled away from the pack, leaving her competition in his dust.

Royals don’t belong on the track.

Her horse surged as he rounded the last bend, her chest tightening. He could feel her excitement as the finish line came into view, and he carried her harder and faster, like a charger into a fray, fearless and strong.

The cheering around her was deafening as her horse crossed the line, an announcer yelling in disbelief and excitement over the loud speakers. Her horse slowed finally, his body still pulling against her reins, his legs still yearning to run. Only when he came to a stop did she dare look up at the clock.

You can’t win.

Her horse had beaten out the rest by five seconds, leaving her rival to lead the rest of the pack. Her legs were shaking as she kicked off her stirrups, gasping as if she’d just run the quarter mile race herself. She turned her head, looking over the people who crowded around to congratulate her to meet the gaze of her rival.

Satisfaction filled her as their eyes met, his scowl fading into acceptance. He bowed his head in defeat.

She drew a ragged breath as a wreath was dropped around her horse’s neck.

Wild hearts never lose.