Friday, October 29, 2010

The Time Monster (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Christina Banks over @ her blog, With Pen in Hand. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings. The lovely Kristina Rohder is the one to thank for this particular inspiration. Be sure to visit her blog, she has a wonderful serial going on at the moment, you'll be on the edge of your seat keeping up with all the action! Anyway, her prompt gave me this idea. Somehow I had the thought of Father Time in my head and of course, the thought of a time monster, so here is the actual result. It's not as detailed as it could be, because I don't want it to end up at several thousand words (at least, that's where it would've been at the rate I was going. LOL). Please enjoy the read and happy weekend. (Psst! NaNoWriMo is now 2 days away!) 

The roar echoed in the marble halls of the giant mansion. It was struggling at first, almost trembling before it blossomed into a giant rumbling roar.

In the shadowy study on the fifth floor, by the south window, Mr. Winthrop paused in mid-scribble. He sighed, though the sound was empty and meaningless to the unoccupied room. From his jacket pocket, he drew a silver pocketwatch with a heart engraved on the cover. He smiled at the etching and flipped it open.

Seeing the time didn’t improve his mood any, for the scowl deepened as he pushed back in the chair and stood up from the desk. He took his time in putting away his pen, setting the silken bookmark in the center of the book before closing the cover.

Another rumbling roar made the room shift and shake, the coffee sloshing out of its holder and onto the desk’s smooth surface. He sighed, drawing a pristine kerchief from one pocket, hand hovering over the liquid mess before he used it to hold the golden bell on the velvet pad.

It rang softly with a gentle tingle.



The third roar was a moaning groan kind of mumble and the door to the study burst open, with a breathless, redheaded maid offering a steep curtsy.

“I’m terribly s-sorry Mr. Winthrop.” She stammered, jumping as another roar traveled through the air.

He forced a polite smile. “That is not a problem, Sophie. Please see to—that.” He gestured towards the table. “Would you know if Keifner is still up?”

“Third floor, securing th-the windows, I think.”

“Thank you, Sophie.” The smile softened by a few degrees.

“Mr. Winthrop?” Her voice quavered as she began to mop up the spill.

“I’ll take of it. Goodnight.”

“Thank you. A good night to you too, sir.” She tried to smile, but winced instead as the roar shook the house again and she grabbed for the cup.

Mr. Winthrop took the stairs two at a time, arriving on the third floor just as the chief of security was heading up.

“Sir?” He inquired, stopping in mid-step.

Both men grabbed for the banisters when another roar shook the mansion. Mr. Winthrop sighed. “Kiefner, could I possibly impose upon you to-”

“If security is-”

“Take whoever you want. I’ll even call them for you as long as you find my useless daughter and bring her to the basement?”

“I shall wake Miss Winthrop immediately.”

“Thank you, Kiefner.”

In the time it took them to round up the available people, a flushed Kiefner appeared around the corner of the standing room to the side of the kitchen. He braced against the doorway to catch his breath, apparently having run down the flights of stairs to reach them. He was alone and his bushy eyebrows were stuck together, matching the agitated twitch of his matching moustache.

“Kiefner?”

“I can’t find her, sir! She’s not in her room.” The man wiped his forehead. “I don’t see how she could’ve-”

A scream came from the kitchen and the dozen men turned towards the kitchen hallway. Mr. Winthrop was the first to move with Kiefner right behind him, the others following, on their guard. The scene in the giant kitchen, was that of a horrified Sophie staring at a young womanbstretched out on the marble floor, covered in a thick, bright red liquid.

“Sophie!” Kiefner rushed to her side, pulling the young woman back a few steps.

“K-kool-aid?” She tried, after a moment.

Mr. Winthrop stepped into the room and his mouth twitched at once. “Kiefner?” The security chief quickly moved the stammering maid out of the kitchen. Bending over the drenched figure, he reached down and tickled the chin of the young girl. Kool-aid. She was probably feeling sick again. Maybe. But did she have to fall asleep right in the middle of drinking an entire pitcher?

She stirred, faintly and when the action was repeated, her eyes flew open.

For a moment, nothing was said.

“Dad!” The girl sputtered, scrambling to her feet and slipping on the wet floor as she tried to stand.

He caught her with a grimace, quickly snatching the knitted blanket from the redness beside her and using it as padding between them. “Missy.”

“I-I…” She tried, but a yawn came out instead.

“You shouldn’t stand up so quickly, you know it makes you dizzy when you’re tired.” He sighed, bracing her in one arm and awkwardly wrapping the blanket around her with the other.

She yawned again, eyelids drooping as her body went limp, perfectly cocooned in the comfortable confines of the knit blanket. Her father pressed his lips together, suppressing the initial stream of words and settling instead for a single word. “Kiefner?”

The kitchen rattled as the roar sounded again and the men waiting in the kitchen shifted towards the hallway where they’d come. Kiefner came behind them, carrying the sleeping Missy Winthrop while her father led the procession to the basement door.

From a golden key that hung ‘round his neck, Mr. Winthrop opened the solid metal door and waited for the roar to finish before he opened it all the way. The men tensed, waiting, but not a single sound came from the darkened caverns ahead.

The lights that lit the steep stairway did little in the thick darkness, only illuminating the next square step before them. It was a long, shuffling journey to stand on the actual basement floor and Kiefner was the last of them to reach the bottom.

The wide expanse of darkness before them was deathly silent.

“Mr. Winthrop?” One of the waiting men drew his weapon, a tranquilizer gun, his comrades following suit.

“Kiefner?” Mr. Winthrop waved them to flanking positions beside them and then waiting as the puffing security chief arrived.

A low growl rumbled from the left corner of the darkened basement.

Mr. Winthrop stiffened. “Keifner.” There was a new edge to his voice.

Obligingly, the security chief set the stick, blanket wrapped bundle down on the floor, several feet in front of them.

A loud howl tore through the air, prompting some to cover their ears and others to fire their tranquilizing darts.

The blanket-cocooned figure stirred again, struggling against the fabric folds until she could sit up. A huge yawn left her lips as she squinted into the darkness. “Denny?” There was a petulant tone to her voice as her lower lip stuck out in a deliberate pout. “That better not be you that just woke me up!” A whine was now added to her voice as she painstakingly picked herself up from the ground, taking a few sloppy steps forward, before falling face first towards the ground.

Something shuffled and a thick, black shadow grabbed her before she could hit the ground. A series of hisses and growls accompanied it, before two giant, blinking eyes were visible in the faint glow of the last basement stair light.

“Retreat!”

They didn’t need any further instructions, the men backtracked with double the speed they’d ventured down the stairs.

Missy sneezed and soft white lights clicked on all along the room, lighting up the entire basement floor, to show a giant, black, shaggy beast cradling her awkwardly in clawed hands. It was rocking back and forth on its stumpy feet and moaning softly.

With red-stained pajamas, Missy reached upwards, trying to put her arms around the thick, fat neck. She opened her mouth and screamed.

It was a strangely beautiful sound, echoing eerily in the giant basement.

Mr. Winthrop paused at the foot of the stairs, waiting.

She screamed again and this time, the beast howled with her. Then she laughed, an emotion that rippled through her entire body and a faint white glow enveloped her body from head to toe.

The red stain on her pajamas was burnt away by the bright white, an energy that left her and crept into the black beast. She continued to laugh until the creature was laughing with her and as the whiteness covered it, the black hulk began to shrink.

Soon, instead of a weird animal, a brooding young man stood in the center of the floor, his arms wrapped protectively around the girl now sleeping in his arms.

Mr. Winthrop scowled darkly, continuing up the stairs only to hover at mid-stairway, watching to see what would happen next. It was a scene he didn't want to witness, but couldn't leave without seeing the assurance himself.

The sullen young man gently shook her awake until she yawned up at him and then smiled.

“Welcome back, Denny.”

He wrinkled his nose in reply.

She leaned forward, until her forehead touched the thick, buckled collar ‘round his neck and breathed softly. A few of the shadows seemed to leave his face as the white energy powered up again, replacing Missy’s pajamas with a flowing white gown.

Her slender figure was accented by the cut of the fabric and the black backdrop of Denny’s flowing overcoat. Her hair burned white and his own seemed to darken a few shades as she began to wake for real. Crystal-white tears trickled down her cheeks, the invisible holds that would bind him to the darkened basement. He tried to wipe them from her cheeks with trembling fingers as her soft, blue eyes smiled up at him.


On the basement stairway, a pained expression finally registered on her father’s face. Kiefner cleared his throat from the top of the stairs, drawing the man’s attention. Mr. Winthrop forced a smile and ducked past him to enter the empty kitchen hallway.

“Not so useless now, sir?” Kiefner ventured.

“Never useless, Kiefner.” He sighed. “No child of mine has ever been useless, but I must be. How could I bring Time’s Keeper into the world and stand idly by?”

“You don’t have a choice, sir.”

“True.” The man murmured. “True. How long do you think it’ll last this time?”

“Hard to say, sir, but at least until she falls asleep again.”

“Yes, I can expect that much. As long as he can see her, he’s calm, collected and sane. Time passes normally and nothing and no one is harmed. The moment she vanishes, chaos ensues.”
Kiefner shrugged. “Well, she is his Keeper.”

“But does that make it right?”

“Does it have to?”

“I suppose not.” Mr. Winthrop dipped into his pocket to check the time. He sighed again, more out of habit than anything else as he tucked the precious memento back into his pocket. “I’ll be finishing the reports tonight, I’d rather you-”

“I’ll keep an eye on them in the video room.”

“Thank you, Kiefner.”

“Sir?”

“I may be Father Time, but I cannot slow time for even myself.” He tried to smile at his own joke, but barely mustered the customary polite expression. Kiefner was already down the hallway though and the expression was retracted for another time.

The very ridiculousness of his own words brought a wry grin to his face. Father Time. A cursed title I can neither refuse nor pass on. I could try to slow time. I would. I would do it just for my daughter. Just for my son. Just for the rest of the world. Never for myself.

And with that, Mr. Winthrop climbed the stairs to the fifth floor and took his seat at the desk under the south window. He drew a silver pen from the case in the drawer and opening the thick, black, book, began to record the night’s events.

…Denny is not doing as well as I’d like. Missy is still the only one who can get through to him. I fear the monster he becomes when she is not there to be his conscience. Such a monster should never be allowed to roam free. Keeping them apart only brings chaos to the house, but somehow, I cannot bear to see them together as if they are master and slave. I must be a cruel father who cannot find a cure nor an answer to this curse that plagues my family from the very depths of my own darkened soul…
 

© Sara Harricharan

5 comments:

Yvonne Blake said...

Wow! What imagery! I was a little confused of who Denny really was. (his son?) ...but very interesting!

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Made me think...

Kristina Rohder said...

Wow!!! Why does your writing always leave me in a state of awe-struck amazement?!
Oh my goodness, I loved this story! It was funny, inventive, suspenseful, and very touching. It just doesn't get any better than that! This was such a creative idea and I feel so honored that my silly comment was part of the inspiration for it. <3
Anyway, my hat is off to you, my dear! Your writing is awesome!!

Catrina Bradley... said...

Whoa! THAT got my attention! What an imagination you have, Sara!

Sara Harricharan said...

@Vonnie--Thanks for reading. Yes, Denny is his son, Missy is his daughter. Those are their call names, Denny=The Time Monster, Missy=Time's Keeper.

@Debra--Thanks for reading! It was fun to write.

@Kristina--LOL. Thanks for reading--and the FF idea! I'm glad you enjoyed this mysterious little tale. I'm thinking maybe a sequel next week. Not sure yet. ^_^

@Cat--Thanks for reading! Yep, this was definitely an interesting one to write. My imagination had a ball. ^_^