Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22/11

Telling Time
By Gil C. Schmidt



    He said it wearily, as if the repetitions had lost any meaning. "I am a time traveler."
    "With a busted leg," Jim pointed out. "Seems to me the future'd try not send a klutz to the past. Doncha think?"
    The man turned heavy blue eyes Jim's way, their slight slant a jarring match to his ash-blond hair. "Hey! Are you some sort of Swedish Jap or something? Cuz that's some freaky combo you got going there." The injured man grunted, probably in pain. His leg was heavily bandaged in some slats and duct tape. It's what Jim had at hand. "You're not a gook, right? Like a chink or something? But I gotta admit them chinky girls sure know how to treat a man!"
    He shifted his weight on the couch, swearing softly.
    "So you're from the future?" He didn't react. "Okay. Sure. You from two, three hundred years in the future?" A shrug. "More?" He shrugged. "Have the Cubs won a World Series yet or did they move to Osaka or Yokomama or something?" Jim chuckled. Yokomama. Good one.
    The guy just stared at Jim. Pissed Jim off. "You got some nerve sayin' you're a time traveler. That's bullshit. How'd you end up slamming into my fence? You drunk or high?"
    It was like the man was reading something. "I wasn't supposed to be here. The error placed me in the wrong place at the wrong speed. That's how I hit your structure."
    Jim shook his head. "Doncha mean you're in the wrong time if you're a time traveler? I don't get this 'wrong place, wrong speed' shit."
    "You wouldn't," he said just loud enough. Then louder: "It's called 'space-time' for a reason. Several, in fact."
    "Uh-huh. You keep believin' that." Jim stood up and he looked at the man, warily. "So you're like my great-great-grandson and you come back to shoot me and commit suicide for your world?" Jim was grinning and likin' hisself a whole lot right there.
    His eyes. There was something in his eyes that faded Jim's grin. He didn't seem crazy anymore. "You are...definitely...not the target...of my mission." His words were soft, but landed like paving stones on the carpet.
    Jim raised his hands and dropped 'em quick when he saw they were shaking. "Hey hey hey! Don't get your Jappy jones up! You got a mission, I got a mission, we all got somethin' to do. Capisce?" Jim tried to get him to look away, but the man kept him in his sights. Jim felt a drop of sweat on the back of his neck.
    A sharp clap-flash made Jim dive for cover behind the kitchen counter. When Jim heard voices jabbertalking he peeked up and saw two guys, dressed a lot like the gimp on his couch, standing right there in his living room. One was holding a small green-screened device that shone a light on the gimp's leg. In seconds, the gimp was able to slice through the tape with his finger (his finger?) and stand up. Now Jim know for a fact that leg was broken cuz he saw the bones stickin' out in two places, so that made him stand up. All three turned to me in a the same manner. Freaked Jim out. The light flashed at Jim and all three looked at the screen.
    "More of you Swedish Japs?" Jim tried to bluff it out, but those three were like ice.
    "We'll be leaving now," said one of the newcomers, the one with the darker eyes. "Thank you for tending to...our friend." All three nodded...in the same way.
    Jim swallowed. Then the gimp Jim splinted smiled and wrote something on a slip of gray paper. The three exchanged a look with the screen and the former gimp handed the note to Jim, with a shark's coldest smile. When Jim looked down, the clap-flash happened and Jim was alone.
    The note said only: Wednesday, 11:17 A.M.
    No big deal, thought Jim. Aloud, he wondered "Something...personal--is gonna go down, right?" Then it hit him: What? And what Wednesday?


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Gil C. Schmidt has been a regular submitter to Yesteryear Fiction since the early days when it was a daily magazine. His story "Telling Time" is also featured in his book "Thirty More Stories."


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