Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Fiction for October 20, 2017

Friday Fiction this week is hosted by the talented and imaginative Sara Harricharan, over on her blog. If you haven’t been over there yet to read her story, make sure you don’t miss it!

This week is the third part of “The Historian Project.” I’m not sure how long this story will end up being, but I’m enjoying where it’s going so far.

The Historian Project, Part 3

By Rick Higginson

            “No, the red compact should be my brother Sid.” Manziel walked to the window and looked out. “Funny – even at this speed, he still seems to move slower than most people. Sid was never much of a go-getter. I think he’s spent more time on unemployment than he has being employed. If I remember right, this was his first – and last – year of college, after goofing-off for two years after high school. Mom and Dad told him if he didn’t improve his class attendance and grades, they were not going to pay his college expenses any longer, and he dropped out shortly thereafter.”

            “Then I think we can maintain this review rate a while longer.”

            The two men continued to watch out the window, and before long snow began to fall. At the accelerated review rate, it looked much like a torrential rainfall, only boldly white.

            “I shouldn’t be much longer now. I seem to remember something when I arrived home that year, Mom said it’d only been snowing for an hour or so.”

            The door to the bedroom opened and closed, the sound like a firecracker pop at the accelerated rate. Manziel’s face twisted in confusion. “What’s Sid doing in here?”

            Kallas looked at the arrival impassively. “System, normal rate. Let’s watch, shall we?”

            Sid had already moved to the dresser before the system restored the rate to normal. He opened the drawers slowly, then quietly moved about the clothes in each.

            Kallas walked over next to him, and peered into the latest drawer. “Any idea what he might be looking for, Dr. Manziel?”

            “Are you sure he can’t hear us?”

            “If he could hear us, then he could also see us, and if that were the case, I doubt he would be searching your room.”

            “No idea.”

            Sid went next to the desk and pulled open the drawers, followed by the closet, looking in boxes on both the shelf and the floor, and then checking coat pockets and the dress coat. Still not finding what he was searching for, he dropped to his knees and looked under the bed, then ran his hand between the mattress and box springs.

            He stood suddenly and hurried to the window. He muttered an expletive, and then left the room.

            “Can you contact your brother?”

            “Yeah, I have his number. He calls from time to time when he needs something.”

            “Whether we determine what happened to your grandfather’s watch, you can ask your brother about this search, and see what he says.”

            He snorted. “I wouldn’t bet on him admitting it, even if he remembers it. He has a notoriously bad memory for anything negative in his past.” Manziel went to the window. “Ah, that’s why he cut his search short. I just got home.”

            “Would you prefer to wait for yourself up here, or go relive the homecoming downstairs?”

            He thought a moment. “Up here. I think I’m already closing up on nostalgia overload.”

            It was only a few minutes before the door opened again, and the younger version of Dr. Manziel walked in. He dropped a heavily-packed duffle bag on the bed, kicked off his shoes, and flopped on his back beside the bag.

            “Damn, I never realized how much I looked like a kid back then.”

            His younger self remained on the bed for only a few minutes, before getting up. He removed the items from his pockets, including an antique pocket watch, and set them atop the dresser, before changing from his traveling clothes into clean jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. He replaced all the items into his pockets, save for the watch, which he placed in his top dresser drawer.

            “That was the last time I remember seeing the watch. I still don’t remember whether I took it with me back to college, and lost it there, or forgot it in the drawer, and something happened to it while I was gone.”

            “Then we watch the drawer, and see what happens from here. Do you need a break, Dr. Manziel? We can have the system ‘bookmark’ this point in history, so that we can return to it later.”

            “How long have we been in here now? I mean, even at the accelerated rate, it has to have been some time, hasn’t it?”

            “System, real time passage of this session?”

            The same voice from the control room sounded inside the bedroom. “Session duration currently thirty-four minutes, thirty seconds.”

            Manziel shook his head. “It seems it should have been longer than that. I mean, even at thirty times faster than the normal time passage, we got here at noon, and it’s now almost evening.”

            “At thirty times passage, five hours pass in ten minutes. We spent longer watching your brother search your room, than we spent waiting for him to arrive.”

            “Can we set a time limit we are here?”

            “Of course.”

            “Okay, we’ll call this session at one hour of real time. We can accelerate again to watch the drawer, right?”

            Kallas didn’t answer. “System, notify us when our session is approaching one hour of duration.”


            “System, fast forward at thirty ex.”

            The room grew dark as night fell. The younger Manziel came in once and grabbed a coat, before leaving the room in darkness again.

            “I remember now, I went out to see some of my friends that night.”

            He had barely finished saying that, when the door opened again. Sid came in, leaving the light off and closing the door quickly.

            “System, normal rate.”

He went to the window and pulled the curtains open, allowing the streetlight to add a faint glow to the room, before opening the desk drawer again. He then returned to the dresser and pulled open the top drawer. As before, he shuffled things around, and then suddenly pulled his hand up, smiling. The pocket watch dangled from its chain, catching the scant light in the room as it swung and spun, before Sid stuffed it into one of his pockets.

            “Sid took it? Why would he take it? He’d never expressed any interest in it when our grandfather was alive.”

            “System, return to control room.”

            The scene faded to the plain blue of the control room.

            “Do you understand, now, Dr. Manziel, the value of the Historian System?”

            “This is still so hard to believe.”

            Kallas sighed. “Call your brother tonight and ask him about the watch. You should return tomorrow for another session, after which, I believe, you will understand the true difficulty of the Historian Program.”

…to be continued…

1 comment:

Sara Harricharan said...

Ohhh, glad I got a chance to read this. I was waiting to see where it would go and I love the mystery/thriller kind of vibe. I'm curious to know why Sid took the pocketwatch and I'm loving the interaction between the two men. The dialogue is really tight and it doesn't give anything away, which makes me want to keep reading to know what the actual secret is! Fabulous installment--I did go back and read part two. lol. Great writing, I enjoyed it!