WolfSinger Publications

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Time Out

- Jamie Mason

After the war, Chris's family fled to Earth. Chris grew up believing he was human. But his parents' unique cruelties soon awaken him to the truth: he and his family are Chronox, alien beings capable of time travel, now hidden among humans.

 

Dissatisfied with refugee life, Chris's father decides to break the Chronox pact and use time travel to gain dominion over their human hosts. Chris resists, sabotaging his father's efforts to create a working time machine for the military. In punishment, Chris is placed in the ultimate "time out" by being flung back and imprisoned within the pre-digital past of the 1960s. There he experiences a glimmer of acceptance among Laura, Theodore and Yogi Joe, whose friendship inspires him to awaken his repressed Chronox powers and return to the future to set things right.

 

The battle-lines are drawn. On one side, Chris. On the other, an implacable alliance between time-traveling aliens and the U.S. military. A frightened, shattered boy who has never known love must begin a desperate race through time to stop a global genocide.

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CHAPTER ONE

Memo from the Edge

I keep the gun at the top of my backpack so I can grab it quickly like I did last night. I was spooning a bite of shoplifted ravioli into my mouth when I heard footsteps. The silhouette of a man appeared in the mouth of the storm drain. At first, I thought he might be one of the Archon’s soldiers hunting me. Turned out to be a drunk looking for a place to piss. He froze when I stood, and we had a stare-down that lasted a minute but felt like forever. Then the lights from a passing car glinted off the gun in my hand and he decided to go elsewhere.

This stretch of the interstate is pretty deserted. A small cluster of businesses where two highways intersect provides the only food and shelter for a hundred miles in any direction. It takes me an hour to walk there. I’m careful to wait until noon or sun-down so I can blend with the peak-time traffic of cops and truckers and highway homeless. I beg spare change in the lot then slip in and buy (or steal) what I need from the convenience store. So far, I haven’t been caught but I have to be careful. They have surveillance cameras and I know my image, captured on video, is fed into a database that’s instantly available to government, military, and law enforcement worldwide. I’m in a world of computers, where everything is interconnected.

As near as I can tell it is the year 2019 or 2020.

~ * ~

The convenience store door chimes its descending two-note welcome, and sweeps closed. Today’s clerk is the Navajo kid with the thick-framed eyeglasses. He glances up long enough to verify I’m not some tumbleweed the desert blew in then resumes texting up a storm on his cellphone. I tilt my head away from the CCTV camera and make for the coolers.

Only two trucks in the lot today and the one driver I spare-changed told me to fuck off so I’m going to have to steal. And not “go for the discount” kind of stealing where you pocket one thing then pay for another, but outright theft, which means coming in with nothing and leaving with something but not paying for anything. Larceny on a high wire, without a net.

I can get the things I need pretty quickly but have to be careful because I’m the only one in the store right now. It’s best to wait until the clerk is ringing someone up before boosting. I don’t have to wait long. A car pulls up and a family emerges—two pot-bellied parents and a puppy-tumble of kids. A chorus of arguing voices enters. The chime goes off a half-dozen times. I make my move: two loaves of bread and a squeeze bottle of mustard go into my pack.

The kids are prowling the aisles, fiddling with merchandise, and staring at me in that dumb belligerent way little kids have. I smile back at them. The oldest boy and girl giggle and whisper to each other. I hear the word weird, the word dork.

I wait until I hear the beeping of the register keys before swiping two packets of cold cuts from the open snack cooler into my pockets. When I turn, I see…

…the mother staring at me.

Shit.

She leans forward and whispers something to the clerk, who reaches for the phone. The mother hisses for the kids and they immediately cluster around her legs.

The father meanwhile is getting agitated. An ex-military type with a beefy sunburned neck and blond brush-cut, he obviously feels he ought to be doing something. So he starts flexing and psyching himself up to come over and confront the skinny teenage shoplifter. When I step for the door, he moves to block my path.

I duck around the end of the aisle to the potato chips. As his footsteps approach, I take a deep breath and clear my mind, waiting to hear that ticking at the far edge of my consciousness. When I experience the sensation of falling, I wait for the next wave of the time-space continuum to rise and slip under it. It feels like stepping into a small, dark closet and pulling the door shut behind me.

When the father corners the end of the aisle, I am still there but tucked inside a fold in time eight seconds before, when I was somewhere else. So by the laws of physics, I can’t be here now. But of course I am. Just completely invisible to him. I stay put until he gives up and leaves.

~ * ~

That evening back in the storm drain, I light a candle and make a bologna sandwich while pondering my situation.

I can run but I can’t hide much longer. I thought jumping thirty-five years into the future would put me beyond the Archon’s reach, but it hasn’t. If anything, his power, and influence have grown since the Nineteen-Eighties. This squares with what I know about the next fifty years, when a destructive war is unleashed. The devastating violence flushes the last of my kind out of hiding and brings human civilization under the Archon’s total control. But like any future, until it happens it is only a potentiality. I know it can be changed.

I’ve been studying the Archon’s ways. He’s an expert at seeing tipping points in time before anyone else and exploiting them to his advantage. I have learned how he selects critical moments in the present to deflect the future in whatever direction he chooses. He got practice by experimenting on me as I was growing up.

He’s my father.

~ * ~

I’m going to fix this somehow. Writing it all down is the first step. There has to be a record. They say history is written by the winners, but it’s made by those with the power and influence to shape it. My father has been planning to conquer this planet since arriving as a refugee eight thousand years ago. Being able to move through time as easily as a dolphin through water enabled him to master the time-streams, stage-managing history to his advantage. Humans don’t stand a chance against that kind of power.

There’s a lot to understand. But if I write it down, then I can at least begin to see the broad outlines. If nothing else, the story of what we are will survive so humanity can find it and perhaps figure out a way to stop him. With my backpack and this laptop computer I stole, I plan to keep moving.

Catch me if you can, dad.

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