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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2088603-All-in-Good-Time
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2088603
A scifi themed entry for WDC's "What A Character."
All in Good Time


The parchment skin of the old man rustled as he motioned his son to come closer. “I’m dying,” he whispered.

“No Dad …”

“Let’s not play that game.” He paused, a watery cough stopping his speech. “There’s one secret I’ve carried over the years; more like a puzzle that I’ve been trying to solve. If there’s anything beyond this life, maybe I’ll finally know. But now, it’s my final gift to you. Look in my bedside table. There’s a book.”

Jason opened the drawer and withdrew a folded item. “What is this?” he asked, looking at the shiny cover with strange writing on it. He rubbed his finger over the cover, a confused look on his face.

“I found it in an old bookstore. No one has been able to tell me what it’s made of. I’ve had it carbon dated and they tell me it’s from the 12th century.”

“That’s impossible! This material …”

“When you open it, you’ll find a translation of the beginning of the text. Some of it was written in English so I had a key to figure out what it said. Now, it will be up to you to figure out what it means.” With a deep, rumbling sigh, the old man seemed to fade back into sleep.

Jason opened the folded pages that were tucked in the front of the book and began reading.


The morning pastels, subtly hued in pinks and purples, gave way to deep lavender as the second sun, Antares B, rose above the horizon. This is my favorite time. I can just be me. A small sigh caught her attention and she turned. Cassie stared at the round prickly ball. Even after six years, its strangeness still surprised her. You look like a rat mated with a pin cushion, Jerome, she giggled.

The porcupine barely bristled. “Really, Cassie? Is that the best you can do?” he said, opening one eye and returning her stare.

“I’m bored,” she said, stretching her feline form as if to emphasize her words. She caught a glimpse of herself reflected in the window. She was tall by Antarean standards, standing almost two meters. Her mane, the bright red of youth, flowed from widow’s peak to the base of her spine.

“Quit preening and get back to work,” Jerome interrupted.

“You are such a pain.”

Jerome laughed. “Haven’t I always been?”

With a sigh, Cassie focused her attention inward. The tapestry of time began to flow by her. Once again, she marveled at how beautiful it was. She found the strand that was Jerome and followed it back to the day he had appeared.

She watched as her younger self woke up on the morning of her twelfth birthday unaware that her life was about to change. How innocent I was then.

Good morning, Cassie. Happy Birthday!

“Who said that?” she said, confusion crossing her face.

“I did,” said a rodent looking creature as it climbed up on the foot of her bed.

Cassie chuckled as she saw herself scream.

“What … Who … Mom!” she cried as she scrambled to get away from it. So much for bravery!

She swatted at it, finding its fur … wasn’t. “Ouch,” she yelled, pulling a quill from her hand.

With a small laugh, the creature continued. “I’m Jerome,” it introduced itself. “Before you ask, I’m a porcupine – not that it means anything to you. I’m …” he hesitated, searching for words. “… a familiar, I guess is the best way to describe it.”

And that was the beginning. See, I’ve always been a pain, Jerome said, his warm thoughts calling out to her.

Cassie released the thread and floated forward.

There was the moment she discovered about the genetic mutation that allowed her to see time and another where she learned that Jerome could move her physically to any point she could see and therefore grasp.

And there … there was her first meeting with The Others, those who had the same abilities as she did. She stopped for a moment, watching the mix of fear and exhilaration cross her young face.

“There are those who would use this ability without understanding,” they had instructed her. “We are the Guardians. We protect time, allowing it to progress as it must. Whatever has happened has happened and must not be interfered with. To interfere is to set in motion forces that would destroy time itself and all living things.”

Cassie arrived at the present end of the thread and saw Jerome smiling.

“Welcome home,” he chuckled.

“I’ve never asked you. How did you know to come here? I know you don’t see time unless I show it to you through this connect ion we have. We didn’t have that when you first appeared and scared the crap out me.”

Jerome seemed to consider the question. “I can only tell you what I felt and give you an educated guess. I don’t think anyone knows how those with your gift and those with mine find each other. It could be that some never do. I know when you turned twelve, your ability seemed to turn on. I saw it as a bright star and knew, instinctively, that I had to go to it. I was as surprised as you to find myself here.”

Cassie sent a mental hug. “I’m glad you did.”

“Yeah, we’re regular BFF’s,” he said in a chiding tone.

“Will you quit using those Earth references? They don’t always translate to the pictures you send. What the heck is a BFF?”

“Best Friends Forever.”

Cassie softened. “Yes. We are. Forever.”

Without warning, the air seemed to shimmer with a mirror-like sheen and Cassie felt herself falling. Even her cat-like reflexes couldn’t adapt fast enough and she found herself lying on the ground. Spitting dirt from her mouth, she yelled, “Jerome? Where are you?”

The small form of Jerome scampered toward her. “Don’t panic. I’m here.”

“What the hell just happened?”

Jerome stared hard at her. “You don’t know? Time has been disrupted and we’re in the new now.”

“But my house … my parents …”

“I can’t say. They may be here or not. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. A small change anywhere affects not just the timeline it occurs on, but every timeline in the universe.”

“But if they don’t exist, then how do I?”

“The abilities you have make you immune to any changes. It’s like you’ve been removed and are now on the sidelines.”

Cassie integrated the information and pushed on. She focused and saw the tapestry of time but rather than the smooth shining flow she had become accustomed to, there now appeared an angry red tear. That must be where it happened, she shared with Jerome.

She took a deep breath and scooped him up, ignoring the quills. “Let’s go. We’ve got work to do!”

Jerome bared his teeth. He could feel her emotions – fear, anger, determination. “Hold on,” he snarled and they leapt toward the distant point.

Jason turned the page but there was no more. “What …?” he started, looking up but stopping himself in mid-sentence. The room was eerily silent. “Dad?” He rushed over to the bed where his father lay peacefully. With tears in his eyes, he gently folded his father’s hands, straightened out the covers, and began forming a mental checklist of things that needed to be done. He glanced at the book lying at the foot of the bed. It would have to wait - for now. “All in good time,” he whispered. “All in good time.”


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An entry for "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest
Prompt for June 2016: Write a story about a character whose best friend is something other than another human being. It can be a pet, robot, inanimate object, imaginary friend, or anything else you can come up with!
Word Limit: 2000
Word Count: 1265

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