Mary forces Yaan to take her back in time 3 years, so she can post her Uni application.
If I had my own world, we would paint the sky together, like you do in your dreams. We'd be friends again, you'd be alive and I wouldn't be dying. The sad truth is that I actually regret the day I met you. I don't regret the time I spent with you. I really liked the time with you. It's just that.. things didn't really turn out that well..
I found the list by the way. You know, the one you didn't talk about. Guess whose name was on it? Well, you don't have to guess, it's your list, you probably know it by heart. I always wanted to ask if you remember them after you've.. you know.. edited them. Or if the only proof of their existence is their names on that list, scribbled with your barely readable notes. If it weren't for you, they would still be alive. You might still be alive! And I'd probably never have existed. Damn you, Yaan, I hate you!
"This is the list." The older of the two men put down the papers on the table and pushed them towards Yaan.
"We can count on you being discreet?"
"Always." Yaan said and picked up the papers.
"Good! Now, the shift is drawing closer, we'd expect it to occur within the next two months, so you have one month to finish the editing.."
Yaan stared at the silver-haired man in the suit in front of him. He couldn't be serious? He glanced at the papers he was holding; four pages in total, on both sides. Fifty two names per page. That equalled to 416 names! He checked the last page to be sure. No, only 391. "Only!"
Yaan looked up unaware of that he had spoken out loud. He shook his head and repeated."Only 391 names?"
The two gentlemen in front of him stared at him then at each other. The dark-haired one cleared his throat.
"It's about 13 names per day..." he looked at Yaan as if he was unsure whether Yaan understood what work he had in front of him. "... it's pretty much, even for you."
Yaan scanned the list of names. At least they had provided vital information about the targets' locations, unlike last shift, where he had gotten a list of 40 names to edit in one week. That time he had been busy. Then he had to do the research himself, and find out where the targets lived. He shook his head once more. His greasy hair fell in front of his face and he brushed it back. He knew he looked like a homeless who hadn't had a shower in one week. He actually had had a shower yesterday, but depending on how you viewed time, yesterday had been eight days ago.
"No problem." He said and picked up a pen from the desk and scratched some marks after some names. The two men in front of him looked nervously at each other. It was vital that the 391 persons were edited from the timeline before the shift occurred, else they would have to start all over and it would take humanity several decades to reach such a high level again.
"No Problem!" Yaan's sudden outburst made the both men jump in their chairs.
"Well then..." The dark haired one said - Yaan never seemed to memorize their names. Something beginning with L... or it might be N, he pondered.
"Thank you for coming! We wouldn't know what to do without you!" The silver haired man stood up and extended a hand towards Yaan, who instinctively also rose and grabbed the offered hand.
"Pleasure doing business with you!" The young man extended a hand towards Yaan and with a little hesitation he shook hands with the man and suddenly remembered his name. Lois. It wasn't on the list, no surprise there.
"Yeah." Yaan said and exited the office without further goodbyes.
The two gentlemen remained standing.
"Are you sure he can do it?"
"He's the only one we've got."
"What about Lucifer?"
The silver haired man turned to Lois with a stern look. "The only good thing Lucifer do is making trouble. Yaan is our best shot. We'll have to take it."
Lois nodded thoughtfully and watched as the door swung shut after Yaan's exit.
Yaan didn't really like those assignments, because it meant he had to show up at that office. He hated that office, even though it was pretty nice, with mahogany desk, dark floor and white walls. Very classy, but still Yaan didn't like it. It was something with the movement of air in that room that made him feel congested, constipated, the air felt crowded, grid-locked with curls and knots in the timefabric. Major decisions about timelines were taken in that office(That office is where the major decisions about timelines is taken) - which direction time needs to go for the earth to evolve. Yaan didn't know why they had to point the earth to go in any particular direction, just straight ahead, where the nose was pointing was fine with him. Still those bureaucrats always thought pointing earth in a different direction was their duty, whether earth needed it or not. And then they called him to come and help them. Usually they just had some simple knot for him to untie, but the last few assignments had been quite problematic. Not that Yaan couldn’t handle it, it was more of convenience on his side if they were simple.
Nothing involving humans was ever simple. Most viewed humans as a simple race, only struggling to survive, but that’s because they didn’t know any human worth knowing. To Yaan the humans were as complex as the spacetime itself, most just didn’t know it, or refused to know it. Most humans just struggled to survive. That’s what made them an easy target for time wranglers, because there were laws against influencing spacetime if a species with higher intelligence was present. Yaan was convinced humans were of higher intelligence, but he was probably alone in that conviction, since most humans didn’t show any proof of it.
Yaan blundered down the stairs and out into the reception so fast he scared the receptionist. She was a beautiful woman, with long blonde hair and large blue eyes. But her intelligence didn’t reach that very far beyond answering calls, scheduling meetings and allowing people to enter that weird office. She didn’t know that upstairs the fate of humankind was being decided. He smiled fleetingly at her as he passed with great strides, she was beautiful, but no activity on the loft.
“Have a good day!” she smiled at him, but looked frightened he might jump on her.
“You too.” Yaan replied and closed the door behind him. He knew he didn’t look like he had something to do in that polished up building, with his worn leather coat almost grey with stains and his hair hanging in dirty stripes from his head. No, he looked like someone that hanged a lot around the train station at night trying to lure beautiful small girls like the secretary into dark alleys. Like someone who didn’t care whose life he spoiled.
He exited the building and tucked the list of names into his inner pocket before heading out into the rain. Somehow it seemed like it always rained there.
Staring right into thin air she didn't realize the customer in front of her was asking her something until her co-worker, Melissa shouted at her.
Startled Mary looked up and realized the customers in the queue were looking more and more disgruntled. “Sorry.” She said and started serving the customers waiting to be served. After two hours - she couldn’t believe the time could run so fast - of a constant stream of customers she was allowed to have her break and she sighed with relief.
“My feet are hurting so bad!”
“Tell me about it!” Her friend Josie said and tied her black braided hair into a knot at the nape of her neck as she went to stand behind the disk. “But you’re off tomorrow, you lucky bastard, while someone else has to work.” Indicating herself she smiled and went to serve another customer.
Mary slowly took the apron off and threw it over a chair in the stillroom. She grabbed a sandwich from a tray and a bottle of water from the fridge then left through the backdoor. She stopped short on the step and glanced upwards. Why did it always have to rain here? She sat down on the still dry steps leading down to the small alley behind the coffee shop and gulped down the bottle of water in one go. Before she started on her sandwich she went to get another bottle. The small coffee shop was packed with people wanting to avoid the rain, shaking their umbrellas as they entered and annoying other customers.
Mary grabbed a new bottle and disappeared again. She didn’t want to spend more time inside those doors than she had to. With a sigh she sat down on the stairs again and was about bite her sandwich when she saw a huddled figure making his way towards her. He looked tired and weary, and what she could see from his clothes he almost looked homeless. But something in his steps made her think he wasn’t one of the numerous homeless hanging at the train station. His steps had a goal.
“Hey-ya!” Mary said and smiled. “Nice weather hunh?”
The man looked up, almost surprised she had talked to him. She discovered he wasn’t that old, maybe a couple of years older than her, but not more. He just looked really ragged.
“Yes, really nice weather.. Shame to be inside such a nice day.” He smiled back and Mary caught her breath. He had a really beautiful smile. But she couldn’t deduct from his reply whether he was being sarcastic or not.
“I’ve been away for a week…” he said as if trying to explain his appearance and excuse for it at the same time.
Mary nodded, he had the bluest eyes she had ever seen and she wanted to let herself drown in them. But they were hidden by a curtain of wet hair that stuck to his forehead. “I’ve been at work for a week…” She nodded to the closed door behind her and he looked up.
Mary nodded again. “Care for a sandwich?”
“No thank you.” He shook his head so that drops of water flew everywhere. “But a coffee would be nice if it’s not too much to ask for.”
Mary smiled and got up. “Give me a second.” The warm air hit her when she opened the door. Inside felt really hot after sitting out in the cool air for so long. She grabbed one cup and went to the coffee machine and made the man a strong coffee. She didn’t know whether he wanted milk or sugar, so she put just milk. He didn’t look like a sugar-type.
Back outside the backdoor she discovered he had had a seat and was pouring water out from his boots.
“Here, you look like you need it.”
“Thank you.” He put his boot down and took the mug.
“I didn’t know whether you’d like sugar or milk..”
“It’s okay.” He sipped the coffee and smiled. “Perfect!”
Mary sat down at the cold stair beside him and ate her sandwich. They sat like that for what she felt like an eternity. The rain had turned from a constant pouring to a slight drizzle when he spoke again.
“Thank you for the coffee.” He gave the mug back to Mary and stood up. “You’d better go inside, before your fire is extinguished.” He smiled at Mary’s confused face, then tugged at one of her strands of hair. With a smile Mary pulled back her strand of red hair and stood up too.
“Yeah, right.” She made a face at him. “Thanks for the company.”
“You’re welcome.” He pulled his boots on and jumped off the stairs and barely missed a puddle of water. “Don’t let it wear you down, Mary.”
“What? My red hair?” Mary looked nonplussed.
The man smiled wide again showing off the even row of white teeth. “No, I meant your work. Don’t let them wear you down.” He turned away. “You’ll need your strength soon enough anyway…”
“Sorry?” Mary did almost not catch those last words.
“I said thank you for the coffee.” He started walking away and Mary felt the urge to shout that that’s not what he had said, but she stood silent, despite herself, watching as he disappeared around the corner. Only then it hit her she hadn’t told him her name.
If anyone actually reads this and is interested in the rest, drop me a line ;) It's currently an EIP (Editing In Progress), so if anyone would like to help me with that I'd greatly appreciate it too.