Very rough right now...good feedback and bad are welcome!
| "I don't think that person knows how sandwiches work," I whispered to the waitress, as I pointed behind the counter. One of the cafs new employees was struggling with the plancha, trying to scrape unbuttered bread off its surface.
"Thank you," whispered the waitress, as she rolled her eyes, placed my tea on the table and rushed to the rescue. Good deed done for the day, I returned to my regularly scheduled stare-down match with my laptop. Freelance writing. On paper, it sounded so cool and romantic. The reality, though? No ideas, no money. And ideas were not coming right now. Especially since my uncle Adam passed on, all of two weeks ago. Unlike most of my family, who scoffed at my writing career, my uncle Adam encouraged me, saying to go as deep as I dared into it. And then his suicide rocked the whole family. He always had a happy-go-lucky air about himself. Thinking about it now, his suicide seemed a little strange.
"Mr. Simon Latimer?" asked a voice at my elbow. I turned in its direction to see two men in gray suits, cheap sunglasses, and grim demeanor. One was a tall, broad man with brown hair tucked into a ponytail. The other was shorter, with a more roly-poly physique and wore his hair short, to about a half inch.
"Such is my name," I said, with guarded care. "What can I do for you?"
"We need you to come with us," said the short one, with a prominent Southern accent.
"What did I do?" I asked, trying to lighten the mood. "Am I late on a stereo payment again?"
In response, the shorter man drew a Taser from inside his suit pocket and trained it on me.
"You are coming with us, Mr. Latimer," he said. "Our superiors would prefer you alive, but they said not to be too gentle."
"Wait, who are you guys?" I demanded. "What do you want with me?"
That is when the short guy fired the Taser. The next thing I remember was a massive full-body cramp, followed by a blessed dark ness.
When I returned to consciousness, I was zip-tied with my hands behind my back and was in the rear of a dark, windowless room of some sort. As soon as I could focus, I saw the two suits that had brought me here. The bigger guy was coatless and shirtless now, just wearing a U-neck style undershirt. He was also carrying an extendable baton, the kind used in self-defense.
"Where is the watch, Mr. Latimer?" he asked.
"Watch?" I asked, still trying to focus. "I don't wear any jewelry."
I was jarred alert by two sharp impacts from the baton. I took one blow to the ribs, and one to the jaw.
"No games, Mr. Latimer," said the shorter man. "Where is the watch?"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" I screamed. "You two are mistaken!"
The bigger man raised his baton to strike again, but never got a chance. He made a gasping sound, as though the air were being drawn from his body. As he fell to the room's floor, the shorter suit whirled around, Taser in hand. He was unable to fire it, though, as he was taken down with a strike to his throat. He sunk to the floor as well, making gurgling sounds not unlike a bullfrog. My hero finished him with a kick to the chin, one that any football field goal kicker would have been proud of. This person was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, blue Wranglers, and had the physique of someone either into sports or martial arts. She pulled back her hood, revealing shoulder-length black hair, brown eyes, and a heart-shaped facial frame.
"Mr. Simon Latimer?" she asked, in a refined, mellifluous British accent.
"I am telling you," I said, struggling with the pain on my left rib cage, "what I told them. I have no damned watch, and I don't know where any watches are."
"I know," said the woman, as though she knew I would react that way. "I know you don't understand. You don't know it yet, but I'm your ally in all this."
I stood flabbergasted, or I would have, had I not been on the ground, my hands zip tied behind my back.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"You're right, introductions should come first. My name is Raina Barton, and I am a friend of your late uncle Adam. You are his beloved nephew, Simon Latimer, I assume?"
"I am," I replied. "What do you want from me?"
"I'm here to protect you. It was your uncle's dying wish. And just so you know, it wasn't."
"It...wasn't?" I asked, feeling like the more I knew, the less I understood.
"You are wondering if your uncle's death was by his own hand, it wasn't," Raina took her knife out of the suit's body, wiped it on his trousers, and used it to cut my bonds. As I rubbed my chafed wrists, I regarded Raina. As I noted, she looked not so much athletic as accustomed to physical stress. Her expression reminded me of a poker player; calm, calculating and serious.
"Why are you helping me?" I queried. "I don't even know who you are."
"I have reasons of my own," said Raina. "I owe your uncle a great debt, and you are the coins I'm paying him with. But we need to go, before the police get here. Do be careful not to tread in the blood, please. Putting other considerations aside, it is bloody difficult to get blood completely off shoe tread."
We opted to take the two suits' car, it being unused right then.
"So can we get back to my flat?" I asked. "I have a few things to grab-"
"No," said Raina. "The Sages will try to capture you again if you go there."
"How do you know that?" I asked. "And who are the 'Sages'?"
"Sages of the Sword, or Sapientes Gladio. A secret organization dedicated to the removal of God, Allah, Buddha, Ganesa, and all gods they consider 'false', which is every other god, from the earth. And using logic instead of faith." Raina spat every word as though it were bitter as wormwood. "They need the watch for their grand plan."
"Grand plan?" I snapped. "Okay, stop. What is this 'grand plan'? How does my uncle Adam fit into all this? And how do you know so much about it? And why did both sides involve me?"
"I get it," said Raina. "When I get a chance, I will explain everything in my power. Until then, please...trust me."
"Nothing doing!" I snapped. "Pull over and let me out!"
Raina immediately went to the side of the highway and stopped. I opened the door to get out when she remarked,
"You could save your uncle with the watch, you know."
I hesitated, interested now despite myself.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Come back into my car, and I will explain that part." Raina looked like she was almost ready to beg me to come back. I climbed back into the passenger seat, shutting the door.
"Thank you," said Raina, looking relieved.
"All right," I said, businesslike. "What is this saving my uncle business?"
"Okay, brace yourself, this will sound a bit insane." Raina sucked in a breath sharply through her mouth, and then blurted,
"The watch is supposedly a time travel device. Adam mentioned something about being able to go back in time last time I talked to him."
"Yeah, you're right," I said, my voice positively dripping annoyance. "That is farfetched. I don't believe a word of it."
"You should. I do, and so do our mutual friends from the Society."
"Yeah, how do you tie in with them?" I asked. "You seem to know what they are planning."
"A few years ago, I was sent to kill your uncle and steal the technology he discovered. As to how I know what it is, the Sages have eyes and ears everywhere. That would explain how they knew of you, and how close you were to Adam. Anyway, I came to kill him, until I discovered how dangerous the world would be if that watch is in the wrong hands. I abandoned my mission and left the Sages."
"What did he show you?" I asked.
"A digital record of something I thought I wanted to see, in a small town he'd been to in Georgia, called Meridian. He showed me a world," she shuddered, "without God. It was awful. People were killing people to pass the time. Theft, breaking and entering, destruction of private property, all these were the morning ride to work. He had created the watch to go back and rescue a dog he loved. You know who he was talking about, I presume?"
"Yeah, Camero." I replied. "The dog was part Aussie shepherd, part border collie. She was probably the best friend he ever had. He was made to have her euthanized because she was a danger to most except him. He still mourned her, even after five or six years since she died."
"So, any idea when it went beyond rescuing a beloved pet?" asked Raina.
"Maybe it was the footage he showed you that spurred him, I don't know," I remarked. "He always wanted to do good in the world, no matter his own situation."
At that instant, I heard a faint creak from the porch, like someone had stepped on the Spot. It was the lone area of the porch that Adam never fixed, something about "personality".
Raina seemed to hear it too, because she drew a Sig Sauer in 9mm from inside her jacket.
"Simon," she whispered, "find cover."
Quickly deciding explanation could wait, I went behind the couch, quietly, as she trained her gun on the apartment's entrance. We did not have to wait long before two men burst in through the door. And wouldn't you know it? The two men that had shanghaied me earlier.
Raina fired three shots into the bigger guy's chest, bringing him to the ground. The short guy turned and ran before he could be dealt with too. Raina quickly re-holstered her weapon inside her jacket.
"Simon, we need to get going," she said, worry flowing as a tap into her voice.
"Jesus!" I cried in shock. "You killed him!"
"I hope I did," Raina said, going for the door. I followed, still trying to process what just happened in my mind. She killed someone. She KILLED someone.