The Time Thief; Chapter 2, Part 4

Chapter 2, Part 4

Hera is poking her nose above the black freshwater. Her two pinprick nostrils are sucking in oxygen and droplets of liquid. Her legs are kicking underneath her in the river. Hera is swimming sloth slow to the river’s edge. Now, she is at its brink.

Hera is quietly pulling herself out of the river. Her skin is glimmering like wet, hard armor: her girlish knees and elbows are slick and golden; aiguillettes of red hair matt into a sleek helmet; her hair-helmet tapers into a thin tadpole down her back. She is dripping; and stands barefoot in nothing but her white lace bra and underwear.

Holstered to Hera’s hips are a sharp bowie knife, and a powerful firearm equipped with a silencer. Hera is walking cautiously towards the dusk swaddled trees; she is walking away from the cusp of the riverbank.

The river is making guttural sounds under the crescent moon. Hera is seeing the thin, grey star-shine of a naked sword. The metal is twinkling almost imperceptibly. Hera’s breathing is a tattered swatch of cloth. An invisible magician is trying to tug the rope of breath out of her living soul. It’s not working: she isn’t breathing.

The undergrowth near the river’s shore is exhuming a live body. The body is agile and quiet; this figure is drawing a long shadowy saber out of its side. This silent act (drawing out a sword in the dark) is shimmering within a parenthetical cone of silence; outside the conical silence the waterfall is noisily gushing, like water and blood cascading from the bleeding oblique of Jesus.

Hera is reaching for her weapon; her arm is delineating a trajectory of fluid animation. She is a ballerina pulling the trigger of her gun. Death is whizzing through the Cinderella blonde starlight; a bullet is lacerating the darkness in a sterling snail trail of velocity; her gun’s dark, testicular chamber is inseminating her target’s flesh with killer-sperm.

The shadow figure is falling. Their sword is crying in the tall grass; its clean metal is throwing long, grey sparks of moon-glister. The waterfall is foaming with nymphal nocturnes; the water’s glossolalia glissandos over Hera, but she is hearing nothing.

Hera is sweating. She is walking towards her fallen stalker slowly. She is thinking of Sasha and Xyla, who are still hiding in the grotto. The grass feels like dry, bristly hair to her clammy soles. She is now standing a mere two feet away from the grounded figure.

A cloud of light—tulle like, palpable light that sparkles like a bluish veil—is passing over the face of the fallen. Time’s mammoth shadow is retrograding several degrees on the mage Memory’s sundial: and wide-eyed, nonplussed Hera is recalling the face before her.

Hera is dropping to her knees next to the still-breathing body. It’s Akira, a Japanese samurai that she met once while time-traveling through the Kamakura period.

When Hera first sees Akira, he is kneeling by a river dappled in leaf shadows. She watches him fill earthenware with iron infused river sand. He gracefully ferries his cumbersome load to a site near his dwelling. Akira does this for a while.

Hera watches through komorebi (or, sunlight that filters through translucent leaves). Daylight snows, filling the negative spaces between tree leaves. The samurai shovels the towhead-dandruff and charcoal into a geometric clay stove. He is making jewel-steel, or tamahagane, for a katana—a samurai sword.

Hera is hypnotized by the process of sword making. One evening, Hera emerges from the trees to watch the samurai openly. Akira allows her to watch as he smelts steel for three days and nights.

His clay furnace breaths fire on the flaxen sand, coal, and iron ore in its maw; his clay furnace reaches temperatures north of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hera watches Akira in the oncoming weeks as he tests the tamahagane for its carbon content—a ratio indicative of the steel’s potential for sharpness and sturdiness.

She witnessed the exorcism of slag from the tamahagane via the holy water of Akira’s hammer. This sacral beholding made Hera feel beholden to Akira. She espied the birth of a samurai’s soul.

For many weeks, Akira shines his katana with stones. He sends his sword to local artisans who give his sword a gold hilt, and a beautifully lacquered scabbard of cedar wood. Akira hires a skilled friend to filigree gold inlays onto the katana blade.

While time-traveling, Hera visits Akira many times to check on the progression of the sword. She eats many meals with Akira and grows extremely fond of his intuitive brown eyes.

Hera is holding the stunning katana in her lap. A single tear is hanging like a ripe, fetid fruit at the end of one of her long, ghostly eyelashes. Hera is touching Akira’s face, and remembering his handsome laugh. Akira is sitting up, suddenly. Hera is startled.

Akira is touching the bloody gun wound, which is closing. He is wincing a little, but smiling his signature half-smile.

“It’s my good luck that I’m a Sylph now. I can self-heal,” says Akira.

“Are you okay? I’m sorry I shot you. I thought you were someone else, somebody from the New School,” says Hera, checking his wound.

“I’m fine, I’m alright.”

“I’m really, really sorry. It’s just I assumed—”

“You assumed right. I was tailing you. I deliberately followed you. I work for the Librarian.”

“What?”

“He offered me a job, and I agreed. So, I could travel here. And see you.”

Akira is reaching into his deep blue kimono, and pulling out a golden shard. The shard is affixed to a wispy, golden chain around his neck.

“Look,” he says, “this is the needle to your old time-compass. On your last visit, you lost it. Well, I found it one day—the glass crushed, the metal warped—and, when I picked it up, I pricked my finger. On this needle, the needle to your compass. It made me into a Sylph.”

“But what’s a Sylph?”

“I’ll show you. Give me your hand.”

“Why?”

“Because I can take you anywhere.”

“In the Labyrinth?”

“Anywhere at all.”

***

The Time Thief; Chapter 2, Part 3

MEANWHILE (A.D. 2115)

Dr. Yoshimoto is looking into E. Xi’s eyes.

“Don’t be afraid. You’re highly capable,” says Dr. Yoshimoto.

“Yes,” E. Xi says flatly.

“I’m giving you the key code to Anomaly—the name of one of the “glitch windows” in the Time Labyrinth. The Anomaly “glitch window” will open up to allow for your entrance into the Labyrinth; however, once inside, there’s no telling when or where you’ll end up. You may end up in a familiar part of the Time Lab; or, you may find yourself entirely off the grid. I may be repeating myself—”

“You’re repeating yourself,” she says.

“I know,” he says, “But, this may be the last time you ever hear me say these things. Maybe not the very last time, but the last for a while.”

Silence builds a glass nest in E. Xi’s mouth.

“When you arrive, use your time compass to locate the nearest Labyrinth door; or, as a last resort, an Anomaly. If neither appear for miles, your last last resort is to use the needle of your time compass to create a “tear” in the fabric of time. This “tear,” or portal, is liable to collapse as it is an uncontrollable variable. Only the time key can mend “tears” in time. You don’t have the key; I’m glad, I’d never wish such a thing on you.”

“What about Zed?”

“She’ll be fine.”

Dr. Yoshimoto’s eyes are varnishing themselves in a coat of tears. His waterlines are shining behind his glasses.

“I wish you Godspeed,” he says quietly, “You’ve been a good daughter to me. I won’t hold you with long goodbyes, though. You only have three minutes.”

“Until next time,” E. Xi says quietly. Dr. Yoshimoto is nodding, damming a clear blue river of unsaid words. Pebbles of regret are appearing under the lucid, sunlit water of his mind.

***

E. Xi is running down a white hallway as swiftly as Hermes. Her lilac afro-curls are trailing behind her. Red lights are flashing; they indicate that all operating technological systems are set to shut down in two minutes. The secret police have been contacted. They are coming to arrest E. Xi’s adoptive father, Dr. Yoshimoto. They also want to apprehend E. Xi. The entire building is locking down.

The hallway lights are going dark. Momentary darkness is abiding. E. Xi’s breathing is heavy. Suddenly, bright flashes of yellow light are accompanying a loud siren that screams, “This is not a drill. Yellow alert! Someone in the building is a threat to state security. Building is on lockdown. Yellow alert! This is not a drill.”

E. Xi is hearing boots clomping up the corridor, and the click of a revolver. She is running up to the Anomaly: it’s a mammoth sliding door with a white “X” on the front of it. E. Xi is waving the neon pink barcode on her wrist in front of the door’s scanner.

The Anomaly is sliding open. Somebody is running up to E. Xi from behind; but, the Anomaly is closing on them. It is a special police officer. He is shooting at the sliding door’s glass, but the glass is bulletproof.

E. Xi is flinching at the sound of the gun’s rapid firing; the glass door is thumping. E. Xi is standing at a neon pink podium; the podium has a keypad. Her hands are sweating as she punches in the ten digit activation code to the Time Labyrinth’s Anomaly. Now, the room is turning pink: E. Xi is disappearing into the Labyrinth.

***

THE PAST    

A time portal is opening up in the sky. E. Xi is a pixie falling through dusky steampunk clouds. Her cybernetic Shiftware is rebooting: her wavy hair turns blonde; then blue; then red; and finally pink; her skin blooms deepest brown, then, snow white; her leotard morphs into a leather midriff top and leather pants, and then into invisible armor.

E. Xi is unconscious. She is spinning and cartwheeling gracefully through the air; E. Xi is falling with great velocity. Her purplish hair is flying like an otherworldly flame. She looks as though she were dead.

Her Shiftware has finally finished recallabrating itself. It is now in protective mode. A purple force field is surrounding her; the force field glows softly, like bioluminescence. Veins of pink electricity candy-stripe her protective purple aura.

***

Caesarion is the teenaged son of Queen Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. He is looking up at the Egyptian night sky from a marble balcony. Evenings in maritime Alexandria are always beautiful; but, tonight’s sky is especially lustrous.

Descending from moon-kissed clouds is a goddess. Pink lightning and a halo of pale light are attending her floating body. Caesarion is putting his arms out to catch his angel. E. Xi’s force field is disabled, and her body lands in his arms.

Purple waves of hair gush from her scalp, and sculpt an artful frame around her golden face. E. Xi’s Shiftware has morphed into an inordinately long gown of golden, shimmering gauze. Caesarion is startled.

Presently, he’s being groomed to be a lord over a kingly inheritance. His mother dreams of an Asiatic empire with Caesarion at its helm. This is a good omen. Caesarion is thinking, Certainly all my mother has wished for concerning me is manifest, here, in my arms. The gods have sent me a goddess to guide me to Rome. Now, I shall walk in Caesar’s footfalls. With her help, I shall clench Jupiter’s scepter yet.

***

The Time Thief; Chapter 2, Part 2

Serpentine rapids are careening over a precipice. Cubist brush strokes paint jagged rectangles: marbled Niobe is cast in a sculpture of plunging water. Opaque liquid is jumping away from darksome rocks.

The wind is making the waterfall descend in a blurry helix. Big charsafs of mist are coddling a dim rainbow. A lexicon of warped cacophony uncurls in Hera’s inner ear. Loud echoes are scintillating near the river’s dazzling shallows.

Sasha and Hera are riding their bay leopard appaloosa, Cupid; the horse is wading into the river, and Sasha is holding the horn of his saddle. The horse is swimming into deeper water. Sasha’s shoes are flooding. The rising water is forcing air up his trouser legs; his pants look like a balloon. Both riders are floating in the river on Cupid’s slick back.

Sasha is dismounting mid-river; he is sinking into the river’s clear depths; now, he is kicking furiously, and thereby propelling himself towards the water’s surface. He is above water, flipping his head violently; his wet hair is throwing an arc of amber beads into the warm air.

Sasha is grabbing the horse’s reigns. He is leading Cupid and Hera up to the sheer wall of water. Virga and mists are curling around the swimmers. Hera’s hair is pasting itself to her face like octopus tentacles. Sasha is swimming silently; his body is relaxing some: they are successfully circumnavigating the whitish, torrential curtain.

They are now in a hidden vestibule behind the falls. The grotto is slick and shiny, like wet snakeskin. Broken light is casting bars onto the shallower water within the grotto; panes of blue, translucent shadows are floating on the water’s surface.

Sasha is leading Cupid and Hera up to a smooth shore of black rock. Now, Hera is dismounting Cupid. The hems of her cloak and gown are dark with wetness. She is sopping wet all the way up to her lace bra. The only part of her that is dry is her mouth.

“I’m thirsty,” Hera says quietly.

“Here,” Sasha says tossing her a canteen he found in his saddle bag.

Hera is pulling a silver ring off of her middle finger. The ring has an infinitesimal mermaid engraving. She is handing it to her brother Sasha.

“Go get Xyla.”

Sasha is taking the silvery jewel in his slender hand. He is walking into an adjacent cave inside of the grotto. The cave leads to a narrow rock corridor; the corridor terminates in a round room of rock with a natural skylight. At the center of the room is a winkling pool of deep water. Sasha is casting the ring into leagues of blue. The ring is making undulating ripples in the pool; now, it’s sinking. He is waiting.

A shadow is appearing underneath the bedsheets of the water; umbra is darkening the epicenter of the pool. The androgynous blip is morphing into a defined silhouette; pool water is exploding into sun crystals. Wet arms slap the granite platform at Sasha’s feet. Green hair and eyes smile at Sasha; exhumed from the grotto’s crypt: a mermaid.

Xyla is a mermaid; she is a mixture of folklore and experimental engineering.

It happened years ago: Xyla lost both of her legs in a freak accident. Resultantly, her colleague, Dr. Yoshimoto, offered to do some prosthetic work on her.

Before the accident, Xyla worked in special operations as an adroit assassin. She worked closely with the doctor, as he was an authority on chemical warfare and genomic research. His work gave her an edge as a professional killer.

Dr. Yoshimoto’s operation on Xyla has rendered her a cyborg: Xyla’s green eyes are modified; she now has miniature computer screens built into her corneas; she has photographic lenses in the anterior chambers of her eyes: her crystalline eyesight is one-hundred times better than that of the average human’s; she is now a savant.

Xyla’s mermaid tail is made of scaly, bulletproof armor; the tail is a translucent flesh color, and allows a glimpse at her complex wiring; it is also highly flexible, waterproof, and fire retardant. The lower half of Xyla’s body is nearly invincible. In addition, Xyla’s lungs have been edited to accommodate a special respirator that allows her to breathe underwater.

Xyla is handing Sasha an infinity hoop of silver; he is taking the wet ring and sliding it onto his middle finger.

Now, Sasha is looking at Xyla’s brown face: long, blunt-cut bangs are falling below her eyes. Her bronze fingers are pushing her wet bangs away. Coruscating circles of deep green are looking at Sasha. Xyla’s eyes are analyzing his vital signs. She is detecting a pique is Sasha’s heart rate. Her skin starts burning.

Xyla is running nervous fingers through her big, tangled sausage curls; the sea green curls are falling over her armor-clad breasts. She is touching the back of her head which is neatly buzz cut.

“Sash, you don’t have to stare,” she says.

Sasha isn’t saying anything. He’s smiling and touching his face unconsciously. Now, he is raking his fingernails through his red hair.

“Sorry,” he says, “Oh! I remember, someone was tailing us earlier. Could you check it out? You know, go for a swim, and see what he’s up to? Not that I want you to go—it’s just you’re…”

“A robot,” says Xyla.

“No! No! It’s just that you’re better equipped for this sort of thing and–”

“Calm down. I’ll do it. You’re so easy. To mess with, I mean. I’ll be back.”

Xyla is diving into the belly of the pool. Minutes are passing in damp quietude. Xyla is appearing from the mirror of the pool; her sudden presence is like a reflection materializing: yearned-for flesh is begotten Pygmalion style.

Xyla has a pea-sized object in her hand. She is clipping the device to her hair.

“What’s that?” asks Sasha.

“A wireless computer server. Its primary function is to receive global intelligence in the form of video footage. I’m logging into a program called Nomenclature now.”

“Oh, wow.”

“I can see yum.” Says Xyla.

She is blinking twice to focus in on the real time images.

“Uh oh,” says Xyla.

“What?”

“Sash, he’s gotta gun.”

***

The Time Thief; Chapter 2, Part 1

Chapter 2: Hera and Sasha

Hera is wearing a long bear skin cloak. It has an oversized bear head (preserved via taxidermy) for a hood. The interior of the animal head is lined with red silk. The bear’s teeth are plated in gold. In the eye sockets are large amethysts. Small pearls cover the entire cloak at intervals of one inch. Large rectangular buttons of cedar wood are fastening the cloak shut; vignettes of a warrior are whittled into the wooden buttons.

Hera is adjusting her sword, which is underneath her cloak; the movement opens her cloak minimally, revealing a glimpse at her shimmering gown underneath. The back of her cloak is thick with bear fur, as are the sleeves. At the fringe of both sleeves hang emerald encrusted charms: tiny silver leopards and gold okapi are dangling there.

Hera is removing her bear head hood. Sunlight is combing her rummy hair. Hera’s mane is cognac; it’s red like an alcoholic proxy for water in a crystal vase (so soon the pie-eyed tulips will die). Her hair strands are painted in garden-radish tones. The sun is moving across the sky like the slow hands of a clock; slow light is making electric fire glint in her spider’s thread hair. Stars are sliding down her flossy locks. On her bangs, silver gloss is vanishing as the light contracts. The sunlight is growing big: all over her tresses, prismatic coals are burning.

Hera is walking under a maple tree; her hair looks brown in the midday darkness of big shadows. The wind is blowing warmly. Buxom glacial clouds, mammary shaped like scalloped lace, are singing, white! Her brown eyes are looking at The New School. An immaculate topiary maze leads to a chateau on a hill. The lux edifice houses the secret academy she’ll be jail-breaking today.

Her gaze rests on some tall shrubbery shorn to resemble elephants. Hera is calculating the quickest route through the maze. She is a trespasser. Hera wants to see The New School’s most recent inductee: Zed. If my summations are right, Zed should be sleeping in the infirmary. It’s lunchtime, so security should be low. They definitely won’t be expecting me, Hera thinks.

Hera is bending her head down; she is touching a golden time-compass at her throat. The time-compass resting near her collar bone is a gift for Zed. She will need it, Hera thinks.

Thumping hooves are crumpling grass behind her. Now, a horse is whinnying and weighty reins are dropping. Hera is turning around. Orange hair like fur and shocking blue eyes: it’s her brother Sasha.

“Quick,” he says, “they’ve seen us. We’ll have to use the Central Lab Door.”

“No. That door is shut,” says Hera.

“No time to argue. If we’re gonna get tuh Zed, we gotta go now.”

Hera is throwing her eyes towards the chateau. She knows it won’t be long before a phalanx of time-detectives are surrounding her. She is slipping her foot into the saddle’s stirrup, and hefting her body onto the saddle. Sasha turns his white steed towards the tree line.

The horse slips through the cracks in the wind deftly. The siblings are speeding on towards a log cabin in the woods. The cabin is where Dr. Yoshimoto has hidden the Inferior Labyrinth Door; this door gives a time-traveler access to the Central Labyrinth Door via a time-corridor.

“What’s the plan,” says Sasha, slowing the horse.

“Through the Inferior door, then down the corridor, then through the Central door, an’ finally up the stairs to The New School. You know, all the way ‘round the bushes—but we’ll have to find the key first. That is if the librarian isn’t carrying the key.”

“There should be another under the ‘doormat.’”

Should be are the operative words, Sash.”

“So? What then? What do we do?”

“Hack the Lab, like always.”

“But they’ve got Zed now.”

“Zed is K.O., remember. If we’re lucky she’ll be awake and intelligible when we get to her. There’s nothin’ they can do to us till she’s all rested up. And the way we’re going, she’ll be on our side before long.”

“Someone’s tailing us,” says Sasha.

“I know. Let’s lose ‘em through the falls. Hide out in the grotto.”

Sasha is making the horse ease into a gallop. The siblings are heading for a big waterfall in the deeps of the woods. Hera is feeling very warm in her cloak, but she doesn’t want to take it off. If Sasha can lose their pursuer, they’ll be heading for the colder climes of the Time Labyrinth. She’s hoping their stalker doesn’t have much stamina. If not, this game of tag won’t last long.

The Time Thief; Chapter 1 Conclusion

It’s 6:50am—55 minutes before school starts. Zuri is sitting on the floor, trying to fall asleep against his locker. His skin is a moonshine still of chocolate shadows from the sun; on his face, mathematical kintsugi is wedding continents of umber to umber. In his left nostril, a ruby gem stud winks; the gemstone is surrounded by tiny, curvaceous petals of gold. Piercing the bridge of his nose is a golden sanctum ring.

A chain of gold is sleepwalking across his left cheek in a trance of color; little, pendulous ornaments hang from the gilded chain: they are the miniature laundry of broken gods. The gold chain is a bridge connecting Zuri’s sanctum ring to an earring in his left ear. The earring is a sixteen-pointed gold and silver star; it’s about the size of a penny.

Zuri’s hairline is cut neatly. Dreadlocks of meticulously matted hair fall in sable tubes; each tubular lock is sectioned precisely. His dreads are thick vines that offshoot the occasional coiling tendril. His locks fall below his shoulder blades; today, he is wearing part of them up in a thick ponytail. He is using red twine as a ponytail holder, as a normal hair tie won’t suffice.

He is alone in a school hallway. He is holding his IPhone; it’s his baby; he’s listening to good music. Death Cab for Cutie is filling the supersensual darkness around him. He is wearing: a Death Cab for Cutie t-shirt featuring art from the band’s album, Transatlanticism. He is donning black jeans with a long, vertical rip down the right leg; his black Dr. Marten’s are brimming with plosive blossoms; the tongues of the boots are flapping like a dog’s, and the acid yellow shoelaces are deliberately untied.

A serpent of a thousand scales is wending up Zuri’s left arm; the tattoed reptile has a red eye. Its tail terminates in an exploding rose, and secret petals are littering Zuri’s left shoulder underneath his clothes. The serpent is contracting, coming to life with a flinch: Zuri is seeing Zed. (She just got off the school bus. She is heading for the athletic track. She is planning to overdose on her prescription medication. She wants to slip into unconsciousness while supine on grass, under the bleachers.)

Zed is coming down the hall. She is walking quickly, and is crying a little bit. Zuri’s heart is trying to punch his stomach out of its way; his heart wants to hide underneath his kidneys, deep in the earth. Zuri’s ‘baby’ lilts out of his clammy hands, dragging his earphones out along with it. A mess of white hair is accidentally dropping pills on the floor. Silence like a seat belt that’s being fastened too tightly. Blue eyes avoiding brown eyes.

***

Zuri is crawling to where Zed dropped the pills. He is feeling incredibly dumb, but, miraculously, doesn’t mind this feeling. He is standing up. Zed is looking Zuri in the face. She wants her pills. She wants to swallow them right here. She’s tired of running away from the inescapable question of hope. The answer is that there isn’t any hope, not for her. It doesn’t get better. It won’t get better. Ever. It can only get worse, she’s thinking.

“It can only get worse,” she sighs.

Zuri can’t say anything. He’s looking at the pills in his hands; now, he’s looking at the girl he’s liked for almost two years. His hands and armpits are feeling prickly and unbelievably tropical. He is feeling the heat of the sun all over his skin. Zed is the only oasis for miles. Logic goes deaf in the lonesome woods. Zuri’s serpent gently wends around Zed’s shoulder. Cool metal presses against Zed’s cheek; she can feel Zuri’s golden facial chain; it becomes her sanctum.

They are holding each other in a storm of quiet. Zuri is pulling his face away a little, looking down at Zed’s lips. He is beginning to abbreviate distances: between two years of yen and now; between Zed’s Yin colored lips and his Yang hued lust for them; between lust and lust, and death and life.

Zuri’s lips are grazing Zed’s upper lip, creating friction; now, he is applying gentle pressure and warmth to her soft, dank mouth. Zuri’s café fingers filigree her white hair. He is walking a tight rope of provocation, lightly; and wavering some, he is erring beautifully. Touching some part of her mouth deeply, he is intercepting light; they have become kissing shadow-people. He is burning all of her clothing off with an ancient cone of flame. Two pairs of lips are parting with a soft, wet sound.

Suddenly, a cold wind. A riptide of sylvan fairy dust is pushing dregs of snow up the hallway; then, a loud thwank. Around the corner, hidden from Zed’s view, a locker door is summersaulting down the next hallway. Snow is flowing out of a mysterious locker sans door; frost is piling up in front of a water fountain.

“What was that?” says Zed.

“What was what?” says Zuri, looking love-smashed.

“That noise. That loud noise.”

“I didn’t hear anything,” he says, grinning.

“May I cut in?” says a man’s voice.

***

Zed is turning around to see if she can find the owner of the voice. She is seeing a man in a white snow suit. Snow scum is covering him from crest to trough; his oversized snow goggles are making him look like an insect; and his snow boots are an apiary of ice crystals.

The librarian is taking a light, compact tranquilizer gun out of his snow suit pocket. He is pointing it at a wide-eyed Zuri.

“This won’t hurt a bit,” he says, smiling at the boy. The librarian is pulling the trigger. Swoop, the dart is penetrating Zuri’s epidermis. Zuri is falling down unconscious. Zed is screaming. The librarian is pulling the trigger on Zed. A prick. Zed is seeing red dots; her world is getting watery. She is feeling cold arms close around her. She is seeing herself being pushed through an open locker.

She is falling through quantum darkness in the arms of the librarian. Down the spiraling staircase of time she goes. Her eyes are closing. A castle door, the central Time Labyrinth door to be exact, is opening before her. She is sleeping now. The librarian is cradling the sedated Zed; he’s plunging an unwilling sacrifice into the infinite cold.

The Time Thief: Ch. I, pt. II

Chapter 1 Part II: The Librarian

Fluvial fly ash in the wind shimmering primeval blue. Time atoms fluxing on whetted edges of hoary cold. He is leaving the door to the Time Labyrinth ajar; crystals of glass-slipper snow are slip-coating sleeping, peaty time in booty: ice is a treasure here. Cutaneous minutes frieze voluptuously; are shivering in a silver clock; are storming thicker than magma from a death rose.

Lonesome Homo sapiens slashing snuff-like snow; his halberd dragon-slaying frozen monoliths. He is scalping ice, spraying demigod forever-twinkles of sacral winter everywhere. Spattering his snow goggles is mythic galactic hunter, Orion; hero now vanishing in smoke of snow. More snow. The lone gallant scraping frost from his goggles. Already, a new star formation of ice is streaking his just-cleaned lenses. Maybe, he will see Orion again.

The black footed wind war whooping, color yellow. The librarian pulling his gilt pocket watch out. It isn’t telling the time, it’s telling the years, the sentinel centuries softened by gloaming. He is standing (frozen) betwixt parentheses. Time and its parallel are eddying around him.

He hails from the Victorian Era. He is standing at the arctic crux of the Time Labyrinth; which he has access to via a clandestine door in his palatial library. Right now, he is trying to determine which white gust will be ferrying him to the epoch of Zed.

He knows that his destination is AD 2015, circa Zed’s latest attempt at suicide. He knows she is heading for the athletic track; if he’s late, she will have already succumbed to lethal sleep. He knows he can’t be late. However, he is still mining for the master key to the invisible, central Labyrinth Door. He is filleting ice in utter agitation.

Clink! He is using the dagger on the south-most pole of his halberd to dig up the key. Fairy dust is undulating in a translucent partition of particles. The librarian is wallowing in snow scum, finally clutching the hard, slippery high-tech key.

He is using the key as a compass. When the limpid key becomes an opaque neon pink, he will have reached the invisible portal. The librarian is trekking due east in the blizzard. The key is flushing a full-bodied flamingo pink. “The door! I’ve found the door to wonders!” he cries. A chink in the realm appears: a door from nothing, suddenly.

Science! Science! He thinks, That Dr. Yoshimoto is a brilliant man! Except for the nasty business of hiding the key in the depths of perdition. Rather disagreeable assignation, I’d say.

Hurrying, the librarian is fitting the luminous key into the Lab door’s static black keyhole. The keyhole looks like a square on a Rubik’s cube where the sticker was peeled off. The behemoth door looks like it belongs to an English castle; it’s a skeuomorphic gateway to the black river of time. On this side of the door, the snow is yelling in dark blue tones.

The librarian is pulling the yelping door open; he is feeling the carbuncles on the iron door rings; he is vanishing into the soundless vacuum that is future time.

I’m off to see the wizard, he’s thinking, the wonderful wizard named Zed.

Sneak Peek: Nymphs, Steampunk, and The Chest of (Be)Wares

Hey, you wonderful reader! Tonight’s all about revealing juicy, all new developments in the fictional realm of my story, The Time Thief.

As you know, building a story from the ground up can be tenuous (and thrilling! Oh, the wordsmithian thrill! Yes, I just made a word up. Call Merriam Webster and tell them I did it. Tell them I said, “Kill…Bill. Baby.”)

Anyhow, off to the races! On with the show, and myriad other clichés on inception. Warning: excitement and multiple POV’s up ahead!

Frontal Nudity: Character Reveal!

Up first is a (sexy) character prototype. Ooh la la! Try him on for size.

The Librarian: Your name is Heathcoat. You are a wealthy business tycoon of noble blood. You are from the Victorian Era. You have a catacomb like library; it’s steeped in cobwebs of shadow. You have remarkable beauty, and a sumptuous love interest in the brainy, ash blonde ‘nymph’ Heather Tingston—but you only find solace in books. You’ve searched countless tomes for The Answer—but you can’t find it.

Quest: Your quest is History. You’re In Search of Lost Time. Maybe the meaning to your dreary life is buried in the sands of erstwhile ages. Find out.

Physical Appearance: You are a British man. You wear a monocle and have big, sad amber eyes. Your shiny red mustache is curled to look like handlebars. You wear dark, rich colors; have manicured nails; and dress impeccably. You frown a lot, and always have déjà vu after checking your mysterious pocket watch.

Was that too much chemical X (rated) for ya? Ha ha. Was that too much ha-ha-hotness. Okay, I’m done. I’m done. I’m having way too much fun. : P

Late Night Apparitions

If you read chapter 1 of The Time Thief, you’ve probably met the ghostly Zed. Here’s a glimpse of the blueprints for her physical features:

In the mirror she is dressing quickly. Zed is tangling herself in a skinny, leather trousers. She is fitting her black The Beatles tee over metaphysical angel wings. She is stuffing her diaphanous mermaid tail into dark pants. Invisible webs of integument are scintillating between her toes. She is looking at herself.

In the infinity pool of her reflection she is seeing: a medium height Chinese girl, age seventeen. She is albino, and her arctic white hair is falling to her hips. Half of her head is shaven. She is putting on tiny earrings with beer can charms. She has never had an alcoholic beverage before. She is rimming her pallid blue eyes in gel eyeliner. Her hands are shaking, struggling to achieve the perfect cat eye. She is frowning.

Keep in mind that the mysterious Zed is both emotionally turbulent and brainy.

The Chest of (Be)Wares

Every story needs game changers. Here are a special sneak peek at some of mine:

*Romeo’s Phial: Mere mortal death comes to all. At least yours can be sweet. But take heed, what’s to be done can’t be undone. And what’s more, the Cimmerian apothecary might have concocted a non-lethal dose of the phial’s contents. You may come away from this alive, but permanently altered. Use at your own risk.

And there’s more! The story blueprints may feature steam powered treks into parallel universes, time machines, and hot Victorian men! There may be cool kids, high school dances, and major league crushes!  There’s so much more juiciness waiting for you! So, stay tuned for you next sneak peek into the Time Lab.

Happy almost hump day!

The Time Thief; Chapter I, Part I

Chapter 1: Zed

It’s five am. A tundra of rumpled bedsheets are encasing a sleepy Zed. Small Light is talking to Dark of morning Joe. The alarm clock is chirring. Frost is making out with the bedroom windows. Fog is candy-coating the cathedral windows of Zed’s soul. Dim rainbows are shining through a coffee filter.

Zed’s smallish feet are moonwalking across the watery darkness; ricocheting in the probiotic anti-light is sound—slow-moving concentric circles of sound. She is an iron giant being manacled with chains of sleep. Oh Morpheus, let her go! The wood floor is a wino: it is whine, whine, whining; she is slumping towards the bathroom. Her eyes are wine colored.

Zed is climbing into an ivory vat, and is slinging the translucent shower veil closed. Where are the oysters? The pearls are falling freely; or maybe they are dragon balls, because she is Z. Where are the sailors? In the shower, Zed is a mermaid with a fishtail of the thinnest opacity. A mysterious metamorphosis is taking place; and from the chrysalis, the little mermaid is appearing naked, wet.

In the mirror she is dressing quickly. Zed is tangling herself in a pair of skinny leather trousers. She is fitting her black The Beatles tee over metaphysical angel wings. She is stuffing her diaphanous mermaid tail into dark pants. Invisible webs of integument are scintillating between her toes. She is looking at herself.

In the infinity pool of her reflection she is seeing: a medium height Chinese girl, age seventeen. She is albino, and her arctic white hair is falling to her hips. Half of her head is shaven. She is putting on tiny earrings with beer can charms. She has never had an alcoholic beverage before. She is rimming her pallid blue eyes in gel eyeliner. Her hands are shaking, struggling to achieve the perfect cat eye. She is frowning.

Zed is caking her long white eyelashes in mascara; she is smearing on her favorite Mac lipstick. She is looking at her beautiful, strange, diamond-shaped face: her upper lip is cleft, and is shining red like a poisoned apple. Her cleft chin looks strong. She is thinking about how her name sounds alien. I sound like a freak, and look it too, she is thinking.

White hair is flying out the front door.

****

On the school bus, the shaved part of Zed’s head is resting on wet glass. I hate myself. Look at these ugly scars on my wrist. Oh my gosh! My sleeves are too short! Zed is looking around frantically to see if anyone has noticed the ruby scores on her powdery skin.

Zed’s bipolar depression is interfering with her school attendance. Zed loves web coding and has a high IQ. She is taking several AP classes, and was this close to being valedictorian of her class—but then her wrists happened.

A few months ago, her school sponsored an all-expense paid senior trip for Zed. They flew her out to a web coding convention called Code Con.

She remembers walking through the throngs in the airport. She was dragging her black suitcase, and the scuffed wheels were clicking on the slick pavement. She was smelling cheeseburger pizza, sweat, and java beans. A cosmogony was presenting itself to her. In every face she was seeing, there was a haiku on human origin. She was swimming with a school of souls; and a gyre of meaning turned the hands of her internal clock towards epiphany.

When she touched down on tarmac, she was a pioneer on a new American frontier. She was farther west than she had ever been before. She was staying in a palatial hotel; a chandelier of frozen breath and gold was hanging in the lobby. She was eating steak and eggs benedict for brunch, and ambrosia for supper. She networked like a sylph, but Zed doubted herself tremendously.

Fear was suffocating Zed with a plastic bag.

***

Zed’s liaison for Code Con was Julian. Julian wanted to surprise Zed with some very special guests. He told them how bright and promising Zed was. “And beautiful—quite beautiful,” he added. Julian led his big connections to Zed’s hotel room. He knocked politely several times. No answer. Julian smiled at his guests, bewildered. After knocking to no answer for several more minutes, he used the extra room key he had for emergencies. They found Zed on the bathroom floor bleeding profusely.

Julian’s hazel eyes widened in disbelief and horror. He grabbed a towel and tried to stop blood from running down her snowy arms. He fought Zed for the razor, and was diced. He tussled with Zed again, until he finally plucked the weapon from Zed’s vise.

Julian’s face was soft and pained; it was spattered with little flecks of her blood. He was scared and disappointed. He blinked his chocolate brown lashes at her slowly. He was trying to quell tears. Zed was a pupil he had a huge personal investment in. She had pilfered his core. He liked this girl—I mean, like liked her.

Volatile and confused, Zed detonated; she ravaged Julian in angry, carmine words. She cried and threw up on the lovelorn Julian. They were surrounded by pink and red towels. The floor looked like a cinnamon swirl of red and white: the red for human hemoglobin, and the white for floor tile.

Julian became very quiet and told her she was going to the hospital. Period. Exhausted she complied. She wound up having to get a blood transfusion, and a host of stiches.

She’s been skipping a lot school ever since that trip. She is too ashamed to face her peers and teachers. They used to look up to her. They used to think she was perfect.

Her grades are awful now. She is still self-harming.

***

She is thinking about killing herself…today. She is fingering the scores of sad blade-music on her wrist. She is trying to keep her blue feelings inside of a teacup. Sadness wants to push the color out of her eyes; dolor wants to turn her eyes grey, and paint watercolor tears onto her face.

The school bus is lurching to a stop. Sighing, Zed thinks about how Julian’s big, gentle hazels are rimmed with ganache lashes. She is feeling guilt wrench her gallbladder. She is tearful. Off the bus, off the bus, she thinks.

Zed’s white hair is flying through the long school corridors. Zed’s eyes shimmer like those of a Job-manqué. Write me into the Bible, she thinks. Write me into the part that goes, “Ashes to ashes and Dust to dust.”

Zed has something in her book-bag that will do just that; she has a poisoned apple in a capsule; it will taste like dust. She will be drawn into forever, like a chalk silhouette of death is drawn into the skin of a crime scene. She is planning to take the lethal dose. Now.

***