Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Writings #16 - The Watch

My "Wednesday Writing" posts were initially created as a writing exercise for me to try and keep myself motivated and on track by making sure that I spend at least 30-60 minutes each week (with the follow-up goal to turn it into a daily writing practice).

Over the past few weeks, I've been continuing the same story with a single post each week. To help you catch up with this serialized story, you can use the following table of contents:
  1. Morning Machinations
  2. Communication Between Friends
  3. Daydreaming Decisions
  4. Off to the Park
  5. Driven
  6. Coming Home
  7. Revealing Photographs
  8. Just a Dream?
  9. At the Tower
  10. Caught
  11. Revelations
  12. Lunchtime

This is a follow-up/continuation of the short post from this go read that one (#15) first if you're trying to catch up.

The Watch

Julie screamed and jumped at James. Gabby tried to hold her friend back but was too slow. She stared in stunned paralysis as Julie whipped around the corner of the table in an instant and punched James on the side of the head. Then she pulled against his chair and sent him toppling backward as she reached for the table. James fell back out of his chair and into a side table at the wall. The table collapsed under his sudden weight. The small plant and numerous cookbooks set atop it fell in a heap on top of him. Just before Julie's hands touched the glowing watch, the two thugs were on her, pulling her back from the table and pinning her arms behind her.

Seeing Julie struggle against the strong arms, Gabby shook herself out of the shock that held her still. She grabbed the glass pitcher, half filled with punch and ice, from the table and threw it into the fight. One of the thugs twisted away but as he did so he pulled the other man directly into the path of the pitcher. It slammed into his head with a thud and then fell to the floor, shattering on the tile.

The thug who had been hit by the pitcher recovered and turned to face Gabby. He let go of Julie and lunged forward, slipping on the punch and ice and falling to the floor. Gabby raced around the table, and reached hesitantly for the watch. It still glowed, but the light around it was dimming. Unsure of the safety in grabbing something that had just sparked and exploded, she turned instead back to look at Julie and the fight they'd started.

She grabbed a plate and a knife from the table and charged at the one man who still held Julie. Before she reached her friend, James wrapped his arms around her legs and pulled her to the floor. She whipped around and smashed the plate against his arm then lashed at him with the knife. The plate grazed his arm but then broke against the floor and sent shards of glass flying. She continued whipping the knife around, occasionally scratching James's arm but never enough to cause him to let go. In fact, he pulled tighter on her legs. She kicked wildly at his head and turned to pull herself along the floor and try to regain her footing.

Gabby glanced around quickly. Julie continued to struggle against the arms that held her but she had been pressed to her knees and was quickly becoming subdued. Gabby's foot made contact with James's head and she was able to break one leg free and nearly stand, but as she looked over her shoulder, she saw the second thug had regained his feet and was cautiously moving towards her again. In desperation, she threw the knife at the approaching thug and kicked again at James. The knife flew wide of her target by nearly a yard and banged harmlessly against the door leading to the kitchen.

"Let me go!" Julie's scream was followed by the hollow sound of flesh and bone hitting flesh and bone. Gabby twisted her head towards the sound. Julie was pinned on her stomach at the side of the wall, a knee forcibly pressed against her back to hold her down. Her eyes were closed, apparently unconscious.

James had gotten to his knees, still holding Gabby's left ankle and pulling her towards him. Gabby shot her arms out at the legs of the second thug as he came at her from the side. He deftly dodged her hands and was suddenly on his knees beside her, grabbing her tightly with his hands and pinning her own arms behind her as he twisted her onto her stomach. She continued to struggle, but a moment later, she found it difficult to breath, let alone move.

There was silence for a moment. Gabby's cheek was pressed against the floor in a puddle of cold red punch. She felt strong hands tight around her wrists and a pain she presumed to be a knee pressed into the center of her back. Her legs were pressed hard against the floor as though James sat on her feet. From her restrained position, she stared under the table towards the door leading back to the hallway. She strained her neck against the pressure and saw a pair of legs still sitting in the chair at the head of the table.

Through the whole fight, Walter had apparently not moved at all. His legs moved slightly but made no motion to stand or move from the chair. She stared in contempt at his brown dress shoes, shiny and out of place below his worn blue jeans. She tried to imagine what he was doing, sitting there at the table. She pictured his small mouth curling into a smug smile and his dull grey eyes brightening with amusement.

The more she stared at his shoes, the more she wished she could throw these two men off her back and rush to tackle the man casually sitting at the table. The longer the silence persisted, the more and more angry she grew with him. Just moments ago he had insisted they were allies. Had suggested that they had needed her help and support. And now, she and Julie were again forcibly held hostage and no one was saying anything.

Gabby closed her eyes and drew up the image of Walter Dalton. She conjured up the image of his pale grey eyes, his bushy white eyebrows, his silver hair and his small mouth. There was something familiar about him. As though she should know him. As though he was part of her life more than just being her strange captor. The more she thought about it, the more she knew they were somehow tied together. And the more she tried to unravel the connection, the more lost she became. She wanted to scream out. To demand to be released. To call for help. Instead, she closed her eyes and tried to sort things out. Eventually, Walter spoke.

"I trust we can continue with our lunch in peace now? I'm afraid I'll have to have the cook bring us something more to drink. James, why don't you help our dear Gabrielle to her seat."

Gabby felt the a release on her shoulders and then her back. She arched her back softly, tenuously toying with the idea of lashing out and making a run for the hall door. She quickly put the idea aside, unsure if she could reach the hall before being pulled back down. Even if she could escape, she was unwilling to leave Julie behind. Hands pulled her to her feet and as she stood she glanced at Julie. The thug still held her shoulders and wrists, but there was no tension, no fight. Julie's eyes fluttered softly. Gabby gasped slightly and tried to step over to her friend. The arms on her shoulders held her back.

"Oh my, yes." Walter stood and seemed to see the whole situation for the first time.

"It seems our dear friend Julie has fallen asleep. Why don't you take her somewhere where she can rest up?" Walter nodded softly at the man sitting on Julie's back who stood slowly and then picked Julie up like a rag doll.

"No!" Gabby strained against the arms holding her. "Let her go!"

Walter turned and smiled smugly at her, the same smug smile she had imagined only moments before. He looked at the questioning bodyguard and then nodded him out of the room. Gabby twisted and struggled against the arms of James and the other bodyguard as she watched her best friend be carried out of sight.

"Tsk tsp. Such inappropriate behavior for mealtime." Walter motioned to the empty chairs and Gabby was pressed back into her seat.

"Such outrageous behavior. And over a simple little watch."

Gabby stared at the watch on the table. It no longer glowed, but sat in a small pile. She reached over and picked it up. She understood Julie's reaction.

The watch had been a gift from Julie's father when she left for college. She was in such a hurry to start the trip to school that when he tried to tell her the story of the watch, she broke him off and said she was late. He conceded and had given it to her with little fanfare but with the explanation that he would one day tell her the whole history. How it was a symbol in their family of progression, of love, of acceptance. Julie hadn't thought much of it at first. She liked the watch and showed it to Gabby, her first roommate, telling her about the importance her father had always placed on it.

But then, halfway through her first semester of college, Julie's father had died. When Julie returned home for the funeral, everything was a mess. Her family was squabbling over inheritance and insurance and responsibility. Sick of the bickering, Julie had secluded herself in her parents bedroom while the rest of the family fought in the living room. She stared at her father's pictures and then found his journal on his bedside table.

Thumbing through some of the entries, she learned more about the history of the watch. Apparently it had been given to her grandfather during World War II from his commanding officer as recognition of his excellent judgment and service. When her grandfather had given it to her father, it was given as recognition of superior character and excellent judgment. She found the entry for the day she left for college and read gushing paragraphs about how proud he was of her and how much hope he rested on her for the success and future of their family. As she read the journal, she thought it strange that he had chosen her to receive the watch.

She was the youngest of five children. Her two brothers and one of her sisters were married and successfully living the American dream in various places across the country. Her oldest brother managed a pediatric clinic in Oregon. Her other brother was in his final year of law school with a number of accolades and numerous prestigious job offers on the table. Her oldest sister had met her husband in the peace corps and now lived in the northeast with her husband, working to restore and maintain various historical sites. Her other sister was more eccentric and had spent the past year hitchhiking across the country. Still, of her siblings, Julie certainly felt least qualified to receive the watch, especially now that she knew its history.

Gabby stared at the watch, thinking back on the history of the watch and how much it meant to Julie. She imagined how angry she would be and quickly forgave Julie of losing her cool. As she looked at the watch, she realized it was working again. The second hand progressed normally and moved the other hands with it. The time now showed 2:43, presumably having been jostled around from the electric zap and the resulting fight.

"But then again, we ourselves are in a war over time itself. So a little squabble over a timepiece should hardly be surprising."

Gabby looked up at Walter. He took a large bit of a sandwich and tried to smile at her as he ate. He motioned towards the toppled plate of sandwiches. Gabby blindly grabbed one and took a bite, staring at the man in front of her. She still didn't know what to make of him.

"Tell me about this war."

She took a bite of her own sandwich and alternately looked between James and Walter. She could feel the presence of the bodyguard standing behind her, but she forced herself not to look back at him. She didn't want to risk exposing her fear. She knew that by looking at him, her emotions would flare again. By keeping her eyes focused on James, and more especially on Walter, she was able to focus on her anger and frustration rather than her fear and anxiety.

Walter's smooth and disarming voice responded to her request.

"All in good time my dear. All in good time. There is too much to tell in what little time we have left right now. Our time together rapidly grows to a close. But I promise you this, all will become clear in time. For now, James will provide you with a set of instructions for you to help us capture your fugitive husband and bring him to justice. The very nature of Time itself is at jeopardy. We must act quickly if we are to heal the rift that has been created."

"No. I am not going to do anything until I get some answers. You kidnapped us. Your thugs beat us up and dragged us here to your mansion. You claim to be from the future with some big mission for me. You claim that I have to help you catch my husband. A husband I haven't married. And you expect me to do all of this, just because you say so. No. I'm not going anywhere or doing anything until I get the whole story!" She tried to control her emotions, but by the end, she had risen to her feet and was nearly shouting. James had started to stand and intercept her, but Walter had waved him down. Walter shook his head slowly and began to chuckle.

"I'm afraid, my dear Gabrielle, that you really have no choice in the matter. As much as I would love to accommodate your request. Time is, as they say, of the essence. I do not have the luxury of Time to elaborate on the war we fight. Our window of Time is rapidly closing and we must move quickly if we have any hope of success."

Gabby banged her fist on the table.

"NO! I will not be put off! I don't understand any of this! I don't BELIEVE any of this! If you will not explain yourself and tell me WHY I should help you, then you can just kiss me goodbye Mr. Dalton."

Walter smiled and nodded at James.

"Very well Gabrielle. James will show you why you should help us."

Walter stood and began to walk out of the room. He paused at the doorway.

"The choice is yours Gabrielle. I trust you will make the right decision."


logankstewart said...

Great stuff, once again. At first I kind of thought the watch's history section didn't flow well with the rest of the story, but the more I think on it, the more I think it works.

Okie said...

Yeah, I went back and forth on including the detailed history...then figured I'd leave it for now in case I decide to use it later on...if it doesn't work out, then it gets cut...

Phoenix said...

Now there's the violence I was looking for! Um. I mean.

Great writing :)

This story is more and more intriguing and I find myself incredibly emotionally tied up in it, which is why it's infuriating (in a good way) to read about these girls getting their asses kicked. Great stuff, just sad I have to wait another week to read the next installment!