Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Writings #21 - Evan (part 3)

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
  13. The Watch
  14. Visions
  15. Escape
  16. Evan (part 1)
  17. Evan (part 2)

I thought I would wrap up Evan's wrap up a little more quickly, but every time I tried to, it felt like he had more to I let him talk for one more week. Next week we'll get some more forward progress, but for now, here's a little more backwards progress as Evan concludes his story of future, past, and present. Rather than just leave it with Evan though, I'll keep going a little bit.

Critiques, suggestions, comments, etc. always welcome.


Evan Concludes His Story

Evan paused to watch Gabby's reaction once again. She sat silently in the passenger seat of the car, staring at him. He hated feeling so distant from her. It was difficult to be so close to her and so far away at the same time. In his mind, they were married, just a few weeks shy of their 6 month anniversary. With her he felt a connection he'd never felt with anyone in his life. And sadly, in her mind, at this moment, he was a near stranger to her and in all likelihood, she saw him as either crazy and delusional or as a part of some cruel elaborate joke. Either way, he felt his heart shredded each time he looked in her eyes, hoping to see compassion, understanding and love but instead finding confusion and fear. Right now, her eyes shined brightly back at him but the apprehension was unmistakable. Still, there was enough confidence and curiosity in her gaze, that Evan continued.

"Upon pressing the button, I heard the machine whir to life. I prayed that my adjustments had sped the spin up time such that I would be whisked through time before Dalton or his cronies understood what was happening and tried to stop me. I smiled as I felt the familiar tingling and saw the world begin to shimmer around me. I glanced at Dalton and saw a shocked look on his face. My grin turned to a gloating smirk as I watched him, in apparent slow motion due to my own transition, begin to wave his arms, shout orders at those around us and then start moving forward to stop me.

"A second later, my smile faded as the shimmering light around me grew in intensity and encompassed Dalton, his cronies and the rest of the lab. The familiar feeling of falling took hold and I knew I was on my way back in time. But as I looked around, I saw in horror that Dalton and his men were falling along with me. My modifications to the device had made the process speed up but had also apparently expanded the proximity of its power to include most of the lab. My escape plan had been thwarted by my own ingenuity. Instead of escaping alone to the past to stop a crime, I found myself being escorted by the very criminal I hoped to stop.

"I heard Dalton chuckle as he realized my mistake. Then he shouted words of praise at further increasing his potential power. He commanded his assistants to grab the device from me and then to kill me. He must have seen the fear on my face because he laughed again. I looked apprehensively at the four men floating around me, their tight black shirts flapping slightly in the winds of time. Never before had more than one person fallen through the time shaft at the same instant. I tried in vain to maneuver myself through the air. I extended my arms and legs the way I'd seen skydivers do to cut through the sky. Nothing changed, I stayed just as far from them as before. Looking back at them again, I saw the frustration on their faces as they tried to determine how to get closer to me.

"I looked down through the shimmering haze, hopeful that the bottom would soon be in sight. That we would reach the destination before they could figure out how to reach me. Most of my personal travels through time had only been a matter of a few months into the past. Once I traveled to a moment in my childhood and I remember the anxiety as I fell through the time shaft for nearly thirty minutes before arriving. The distance I proposed to travel was just under 18 months, but I still anticipated 7 minutes of free-fall through time. I hoped that my adjustments to the device would speed up the actual journey as well. If so, there was no telling exactly how long I had to evade the men around me.

"I heard them shouting behind me and turned to see what was going on. The men around me were moving, but not towards me. I sighed in relief as I watched the 4 men in black along with Dalton each floating away from me. Dalton looked confused, then angry. Two of the men flailed their arms and looked like they were trying to swim through the air. In spite of their efforts, they floated further and further away. After a few moments, one of the men stopped moving horizontally. Two of the others floated another hundred feet and then paused floating next to each other. Dalton continued to float until he was out of sight entirely.

"Before I could ponder their motions too much, I felt myself begin to slow and knew I was reaching my destination. The air shimmered violently around me and everything grew brilliantly bright. Then I was sitting in my favorite chair in my apartment. I closed my eyes and waited for the dizziness to settle. I listened to the familiar noises I remembered from nearly two years ago. The train rushing by outside my window. Kids playing rowdily in the community swimming pool. I opened my eyes and looked at the books and the time device in my lap. It was still. Silent. Briefly fiddling with buttons and switches, I learned what I had suspected. The device no longer functioned. I knew I could repair it, but it would take time.

"Knowing Dalton would come for me, I packed a bag and rented a room at the Lakeside Motel. I spent the next couple of weeks finding and watching you and Carlisle. I wanted to talk to you, either of you but especially you Gabby. But I knew how dangerous it could be. Not only could my presence further disrupt Time itself, but I was pretty sure Dalton would be watching and ready to pounce as soon as he saw me with you. I set up some general surveillance on both of you….cameras…motion detectors….listening devices. Then I watched and waited for Dalton to make his move. Meanwhile, I started repairing the time device.

"A couple of days ago, he moved. Or rather, his cronies moved. At your apartment complex and in front of Carlisle's house sat the men in black who had fallen through with me, two at each location. From the newspaper clipping I'd seen, I still had another 11 days before Carlisle would be killed. It was always possible that Dalton would change that plan, but I suspected he would rather try to pull me in with what I already knew, especially since I knew he was trapped in this time.

"The men watching your apartment snuck in when you went to work. They thoroughly and efficiently searched your place, presumably looking for the device or evidence that I had been there. When they found nothing, they left an envelope in your fridge and returned to their car to wait. I waited a little while to see what they would do and then went to see what they'd left for you. I thought I'd been stealthy but as I came out of the stairwell to your floor I was welcomed by a fist to the face. I nearly fell back down the stairs but I was able to regain my balance in time to avoid the fall. I dodged a second punch and wheeled into the hallway to get away from the stairs.

"The two men in black blocked any chance at getting to your apartment. They weren't the same two sitting in the car out front. I realized too late that Dalton had predicted my behavior and anticipated my arrival. Leaving the pair of men out front and keeping the others hidden, he just waited for me to enter the building and ambushed me. Behind the men I saw Dalton step around the corner smiling smugly.

"He called to me, told me to just come with them and we could put all this foolishness behind us. I forced myself to be silent, turning over options in my mind. I wanted to know what they'd put in your apartment, but it would have to wait. I quickly stooped and grabbed a plant sitting by your neighbor's door and threw it at the men. They scattered out of the way but stumbled into each other slightly and the pot caught one of the men on the shoulder. I wished it was a heavy clay pot instead of a simple plastic one.

"I didn't spend too much time regretting my available weapons. Instead, I whirled around and pulled open the door to the stairwell and started jumping down from floor to floor. I went down to the third floor and then stepped out onto the landing. After making sure it was clear, I sprinted down the hall and entered the stairwell at the other end of the building before going the rest of the way down. I figured Dalton would have the men from the car waiting for me to come down. I intended to disappoint them.

"I hit the ground floor running and slammed open the door to the street. Looking around the back of the building, I scanned for possible assailants waiting at the other stairwell. I saw a single man in black standing by the door. I smirked then turned to run the opposite direction….right into the waiting arms of another man in black standing beside Dalton. He knocked me to the ground and grabbed at my backpack. Once again I felt foolish. This time for bringing the books with me that I'd brought through time. In my paranoia, I had kept them with me at all times. Now that looked like it would be used against me.

"Dalton laughed and said I was too predictable. He asked the man, who he called James, to brush me off and escort me to the car. I continued to struggle but found it hard to get to my feet properly with James yanking on my backpack and constantly twisting my center of balance. I kicked out at his knee and felt him buckle and fall slightly. As he fell, he pulled me down as well, but I was able to get up quicker than he. I twisted out of his grasp, kicked at his body and felt my foot connect with his lower back. Then, I felt the tension release on the backpack and I raced away as quick as I could.

"As I reached the edge of the parking lot, I looked back. James was on his feet again, glaring at me. From the far end of the building, one of the other cronies was running towards me. I knew I had escaped, but my escape suddenly felt unsuccessful as I watched Walter Dalton walk to a point on the sidewalk and pick up a notebook. Carlisle's notebook. I reached around to my backpack and found it hanging partly open, flapping behind me. To my relief, your dream folder and our wedding album were still inside, but Carlisle's sketchbook had fallen out. Of the three, the sketchbook was most dangerous in Dalton's hands.

"Once again, I had no time to regret my situation. Dalton's cronies were rapidly approaching. I cut through the bushes, hopped on my bike and sped away. As I raced across town, I cursed myself under my breath. I'd made too many foolish mistakes and Dalton had anticipated them all. I decided it was time to do something unpredictable. I decided to seek you out and work with you to fix this. I knew Dalton wouldn't expect it. I was the one always trying to talk the group out of any contact with anyone in the past, particularly anyone close to us. I always warned them of rifts and paradoxes. If there was one thing Dalton wouldn't expect, it was for me to make contact with you.

"It took a few strange phone calls but I found out about a party and made sure Julie's boyfriend was invited and that he brought you along as well. And the rest...Well, the rest you know."

Gabby stared at Evan as he stopped talking. When she realized he was done, she tried to think of an appropriate response to everything he'd just told her. She raced back over what he'd said but found herself getting lost in all the details. Worse, she started to feel dizzy.

She tried to compartmentalize what he'd told her. He was from the future. He came from the future in a time machine that he'd built with her help. He knew her well because they were married. Their partner in building the time machine had gone crazy and killed another partner and was now trying to get to them. This crazy partner was the man who had kidnapped Julie.

Julie! Her fear for her friend suddenly resurfaced.

"We have to go get Julie!"

"Um. Yeah. Of course. We will get Julie. But first, we need…"

"First? What first? First we get Julie, then we deal with the rest of this!"

Now Evan stared at Gabby. After all he'd just told her, this was far from the response he'd expected. But then, as he thought about it, this was exactly what he should have expected. He smiled at Gabby's passion and her loyalty and courage to help her friends. He had no idea what, if anything, she believed from his story other than that Dalton was dangerous. Even if she didn't fully believe that, she knew enough to be worried about Julie and want to help. He reached out and cupped her cheek in his hand.

"Okay. We'll get Julie."

He leaned forward to kiss her. She pulled away slightly and instead of leaning to her lips, he raised his head and kissed her on the forehead. He felt his heart ache inside him. She still didn't trust him. Didn't believe him. For now, this was all he could hope for. He leaned back into the driver's seat and put the car in motion. A moment later they were back on the freeway. Evan glanced sideways at Gabby and thought on the many happy times they'd shared. He remembered their wedding day. Their honeymoon. Their walks on the beach. Their first Christmas together. They had been so close. And now they sat side by side like strangers. He wished he could change the way things were, but he knew it was safer to let her keep her distance.

"Hey! Why are you getting off here?" Gabby slapped him on the shoulder and craned her neck to look back up the freeway offramp.

"I've got to get my bike." He nodded towards the gas station beyond the intersection. Gabby pulled back her anger but said nothing. Instead of parking in front of the gas station, Evan pulled into the parking lot next door and parked in front of an insurance agency.

"Come on. We'll leave this car here and take my bike. Dalton won't expect it and it gives us more options to make a quick getaway if we have to."

Gabby looked unsure but then got out of the car and started walking across to where his motorcycle was parked next door. Then she stopped.

"Wait a minute. We can't fit Julie on your motorcycle with us. We need to take the car." She turned and started back to the car but he called after her.

"I already thought of that. We will take a car. But not Dalton's car. He'll recognize it in a second. Not only that, but he probably has a tracking device on it or something." At the mention of a tracking device, Gabby remembered her last instructions from Dalton. She put a hand into her pocket and felt the cell phone he had given her. 'Use the cell phone I provided….and I will arrive with my team to retrieve the device and secure your husband.'

"We'll take the bike and stash it just outside Dalton's home. Then we rescue Julie in the car he won't expect. We'll have Julie drive and then you and I will get out of the car and escape on the bike. Julie will head one way and we'll head the other. Dalton won't bother to chase both of us which will let Julie get away without any problem. You and I will have a harder run for it, but I've got an escape route in mind that should get us away safely."

Gabby listened but her mind was far away. In her pocket, her hands traced the outline of the cell phone.

"Gabby? What is it? I know it sounds risky, but it will work. I know it. Gabby?"

In silence, Gabby turned and walked back to the car. She opened the back door and looked on the floor of the back seat where she'd thrown the time device during her escape. She picked it up and set it on the trunk of the car. Looking up, Evan was walking over to her. When he saw the device, he slowed, a look of incredulity on his face.

"Where did you get that?" He asked as he stepped next to the car. Pulling the device closer to him, he pressed open a panel and turned a small dial. The top of the box opened and a number of lights flickered.

"How is this here?" He picked up the box and looked at it from every angle, tracing its markings with his fingers.

"Dalton had this. He had me look into it and see the future. Or at least what he said was the future. He told me I should get you to fix it. I didn't know what he meant. I didn't know what to believe. I still don't. But….but if this thing can show us the future, we can use it to look at his house. We can use it to make our plans. We can use it to save Julie."

Evan set the box back on the trunk of the car. Suddenly his own failures made sense. It was suddenly clear why it seemed like Dalton had anticipated his moves. It was because Dalton had seen his moves. He'd looked at them through the box. Dalton had watched to see when he would go to Gabby's apartment, where he would run, what he would do. But how had he gotten the box? There was no way Carlisle had built another one from scratch so soon.

Another thought hit him then. He pulled back the top panel and looked inside. A long gouge was scratched along the inside of the box. He turned it over and looked at the bottom. One of the corners had his initials etched into the metal. This wasn't a new box. This was the box he helped build last summer. Or rather, next summer. This was the box that was used to come back in time and kill Carlisle. When Evan had pulled Dalton through again, Dalton sought out this old box and used it to make his own plans.

"You're right Gabby. We can use this. We can use this to save Julie. But not here. We need to go somewhere safe to make our plans."

Gabby began to object, but stopped herself. She still wasn't sure if she trusted Evan. She wanted to, but the potential truth frightened her. Right now, her main goal was to find and save Julie. She put her hand into her pocket and fingered the cell phone again. Right now, the keys to Julie's safety were the box, and the man who could fix it. Without saying anything, she watched as Evan put the device into his backpack and walked back to his motorcycle. He handed her the backpack to wear and then motioned for her to climb up behind him.


Brian Miller said...

nice. this is coming together very nicely and has come a long way from those opening scenes...are you going to make this into a book when you are done?

logankstewart said...

Very nice. This story is quite complex and quite enjoyable.

One thing that I thought of was that it seemed like the voice of the characters or the Point of View was mixed in the second section. Not sure if that's really a problem, but it stuck out at me. Great job!

Phoenix said...

AHHHH! This is getting SO good! I'm on the edge of my seat to see if Gabby will betray Evan or not.

Why do I have to wait another week?? You're killing me!! :)

Okie said...

Glad y'all are enjoying it.

@Brian - I'll probably compile it into a single work and look at editing/revising. Not sure what will come of it.

@Logan - yeah, I felt a PoV/voice change throughout Evan's narration and the interludes. Will need to clear it up on revision.

@Phoenix - I'm on the edge of my seat too...playing through ramifications of betrayal or alliance. Both have good possibilities. ;)