January 23, 2016Filed under art#fictionMarkdown source

Jaimie and I are presently trapped in a hotel in New York City, courtesy of winter weather. We decided to do a little writing challenge! The rules of our challenge were: we had 30 minutes to write at least 500 words, it had to be fantasy, it had to be about someone the opposite sex of the author, and it had to be about someone elderly. This is mine.

The door opened, but it did not creak. It always creaked. Like Janice’s bones in the morning, it creaked.

She frowned at the back of the door facing her. Someone stood there, it seemed; a shadow darkened the floor by the doorway. Her eyes were rheumy enough, and the room layout ridicuous enough, that she couldn’t say more.

"Who is it? she called out. Croaked out, more like, but that was the price of eighty years’ of cigarettes.

«Time.» Helpful response, that was.

“What’s that?” She was still croaking. She coughed, tried to clear her throat.

«Time,» he said again. She thought it was a he, but his voice sounded funny. Far away. Then again, her ears had been going for long enough now.

“Time? Kids aren’t coming today, so you can have all you want. But who are you?”

«It. is. time.»

The shadow looked darker. She frowned, pursed her lips, and shook her head. “Young man—you are young, aren’t you? You don’t sound old—come in here and sit down and explain yourself.”

«I. sit. for. no. one.»

Janice blinked a few times. She sat back in her chair. She tried to take a deep breath, coughed, coughed some more, gave up on the deep breath, contented herself with a swallow instead. That seemed more appropriate anyway. But no, she was just being absurd. Old, even.

“Well, all right, then, but come in where I can see you.”

«No. it. is. your. time.»

She swallowed again.

“Time for what?” Just to be sure. The shadow was still getting darker. It could have been her eyes, but the rest of the room was the same as before: fuzzed out to an irritating degree, but bright enough.

«Time. to. depart.»

“Son, or whatever you are” (she no longer thought it was anyone who ought to be called son, or daughter for that matter) “be clear. I don’t have time for whatever your game is. Had enough of foolishness twenty years ago.”

«It. is. time. for. you. to. depart. this. life.»

Well, then. One thing to have a half-cocked notion of a thing like that, but another hear it from the mouth of… time? itself. “Is it now?” she managed. “Well, you took long enough getting here. Family’s been telling me that for a good twenty years now.”

Where the shadow stood on the floor in front of the door was all dark now. Shaped something like a man, for all her blurred sight could make out, but black as a night when all the moons were down.

She was ready, though. Ready as you could be. “Do you announce yourself to everyone like this, or just half-blind old ladies?” She sounded like a bullfrog with a sore throat.

The shadow answered. «All. those. who. have. time.»

Helpful. Not that it mattered. She was ready. She was.

The shadow was suddenly before her. A starless, moonless night. Time indeed.

Janice stood up. Face it on your feet, she’d always said. To the blazes with that, now, she concluded. Face it asleep in the night was a better plan. But here she was.

She could still run. Jump a little even. So she did. She threw herself at the shadow, and as she came to it, she thought she saw stars.

And then everything was gone except the stars, whirling before suddenly clear eyes. Ten billion galaxies whirled; pulsars flamed and danced in time; suns flared and planets spun.

Green grass, dusted with snow.

«You. have. time.»

She looked up. Stars, not night.

«Spend. it. well.»

She stood.