"for a place in your time"
Genre: Drama, Action
Summary: In the end, his journey wasn't so much that of a visitor, but that of a weary one returning home.
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile. :)
For February's first set, I chose to write for the 2003 film version of Timeline. While you can pick the movie apart, at its heart its just a fun romp through everybody's fascination with knights and adventure and the age of chivalry - and it was fun to explore that world in this format.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
"I made my history," was the simple inscription on the sarcophagus, brittle and ancient with time; but the easy sentimentality of the entwined hands carved into the stone and the last honoring of children's names made Chris take a deep breath, and remember.
Perhaps there were better ways of doing so – but in an age where hands on tactics of unearthing history were dying away to the fast progression of the future, Professor Johnston would take anything he could get; including the too insightful hints from their rather eccentric billionaire investor.
The physician looked closer at the X-rays, trying to puzzle out why the man looked like he had been cut up by a clumsy child with scissors, and then glued back together by the same hand – everything (arteries, nerves, veins, tendons) in the man's body seemed to be jig-sawed together in imperfect lines.
"There's a reason you're still here," Edward told his son sagely, eyes winking in the half light of the tent at the blush on Chris' face, "and that reason always seems to include a pretty pair of eyes and a disarming smile."
Kate watched fondly as all of the new students gathered around Marek and his models of Castleguard, the group unconsciously leaning forward in response to the obvious passion the man held for history in his voice - after the last five years, she knew better than most how well he could bring dead stones and stories to life once more.
Chris' latest attempts at flirting seemed to fall dreadfully short as Kate picked up his welcoming words and ran with them as she spun tales about the objects she was unearthing, so lost to the past she was digging up that she didn't see (or chose not to) the way forward he wished to take with her.
It didn't seem possible; the ability to step back into time due to an accident of rich and bored men playing with things past their realm of control – but if the Professor was trapped back there, then back in time was where they would go.
The air in 1357 France was sweet and fragrant in a way France in 2003 could never be, the greenery lush in an ancient and untouched way, and ahead the sharp scent of village fires and sweet straw didn't seem so much like he was visiting another place and time . . . it felt as if he were being welcomed home, at long last.
Arnaud felt the thunder of horse's hooves on the forest ground, and not even the furthering of France's glory for God and crown could compare to the relief he felt at seeing his dear sister returned alive and well.
"I'd really rather not," Gordon whispered fiercely, his fists clenching as he thought of how another trip back could ruin the already shredded structure of his form.
As she was lowered down into the newly excavated room, Kate felt a thrill steal through her at knowing that she was the first one to set foot there in over six hundred years.
"After how many times doing this, why did the first fieldtrip with the tourists have to land us in the water?" Gordon coughed in annoyance as he tried to ring out his clothes as best he could while hiking up the rocky edge of the river.
They had just six hours – six hours to free the Professor from the hands of Lord Oliver, and make it back home before the warring forces tore Castle la Roque and its village to the ground.
"It seems silly perfecting a skill you'll never use," Chris said dubiously as Marek swung the heavy looking sword against the dummies he had erected in the clearing, an old world and forgotten grace in his steps that would never be applicable to the world he lived in.
With trembling fingers, Edward scribbled a note onto the oilcloth, and left his glasses next to his message – sure than hundreds of years from now, his students would understand his call for help.
All of his play with archaic toys could not prepare him for the sickening reality of sinking metal deep into the soft skin of another man and watching a life slowly fade away.
"All of that bull about knights and chivalry was just that, Marek – none of your stories ever mentioned this," Chris complained as yet another arrow lodged itself scant inches in the tree nearest his head.
"It's not about the things we uncover – the rocks and the rubble, but about the people we uncover; their history is nothing more than our future, and those stories – those stories are what makes this worth while."
The science of ITC's discovery of the wormhole that allowed them to go back through time was hard to explain, but the particulars didn't seem to matter to Marek (who was bursting at the seams to step foot in the past) or Chris (who was clawing at his seams in the urgent need to get his father home).
"It's like something out of Doctor Who," Kate mumbled as she looked at the innocent looking glass chamber, her fingers clenching in the coarse fabric of her dress as she tried to quell the nervous apprehension she felt rising within her.
"You can't just skip through time like this – history can't be rewritten, and the dangers of trying to do so are innumerable and unlimited – you need to properly explain to them the risks!"
"My best memory of my father immersing himself in this business is me being twelve and just getting my first big score at a baseball game – and my dad couldn't look up from the antique fob watch he was documenting long enough to say 'well done' – so forgive me if I was always content to leave the Indiana Jones type gallivanting to him."
The young man who had helped him hide was actually a woman, it would seem, with dark eyes hardened by her world and a full mouth that seemed to want to smile (had it not been weighed by the feel of war that hung oppressively around them) – and for a moment, Marek found that he was unable to look away from her.
David Stern watched with hard eyes as his friends stepped into their period clothes – as simply as if they were getting dressed for a Renaissance fair - and he tried once again to impart to them the enormity of what they were about to embark on.
When the two archeologists rambled about the layout of the village and the castle, their thoughts and minds straying from the original purpose of their journey, Chris sharply intervened – reminding them that his father was somewhere inside the labyrinth they were approaching.
A slight amount of pain, Kate remembered Doniger's words dizzily as the machine tore her apart only to cradle her though the stream of time – was he bloody well joking?
"I grow weary of every Scottish man in the region passing through my domain," Oliver seethed in annoyance, pinching the bridge of his nose as around him his men chuckled in response to his pique.
From their cell, Marek could see a flash of tangled flame in the courtyard below – the woman whom had saved him (and he in turn), and he felt a determined sense of pride fill him as the way she turned Lord Oliver's strike for one (or five) of her own.
Oliver wiped the spit away from his still stinging face, and glared at the fiery slip of a girl (uncouth harpy, really) that his soldiers were dragging away – sure that he would enjoy watching Lady Claire hang for much more than her brother's continued annoyance at his borders.
It was startlingly easy for a human to fall – an embedding of a single arrow, a single slash of a blade, and life ended in a burst of red and gasps; and that was never so apparent than in a time where killing was as acceptable as being on the receiving end of the violence that cloaked the air like miasma.
Before them, the shadows cast by Castle la Roque loomed like an angry spirit as Arnaud took a knee in order to ask that God grant his troops strength, and grant his sister her life.
For a tantalizing moment, Marek let himself indulge in the thoughts of staying, of carving out a life here . . . and wondered how many rules of time travel that would be breaking.
As the knight fell from her hand, Kate spared a moment to wonder if she had altered history – like a butterfly whose wings caused a hurricane, in ending this man's life.
"I killed that man . . . I have to live with that," Kate whispered, her voice as hollow as bird's bones; grateful when Chris brushed a kiss against her still bloodied knuckles, replacing the pain in her mind with something new, something that still struck just as deep.
In a glorious flash of flame and spray of glass, Stern watched as his friend's chance of coming home collapsed in a blinding moment of sheer military arrogance.
Her job was the nuances of the fine detail and the tedious – all of this running was certainly not her cup of tea, and as she leaned against Chris, Kate vowed to start on that exercise routine she had been promising herself the very day they made it back to their own time.
"I think we've already made a few noticeable changes," Professor Johnston scathed as he and Marek directed Oliver's troops, his eyes helpless.
"But I . . . I delivered her to Arnaud for safekeeping," Marek stammered in horror as Claire was led struggling to the battlements; his disbelief melting into quiet determination as he decided that time would simply have to be rewritten – for he would not lose her to it.
The French monks were confused as Kate struck against the mosaic on the wall (the same one whom she had raged over seeing destroyed hundreds of years from now) without any grace or order, desperate for the way that would lead to them going home.
Decker snorted as he watched the confusion on the archeologist's face, knowing that they would be the last to know about the transcription errors; the small cracks and crevices that kept him from returning home as much as the sniveling treachery of Gordon, begging before him.
With ecstatic eyes made mad in the light of the fires billowing on the castle wall, Marek joyously touched at the bloodied twist of tissue where his ear once was, understanding and certainty filling him as he decided the rest of his life on the crest of those few seconds.
The minutes following when he thought his son to be dead were the longest in Edward Johnston's life; and those following seeing him alive again those most sweet.
Kate sat at the end of the blocked tunnel with Chris, finally giving into helpless tears as she saw the long (or short, as their luck was going) years left of her life stretch before her in this world.
Claire's hands trembled as she undid the noose from around her neck as if it were a snake binding her, her eyes frantic as she searched the mass of flashing soldiers for Marek.
Arnaud spat down at the defeated form of Lord Oliver, satisfaction blackening his eyes as he smirked triumphantly; finally having reclaimed what was France's own from the hold of the British.
The bow-tied professors he learned under couldn't explain this world no matter how hard they tried, and neither could years of studying rocks and dirt present a truly complete picture; and so, when Marek pulled a shaking Claire close to him, and urged his friends to return without him, he didn't feel like he was giving up his home so much as remaining in one.
Doniger watched in horror as his vision streaked red with flashing stripes of light as his own time disappeared to reveal the one from before – for a few seconds until he had no time left at all.
"I believe that I may miss the pain medication," Marek laughed lightly, his eyes far away as Claire dabbed a rag, damp with some sort of poultice, at the ruined remains of his ear.
Her first few days back to her own time, Kate found it hard to return to work – unearthing history after living it – but she found herself eager for the future when Chris joined her at her side, a myriad of possibilities before her as she finally understood the proper placement of what remained behind her.
Before them, the grave of the French Knight and his Lady held a new meaning; and Chris closed his eyes against the pained beauty of the story, even as he took Kate's hand in his own, held over the entwined hands carved beneath theirs, forever to stay so.