My 25th birthday was a month ago, Im slowly losing my time like everyone else that has parents in debt. I've been watching the months drain away as our debt barely shrinks. I need to find a job before my time runs out. I lay on my bed face towards the ceiling throwing my left arm over my eyes. Please tell me this isn't what the rest of my life is going to be like.
I glanced down at my clock again I have two months left. It's only my first day and this dead end job was going to kill me before my time even ran out, i mused bitterly. This little market was the only thing I could find hiring at the time and I needed a job. As my shift ended I went to collect my time, but there was something wrong. My clock wouldn't take the time, I watched as the neon green numbers ticked down. I was suppose to get 15 hours just enough to to run home sleep and be back for my shift in the morning. When she tried again nothing happened she stared at me with a confused and fearful face I just pulled out a time collector and had her put it on that. She did it with apprehension.
"I'll see a doctor about it." I mumbled not looking at her as I took back my collector.
"You do that." She replied crisply moving onto the next person. I placed my hand on the the ticking neon numbers rubbing them lost in thought.
My legs screamed as I ran home bounding up the stairs of the apartment into my room, slamming the door throwing my back against it and sliding down to the floor catching my breath. I grabbed the collector out of my jacket pocket and stared at the 15 hours, I set it on my wrist but nothing happened. I tried it over and over but still nothing. I was becoming frantic, I tossed the collector to the side bringing my knees up to my chest burying my face in my knee's.
"Annabell how was your first day?" i heard my father's muffled voice mumble through the door. I wiped the tears off my face, sniffling a little.
"It was okay." I choked out through the hiccups.
"You don't sound alright, what happened?" he asked jiggling the handle.
"It was just something someone said got under my skin i'll be alright by dinner." I answered with a stronger voice. I was luckier than most both my parents were still alive. I pulled myself off the floor and straightened myself out taking a quick shower and coming out to eat.
"How was your first day?" my mother asked absently from across the table. She looked more like my sister than my mother but thats how it is, at times I find it frightening, but I can't imagine her looking any other way.
"It was fine." I mumbled pushing around my food. Noticing my discomfort they moved the conversation along.
"Have you seen Fortis lately?" My mother asked with a small smile while my father frowned.
"I don't think you should see him anymore, especially now that your clock has started." He warned waving his fork at my left arm. I subconsciously rubbed my clock. I had heard he was taking time from the innocent people, he was never like this when we were kids I felt like I didn't know him anymore.
"Don't worry I haven't seen him since my clock started." I answered truthfully. After dinner we headed to bed. I was woken up by a tapping noise on my window. I walked over cautiously picking up a bat as I went. I lifted up the bat and pulled back the curtain and my shoulders immediatly sagged at the sight of Fortis smirking outside my window.
"What are you doing here? I have to be up early tomorrow, I have a job now." I hissed at him.
"Well hello to you too, love" His accent wrapping around every word. Slidding his arms around my waist. He went to kiss me but I turned so he ended up kissing my cheek. I had been avoiding him for a reason he was dangerous and he knew exactly how to make my knee's weak.
"What are you doing?" I whispered trying to pull away. He gripped tighter almost to the point of being painful.
"Why have you been avoiding me Anna?" His voice filled with amusement and supressed anger. He was always possessive and extremely jealous. I avoided his eyes.
"Who is he?" His anger flaring. "I'll find him and I'll take every last minute he has" venom lacing his voice, his accent thickening the angrier he got. He always tended to over react. The fear must of shown on my face because he relaxed slightly. As he calmed down he wraped one of his arms around my waist and the other to the back of my head kissing my forehead. I relaxed in his arms my heart was hammering in my chest, i really had missed his touch. After a few minutes in each others arms he grabbed my left arm pulling up my sleeve.
"You only have two months left!" he spat angrily. I yanked my arm away cradling it as if it had been burned.
"You know how life is." I whispered. He rolled up his sleeve slightly.
"Here I got more time tonight" He held out his wrist showing a little over a year on his clock, waiting for me to take some. I stared at it for a minute. He was staring with concealed impatients.
"I...I can't" I muttered trying to come up with something. Before he could say anything we heard a movement in the apartment. He grabbed my arm pulling me close kissing me deeply before crawling back out through the window.
"See you soon, love" He winked and disappeared down the fire escape. I huffed falling back on the bed looking over at my alarm clock. I had work in two hours. "Damn him" i mumbled into my pillow.
The next morning I handed over a month and a half for rent not showing them my clock.
"Are you sure you have enough time, you should look into getting a better job." My mother scolded softly.
"I'll be fine mom." I snapped playfully, trying not to give away my nerves.
I jogged to work, yawning as I entered the door. I cursed Fortis under my breath as I started on stocking the shelves. It was almost the end of my shift when I stood up stretching my back and I spoted the mess of dirty blond hair followed by two larger men heading in my direction. I could see co-workers and store patrons giving them a wide bearth. He's made quite a name for himself.
"What are you doing here?" I asked while glancing at his two new companions out of the corner of my eye.
"I came to give you the time I promised." a smile graced his lips.
"What?" one of the larger men exclaimed staring at me with slight anger, not liking the prospect of sharing time with someone who didn't "earn" it.
"Relax" Fortis' smooth voice commanded, sending him a glare.
"Really you don't need to do that." I replied stepping back slightly.
"Look she doesn't want it lets go." The other muscle man spoke trying to reason with his new boss.
"Yes, but I wonder why?" He asked reaching out and gripping my upper arm. I looked around to see if anyone was going to help. I saw a few that wanted to but were too afraid. He pulled up my sleeve and his anger escalated.
"You had two months last night, now you only have two weeks. What are you doing with your time?" His voice seething.
"I had to pay rent this morning. Why are you so insistant on giving me time? You know what, never mind please just leave me alone." I tried pushing him to the door when I saw the manager watching the exchange intently.
"This isn't over." He nodded to his two guards and they moved to the door. As he left my manager immediatly scurried over.
"look i'm sorry about him he wont be back, i promise." I started, but he stopped me.
"i don't know what your relationship with them is but I cant have that in my store." He stated firmly.
"He's... I don't know what he is but it wont happen again." I replied trying to end this conversation quickly.
"I don't think you understand what I'm saying, Im letting you go. I can't risk my business for one employee, besides its only your second day. I'm sorry" he added solemnly. I sighed and nodded.
"I'll collect my time and leave." He sighed in relief. I had the lady put it on the collector, lying to her again about seeing a doctor. As I stepped into the street the anger hit me in a wave. I knew where he would be and took off.
When I found him it wasn't a pretty sight, he was shaking down some defensless zone resident.
"Hey!" He looked over and smirked taking the mans time, I watched as the man timed out and fell lifeless to the ground. I shuttered and would freak out later but right now I was pissed. I walked up to him angrily. He held his arms open, I pushed them away and I could see the smile vanish from his face.
"You got me fired you bastard." My accent thickening in my anger. I wanted to hit him but knew I was pushing my luck so I settled with opening and closing my fists in frustration.
"Well now you can join us." he laughed wrapping his arm around my shoulder bringing me close. I rolled his arm off and stood my ground.
"You've done enough just stay away from me. This time I mean it." I heaved out not breaking eye contact. He scowled.
"Fine." He smirked. "you'll be back. You always come back" and with that I took off toward the apartment.
Its been almost two weeks since I've seen him and I had a day left on my clock. I'm still unable to accept time. We can't afford a doctor so thats out of the question. I've been having intense mood swings trying to cope, I still haven't told anyone. Im afraid of what will happen if I do. I've spent the last two weeks at the library studying trying to find an answer, still no luck. Nobody in the ghetto knows how we work im not even sure if the rich know for sure.
I hadn't told my parents, they're too concerned with paying the bills. Now that they think I have a job and my own time they mostly ignore what I do, except for the occasional pestering by my mother to get a better job.
They had both gotten a bonus and decided tonight they would go out to dinner nothing too crazy. I watched them leave down the block and went to my room. For some reason it irked me they expected me to share in the responsibility, but did things like this waisting time they could save. It was so unfair. I scoffed to myself Im starting to sound like a five year old I thought ruefully.
I layed out on my bed staring at the ceiling I lifted my clock over my face checking how long I had left. Five minutes. I felt the tears, anger, despair wash over me. Why did this happen to me? I broke down sobbing and yelling throwing things around my room not ready for this. It was my last seconds. I watched the numbers tick away 5...4...3...2...1...0
Every number hit zero...but nothing happened my clock was still neon green. I hadn't timed out. What the hell am I? I sat in shock unable to move. Finally I slowly wiped away the tears. I got a crazy idea. I grabbed the collector out of my bedside drawer. I set the collector on my arm trying to accept the time but again nothing happened. I sat with my arms dropped in my lap still holding the collector to my arm. My mind wandered to all the time I had given my parents, a year but what use was it now. I huffed extremely confused. I looked back down at the collector and noticed something odd.
"What the hell?" i whispered the collector had an additional year to it. Did I do that? How did I do that? I softly set it on my wrist and thought about giving another year. The numbers increased another year.I dropped it to the ground as if it were on fire.
"Holy shit" I could survive with out time did that mean I could age. I could give time so probably not. I mulled over it for a few minutes. I was going over so many possibilities so many unanswered questions that my head started to hurt. I grabbed a bag from my closet and started to fill it with all the things I needed. I have to leave before it becames too dangerous. I could give my parents all the time in the world but what would happen if I did. More people would want more time, I don't know how much I can give or how that would affect the balance of things. It could unleash total anarchy cause people to riot. I needed to disappear. How could I do that without them coming to look for me. I sighed I didn't want to do this but I was going to have to fake my death. I grabbed the collector joted down a quick note and set it on the kitchen table the small red numbers displaying 2 years and 30 hours.
I hit the street with my bag over my shoulder. I had to find people to help me make this look real. Easier said than done. I got a few blocks over when I saw a few people standing in the street, they saw me approach.
"I need something from you." my voice stronger than I felt.
"Oh yeah and what's that" one of them responded with a smirk on his face eyeing me up and down.
"I need you to stand near that building over there and when you see a couple wearing nice clothing come home, tell them you saw someone time out in the street. Be sure to give them my description." They stared at me like I had lost my mind.
"Whats in it for us?" one of them asked.
"What do you want?" but I knew, everybody wants the same thing.
"5 years...per person" they answered laughed not taking me seriously.
"fine hold out your arms" Three people meant 15 years its time to test the limits. This way I find out if I have unlimited time or they wont have to lie, because I really will time out in the street. They stopped laughing and stared.
"Are you serious?" One asked looking at me like I was speaking another language.
"Yes now do you want the time or not" I looked over my shoulder and saw my parents walking in the distance.
"They're right over there so hurry up or I'll find someone else." they looked skeptical but held out there arms. I hesitantly reached out for the mans wrist. I watch as his clock counted up 5 years. He stared at it in a trance as did the others who then immediatly stuck out their wrists. Again I reached out and gave over another 5 years and then the last one. I really shouldn't have given strangers so much time, but I had no choice. I hid and watched from as a distance as they broke the news to my parents. I was slightly suprised that they acutally went through with it. I half expected them to just run off. I saw my mother collapse in my fathers arms. They went into the apartment. I sighed in relief and sadness. I watched as the group came back over.
"Thank you" was all I said before lifting my bag up over my shoulder. Thats when one of them caught a glimpse of my neon clock.
"Wait a minute" He said before reaching out trying to grab me. I backed up out of his reach.
"You don't have time, but your still walking around how is that even possible? And you just gave us 15 fucking years." He said more in shock than anything. I took this distraction as an opportunity to take off running. They snapped out of it and came running after me. Being weighed down with this bag was not helping. I took a quick right and headed down a short cut I use to take when I was younger. I weaved my way through the street and hunkered down behind some cement blocks. I was trying to catch my breath when I heard a shuffling noise. I looked up and saw a girl about 7 standing a few feet away staring at me.
"What are you running from?" her voice filled with curiousity.
"Bad men, that want to hurt me" i answered finally catching my breath, sounding like a five year old again not sure if I really wanted to try to explain to a kid what was going on.
"Why don't you have any numbers? she asked pointing to my arm. My hand immediatly went to to my clock.
"I don't know" I turned my head away. I needed to cover this up.
"You wouldn't happen to know where I could get some bandages do you?" i asked glancing around us. She reached into her bag and pulled out a small roll of athletic tape and handed it to me. This would do for now.
"Do you have a collector?" I asked while wrapping my arm with the gauze. She nodded and pulled one out with about a week on it. I took it and added a year and a half to it. I got up and headed toward a hotel down the street.
"Be good" I tossed over my shoulder to the smiling girl.
Before I could get out of the street I heard the heavy thumping of footsteps. I ducked behind a wall and watched from around the corner as the three that had been following me came upon the girl.
"Did you see a women run by here?" One asked.
"Did she have hair made of chocolate, eyes like diamonds and skin like snow?" she questioned. I scrunched my forehead in confusion. She had a weird way of describing people.
"yeah I guess." They looked at her like she was crazy.
"She had eight minutes left on her time she said she was running home to get more time from her boyfriend." This girl was a very convincing liar.
"See I told you there was no way she was timed out and still running around. I think you've had too much to drink tonight. This was a waste of time." One of them shot in frustration.
"Man I know what I saw, and why would she run if she had nothing to hide" One of them pushed.
"Would you explain to strangers why your looking for more time and where your going to get it?" the last one reasoned.
"Im telling you she had no time on her clock." he pushed again.
"If you tell other people that, they're likely to throw you in the looney bin. If I were you I'd keep my mouth shut." the last one reasoned again.
"Fine!" he exclaimed and they walked off in the direction they came from. I walked back over to the girl after they disappeared.
"Thank you" i told her smiling. She just looked at me and held out her collector. I chuckled lightly this little girl was cheeky. I took the collector and added five more years handing it back. She looked at it and stuck it out to me again. I raised my eyebrows at her.
"If you don't add more time I'll tell everyone I know about you." This little girl was starting to scare me. I took it again and added 10 years. Tossing it back I walked away before she could hussle me again. I realized after a minute that I had given 31 and a half years in less than 15 minutes and I didn't feel any different.
I sat in my hotel room sorting through my bag of all the things I had grabbed from my room. When I got to the hotel the guy at the front desk was skeptical when I asked for a room for the week. Once I produced the time he perked right up. I got to the bottom of my bag and realized I was missing something. I sighed I was going to have to go back to the apartment and climb through the window like Fortis use to do when we were younger and still does on occasion.
My minutemen and I sat in this dingy bar in the far corner waiting for the right person with enough time to walk through that door.
"Did you hear about the Rowes?" one bar patron asked turning to his friend. I normally didn't care what these people had to say but that name caught my attention.
"Yeah its a shame, Anna was such a bright girl." the other responded. I was about to take a shot. I stopped, my drink an inch away from my lips. I slammed it down and stalked over to the two at the bar.
"Tell me what happened to her." I demanded.
"Please we don't want any trouble we don't have much time." they begged.
"Answer me!" I slammed my hand on the bar in frustration.
"You didn't hear, Anna timed out in the street outside her apartment building." One whispered. I pushed off the bar and signaled my minutemen to follow. We drove to the apartment, I got out and ran up the stairs. I slammed my fist on the door. Her mother opened it slowly. I shoved the door the rest of the way open knocking her mother back. Her father rushed from Anna's room into the living area to see what happened. I signaled for Rando and Roth to push them in the middle of the floor. They sat huddled together on the floor as I towered over them.
"How could you let her die?" I looked at them with fury and anguish. They were suppose to protect her.
"We didn't know she had lost her job. She never told us there was anything wrong. She was so stubborn." Her mother sobbed. Her father wrapping his arms around her tighter. They were weak.
"Please leave us alone. We'll give you all the time you want." Her father begged.
"Oh you will." I sneered. I nodded my head behind her mother to Rando. He grabbed her and dragged her forward. I clamped my wrist down to her's. She stared in fear, with the same eyes, Anna's eyes. Was Anna afraid when she say her last seconds? I started to pull the time from her wrist. She tried to struggle but it was no use. I saw her father struggle to get free from Roth who was having a hard time holding him down.
"Your a monster." he yelled. I turned to him.
"Don't worry your next." I smirked my face twisting with disgust. I turned back to her mother. I watched her face as the last number hit zero and a look of fear and pain flashed across her face before she collapsed to the ground lifeless. I signaled to Roth who was holding down her father, he dragged him over as he struggled and thrashed.
"Please don't do this. Anna wouldn't want you to do this. She loved you and this is how you repay her." He tried to reason. I sneered in disgust. Using his daughter to try to save himself disgusting.
"Anna's not here anymore, now is she." I grabbed his wrist violently. I started to drain the time but her father was putting up more of a fight. Finally I watched as the last second left him and he jerked violently crumpling to heap next to her mother.
"She deserved better than the two of you." I spoke stepping around the two. The anger was slowly fading, as I walked toward her room I passed the table I noticed a collector. I walked over and picked it up. It had 2 years and 30 hours on it. How did she get so much time? I looked underneath it and saw a note in Anna's hand writing. 'I'm Sorry.' I crumpled the paper as I felt the sting in my eyes. Suddenly I heard a noise from Anna's room. I strode over to the door and threw it open I didn't see anyone but I noticed most of her stuff was gone. Did someone rob her once they heard she was dead. My blood boiled. I walked over to the open window and looked down to the street. I saw a figure running from the building. I could see the hair flowing but it was too dark to tell the color. The person stopped and turned.
"Anna" I breathed. The figure turned and took off again. I crawled down fire escape and ran after them. It couldn't be Anna. I lost them but I saw they had dropped something. I reached down and picked it up. It was a picture of Anna and I. I rubbed my finger over her face before sticking it in my coat pocket and heading back to the car. I'd find whoever it was eventually, you can't stay hidden long in my zone.
I crawled through my window and spotted what I was looking for on my night stand. It was a picture of Fortis and I at my 21st birthday. It was taken right after he had told me he loved me for the first and last time. Sure he called me love but he hadn't said I Love you since that night. I had thrown my arms around his neck and kissed him deeply which he returned and thats when the picture was taken. I stared at it lost in my memorys running my fingers gently over the happy couple wondering what happened. I was snapped out of my thoughts when I heard raised voices from the living room. The voices were muffled. The door was open slightly, I made my way over. I peered through the crack and saw my mother on the ground not moving my eyes started to sting. My father was being dragged in front of someone. I saw him try to reason with the person and as the person spoke I realized who it was. I pushed my back up against the wall next to the door covering my mouth as I tried to contain a sob. I heard a soft thump as the body hit the floor. I had to get out of here. I made my way quietly over to the window and climbed out but as I brought my foot through it smacked against the edge making a small noise.
"Shit" I hissed and scrambled down the fire escape took off running when I hit the street. My hair whipped around me as I ran my vision was blurred by the tears I stopped and looked back I saw Fortis standing in my window he started to climb through and I took off again. I got back to the hotel and up to my room and realized I had dropped the photo somewhere along the run. The question was did I really want it now after what he had done. Truth is I did, as sick as it may seem he wasn't always like this. I remember a time when he wanted to change the world. Well I guess he did, just not the way I was expecting. I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep.
The next week I was in a haze. I was confused, angry and scared avoiding people whenever possible. I saw the little girl waiting outside the hotel every morning smiling that charming little smile. I would ignore her and keep walking to where ever I was going. This morning though she got a little aggressive.
"Look Im not going to give you more time." I told her firmly. She glared but then smiled sweetly.
"We'll see." she replied and ran off. I sighed. I walked to the store to pick up a few things. I shopped for a minute and as I was leaving I saw a timekeepers car drive by in the street. Thats weird they usally don't come this far into the zone. I turned to the girl that was ringing me out.
"Whats a timekeepere doing this far in our territory?" I asked causally as I could.
"Haven't you heard someone brought 15 years of unaccounted time into the zone." She gossiped.
"15 years doesn't seem like a lot to me. Why would it be worth it to them." I mused. The girl stared at me as if I were insane.
"I guess not all of us are so fortunate to think of 15 years as nothing." A man behind me added with a slightly amused voice.
"Sorry I didn't mean it like that." I mumbled getting flushed. The man chuckled lightly.
"Don't worry about it." He smiled.
"My names Adrian Salas." He said sticking out his hand. Very trusting nobody shook hands anymore. I reached out gently.
"Anna Bell. My parents liked the play on words." I smiled shaking gently. He chuckled lightly.
"Its nice to meet you Anna. I'll see you around." he nodded. I smiled and nodded in return and took my things and left heading back to the hotel.
Thanks for reading. :)