Author's Note: Here's my attempt at a Time Hollow story. Let's call it "what Time Hollow would be like if Ethan was smarter". Because, let's face it, if Ethan was smarter and more focused, he could have saved his parents by the end of Chapter Two. And if he was smarter, he might have noticed that certain girls like him.
Ethan Kairos was in his room, petting his cat Sox and flipping through a watch catalogue.
Ethan was a pretty average high school student, except for the fact that he was the only kid in school to own multiple watch catalogues. Ethan had a good excuse for reading his watch catalogue today, though. Tomorrow was his birthday, and he wanted to take another look at the watch he asked his parents to get.
"It's a good thing I showed this catalogue to my parents ten weeks ago," Ethan said to himself. "How ridiculous would it have been if I waited until tonight to tell them? You can't get something from a catalogue overnight."
Ethan laughed. "Yeah, that'd be as ridiculous as trying to give you a bath, wouldn't it?" he said. "Everyone knows cats hate water."
Sox meowed again.
"Eeeeethan! Time for dinner!" Ethan's mother called.
"I'll be right down!" Ethan said, jumping off of his bed and going down the stairs to the kitchen
And now, an exciting dinner at the Kairos house...
Ethan took a sip of Mom's tea. It was even weaker than usual, and that was saying something.
"Can you pass the soy sauce?" Ethan's father asked.
"Sure," Ethan said. He passed the soy sauce to his father.
"Mom, can you pass the salt shaker?" Ethan asked.
"Sure," Ethan's mother said. She passed the salt to Ethan.
Ethan sighed from sheer boredom. Sometimes, the dinner conversation was so bland that it made Mom's food seem exciting in comparison. Dad rarely, if ever, said anything; he always seemed to be lost in a world of his own.
Eventually, the food was finished, and Ethan was allowed to leave.
As Ethan returned to his room, he was surprised to see Sox run in through the open window. It almost looked like Sox was running away from something.
"Is someone out there?" Ethan asked. He leaned out the window, and he noticed a shadowy figure hiding under a streetlamp. The person wasn't doing anything besides standing still, watching Ethan's house.
"Hey!" Ethan shouted. "Hey, you!"
The shadowy figure started, then ran away at top speed.
"That was...weird," Ethan said to himself. "Why would—hey!"
A car came down the block and parked in front of Ethan's house. He recognized it immediately. That was Uncle Derek's car.
"Looks like your owner is here," Ethan said to Sox. "Maybe he's come to wish me an early happy birthday."
"Ethan! Tea's ready!" Mom called from downstairs.
Tea? Ethan wondered. We just had tea with dinner! And it was pretty weak tea, too!
"Coming!" Ethan said.
Ethan halted at the top of the stairs, as he heard two arguing voices from downstairs.
"Come on, I only need a little!" a voice said. "Just a little bit!"
"I can't lend you anything. Try to understand, Derek," a second voice said.
Sounds like Dad and Uncle Derek are arguing about money again... Ethan thought. Dad and Uncle Derek were brothers, but you'd never know that Dad was only one year older than Derek. Dad looked about fifteen years older that Derek.
"Don't be so stingy! I need the money!" Uncle Derek said.
Deciding to break up the argument, Ethan stepped down the stairs. "Hey, Uncle Derek," Ethan said.
"Hey, Ethan," Derek said. "Try to talk some sense into your old man, will you?"
"Well, um..." Ethan said. "Don't you still owe Dad $500 from last month?"
"That doesn't matter," Derek said. "I need another 500. 600, if possible."
"Ethan's right," Dad said. "I've given you money for the past three months in a row, and you haven't paid me back a cent. I'm not giving you any more money, and that's final."
Meanwhile, Ethan's mother was doing nothing. She just sat at the kitchen table, sipping her weak tea.
"Fine!" Derek said. "I see how it is. You care more about money than your own brother. Some family you are."
"Derek, do you want some tea?" Mom asked. As usual, her sense of timing was way off, and Uncle Derek ignored her.
"You'll regret this..." Uncle Derek promised, before he ran out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
"Well, that was unpleasant," Ethan said.
"He needs to grow up," Dad said. "He can't expect me to cover all of his debts."
"Hey, speaking of growing up," Ethan said. "It's my birthday tomorrow."
"That's right," Mom said, her eyes lighting up. "Isn't it time to tell Ethan about...that?"
"Not yet," Dad said.
"Huh?" Ethan asked. "Tell me about what?"
"Don't worry about it," Dad said. "We'll tell you tomorrow, when you turn 17."
"Is it a surprise birthday present?" Ethan asked.
"Something like that," Dad said. "You'll find out tomorrow."
That night, Ethan had a horrible nightmare about his parents being trapped in a burning building. He woke up with a scream and panted for a few seconds, before he realized that it was all just a dream.
"Yikes, I need a towel," Ethan said. "I'm dripping with sweat."
Ethan threw the blankets aside and got out of bed. He instantly froze. The room he was in...this was not his room.
Sure, it resembled his room. The bed and desk were in the right place. But the blankets on the bed were different. The carpet had disappeared. And there was...a wormhole floating right next to his bed?
"W...weird," Ethan said, looking at the wormhole. He examined it from both sides. It was a purple hole, floating in the middle of the air. The hole was a perfect circle, about three feet in diameter. The left side of the circle was about a half inch away from the right side.
Ethan wasn't dumb enough to try to touch the wormhole. What if it sucked him in or something like that?
"Uh...Mom? Dad? You need to see this!" Ethan said. "I got a birthday present from out of Star Trek!"
There was no response. Ethan left his room. "Mom? Dad?" he asked.
"What's going on, Ethan?" a voice asked.
It took Ethan a second to place the voice. "Uncle Derek?" he asked.
Uncle Derek appeared in the hallway. "Yeah?" he said. "What is it?"
Ethan was more than slightly surprised to see his uncle again, after Uncle Derek stormed out of the house the night before. "Um, hey," Ethan said. "I didn't expect to see you again so soon. Did you come to talk to Dad?"
"What?" Derek asked. "Are you still half-asleep, kiddo? And what's with all the sweat?"
"I had a nightmare," Ethan said. "But seriously, where are my parents? I need to talk to them about something."
"Now I know you're still dreaming," Derek said. "You think I'd be here if I knew where your parents are?"
"But...they were here last night..." Ethan said.
"I'm going downstairs to have breakfast," Uncle Derek said. "Why don't you take a shower and wake up before joining me?"
"...Okay?" Ethan said, as his uncle pushed past him and down the stairs.
Ethan changed his clothes and cleaned up, but he still as confused as ever. Overnight, his room had changed. Uncle Derek was now living in his house, and his parents were...well, wherever they were, it wasn't here.
There was also that wormhole, still floating in midair near his bed. Ethan balled up a sheet of notebook paper and tossed it at the wormhole. The paper went into it and disappeared completely, instead of going through it.
Yep, I'm definitely not touching that thing, Ethan decided.
He left his room and went downstairs, hoping that his parents would be there, like they normally were. Unfortunately, no one was there but Uncle Derek, who was reading a newspaper.
"Hey, you awake now?" Uncle Derek asked.
"Uh huh," Ethan said. "But I'm—"
"Good," Uncle Derek interrupted, putting his newspaper down. "Then I'm going out. You're on dish duty, okay?"
Before Ethan could say anything, Uncle Derek left. Ethan picked up a piece of toast and started chewing on it, thinking.
Something weird is going on here, Ethan decided. It's like I've travelled into some sort of parallel universe.
Ethan got up and looked around. Some of the kitchen appliances were different. There was a locked door in an area which used to be just a solid wall. And when Ethan went upstairs and looked in his parents' room, he found that it had been completely changed. The brief inspection revealed that the room did not belong to a man and a woman. Only one man—probably Uncle Derek—was living there.
Do I live with Uncle Derek? Ethan wondered. All signs pointed to this conclusion, but it made no sense. Ethan lived with his parents only a few hours ago. Someone couldn't have remodeled the entire house in that time...right?
I bet that wormhole thing has something to do with this, Ethan figured, before cleaning up the dishes and putting them away.
Ethan ended up going to school that day. He didn't exactly know why. It just felt like the right thing to do. Maybe after a normal day of school, he would return home to find everything just the way it was supposed to be.
School was normal. Ethan's classes were all the same. There weren't any missing students. The teachers hadn't changed. Why not? Why would Ethan's home change, but not his school?
As Ethan walked across the courtyard, he overheard two male students talking about a clock. Apparently, one of them found it in the dumpster. It was a pretty nice clock, too, so it didn't make sense for someone to throw it out.
"Ethaaaan!" a female voice called.
Ethan started. "Who me?" he asked.
Two girls came running up to him. One was a sporty girl with short brown hair and an exuberant personality. The other girl had green hair and glasses, and she seemed more reserved.
"Duh! Who else?" the brown-haired girl asked. "Come on, Emily. What do you say?"
"Um, er...hello, Ethan..." Emily said.
Ethan shook his head. "Sorry, I'm a little out of it today," he said. "You're...Ashley, Vin's sister," he said to the brown-haired girl. Turning to the other girl, he asked, "But who are you?"
The girl looked shocked and embarrassed. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "I'm Emily. Emily Niner."
"No need to apologize," Ethan said. "It's nice to meet you. You must be Ashley's friend."
"Yep, we're besties," Ashley said. "And we've got something for you."
"You do?" Ethan asked. That seemed slightly odd. Ethan didn't talk to Ashley that often. Why would she have something for him?
"Of course!" Ashley said. "We wouldn't forget your big day! Emily, where is it?"
Emily fumbled around in her backpack. "Oh, um...it's...it's here, Ethan."
She pulled out an antique clock and held it up. Ethan stared at it for a second.
"It would mean a lot to her if you just accepted it, you know!" Ashley said.
"Ashley, cut it out!" Emily said, turning red.
Ethan took the clock from Emily. "Um...thanks," he said. "Why did you get me a clock?"
Ashley's face fell. "You don't like it?"
"It's fine, I guess," Ethan said, putting it away in his backpack. "But why'd you get it?"
"I...I thought it would be a nice birthday present..." Emily said. "If you don't like it..."
"Oh my gosh!" Ethan said. "That's right! It's my birthday today! I completely forgot about that!"
"You forgot it was your birthday?" Ashley asked.
Ethan shook his head. He couldn't believe he forgot about his birthday, just because of all the weird things that happened that morning.
"Wow, now I feel stupid," Ethan said. "Thanks a lot, you two! This is my first birthday present of the day!"
"So you like it?" Ashley asked. "Emily picked it out special for you!"
"Ash-LEY..." Emily said.
"Yeah, this is great!" Ethan said. "It's really nice of you to get it for me! I—"
"Yo," a male voice said.
"Oh, shoot, it's my brother!" Ashley whispered. "Let's go, quick! Bye, Ethan!"
"G-goodbye, Ethan," Emily said. "Happy birthday..."
"See you!" Ethan waved at the two girls as Ashley led Emily away. The two of them immediately started talking to each other, but Ethan didn't get a chance to hear what they were saying, as his three best friends showed up.
"What are those two up to?" Vin asked. "Whispering among themselves..."
Ethan looked at his three best friends: Ben, Vin and Morris. Morris was the studier, Vin was the basketball star, and Ben was the one who liked girls so much that he could never get a date. They all looked the same as normal.
"They gave me a birthday present," Ethan said.
"Who, Ashley?" Vin asked. "Gah, nasty! Throw it away!"
"Why would I? She went through all the trouble of buying it..." Ethan said. The clock probably cost about fifty dollars, too.
"So what's up, Ethan?" Ben asked. "Having a good birthday so far?"
"Sure," Ethan said. "Hey, do you guys know what happened to my parents?"
Ben looked surprised. "Woah, way to change the subject there," he said. "Why, has something happened?"
"No, I'm just...wondering," Ethan said. "What do you know about my parents?"
His friends didn't know much. They had vague memories of Ethan's parents, but they said the two of them went missing, about twelve years ago.
So...my parents went missing twelve years ago, Ethan thought. That's why I live with my Uncle Derek. Besides for that, it seems like everything else in this world is the same.
At this point, Ethan had pretty much decided that he was in an alternate universe. Overnight, he had been transported to a different world, where his parents were gone. Did that mean the Ethan from this universe was in the world Ethan was from?
Ethan's friends wanted to take him out to Chronos to celebrate his birthday, but he managed to get out of it. He wanted to go home and figure out this strange situation.
The wormhole was still in Ethan's room. Ethan guessed that he must have travelled through this wormhole, in order to reach this new reality.
But how? Ethan wondered. Did I somehow crawl through the wormhole, while I was asleep? And why would a wormhole just happen to appear right next to my bed, anyway?
"Meow," Sox said.
Ethan looked down at his cat. There was something attached to Sox's collar. He probably would have noticed it earlier, if all those weird things hadn't happened.
Ethan picked Sox up, then removed the items from the collar. They were a green pen and a letter. The letter was written in his own handwriting.
Hi, it's me. Or should I say you? I'm...another Ethan.
By now, you've realized that you're in an alternate universe, where Mom and Dad are missing. Don't worry; you'll be able to find them again.
First, though, you'll need this pen that I attached to Sox. It's the Hollow Pen. This is a device that can open and close Time Holes. Test it out by tapping the Time Hole here to close it. Once you've confirmed a flashback, you can use the Hollow Pen to open a Time Hole.
I know what I wrote probably makes no sense, but don't worry. You'll figure it out soon. Make sure to use the Hollow Pen to find the clock at the dumpster, at 10:00 AM. Good luck finding our parents!
To say Ethan was confused would be putting it mildly. He reread the letter several times, but it didn't make any more sense to him. Hollow Pen? Time Holes? A clock at the dumpster?
Eventually, Ethan picked up the pen and examined it from every angle. It didn't feel hollow to him. Tentatively, he put the pen close to the purple wormhole and tapped it.
"WOAH!" Ethan shouted, as the hole immediately closed itself. In an instant, three images quickly flashed through his mind.
1. A burning building, with someone inside.
2. Uncle Derek, reading a newspaper.
3. A clock in a dumpster.
Those must be those flashback things mentioned in the letter... Ethan thought. He analyzed them more carefully.
The burning building looked like it was taken directly from Ethan's nightmare that morning. Mom and Dad were trapped inside the building, with fire on all sides. Dad looked much younger than normal, indicating that this took place twelve years ago, right when everyone said Ethan's parents disappeared.
They didn't disappear, Ethan thought. They must have died in the fire. For some reason, in this alternate universe, my parents were killed in a fire.
This logically lead to the second flashback, of Uncle Derek reading a newspaper in the kitchen. Ethan lived with Uncle Derek in this universe.
But the third flashback, the one of a clock in a dumpster...that didn't make sense. It was mentioned in the letter from the other Ethan, but it still didn't make sense.
"Guess I'm off to the school dumpster," Ethan said to himself. He threw on a jacket and went downstairs.
Uncle Derek was there, drinking coffee.
"Where do you think you're going, kid?" Uncle Derek asked.
"I'm going to school," Ethan said. "I accidentally left something outside, so I need to go back and get it."
"Well, hurry up," Uncle Derek said. "Make sure to get back here before it gets dark."
Ethan smiled and ran out the door before Uncle Derek could stop him.
He didn't even mention my birthday... Ethan thought. Alternate Uncle Derek is just as big of a jerk as normal Uncle Derek.
As Ethan returned to school, he remembered that he overheard two students that day, talking about a clock in the dumpster. That must have been the clock he was trying to find.
Ethan went to the school dumpster. It was the same as in his flashback, except now it was empty. The note said something about ten o'clock that morning, but that was about seven hours ago.
Ethan returned to the flashback. Now, he knew when and where the flashback was from; it was a picture of this area, seven hours ago. With that information, Ethan was able to confirm the flashback. Everything snapped into place, and the Hollow Pen started glowing.
This is weird, but it feels like the right thing to do, Ethan thought. He reread the note from his other self. It said he could open a Time Hole, after confirming a flashback. Ethan took the Hollow Pen and drew a circle in the air.
The circle he drew became a wormhole, just like the one from his bedroom. Only, it wasn't a wormhole. It was a Time Hole.
The scenery around Ethan turned black and white, almost as if time was temporarily paused. Through the Time Hole, he could see the dumpster as it was, seven hours ago. Ethan had someone opened a hole which led to the past.
Ethan could see the clock in the dumpster in the past. He reached his hand in the Time Hole and pulled out the clock. Taped to the clock was a letter from the other Ethan.
If you're reading this, you did it! You opened a Time Hole to one of your flashbacks. You can use Time Holes to change reality. You'll see what I mean in just a sec—once you close this Hole, things are going to shift into a different universe, one where you find the clock at 10:00 AM.
In case you haven't guessed it by now, the Hollow Pen is the birthday gift Mom and Dad were talking about last night.
You've got a flashback of Mom and Dad inside a burning building, right? Figure out a way to open up a Time Hole to that flashback. Then, save them from being killed. It'll be a little bit harder than that, but you can do it. At least, I was able to do. And you're me, so that means you can do it.
This is going to be my last letter. I'm sorry I can't explain things to you in more detail, but if I did, that might change reality too much and ruin everything.
P.S. Happy birthday! I hope you like clocks.
"Gee, thanks, Alternate Me," Ethan said. He sighed and tapped the Time Hole to make it disappear. Time unfroze, and Ethan got some new flashbacks.
The first was a flashback of the dumpster from ten hours ago. This time, there wasn't a clock in the dumpster, because Ethan had taken it.
The second flashback was Ethan, overhearing the two boys talking. Since the clock was gone, the one boy hadn't found it in the dumpster.
Needless to say, Ethan had a lot to think about as he went back home. Alternate universes. A pen that opened holes in time. Could Ethan really use the Hollow Pen to save his parents from dying twelve years ago? How did his parents end up in that situation, anyway?
Ethan put the clock from his other self on the desk, right next to the clock from Emily and Ashley. For a long time, he just sat in his room and thought.
"Ethan, dinner!" Uncle Derek called.
"I'll be right down!" Ethan said, getting up off of the bed.
I guess, for now, I'm stuck here in this alternate universe, Ethan decided. At least, until I can save my parents. That should be simple enough, I guess. I just have to confirm the flashback of them dying. But how am I going to confirm that flashback, if no one knows the details of how my parents were killed?
Ethan headed out the door and downstairs, hoping to get more information from Uncle Derek.