For the sake of my sanity, I'm releasing this monster into the wild in an attempt to shut my muses up. It'll be rough in places because I'm more concerned with getting my life back than producing the perfect piece of fiction. My pride won't let me publish it without giving it a once-over, though, so the errors should be kept to a minimum.
It's not a short one, and I have most of it written. That having been said, should anyone actually enjoy this thing, I refuse to promise timely updates. My apologies in advance.
Also, this story has a playlist. If you'd like to hear what I was listening to as I wrote each of these chapters, you can find all these songs on YouTube
Chapter 1: Krokodill – Johann Johannson
Chapter 2: Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne
Chapter 3: I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab for Cutie
Chapter 4: Into The Fire – Thirteen Senses
Chapter 5: About Today – The National
Chapter 6: The Day The World Went Away (Still) - Nine Inch Nails
Chapter 7: UFO - One eskimO
Chapter 8: Breathe Me – Sia
Chapter 9: Keep It In The Family – Hybrid
Chapter 10: Beyond This Moment - Patrick O'Hearn
We All Have Our Time Machines
The B&B was uncharacteristically quiet. From downstairs, she could vaguely hear the ticking of the old, resolute grandfather clock in the west corner of the parlor, marking off time as it had for years unknown. Her footsteps were soft as she walked along the upstairs hallway: the rubber of her sneakers muffled her footfalls, but there simply wasn't enough noise in the old house to mask them completely.
As her agile mind was prone to do, Myka Bering mentally counted the steps as she descended to the main floor. Despite the fact that there was absolutely no chance that one of them got up and walked off – though, she supposed, stranger things had happened - she performed the slightly OCD ritual every time. She reached the third step and heard its almost imperceptible creak, something that could only be noticed when one was alone, usually at night, and had only the grandfather clock for company.
It was a sound she really only heard on nights such as this when, restless and unable to fall asleep, she gave up altogether and went book hunting through the shelves of the well-stocked study.
The Warehouse team's trip to Russia had been exhausting, and not a little frightening. They'd come close to losing Artie, and even though she didn't always agree with his management methods, Myka had long ago begun looking upon him as a surrogate father figure. When they finally found him, huddled on the floor, he'd looked every bit as tortured as he deserved to look.
But to add to that angst, when they finally found him, he was hunched over a shivering and incapacitated H.G. Wells.
Despite every reason she had to list the woman as Public Enemy Number One, a bond of friendship had formed with the older woman. Perhaps it was hero worship –H.G. Wells was easily one of her favorite authors. The man (or woman, so it would seem) that dreamed of a future that shaped their present couldn't possibly be completely evil. And at length, that assumption would be proven correct – so correct that the Regents agreed with the Secret Service agent, and reinstated Wells' status as a Warehouse agent.
It took Myka a few minutes, between her perusing and her musing, to find something suitable: it was an obscure little volume that she'd always meant to read but never had gotten around to. Excited by her fortunate find, she smiled and whirled back toward the staircase.
"Which wondrous bit of literature have you chosen for your evening entertainment, my dear?"
She jumped, the book slipping from her grasp. She fumbled with it for a few seconds before regaining her grip on it, saving the battered text from the destructive hardwood floor below.
"H.G.! I didn't know anyone was here!"
"Call me Helena, my dear," came the reply. "I believe that, after sharing a series of harrowing near-death experiences, two people need not address each other so formally."
The other woman was, herself, curled in a comfortable chair on the other side of the room, a warm-looking down throw draped over her shoulders. She held in her hands a newer, brighter-looking book, but placed it gently on the arm of the chair as she continued to speak. "And to the second, one doesn't typically make a lot of noise whilst reading."
Myka stood awkwardly for a moment, still a little stunned. Her eyes made it back to the book on Helena's chair, and recognized it instantly.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Really?"
The other woman shrugged, locks of her raven hair falling off her shoulders as she did. "This series, as I understand it, is what passes for great literature in the modern world. It is also astonishingly well-supplied by airport booksellers. I thought I would attempt it."
Myka shook her head. "I'm surprised that's what you decided to tackle first. There's so much that has been written in the last hundred years…and so much of it was influenced by you."
"Oh, yes! The novels that were left behind as a legacy of your adventures and research helped shape a completely new genre of literature. I think you would love so many of those books."
The raven-haired agent glanced down to the book and frowned a little. "I asked the young caretaker at the Heathrow bookshop to point me to the finest literature of the 20th century." She gestured with her hand toward the hardback. "This series was her immediate suggestion."
"Of course it was," the younger agent muttered, shaking her head. "You don't like it, then?"
The reply came with a shrug. "It possesses a passable discourse and, blessedly, presents the modern world somewhat as an outsider might view it, but it is not without its flaws. The premise is so very frivolous."
"Wait until you get to the next book. You'll want to throw it out a window."
A dark, carefully sculpted eyebrow came up. "Do the flaws in the plot become so intolerable?"
Myka took another look at the book and realized, judging by the crease in the spine, that the book was nearly finished. "I won't pretend the series is my favorite," she remarked, "but you've reached the point where the plot grows darker. If the goal of writing is to get you to empathize with the characters, this is where the author starts to really display her talents."
Helena settled back into her chair a bit, her left hand lightly tapping against her book's cover. "I didn't think you would be interested in children's literature."
The agent's green gaze went to the ceiling for a moment as she recalled a memory. When she found it, her gaze lowered again, and a smile came to her face. "I took an adolescent literature class as an elective in college. Harry Potter was a pretty dominant part of that course, and I guess I cared enough to continue reading the series. I have to say, though, you've reached the point where I'd draw the line."
The smile disappeared.
"What comes next in the series isn't really fit for children."