Only 32, she already had a retiree’s weariness. A well-paying but uninspiring job, series of failed romances, family both physically and emotionally distant.
She disliked turning lights on within her house in the morning, as artificial illumination violated the comfort of sunrise. This wasn’t an issue eight months of the year, but the darkness of November’s reality was unavoidable.
Navigating the kitchen cupboards was difficult this Friday morning; she’d have to relent next Monday. She sat with coffee and stared out at the reluctant dawn. She’d have to leave in five minutes, but could allow herself to enjoy this moment.
He’d been told free parking in the city was impossible to find, but the municipal garages were expensive. After dropping off his companion at the street fair entrance he decided to explore for a few blocks. When he saw a car enter the street from an alley, he drove with hawkspeed.
Surprisingly, there were several open and legal spots available in the alley. He parked his rental behind a jalopy, its frame decades out of fashion and covered with vibrant green paint.
Less than a block from the fair. He exited and locked his car, pleased at his small victory.
She’d been performing longer than she could remember but not long enough to feel jaded.
One of her bands had stayed together long enough to release a barely-noticed album. Revenue still hadn’t eclipsed the studio’s share.
Finding work as a backup performer required extensive travel, so she bought a trailer with the last of her ex-husband’s money. Between gigs she’d sometime set camp, hook an amplifier to her guitar, and announce a roadside concert on Twitter. A couple-few dozen fans would attend, toss a few bucks into a coffee can. She barely covered expenses, but earned enough to keep going.
The regulations are strict – no currency or valuable items can be transported back through the Temporal Portal. However, Kronos Agents are allowed to bring items without value back into the present.
Agents are scanned thoroughly on return from each mission. Declaring anachronous items is not mandatory for retention but is definitely helpful. Items that pass inspection are bathed in a benign isotope. No item with this isotope can be legally bought or sold, although a health black market exists.
KA’s have a reputation for being notorious pack-rats, their basements filled with ephemera collected while maintaining stability in the temporal matrix.
His demeanor’s constant, like the blinking Low Toner light on the mailroom printer. I’ve neither seen him smile nor raise his voice, not even to alert me that I had left my laptop in the conference room, choosing instead to run and catch up to me.
Whenever he arrives in a room all occupants go quietly serious, not in fear but in acquiescence to his powerful solemnity. He’s like rain on a playground, all frivolity banished until his presence departs.
I can’t imagine befriending him, but he’s a better ally than most of my colleagues.
Permafrost, a literary magazine run by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has just published “The Log.” It’s a story I drafted all the way back in 2015, a fact demonstrating that the creative process often requires a great deal of patience. The fictional small town setting is the same as my first published story, “Second Intention,” although the characters are different.
What’s that aphorism – the first time’s an accident, the second is a coincidence, but the third constitutes a trend? I’m one more published story away from making my patience pay off.