Challenge is as always courtesy of the awesome Chuck Wendig and can be found here.
My randomization gave me:
Subgenre: Technotriller (I had to look up what this is. I may or may not be influenced by the John Le Carre I’m currently reading.)
Setting: In the home of the Gods (Kinda rubbed me the wrong way, since I don’t like to get magic in my technology or the other way around, but that’s why it’s called a challenge.)
Element to include: A Magical Pocketwatch (Okay, so I never actually specify how the watch works. I call upon Clarke’s Third Law here.)
Since I like to recycle, Sophie is the same character as in my previous challenge. Oliver is most likely the man she reports to.
“That’s where we’re going in,” said the man who called himself Oliver.
“The museum?” asked Sophie. “You’ve got to be kidding me. That place has armed guards and alarms and … did I mention the guards? With arms?”
“But we have this!” With a sweeping gesture he pulled a small metal object out from his inner pocket.
Sophie raised her eyebrows. “It’s a pocket watch.”
“It’s not a pocket watch.”
“Yes, it is.” Before he could do anything, she snatched it from him. “It doesn’t even work.”
“Give that back!”
She just turned away from him. “The seconds hand is just vibrating, but it’s not really moving. It’s like it out of batteries.” Through the glass she could see a lot of gears and cog, which all seemed to be vibrating without actually moving.
He managed to grab the watch and shot her a dirty look. “Would you please take this seriously?”
“I might, if you would deign to tell me, what this actually is.”
She gave an exaggerated sigh.”Or I could just leave. I’m just a lowly informer, not a field agent; I can’t really see what use I could be to you anyway.”
He grabbed her wrist and held on with surprising strength. “Don’t go. I don’t have anyone else I can trust.”
“If you trust me, then …”
“I know. But I can’t explain it. You’ll have to see for yourself. I trust you. Will you promise to do the same and no freak out?”
“Freak out about what?”
He didn’t answer, but simply pressed the button than opened the pocket watch.
Sophie felt her whole body give a jolt, like you sometimes feel when you’re halfway between awake and sleeping. She felt herself falling and as the ground came up meet her, there was a bright light.
The bright light confused her. She had tried fainting before and she was sure that it usually went dark.
Then she felt someone gently shake her shoulder and opened her eyes to look at Oliver.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
“For what? Did you hit me on the head or something?”
“What? No! Of course not!” Despite his words, he did look a little guilty, but Sophie figured that maybe he was just the type of guy who always looks guilty when you accuse him of something. He continued: “I had just forgotten how it feels the first time you try it.”
Then she saw it. She was lying in front of the museum, where she had fallen. Except that the museum was now halfway transparent and there was something else behind it or rather occupying the same space. The only thing she could really compare it to, was the effect you get when you have a glass building and another building is reflected in it.
She started scrambling to her feet and barely noticed Oliver helping her up.
“What is this?” she asked. “Where are we?”
“We’ve slipped though time,” said Oliver.
She turned to stare at him. “So this is the future? Or the past?”
“No, we are still in the present. We are just chronologically out of synch with the rest of the world. And now we can get into that building, because it’s also out of synch.”
“Stop right there! You’re talking nonsense. I mean, how is that even possible?”
“It’s the very latest in technology,” said Oliver and started walking into the building so that she was following him before she even realized it.
The new building looked very high-tech with a lot of smooth black stone and dark glass. Oliver continued talking. “We’ve split the atom, we’ve invented the computers; I suppose it’s only logical that the next step would be, that we start to master time itself.” While still walking, he turned to look at her. “It could change the world more than all other inventions put together.”
“And that’s a good thing?” asked Sophie, trying to sound bright and optimistic, while dreading the answer.
Still walking, he completed the half turn so he was now walking backwards looking at her. “No. At least … I don’t think so.”
“Oh, right,” she replied gloomily.
“Time as a force is immensely powerful.” He turned around again, just in time to avoid walking backwards down a flight of stairs and started downwards.
Sophie hesitated for a moment, then she followed him, intrigued. “What are we doing here, then?”
He kept talking. “The man who told me about time, who gave me the time stopper, he also told me about this place.”
He didn’t mention what had happened to the man and Sophie didn’t ask.
“He said I couldn’t trust anyone in the government.”
“But you work for the government!”
A shrug. “That just made the warning easier to take seriously. Anyway, he told me to go here. That there’s someone here, outside time, who can help me.” The stair ended in a corridor, lit only by the light coming through an open door in the end. Oliver strode down it without pausing.
“Sounds like you have a plan. What do you need me for then?” Sophie had very bad night vision and walked uncertainly after him, unable to see her own feet.
He hesitated for a long time, long enough to make her very nervous. Finally he said: “If the someone we are here to meet, don’t like what I have to say, I might get killed. If that happens, I need you to take the watch, go back and continue the quest.”
“You have got to be kidding me!”
Sophie would have said a lot more, but they had reached the door in the other end of the corridor and were now standing at the edge of a great, circular room, all in white.
A woman stood in the door way. She wore a dress in Greek style and her hair was kept back with a headband decorated with an apple. Somehow Sophie didn’t think that this was a reference to the woman’s favourite brand of computers.
The woman smiled at them. It was a very pretty smile, but it wasn’t the least bit nice. “Hello,” she said. “I am Eris.”