Timesink

The fingers of the clock on the wall were still moving, but the hands were not. It was a strange optical illusion that suggested time was taking a bit of a coffee break. Thomas tried to work out if someone had slipped something in his drink, or if it meant that he was getting closer to his target.

The visual disturbances had started shortly after he’d entered the property, and had been accompanied by a barely audible whine, like a stuck motor. He’d read about situations like this in the field manual, but the actual experience was more unnerving than he’d expected.

Somewhere in the warehouse, someone had taken the game of hide and seek literally to a whole new level. A small fold of reality had been wrapped in a moebius loop, ostensibly to mask whatever was going on here. If it had been successful, no one would have ever known, unless deliberately scanning the metaspacial information of this location.

It had been less than totally successful however. Whoever had done it had – well Thomas didn’t understand all the mathematics the boffins had mentioned but essentially it boiled down to putting a crease in time. Thomas wasn’t paid to understand these things. He was just told what to do.

The gizmos and gadgets they’d given him to wear began to get warm. It meant they were still protecting him from the worst of the tachyon sprays and causality aberrations, but were beginning to feel the strain. The monitoring station had given him pretty precise directions for where he had to be, so there was at least that going for him.

Phantom angels chased each other on the edge of his vision, bouncing through walls in quicksilver ballets. He ignored them. He also carefully didn’t look at the other versions of him that appeared in reflections. They always tried to say hello, or to try and get last week’s lottery numbers off him. He didn’t fancy erasing himself from reality, so refused to paddle in the timestream.

Within pseudo-minutes he was there, or thereabouts, and could make out the chrome-like tint of the fold. He unfolded the camper chair from his backpack, sat on it, and primed the device the white coats had given him. It looked somewhere between a grenade and an alarm clock in shape and size, with the unpleasant suggestion of a few more sides than normal to it. They’d called it a D-Net, a dimensional dragnet if you like. It was designed to smooth out wrinkles.

The protections were getting pretty hot now, so he placed the D-Net in the affected space, pulled the safety pin, and stepped back. From his point of view, a yellow diode blinked, and the chrome-like tint snapped away. The temporal ward’s instantly began to spin down and cool, and his watch started working again. Whoever, or whatever, had been inside the fold was gone, erased from the universal information stack. He hoped it had been as quick for them as it had been for him. The boffins had talked about time dilation and differentials but he hadn’t listened. How would it help to know if someone he couldn’t save had suffered?