Justin Rutherford: Time Is On My Side

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The river below the Meadow Falls bridge appeared peaceful, the sounds of it flowing would have calmed even the noisiest day. That is, until, the emergence of three people broke the serene sounds to ones of desperate splashing.

"Can you swim?" Annabeth asked Justin, who appeared to be struggling. He began to doggy paddle and followed the two girls to the riverbank.

"Yes!" He said after swallowing a mouthful of dirty water, forcing him to cough. "I just haven't done it in a while."

Katherine reached the riverbank first and rolled onto the stone pavement. Annabeth followed, turned, and helped Justin out. The staircase conjured by the witches to the surface had disappeared when they left the house at the bottom of the river, which meant they had to swim.

Now they were drenched.

When Justin managed to talk, he asked "how did you get down there without getting wet?"

"The witch's talisman," Katherine answered. "It's a shame we lost it; it works wonders with protection against witches like them."

Annabeth helped Katherine up and they embraced. "Don't worry, we can get another one. I'm sure Gralamin will have a spare, hopefully."

"That's where we should go next – it's not safe to have a group of ancient witches and a Ripper on the loose.

Justin felt himself retreating into himself again. Even though he had two guardians with him, he still felt that some kind of danger would immediately follow. He pulled his phone out from his pocket.

"Oh no," he said, defeated. "My phone, it's wet. I need to go to the Pandora Café, tell the others I'm okay... for now."

Annabeth nodded. "Okay, we can do that first. It might be wise to get the others all together. This darkness, it's not right. I have a feeling that was the witches' doing. If we can tackle them first, then we can deal with the Ripper."

"Something tells me it won't be that straightforward," Justin commented. They made their way up the steep riverbank and headed down Meadow Falls. A couple of customers walked out from the Pandora Café.

They entered, and Tiffany immediately greeted them. "JUSTIN!" She yelled and threw her arms around him. She then pulled away when she realised she was showing too much emotion. "Where have you been?! Eric and Carmen have just left looking for you! And why are you wet?"

"Where's Christina?"

"Oh, she's at home. Eric dropped her off first and then came for Carmen. He stupidly lost the book that could have helped us with the Ripper."

Justin's depression deepened. He looked around the café, seeing what looked like a family nearby. They were chatting loudly, with two young children as part of their party.

"How has it been? Busy?" Justin asked, hoping to change the subject. Annabeth and Katherine sat nearby while Tiffany and Justin walked to the counter.

"Kind of," Tiffany answered, pouring herself a coffee. "Do you want one?"

"Oh, yes please."

Tiffany moved away from the coffee machine. "There you go; you know how to use it. So where have you been, what the hell happened?"

"Do you guys want a coffee?" Justin asked Annabeth and Katherine. They nodded, and so he proceeded making the drinks and relaying the story to Tiffany. "Well, the witches you met sort of kidnapped me and took me to a little cabin at the bottom of the river."

"Shut the fuck up!" Tiffany shouted in surprise.

"Tiffany! There's children around!" Justin told her, noticing that the family were now looking at them.

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