"No, I don't. Really," she confessed.
"Damn. You've gone and ruined my little show by not getting my joke. I'm not sure which one of us should be ashamed."
Claire shook her head. While she appreciated his humor, she really just wanted answers.
"Okay, I don't know what parts of this conversation are most important, but I'd appreciate you clearing some things up before I can be in the mood to laugh." He nodded in understanding.
"Your boyfriend, uh...what's his name?"
"Right, him. He went through a second time gate within the one that used to be here which closed this one, correct?"
"And now he's stuck forever outside of your current timeline."
"No. And I'd like to shoot whoever started that damn rumor. Probably some lazy idiot that didn't want to be bothered with a little extra work."
"I mean, once you've been traveling along through these things, you'd think it would be common sense, but no. I used to hear about someone getting trapped every week back when our craft was more widely appreciated. Maybe it was job security. Someone would be late finding their way back and another opportunist would pop in to take their job and commissions. Yes, that is by far the best theory I've come up with."
"Stop," Claire interrupted. "Please...just...can you be more...succinct?"
"No need for fancy vocabulary, Ms. Claire," he teased. "I'll hurry it along. I've been accused of being a man of too many words more than once in my life."
He pulled out a stopwatch and a compass and stood silent rather than continuing. He looked at one item, checked the wind with his finger, checked the other item, then turned around and repeated the process.
"Follow me," he stated abruptly.
"What? Where are we going?" Claire protested, trotting along behind him.
"To get your boyfriend, of course."
"Wherever the next few gates lead us."
"I'm following the energy signature. Isn't it obvious? Or do you find your gates some other way?"
"Well, it's something like that, but I've never been able to target a person before. How do you know an open gate will be near the timeline he's gone to?"
"Didn't anyone teach you anything about time, Claire? I'm really a little shocked you didn't already take up energy tracing yourself."
"No, no one," she confessed. He sighed loudly and slowed a bit to allow her to keep up with his strides.
"Alright, here goes, Claire," he began as they walked quickly together. "Time is a big ball of ribbon in the big ball of the universe. All time that ever was or will be is already created and living in it. It's like a big cat had it out with a movie reel and left a jumbled mess, and because it's a mess, pieces touch each other. Understand?"
"The places that touch-"
"Are the time gates, yes. So, the quicker we can find the new gate, the better. Once time gets changed a few times, the ribbons shift and get further away. The rewrites vibrate things and so forth. Big changes mean big moves, and well, I suppose that's why some time gate finders just stay where they're at when they get caught up in one."
"Are you saying Christian changed something?"
"When did I say that? No, I didn't say that. He bounced into a second ribbon – sounds like it anyhow. He should have only bumped the ribbon a little bit and moved the gate slightly."
"So, we can find him?"
"That's why I'm here, my dear."
"But," Claire was filled with a mix of relief, elation, and uncertainty. "...what if...he, you know, doesn't want me to find him?"
"Well, you can let him tell you that himself," he paused his motion, his tone suddenly having compassion. "This profession is tough enough. No need to let some ex-lover drag it down, and that's personal story advice right there, Claire."
Although she'd just met him, it felt as though they suddenly had a connection deeper than their conversation should have merited.
"Alright," she agreed in a half whisper.
They continued until a short wall came between them and a waterway a few feet below.
"Ready?" he smirked.
"Ready, what? To jump over that wall into the water?"
His expression confirmed that was the intention.
"I've never heard of a water gate before. Are you quite certain?"
"The certainest," he flashed a wide grin. "I've seen bigger, in fact. Much bigger. Ship-sized bigger. Ever wonder how huge boats just go missing?" He winked at Claire's less-than-enthused expression. "Let's give it a count, eh?"
And on three, they jumped together into another time and place.
YOU ARE READING
The Time TeacherScience Fiction
Claire's special talent is finding time gates around the world connecting different points in history. You can only cross one gate at a time or face being trapped in an era not your own. The love of her life did just that, leaving her alone forever...