Friday, August 4, 2017

Tina and Time by JD Hyde

A force of nature befriends a talkative child and learns something of humanity in JD Hyde's comic sci-fi.

Tick

The little girl with black hair looked at the man in a perfectly pressed grey three-piece suit. His hair blew when there was no wind. He was standing in the park, so she cheerfully said, "Hi, I'm Tina Gutierrez Rodriguez Olmedo Bairan Castillo Flores. You can call me Tina. I have a dog; You have been standing there for a long time. Why are you standing in the park? Do your legs hurt from standing for so long? I have a ball will you play with me? Why do you wear a tie? My mommy said that only bankers wear ties. Are you a banker? I'm five years old. How old are you? What's your name?"

While young Tina waited for an answer to her questions, she stopped to breathe. The man in the three-piece suit eloquently said, "I am Time. And I have always been here. I am everywhere."

Tina blinked several times then started talking again, "Hi, Mr. Time. I'm Tina Flores, and I'm five. Would you play ball with me?"

The force of nature was overwhelmed by the small talking machine. He was rarely seen by anyone in any form that he used. This form was so plain that most people would have had to look hard to notice. He had no distinguishing features. It would not have been noticed by an adult at all, but children are very good at seeing things, especially things that adults don't want them to see. Before the child could ask another round of questions, the thing that had seen the Big Bang agreed to play ball, so the child would stop talking.

He found that rolling a ball on the ground to the child would silence her, so he kept rolling the ball until Tina's mother (who was only able to notice Time because she was a mother in a park, which meant that she noticed all the men who did not have children with them. And she recognized the look on the face of someone that Tina had trapped with questions) led her home for lunch. Tina, in her almost disturbingly happy way yelled to her new friend, "Goodbye, Mr. Time. Come back tomorrow so we can play ball some more!"

The entity that was now apparently named Mr. Time just stared at the child, and for the first time since, well, he began, he felt trapped.

The next morning the little girl brought the ball. Time was still standing in the place where she left him. Tina accepted this without question. However being five years old, she had many other questions, "I have a dog named George. He lifts his leg to go potty. My mommy says it's because he's a boy. You are a boy, do you lift your leg to go potty?"

Time blinked, "Er... No. I do not go potty. I am a law of the universe. We don't go potty."

Tina took this in stride and began another barrage of questions. At lunch time her mommy picked her up without looking at Time.

A small cricket appeared on his shoulder, 'Why do you communicate with it? What is the point of the trading of the sphere?'

Time thought for a moment and looked at Life, "I believe that the trading of the sphere gives them an excuse to communicate."

The cricket looked as perplexed as a cricket could, 'Why do they need an excuse? Do they not just need a reason? Yes, I think that you should investigate.'



Tock

"Good morning, Mr. Time. It's my birthday; I'm six years old. When is your birthday?"

Time thought for a moment, "By your calendar, my first day of being was August tenth six billion, nine hundred thousand, seven hundred and eighty-seven years ago."

Tina blinked and thought about it, "So it's next month! Are you going to have a birthday cake? I love birthday cake. I am going to have six candles on mine. What do you want for a present? I want a baseball glove and a baseball, but mommy says those are for boys."

At this point, Tina had to explain what a birthday present was, then why a female was not allowed a baseball glove and ball. The answer to the first question seemed to be ritual; neither could find a satisfactory answer to the second question.

Mr. Time asked to be excused for a moment, then disappeared from the park. He was walking down the aisles of a sporting goods store some miles away searching for baseball gloves. He enjoyed this very much as it was the first time he had shopped. He told a clerk who had started out having a normal day, "I need to purchase a baseball glove for Tina Flores. It is her sixth birthday, and it is customary to give a gift. Please show me the baseball gloves made for small humans."

The clerk showed Time the selection and was beginning to have ideas of making rude remarks to the customer, when the clerk saw the winds of time blow across the customer's hair, blowing it back as if in a storm. The clerk suddenly remembered what his grandmother had taught him about manners and very politely gave Time all the advice he could on baseball gloves and balls.

Time finally nodded at his selections. "And for this, I must pay. I have seen humans trade before. I believe you will find this satisfactory," and Time pulled from his pocket a handful of gold nuggets and laid them on the counter. The clerk was still staring at the gold when Time slipped back to the park.

Tina was on the swings and not at all surprised by his disappearance or reappearance; she just smiled that she got her birthday wish and giggled at Time's own baseball glove. There was a small learning curve on how to play the game, as it was just theory for both of them. But they eventually learned. Time's suit began to wrinkle as he walked.



Tick

Tears dripped onto a well broken in baseball glove, "Mr. Time, My doggy George died. He was sick."

Time stared at the child, "Yes, All things die."

Tina tried to explain why she cried and Mr. Time sat her on a nearby bench and began speaking. "Tina, I was one of the first things that ever existed. Space and I were together, then shortly afterward Life came. I am everywhere, and I see everything. All that ever was and all that may be. I have seen entire races rise to civilization and die. As we speak I am present as worlds collapse; I am watching the whole universe end; because it will happen and I will be there. When you watch the whole universe die, it's hard to feel bad for one dog."

Tina looked at the thing that was forever and said, "But to me, he was the whole universe."

Time had nothing to say because he could not comprehend. But deep within him, in what Tina would tell him was his soul, he felt something when looking at her tears. Tina could have told him that he was sad. Tina's mother had not taught her the word 'empathy,' but he had caught some of her humanity. And if he had looked down he would have seen that his shoes were a little bit shinier, and his tie had turned red.



Tock

Tina looked at him, "You've never had ice cream? How could you be so old and never have ice cream?"

Time, with all the dignity that one could muster when a child gives you the 'you poor force of nature' look, replied, "I have never eaten anything. I do not need to eat so what would the point be?"

Tina shook her head, "Because it is wonderful. You said that you see everything, how could you not know this?"

Time shook his head, "I see almost everything. I cannot see things that I am directly involved in as a person. That would be like trying to see the back of your own head." They both stopped and tried to look at the back of their own heads. Giggling came from her, and a twitch came from his lips, which for a cosmic being is the equivalent of rolling on the floor.

Tina walked him to the ice-cream stand and ordered two chocolate cones. She handed his over and showed him how to eat. Time, who had seen humans eating before, took a big bite from the cone. Three seconds later Time slapped a hand over his eye as the cold skewered his brain and he screamed, "This ice cream is defective."

Tina watched with the tiny smile that every little girl has when watching an adult make a fool of themselves. "You tried eating it too fast, let's get you some candy. You're not ready for ice cream yet." She took him to a candy store where he was confused by all the selections. She made up his mind for him, and he tried chocolate while watching her face for the smile. Then his mind went blank; the chocolate was a beauty he had only found in the swirls of space, he could only compare it to a supernova. Deadly and destructive, he made a great jump in his understanding of humanity at that moment. And he wanted more chocolate.



Tick

Time was waiting as she left school and tried talking her into a short stop at the candy store, but Tina was a responsible eight years old and knew that forces of nature should not be allowed sugar whenever they felt like it. So she tried explaining the concept of being 'cool.' It was not easy.

A glowing red bubble suddenly surrounded Tina, and she blinked away. Time could not find her because he was so close to Tina as a person. At that moment Time learned the concepts of panic, and of fear. Someone had taken his Tina Flores. Time, who had never before breathed, began to hyperventilate.

He knew that yelling for her would not help, although he did contemplate waiting for her and seeing if her incessant talking would cause the kidnappers to return her. He thought about it and realized that if she was in a blank spot because he was too close to her, he would have to look for places that he couldn't see in the timeline. He closed his eyes and found it. A blackness where he was not. He changed his positions in the universe and was there.



Tick Tick Tock Tock

The large red bubble of a tachyon field surrounded a machine and a man holding a pistol that he was pointing at the child. He was screaming. Time knew not to startle mad men with weapons; he had seen many examples of the outcome. He coughed to get the man's attention. "Pardon me, but you have my Tina. We wanted to get candy. Why do you point weapons at her?"

The man looked at Time and giggled, "You are him. Time himself. Don't you know how many people she killed? Her stupid book? Thousands die over her book. Because of her."

Time stared at him, "You are from a possible future? Of course, I know that she could write a book and it could cause people to go to war. I'm Time; I am everywhere. But she has not written anything yet, and there's only a small chance of war. The odds of that timeline happening are extremely slim. Please, let her go before someone gets hurt."

"Let her go? It took me twenty years to build a tachyon generator; twenty years to learn enough to stop this madness before it can start. Twenty years of my life so I could have this moment."

The man pulled the trigger, the bullet tore through the child, and the shockwave tore through time. Time began to vibrate, and the various possibilities began to tear into pieces. There was a different Time for each of the new timelines, and they kept multiplying as the horror of Tina's death kept replaying in each of their heads. Time knew the true meaning of being a human at that moment; he knew loss.

The multitude Times said in unison, "I have been since the beginning. In all of the time, throughout the universe I have made but one friend... And you dared hurt her?" As if they were a crowd, reaching for God the myriad Times raised their hands. There was a crash of light and sound then only one Time stood, and he calmly laid his hand on the red sphere of light. Then he began screaming as he disintegrated.

Inside the bubble, the man laughed and shook his head; a small cough came from behind him. The mad man turned to see Time standing. "I told you, I am time. I am everywhere."

Then the being, known as entropy, touched the human on the forehead. He turned to dust then to molecules then to atoms. Time glared as even they broke down into protons and electrons. He would have destroyed those if he could, wiped everything that was the man who hurt his friend from existence.

Time calmly said, "Life, I know that you watch us. Come to me." An outline of a creature that could have been a person formed. "Bring her back to me, please."

The shape formed a human body and asked with true interest, "Why would I do this thing? Why would I break the laws of the universe? Is she so important?"

Time nodded. "To me she is. To me, she is the universe."

"Why is this one so important?"

Time smiled "Because She in all the universe is She. She is singular. Therefore important. Each of them, living, breathing, existing. That makes them important; because they are so short-lived." Time almost laughed. "And this one plays the most important game in all of existence, Catch."

Life stared at Tina's body, "You must teach me this game of catch."

Tina gasped and her broken body straightened and healed. Before she could remember what had happened Time put her in her bed and made her sleep. Hopefully, this would be nothing but a nightmare. Time had done all he could for her for now but tomorrow would take some explaining.



Tick

Time threw two new baseball gloves to the ground, "What we will do is toss the ball back-and-forth, talking as we do. It is an easy game. I'm sure that you will enjoy it."

Life formed into a human and picked up a glove as Space rose from the ground to join them. "And what do we speak of?"

Time laughed and tossed the ball. "Did you know that male dogs lift their legs when urinating?"

Space caught the ball and threw it to Life before speaking, "On Xeron Nine, the people consume nutrients by taking a step, then release the waste in the next step, this I have seen."

Time smiled. "I believe it is time to introduce you gentlemen to ice-cream."

5 comments:

  1. A canny and amusing story told with engaging lightness. Many thanks,
    Ceinwen

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  2. I enjoyed this. I'll be thinking of it long after.

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  3. Clever science colliding with rational belief which occasionally - like listening to my financial adviser - lost me a little, but educating Time paints an intriguing picture. I particularly enjoyed the galactic possibilities of chocolate (which we kind of already are aware of, thanks to marketeers), 'you poor force of nature look', the image of Time wearing a wrinkly suit; and the 'potty' phrase highlighted by Charlie at the top of the story is sublime!
    B r o o k e

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  4. fascinating! i was really thrown when the child was under threat a hell of a gear change. a great story.
    Mike McC

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  5. This was a fun read, with a nice touch of humor and the underlying message that puts one's mind into gear. Didn't expect to be interested, but it sucked me right in. Nice work!

    Jim

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