Day One

Swell_Kel joined the conversation
Swell_Kel: I’ve been calling you!
Swell_Kel: How’d it go? 🙂
ClaireBear17: Sorry 😦
Swell_Kel: Don’t worry…give me the details! 😀
ClaireBear17: Not feeling too good.
Swell_Kel: Did he finally make a move? 😆
ClaireBear17: Feeling a bit sick.
Swell_Kel: Hunny what’s wrong?
Swell_Kel: Claire…come on…its me 🙂
Swell_Kel: Tell me…
ClaireBear17: Nothing…I’ll be fine.
Swell_Kel: Shall I come over?
ClaireBear17: No.
Swell_Kel: What happened? 🙄
ClaireBear17: Well I snuck in…he was asleep on the sofa…
Swell_Kel: You cracked open the wine didn’t you! 😉
ClaireBear17: No! Listen…
Swell_Kel: Hun what happened? 😦
ClaireBear17: His parents were out but he was just asleep…no DVD, no drinks
Swell_Kel: OMG
Swell_Kel: Waster!
ClaireBear17: So I shook him awake…but he was angry
ClaireBear17: Realy mad
Swell_Kel: WTF he didn’t do anything did he?
ClaireBear17: He grabbed me so I slapped him…ran to back door but he tripped me up
Swell_Kel: Are you fucking kidding me…I’m gonna kill that asshole! 👿
Swell_Kel: U ok?
ClaireBear17: Kickwd him off…got out house
Swell_Kel: But ur ok? He didn’t hurt you?
ClaireBear17: I’m k…just feel sick
ClaireBear17: He jst bit myankle…weirdo
Swell_Kel: I’m gonna kill him!
Swell_Kel: I’m coming over…
ClaireBear17: No im k…jst need
Swell_Kel: Just need what?
Swell_Kel: You still there?
Swell_Kel: Hun?
Swell_Kel: Claire?
ClaireBear17: Felng realu hot
Swell_Kel: What? Ur worrying me. Whats going on?
Swell_Kel: Claire? Hellooooooo?
Swell_Kel: 😦
Swell_Kel: Bet your throwing up..
Swell_Kel: Gross :p
Swell_Kel: Ok…not funny!
Swell_Kel: Claire???
Swell_Kel: I’m calling you…pick up
Swell_Kel: Or don’t 😥
Swell_Kel: Fine…not funny anymore..I’m coming over
Swell_Kel: CLAIRE?!?
Swell_Kel: On my way…
Swell_Kell left the conversation
ClaireBear17: dnt
ClaireBear17:cxvxcvcbcvcvvcvvbcbvcbvvzvsdfzxcz\\\z\xzzxz\\cczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

S.H.A.R.K. Knight

The following story is the result of seeing a mislabelled Shark (K)Night Blu-ray in Asda. They added the ‘K’, I’m about to add the stupid.

For further Shark Knight adventures, please visit:
Shark Knight
These islands are built on pirates bones

Anyway, here we go.

S.H.A.R.K. Knight

The elevator doors slid silently open and John stepped out into Sub-Basement 3. A floor with such a title may have made him feel uneasy, had he not already been accosted by Federation officials and taken to a “classified location” with no reason as to why. He was still dressed in his bloody two-day-old suit, for goodness sake.

“This way please, Doctor Eccles,” his escort said, leading the way down the corridor.

Glass-walled rooms lined each side, allowing John to see straight in. Numerous smartly dressed people worked away industriously. Scientists rushed about as if the universe depended on it. Despite all the action inside the rooms, the corridor was eerily vacant.

“Where exactly are we going?” John asked.

“The briefing room. The meeting has probably already started.”

John sensed it may be an appropriate time to probe further. “Where am I?”

“The Stellar Ward offices of the S.H.A., Doctor” the escort revealed, without glancing back.

John stopped. He knew all about the S.H.A., everybody did, but he never expected to be walking along one of their corridors.

Ever since Professor Scott had discovered Sliding, the Agency had provided the necessary enforcement to ensure the technology was never abused. But it was currently only available to the massively wealthy, with a return trip costing millions of credits. The Agency’s job was to ensure the travellers departed and arrived on time, in the right time, and, most importantly, that their presence did not cause any unnecessary disturbances. The entire business was owned and controlled by The Federation, with the S.H.A. responsible for all human Slides.

John knew all of this and yet could not fathom why they would need his assistance.

“Which unit?” he asked.

“Doctor Eccles, please.”

“Which unit?”

“Retrieve or Kill.”

Retrieve or Kill. John took a moment to roll the words around his head, and in that moment he knew why he had summoned.

Leroy, you bastard, he thought.

The two men soon reached the end of the long corridor. A final glass-walled room greeted them; John could count a dozen S.H.A. agents sat around a large perspex table.

The escort turned to face John. “Now, remember, Federation Superiors want you here, so don’t take any shit from Commander Reyes. No matter how much he throws at you.”

“What exactly-”

“You better get inside. Take care of yourself over there, Doctor,” the escort said, disappearing back down the corridor.

The briefing room doors breezed open automatically. John slipped inside and took a seat at the back. At the top of the table stood a tall man, with broad shoulders and a head entirely devoid of hair. John considered him to be a mid-life human. And most definitely the Commander.

“Gentleman and lady, this is our target-”

Commander Reyes projected the face of John’s most notorious patient onto all four walls of the briefing room. With his bunched dreadlocks and scarred face, it was not a flattering picture.

Fucking hell, he really does look mental.

“-his name is Leroy Jenkins,” Commander Reyes bellowed, “and the hunt is already seven hours old. Techs have provided us with a detailed map of his Slide trajectory and, well, it’s an interesting one!”

The one female agent lent forward in her chair. “Define interesting, Sir.”

“The Crusades interesting. 1052 to be exact. Much further than any of you have ever gone before, I know. I don’t know how the son of a bitch did it, but he did,” Commander Reyes’ steely finger raised and pointed directly at John, “Doctor, any thoughts?” Evidently his presence in the room had not gone unnoticed.

As twelve Agency agent heads swivelled and faced him, John felt the pressure to say something, anything. “He never mentioned having such a skill set.”

“Well, fuck you very much for that! I’m so glad you’re here.”

Sniggers filled the room.

Great first impression, John.

“Enough! Go get prepped. I want you in The Hub in sixty minutes for a full mission briefing. That’s one hour!”

The twelve agents wasted no time getting up from their chairs. As the female agent made her way past John, the Commander’s already distinctive voice filled the room.

“Austin! See to it the Doctor here is properly prepped for the Slide.”

She sighed. Not loud enough for Commander Reyes to hear, but John certainly did.

“Yes, sir.”

John judged Austin to be in her late twenties. He found the soft features of her freckled face and her petite, toned frame a welcome contrast to the Commander. The shiny brown hair was a bonus. He offered out his hand.

“This way, Doctor,” she said, ignoring him, already leaving the room. “Walk and talk.”

“John, please.” He still hated being called doctor.

They made their way back down the corridor and toward the elevator. John had to break into a brisk walk to keep up.

“So, let me get this straight,” John began, “Leroy has managed to Slide back to the middle-ages and you guys are going to follow him back and, what, kill him?”

“Our orders are to attempt retrieval first,” Austin replied.

You bastard, Leroy. I can’t believe you actually did it. “What now?”

“Now, we’re going to go down to Storage, get kitted out in some kind of era-appropriate attire, load up with era-appropriate weaponry, pop along to The Hub, Slide back to 1052, and attempt to retrieve an apparently mentally-deranged psychopath. Simple. Think you can handle all that?”

“Do I have a choice?” John replied.

“As it happens…no, not really,” Austin said, smiling. “So, any ideas what he’s up to?”

“As it happens,” John said, somewhat cockily, “I’ve got one or two.”

Letting Go

I’ve just watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes again, which is a fantastic movie by the way. Anyway, there’s a really nice scene where the lead character’s dad (John Lithgow) refuses any more treatment (he’s suffering from Alzheimers) and passes away quietly in his sleep. The scene inspired this piece. It’s another of exactly 101 words.

Letting Go

John sat gently on the bed. It rocked slightly but Jennifer’s sleep remained undisturbed. Reaching down, he pulled a small syringe from his briefcase.

After all this time, he found the routine no less painful. But each new day was a blessing, proof that the serum worked.

As he pressed his lips against her cheek’s dry skin, John felt his wife’s long forgotten touch as her hand clutched his. Sitting up, her weary eyes conveyed his saddest fear.

“No,” she whispered softly, “no.”

He forced as comforting a smile as he could conjure.

Then watched as her eyes closed one final time.

The Rabbit’s Foot

It was a cold Monday morning when Baby Claire’s rabbit died. It had been ill for a few days and her dad had the burial all prepared. Tears were shed and dirt was shovelled and Fluffy was laid to rest. Minus one furry white foot.

Several days and a bucket of water and borax later, the foot found itself keychain bound to the dad’s set of keys. It was for Claire of course, and it would be hers one day, but at only 3 years of age, her father would be using it for some time yet.

But not that long.

Several Fluffy-less days later, the dad’s drive to work was unexpectedly halted. He was a reliable, attentive driver, never easily distracted. Usually anyway. However, on this misty morning, a small bump in the road would undo his many years of good driving. As the car bounced up from the concrete below, Fluffy’s fluffy foot fought itself loose from its keychain prison. Trousers riding up as he drove, his bare skin felt the gentle tickle of fur, creating just enough of a distraction for him to take his eyes off the road. As his gaze dropped down, a car pulled out, and the lives of all involved changed forever.

The first person on scene was a Good Samaritan who witnessed the accident as she went to pick up her laundry. She quickly raced over to the father’s car, but, so intent was she on helping an already dead man, she failed to hear the gushing sound of fuel leaking from the engine. A small electrical spark later the car, the father, the Samaritan and the surrounding area exploded up in a wonderful display of twisted metal, blood and flame.

A paramedic reaching the scene minutes later discovered the foot miraculously undamaged at the side of road, having been blasted from the wreckage by the explosion. Saddened by the scene around her, the young woman, only two weeks into her professional career, consoled herself by travelling back to the hospital one item heavier.

It did not stay in her possession for long.

After a suspiciously long lunch break, a rushing young paramedic missed a stairwell step and enjoyed a short, sharp drop and broken neck. The rabbit’s foot was found, and kept, however, by a notoriously brilliant and well-liked doctor, who intended to give it to his wife as a surprise gift, making up for the fact he had missed their anniversary a day earlier.

Later that same afternoon, the brilliant doctor, a specialist in infectious diseases, was called away on a very important and highly classified matter. Just hours later, he found himself in a small town in the French countryside. He didn’t know it at the time, but the man he had been sent to see was infected with a new, and highly dangerous virus for which there was no cure.

It took the doctor three days to discover this fact. Many died in the meantime. On the day he discovered the cause of the outbreak, his symptoms began. Within twenty-four hours, the doctor died. On his deathbed, as hundreds of other infected people spluttered and convulsed around him, the doctor passed the rabbit’s foot on to his research assistant, wishing that it bring her better luck than it had him.

It didn’t.

Word soon reached the assistant that the French authorities intended to cut their loses and eradicate the town. She left within the hour. Three hours after that, the entire town was bombed and along with it any trace of the virus.

Or so they thought.

The assistant didn’t realise it, but she infected everything she touched and everybody she came in contact with on her frantic journey to the airport. Hundreds of people now unwittingly carried the virus’ deadly spores as they went about their daily routines. Within days, half of Europe would be infected. Several weeks later? Well, I’m sure you can guess. But that’s a tale for another time.

And so, on a stormy Friday night, the rabbit’s foot found itself on the red-eye travelling north to Manchester airport. It’s new owner was already feeling the debilitating effects of the virus as she boarded the aircraft. One hour in, almost all of the passengers were also feeling the effects. Two hours in, and the research assistant was dead. Three hours in, and the pilot spluttered his last breath and promptly died at his controls.

The plane quickly fell from the sky and found not its intended destination, but an equally desired one. Witnesses from miles around saw the ensuing explosion. There were rumours at the time that the fireball could be seen from as far away as Bristol. What was true, what was indisputable, was that the house the aircraft landed on would never be lived in again.

Luckily for its widowed owner and her only child, known throughout the family as Baby Claire, they were out at the time.

Malcolm

This one contains a little bit of swearing, so turn away now if some colourful language offends you!

Malcolm

Some people love cars, others shoes, and some, like John here, loved dogs. Seriously. Dogs! But bullets are my thing, my favouritest things ever. I fucking love ’em.

I mean, I’ve just sent one of the little lead bastards 700 yards, bang on target. They’re awesome! I know I’m good n’all, but 700 yards? Do me a favour!

I suppose it is a little strange to be thinking these things right now. They always said I was a bit weird, always laughing at me. Especially John. Not laughing any more, are you mate?

Anyway, rest in peace, John. You and your fucking dogs.

Hero

“It’s over.”

I can’t move. Those two little words have frozen me to the ground. Did she really just say that? I can’t be sure, I can’t think straight. Despite everything I was now able to do, I didn’t see this coming at all.

I’ve let the silence become uncomfortably long. I know she’s waiting for me to respond, but I can’t find the words. Even if I did, I’m not sure I could voice them.

“But-,” is all I eventually mumble, but she’s already prepared to counter.

“Don’t do that, John. Please. You must have known this was coming?” she says.

I think I’m still in shock. I mean, we’re on the sidewalk, just had dinner, and now this. Words usually come quite easily for me, but not tonight. She’s caught me entirely off guard and I don’t know what to do, what to say.

“No,” is all I can manage. Brilliant.

“Please don’t. Last night was the final time, I swore it. I needed you and where were you? I needed my boyfriend with me and you weren’t there. Yet again.”

Her tone tells me she’s waiting for an explanation, the reason I couldn’t be with her. The thing that was so important I let her sit in the hospital alone. I guess it’s one thing to miss a date or two, but not this.

“It was work. I’m sorry, Kate. I would have been right there if I could,” I say, but it’s clear from the look in her eyes it’s not enough. They’re glazing over: she’s going to cry.

“That’s the thing, John,” she starts, tears streaming down her face now, her voice stuttering, “I rang your work..last night..several times…asked for you..and they said..they said..you weren’t there..that you quit months ago!”

I move in to hold her for what I’m beginning to realise will be the last time, but she moves away. Behind the tears are eyes of anger now, not sadness. She’s still waiting for an explanation. A reason for all the missed dates, the late nights, the early mornings, my whereabouts last night. Something to explain all of it, something that will suddenly make sense of it all so she can forgive me and we can stay together. I know this is what she wants, and I want nothing more than to give it to her. But I can’t.

“I’m so sorry, baby,” is all I say. It’s not nearly enough.

“Then so am I.”

As she goes to turn away, I reach forward and grab her arm. She turns around and our eyes meet again. She pulls me close, leans toward my ear.

“Don’t do this. It’s really over. If you can’t trust me, be there for me, then I can’t trust you. And without that, we’ve got nothing,” she whispers.

It’s strange, but I swear she knows more than I think. I sure this can’t be true, I’ve been so careful, but the way she speaks sends a shiver right through me. Is she saying my secret would be safe with her? Does she know? This and a thousand other questions run through my head as she turns and walks away. It’s all happening so fast, I can’t make sense of it. The love of my life, the woman I was just eating dinner with, walking away to start a life on her own. Without me.

As the outline of her body fades, calm begins to creep back over me. More composed, I realise all of the things I could have said to make her stay. All of the good things I have done since that day six months ago. All of the people I have helped, and the bad ones I’ve stopped. They’re called superheroes in the comics and on the TV, but there’s nothing super about what I’ve done. It’s just life, and doing things other people aren’t able to. There’s no use in me having these abilities if I’m not going to use them. I could have told Kate this, she may have understood. She may have even loved me for it. But to tell her one side of things would open the door to the other. Of the people who want me dead, and the ones who would use anybody and everybody I love to make this happen. She doesn’t know it, but it’s all for her. Maybe one day she will. Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell her.

I feel an odd sensation coming over me as I skip around into the alley, something I feared had been lost to me forever. A single tear rolls down my check. Its warmth is oddly unfamiliar, yet comforting. I enjoy it a moment as I allow myself a brief thought of what might have been. Of a life lost, of a different future. But I’m shook from these thoughts by the sound of a woman’s scream. I judge it to be no more than ten miles away.

And so I catch the last remnants of the tear in my fingertips, allowing its warmth to moisten my hands, protect them against the winter’s cold. Then I fasten the button on my coat, rise myself from the ground, and soar up into the dark of the night.

Not Today

Another piece 101 words in length for you. Enjoy!

Not Today

The firing squad took position and awaited the order.

An assistant shuffled through the crumbling doorway and unfolded a small screen.

“Shoot him,” the screen ordered.

At the end of the room stood a lone man, eyes fixed ahead. The guns unloaded every last round, but he did not wince.

As the smoke dissipated and the dust settled, confusion quickly filled the room.

“Turn me around! What’s going on here?!” the now angry screen shouted.

The lone man smiled, his hologram flickering ever so slightly. “I’m sorry, Mr President, but if you couldn’t make it today, then neither could I. Rain check?”

Ten Minutes

Hello all!

It’s been a week since my last post, as I’ve tweaked this next story a few times.  I let the inital version ‘stew’ for a few days and when I revisited it I felt it needed a slight change.  I hope you enjoy the final outcome.

Before I post the story, I feel it necessary to point you in the following direction: http://www.splitworlds.com/stories/

Emma Newman is an author I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with on Twitter (@EmApocalyptic) and I’ve really enjoyed reading her short stories.  Her Split Worlds tales provided the inspiration for what you are about to read, so may I (stubbornly) recommend that, once you are finished here, you go and give the above site a little peruse.

Anyway, here’s this week’s story.  As always, I’d love it if you could leave me a small comment below, or send me a tweet with your thoughts.

Thanks!

Ten Minutes

As the bus pulled up to the stop, Peter looked down and checked his watch: 11:01am, it read.  He’d be late again.  Stepping to one side before she had even summoned the strength to stand up, he allowed the fragile old lady to enter first.  The driver gave him a cheery welcome and took his fare, just as he had done many times before.  And just like the many times Peter had used this bus before, the same old people sat in the same old seats.  He was used to it all by now.

Here we go again, he thought.

He took his usual seat near the back, just tucked away on the left hand side.  He liked being able to have a look around and observe all of the little things happening on the bus, without being seen himself.  He was in his own little world, looking out at the real one.

Sat on the opposite side of the bus, at around two o’clock, was a beautiful, petite brunette, who he had admired many times before.  He knew her name was Kate, but he wouldn’t introduce himself using this knowledge, as he knew she would not remember him.  Being so close to her, but being unable to speak, pained him.  But this was not their time, something he had very little of anyway.

And so he shifted his gaze away from Kate and towards the front of the bus.  As the bus made its way down the always busy and heavily-populated Frogmoor St, Peter reached forward and gripped the bar in front of him.  As the front wheel on the driver’s side dipped down into a small pothole, a collective, audible gasp echoed out around the bus.  There were a lot of shocked passengers.

“Sorry, folks!” the driver shouted.

Slouching back down into his seat, Peter turned and stared out of the window, down the road towards the next stop.  As the bus slowly pulled up, Peter could make out the faces of people he had seen many times before.  The old Indian lady with her basket of fresh fruit and veg, the two young boys who he felt for sure should be in school, the wearied mother and her two small children, and the ragged-looking middle-aged man carrying a laptop and tripod.  As the varied group of people took their turns finding a seat, the driver prepared to pull away.  But Peter’s gaze remained out of the window.

Five, four, three, two-, he counted down.

As his mind hit ‘one’, a man raced out of the building adjacent to the bus stop.  The man dived towards the bus and forced open the door. Panicked, the driver left his seat and attempted to stop the man.  As he lurched forward, the man reached inside his jacket, where, nestled inside his belt, was a small firearm.

“Back at the wheel!” he shouted.

The driver froze.  He was reaching his twilight years and this was too much for him to take in.  Peter knew that John, the driver, had only taken this job as he needed the money to pay his mortgage.  He had reached retirement age but couldn’t afford the house he lived in after his wife had passed away.  He needed the money and the bus followed a simple enough route, which is what he was after.  A nice, simple day’s work, is how he had once described it.  Not today.

Stumbling back into his driver’s seat, John lent forward and rested himself on his steering wheel, the large style that only vehicles of a certain size seem to use.

“Drive!” the man ordered John, forcing the butt of the gun into his temple.

The bus screeched away from the stop, at a speed most of its inhabitants had never felt from the vehicle before, John included.  But Peter had, and he knew what would happen if this kept up.

Keep it steady, John.

The old Indian women began to scream; gripping tightly to their mother, the two children opposite her quickly followed.  The man pulled the gun away from John’s head and approached the old women.  Pointing the gun at her chest, he spoke softly:

“Do that again, and I will pull this trigger. Do you understand?”

The woman nodded.  The only noise left filling the bus was that of the children, their sobs and cries.  The rest of the passengers were in a state of shock, all except Peter.  He watched on as the man sat next to the two children, whispering something to them.  Again, Peter could not make out what the man had said, but whatever it was, it worked.  The children soon stopped crying.  He rose from his seat and moved in front of Kate, blocking her from the man’s view.

“Steven, please, stop,” Peter called.

Steven shot up from his seat and stared Peter right in the eyes.  He was shocked to hear his name spoken so recognisably.  Instinctively, he again raised his gun, pointing it towards his perceived aggressor.

“What did you say?” he asked, clearly agitated.

“Listen, I know about what happened. Please, just relax,” Peter replied.

And he did know, too.  Steven had once told him all about it.  He had spoken of the argument he had with his girlfriend, of his pushing her away in anger, of the bag she had tripped on which sent her tumbling down the flight of stairs outside their apartment, and the fact he was already on probation.  Steven had told him all about it, in a much calmer state than the one he was currently in.  But that conversation seemed a world away now.

“Trouble? What the hell do you know about trouble? How the hell do you know my name!?” Steven shouted back.

Peter’s intervention had Steven more on edge than before, his temper slowly rising.

Shit, this isn’t going very well, he thought.

Kate began shifting nervously behind him.  He reached back with one hand, placing it reassuringly on her shoulder.  He raised his other hand, palm facing forward: a sign that he meant no harm.

“Please, don’t worry about that. Please trust me. I know you don’t want to do this. I know you’re running away from what happened. But it wasn’t your fault. I promise you, I know it wasn’t your fault. Please put the gun away,” Peter reasoned.

But it wasn’t working.  Steven strode back to the front end of the bus, where he could keep all of the passengers, especially Peter, in view.  His gun still raised, he now pointed it at various people, waving it haphazardly.

“You don’t know anything about me. Any of you! There’s no getting out of this now, I know–”

John leapt from his driver’s seat, grabbing Steven around the throat.  Peter watched on helplessly.  As the two men fell to the floor, the sound of a gunshot resonated through the vehicle.  Peter felt his hand behind him being squeezed tightly.  Screams once again filled the air; passengers dived to the floor, seeking cover under their seats, bags, anything they could find.

The bus veered off the road.  The small fence at the road’s edge offered no resistance as it gained speed.  Plunging down the hill on the other side, it began to tumble.  It flipped over.  And then again.  Its passengers were thrown around like rag dolls.  After three full rolls, the bus, now resting on its right hand side, led still.  Those still conscious were in a state of shock.  So much so, not a single of the dazed passengers noticed that Peter had been shot.

In the moments before their death, it is often said that people see their lives flash before their eyes.  All of the meaningful moments in their lives, the good things they have done, all relived before they pass on.

But this did not happen for Peter.  He knew better than that by now.

Glancing to his left, he saw the motionless body of Kate; eyes fixed forward, a trickle of blood seeped from her mouth.  He still remembered the first time this all happened, and the sadness he felt.  He remembered how she tried to fight Steven off and how he had shot her.  She was a fighter alright.  And so was he.  He’d find a way to save her.  Even if he had to do this for an eternity, he’d find a way.  It just wasn’t going to be this time.

Not again, he mourned, as he once more watched Kate’s eyes close for the final time.

Mustering all of the strength he had left, Peter pulled the amulet he had tied around his neck to his lips.  With his dying breath he spoke a short incantation.

A bright white light filled the sky, forcing him to close his eyes tightly.  The light was so intense that he still wasn’t used to it; he wasn’t sure he ever would be.  After a few seconds the light rescinded and Peter reopened his eyes.  He was back at the bus stop.  He pulled up his shirt sleeve and checked his watch: 11:01.  A new plan of action was already being formulated.

This time, he thought.  This time…