Shattered time. Shattered, time. “Shattered, time to wake up, darlin’!” His eyes opened slowly, he felt so exhausted. He felt Shattered. Again. Mar stood over him. They were in her small cabin. The light coming through the windows illuminated Mar’s face; it was old, weathered, lined; her youthfulness had retreated to its place in past. The smell of Sequoia’s fur mixed with coffee, dust and wood rot. Shattered got up from his small mattress in the corner of the main room. Mar sat in her rocking chair. “Well, darlin’ ain’t you going to at least have a cup of coffee with me before you head out?”
“Head out where? What happened to William?”
“Dr Olanrewaju!” Shattered shouted his name. He began to shake. He looked at his body. He wore the old woolen trench coat. He smelt potently of sweat, bacteria, fungi and hormones. His skin felt rougher, worn. Mar looked at him with a great deal of amusement. She laughed a little.
“You sure overdid, hun! You must’ve taken far too much of that tea! I told you not to drink mushroom tea that many days in a row! Sit down, darlin’!”
“No! Where? What time is it?” He put his knees on the ground in front of Mar and gently placed his hands on her knees. He began to calm himself. Nothing felt right; his feet itched with the athlete’s foot infection he had had last summer. As he gazed into Mar’s eyes he almost had the impression that he was dreaming. Yet, it was not a dream. Too fleshy. Too smelly. Too vivid. He continued to peer into every line of Mar’s face; she stopped smiling.
“Why, I suppose it’s June sixteenth.”
“And the year?”
“2063. What’s wrong with you, S? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“No, it can not be June 2063. I have, we have, already been here.”
“You’ve been reading up on the Block Universe theory books while high on mushrooms, that it, ain’t it?” Mar put her hand out and touched Shattered; she touched his nose with her index finger. Confused, he almost pulled back, but this motion, this movement by Mar, always calmed him. She had used it since he was a toddler. He closed his eyes, breathed in deeply and let his head fall into Mar’s lap. What is happening? All of my experiences, the Central Valley, Marin, Marin again, William – they can’t have been a hallucination!
“They are not.” Kyoto stood behind Shattered. Everything froze. The dust falling in the afternoon light no longer fell; it hung, entirely stationary, in midair. Nothing moved aside from Shattered as he turned around to see Kyoto standing, in their usual black-robe, barefoot on the wooden floor. Kyoto’s gaze did not move from Shattered’s visage. He fell back and leaned into the rocking chair between Mar’s two legs.
“Kyoto, what’s happening? Where’s William? I was just with him last night!” His words came out of his mouth, but as they moved through the air, they created ripples, waves, and extended outwards. Heaving words warped the opposite side of the cabin, the ceiling buckled. Words became almost material.
“You needn’t speak. We can communicate this way.” Kyoto’s voice, clear, without drag, came through inside, as a thought. And the thought seemed distinct but intermingled with other thoughts, and the thought that he had been hallucinating, going insane, became more likely. “What do you mean?” Shattered shouted his rejoinder to Kyoto; his words boomed, barreled and distorted space itself; the defraction wave bent and caused holes in Mar’s room, and the beam between her room and the main room cracked. “Please you need not speak vocally. It’s too disruptive. Communicate here, Shattered. Focus your thoughts.” Shattered, seeing light coming through Mar’s bedroom wall, agreed. He focused and thought, “Kyoto, what the hell is happening?”
“A serious problem has arisen, due to technical issues with the equipment here on Earth. In short, a sort of retro-causal temporal event, localized, happened at The Smithson Institute; where you were last with Dr Olanrewaju. He has a specialized device that protects him from such very rare events, but you had not yet been fitted with one. They are not made on Earth. Dr Smithson is meant to be back soon. I am trying to establish communication. It took me a week to locate you…”
“A week, a week, a week. Kyoto, I have only been here a few minutes, maybe fifteen or, at the most, thirty…”
“Well, yes, your relative position differs because of the shift in the Smithson field source… I need to go, we are doing our best. More retrogression is possible…” Kyoto moved her hand slowly and carefully placed a small, round blue marble in Shattered’s shaking hand. Kyoto closed Shattered’s palm, and at that very moment only Shattered remained in the room. And then, by degrees, only the room remained, and outside thick white and grey twisted clouds tapered into wisps twisted meringue like. No ground. No trees. Just dense, befogging, whiteness.
*featured image: Inside Clouds, Courtesy of Pinterest