Excerpt from "TimeKeeperS"

  • user warning: Table 'tuttles.date_format_types' doesn't exist query: SELECT dft.type, dft.title, dft.locked FROM date_format_types dft ORDER BY dft.title in /home/public/sites/all/modules/date/date_api.module on line 2098.
  • user warning: Table 'tuttles.date_format_locale' doesn't exist query: SELECT format, type, language FROM date_format_locale in /home/public/sites/all/modules/date/date_api.module on line 2227.

Just after Christmas, Marianne was invited to a “National Invitational” Archery Tournament in Denver and elected to go, hoping to use the trip to connect with some distant relatives who lived in the mountains near there. Even though Denver isn’t particularly close to La Plata Canyon, Garison and Heather were planning to go up and watch the tournament just because it was going to be “in state”. And then Heather got started talking to Jody and her “quick trip” came to involve a flight to Arizona to pick us up and take us to Denver with them.

When the Marianne of the other reality heard about it, she suddenly had an urge to see the tournament, too. Of course, she wouldn’t see the exact same tournament we were seeing because she wouldn’t see herself, but she was determined to go. Bat said he had an urge to see some mountains again, so he agreed to go along with her. It wound up being a full car as Marianne’s mother and sister also went along—also with the intent of checking in on the Colorado relatives, which were relatives on her late husband’s side for Alicia. I think, mainly, she just didn’t think much of letting her teenage daughter go to Colorado with a single (if old) man and decided to turn it into a mother-daughters outing.

The event was held at a fairly new venue in the part of town known as Cherry Creek. Ostensibly a part of the University of Denver, it was co-owned by the city and provided a myriad of venues, including water sports, gymnastics, and pretty much every other sport you can think of except baseball and football. The archery competition was set-up on a large field that had a retractable roof and could have hosted a football game if they had wanted to. Being winter in Colorado, the roof was closed, of course.

While our Marianne was winning handily and gaining accolades galore, the other Marianne was wandering around the competitions while her sister and mother shopped the nearby stores and Bat wandered in other directions. She had tried to watch the archery competition but had become frustrated as she became convinced she could have won it as easily as her doppleganger. So she had just started meandering, occasionally stopping to watch one event or another, and becoming rather downcast.

She was wandering through the gymnastics arena when she stopped to watch an extremely talented young woman on the parallel bars. While watching, she overheard two young women talking and something caught her ear.

“I’m telling you, it was right there where the vault is set up,” a very toned, almost masculine young black woman said as she gestured.

An equally toned and even more masculine young blonde woman responded, “You don’t believe that story, do you?”

“Hey,” the first speaker defended, “I heard it from Coach Wilkins. He was here when it happened. They walked in for a meet one morning about three years ago and, right there where the vault is now, there was a hole in the floor of the gym. Said there was grass growing in it and everything. Even half a gas line.”

“Half a gas line?” the skeptic asked dubiously.

“Yeah. He said it was like someone had just cut a circle out of the prairie somewhere and dropped it right in the middle of the gym. They thought it was a prank of some sort, but he said the hole in the foundation went all the way through. Cut right through a gas line and everything. Said it made several people nauseous.”

“So where’s the hole now?” the skeptic asked snidely.

“They fixed it. Never did find out who did it. They figured it was some fraternity prank, but no one was ever caught or claimed responsibility. Coach said whoever pulled it off must have been a near-genius to have been able to do it in one night, without leaving any dirt on the floor or anything. Just—and this is the creepy part—half a bird was laying on the floor nearby.”

“Half a bird?”

“Yeah. Like when they cut the pipe, they had cut a bird, too. Like some old science fiction movie where the aliens zap up a whole town and their laser-ray slices through the air.”

“There you go,” said the skeptic. “Probably just some weirdo sci-fi fans.”

Marianne leaned over the railing a bit and said, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but this hole in the floor. When did it happen?”

The blonde seemed perturbed at being overheard, but her friend answered, “It was at the spring meet three years ago, I think. Why? Have you heard about it?”

“I heard of a similar … prank, down in Texas. A friend of mine is a detective and has been looking into it. Is this coach who saw it around today?”

The dark-skinned woman looked around and then pointed to a heavy-set woman with close-cropped red hair who was intently watching the floor exercises. “That’s Coach Wilkins over there, but I wouldn’t bother her while the meet’s going on.”

“Thanks,” Marianne replied, then started off at a run for the last place she had seen Bat.

She found him and told him all she had overheard and asked him if it could be related to the tree in Texas. He said he couldn’t tell enough about it just from that story to make a definitive reply, but that it was worth looking into. She seemed a bit perturbed at his lack of enthusiasm but prompted him to ask me if there were a similar story in my world. I hadn’t been paying much attention to Bat that day—having gotten pretty good at ignoring him, really, as I would see everything he had seen later on in re-runs—but he got my attention and asked me to check it out.

I made my way over to the gymnastics arena—a little perturbed myself at having to miss Marianne’s final shots—but I had the foresight to take Edward with me. He seemed surprisingly ready to go, but I came to realize that Marianne won by such incredible margins that he almost found it embarrassing to watch. He was proud of her, but didn’t mind missing out on some of it, either.

We got to the gymnastics arena and found the two young women Marianne had described to Bat standing in about the spot she had described. I goaded Edward into taking the lead—as he was near their age—as I just hung back and acted like I wasn’t with him as I listened in.

“Excuse me, ladies,” Edward asked nervously, but with what he hoped was a friendly smile. “I don’t mean to interrupt your concentration or anything, but I was wondering if you could help me with something.”

The blonde looked at him with annoyance, but the other young woman asked, “Didn’t I see you with that archer? The one everybody’s talking about?”

“Uh, yeah. She’s my wife.” They didn’t look like they believed him, but he was used to that. He continued, “This is going to sound crazy, but we heard a weird rumor about this place. Either of you ever hear a story about some fraternity pulling a prank in this building about three years ago? Something about cutting a hole in the floor and putting in grass and a—and a dead bird?”

They looked at him as if he were as crazy as he sounded. He waited a moment, then reassured, “You’ve never heard that story, huh?” They turned away from him and resumed watching the competition. “Nice talking to you,” he said politely before turning and shrugging at me.

As he got closer, he said, “I think you’re sane but your alter-ego’s nuts.”

“It wasn’t his story, it was Marianne’s,” I defended.

Read more about it, and order it for your Kindle or Nook at http://garisonfitch.com/book/timekeepers/