Lots of gaps, but it is just the first draft. Story-a-Day May continues.
Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors
The time traveler and the magician argued. The sky above had been gray for a hundred years and the ground beneath their feet cracked and crumbled. The smell of bombs and fire drifted around them. Still they argued.
The time traveler spoke again of fixed points in time and of paradoxes. The magician demanded to know why such things mattered anymore and tossed light into the air with her fingertips.
“Why do you keep making light?” the time traveler asked. “What is the use of your magic?”
“It would kill me to keep it inside,” the magician replied. “Why do you keep going back in time if you can do nothing to save us?”
The time traveler looked down and considered rolling herself backwards until she could safely turn her back on the magician. She had the best wheelchair of anyone left alive, but she was tired and jagged holes pocked the pavement. “It would kill me,” she said.
“We’re all dead already.” The magician pulled at her tie, the only pretty thing she still owned. Its blue silk shimmered in the light she created.
“Then hold in your light,” the time traveler said.
“That’s different,” the magician replied. “You could save the world. I can pull a rabbit out of hat.”
“You could feed a family with a rabbit.” The time traveler looked away to make sure no one listened. It wouldn’t do to be found out now.
The magician laughed. Her laugh was deep and rich in spite of her hunger and her cough. “My rabbits are too thin these days. But you could find me more. You could bring back the fat and soft rabbits of the old days. They were white like a full moon.”
“If I bring you rabbits, would that be enough?”
This time the magician’s laugh was bitter. “No. You know it wouldn’t. You know what you have to do.”
“You could be wrong. You don’t really know what would save us.”
The magician bent forward and placed her hands on the armrests of the wheelchair. Her many braids fell forward and she leaned in as close as she dared. “I’ve read the cards and the tea leaves. I’ve consulted the witch in the northern most cave. I’ve thrown the bones of hens and traded the coin I could always find behind someone’s ear for a magic mirror. Everything says the same.”
“Please move back,” the time traveler requested.
The magician did as she was asked. She crossed her arms across her chest.
“But this isn’t like going back and hiding the gun so it can’t be fired or waiting on the side of the road to push someone out of the way. We can’t know when the end began. It’s not that simple.”
“It can be done. If you find him in time, you can stop him.”
“Fixed points in time!” the time traveler shouted.
“Broken points in time!” The magician stood a little straighter. “Go. Or you’ll never leave this place, this time.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” she asked. “The rest of us are trapped here because you believe time can be fixed. Where do you learn that nonsense anyway?”
The time traveler inched her wheel chair back. It rolled into a shallow puddle. “I could leave now and go to another time and stop you.”
“You could.” The magician pulled at her own hair almost setting it on
fire. “Kill me or save him. Why is this a hard choice?”
The time traveler took a deep breath. “I’ve never tried to save the world before. Not really. What if I fail?”
The magician gestured at the wasted city around them. “Maybe you already have.”
The time travel nodded. “Wait here,” she said.
“If you succeed, that won’t be necessary.”
The time traveler reached her destination, but that was the easy part. Now she had to find the singer. The city was beautiful though. The sky was blue and the breeze clear. She could stay there, of course. She never had to return to that terrible future. The magician would have to give up. The magician would lose.
Some people, the time traveler knew, couldn’t be saved.
The magician waited. The gray sky blackened as night rolled in. She found an old bench deciding there was no need to go back to her shelter. This night would be the end of this life one way or another. She sat down to wait for whatever the time traveler decided.
The magician woke with a start. Her thoughts were muddled for a moment, but then she realized she’d fallen asleep waiting for the bus. She blinked in the sunlight and clear blue sky. People were rushing by this way and that, ignoring the woman cat napping on the city bench. Where had she’d been going? Oh, yes. A party.
The bus pulled up to the stop and the magician boarded, branding her bus pass. It had been a while since she’d entertained at a celebrity’s house. Sometimes, she mused, she felt as if she were living a fairy tale.
The bus was crowded and the row of chairs near the front were folded up to allow for a wheelchair. The magician sat across from a woman in a wheelchair.