Thursday, 21 November 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 21 Word Count 760

His expression was fearful. It was hard to tell if he was afraid of her, or afraid of the consequences of his not arresting her immediately. Either way, this was a very dangerous time for her.

She drummed her fingers on the arm of her chair and thought for a few moments as Phillip sat himself in his usual seat and stared at her; eyes flickering but generally focussed on her. She had no particular plan for getting through this. It had been several days of thoughts around this one subject and nothing had formed – no resolution, no construction or even a clue as to the best step to take.

Now, as she looked at him, she decided that there was only one thing to be done. She retrieved the device, held it out for him to take a handle and took a leap of faith.

They arrived in the future; the choking fog and flame surrounding them. The wasted people – not yet as horrendously deformed as they would be within five years when starvation and desperation and the wastelands of the earth had taken them to the very edge of humanity – were still conscious enough to be intrigued by unusually dressed individuals – especially when one was gasping and choking while the other stood tall and still.

Melissa touched a few buttons and leaped across time and space to another scene. This one was of control and antagonism: a political forum where the politics had fallen out of the window. Here the air was clear and the earth stayed still long enough for Phillip to take a deep breath and a look around. He was staggered again. They had gone three or four decades back in time and to her the scene was quaint, but to him it was astonishing. The previous scene nothing had been visible and other than the change from indoor to outdoor he could pretend that he was in London still. Now, it was as though he had entered an alien world.

Once he'd got an eyeful, she took him on again: scene after scene of devastation, chaos and confusion.

Some time later they returned to her sitting room where she let Phillip fall into a chair. She returned the device to its safe place and once she reached the room she took in his state in a swift glance. Spurning Mary's go to response of laudanum, she called for brandy and a platter of tea. Allowing him a few minutes to recover she poured him the first generous slug of brandy which he knocked back speedily. Within minutes he had poured a follow-up and, although his hand shook slightly, he held it casually and partook on occasion.

Finally his gaze turned to her and asked in a voice so calm and relaxed that underneath she could imagine him being utterly impossibly rigid and wholly controlled by his upbringing and schooling: “What exactly did you and I experience?”

Briefly she recounted the meaning of each of the scenes they had visited, unfolding for him the story as it had first been revealed to her. Taking him into the details she described the story she had gleaned from her researches.

He sat staring at her, those huge dark eyes completely impenetrable. When she had concluded her speech, he stared at the brandy swilling in the glass and once again took a large gulp. “You can travel instantaneously from location to location and arrive at any time in the past or future you desire.”

“Yes, I can.”

Silence fell again.

“How many people can you transport?”

She shook her head and jumped to her feet. “Don't think like that, Phillip!” Her cry was urgent. “Don't you think what you saw was bad enough? This technology is in the wrong place! It's in the wrong time! I had to get Andy out of the hands of the French before they learned what the device does, because when they found out, they wiped out the British and everyone who stood in their way. Their technology developments vastly outpaced their understanding of managing it and they brought the world to a different kind of destruction.

“I can't even contemplate the horrors that would be wrought by the deliverance of the device to another pair of hands who use it to influence the world. I have to stop this – this war that is coming, but I am desperately afraid that I might do more harm than good.” She sighed and gazed into the fire.

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