Here are links to the first for parts:
The Timekeeper, Part One, by Mark Gardner
The Timekeeper, Part Two, by Mozette
The Timekeeper, Part Three, by Angela Cavanaugh
The Timekeeper, Part Four, by Carolyn Astfalk
The Time Keeper, Part Five – Distant Testmaker
Ice cream with Jordan was the most fun I’d had in years. When I paid for our ice cream, I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. The banknote seemed to be the exactly the same as when I paid for the steak and mushrooms. My stomach churned at what I had witnessed, but I ate and asked Jordan about his school, his sister, and anything else I could get from the little boy.
The last ten years had been eerily similar for him and Tricia, but without me. I spent the day seeing the sights with Jordan. Everything was similar, but there were subtleties that I picked up on. We ran into Tricia only a few blocks from her house, and I relinquished Jordan back into her care. From the stories Jordan told me, Tricia was doing better than she had when I was her friend. As she led her little brother toward home, and I watched them recede into the distance, I wondered how our meeting and friendship had been changed.
I turned, and had the sudden feeling like I was on a roller coaster. My vision blurred momentarily, and I found myself in a familiar place – around the corner of a coffee shop. A coffee shop that would change my life so much in only ten years from the meeting with Tricia and Jordan.
I sucked in my breath as I watched a figure pause in front of the coffee shop. I would’ve recognized myself wearing the identical clothing I had on, but my actions solidified the recognition: Me, that was the me from… Hell, I don’t know… The me that tried to sell the watch. I was starting to understand what the hirsute pawnshop owner meant by trying to keep a grip on reality.
The earlier me peered across the street at the hours of operation, and she stepped into the coffee shop, a frantic gait as she peered into her purse. I pulled my timepiece out of my pocket and marveled at its reversion to the dull piece I had tried to sell. It’s meaning was lost on me, but I supposed this is what on-the-job training was all about.
“You got that right.”
I spun, frantic, at the sound of a familiar gravely voice. “Did I…”
He raised his hand to silence me. “Time is a fickle thing,” he declared.
I rolled my eyes, but issued the proper response. “But, it forever heeds its will to the timekeeper.”
He nodded. “I had to make sure you were the right you.”
The statement would’ve been bizarre in any other situation, but now?
“Relax, we’re not moving mountains.” He rubbed his hand across his stubble. “You got a smoke?”
My jaw dropped, and words failed me. I sputtered and eventually was able to croak, “I’m outta here.”
He nodded. “Sooner than you think.” He pulled out his timekeeper and I mimicked his actions. The metal was no longer tarnished and dented, but gleamed as I saw it in the past – silver and new.
“If you think too deeply about it, it’ll drive you crazy,” I said, as the hands on the watch spun counter-clockwise.
“Are you all right?”
I was so absorbed in the timekeeper that I failed to notice that the damned thing had done it again. I looked around and saw a young woman, textbooks under her arm, staring down at me.
“I, uh…” I looked around and figured I was on a college campus. The girl looking down at me seemed to be dressed in clothes out of time. Maybe thirty years out of style.
She reached down and hauled me to me feet. “What were you doing lying in the grass in the quad? There are plenty of trees you could utilize without impeding egress through the campus.”
I smiled. “You sound like my fourth grade teacher.”
Her smile was lopsided. “Hmmm, I’ve put a lot of consideration into teaching elementary school students. You’ve given me something to think about, miss…” her voice trailed off turning it into a question.
The girl smiled. “The wife of the Hindi god, Shiva. How appropriate.”
My blank stare must’ve clued her that I had no idea what she was talking about.
She rolled her eyes. “The devourer of time? And you are certainly eating up my time.”
“I’m sorry,” I paused, “miss, uh…”
She extended her hand. “Doris. Doris Fisher. The origin of my last name is obvious, but Doris means ‘gift’ in the ancient Greek.”
“Wow you sure know a lot about names.”
“Onomastics is just a hobby of mine.”
“Forget teaching kids, you should get into the name history thing.”
“Onomastics,” she repeated. “I’ve considered it, but there’s no future in it. At least with a teaching certificate, I could get a job anywhere.”
“Yeah, but with the world population increasing, I’d bet people would want to differentiate themselves with unique names.”
Doris leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner. “I’ve dreamed of joining the International Council of Onomastic Sciences. Maybe start some sort of journal or something.”
Doris beamed. She was so different than the teacher I remember. Her whole life was ahead of her and this name origin thing seemed to make her happy.
“I think you should put serious thought into that Uno metric thing.”
Doris frowned. “Onomastic,” she hissed and stormed away.