The Curse of Time: Chapter 9
Raven woke up with a jolt, startled out of peaceful dreaming into a world of confusion. Or was it peaceful? Even as she tried to grasp at her memory of the dream, she felt it slipping away from her. Even so, she may not have been able to remember the details, but she did remember one thing. She needed to trust her friends, and her friends seemed to trust Cameron. So she figure that meant she needed to trust him too. Which meant she probably needed to listen to him, at least until he went crazy again.
With this in mind she went throughout her day determined to call him and Aaron and ask them to tell her more. Not demand, just ask. She told herself she wouldn’t assume. She told herself she would listen to anything he had to say. She told herself she might even let him come into her house again. Still, nothing could prepare her for his first words to her.
“Why don’t you come by the lab today?”
Yeah, not what she expected at all. She looked over at Kaya, who was driving her to Starbucks for a chat, and then looked back out the window and lowered her voice.
“Come by the lab. I can have Aaron text to directions- he knows this area better than I do.”
“Sorry, I’ve got plans for the rest of the day.”
Raven waited for his response, expecting him to push for her to stop by, but heard nothing. It probably took her a little bit too long to realize the reason she couldn’t hear anything had to do with the fact that she was no longer holding her phone. Kaya tucked the phone into her shoulder and listened intently as she drove. Raven reached out to take it back, but Kaya just put her elbow in Raven’s face and started to talk.
“Sure, an adventure sounds great. Raven really needs to loosen up; she’s gotten all tense and wrinkly in the past few weeks. Plus, she never has enough fun. Expect us there at seven.”
As Kaya pulled the phone away to turn it off, Raven heard Cameron speaking quickly in confusion “What? Who is this? Us? Who’s us? Raven?”
Seven came around and Raven would have still been fuming if it had been Aaron. But it was Kaya, not Aaron, so she had calmed down after her second coffee and had nearly forgotten about it. Kaya was just like that, she knew how to calm people down and take charge of a situation. Unless it was a client- then she enjoyed insulting them.
As they pulled in to the parking lot Raven noticed the shabbiness of the one-story building. Supposedly, Cameron Black was one of the ten richest men in the world. So, why was he doing his research in what looked like a shack? Still, she had promised not to go into the meeting with any prejudice and she pushed it to the back of her mind.
Inside the building, it wasn’t much better. The paint was peeling, the floors were dirt, the walls looked like they could collapse at any moment, and the furniture was non-existent. Raven was pretty much ready to walk out and call Aaron for the correct address when he stepped out of a closet and greeted them. Smiling and chattering on like a proud young child, he led them through the shack and into a small room. Gesturing towards the closet at the far end, he smiled giddily and told them to go in.
Raven was having some reservations, but she figured there must be a basement or something that they were going to, so she opened the door and went in. No stairs, just a dark closet. Turning around, Raven opened the door to the closet and tried to open it. It seemed to be stuck, so she pushed harder, and harder, and finally threw herself against the door. It opened with a pop and she burst into a room with a shudder and a crash.
The room she fell into though was not the room she had come from. It was a huge, white, sunny room that nearly blinded with its brightness, size, and plain magnificence. It seemed to stretch on and on forever and was filled with all manner of strange devices. A young woman held out a hand to help her up and giggled a little bit as she introduced herself.
“Don’t worry about it, we all fell our first time. It is kind of shocking. I’m Emilia.”
Emilia was tall and had the cutest haircut. Purple highlights stretched through her hair, accenting her bangs and complementing her glasses which slipped down her nose as she bent down to help Raven. Her hands were long and her fingers were slender, nails like talons grasped her wrists and left dents in her skin. Emilia’s face was sharp, but not ugly, and matched the deadly look in her eyes. Still, her beautiful smile and infectious giggle made her seem nice.
Just as she was about to introduce herself there was a thud behind Raven and Kaya came through the door, knocking Raven back to the ground. Aaron was right behind her with Cameron, but they stepped out into the room with barely a pause. Aaron helped Kaya up and Cameron offered Raven his hand, but she just looked away and pulled herself back to her feet.
“Some place you got here! I probably wouldn’t have been able to find it in less than a month.” Kaya actually sounded impressed, which was saying something.
“Indeed, this is quite the perfect place for our experiments.” Cameron clenched his hands behind his back and gazed with pride at his lab. “It was an abandoned military facility, presumably a ‘top secret’ one, so we bought it and gave it a few necessary upgrades. Otherwise, it was already prepped for our use.”
“Here,” Aaron handed them all sunglasses and white lab coats. “We wear these types of things as a precaution, but there’s no reason they can’t be stylish too.”
“Since when have you cared about ‘style’?”
“Hey!” Aaron gave Kaya a friendly punch, “I’ve always cared about style, I’ve just never cared about what others think about mine.”
Cameron led them down the hall, explaining each device as they walked past it. Emilia leaned close and whispered to Raven as they walked.
“He thinks he’s so cool!” she giggled like a little girl, “He’s really not all that bad, he’s just very dedicated. After all, he could really use the chance to change the past.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, don’t tell him I mentioned it, but his parents died when he was really little. It was a tragic accident that claimed both of their lives, leaving him alone and the heir to two large fortunes.”
“So, that’s why he wants to find this time source?”
“Well, not completely. I think he genuinely does want to keep the company from getting it and protect it from wrong use. Still, wouldn’t you want to change your past if you could?”
Emilia then continued to comment on the tour as they walked through the hallway. They became best of friends in a few moments and found themselves completely ignoring Cameron as they giggled and laughed at him behind his back. Even Kaya joined in on the fun with her famous one-word comments that somehow managed to elicit laughter every time. Needless to say, Raven was beginning to enjoy herself.
Closing their eyes, Raven and Kaya were ushered into a room with whispers of excitement and obvious pride bouncing around and into their ears. Aaron and Cameron were like excited children, about to show their mother the beautiful sand castle they had built right before the ocean carried it away. Raven truly did hope that whatever they were about to show her wouldn’t be washed away. If it was amazing, she wanted to see it. If it wasn’t, she wanted to know.
They heard some crashing a clattering as they were told to stand still while Cameron and Aaron prepared their presentation. Raven’s first thought was that it must be something really big. Her second was that Cameron had so much money, he should be able to press a button and have whatever-it-is just fly out of the wall or something. The clattering continued and even got louder for a moment as something fell. Someone shouted out in pain and Raven secretly hoped that it was Cameron, but the girl-like pitch of the shout told her that it was probably Aaron.
Finally, the noise stopped and Cameron told them to turn around and open their eyes. The light blinded them for a moment and Raven blinked hard to clear the white out of her vision. Finally, the mist of darkness cleared and she saw a white wall. If this was the surprise Cameron was so excited about, she was going to punch him again. It was a pity too- she had just started to not hate him. But it wasn’t the real “surprise” that they were looking at and Cameron instructed them to slowly, slowly, so slowly turn around.
Finally they saw it, and they had no idea what they were seeing. The looked kind of like a mixture between the Fantastic4 costumes and the X-Men suits. Then they got closer and realized that the suits were nothing like anything that they had ever seen before. They were made out of a strange material that was lightweight, but thick. It seemed to be made of netting with cloth underneath, but closer inspection showed that it was really netting with solid cloth growing as a part of it. The netted part of the cloth was like a metal that stretched and then returned to the original form. It shimmered when touched and felt cold and hot at the same time.
It was formed into a single suit with no breaks except for the neck holes and a zipper in the front. There were four suits total, each with similar designs and different colors. On the first two, there were white patches on the shoulders that stretched down part way onto the arms before sharpening to a point and ending around the elbows. They also had white patches in the shapes of 0s that started on each side at the chest and stretched down to the insides of the knees. Inside of the white patches on the sides there were large patches of color, one red and the other blue.
The second two suits also had the white patches on the shoulders but the white patches on the sides were formed more like stripes that curved, turned, flipped, and wound their way down to the ankles. They were lined with different colors, the one gold and the other grey. The colors that lined the stripes almost seemed to glow.
With each suit was a matching jacket, pair of boots, and gloves. Overall, they looked really cool. Raven was starting to see why Cameron and Aaron were so excited about them, but she was slightly confused. She looked harder at the outfits and squinted, trying to discern some sort of meaning.
“So… what are these for?”
“Well,” Aaron stepped forward, smiling mischievously, “why don’t you guess?”
“I’m kind of scared to think what these are for. We’re not jumping out of an airplane, are we?”
“Time travel.” Kaya stated.
“What was that?”
“Time travel, we’ll wear them for time travel.”
“Close, but no cigar!” Cameron seemed overly cheerful. “However, If you were referring to the use of the flower petals or necklace to travel to alternate realities, then yes, we will totally use it for that.”
“You see,” Emilia cut in, surprising Raven by her knowledge of the project, “These suits are made of a non-existent metal that we picked up in one of our few trips through the realities. It may sound kind of weird and unrealistic, but this metal is practically impenetrable by anything- heat, cold, arrows, bullets, or disease.”
“Of course, there is the factor that your head is still exposed, so disease really could be an issue still. Unless of course, you wear these…” Aaron held up matching hoods for the suits that had goggles sewn into the front to they could be zipped up and completely sealed off. “Of course, they aren’t very cool looking, so I’m hoping we never have to use them.
“Okay,” Raven felt like she needed to be the sensible one in the room, just to keep up her reputation. “so assuming this metal really is impenetrable, how do you breathe with that thing closed up?”
“Good question. To put it simply- we don’t know.”
Raven nearly laughed, and Cameron noticed.
“It’s not that you can’t breathe, because we wouldn’t even be showing it to you if that were true. It’s just that we don’t know how the air enters and is filtered and such. However, testing has proven this to be the case, and these attributes could prove very useful in some situations.”
“Hold on,” Raven hated herself for it, but the negative side came biting at Cameron again, “I haven’t even agreed to dot his whole ‘time-travel’ thing yet. Just… give me some time to think.”
“Sis’, I’m gonna say this as gently as I can… We gave you time and you’ve done nothing. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s slipping away!”
“What- time travel doesn’t exist all throughout time?”
“Your life is slipping away. Most days you just go to school, come home, watch a movie, and go to sleep. This is your chance- take it.”
“One day is all I’m asking.” Raven knew she would regret this, but she said it anyways. She hoped it would make up for how she had been acting. She didn’t mean to be mean, but she was and she was starting to feel bad about it. One day was all she had to get her act together and decide- would she go back to her life, or start a new one. There would be no going back from this science experiment.