Arthur was stirred from his day-dreaming of recollecting that day’s dastardly events by Morgan charging into his room.
“Ever heard of knocking?!” said Arthur, angry now that he had lost his train of thought.
“Mum says you need to go to bed,” said Morgan roughly. “We’re going out tomorrow and that means actually getting up in the morning rather than around lunchtime.”
Arthur huffed, “Where are we going?” He hated Saturday outings; they usually consisted of shopping and boredom.
“How should I know? Don’t shoot the messenger!” and with that she exited the room, neatly switching off the light as she slipped through the doorway.
There was no point in arguing. Arthur undressed in the gloom and put on pyjamas. He turned around to get into bed but something stopped him. He thought of the gloomy lair of the crazy pensioner made a home in his mind and a niggling fear that the lady knew more about him than he’d have liked, made a permanent place in his worried mind. He crept into bed and lay there with his covers tightly protecting him, eye wide open, staring at nothing in particular. He must have laid there for hours, as when he turned over; he saw that his clock illuminated 11:59. He watched it tick over to midnight, then one minute past.
The next series of events happened so fast you could say that they happened in an instant. However, it’s technically impossible for an awful lot to happen in an actual instant, as it is merely a snap-shot of history.
Arthur sat bolt upright in bed in time to see the room around him melt and part to either side of a dilating black cloud. His room went silent; more silent than before: no snoring from next door, no faint workings within the clock mechanism, just silence.
He stayed rooted to the bed while a figure formed to fill the gap in the Universe. It materialised as a flowing black shadow, wavering three feet above the bedroom floor. It seemed to hesitate a moment, then legs sprouted from its base and arms reached out from its sides. It emerged into a human outline, which was filled with a black foggy substance, also pouring off the figure like dark flames. The air above the figure darkened and floated down, like smoke, to form a thin cloak, which was constantly swaying as it hung off the wearer’s frail frame.
The atmosphere in the room calmed and the figure’s eyes snapped open. A torrent of purples, lilacs and mauves swam in two round eye holes, constantly squirming around. A pinprick of true black was the only clue to the name ‘eyes’, and the only part of the entire body that stayed still and focussed on you.
Pause this for a moment, so a spooky, ominous black creature emerges out of no where, created from smoke matter, and stands before the end of your bed, in the middle of the night. What would you do? Ever thought of panicking or screaming or perhaps feeling a little scared? These are all perfectly normal reactions, but as I said before, Arthur is far from normal. He just sat there, curious, watching and waiting for this grand entrance to have a grand outcome. Instead, this happened:
A voice unfolded inside Arthur’s head, without having politely travelled through the air to get there. It said: “Sorry I’m late. Terrible traffic through 537 AD – it’s not everyday the King kicks the bucket. All of Camelot is out searching and fussing. The dull atmosphere turns my journey into the equivalent of trying to jog through a heavy fruit cake. Anyway, I’m here now, 2011 AD. George isn’t it?”
For the second instance that day, Arthur sighed and said: “No, my name’s Arthur.”
There was silence while the creature considered this. One which lasted long enough for Arthur to consider whistling. He was puckering his lips when the silence shattered.
“Interesting, interesting,” the words arrived in Arthur’s mind. The force behind them made the words cold and sinister, contradictory to the friendly chatter beforehand.
Another long pause resulted in Arthur glancing around his room uncomfortably, before curiosity took over. “So, err, wha – who are you?” The question was a lot shakier out loud than Arthur had played over in his mind. He silently cursed his nervousness and childish fear. He should behave like an adult at 16, and deal with situations like this in a controlled and logical manner. He thought the nature of his question was a good start as there were a range of queries he could have asked, such as “Why would you be late?” and “Why is my name interesting?” He could have also just screamed his head off, but his choked throat wouldn’t allow that. His mum had always said ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ so if he knew this cloudy figure’s name, he would no longer be a stranger to him.
The creature replied loud and confident, “Is it not obvious from my surrounding air of experience and talent? Is it not obvious from my ever moving eyes and my instantaneous materialisation in a hole in the Universe? Is it not obvious that I am Time, the controller of your kind’s insignificant lives and ruler of your destiny? I am your history, your now, and your forever, and I have NO MERCY!”
This outburst was strong enough to have made the room shudder in fear, but Arthur’s surroundings seemed oblivious to their guest and remained undisturbed.
“Well… no, actually. It isn’t,” said Arthur, as he flopped the bed covers over and stood up defiantly. Time’s eyes suddenly flashed from anger to astonishment.
“Oh,” said Time, looking flustered. “The truth is, I’m not too accomplished with the meetings of humans, such as yourself, and I don’t know how they converse. So, er, how am I doing, considering this is my first encounter, Mr Arthur, err, Sir?”
Arthur replied snappily, and sounded a lot harsher than he had intended. “How do you think I feel? You’ve invaded my personal space and privacy, interrupted my attempt at sleeping, you’ve just told me that you are the absolute ruler over me and that my life is insignificant. It’s a good idea to look up the name of your intended visit as well. You have made me scared, upset, anxious and you have severely downgraded my previous expectations of the independent forces of the Universe. You’re a terrible excuse for Time, you call that entrance and cloak thing ‘fitting in’ and, and, just… go away, you… cloudy PEST!”
Time’s face fell, although not technically a face like you or I are used to. And just for a nanosecond, Time was so hurt, that Time stood still.