This story is by Pethrolynna Isaac and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Log forty-two; Timer: Tyliq Maynard; Mission Sixty-three – ninth entry.” Patrice recorded the particulars of the session as customary then sat facing the Timer. She took his vitals and asked if he had experienced any unusual phenomenon. Tyliq shook his head, indicating that all was fine.
She made her final recordings then crossed the room to the control panel that was stationed on one of the four-shelving units that covered the entire western wall of her office. As she crossed the room, Patrice’s black heels sunk lightly into the brown and cream carpet. “How are you feeling today?”
Without awaiting his response, Patrice adjusted the mood of the room. She created a fall atmosphere: gloomy, windy and dark. She added the sound of rain and rustling leaves. Patrice even adjusted the temperature of the room in order to mimic the weather. Tyliq always loved the fall. Plus he conversed best in cozy atmospheres.
Tyliq’s eyes followed the lines of her green bodycon dress that edged just about an inch above her knees all the way past the round of her hips up to the shoulders exposing her entire neckline. There, a single string of pearls sat touching her collar bones.
“When did you first meet her?” Patrice’s voice sounded.
At this point, Tyliq had made himself rather comfortable. He lay half naked on the couch scrolling through his facebook page. He did this every time he wanted to avoid an awkward encounter. So, she asked him again, “When, did you first meet her?”
Tyliq placed his phone on the coffee table beside him and folded his arms a top the crown of his head.
“You have to give me more Tyliq. Mission Four, you returned with a note and Mission Six, you returned with a picture. We need real answers or you will not be permitted to continue this assignment. You have just about thirty seven minutes left. How do you care to spend the time?”
Tyliq glanced at Patrice. Her peering eyes said much more than her words. He slid his head down from the arm rest. He now lay flat on his back with his arms folded across his chest. His slightly muscular frame filled the grey lounger. “Patrice, I have retraced, I have repeated the exercises and every time, I come up with nothing! I am more bothered about this than you or the agency. This woman, who I can barely recall comes in search of me and has proof of knowing me. You made progress the last time. I don’t know why we cannot do it again!”
Patrice knew what Tyliq wanted her to do but she was adamant, he needed to battle his way through this mental blackhole. However, he was right. This was his third session since Mission Four and they had made no progress. Patrice had exhausted all possible retrieval practices that the progamme had authorised for the reorientation process. The last break through they had was minimal; and by right Patrice should not have utilised Bluestocking during the sessions; and she had not disclosed that she did.
Bluestocking amplifies therapist’s and participant’s ability to recall information accurately; especially when retrieving information proved difficult. However, it was still in the final trial stages. Its use on Timers was not authorized. Patrice needed answers.
Patrice reoriented Timers after every mission to ensure that they kept collected data separate from events occurring in relative time seeing as Timers encountered all worlds: past and present. A Timer’s mission was to fill in blanks without altering events. Their interactions with the visited era should be synonymous to extras on a movie set; simply filling in the canvas.
Tyliq’s missions were surely being compromised.
What had become even more peculiar was Tyliq’s attitude. He had become very protective and defensive towards a woman who he knew very little about. Patrice was convinced that there was something personal there; possibly intimate.
When Tyliq returned from the fourth 1963 Mission, he entered his quarantine quarters. He carefully positioned his hands and feet and aligned his head within the protective shield then proceeded to sit in the atomizer. The atomizer ran its series of system checks to ensure that no aspect of the human anatomy was affected. Upon leaving the atomizer, Tyliq placed his hand into his right pocket and to his surprise there was something there. Timers carried nothing on their missions that could verify their existence within the period. So to return with an item was unheard of.
He removed the slip of paper and scribed across it were the words, “Meet you next week. Don’t worry I’ll find you”. Tyliq was startled. He knew for a fact that he had spoken to no one apart from the librarian on the fourth floor. During his time there, two other individuals were in the room. The books within this room lined the perimeter walls. Portable ladders that slid along a track allowed researchers to access material on the upper levels of the room. No material could be borrowed or taken from the chambers. Four large wooden tables were located in the center of the room parallel to each other.
Tyliq had positioned himself at the table to the rear of the room thus allowing him to have full view of all who accessed the area. No one had approached him or came near him. Upon his departure from the chamber, he left one Asian male who was apparently researching the Philippine-American War because he had several books by Don Emilio Aguinaldo before him. Surprisingly, when Tyliq returned from his mission, he could recall the information he gathered but not the detail of the environment and its inhabitants. These were only unlocked when Patrice used Bluestocking.
Patrice observed Tyliq in his hypnagogic state then she looked the photo in his file. Upon his last return, he arrived with this photo in hand; the photo was at least eight years old. It featured Tyliq and the female inceptor. Who was she; how were they connected; and how was it possible for Tyliq to be present in 1955 – all of these were questions that now puzzled the agency. Patrice needed answers for them and even more for herself.
Tyliq had become her world. It was her professional code to not get involved with anyone affiliated with the Timer Project but Tyliq was something different. He arrived at the agency four months after the inception of the project. She was not particularly pleased with his late start, but he quickly proved himself. He was smart, ridiculously attractive and witty. But this was not Patrice’s central attraction to him. Tyliq was spontaneously fun.
No matter how busy they were, how intensive or tedious things were getting or what deadlines were there to be met, Tyliq always had time to live and enjoy life. Within the first month of being there, they had exhausted every nature and hiking trail nearby. They had taken a weekend trip to Santorini, Greece and they had even been sky diving. He was an extremist and he was fearless. This was new and refreshing to Patrice’s mundane life.
Now watching him in a drift like trance, Patrice felt the growing distance between them. He seemed very far away. She remembered their first date although Tyliq would argue that their meeting at the coffee shop was their first date. It was the showdown between Mayweather and Pacquio. Tickets had long sold out so Patrice suggested that they go to a sports bar situated two blocks away to watch the event. They never made it to the bar that night, instead they sat in the third row and witnessed first-hand twelve rounds of excitement. Patrice cheered and screamed. She was Pacquio’s sideline coach. And when he lost, she argued and was truly devastated. All the way home, she discredited Mayweather’s win by technicality. Any control she usually emitted was gone. Patrice’s ID was in motion and Tyliq loved it. Patrice loved the comfort she felt being her many sides with a man she considered to be the most human man possible.
Patrice’s life had completely changed. And she could not imagine what her life would be without him.
It was almost quarter past the hour of three and her next session was scheduled to begin in just under twenty minutes. Patrice crossed the room once more returning to the wall unit. It was time to end Tyliq’s gloomy November day. She set the rain to come to a slow end and began to readjust the temperature of the room. These adjustments caused Tyliq to stir a bit. Just as Patrice removed the feeling of gloom and the sound of rustling tree leaves Tyliq whispered, “Sira”. Patrice felt an unwelcomed heaviness and her stomach knotted. She glanced at the fMRI. Tyliq’s brain had become extremely active. They now had what they needed: a description, a face and a name. Patrice’s needs differed.