Shades of Grey

(This is nothing to do with the blasphemy that is E L James!)

Can Gabriel Grey solve his own murder before it's too late? A story that explores time travel and its effects, this is a mystery with a twist.

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1. Part One

AN: This is really a short story that I wrote a year ago. I haven't reworked it; I simply dug it out of its grave. Any comments are appreciated - this will be a three part series. Because, yeah, you know, I like a bit of drama and theatre. Heheh.

   Enjoy 'Shades of Grey', and remember that it has nothing to do with the books by E L James. Don't even THINK that.

*

The clockmaker Gabriel Grey had been having a good day. He had made a few house-calls, fixed a few watches at home and even managed to buy an antique clock off of a street salesman for a bargain price. Feeling really rather good about himself, Gabriel had decided to call in at the clock shop that he owned, ‘Gabriel Grey’s Clock Emporium’, to drop off the old timepiece.

That was when he witnessed the murder.

As Gabriel fumbled in his pocket for the keys to the door, he became aware that there were voices coming from inside the store. With thoughts of robbers and thieves filling his mind, peered through the window and past the rows of clocks to see the drama unfolding inside.

Inside the shop, two men were engaged in a heated debate. One of the men was a tall, slim Italian with a little curly moustache and a goatee beard. His hands were buried deep in the pockets of his trench coat, and his head was covered with a black bowler hat. The other was hidden to Gabriel, his back facing the window. It was clear to Gabriel that neither of the men were burglars, and that there quarrel was escalating grossly out of proportion. The Italian was gesturing wildly at the other person. Even through the thick glass of the storefront, Gabriel could clearly hear what they were saying.

“I offer you the world, and yet you turn me down!” yelled the Italian, face contorted with rage.

“I will not give it to you,” said the other man, more than a hint of fear in his voice. Gabriel thought that he recognised the voice, but he couldn’t place where he had heard it before. With some trepidation, Gabriel moved closer to the door and slowly began to turn the doorknob of the old wooden door. When it was just open, he positioned himself so that he could burst in if he felt the need to.

Back inside, the two men were still arguing.

“You WILL give the chronometer to me,” said the Italian. The Italian’s voice had taken on a dangerous, low tone, and his eyes had narrowed to slits.

“No, I won’t,” retorted the other man. “I know what a person like you would do with this. I can’t give you the chronometer in the knowledge that you would use it for your own selfish means.”

The Italian’s face relaxed. “Very well then,” he sighed resignedly. “I didn’t want to have to do this, Gabriel, but you leave me with no choice.”

Just a second, thought Gabriel. Did he just call that other man Gabriel?

Then the Italian’s face hardened and his eyes blazed with unbridled fury. “I’ll just have to take it from you!”

At that moment, the clock shop erupted into noise as every clock in the room struck three o’clock in perfect synchronisation. At the same time, the Italian man withdrew one thin gloved hand from his pocket. In his hand was a gun.

“Goodbye, Gabriel Grey,” whispered the Italian. Excuse me? Thought Gabriel. I’M Gabriel Grey!

Gabriel had hardly any time to process this before one long, bony Italian finger curled around the trigger of the gun, and the barrel lit with fire.

Once, twice, thrice, the Italian man fired into the chest of the other man. The man, his chest bloody, spun a half turn, yet remained standing. For a brief second, Gabriel’s eyes met with those of the dying man. Gabriel’s eyes widened. The man before him was… himself.

Now Gabriel understood. He had recognised the voice because it was his own. The Italian had called him by his name because it was the other man’s name too. But I’m here! Thought Gabriel in a panicked fashion. I can’t be there!

As if reading his mind, Gabriel’s double smiled slightly and winked at him. Then the Italian fired again. The man who was also Gabriel Grey collapsed on the floor, four neat round holes in his body.

Gabriel roared and burst through the door and into the lobby of the clock shop. The Italian’s head snapped towards him, and his eyes widened in shock. “No!” he cried. “There can’t be two of the same person! NO!”

“Gabriel!” called the man on the floor. “Catch!”

The second Gabriel tossed a palm-sized object to him. Gabriel caught it in one hand. It was a silver pocket watch.

“NO!” yelled the Italian. “Give that to me!”

“Gabriel, clap your hands NOW!” exclaimed the man on the floor. Blood was dribbling from his mouth. The Italian swung his gun towards Gabriel and unleashed a hail of bullets towards him.

Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut and clapped his hands, the pocket watch snugly fitting in his palm. There was an almighty bang, and then he was gone.

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