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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3. Part Three

AN: This is the third and final part of 'Shades of Grey'. There shall be no more after this: The conclusion to Gabriel Grey's journey. And I really do apologise for not having wheeled out the final part a whole lot sooner: I intended upon doing it, and then I completely forgot. Please accept this as an apology. Heheh.

Enjoy and leave feedback - it's all in aid of the upcoming rewrite.

*

The clocks read ten to three. Gabriel put his finishing touches on the antique clock, and set it on the shelf alongside the others. He turned away from the door and breathed on the smooth glass face of another clock and rubbed away a small smudged fingerprint left by a careless browser. He was about to do the same to another timepiece when there was a jingle of bells, and the door opened.

Gabriel straightened up slowly and turned around. There stood a tall, thin man. He wore a long dark trench coat and a black bowler cap. He sported a small curly moustache and a goatee beard upon his thin, pointed face.

Good God, thought Gabriel. It’s the Italian. The man who kills me.

 “May I help you?” asked Gabriel calmly. To his credit, he came across as just a gentle old shopkeeper.

 “Yes,” said the man in a thick Italian accent. “I am looking for a pocket watch.”

 “I have a large selection of pocket watches here,” replied Gabriel. “I’m sure that we can find one to suit your tastes.”

The Italian laughed; a mocking sound. “I am looking for a very particular pocket watch,” he said. “I know exactly what I am looking for, because I have its sister piece right here.”

He pulled out a long, thin-fingered hand from one pocket and held out a small, palm-sized pocket watch. It was identical in every way to the one he himself had hold of. Despite himself, Gabriel gasped.

 “Surely you know what it is,” said the Italian. When Gabriel feigned ignorance and shook his head, the Italian sighed. “These pocket watches are the keys to time. They unlock a doorway in this exact geographical location, allowing the key holder to walk backwards into the past. Surely you know this?”

Gabriel decided to play the fool. “No, sir, I do not. Are you in need of medical help?”

The Italian gave Gabriel a withering look. “Don’t play games with me, Gabriel Grey. I am more than certain that you are almost in possession of the second Chronometer.”

Reluctantly, Gabriel gave up. “I may be. Why would you want this ‘Chronometer’?”

The Italian’s eyes lit with the fires of ambition. “Money! Power! Fame! With a second chronometer in hand, I can dismantle one in order to find out how it works, and from that create more!  I will be rich beyond my wildest dreams, able to disappear into the past when I wish, to replay a favourite moment or savour again a meal. I could be invincible!”

Gabriel stared into the Italian’s eyes and saw madness. He knew, then and there, that if the Italian got hold of the second Chronometer then he would tear the world down. Planet Earth wasn’t ready for this technology to be revealed to them – not yet.

 “Give me the Chronometer,” whispered the Italian. “Give it to me, and I can make you rich beyond your highest hopes.”

For a second, Gabriel was tempted. If he accepted the Italian’s offer, then maybe he wouldn’t die. But then he wouldn’t be here, now, and so would be unable to make the choice. Gabriel snapped himself out of it. No, he would have to obey the laws of time. Otherwise physics might just force him to instead.

 “No,” he said in a low voice. “I can’t give you the Chronometer.”

The Italian’s face transformed, twisting with disbelief and anger. “I offer you the world, and yet you turn me down!” he yelled. Gabriel’s eyes widened. He was back at where he started now. His younger self was just coming to the shop now.

 “I will not give it to you,” he answered. Now he didn’t even have to think about what to say – it was all from memory now, combined with his own impulsivity.

Gabriel heard the door open very slightly. He was in. Or rather, he had been in at this point in time.

 “You WILL give the chronometer to me,” hissed the Italian. The Italian sounded drunk with rage, and his eyes were barely visible, so narrowed were they.

 “No, I won’t,” spat Gabriel. “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 expression dropped. “Very well then,” he sighed resignedly. “I didn’t want to have to do this, Gabriel, but you leave me with no choice.”

This is it thought Gabriel. The tipping point.

A sudden change overtook the Italian. His face stiffened, his eyes going from a cool grey to being filled with a pyre of fiery blazing madness. “I’ll just have to take it from you!”

Gabriel felt like he was watching the whole thing through another’s eyes. The clocks chimed three o’clock. On the first chime, the gun slowly emerged from the Italian’s deep pocket, handle held in a black-gloved hand. On the second, the deadly weapon pointed towards him. And then the third and final chime rang out, pure and clean. It carried whispered words towards him like a butler with a hot dinner under a silver dish.

 “Goodbye, Gabriel Grey,” whispered the Italian. Then he fired.

He felt no pain as the bullets tore into him, the pointed objects punching through soft flesh and vital organs. He stumbled back as two shots hit him square in the chest. Then a third hit him in the left shoulder, spinning him round a half-turn.

His eyes met with the frightened man who crouched at the doorway. He remembered being him – feeling his fear, his confusion. But he smiled to himself a secret smile as he also remembered the events of the past half hour. He had lived more in the last half hour than he had in the whole of his adult life. For some odd reason, he had a strange urge to hint to himself that there was still quite a way to go until this story ended.

Gabriel winked a slow, measured wink. Then the final bullet punched into his back.

The next few seconds were a blur. He fell over and burst through the door at the same time, roaring at his attacker. The Italian cried out, a startled cry, like that of a sparrow when it is attacked by a cat. Then Gabriel remembered. He must through the watch, and he must catch it.

Gabriel reached into his pocket and pulled out the Chronometer. “Gabriel, catch!” he called to himself, and threw the watch into the air. The other Gabriel caught it deftly in his right hand.

 “Gabriel, clap your hands NOW!” he cried. The watch holder clapped his hands together just as the Italian’s wave of deadly bullets rocketed towards him. Then there was a bang, and he was gone – disappeared into the past.

 “You haven’t won, old man,” hissed the Italian. He pulled out his own Chronometer. “I’ll just follow him.”

 “Not on my watch!” called a new voice. Gabriel gazed around, confused. A police officer in full riot gear had appeared in the doorway. He pulled out a handgun, and the Italian panicked. He only got as far as pointing his own gun towards the officer before getting a bullet in the torso himself. The Italian went down, his dark clothes stained with blood. Gabriel was confused for a moment before he remembered that he had arranged all of this.

In the brief time he had had, Gabriel had made a phone call to the local police, telling them that someone was to be murdered at exactly three o’clock. The authorities had responded remarkably quickly, and looked to have dispatched an armed special team to help him. Unfortunately, they had arrived too late.

But it couldn’t have gone any other way anyway, realised Gabriel. That’s just how time works.

Gabriel smiled as the officer knelt over him. “We got your call,” he said weakly. “How did you know you were going to be murdered at exactly three o’clock?”

 “Let’s just say I had time on my side,” rasped Gabriel. “Half an hour, to be precise.”

There and then, in the officer’s arms, Gabriel Grey died.

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