The Time-Keepers

When Sara is told that her best friend's adopted brother has disappeared, her world is turned upside down when she learns the truth. Sara's world will never be the same...

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4. Chapter Four

 

I get no sleep.

I.

Can.

Change.

Time.

I can cause people to disappear.

I can… well.

I'm never watching the news again. Not that I ever do, but now I’m avoiding it at all costs. If I hear of anyone disappearing, I won’t be able to stop wondering what part of history was changed.

I wonder what changed that caused Marcus to vanish?

I’m actually quite glad that Marcus was taken by time. It means we can get him back. All we have to do is change history back to how it originally happened, but Mark says it’ll take a while to figure out the time period that was affected.

Mark.

Mark. Who can already change time.

Who can already cause people to vanish.

What if I disappear?

What if one second I’m here, and the next I’m gone?

What if…?

In the end, I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve had no sleep but I’m going to school. I’ll scream if I’m left on my own to think for a minute longer.

“Don’t you want to stay here? You’re in shock. I’ll phone in sick to work,” Mum offers.

Mum, you’ll probably do that anyway, I think.

“No thanks. Will be good for me to get out.”

Mum comes over and kisses me on the forehead.

“You’re getting so grown up.”

I resist the urge to pull away- it bugs me if anyone gets too close.

“Well, if you feel ill, get the office to phone me.”

“I will.” I pick up my bag. “Bye Mum.”

“Bye darling.”

Closing the door behind me, I decide that I’m going to walk today.

I mean, it’s half past seven. Plenty of time.

And what if the bus driver disappears?

When I get to school I’m just in time, and really looking forward to the teachers giving us a load of work to do. I still need something to distract me.

I head into tutor group and take my seat at the back of the class by myself. The ‘popular’ girls are too busy discussing the latest gossip to notice me. One day they’ll look back on this time and realise how stupid they were- getting drunk every weekend, flirting with anything that has a pulse and falling out with each other because one of them has ‘changed’.

Luckily, I get to sit back and watch them ruin their lives.

“Good morning Sara.”

The only person that speaks to me in tutor group is Mr Ballman. He’s Welsh, and completely crazy. Fitting into the crowd is not his thing.  That’s why I like him.

“Morning,” I say.

He stops typing and come over.

“I’m sorry about Marcus. I realise that you were close with him.”

I almost smile. How long are the apologises going to last for?

“It’s fine. These things happen.”

“No, honestly Sara, I’m sorry. Marcus was one of the best students we’ve ever had in this department. He was destined for great things. And someone… took that from him. From us. From the world.”

Is it just me, or are there tears in Mr Ballman’s eyes?

“Anyway, if you have any problems, just come to me.”

He walks back to his desk. I’m touched that he’s so upset, but I find it annoying as well. If only these people could know what really happened to Marcus, then life might be easier.

I’ll put a stop to all this grief.

I will.

I’m going to get Marcus back.

I am.

It can’t be that difficult. I just need to learn how to do it all. And be instated as a Time-keeper.

“Right my friends, you can go to your next class.”

I sigh. My next class?

History.

Typical.

I’m out of tutor group first and I walk along the corridor. No one notices me. I’m not one to be noticed- I’m normally the one noticing.

I look around. Everyone’s innocently going to class, getting on with their lives- laughing, talking about people, chewing gum, pushing each other about. They are so oblivious to the fact that in two seconds, they could disappear. Vanish. Be unwritten. They have no idea that some of us can change history. Some could have the gene and never know it.

Like me.

Until yesterday.

What I’m really worried about though, are the people who have the gene and know it. Mark has warned me about these people.

“In time-keeping, there are different groups, teams if you like. There’s us, the group that fights for history to remain unchanged. But there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of others. They all fight for a different cause, but most of them fight to bring a person or group of people to power by changing the past. Normally we find out their plans before they can be carried out, as we have spies everywhere. But sometimes we don’t, so we have to bring history back to how it was. The different teams dislike us for this, and try to find out what our plans are. They can damage our efforts massively. Be careful of people like this, Sara. Don’t trust anyone.”

So that’s me never making friends with anyone new ever again.

Anyone who walks past me could be one of them.

We go into the classroom, and I sit in my seat. I sit at the back in the corner next to Jasmine Hodger. She’s a social reject like me. But the difference is that I don’t mind being rejected by the populars. Jasmine is always doing stupid things to try and make herself more popular. She starts and spreads rumours about herself- she’s said that she’s gone out with models, caught malaria, and I think she once said she was pregnant. Despite her antics, Jasmine remains unpopular as ever.

 I pity her really. Not because all her plans fail, but that she wants to be friends with the gang. She doesn’t realise that they’re a bunch of backstabbing bitches with no proper friends. I’d hate to be one of them- everyone knows your business, and if they don’t then they’re begging you to tell them.

No, I like my life. I don’t tell anyone much. After all, it is my business. People tell me things and ask for advice all the time, but I don’t ask for it back. I can’t. What if they told other people? The only people I can trust are Mark and Melissa, and even then I don’t tell them everything.

Jasmine sits down beside me, brushing my books onto my half of the desk with a look of disgust.

“Hi Jasmine,” I say cheerfully. “How are you today?”

She glances at me.

“How was your weekend?”

“What’s that buzzing noise?” Jasmine glares at me.

My favourite thing about history is annoying Jasmine. She goes all red and her mouth starts twitching. It’s quite a sight.

Jasmine taps Ross on the shoulder. He sighs and slowly turns around.

“What.”

“Ross, is she talking to me? Like, ew.”

For some reason, Jasmine seems to think that slagging off unpopular people will get her some popularity points.

Normally at this point, Ross would roll his eyes and turn back round. But today he spoke.

“Yes”

Jasmine went even redder. She fancies the pants off Ross, so if he speaks to her, even just to say “pass the textbooks”, she’ll die.

“If you don’t want to talk to her, then I will.”

I just about died. Mainly because, well, Ross is hot. Not Mark hot, but hot enough to be the one everyone chases after. I suppose a small part of me is flattered that he wants to speak to me, and as he’s popular, part of me thinks that he can make me popular too. I hate that part of myself.

Jasmine sits and goes redder and redder, her mouth twitching so much that I start to think it’ll leap off her face.

“So, how are you, Sara?” Ross turns towards me.

I just sit in stunned silence. Ross. Is. Talking. To. Me. Ross is. Talking to. Me. Ross is- stop staring, you idiot!

“I’m… I’m okay, thanks.”

Jasmine bursts into shrieks of laughter and kicks me sharply under the table.

“I’m really sorry about Marcus.”

Wait! What did he say?

“I know you were good friends with him.”

Ross is looking at me deep in the eyes. His eyes are dark brown, like mahogany. I read somewhere that browns eyes make you trust the person more, so I’ve got to be especially careful.

“Oh, did you?”

Keep cool, Sara. Don’t let him see through you.

“I spoke to him a bit as well. Lovely guy. Such a shame we’ll never see him again.”

He keeps staring right at me, as though searching for a reaction. I stay right back. Ross can’t get to me. I won’t let him.

“So strange as well. One minute there, and the next he’s gone. Just vanished off the face of the earth.”

This sounds so similar to what I said that I almost let my surprise show on my face.

Almost.

“I know. So strange.”

Ross is clearly confused. I’m showing no emotion, and Marcus was meant to be a close friend.

He keeps staring at me, and although it makes me uncomfortable, I don’t look away.

“I’m sorry.” Ross breaks eye contact and shakes his head. “Your eyes, they’re just so… stunning.”

He’s got me now. I’ve trained myself for everything except a few things, and compliments are one of them. Although I hate myself for it, I start blushing.

“Erm… thanks.”

Ross smiles. He’s back in his own territory now- girls getting all flustered around him.

“Ross! Stop talking to Sara and turn around.”

Slowly (and dare I say… reluctantly?) Ross turns to face the front. The class begin to call things like “Ross loves Sara” and “Shaggers!”, but I don’t care. All I can think about is how Ross spoke to me, and was nice to me.

Wow.

Why did he speak to me though? He’s never said anything to me, and has always given me looks like he thinks that I’m a bit weird.

I can’t let myself get all twisted up about it though. He’s popular- he’s just like the rest of them. It was probably a dare or a joke or something anyway.

I can see Jasmine glaring at me out of the corner of my eye. If I could read her mind…

I immediately start to feel sick.

Mark can read minds.

Well more like he can tune into peoples thought streams when he wants to. All he has to do is look into someone’s eyes.

Oh yes. Now I know.

When I found this out, I panicked.

“What?! But?! How?! And…!”

Mark just grinned cheekily.

“Have? Have you…?”

“Really Sara? You wouldn’t want to do that with me, would you?”

I died a little then.

I’m never thinking anything in front of Mark ever again.

Apparently, every Time-keeper has a power, maybe even two. Some can read mind, like Mark. But there are so many other powers. Some can teleport, some can zap light, some can heal with just a touch, some can control water, others can make anything grow at an accelerated rate.

“That can come in handy sometimes,” Mark said, winking.

But what do I have?

“Sara!”

My mind leaps back into reality.

“Yes?”

“Pay attention please.” The teacher glares at me. “I don’t know what’s got into you today. You’re so distracted.”

“Sorry.”

“Pay more attention in future please. Can you tell me a horror experienced by soldiers in World War One, please.”

I take a deep breath. Enough thinking.

Even Time-keepers have to learn some history.

 

The day drags on and on, until finally it’s time to go home. I’ve spent most of the day in silence since history, as Melissa was off. I noticed Ross looking at me a couple of times, and he even smiled at me. It must be a joke.

I mean, could he…?

No.

I walk home- I suppose I’m still scared that the bus driver will disappear.

I can’t live my whole life like this- doing nothing in case someone vanishes. What will happen when I can finally get out of here and go to see the world? I’ll need to get on a plane someday.

This is ridiculous- before yesterday I was fine with going on a bus. It’s never happened before, so why would someone be unwritten now? I need to man up a bit. I…

In my pocket, my phone vibrates. Who is it? Receiving a text is a rare event for me.

I get it out and look at the text.

‘Unknown number’ it says.

Who could possibly be texting me who I don’t have on my contacts list?

I open the text. It says,

 

Hey Sara it’s Ross. I really enjoyed our chat today in history it cheered up the lesson no end! I was wondering if you would like to meet up some day it’s cool if u don’t want to x

 

I stop in my tracks.

I read it again.

And again.

And again.

I’m lost for words.

Ross. Just. Texted. Me.

Me.

And he wants to meet up.

With me.

This would be the moment I call Melissa, but I don’t for two reasons.

Marcus.

And it could be a joke it could very easily be. I know Melissa’s my best friend, but it would still be embarrassing if it turned out to be a joke. In fact, there’s about a 90% chance it’s a joke, and 10% chance it’s not.

The odds aren’t good.

I try to clear my mind and continue walking.

How should I reply? Should I reply? I probably shouldn’t, considering it’s most likely a joke.

But it could be real…

Shut up, Sara, I think, it’s a joke and nothing can change that. Best just to forget it ever happened.

I save his number though.

I start walking quickly, mind racing. As much as I try to distract myself, I can’t stop thinking. So much has happened in such a short space of time.

I turn onto my street. The sky has clouded over, and it feels as though it might rain. Everything is quiet, and for a moment I feel at peace with the world.

I go down the path and ring the doorbell. Back against the doorframe, I stand, looking at my shoes. I’m about to ring the bell again, when the door opens. Not looking up, I start to go inside. When I notice something.

Mum never wears shoes in the house.

I look up.

And I stop breathing.

I recognise immediately who it is.

I’ve looked at enough photos.

It’s Dad.

He’s back.

Dad has come home.

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