The Two came upon their old friend, The Professor. He was sitting on the steps of the University’s main campus building. He was reading a sheaf of hand written papers and listening to something through his earbuds.
It was a partly clouded day, but the Sun was bright. Budding maple trees dotted the lush grass, their tiny leaves swaying in the breeze.
The Two stroll up to the steps, enjoying the serene background.
The Prof. glances up at the ginger haired duo, quickly dismissing them as lost freshman he didn’t want to help. He ignores them as the begin talking, looking back down to his papers. “Let them bother someone else.” he thinks to himself.
The Two looked at each other, brows furrowed and speak louder.
“Two too many.” said The Female.
“Nah, one too many.” challenged The Male. They giggled together.
The Prof. notices they haven’t moved and are laughing at something he’s missed. He stretches his long neck for a better look, pulling out his left ear bud to join the conversation.
“Can I help you?” he asked, making sure his irritation was obvious.
The Two looked at each other before returning their gaze to The Prof.
“Yes,” said The Male.
“We’re stuck.” said The Female.
The Prof. shook his head at their trivial problems. He licked his lips and rolled his eyes.
“Freshman office is right thru those doors, to your immediate left.” He directed, jerking a thumb behind him to make sure they saw exactly what doors he was referencing. They shook their heads.
“That’s not where…” began the Male.
“We need to be,” finished the Female.
They looked at each other.
“Every time, He thinks we’re freshman,” They said simultaneously.
The Prof. was becoming very annoyed now.
They returned their gazes to The Prof.
“We’re stuck in time.” said the Male.
The Prof. squint-y eye stared at them for a long moment, waiting for the punch line. Neither offered the conclusion to the joke.
“I’m an Economics professor. Can’t help you,” he retorted. He replaced his left ear bud and resumed his study of the hand written manifesto.
The Female joined The Prof. in sitting on the steps. Obscuring his late afternoon reading light, casting shadows all over the words. She quickly pulled both of his earbuds away from his head, catching the right one in his hair. The Prof’s head jerked up quickly, ready to reprimand the daring, young woman. He met her eyes and was instantly silenced. Lecture forgotten in his throat.
Her eyes were fathoms deep and had no color at all as they shimmered with every imaginable color. She couldn’t have been more than nineteen, twenty if she was really trying, but her eyes… Her eyes said she had seen a thousand life times. The Prof. was falling into the depths of eternity.
“Professor? Are you listening?” the Female asked him. he could hear her voice from a million astronomical units away, echoing across the vast expanse of the universe. Growing louder with every syllable until he heard to roaring vacuum of space. He startled back into reality. He was staring at the pretty female in front of him, mouth agape, a thin line of drool dripping from the corner of his lips. He shook his head to clear his mind. He felt like he was coming back from a bad trip.
“What.. the.. fu..” he mumbled under his breath.
The Female laughed a little and wiped the drool from his chin. The Prof. jerked away from her, not wanting to be touched by her Devil’s hands. Her hand dropped into her lap and her smile faded.
“You’re the only one who can help us.” she told him.
The Prof. leaned in slightly, unwilling to get to close to The Female. He turned his gaze to her nose, fearing the trip her eyes were. Her nose was small, cute upturned. A perfectly proportioned pixie’s nose..
“Ten short,” said The Male, breaking The Prof.’s second, involuntary fugue.
“Nah, twenty short.” replied the Female.
“He can’t focus,” They said together.
“Shall I…?” the Male began.
The Prof. jumped up, almost knocking the Female from her seat on the steps.
“What the fuck are you doing to me, Lady?” he shouted at the Female.
They both stared at him like parents waiting for a child’s tantrum to subside.
The Female glanced over to the Male, “Always rude though, isn’t he?” She stood up and returned to the Male’s right side. The Prof remained on the stairs, looking dumbfounded and angry. He stared at these two strangers, that came from nowhere. They silently stared back. Not trusting their gazes, the Prof decided to look around campus for security. The normally bustling campus was empty of all it’s students, security, patrons. Not a soul was to be seen. The Prof looked up. The day was still bright, the Sun in the same spot as it had been when the encounter began. He looked back to the Two.
“What happebned to evereyone?” he asked them, guarded and suspicious.
The Two glanced at one another.
“They’re…” started the Male.
“Around..” finished the Female.
The Prof. charged down the steps, index finger in front of him like a gun, jabbing at the air in front of The Two.
“You two, [i]freaks[/i] need to tell me exactly what the fuck is going on. RIGHT NOW!” spittle flew from his mouth as he shouted at them. The acrid stench of fear wafting from him. The Female grimaced and waved the noxious odor from her breathing room.
“Calm down,” she said.
“You stink when you’re scared.” said the Male.
Rage settled a home deep in the Prof’s bones, making his body shake, his pores dripping with sweaty terror.
“Damn it! You tell me right now or so help me..” The last syllable left the Prof’s tongue as a blinding light assaulted him. He stumbled backward, tripping over his feet and falling backward. He landed on his coccyx with a painful thud. His mind felt as if it was being compressed into one molecule, folding in on itself. He couldn’t think straight or at all for that matter. The pain pulled the Prof down to the concrete with a sick crack of his cranium. He passed out.
The Female shouldered the Male, ruining his balance and causing him to fall down as well.
“Good job,” she sarcastically congratulated.
The Male looked at her as he regained his footing.
“I had to get his attention somehow!” The Male defended.
“Like that ever works.” she said with an exasperated shake of her head. The Male was offended and didn’t hide it.
“Yeah, like you always have better luck.” he retorted
The Female silently mocked the Male. They laughed.
The Female was the first to collect herself.
“Come on, we’re running out of time.” she said.
The glanced at each other and bellowed with laughter. The ground quaked and rain poured down from the one gray cloud. This brought them out of the humor. Enough to amke the rain stop and to still the earth beneath their feet.They wiped the tears of humor from their eyes and stood over the professor; quietly watching the unconscience savior.
“Do you think being timeless has driven us mad?” queried the Female.
The Male shrugged his left shoulder, conemplating his answer.
“Probably or we were mad to begin with.” he finally ansered.
The Female began crying; she covered her face with her hands and leet loose the millenia of sorrow she held, barely contained, within her Soul.
Lightening streaked the sky behind the campus building.
The Male moved beside her and enveloped her with his embrace. He caressesd her hair and tried to send as much soothing light into as he could manage.
“Shhh..” he consoled, “we’ll get it right this time.”
The Femlae sniffled back her sobs and nodded her head, pulling away from the comfort she had found. The Male was comforting, but doubt trapped tears in her colorless eyes.
“To the task at hand,” she whispered in a defeated voice.
They took place at either side of the professor and sat beside him on the cracked walk way.
“No more quakes.” said the Male. The female smiled.
“Then don’t make me laugh.” she replied.
The Female used her right hand to caress the bushy, black brow of the professor. His eyelids fluttered as he was roused back to the waking world. He lay there still and quiet, staring up into the sky. The unmoving sun was still bright and yellow, partially hidden behind the puffy white clouds. He noticed the clouds weren’t moving.
“Am I dead?” he asked the sky, refusing to look at either of the Two.
There was no answer from either talkative stranger. The prof. cautiously shifted his eyes to the Female.
“That’s a new one.” said the male. The Prof. ignored him. He had no proof, but he was pretty sure that the blinding pain had come from the male.
“You never cease to amaze,” replied the Female, “You’re sort of dead.”
The Prof. tried to sit up, but his head went swimming without him. He lay back down. He licked his lips, his tongue was dry. He was so thirsty. He closed his eyes to stave off the pain.
“Stop speaking to me in riddles.” the Prof. croaked.
A sad smile stretched across the Females lips. She glanced up at the Male, then back to the Prof.
“Can’t help it, Prof, We are riddles,” she tried to explain.
He stared at her, frustrated, confused. He looked into her eyes, felt himself being pulled into the depths. She blinked and he was released.
“Stop doing that,” he demanded.
The Female looked away.
“It’s unintentional,” the Male said.
“It’s madness,” The Prof and the Female said simultaneously.
The Prof. could take no more lying vulnerable between these two insane strangers.
He sat up quickly, forcing The Two to lean away from him. His head swam for half a moment before he could settle his senses. He was quiet for a moment, frowning at the cracks at his feet. He was desperate for answers, for freedom.
“What do you want from me?” he asked, eyes never leaving the ground.
“We need your help,” said The Male.
The Prof sighed, “I can’t help if I don’t know what’s going on.”
“We’re stuck outside of Time.” said the Female.
“Impossible.” The Prof let doubt drip from his words.
“Is it?” The asked together.
The Prof.chose silence over argument.
“All the people are gone. The clouds haven’t moved,” he observed, speaking to himself inside his mind, “Something is happening.”
The Two smiled at the confused professor.
“The people are still here.” said the Male.
“The clouds are still moving,” said the Female.
The Prof. risked a glance upward to the Female, focusing on her chin.
“How?” he asked.
The Male interruppted, “You’ve asked these questions before.”
“It’s not telepathy.” the Female explained.
The Prof. opened his mouth to ask another question.
“We’ve been through this cycle a few times.” said the Male
The Male found this slightly funny and began to giggle beneath his breath. The Female silenced him with a steel glare, her eyes taking on the dark gray matte of a stormy sea.The Male looked away thoroughly chastened for his interruption. The Prof. continued to focus the Female’s chin it seemed a safe spot as long as he didn’t let his eyes wander away.
“I’m an Ethics professor. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” confessed The Prof.
“We don’t understand it either.” The Female revealed.
“One moment everything is going according to plan, the next..” The female trailed off, tears threatening to obscure her vision.
The Male picked up her thought, “The first few times were horrifying.”
“After the reversal, Time began anew. We constructed the universe from scratch and set The Plan in motion. Witnessing the same events happen for a second cycle.” said The Female.
“Mostly the same events. Different decision made by certain humans changed history a little bit. In one cycle you were a heroine addict and no good to us.”
The Female offered The Male another molten glance, he looked at his finger nails and began chewing off the little white crescents.
The prof. stood up shaking his head, refusing to listen to anymore.
“You Two are batshit crazy!” he shouted at them.
The Female joined him on his feet, The Prof. stepped aside. unable to stand so close to pure insanity. He began pacing.
“Just here us out..” the Female pleaded, “Please, Professor.”
He stopped and contorted in face into the angriest glare he could muster. It was a thin shadow of the storm the female could manifest with her stare, but effective nonetheless. The Prof. tensed his shoulders and stood tall and irate.
“How do you expect me to help with your Sci-Fi bullshit when neither of you psychos make any sense!” The Prof. was shaking from the cocktail of emotions he was drinking. He shook his head in attempt to regain himself. Laughter boiled up inside of him and exploded from his mouth in hysterical guffaw.
“We’re stuck out of time.” he mocked, laughing harder. He lungs were on fire, the laughing changed to gasping, changed to wretched sobs.
“Make the clouds move again, please,” he wailed.
The Two stared at him while he broke down. The Male stood up and moved to stand beside the Female as the Prof. collapsed in on himself. I lay on the ground, arms wrapped around his knees sobbing and shouting at them to leave him alone.
“We’ve wasted too much time trying to convince him,” said the Male.
“We’re driving him mad,” said the Female. Hot tears escaped her colorless eyes, leaving diamond rivulets upon her flushed cheeks.
The Male took her hand in his lacing their fingers together. A millennia passed as The Two watched The Prof. fall apart. Finally, his well ran dry, he stopped sobbing and lay there quiet and sore. He looked up at the strangers eyes red and puffy, full of resignation and hatred.
“Why me?” he croaked at them, throat raw from the banshee screams he wasted a thousand years singing. They inhaled a deep, collective breath.
“You’re the only one..” began the Male.
“Who can end the cycle.” finished the Female.
“No, why ME?’ he asked firmly, determined to force an acceptable answer from their lies and riddles. “Me, of all people on this Gods forsaken rock. Why does it have to be Me to help yo with your insane problems?”
“It’s always you.” They said together.
The Prof. looked away and sighed. He sat up, shoulders slumped, nose crusty from the expended snot. He didn’t care how he looked, it was better than he felt.
The Male squeezed the Female’s hand gently.
“Surprise, the Prof. refuses!” he shouted with mock glee.
“Again..” whispered the Female. She looked at the Male.
“Where shall we watch it all end?” she asked him.
The male shrugged, contemplating his answer.
“We’ve seen The End from everywhere.” he finally replied.
The Female nodded, “I like watching it best from Niagara Falls. It’s difficult to hear the screams over the roar of the waters.”
The male gently squeezed her hand again.
“Alright, My Love, we shall watch it from there.”
They started to turn around and leave, but were stopped when the professor shuffled to his feet.
“Wait,” he said, “What do you mean ‘watch the end’?”
He didn’t expect a real answer, but hope made him ask.
They turned to face him again.
“Tonight, at 23 minutes passed the twenty-third hour, two scientists attempt to travel backwards on your timeline,” explained the Male.
“Who are they?” the Prof interruppted.
They shook their heads, “We don’t remember their names.”
The Prof rolled his eyes, “Of course.”
“Anyway,” began the Male steering the conversation back to the end of time.
“All they succeeded in doing was obliterating the future and rewinding the cycle. Now nothing can move forward.”
“And what about you two?” The Prof. asked, suspicious they might be the perpetrators of this failed experiment. They looked at each other, causing his suspicion to grow exponentially.
“We’re the test subjects.” said the Female.
“We’re stuck out of time.” said the Male.
“And that means…?” led the Prof.
“That we watch the end of every thing. It starts with a crackle in the air. Atoms being popped like bubble wrap in the vise grip of excited children. Then we’re assaulted by the scent of burning atmosphere. The all the small things begin to explode. First the sands, the pebbles, insects. Then rocks, rodents, flowers. Then trees, animals, and humans. The galaxies fall apart, each and every star super novas.. Everything becomes individual, miniature nuclear bombs. detonating all at once. Then it all just.. stops. One endless moment of nothing. True nothingness. Until it all unwinds, rewinds. whatever the fuck is going on. We watch it all unhappen Every thing, right to the very beginning. We witness The Unbecoming.” The Male in a gush of breath and nonsense words.
The Prof. was crying a little bit, “That sounds awful,” he said.
The Female sniffled, she was crying too.
“It’s worse to watch it all play back over and over again. The Rewind is super speed compared to making the Universe and watching as every Thing forms. Standing by, waiting for the moment You sit on the campus steps and we can make our next final plea for help.”
“We always fail,” they said together.
The Female began to cry harder, her colorless eyes becoming black and endless. The Male giggled like a maniac beside her.
The Prof. stared at them, unfeeling. He was numb, refused to be real in an unreal situation.
“Please, stop, both of you,” The Prof. rubbed small circles on his temples.
“I don’t understand any of this and I doubt I can make any sort of difference, but I’l try. Tell me what I need to do.”
The Two smiled and embraced him, nearly knocking all of the to the ground. They regained balance, still holding the Prof tightly.
“Thank you!” They shouted unintentionally shouted into his ears.
The Prof nodded pushing them away. He was willing to help them, but he had no desire to be near them.
“Now, hurry and give me the plan. Before we run out of time,” said the Prof.
They all laughed until salty tears stung their eyes. The ground shook and the sky opened up to release the rain, but they laughed on.
When they had finally settled enough to speak, they sat on the steps.
The Two revealed their plan of rewriting time to the Prof. When the last word left their lips, the clouds began to move and the Prof was sitting on the steps alone.
His ear buds remained in his ears the music he was listening to still streaming from his phone. His manifesto gripped in his fingers enough to crinkle the edges he was holding.
“That was.. weird.” he confessed to himself. He glanced at his watch, it read 4:17 pm. He threw all of his belongings into his briefcase and hurried from the steps to the parking lot. The Prof had seven hours and five minutes to save time. The Two had given him the address of the exact location of where the experiment was taking place, but it was five and a half hours away. In good traffic. The Prof reached his car and practically fell into after he opened the door. He jammed the key into the ignition and started the engine. Foot weighing down the accelerator he sped out of the parking lot into his timeless journey.
The Prof pulled up to an unassuming, gray building. He put in the car Park and turned off the engine. He exited his car and calmly made his way up to thte three short steps. He stopped in front of the glass doors, looking left, then right to make sure he was alone. He noticed a small, brass plaque on thte right of the stone wall.
[i]Merovingian Institute[/i] read the shiny embossed letters.
The Prof smirked, “Good job destroying the world, fuckers.” he muttered to the silence. He looked at his watch,11 pm on the nose. The Two hadn’t given him much direction on how to get in. Just to not worry about the alarm. The scientists were too engrossed by their experiment to pay attention and the security company was used to shutting off the alarm a few times a weeks from the experiments tripping it somehow or another. He looked around for a large rock to break the glass door with. Nothing but dead leaves and mulch around the steps and bushes. The Prof remembered the tire iron in his trunk and ran back to his car to retrieve it. He hurried back up the steps and faced the door once again.
“Well, I’m either crazy and about to go to jail or I’m the hero that saves everything. So, here goes..” The Prof swung the tire iron hard across the glass surface. Cracks and fissures immediately bloomed from the center of his strike. He took a deep breath and swung again. This time, the glass broke apart, mostly falling inward. Some shrapnel had hit his unprotected flesh. Small drops of blood dotted his face, neck, and hands. He kicked out a few large shards from the bottom of the door and stepped though.
He could hear the ringing of the alarm echoing through the empty hallways. Behind and above the receptionists desk hung an analog clock. The ticked on two 11:15 pm. The Prof ran to the elevator bank and jammed the little [i]Up[/i] button until the doors opened. He jumped inside and quickly turned to face the panel of buttons.
He found the [i]B[/i] button on the bottom right, pushed and held it until it lit green. With his left hands, he made a peace sign with his middle and index fingers so that he could simultaneously press the [i]2[/i] and [i]3[/i] buttons. The elevator lurched and began it’s descent to the twenty-third subbasement. While the Prof waited for the elevator to bring him to his destination, he thought of the Female’s colorless eyes and how they had literally seen all universe had to offer. His heart broke for her pain and how she suffered at the hands of Sci-Fi lunatics. The Tragic Two..
The elevator stopped with another stomach flying lurch and the doors swooshed open. The Prof exited while checking the time on his phone, 11:21 pm.
He hadn’t expected the elevator to make such a short trip a long journey. I began running down the long, dimly lit hallway. Hysterical laughter threatened to overcome him as he thought of the absolute absurdity of what he was about to do. He swallowed the mad giggles and ran faster. He could see a door door in front him. Noticing it a second too late to slow his feet. He collided nose first with the cold, metal door marked, [i]W23*[/i].
The adrenaline coursing through his veins helped him in not registering the pain of his broken nose. He recovered instantly, pulling back so he could grab the knob and harshly twist it to the left. The door swung inward, granting him entrance. He walked into a room so large you could fit three or four airplanes comfortably. It was full to the edges with machinery The Prof couldn’t make sense of. Beeps beeping, little bulbs emitting soft different colored lights. In the middle of the giant laboratory was a giant glass cylinder housing to people. One, a man, was strapped into a chair, wires connecting him to monitors. The other, a woman, was standing beside a monitor, holding a clip board she made small dash marks on to.
“Stop!” He shouted, neither seemed to hear him. The Prof. flung himself against the giant cylinder and began furiously pounding it with his fists.
“Stooooooop!” he screamed as loud as he could as long as he could.
The woman scientist startled and jerked her head around to see where the noise was coming from. She saw The Prof, strained, red face, eyes tearing at the corners, mouth a gape in silent plea. Underneath his screams the Prof could hear bubbles popping. He stopped screaming, the crackle became louder. Through the blur in his eyes, he could just barely make out the woman’s face.
She looked familiar…
“You mother fuck….” shouted the Prof, his scream was silenced by a large boom and a blinding white light. The time was 23:23 pm.
All became nothing.