“I need a little more time.” Eamon said. “Just a little more time.”
“You do realize that once you commit to this there will be very little left of your future?”
“It’s worth it. I promised. I need to go back.”
The Timemonger looked up from his scroll at the man before him, and shook his head. Rolling up his scroll dotted with heavy blots and complicated charts, the trader huffed as he searched for another scroll. The chair underneath him creaked under his weight, though he had little of it. Eamon shook his knee, scratching at his stubble. The Timemonger simply sighed as he watched the other man fidget with his coat.
“Here,” the trader said as he rolled out another scroll. It was shorter, simpler. One large inkblot marked its beginnings then streamlined itself forward until another smaller dot created more branches where some connected to other minor marks or stopped completely. More choices the Timemonger had explained the first time Eamon came to him. After a thought, the Timemonger followed the continuous line until he reached the moment his patron desired. “You want how much in this moment?”
“As much as possible, please.”
“You remember I still need time to resume after you leave it? The minimum as decreed by law is a day forward in time.”
“How much time will that give me in the past?”
“It will give you five minutes.”
“I can’t do five minutes. I need more time. I need to make things right.” Eamon stood then, his face taught as he firmly placed a hand down on the table. The Timemonger did not move, nor look up from the scroll. Instead the Timemonger took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, then returned to his musings on the scroll.
“You may borrow your own time from the future in order to relive a time in the past. That is the way these things work.”
“I know. I don’t care if I don’t live past tomorrow, I need to go back.” Eamon leaned forward looking at his scroll then back to the tradesman. “You can leave me five minutes in the future. You need time to flow forward, right? Five minutes is five minutes.”
“Please. It’s not for me. It’s for them.” Eamon pleaded. The Timemonger put on his glasses, sniffing dully as he thought.
“Fine.” The Monger raised his hand stopping a reply from the other man. “But the ratio still stands; you trade 28hrs and 55minutes now for 28 minutes and 55 seconds in the past. That leaves only five minutes in the present-future.”
“That will suffice.”
“Will it?” The Monger scoffed under his breath. Taking precise tools from his petticoat, the tradesman got to work on Eamon’s request. The thin surgery-like tools looked to Eamon like locksmith wires rather than fate-altering contraptions. It was a work that eluded him. The tradesman unraveled a point just after a dashed mark and elongated a strip somewhere earlier. Rarely did the Timemonger explain anything he did, he was a businessman afterall, he did not risk a rival or worse. It seemed like ages before he was finished but it was foolish to think any time had passed at all. The Timemonger was anything but a thief, and wasted no currency.
“Is it done?” asked his patron.
“Just about--ah, there.” The Timemonger settled his tools back into their pouch and tucked it back into his coat pocket. Then, taking a canister from the wall, the tradesman rolled the scroll up, placed it carefully within and held it to Eamon to take. Both men stood. Eamon reached for it, but paused for a brief moment and outstretched his other hand. The Timemonger took it, but did not let go immediately.
“You were one of the rare ones Eamon, I’d hate to see you go.” He said. His patron, suprised, retreated his gesture and placed the scroll in his satchel, shrugging.
“Yeah, well you will if all goes well.” Then he left.
With a heavy sigh, the Timemonger almost collapsed into his chair, but knew he could not rest for long. With leaded heels, the tradesman walked toward the inner chambers. There he opened a door to a large inner room littered with devices, some working, some not. But his goal ended at the other side. There opposing him was a large chart resembling old naval and star maps. To anyone looking, the map would simply be an eclectic collection of dots, dashes, lines and inkspots, but to the Timemonger all had a deeper meaning. He searched with purpose and without confusion. In a moment he found the line he was looking for all matching his previous encounter with one exception, a dash with a blooming dot where there previously was none. The Timemonger watched for a few moments more until a bellchime woke him from a daydream. There on the wall adjacent was a bell rung over the lobby sign. The Timemonger glanced over the chart one last time then decided he could not keep a client waiting.
Out in the lobby was a young woman holding a satchel. When his footsteps approached the corridor, she stood smiling readily. This to the Timemonger was most unusual.
“So you must be the famous Timemonger, I presume.”
“You presume correctly, madame.” He spoke. At this the young woman merely giggled.
“Please, it’s Elaine. I owe you much, though you know nothing about me.” The Timemonger could only give a small smile. She was indeed very lovely. With a care, the young lady opened the dampened flap of her satchel, surely so due to the weather, and after rummaging for a moment placed a canister there on the tradesman’s desk. Then in a swift motion she placed a card next to it. “Visit us sometime.”
“Surely this is not all you came for?” He asked.
“It is. I hope you understand, I’m running a bit late as it is. Please do visit though.” One last smile made way to the Timemonger’s lips as she shook out her umbrella to meet the gloomy outside. Then she was gone.
In two steps he was at his desk shaking out the contents of the canister. Two items made their way into the palm of his hand. One a locket, and two some fresh baked wedding cookies, his favorite. The Monger placed them within his hankerchief, then opened the locket. It was inscribed to him although not with his name-not that anyone knew his name. On the other side a photo of a baby girl adorning the portrait. It was an interesting gift. But he would ponder it later. He had the terrible task of covering up his moment of weakness. Taking the canister and placing the locket inside, he reached for the card only to pause. It was for a baking company, and truly had nothing interesting about it. A plain stock with simple design, but there the woman’s name elegantly scribbled on the back with an address.
It had been years since something like this had happened. It was most unusual to see it within his own timeline, but it was not unheard of. He merely wished he knew what his future self did to allow such a woman the safety of her existence without ridiculous consequences. But that would wait, and in time would come to play out he hoped. For now he had cookies he wished to enjoy.
The duties of a Timemonger be damend.