Spluttering in the rain, James stood to gather his breath. It was late and the streets lay silent, apart from the whirr of flickering street lamps. Checking nobody was around; he pulled an envelope from his pocket and looked again at the address, the timepiece slipping into his hands. He cradled it in his palms, fingers entwined around the face. I’ll find you, he thought to himself, before setting off again without hesitation.
As the sun seeped into his eyes, James woke with a burst and frantically clutched at his pocket, desperate to be sure he hadn’t lost everything. He scrambled to his feet from the barn that he had slept in, and walked across the plains in to the village. Wandering through cobbled roads, he found himself immersed in the crowds swarming the markets. Sharp left, alley on the right. Remembering his Grandfather’s words, he leapt out behind the stalls and turned down the road. He continued to mutter directions to himself and swerved towards the alley on the right. James had always admired his Grandfather, and he remembered how he would sneak downstairs to his workshop, whilst everyone else was sleeping, to see how he made each watch with such care and craftsmanship. It was when James reached eighteen that his Grandfather handed him his very own watch, one that he called special, one that had taken him years to create. Days before his Grandfather passed, he explained the purpose of the watch, and it was something that James had wished for every day.
Following the road like his Grandfather had said, James passed rows of shops that looked dark and deserted. Their windows were boarded-up and tied parcels lay untouched outside of their doors. The hustle and bustle of the market village was out of earshot and James was beginning to think that the road went on forever, before approaching a jewellers. He stopped outside and wondered if this was where he was meant to go. He scrambled at his pocket for the address and – ’I’ve been waiting for your arrival.’ James jumped back, his heart beating. A man, so tall that he crouched, stood beside James, and gave him a stern look. ‘You need to come with me.’
‘Who are you?’ James questioned, still bewildered by the gesture of this man.
’Your Grandfather explained your quest; you need to come with me.’
The man scuttled off into the jeweller’s, holding outstretched fingers behind him, signalling for James to follow. Accepting that was all he needed to know, he followed the man dressed entirely in black into the entrance of the jeweller’s. The urgency of his quest leading his trust, he knew that anything would help in finding her. The jeweller’s shop looked as though it had been out of business for years, cobwebs hung from the ceiling and there was an echo with every footstep he took. The man led James into the back of the shop and up along a staircase to a room, hidden at the back of the building.
‘Sit down James.’
James perched on a stool in the centre of the room, somewhat unaffected by how this man knew his name, and looked around as the man tinkered about, placing a monocle to his eye and gathering parts. The room was full of tools, watches and metals and was dimly-lit by a lamp on the desk, highlighting the dust that hovered around the room.
‘Right, let me see this Timepiece then.’
James fondled in his pocket for the timepiece, and passed it to the man, wondering what he was going to do with it. Pulling the piece of paper out from his pocket too, he ran his fingers over the address. Merchants Way, he mimed to himself. This was definitely the street his grandfather had directed him to, and James knew he was at the right destination. This was the man who could help change everything, at least, that is what his Grandfather had told him.
‘I see.’ The man looked James up and down. ‘I guess you want this blessed.’
Puzzled, James gave a blank look towards the man.
‘Did your Grandfather never explain this part?’ He sighed. ‘In order to travel through time, you need to cast a spell over your timepiece. That is what I’m here for. And you’re lucky that your Grandfather paid the price… I doubt you could afford it.’
Everything suddenly became clearer to James, as though it had never made sense in the first place. James’ Grandfather had created the timepiece for James to travel through time, and although he had the unmatched craftsmanship to assemble the treasure, he certainly wasn’t a master of spells.
The man placed his monocle on the table and peered at James. ‘There is, obviously, some level of security that I must be assured of first.’
‘Like what, sir?’
‘Have you ever travelled before?’
‘No… Does that –’
‘How far back to you intend to travel?’
‘How long are you going to travel back for?’
‘However long it takes for me to find her.’
By ‘her’, James meant his mother. Barely old enough to call himself an adult, James had few memories of her. Her passing had never brought James to a state of uncontrollable tears, as the passing of a loved one should, as he hardly knew her… But he had remained ever curious to see her, and meet her and was always confronted by the disheartening reality that he never would. His quest for travelling back was to finally be able to see her. His Grandparents had raised James like their own child, something he was eternally grateful for, but he knew that they understood his desire to be reunited with his mother.
‘I have to warn you, James. Your quest, mighty as it is, may never result in the harmonious ending that you seek. People don’t always understand time-travel and find it hard to come to terms with the idea. You need to be prepared for all possibilities.’
‘I must try.’
‘Well if you’re sure…’
At that moment, the man opened an old spell book, and traced his fingers over the encompassed face of the timepiece. He began chanting words like semper and fidelis, words that James didn’t understand and an aura of white light emerged from the inside of the timepiece. The lamp began flickering, and the windows of the jeweller’s swung open, light pouring in from the streets. The wind lifting papers and parchments from the desk and blowing them around the room and then a final blast echoed into James’ ears.
Staring at the man in stunned silence, James glanced at the timepiece, that sat in his hands no different to before.
‘So those spells wreak havoc.’ James mumbled.
‘You get used to it; it’s why this place is never tidy.’
James, not yet able to comprehend the surrealistic experience he had just witnessed, stared at the man in awe – mostly stunned by how casual an attitude the man took to the whole event.
prose taken from my portfolio for a module at uni – excuse the formatting, it’s a little off after the copy and pasting x