Knock Knock Knock.
My eyes fluttered open as I was greeted by the darkness of the night. I heard the rain outside my house as lightning flashed through my window. In a tired daze, I listened, trying to determine if the knocking was real, or if I had imagined it. I turned my bedside light on. The clock on my nightstand read 2:29am.
Knock Knock Knock.
I heard it again. The knocking was real, and it sounded much louder this time. “Dammit…” I grumbled as I threw my blankets aside. As thunder rumbled through the sky, I racked my brain, trying to figure out who could be at my door in the middle of the night. It couldn’t be anyone from campus, and I sincerely doubt it was someone from my family.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” I shouted, tying my bathrobe around my waist as I ran through my hallway. I grabbed the handle and threw the front door open. Lightning flashed across the sky as I was greeted by a mysterious figure. The figure was dressed in a dark hat and trench coat that obscured most of their appearance. They appeared to be soaking wet, with droplets of water falling from the tip of their fedora. The shadow of the hat hid most of the figure's face, but I could still make out their eyes. Their cold, soulless eyes, that stared into me as if they were looking into my soul.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“No. I don’t think you can.” The figure said, their eyes turning towards the ground. Their voice was deep and grizzled, as if they hadn’t had anything to drink in days. As the figure stood on my doorstep, being pelted by the rain, I found myself unsure of what to do. I was confident that I had never met this person before. I didn’t know them, and I was pretty sure they didn’t know me. They looked like they needed help, but I didn’t even know if there was anything I could do.
“Here… come inside.” I said, opening the door wider so they could step in.
“Thank you, Dr. Fielding.” They said as they stepped inside. I felt my pulse quicken as the words left their mouth. How did this person know my last name? In the light of my hallway, I could get a better look at the figure. I still couldn’t make out much under the trench coat, but I could at least see their arms and hands, which were unarmed. The edge of their coat was torn and ripped, and they wore a lapel pin that looked like a clock with a large crack down the center. I still couldn’t make out the figure’s face under the brim of their hat, but at least they didn’t appear to be a threat. As a droplet fell to the floor, I realized my guest was still soaking wet. I looked up and to my surprise, saw that somehow, rain was still falling on them, despite us being inside. However, while the droplets dripped and ran all over the figure's body, none of it was damaging the hardwood floors of my townhouse. It was like the water disappeared as soon as it touched the floor.
“You must be soaked from the rain. Can I take your coat?” I asked, curious of what they looked like beneath it, but the figure shook their head.
“How about something to drink?” I asked, gesturing to the kitchen.
“Do you have anything that isn’t water?” The figure asked as we walked in.
“Yeah, but the way I drink it, it might as well be.” I said, reaching for the bottle I kept on the top shelf of my pantry. “Have a seat.”
“Alright, let’s take this from the top.” I started pouring the wine into a glass for the figure. “Who are you?” I asked.
“I’m a... Traveler, of sorts.” they said, sliding into the seat.
“A Traveler, you say.” I said, still trying to get a read on them. “So, what brings you all the way out here?” I asked, curious as to what had led this “Traveler” to me in the first place.
“To be honest, I’m here because at this point, there’s nowhere else I can go.” The Traveler said, their hand shaking as they reached for their wine glass.
“So why come to me?” I asked, pouring a glass for myself.
“Because, Dr. Fielding, you’re the only one who can help me.” They said, staring into the glass.
“I’m sorry, but you must be looking for someone else.” I said, taking a sip of wine. While my last name is Fielding, “I don’t have my doctorate yet.”
“Yes, yes, of course. I must be too early for that.” The Traveler said, rubbing their forehead. “The year… The year… What year is it?” They asked.
“1996.” I said, taking a glance at my calendar to confirm.
“1996!? How is that possible!?” The Traveler asked, slamming their hands on the table.
“Well, last year it was 1995 and the year prior it was 1994…” I started, leaning back as my pulse began to quicken once again.
“Dammit! This is wrong, this is all wrong!” The Traveler cried, standing up, causing their chair to fall to the floor. “How could this have happened?” The Traveler asked as they began pacing around the room. “Is it possible I made a miscalculation? No, how could that be! I’ve NEVER made a miscalculation!” they shouted, rolling up their sleeve to reveal a rather large watch with dozens of hands, all spinning in different directions.
“I don’t understand, what’s wrong?” I asked, standing up as the traveler tapped on their watch. They then turned to me, their eyes wide with fear.
“Listen to me!” The Traveler shouted, rushing over to me. “We don’t have much time.” They said, Grabbing my arms.
“Hey, let go!” I shouted. “What’s wrong with you?”
“My location has been compromised, and I need to escape from this place as soon as possible.” The Traveler started, still holding my arms. “I need to relay my progress to you, or all of this will have been for nothing!” They whispered.
“Okay, I’m listening.” I said, shaking off the traveler’s grip. “Just tell me what’s going on.”
“Okay… Okay…” the Traveler started. Their entire body was shaking now as they tried to recollect what they needed to say. “First, during the Chronodome raid, they come from the west. Power needs to be rerouted from the cannons to the main shield, or all will be lost.” The Traveler said, eyes darting around the room as if they were looking for something. “Next, we enter the citadel through the hydrogen bay. Use the left tunnel. Also, the vents aren’t safe, so for the love of Silon, don’t go into the vents! Lastly, you need the Rhombus. Without the Rhombus, this whole thing falls apart, so you can’t forget to ignite the Rhombus-”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down!” I shouted. I couldn’t keep up with what he was saying. None of it made sense!
“There’s no time!” The Traveler shouted, their pupils shrinking in rage. “No time… No time…” they stammered, clutching their head in their hands.
“That’s it, I’m calling the police.” I said, reaching for my landline.
“No, NO!” The Traveler shouted, yanking the phone cord out of the wall.
“What the hell, man!?” I shouted.
“They can’t help you! This is out of their hands!” The Traveler cried before going back to their pacing. “Hands… Hands… The hands… They keep moving. Always there… Always moving… Closer… Closer… Don’t stop. Hands. Hands.”
“Snap out of it!” I shouted, slapping the Traveler across their face. A loud metal clang rang through the kitchen as my hand made impact with their face. “What the…'' I stammered, looking down at my hand to see a red mark where I had slapped the Traveler. As lightning flashed across the kitchen, I looked up, trying to get a good look at the Traveler’s face, but they quickly adjusted their fedora to hide their appearance. The Traveler closed their eyes and started shaking their head.
“As always, you are correct, Dr. Fielding.” The Traveler said, collecting themselves. “There is so much I need to tell you, but we are out of time. In a matter of seconds, I will be gone, just like the others.” The Traveler said, regret heavy in their gravelly voice. “But first, please, listen to me. Everything we’ve learned is documented in the Centrion Archives, but the information is still incomplete. Before I go, I need to tell you the most important piece of the puzzle.”
“And that is?” I asked, leery, but intrigued by what the Traveler had to say.
“The truth.” They stammered. “The truth about all of this. After everything we’ve been through, you deserve to know. The truth is… You can’t trust-”
Suddenly, the sound of a gunshot rang from outside my townhouse, quickly followed by the sound of glass breaking. I looked to the Traveler as their eyes went wide. The droplets of water running down their coat began to darken, as if they were turning red. The Traveler fell backwards onto the floor, fedora falling over their lifeless eyes.
“Oh God…” I stammered, backing away from the body. I turned to see my kitchen window had a small hole in it about the size of a dime. The hole hadn’t been there before, and the surrounding glass was still cracking around it. “Wait!” I shouted, rushing over to the lifeless Traveler. “The truth is what!? Who can’t I trust!?” Suddenly, the front door of my house flew off of its hinges as seven armored soldiers ran inside. Three of them grabbed the Traveler, and the other four began searching around the house.
“What is going on here? what are you doing!?” I shouted, grabbing on to one of the soldiers. They were covered in silver armor, with a black visor on their helmet that obscured their face.
“Ma’am, please. We need to remove the fugitive and secure the perimeter.” The soldier said, shaking me off.
“Remove the what!?” I shouted in disbelief. “Who the hell are you people!?”
“We are the The Watchers of the Unseen Thread.” A new voice said. I turned to see a tall man walk through the open door frame. Unlike the others, he was wearing white, and his outfit was more ornate. He didn’t wear a mask, and I was able to get a good look at his face. He had thick black eyebrows resting over his red eyes. As he looked around, he turned his head, revealing a large scar running down the side of his face. He then turned back to me, staring me down. He was a full two feet taller than I was, and his large shadow enveloped me in darkness. “I am very sorry this fugitive has found his way into your house, but I assure you, this will never happen again.”
“Perimeter is secure, sir!” One of the masked guards shouted.
“Excellent.” Their leader said. “Search the body and get ready to move out.” He said to the soldier. “Ah, but where are my manners?” He asked, turning back to me. “Thank you for keeping our… “Little Anomaly” occupied until we arrived.” He said, placing his hand on my face. “If it wasn’t for you keeping him here, we may have never caught up to that dangerous fugitive. If it hadn’t been for you, he might have escaped! You’re a hero!” He said, a wicked smile flashing across his face. “Watchers, move out.” He said, gesturing to his team.
“Wait!” I shouted as they walked through the doorframe where my front door used to be. “Get back here! I need answers!” I shouted, but suddenly I felt myself slam into something. I fell backwards and looked up toward my door. It was back on its hinges, as if nothing had happened. I turned back to my kitchen and saw that the chairs were no longer on the floor, and instead were upright next to the table. The same table that was now empty, with no wine glasses in sight. What had just happened?
“I need to stop drinking before bed.” I said as I picked myself up and brushed myself off. I guess I must have been sleepwalking. Sure, that had to be it. I looked at the clock in my kitchen, and it’s hands showed the time to be 2:30. Only one minute after I had gotten out of bed. There were no mysterious Travelers or soldiers, there couldn’t be! There was no way they could just raid my house and leave everything back the way it was seconds later. As I walked back to my bedroom, I passed my kitchen window, and froze. Looking at the glass, I saw something that made me stop in my tracks. There was a small hole in my kitchen window. It was small and round, and there were thin cracks surrounding the outline. The exact same hole I saw in my…
I fell onto my knees, trying to comprehend what had just happened. That bullet hole had definitely not been there before. If the gunshot was real, then everything else must have been too. It wasn’t a dream! Everything that just happened… was all real. The Traveler in the trench coat… the assassination… the Watchers of the Unseen Thread… it was all real. I reached for my landline to call the police, but the Traveler's words echoed in my head. “They can’t help you! This is out of their hands” they had said. What did they mean by that? I plugged my phone line back into the wall, but I couldn’t bring myself to make the call. What would I even tell them? That I let a mysterious person into my house and he was shot by a group of silver warriors who disappeared into the night? They’d probably think I was crazy! Maybe I was…
“It’s too late at night for this.” I groaned, walking back up to my bed. I was too tired to even attempt to make sense of what had happened. Maybe things would make sense in the morning, but I seriously doubted that. As I climbed back into my bed, I tried to reassure myself that the Traveler's death wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know they would have gotten shot. If I had, I definitely would have done things differently… right? “Slow down.” I thought. I didn’t know the whole story here. I didn’t know who the Traveler was, or why they were on the run. Maybe they deserved what they got, I had no way of knowing. However... somehow the Traveler knew me. They knew about my doctorate… They knew my name… How? I had never met them before in my life! At least, I didn’t think I did. I thought back to the Traveler's hands shaking. Their eyes darting around like some sort of madman. The Traveler was clearly scared, probably of the Watchers, but why? Why was the Traveler on the run? And who even were those “Watchers of the Unseen Thread” anyway? What did they want with the Traveler…
And why did they take the shot?
I turned over, trying desperately to get comfortable in my bed. I wanted to figure out what happened, but knew I couldn’t make assumptions. I still didn’t have the whole story, and I probably never would get it. It’s not like I could have even done anything, right? So… why did I feel so restless? It wasn’t my fault! I didn’t know he was going to be killed! Besides, maybe the Traveler's death was a good thing. I thought back to what the leader of the Watchers had said. He had thanked me for my help. He had called me a hero! But still… I didn’t feel like one. something about this whole situation just felt... wrong.
As I turned my bedside light off, I closed my eyes. I tried to fall asleep, but I knew my efforts would be in vain. As the last clap of thunder rumbled across the sky, I rolled onto my back, and prepared for one long, sleepless night. A sleepless night I would never forget. A sleepless night…
…That would change my life forever.