Home > Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(5)

Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(5)
Rysa Walker

When it eventually dawns on me that these little Choose Your Own Adventure stories are just another form of mental exam, I push the Pop-Tart aside. But after few hours, boredom wins out and I search around until I locate books. Thousands of them. Mostly writers I don't recognize, but there are exceptions. Some I know from school, like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters. Poe. A lot of stuff by Stephen King, including The Shining, which Mother confiscated last year because…you guessed it, too old for me.

I was born in 1970. I've been told it’s now October 2305. I did the math and I'm pretty sure that makes me an adult, so I'll read any damn thing I want. And since they're probably analyzing the books I choose, the King stories will give them something to chew on. They can wonder whether I'm just waiting for the right moment to go all Firestarter on them.

The time goes faster once I have something to do. For the first few days, I read a lot of stuff set in the 1980s, because it's familiar. Comforting. But that just makes me homesick, so I start reading fantasy, hoping to find something even more out-there than my own situation.

I haven’t had much success on that front.

I'm about a hundred pages into another King book—The Drawing of the Three—when the door opens. The doctors and nurses usually knock first to give me a few seconds’ notice. Maybe they decided why bother since I never respond.

It’s not one of the medical people. The man has been here before, though, back when I was in the goop. I saw him again one day when I was coming back from the physical therapy room. The eyes—unnaturally bright and piercing—are why I remember him. He’s dressed the same as before, in a plain gray suit that looks a lot like menswear from my time, minus the tie. A piece of jewelry—a simple gold circle—sits in front of the top button on his white shirt, just below an Adam’s apple that looks like he swallowed an egg. Dark blue hair is slicked back from his forehead. Just a single shade, which is as close as you get to button-down around here.

The nurse made him go away before, but either he snuck past when they weren’t watching or they’ve given him the green light to question me. Because I can tell that’s why he’s here. His odd eyes are narrowed down into inquisitive little slits as he crosses to the window where I’m sitting.

“Ms. Shaw? Detective Sutter.”

I shoot him a quick glance, and then look back out the window. Hopefully, he’ll take the hint and leave.

No such luck. He parks his uninvited butt in the other chair and leans forward, scowling. “Enough wallowing in self-pity, young lady. If you’re well enough to read, you’re well enough to answer some questions.”

When I don’t look at him, he slides his chair closer to the window so that he’s partially in my line of sight. But two can play that game. I put my feet on the floor, bracing some of my weight on them. Then I turn my own chair a few inches to the right, fighting to keep from wincing when the pain shoots through my legs. That hurt even worse than the physical therapy.

Sutter’s annoyed huff is worth the agony, even though I can still feel his creepy eyes glaring at the back of my head. But it only lasts a moment and then he’s up, grabbing the edges of my chair to twist me back around to face him.

“I can do this all day, Ms. Shaw. But I’m guessing you can’t. While I’m quite certain you’re faking the inability to speak, I’ve seen your med files…broken spine, broken hip, multiple fractures pretty much everywhere else. Why don’t we stop playing games and get down to business?”

He taps something on his arm and then swirls his finger in the air, pivoting an image so that it faces me. It’s a video or holograph or whatever of my mother, a little younger than she was in the pictures from when Deb and I were babies. She’s at a party of some sort—noisy and crowded, with small groups chatting in the background. A tall, thin man with dark hair has one arm around her, and she’s laughing as the guy leans in close to the recorder, clearly trying to get his point across.

“…better back then. Ask any man who can use the key and he’ll tell you the same. Well, except maybe Richard or Grant, but—”

My mother laughs again and elbows him. “Be nice, Saul.”

“Shush, Kathy. Your only job tonight is to look beautiful and tell me how brilliant I am.”

They all laugh and someone says, “Oooh…burned, Kathy.” The voice is familiar, but I’m not sure why.

She fake-punches the Saul guy and starts to walk away, but he laughs and pulls her back, kissing her hard before he turns back to finish what he was saying.

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