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Let it Be
Let it Be
The incredible and curious story of Xavier Matthews has been written down and recorded in minute detail, for the man himself recorded much of his life; but spent much more time on one specific part of his existence. Where is he now? No one knows; he has been missing for fifteen years now. It is as follows.
1890. Xavier exuberantly bought a bouquet of flowers and dashed along First Street, all the way to the corner of Brimstone and Harlem. He cleared his throat, fixed his collar, and walked up the stone steps with composure. He took the brass knocker in his slender hand and knocked thrice. He then quickly slicked back his hair; steps were heard coming forth. The door was opened by a rotund woman of ruddy complexion.
“May I help you sir?” She asked, eyeing the flowers with a look of masked curiosity.
“I am here to see the lady Katarin.” He said, trying to hide a lavish smile.
She pursed her lips, trying to keep back a smile of her own. Rapid footsteps shot down the hall, and an excited figure emerged. A head of dark raven hair bounced around bright, golden eyes. Her red lips were upturned in an exquisite smile.
“Sir Matthews, it is wonderful to see you. How are you faring?” She queried, blocking the maid from sight.
The maid seemed to roll her eyes and wonder off as the girl took her place.
“Excellent, my lady. May I escort you to the park?”
“Certainly. I will tell father and mother,” She said, fluttering her dark lashes.
She disappeared for a moment as Xavier tugged at his collar; it was suddenly very hot this late afternoon. He and the lovely Katarin, with Russian descent in her veins, had been courting for a few short months now. He knew she was the one he would choose to be his bride. He couldn’t wait for the rest of his life with her to begin. The London sun had beat down heavily that day, but as the early evening fell, so too did the heat. He tugged at his jacket, laying it firmly down on his chest. A man appeared at the doorway, a pipe in hand.
“Matthews,” He nodded, “Get her back here no later than eight o clock sharp. I will be waiting up for her return.” The man, her father, with a thick black mustache, said seriously.
Behind his exterior, however, the man was quite sincere and wise. He went out of his way to protect his daughter of nineteen. He thought it was too soon for her to marry, however, while her mother complained she was turning into an old maid. Xavier thought the whole affair amusing, to be honest.
Katarin appeared, pecked her father on the cheek, and stepped out, scarf wrapped around her shoulders. Xavier took her soft hand, kissed it quickly, and descended the steps with her in tow. She always made him nervous, even though he saw her almost every day.
“I am so glad you came. It was getting quite stressful awaiting you,” though she added quickly, “Of course I’m busy all day with lessons, but I get bored in the evening,”
“Not to worry, my dear. I will come for you every day.” He smiled warmly at her.
They spent the hour having a light dinner and traipsing the park across the way. Dusk soon started to fall, bringing a beautiful orange sunset in its wake.
“I had a wonderful time. Must we leave so soon?” Katarin complained, lip protruding in a pout as she rested her head lightly on his shoulder. They continued their light walk.
“Alas, we must. I cannot have your father getting the pistol out on me. Once more around the park, and we can leave.” He didn’t want the outing to end so soon either.
He slowed their walk as they neared a bench beside a gasoline lamp. Their world was being overtaken by electricity, but this one town had not yet converted to the revolution. Xavier stopped her under the lamp, taking in her beauty under the glow. She smiled prettily and blushed, but lifted her chin in confidence. Xavier glanced down and saw a strange object. It looked to be a strip of paper. He excused himself and bent to it, examining it. He frowned, seeing a woman’s face upon it. Suddenly he heard a commotion; two men were arguing loudly, and he glanced up just as a man shot out a pistol and fired it. The man’s aim was unsteady, but his shot was clear and true; just not to his intended target. A scream rang shrilly through the air. Xavier’s eyes opened wide in horror, and he shot to his feet.
Katarin’s face was pale, with tiny drops of blood on her face. She slumped to the ground, almost too fast for him to catch her, but he did before she could hit the pavement. Xavier stared in shocked horror at the large, bloody wound leaking through her dress on her chest. Her eyes were half open, staring at nothing. Lifeless. A blind numbness overtook his senses as he stared at her unseeing eyes and unmoving body. Feet scrambled, and he tore his gaze upward.
A man was tearing through the park with a gun in hand, fleeing. Xavier shook violently, and stared down at her again, tears blocking his sight. She was gone. Faster than the blink of an eye, she had been taken.
“N…no…” He whispered, unbelieving.
He snapped his head to the right, where the man was fleeing.
“No….NO!” Xavier screamed, clutching her body.
He stared in abject horror at her body, desperate for it not to be true. He couldn’t leave her. The man was getting away, he could be gone by now! Xavier’s shaking hands slipped from under her body, which slumped to the ground. His hands balled into fists, his nails biting into his flesh so hard he felt a warmness ooze from within.
“NO!!” He raved, eyes wild.
Xavier took off after the fleeing man, almost lost to the twilight. His hat toppled from his head, his jacket whipped in the wind, and his feet pounded the earth hard as he tore after the murderer. People around him were staring in terror, some screaming and fleeing. He didn’t see them; his world was a blur as he ran after the man now swallowed by an alley. He gained speed and momentum, hardly feeling his body as he buckled through the streets and through the alley. The man glanced behind his shoulder at his pursuer, his eyes frightened and large. Tears of rage burned Xavier’s eyes, and dripped from his face. They blinded him momentarily, but he ran on, driven by a fury incomprehensible.
The man was doubling around, hoping to lose him. He was heading for the park again, except farther, where a swath of trees could hide him from view. Xavier was close on his heels now, only a few feet behind. He screamed once in rage, though his heavy breathing mangled the cry. Tears of absolute wretchedness and sorrow sprang to his eyes anew, coursing down his face. He sobbed once, but he couldn’t let it hinder his movement. His eyes were completely blurry and blinded by the tears he couldn’t stop, and for a moment it felt he was flying through the air. Suddenly he hit something hard and rolled, hitting the ground. It was then he knew he had tripped. Instead of coming to a stop, his body kept rolling, or rather, was thrown into a sort of frenzy. It felt like his body was sucked into a whirring vortex desolate of sound, though he was blinded by an unseen force.
His head felt it would burst, but suddenly he hit the ground hard and rolled to a stop. The wind knocked from him, he tried to gasp and roll to his back. His right shoulder was jarred from the impact, and he managed a gulp of air. For a moment he was held that way by nausea and dizziness. He cleared his eyes, still wet from tears, and sat up, groaning in pain and weariness. His throat still burned hot from the chase, and he touched it gingerly. He blinked the remaining moisture from his eyes and looked around. What he saw befuddled his mind and held him frozen in place.
The place was lit up as in the afternoon, with monstrous buildings shining and gleaming with a metallic hue. The buildings that towered over this place seemed to be made of mirrors that reflected the sunlight. Moving things, advanced sort of automobiles, tore through dark slabs of pavement. He had never seen such slick and quick constructions; they seemed to be alive, purring around like wild beats. He made a startled sound and jerked his body. He clambered to his feet and glanced, wild eyed, around him.
Gentlemen and maidens were walking hither and yon, but none of the women were in dresses. Preposterous! They were wearing trousers and knickers in broad daylight! He stared as one woman passed him wearing very short trousers and hardly a shirt atop her, her hair short and spiked. What was this! She was showing her flesh! His throat was constricted in a fit of horror and his eyes bugged. What sort of heathenry was this?! A man pranced around wearing much the same thing, talking in a womanly sort of voice. Was it a man, or a woman? What were these sexless creatures? He saw the creature’s face. It had to be a man.
He gasped and stumbled around, confounded and horror stricken. What had the humankind turned into? What animals were prowling the city streets?
“Whoa, nice costume. Is that from like, the 1800’s? Awesome!” A young boy said, passing him. His hair hung in his face like a sort of beggar.
Xavier flinched and stepped away as the boy laughed and went on his way. A woman wearing a thin dress of sorts passed him. Her feet were sandaled, as if from the ancient times, with long hair that was not pinned up. She was beautiful, however, and it puzzled him all the more.
“Hey, where did you get those clothes? That’s so cool,” She said, smiling, turning to face him. Her eyes were a radiant green.
“I…forgive me, my lady, but your clothes are just as curious to me.”
She laughed. “Did you just get out of a play? Which one?”
“A play?” He stared, amazed. “No, madam, I…I come from the present history. This…is this eighteen hundred and ninety, madam?”
Her eyes widened in her rapture of him. “This is 2012. This is London, too. You have a really funny way of talking. Oooh, I got it,” She said suddenly and winked, tossing him five pounds. “Gotta make a living somehow.” She walked off then.
He stared at the curious paper. A face stared back at him. Someone from the monarchy? Not his king, however. This was preposterous! If this was indeed the year two thousand and twelve, he had gone more than a century into the future. He laughed then, a half mad laugh that had people staring at him, lingering on his garments as they walked by. He held up the paper again; it was the same paper he had seen in the park. The park…a dreadfulness captured his heart. His Katarin! No, no, it couldn’t be.
“No…she…it’s impossible. She can’t be dead!” He cried, staring up at the blue sky. That at least, looked recognizable.
The strange humans stared at him; some smiled and laughed while others frowned. The rest simply walked on, ignorant of him. There were too many to count! They clogged the streets and blocked the side paths.
He had to get home. If…if it was indeed possible he had traveled into this impossible future, then he could get back! He could get back before the time his beloved betrothed was shot by that madman. The thought sent his muscles quivering with rage and anticipation. He whirled, trying to pinpoint the spot he had fallen. He walked a few paces, turned, walked again, and paced the area. How had it happened? He couldn’t possibly be stuck in this incredibly false future!
For an hour he paced, raved, sought out people to help him, but to no avail. He finally sunk to the ground, head in hand, and wept wretchedly. A man shoved him with his foot, sending him bolting to his senses. The man had an ugly look on his face and grabbed Xavier by the collar, wrenching him to his feet. His skin was as black as the sky, a curious thing to Xavier, and he stuck something hard into his ribs.
“Give me your wallet, man, and I won’t kill you.” The man growled.
He was being robbed? Of all the things. He sighed, too miserable to think straight, and patted his pockets. He suddenly feigned to the right, out of the man’s grasp, to catch him off guard. The man hollered and hit him upside the head, sending him toppling to the ground. His body was snatched and drug with an impossible speed. The man must be kidnapping him now. He opened his eyes however, behind a pounding skull, and stared around. He blinked and shot to his feet. He was in the park, the park in his own time! His heart beat with a frenzied excitement. He ran to a man and stopped him, breathing hard.
“What day is it man?”
“Get off me, or I will call the authorities, you loon!”
“What day is it?!” He yelled, eyes alight.
“It is Tuesday of April seventeenth.” The man frowned and shook him off.
That was today! Rather…still today, the day he traveled into that crazed future. Katarin! He stared at the sky; it was a cloudless blue, though the sun was hanging low in the sky. If it was still the same day, and the day was not yet dusk…he tore through avenues and streets, clutching the stitch in his chest until he got to the white door with the lion knocker. He doubled over, panting, but pounded on the door. This maid answered it, looking aghast when she saw him.
“Get me…just me…get…” He panted, incomprehensible.
She stared as though he were mad. “What on earth, boy?”
Suddenly Katarin appeared, looking fresh eyed and excited.
“Sir Matthew!” She exclaimed. “Have you been running a race?” She questioned, though amusement lit her eyes.
He stared at her for a moment, telling himself it was really her. He could save her! He had to see her, and touch her, he had to.
“Come with me. There’s no time to ask. Just come!” He pulled at her hand, which startled her, and pulled her down the steps.
“Just tell her father we’ll be back before dusk!” He called to the scandalized woman.
“Where are we going? Xavier!” She exclaimed, using his first name, which she usually did when in informal situations; when they were together, on outings.
“Trust me. I have to show you something.” In his excitement, he pulled her to the park. It was mad and altogether too risky, but he had to show her that strange, bizarre world. The knock to his head had apparently shaken up his sense.
When they reached the park, he pulled her to the far side of it, away from the bench…the awful bench. He couldn’t look at it.
“Xavier! You loon!” She said, though a laugh was just under her breath.
He turned and pulled her to him, hugging her tight, to which she gasped. Such a show of affection in public was unseemly, but he didn’t care.
“I love you, Katarin. Have I ever told you?” He breathed against her raven hair.
She gasped, trembling in delight and apprehension. They were standing on the exact spot where he knew he had tumbled and…traveled.
“Stay with me and you’ll be safe. I can save you.” He was breathing quickly now in his haste. “You have to believe me. You were killed today…or…in the century of today. I will stop it. I have to show you the world, the thing, which allowed me to come back before your death to save you! Oh, something wants me to save you!” He exclaimed, frenzied.
“What are you saying?!” She pulled back, face perplexed and frightened. “I…died?” She touched her throat, her amber eyes large. “That’s impossible Xavier, I’m not dead.”
“I chased down the evil man who shot you, on accident I think, and tumbled into this new world! It allowed me to come back before you were killed, Katarin, to save you!”
“You are making no sense! Where did this come from?!”
“It IS sense! You must believe me! I wouldn’t believe me until I would see it for myself, so I must show you now!”
“What are you-“ She was cut off as he shoved her body closer and flung them both to the ground. She screamed in fright as they fell.
He could have made the worst mistake possible by doing this, and his heart leaped in fear. How did he know it would work? He was knocked silly the last time, so maybe it wasn’t different this time. Their bodies didn’t hit pavement, however, but spun and shot through space. They were blinded by the pure power and light speed of it. She grunted, and he knew he must be crushing her. His senses had stopped spinning, along with the world. He rolled to the side, and sat up. The world was a dazzling array of bright metal and color. The humans walked in strange apparel and the world hummed with the quick moving automobiles. The world was ablaze in activity.
“This is it!” Xavier shouted, fists pumping. He laughed in a high tone. “I did it! We did it!” He spun to Katarin, who was staring at the new world, the future, her face frozen. “Don’t you see? I told you!”
He caught her up in his arms and spun her, laughing, ignoring the passerby.
“You…how did you know? This…” She trembled, eyes like saucers, staring about her like a lost pup.
“I had to show you, my dear. This place….this dimension, perhaps our future dimension, allowed me to save you! Don’t you see?” He tipped her face toward his, which was frozen with fright.
“Hey! Look out!” Someone screamed, pointing in their direction.
Xavier had just enough time to look up to see something falling from above. It looked like a large box with a trailing tail that had vivid pictures across the front. He jumped involuntarily, but the body that was just in his arms was no longer. The thing smashed into Katarin from above, pinning her to the ground, sitting atop her chest. Xavier yelled in horror, dropping to his knees so fast and hard it ripped his pants around his knee clear open, razing his flesh.
He gripped his hair and screamed. Blood was seeping behind Katarin’s head, pooling behind her. Her eyes were vacant and lost. Again. People were running to and fro, screaming. Many were on strange devices yelling into it, asking for help. The man from above that had dropped the strange apparatus was hollering, waving his arms, eyes bulging in shock and terror. The commotion and loss of Katarin was too great. His vision went black and he slumped to the side, feeling his body crash into something from behind.
He awoke later, drowsy, feeling his bruised head. He groaned, looking around him. The sky was blue, and the people waltzed around, slow buggies coughed along the path, and horse drawn carts clopped by. The grass was green, and a small forest was behind him. Ahead was a park, with a long bench under a gasoline lamp not far from it. Xavier’s mouth was open; he was like that, staring, for a good few minutes. The realization of everything that had happened was stuck in his mind. He was back in time. Again. Katarin was gone; again. He had pulled her into the new world, that strange future, only to have her killed, taken from him, without so much as a scream.
It was his fault! All of it was his fault. He gripped the grass and ripped out a handful, howling in sorrow and helplessness. A man walked not far by, cane in hand. Xavier rushed to his feet, tears in his eyes, to the man.
“What day is it?” He barked.
“Tuesday, man,” He answered, stepping back, eyes wide.
Xavier took to the streets, feet pounding the earth, yet again. She was still alive, he knew it. Dusk, however, was closer than it was last time. How long had he been out? He raced through the streets, more frenzied than ever, to reach her. At last, he pounded on the door in rapid succession. The maid opened it, looking slandered.
“Where…Katarin?!” He panted, gripping his knees with unrelenting anticipation.
“Miss Katarin?” She paused, looking him over in disdain. “She went to the market with her mother. I think she had been waiting for you,” She said, pursing her lips.
Xavier made no reply as he raced off again, his limbs slow and heavy this time, his mind pounding. It was as if he had lived many months in one day. The agony of seeing Katarin die twice in one day was enough to make him go mad with anguish. He raced on to the market he knew she occasionally went with her mother, his feet aching. He reached it, finally, and heaved in air with great gasps. People milling about went out of their way to weave around him. He searched frantically with his eyes, trying to find the silken raven hair of his Katarin. His eyes zeroed in on a girl smelling flowers, smiling. He lunged forward, after her.
“X-..S-sir Matthews!” She stuttered, looking him over in shock.
“I…have been dying to find you,” He panted, staring at her in desperation.
She looked frightened, then glanced at her mother, who was buying some gardenias.
“Whatever is the matter Xavier?” She whispered, stepping closer.
“G-go home. Don’t be outside today. Go home, please, I beg you.” Tears filled his eyes.
Her golden eyes were large in her apprehension. “What is the matter? Oh, what ails you?” She asked with compassion, touching his face.
He grabbed it, closing his eyes, savoring her touch. “Please, this is for your safety. I’m trying to save your life, Katarin,” His voice choked.
“What…?” She began, confused and chilled by his words.
People were weaving out of their way in a sudden excitement. He frowned, looking their way. A few people screamed. A horse was galloping out of control down the sidewalk, a terrified looking man trying to calm the horse down. A cart was being drawn behind the horse, bouncing this way and that. Xavier immediately grabbed Katarin and raced out of the way, toward the opposite sidewalk.
“Oh dear!” Katarin gasped, watching as the man tried to get the horse under his control.
Xavier breathed out slowly, having just saved her life. He had done it. That future world allowed him three chances to save her, any he finally had. He laughed, tears pouring down his face. Katarin glanced at him in puzzlement. She stood back to look at him closer, but tripped on the curb. She flailed her arms and shrieked, falling to her seat on the pavement. A horse drawn carriage, not having time to stop, collided with her in one horrid moment. A scream was cut off, but the horse whinnied and the people atop the carriage were shouting and scrambling about.
People were rushing to and fro, horrified at the terrible scene. Katarin lay on her back, hand next to her face, pale. Her raven curls shone in the sunlight, and blood covered her garments.
Xavier’s breath left him entirely, and his mind seemed to snap. He stumbled to where she lay and crumpled by her prone body. He stared, senseless, for a few horrid moments. He then lifted her trampled body and hugged it, blood soaking onto his clothes. His face was to the sky, as he let out a wail as piercing and as mournful as anyone had heard.
As recorded in the notebook, Xavier Matthews was never able to save his beloved Katarin. It was simply her time to go. He disappeared not long after, and has never been seen since. Many think he went back again, to the future, to save her, but never came back. Perhaps he realized that time did not allow him to save her. A rip in time was present, yes, but it had nothing to do with her life.
In either dimension, it was always the same. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some things are not meant to change.
Retold by Gale Hobbs, who found the diary amid a dusty ruin