Frozen Time

There I was running through space and time to save the people I loved. Everything was a blur as I ran through the city. I had to get to them.
"This is all my fault..." I thought as I ran through the night. Darkness surrounded me as I pushed myself further than I had ever gone before, "I got them into this mess and now it is my job to get them out."
I looked at my watch. Five minutes until midnight. I had to keep going. I had less than five blocks left and in that instant, I knew I was going to make it. As I ran, I could almost smell the night. The noise of cars, buses, subways, made me feel like I could do it. The strength of the city absorbed right into me, and I acceptingly took it in. I needed all the strength I could get. I looked up at the street signs. There it was, Service Avenue.
I quickened my pace, looked at my watch, 2 minutes. I was going to make it! Until all of a sudden, there I was, sitting in a room, so dark, so bare, so unfilled with love it almost made me cry. I was alone in a house. If the house were filled with a family, I would consider it a small house, but unfortunately it is only filled with one being, one soul. The sound of rain against the window was loud, as if to warn me that something was coming. It scared me.
"Why does no one love me?" I asked myself aloud, "Why am I alone, in this big house, with no family or friends to keep me company?"
A voice in the back of my mind said to me, "You are stronger than this. Do not let it get to you. Fight." I tried hard to come out of the vision; out of this flashback. I pushed past the barrier that seemed to engulf my subconscious mind and once again I was standing on Service Avenue. The building that he was holding them in was right in front of me. I was going to have to use the time powder. While running up the four steps to the main entrance of the building, I opened my watch and dusted my pathway. Like I had seen done before, by my mother, time froze. I stopped for a moment to examine my surroundings and plan out my next move. If I used the right amount of powder, I had approximately five minutes. I decided to take the stairs. Hoping that I had the right building I was headed toward the third floor, apartment 302.
I ascended the stairs two at a time. At this rate, I would make it and be able to unfreeze time before reality outside the building caught up with the frozen time inside it. That was the only bad thing about time powder; it completely stopped your immediate surroundings yet only slowed down the outside world. Sometimes it didn't make a difference, but you were altering time and that came at a big cost. It was something that I definitely would pay for after, but that was the only way to save the others. It seemed like no time had passed when I reached the second floor. Two more flights of stairs before the third.
A strange feeling started burning inside my stomach. Everything everyone had ever told me, proved that I would not be able to make it; that I would not be able to change their fates. This unknown feeling, told me otherwise. It gave me hope that I would make it. Hope was something that had never come easily to me before; I had never had anything to be hopeful for. Bad things had happened to me in my life, and hope was never a simple concept. I could never just wish that something would happen. As soon as I saw the exit from the third floor to the steps, I knew hope was something real. Hope was something I could believe in.
I twisted the handle of the door down, and pulled; it opened. Yes! The hallway was dimly lighted, and almost looked as if it was painted a pear green. The carpeting had a square design with a brown rose pattern. It was eerie and gave the illusion that it could go on forever. I swiftly scanned the door numbers looking for number 302.
"I found you! You are going to save them, Crystal!" I told myself. I contemplated how likely it would be for the door to be unlocked; knowing the man holding my friends captive, he would have left it unlocked just in case I did arrive. Before opening the door, I checked my watch. The beige Roman numerals of my antique watch told me that it was 11:59. With a feeling of panic I pushed open the door and burst into the room just as time unfroze.
Three of my friends were chained to a wall in the back of the room. All three looked at me with different, knowing eyes. I had known each of them since I was born; our parents were friends, and somehow they were here and I was the one who had been destined to save them. I knew they trusted me and had faith that I would come to their rescue, but I couldn't help but wonder what torture they had gone through while I searched for them. My eyes fell on each one.
Eli. A tall, skinny boy who was stronger than he looked. He had dark, brown hair and a complexion that any teenage boy would envy, though he had the skin of an Italian. Eli looked as if he had been holding himself together, for the sake of the two girls, until I reached his eyes. They always had a way of looking right into you and seeing what was there; or in this case telling you a story. The story that I could see in his eyes was not happy and lighthearted like I always remembered it to be, but instead dark and painful. It hurt to see him that way. He was strong, very strong, in a way I wish I could be. I looked up to him; he was smart, talented, funny, sweet, a real gentlemen. I loved him in ways that he would never know. To him I was a girl he had grown up with; I would never be anything but.
Charlotte. She was Vietnamese and gorgeous. We had fought a lot when we were younger, but now she was my best friend. A girl who had a heart to hold the world and appreciate individual people with distinguished eyes. Her parents had put her through many, difficult things that no child should ever have to bear, but despite her hardships she came to school with a smile on her face every day. Lottie, as everyone called her was a special girl with a bright future, one that would make her something everybody wanted to be.
Rikki. The girl had flaming red hair and an attitude to match. She could be your best friend and your worst enemy. Rikki was a girl no one wanted to mess with. I loved her though; she was honest, bright, and a friend you wanted to have for the rest of your life. You could depend on her; she held herself together so well.
The walls were white, the floor was white, the furniture was white; looking around I realized the only thing that wasn't white in the room was the gold chains that bound my friends where they stood. The room I was standing in looked sterile, in a way that made me squirm and want to run for the door. I could not stand all the white. Also, the room was brightly lit, so much so that the chains gleamed off of it and almost hurt when you look at them for too long.
The apartment was too quiet; something was not right, "What's going on?" I mouthed to Eli. He just looked at me with wide eyes, and then looked to his right. The entrance I was standing in, lead out into a great room that extended to my left. If he was to my left I wouldn't be able to see him. The time powder came to mind as a great weapon, but that was too risky to use once in a day let alone twice and it would freeze Eli, Rikki, and Lottie. I would have to use my knife. I was a terrible hand-to-hand fighter but if I could get close enough to Eli I could place my hand on him, use the time powder, and unbind him. That would have to be my plan, to try and get to Eli. He was my only chance. I reached down into my boot and felt for the metal form of my knife. I grasped it, pulled it out, and opened it.
I closed my eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, raised my hand, and stepped out into the room. A man standing as straight as an arrow stood in the middle of the room. His back was faced to me and from where I could see he had his arms crossed across his chest. He was bald and looked like he could be in his early twenties. A golden pocket watch that looked like the one my mother carried was hanging from a belt loop on his jeans.
"I see you have finally come." He said in a very low voice. I glanced toward Eli and tried to signal that I would be unbinding him first. I took a step closer to Eli, but then stopped, " You should not have come...this is something you do not want to encounter."
I suddenly had the courage to speak to him, "Why is that? You think I am afraid of you?"
"You should be, young time keeper; even your father could not face me." He turned around then with a smirk on his face.
My father. He had died when I was a child. The older time keepers told me he had made a mistake with the time powder and died in a car accident. I never believed it and if this man could tell me something about my father...I was going to find out.
Eli must have noticed that all of this could be going through my mind and he whispered to me, "No, Crystal, stay focused. You can do this. You can fight him."
"Quiet!" he boomed, looking at Eli just a moment too long. Eli squirmed and started to scream.
"What are you doing to him?" I yelled. Eli was in pain, but he was trying to fight it. Eli was stronger than I was and I could fight it, "Stop it!"
A tension seemed to be relieved in the room, as Eli's screaming stopped. I looked to him and a tear fell down his cheek. What had this man drug from Eli's past that could be so bad? What had he made him see?
"Who are you?" I asked looking from my friends to the man, that seemed to hold so much power over us. His face was skinny, pale, and he had high cheek bones. His beard was trimmed around his faced, it gave him a rough appearance.

"I am the Delusioner." he winked to the girls who squirmed uncomfortably where they stood, "Didn't your mother tell you who I was?"
"So you knew my father?" I took a step closer to Eli.
"I did. He came after me once, just like you. I had taken your mother, and two of their friends. Three time wizards at midnight, on the night of the Winter Solstice; that is what I needed to complete the portal to the second dimension."
Taking two more steps, I began to cry, "You killed my father?"
"I did not, he gave up and became my apprentice."
"That can't be true..."I trailed off, looking down at my feet. I was close enough. A tear fell onto my watch, and it snapped open. As the time powder spilled onto the ground I reached out to grab Eli.
When I looked up time was frozen, "Eli?"
"I'm unfrozen, too, yes." I could tell he was staring at me, and I couldn't bear to look him in the eye.
"What are we going to do?" I whispered.
"Well, first you're going to unchain me." It should have been an order, but he said it in a way that sounded like a suggestion, "There is a lock right there, the combination is 12-14-12."
I held the golden lock in my hand, and turned it until I heard a click. The golden chains fell down around Eli and he stretched his hands above his head. There were bruises up and down his arms, "What did he do to you?"
"It was my flash backs, they somehow affected my body in reality." He stepped out of the chains and pulled me into a hug, "Are you okay?"
I blinked and realized the tears were still falling down my cheek, "I'll be okay, it's just everything he said about my dad. My flashback was a memory from right after my dad died and I was alone in my room."
"I'm sorry, I know you know that already, but I am. Your dad really did love you, ya know?"
"I know." I said in a small voice. Finally, I took a step back and looked at the Delusioner, "What are we going to do?"
Eli walked over and pushed on his shoulder; he fell to the ground. I laughed, "We're just going to use the time powder to our advantage?"
"Why shouldn't we? We are the keepers of time, we should be able to have fun with it." He walked over to Rikki and Lottie and started pulling their hair.
"Would you stop that!" I giggled, "You know we can't use time like that!"
"You're right, you're very right." He unlocked both girls and the chains fell down around them.
I held my hand out to him, "Give me your knife."
"Okay? What are you going to do with it?" he questioned, reaching down into his boot for his knife, and cautiously handing it to me.
"You'll see." I walked over to the Delusioner, and stabbed my knife into one side of his T-shirt and Eli's into the other side, "That should hold him long enough to turn him into time powder, right?"
Eli looked surprised, "That's your plan? Turn him into time powder?"
"We're short on it and it's not like we can defeat him any other way."
"If that's what you want to do. Now we just wait?" he leaned against a wall and crossed his arms.
"Yeah." I let out a long, exasperated sigh.
"How much powder did you use?" he smiled that boyish smile at me, "I can't believe you, of all people, actually used time powder."
"Just enough for three minutes I think? What did you expect me to do? I had to save the girls somehow." I shrugged my shoulders.
"Oh yeah, that's obviously why you unchained me first." He raised his eyebrows.
"I needed help, I couldn't do this on my own and I didn't know if Charlotte and Rikki would be able to help me."
"Sure, that's what it was." he winked, and time mimicking him, unfroze.
Lottie and Rikki moved out from where they had been chained and stretched their arms, "Okay ladies we don't have time for this. We have to turn him into time powder."
"Time powder? When did you decide to make him powder?" Lottie asked, pulling me into a big hug, "Thank you for saving us!"
I walked over to the Delusioner, and raised my hand over him. The other three followed me and raised their hands over him too, motioning after me. The Delusioner spoke then, "You are going to regret this."
"I don't think we are." Rikki said and kicked him in the side.
"Clockwise, counter-clockwise, clockwise." I moved my hands in those motions above his body, while I said those three words.
Eli laughed moving his hand in those motions, "Wax on, wax off, wax on."
Rikki looked at him moving her hand in the same motions, "This isn't the Karate Kid, Eli!"
I looked down and purple time powder was all over the floor, and it added a sense of happiness to the very sterile looking room, "I can't believe I actually did it."
"You did a good job, better than any of us could have done." Lottie took my hand.
"Why don't we go home now?" Rikki asked me.
"Okay, you go ahead. I'm going to clean this up." Just then there was a hand on my arm and time froze. I looked up to see Eli looking down at me, "What are you doing?"
" You lied earlier." he whispered.
"What do you mean?" I asked, thinking back, trying to remember what I had said.

"You didn't come here just to save Rikki and Lottie. It's the same reason you unfroze me first." He pulled me into his arms, leaned down and kissed me. I had thought he would never notice me like that.
"What a winter solstice..." I whispered.

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