A/N - That's a long title, isn't it? Yeah, that probably won't stay.
Am I writing too much dialogue? I like writing dialogue, I just hope I haven't gone overboard or anything.
Wenton’s shoes scuffed along the street’s tarmac as he walked, hands furrowed into his pockets once again that day. Night. Whatever.
Behind him, Cody wandered about. Not exactly trailing him, running off now and then to poke at a shadow but always coming scampering back. They would have been travelling through darkness if not for the streetlights that blazed a stingy orange blare against their backs, casting a shadow against any object that protruded into the third dimension.
“Wenton,” Cody’s voice rang out through the silence. “Where are we going?”
“We’re leaving,” Wenton didn’t turn.
“But we’ve already left the library.”
“Well, we need to leave this place to.”
With a hop, Cody jumped in front of him causing Wenton to come to a halt. The expression on the boy’s face sent a cold shiver prickling over his spine. His eyes were delirious with delight and big enough that Wenton thought they might engulf him.
“Are we going to time travel again?” Cody squeaked.
Wenton stared down at the child, lifelessly. “What makes you think we time travelled?”
He moved past him, his shoes falling flatly against the ground alongside Cody’s bouncing feet that never seemed to understand how to move at a measured pace.
“Well, it was very obvious,” said Cody, smiling to himself, “it’s night time now, and before it was day time. The times are different, and we didn’t go through all those minutes in the middle which means we must have jumped forwards!” he glanced up with a question, “or are we backwards?”
Wenton stopped. The kid, though his intelligence was dubious, at least deserved some kind of answer. He was young anyway, people always forget what happens when they’re young.
He crouched down, his hands clasped together so tightly the knuckles were bleached white. “Look around, kid, does this look like Earth?”
“Yes?” Cody’s answer was stretched as he swung his head around to take in the full view of the street in case he had missed some alien quality of it.
“Correct. This is Earth, but it isn’t.”
“Can you start talking like a normal person, please?”
“You think we’ve travelled in time, don’t you?”
“Should I not?” Cody tilted his head.
Wenton shook his head.
“Is this something with time zones then? Are we like on the other side of the world, or something?”
Again, with this kid’s intellect. Wenton didn’t know if he was smart for his age or an idiot. Why couldn’t there be any consistency?
He shook his head once more. “We haven’t moved in space either, but we have travelled.”
Cody crossed his arms and turned his mouth down in an exaggerated pout.
“The best I can describe it is sideways,” Wenton attempted before the boy started talking down at him. Being told by a crazy child that you were crazy, was not on his bucket list. “We’ve jumped onto a different- a different everything. We’re on the same planet, in the same place, in the same time even, but history here has moved… differently.”
“Like an alternate universe on one of those space shows?”
“Well, I tried to avoid such archaic terms.”
“How is that archaic?” said Cody, the volume of his voice shocking Wenton. He hadn’t realised until then that their voices had been growing gradually ever softer as he had divulged their situation.
Wenton rose abruptly from where he crouched, the blood flowing freely again through his legs as the last prickles of pins and needles dissipated.
“Where I come from it is,” He shook his head slightly, shaking any remains of shock from Cody’s sudden change of pitch.
He turned away and looked up to the buildings around them. He’d had enough of talking, it was probably time that he got this annoying boy out of his life for good. They could have left already, there was nothing stopping them after all. It wasn’t that hard, though he rarely skipped universes.
They should go.
On his wrist he peered at the device wrapped around it and began to tap out a simple sequence. For a moment he paused; the countdown was still ticking.
The unceasing enigma stayed his hand as it always did, but this time, he heard an echo. The sound had been with them the entire time they had walked but only as another shadow in the background. It’s presence now only heard as the countdown ticked in front of him in sync with a deep toll.
Wenton looked up and spun about on the spot, letting the sound guide his ears until he spied out a distant clock tower. The clock’s face was illuminated above crumbling roofs like a second moon. The hands, even from this distance, looked acute enough to cut the night as they wound their way around on their daily cycle.
Again, he was struck with a strange sense of wrongness, as if this world was tainted.
He hadn’t paid much attention to the exact architecture of the street before, being smacked in the nose by a door and everything, but something about it seemed broken, somehow. The houses, no differently built from what you’d expect from any other normal 20th century city, were slumped against each other. Weary, almost. You wouldn’t say the rusted streetlights were bent over, but they weren’t straight either. And always wafting about them was a mist that he’d first thought was fog, though it held none of its usual coldness. The dull clouds were bleak and dreary; they were dust.
They should go, but there wasn’t any rush.
“So, are we leaving now?” said Cody, dragging his gaze back downwards.
“You said we were leaving?”
“Yes,” Wenton’s arm dropped to his side, “we will be, soon.”
Wenton’s feet began to guide him slowly up the street in the direction of the clock tower, leaving Cody staring after him, confused. “There’s something about- just something I need to check.”
“Oh, is it another bomb?” said Cody, his eyes widening with wonder as he hurried after him, “has your magic, dimension hopping watch picked something else up? Can I help this time?”
“No!” Wenton held out his arms to prevent the boy from running any further and exhaled through his teeth as his mind worked on a solution to this persistent problem. “I don’t know, but you, uh,”
He couldn’t just leave him here, could he? No, that would be bad. Wenton didn’t know much about children but he suspected just abandoning them in the middle of a street was not the best idea. But it wasn’t like he could take him with him.
He looked up and down the street, there was nothing but shadows and darkness to help him and not a single handy daycare centre in sight. Bugger. Neither of them knew this place, and what dangers it might hide. Neither of them even knew anyone, well, apart from Maria.
“Go back to the library,” said Wenton, briskly turning Cody around by his shoulders to face the direction thy had just come from.
“But,” Cody spluttered, “We were leaving? I want to come with you!”
Wenton grimaced and began to push him along, “Why in hell would you want to come with me?”
“I don’t know,” Cody shrugged as best he could as his feet slid stubbornly over the pavement, “you’ve been doing all the fun stuff.”
“I thought you liked books?”
“I do, but-”
“And you liked Maria, didn’t you?”
“Well, maybe she can,” Wenton hesitated for a moment, “make you another hot chocolate?”
Cody shrugged Wenton’s hands off and kicked at the road despondently. Wenton bit his lip and looked down at the boy; he wasn’t very good at this.
“Go back to the library, Cody,” he said, “please.”
Cody didn’t look at him.
“I’ll come back to fetch you later.”
The boy still didn’t reply.
“Cody, this world, we can’t trust anyone,” Wenton took a step towards him, “Hell, I don’t even know if the library’s safe, but it’s the best place we’ve got.”
“I liked Maria, she made good hot chocolates.” Cody finally looked up, “Don’t you trust her?”
They’d only just met her so of course they couldn’t trust her, but that didn’t feel right. It couldn’t be right. It felt like the wrongest of all wrongs. Wenton shook his head. “I don’t know what to think of her.”
Cody swung on his heels and Wenton almost frowned when the slightest flash of grin swept across his chubby face.
“Alright,” said Cody, though Wenton could hear the weight of a thousand suppressed arguments behind the word.
Wenton nodded as he watched the young boy turn slowly to begin trudging back down the street.
“Thank you, Cody,” his mouth twitched, the words spilling out and pilling awkwardly on the ground in front of him.
He turned before he could see if he would be answered, hurrying again up the street towards the clock tower were its lulling ticks and tocks echoed into the night.