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stories & literature


"Part III: Shattered Reality"

by Christofori

(The IRC Version of this story is also available. Also, be sure to read Part I and Part II of TimeScape, as they contain plot and character elements which are vital to understanding this chapter.)

* * *

The night had been long for graal and the others. graal hadn't really slept well, especially considering how Burning Man kept rolling around all night.

He was making such a racket that she found it difficult to think; let alone sleep!

However, graal eventually managed to get some much-needed rest.

The next morning, graal woke up bright and early.

The natives were both still sleeping soundly, and graal didn't have the heart to wake them up juuuuust yet... After all, she HAD promised them the best breakfast they'd ever had. What better way to arouse (awaken!) the sleeping natives than to start cooking a deliciously scrumptious meal?

So, graal crept down to the kitchen.

She managed to get out all of her cooking supplies and ingredients without making too much of a racket.

Before too long, graal had whipped up her specialty: Bacon, omelets (of the ham, cheese, and Worcestershire sauce variety), a triple stack of pan cakes (or hot cakes, or flap jacks, or whatever you want to call them), and some delicious made-from-scratch orange juice.

The pleasant aroma of the wonderful breakfast had soon wafted up to graal's room, where the sleeping natives lay.

graal set the practically gourmet-style breakfast on the table, expecting to see the native men charging down the staircase any moment, after having smelled her delightful cooking.

When a few minutes had gone by and she hadn't heard a peep from upstairs, she began to wonder what was causing them to stay asleep, with all the wonderful smelling food!

graal moved partway up the staircase, grabbing a placemat on her way past the dining room.

She swiftly wafted the scrumptious aroma from the near-gourmet-style breakfast upstairs with the placemat, thinking "If THIS doesn't cause them to wake up, I don't know what will!"

Within a few minutes, however, graal was shocked to discover that the natives were STILL sleeping natives, and not awakened-and-hungry natives, as she had hoped.

Angered to a small degree, graal threw the placemat to the ground, and stomped up the rest of the stairs.

She gently stormed into her room, where she saw the sleeping natives, still asleep.

graal stood there for a brief moment, wondering what to do next.

Suddenly, an idea occurred to graal.

She stomped her foot loudly. In fact, it was so loud that it would have scared her poor dogs to death!

The sleeping forms of Burning Man and Hunting Soul were suddenly about a foot off the ground, as they had each been awakened in such a fright.

graal took a moment to laugh out loud at the ridiculous sight.

"Okay you two, breakfast is ready!" she chuckled.

Hunting Soul and Burning Man each sat up slowly. Hunting Soul was earnestly clutching his chest, as if he was trying to catch his breath.

Burning Man, however, simply yawned and rubbed his eyes.

"What are you both waiting for?!" graal prodded. "Get downstairs right this instant! Your breakfast is getting cold!"

At that, Burning Man and Hunting Soul both somberly arose and walked downstairs.

graal wondered to herself: "Sheesh! How can they be so tired? They slept more than I did!" as she followed them down the stairs.

Once the natives had entered the dining room and saw the scrumptious meal on the table, however, they each soon changed their tune.

They both practically climbed over each other to get to the table and the food it held.

"Children, children!" graal scolded. "Don't you have any manners?"

graal spent the next few minutes teaching the natives a FastTrack course on table manners.

Before long, they were both eating with such grace and skill that even Martha Stewart would have been impressed!

The three sat and enjoyed some wonderful conversational topics during breakfast.

Soon enough, everyone was done eating. graal gladly washed the dishes as the natives went to clean up.

In no time, they were all ready for their next adventure through time.

graal called Burning Man and Hunting Soul into her living room, where she began to tell them the basics of what she had learned about the whole time traveling process.

Soon, Burning Man and Hunting Soul both knew how to work the small, metallic remote control which propelled graal (and co.) through time.

"Now then," graal continued, "I'm gonna be the one to use this most of the time. However, if something bad ever happens to me, you both have to finish the mission, okay? We have to stick together on this! Too much is depending on our success!"
The natives both nodded in solemn understanding.
"Good," graal concluded. "Now then, let's see where we'll end up!"

The three stood and joined hands, save one of graal's (so that she could operate the remote control).

The trio of intrepid time travelers soon vanished, leaving graal's newly washed dishes, clean house, and IRC-running computer patiently waiting in 2185.

* * *

It was a somber scene, to those who were watching.

On stage, a young actress was feigning about, trying her damndest to portray a decent Juliet on her balcony, as she pined for her Romeo.

Suddenly, graal and the two natives (who, coincidently, had changed into some more 'modern' clothing from their previous attire [which consisted mainly of a loin cloth and a feather or two, with the occasional smattering of war paint]) appeared in the middle of the stage!

The majority of the audience, being female, were frightened to the extent that one of three things happened to each of them.

1) Some of them merely fainted.
2) Others screamed blood-curdling death-cries, and THEN fainted.
3) The rest screamed bloody murder, and trampled the poor males who were watching graal with great anticipation (after all, it's not every day you see a beautiful maiden appear from out of nowhere!)

'Juliet' merely continued feigning about on her balcony, pretending not to notice the three new arrivals on stage (though Burning Man had caught her eye...).

graal looked meekly at the natives, who both shrugged and looked back to her.

The three then gracefully exited stage right, to the exasperated (and predominantly male, now that many of the females were either unconscious or had left) audience's dismay.

The audience arose and gave a heart-warming standing ovation, which 'Juliet' tried to ignore, as her part wasn't yet finished. She continued her feigning, with a few worried glances towards her director, who had, herself, fainted.

Just then, Burning Man re-entered the stage, to take a brief yet humbled bow (which was cut short, as graal's arm reached out and yanked him back off the stage).

'Juliet' watched them leave, though. She had the strangest feeling about the three.. mostly hatred for Hunting Soul and graal, as they had interrupted her flawless theatrical performance. Yet, she felt something... different... when she looked at Burning Man.

Yet, 'Juliet' also found graal strangely familiar; as if they had met, or known each other before, somehow.

* * *

graal and the natives had made their way out of the auditorium, and found themselves in a school.

"OMG!" graal said aloud, with an amazed-yet-shocked look on her face.

graal found herself looking around the familiar buildings. Burning Man and Hunting Soul were both a bit confused, and Hunting Soul began tugging on graal's shirt to try to get her attention.

"Whaaaaaat!?" graal asked, slightly annoyed that her nostalgic moment had been interrupted.
"What is it about this place, do you know it?" he asked.
"Yeah! I went to school here!" graal said excitedly.
"Although, everything looks so new! There used to be graffiti everywhere, it was really sad!"
"I wonder when we are," Burning Man asked to no one in particular.
"Hmm, that's a good idea, Burning Man. Way to stay focused!" graal congratulated the native.

(You see, graal had told them both that finding out the current date and time was the first procedure, no matter where they ended up. She seemed to have forgotten that rule, though... must have been all the nostalgia of being at her old high school!)

So, graal -- remembering that there was always a copy of the daily paper at the front office of the school -- proceeded to head off towards the... well, the front office of the school, of course!

Luckily, there was still a copy lying on the counter in the office.

graal took it and quickly scanned the front page for the date.

"Lessee...." she said, scanning.
"Ah, here we are!" she exclaimed. "March 21, 1975! Wow, that's like a few years before I was born!"

So, graal and the natives now knew where they were, and (more importantly) when they were.

"Let's go out front and think about this," graal said to the others, who both agreed.

You see, graal always wanted to try and weigh out why she was sent to a specific time, and -- more importantly -- to think of what could be done while there to fix the eternal void which had opened in her present-day.

So the three heroes sat around the flag pole, discussing possibilities and whatnot.

"Well, perhaps each time we're sent to is a pivotal moment," Hunting Soul countered.
"Hmm, I've thought of that," graal said. "It's just so hard to tell, ya know?"

Just then, a school girl walked by the flagpole, staring at Burning Man all the while.

Burning Man caught her gaze, and thought that she looked familiar from somewhere...

"Oh look, it's 'Juliet' again," graal said sarcastically.

Just then, something clicked inside Burning Man's head, and he remembered.

He was up and on his way over to 'Juliet' before anyone could stop him!

"Damn him and his infernal hormones!" graal and Hunting Soul both said in unison.
Realizing that they both had such a similar thought at the same time (and, especially, that they had just spoken the exact same words), they both took a moment to look each other in the eye lovingly.
"GMTA!" they both said in unison (again), and laughed.

However, the moment was fleeting, as they remembered Burning Man and his hormones.

"Wait!" graal called after him, noticing that he was now rapidly making his way back into the school with 'Juliet.'

graal quickly ran after the horny native. "C'mon!" she said over her shoulder to Hunting Soul, who was actually just a step or two behind her.

Once inside the school again, graal and Hunting Soul began to look for Burning Man and 'Juliet.'

"Dah, where'd they go?!" graal said hotly.
"Well, the place doesn't seem too big; we'll find them!" Hunting Soul encouraged.
"Yeah, we'd better, and soon!" graal retorted. "You saw that look in his eyes!"
"Yep; if he's still the same Burning Man I've known all these years, we know what happens next!" Hunting Soul replied.
"Hmm, let's split up and search for them," graal suggested. "We'll meet back here in 20 minutes, with or without Burning Man... agreed?"

Hunting Soul nodded in agreement, and then headed down the hall in one direction, as graal went in the opposite direction.

They were determined to find Burning Man, no matter the cost! After all, this wasn't his time. In fact, NONE of them belonged here.

* * *

Someplace else.

Some other time.

A child is being born into the world.

Kicking and screaming her way out of her mother's womb, here she is at last!

The child has arrived, and just in time, too!

The mother looks with joyous eyes at her new baby girl.

"I'll call you growl," the mother -- Julia -- says enthusiastically.

The child coos softly as she looks up into the eyes of her mother, who smiles softly at her newborn child.

The mother looks to her loving husband and smiles.

"Isn't she beautiful, Kevin?" she asked.

"Yes, darling, she has your eyes!" the man says.

The couple shared a few more moments of joy with their child before the nurse came to take the baby to the other room so the mother could get her rest.

* * *

Burning Man looked into the eyes of his Juliet. No, actually he was staring into her eyes.

The two shared the gaze for quite a long while.

Every now and then, 'Juliet' would look up to the sky and enjoy the night air.

"Aren't the stars beautiful tonight?" she asked.

Burning Man nodded. "Yes, they are indeed," he said softly. "Not nearly as beautiful as your eyes, though!"

At that, 'Juliet' quickly returned her now embarrassed eyes back to Burning Man for a moment, and then looked away.

"Don't be shy," said Burning Man. "I don't even know your name!"
"It's... it's... Julie," the girl said slowly.
"Just plain Julie?" Burning Man asked.
"Well actually it's Julia, but most of my friends just call me Julie," she explained.
"That is a beautiful name indeed!" Burning Man exclaimed.
"Well, what's YOUR name then?" she asked.
"Um.. well, it's Burning Man. It's a long story," Burning Man said sheepishly.

Julia looked impressed at the sound of his name.

The two continued their idle love-chat on the roof of the school, under the enchanting night sky.

Eventually, however, one thing DID lead to another...

* * *

graal and Hunting Soul had been looking for Burning Man and 'Juliet' for what seemed an eternity.

"Where the HELL could he be?" graal asked, to no one in particular (though she had, in fact, met back up with Hunting Soul after their 20 minute time period had elapsed).

Hunting soul grunted. "I don't know, but when I find him, I'll..." he said, his eyes narrowing to dark, menacing slits.

graal stopped him then. "You'll do no such thing! Whatever it was you were thinking, it won't work. You remember the ninth rule I told you about?" she asked, worriedly.

Hunting Soul thought a moment, and then remembered the rule. "Ah yeah," he concluded. "I can't harm him, or you for that matter, while in this timeframe, or it will cause irreparable damage to future incarnations of myself...." he trailed off.

graal nodded.

"I've learned the hard way, believe me!" she consoled.

Just then, graal and Hunting Soul heard a sound above them.

They both looked up, and saw nothing but ceiling tiles and lights.

"Dah, the roof!" graal exclaimed madly. "They've gone to the ROOF!"

She took off in the opposite direction than they had been going at such a pace that Hunting Soul found it hard to catch up.

"I shoulda KNOWN!" she kept saying.

Hunting Soul tried to ask her how, exactly; but then she told him as they ran.

"All the popular kids used to go to the roof and make out at night!" graal said worriedly.
"I hope they're not doing anything foolish..." Hunting Soul trailed off.

Before long, they had both made it to the roof.

"Now, move slowly; the roof can be a bit tricky sometimes," graal informed her companion. "And try not to make any noise!"

Hunting Soul nodded somberly.

They both crept around softly, taking great care not to disturb even the slightest pebble which might have somehow found it's way to the school house roof.

They eventually made it to a place where they could look over a vast portion of the roof; it was a good vantage point.

graal held up a hand, motioning that they should stop.

She scanned the roof, looking for signs of recent activity.

Just then, Hunting Soul saw them!

He quickly tapped graal on the shoulder and directed her attention to the two, actively participating in a.. shall we say a "compromising activity."

graal's jaw hit the floor.. er.. roof.

"OMG!" she whisper-shouted, though it was soft enough that only Hunting Soul had heard her.

"He's gonna ruin the whole timeline!!" she hissed.

Hunting Soul looked confused, so graal decided to explain it to him again.

"If he gets her pregnant, then she will be carrying a child which should not come to exist!" graal said. "He and you are both from the past, long before any of these people were born! If he fathers a child NOW and HERE in this time line, who is to say what damage it would cause!?"

Hunting Soul nodded, now in complete understanding. "But," he began, "we can't harm him or anything.. How are we going to stop him?"
"Hmm.. We have to think of a way!" graal said emphatically.

Just then, Burning Man became more vocal about what he was doing.

Hunting Soul looked worriedly at graal.

graal looked back at Hunting Soul, mortified.

"We're running out of time!" they both hissed.

Just then, they both smiled at each other, thinking 'GMTA!' to themselves again.

Somehow, though, Hunting Soul hadn't been paying attention, and made a noticeably audible noise as he shifted his weight.

Burning Man glanced up in their direction briefly, shouting "Whoooo's theEereeeE?"

Before long, though, a look of great pain entered his face.

Then, sudden and inexplicable (well.. for the sake of the story, it's inexplicable..) joy could clearly be seen on his face. His feeling was unmistakable.

"OMG!" Hunting Soul and graal both shrieked.

Now that their cover had effectively been blown, they both stood and began charging towards Burning Man and 'Juliet.'

Burning Man, noticing the ruckus (but unable to clearly see who was coming, for some reason), quickly stood and made himself decent; all the while helping to conceal 'Juliet' and protect her.

'Juliet' had also managed to regain her composure, and stood, joining Burning Man, by the time Hunting Soul and graal had gotten to them.

"What were you THINKING?!" Hunting Soul began.
"No, it's too late..." graal trailed off.

Something made her stop in mid-sentence.

She noticed 'Juliet' now, and managed to get a clear look at her face.

Immediately, graal was struck with a fear and dread that she had never before felt.

"MOM?!!" graal shrieked.

'Juliet' looked at graal, bewildered. "I'm no one's mother," she said, though her voice was unmistakably shaking.
"But you.. your name, tell me your name!" graal demanded.
"My.. my name, is.." 'Juliet' began.
"No, you don't have to tell her anything!" Burning Man interjected.
"Just TELL MEEEE!!" graal screamed.

"Allright allright!" the other woman yelled back. "My name's Julia, for crying out loud!"
"Yeah, but her friends call her Julie!" Burning Man said, with a smirk on his face.

Hunting Soul smacked him (not hard, though, as he remembered his warning from graal).

"You insolent bastard!" Hunting Soul said. "You've changed this time line, and who knows how?"
"I do," graal said softly.

Everyone was quiet, and they all stared at graal.

There was a long moment of silence, as they waited for her to continue.

"Um.. excuse me, but... what are you all talking about?" Julia asked.
"Butt out for a moment, woman," Hunting Soul said hotly.

"Don't talk that way to her!" Burning Man and graal both said in unison (which surprised everyone standing there).

"OMG!" graal then said, as she slumped to the roof, unwilling to face what she now knew.

Hunting Soul bent down to console graal.

When graal had had a chance to gather her thoughts, she explained the situation to all of them.

"You just had sex with my mom!" graal said to Burning Man.

Burning Man thought for a moment. "Does.. that, um.. make me your.. dad?" he asked sheepishly.

"NO!" graal screamed. "YOU'RE NOTHING CLOSE TO MY DAD!!!"

Hunting Soul was confused (as was everyone else).

"Soo...." he began, but graal shot him a look which seemed to say "please, don't!"

Burning Man, however, finished his thought: "What's gonna happen?"

graal thought for a moment. "I don't know. You're not my dad. I don't have any siblings, especially ones with different fathers! My mom knew better, she wouldn't have been so foolish!!" graal sobbed.

Just then, graal stood.

"All right," she began. "Here's what we're gonna do."

The others looked to her expectantly.

"Hunting Soul and I are leaving. We're going to another time. You two, stay here and do what you want; though if you want to make things right, you'll give that baby up for adoption, and never be together!!" graal began sobbing uncontrollably.

Hunting Soul tried his best to comfort her, though she was clearly too shaken to continue at the moment.

"But graal," Burning Man wondered, "what if *I* am your real father? Wouldn't this have been my destiny?"
"HA!" graal laughed. "I know you're not! You're nothing like my daddy!! We don't even LOOK anything alike!!"

graal couldn't go on like this. She was visibly shaking, and her eyes were now more like a faucet than anything; her tears streaming forth so quickly.

She turned and walked away from the others.

She reached into her pocket and found the device which always saved her.

Yes, the control.. it would bring order to the chaos which now plagued her mere existence.

After all, her world had been turned up-side down. Then she thought, 'yeah, if I go to another timeline, only THIS one will be wrong.. all the others will be right!'

She knew, however, that all the timelines she'd been to had somehow been linked, though, since the eternal void now in her present-day held all her friends -- everyone, perhaps -- in captivity.

graal began to enter the combination.

She no longer cared where or when she would end up; just that she were anywhere, any time.. ANY place other than right here, right now; with her mother and Burning Soul gloating over their 'coming attraction.'

Hunting Soul knew what was about to happen.

He quickly began to chase after graal, running as fast as he could.

If only he could get to her before she entered the combination!

graal's fingers quickly and skillfully continued entering the combination into the remote control.

She knew the routine so well; she didn't even have to watch what she was doing.

'That's it,' she thought to herself. 'Just the key sequence now...'

graal entered the final part of the combination.

Events around her on the rooftop that night slowed to a virtual snail's pace; Burning Man looked on, realizing that he was about to be left in 1975 with his love.

graal knew she was about to leave, and was.. she was... she was not happy. She knew leaving wasn't right. But she couldn't change the fact that in mere fractions of a second, she would open her eyes to a new timeline, and she would never look back to this one.. ever.

Hunting Soul was... almost.... there.......

Just then, a blue light began to form around graal.

She was transitioning into the next timeline!

Her shape had begun to vanish. Julia was shocked, and began to faint (in slow motion, as everything else was).

Just then, Hunting Soul somehow managed to make contact with graal...

... and they both disappeared.

Burning Man, never taking his eyes from the spot where his friends had just stood, reached out and caught Julia before she could hit the ground.

* * *

The year was 1976.

The couple enjoyed the birth of their daughter.

They decided to name her growl, after the graal who they had known that one fateful night.


it was NOT graal.

It looked almost nothing like her.

Later that night, after the birth of growl, that day in 1976, something terrible happened.

Apparently there had been some complications in delivery.

The doctors of the time didn't know what to do.

Julia wasn't strong enough.. she couldn't hold on...

Burning Man cried his eyes out, longing for the day when he and his wife would one day be together again.

While he had growl as his daughter now, his beloved wife was dead.

* * *

graal and Hunting Soul appeared, strangely, back in her room.

Hunting Soul expected graal to rush to her computer again, to see what date it was.

However, he was dismayed when she simply laid down on her bed, still crying, still shaken from her experience.

"Come on, graal, you have to go on! You can't let that get you down!" Hunting Soul consoled.
"How can you say that!?" she lamented. "Now I'm not even going to exist anymore! Who cares when it is; this is how history was messed up!"
"graal, you don't know that!" Hunting Soul said. "For all we know, that was what was SUPPOSED to happen!"
"Tch, Hunting Soul!" graal sobbed. "We can't second guess ourselves!" She sat up, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"Okay, I'll look at the date.. But you hafta hold my hand!" graal pleaded.

Hunting Soul agreed.

Together, they went to the computer, turned the monitor on, and looked to the date.

The computer said January 29, 2003.

graal was shocked.

"OMG!" she said. "It's only a few months after I left! This is the closest I've ever been!!!"

The two shared a moment of celebration; and got so carried away that they hardly noticed the knock at graal's door.

"Who's there?" a voice asked, through the door.

Startled, graal and Hunting Soul stopped celebrating. It sounded like her mother's voice!

"MOM!" graal screamed with joy.

Just then, the door opened.

graal stopped dead in her tracks, and her jaw again hit the ground.

The person at the door was not her mother.

The person at the door was.. graal! Sort of...

"What the..." Hunting Soul said; it was all he could get out before the 'other' graal stopped him.

"Oh, it's YOU!" she screeched.

graal was horrified. Here, in front of her, was... someone, who looked like an Indian maiden version of herself!

"Hahahahaa!" the 'other' graal laughed menacingly.

"I'm anti-graal!" she said, evilly, "... and I am your worst nightmare!"

* * *

And thus ends this chapter of TimeScape. Tune in next time to see what happens between our beloved graal and her nemesis, anti-graal!

The End!
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