First Gear

“Huh.” Greg stared at the watch parts scattered on the concrete sidewalk. He looked at the stopped cars in the street; they were driving by at full-speed moments ago. Greg wanted to cross, but did not want to wait for the light. He reached into his pocket for the watch. He squeezed the button too hard and the small pocket watch flew out of his hand. After time stopped.

“Well, at least I have time to think,” he said aloud. The ominous silence of stopped time left always him uneasy. Greg shrugged to himself and crossed the street as he originally planned. He was on his lunch break and decided to eat while he figured out what to do next. As he approached the entrance of his favorite burger spot a tall black hold appeared in the air in front of the door. Greg stopped walking. A pale, tall young man wearing black jeans stepped out of the hole followed by a young woman.

“They can move?” Greg stayed still. “They don’t know I can move,” he planned to stay still and see what happened. The pair seemed to notice time was not moving. They looked at the stopped cars, and peeked inside the restaurant, then they talked to each other. The woman seemed excited, then the pale man turned and looked at Greg. “Don’t move, don’t move, don’t move,” he reminded himself. “It’s just coincidence.” The couple began walking towards Greg. He fought to keep still. Once they were close enough the woman locked eyes with Greg.

“You’re right! I can see the difference!” She said with a large smile, then she waved at Greg. “Hi. Did you stop time?” Greg stared at an imaginary dot behind the red-headed woman. He did not so much as blink. The woman turned her attention to the pale young man.

“Well he doesn’t want to fix it,” she shrugged. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything else to do here, let’s move on.”

“You can fix it!?” Greg grabbed the woman’s hand.

“Maybe. It depends on a few things. First I have to know, did you do it?” She slid her hand out of Greg’s grip. He nodded.

“Yes. It was an accident!” She gave Greg an appraising look, then she looked back to her pale friend.

“He’s a Zero.. right?”  He nodded and she turned back to Greg.

“How did you stop time?”

“Uh, I had a watch,” Greg turned to point at the sidewalk across the street. “It stops time when I press the button, but I dropped it.”

“A watch?” She asked her friend. He nodded and started crossing the street. The woman followed him, and Greg followed her.

“Some Uniques can imbue items with their magic,” the man explained to his partner, and Greg also heard. Though he did not understand the explanation beyond “magic”. The trio reached the clockwork mess and the strange man knelt to poke at the bits and pieces. “Ha!” He grabbed a piece off the concrete then stood and smiled at the woman. He held out his palm to show her a small golden gear that glowed with faint golden light. “Definitely a Muerte. Take it, it’ll make your magic stronger.”

The woman touched the gear then she immediately began to glow with golden light. The gear dimmed until its light disappeared completely. After several seconds the glow around the woman dimmed and she smiled.

“That was awesome! There was tons of magic in there,” she rubbed her hands together. “I feel great!”

“Cool,” the pale man nodded. “Ready then?” He waved a hand at the air and another black portal opened up.

“Wait!” Greg spoke up. “You said you were gonna fix it.”  He asked the woman. The tall man stepped into the black portal and disappeared, but the woman nodded and smiled.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” she snapped her fingers as she stepped into the hole in the air. Time roared to life before she disappeared.

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