Regular Spelling
Thoughts on language and more

Date Line

Mr. Ranyor gave me a guard escort, and prepared a room in a hotel for me and some money to get some new clothing. I didn’t really want to go with the modern look you people wear nowadays, but I didn’t particularly want to wear clothing from my era either. Instead  I decided to mix together some other looks, going for a 19th Century waistcoat that I could secure the Pocketwatch to, underneath a World War 1 style trenchcoat. I did pick up a modern shoulder holster to carry the Revolver with, however, finding the function very handy.

The next day, I was escorted back to the CIA headquarters, to the office of David Raynor, to begin reviewing our plans. Two of the people from the previous day were there, along with a couple new faces.  A map of Japan was being attached to the wall by one of them,  so we could outline the locations we had to be.

“So,” Mr. Raynor said as he went over to the wall, and pulled a few free push pins to attach to the map. “Today is Thursday. The attack will be on Saturday, in Japan.” He moved his hand from our current location over to Japan, but stopped when he was in the Pacific.

“Is something wrong, sir?” The person who was putting up the map said, a young looking man with red hair.

“Tell me,” Mr. Raynor said as he turned to me. “The date of the attack was Saturday?”

I nodded. “Saturday, June 16, at 9:13 in the morning.”

He lowered his eyebrows. “Was that our time, or local time?”

“Local time. Why does that matter?”

Everyone turned to look at me, expressions serious. “Um,” the other new person said, a middle aged woman with dull blond hair starting to grey, “before that, you do know the world is round and not flat, right?”

I laughed, amused. “Please, you people nowadays think poorly of our knowledge back then. Of course we knew the Earth is a sphere.”

Everyone continued to look at me seriously, so I continued. “What is the problem?”

“You do know where the International Date Line is, right?”

Honestly, I didn’t. “Well, from something I read in your history, a standard time zone system was established after I left, based in Greenwich. So, that would be the date line, I guess?”

Mr. Raynor shook his head, and traced his finger along a line running through the Pacific Ocean. “No, opposite of that, down the Pacific. It’s 11 AM Thursday here right now, but in Japan, its midnight Friday.”

I was shocked. I had miscalculated the time, leaving us with a day less to work with. “How long does it take to fly to Japan from here?”

“Fifteen hours approximately,” the plain woman from yesterday stated.

“How close are we to being ready to move out?” Mr. Raynor asked her.

"Not even,” she said, “I thought we had a lot more time.”

Mr. Raynor slammed his fist against the wall in a burst of anger. “Okay people,” he said sternly, “we need to double-time it. Get everything ready so we can be out of here as soon as possible!”

“Yes sir!” they all said at once, and quickly hurried out of the room to finish preparations. He then walked over to his desk and slumped down into the chair, sighing.

“I apologize,” I started to say quietly, but he held up his hand to stop me.

“No need to apologize. It was my own carelessness to not ask you that question earlier. I shouldn't expect you to be an expert on the sorts of things we take for granted today. Please, have a seat.”

I sat down on the chair opposite his desk, and set my briefcase down next to me. “So tell me,” he asked, “since we have the time. Something’s been bothering me about that Pocketwatch of yours. Can I see it again?”

I took out the Pocketwatch from my coat and set it on the desk. “I find it rather interesting that you accept the Objects I have so readily, actually, given the lack of magic in your modern day.”

He picked up the Pocketwatch, and turned it over to open the back panel and look at the gears. “Before I made it here, I worked as a Collector myself, gathering things for the Warehouse. That Raven’s Egg was one I personally retrieved, actually. “

“Ah,” I said with a smile and leaned back in my chair. “So you’re a comrade.”

He closed up the panel, and set it back on the table. “That story you told, about your ‘master’, are you a slave or something?”

“Not exactly,” I said, chuckling. “I did… some things, that threatened my life. She saved me, in exchange for servitude. I work for her voluntarily, as her servant and bodyguard.”

“I see,” he said, nodding in understanding. “So the Pocketwatch was built based on the diagram in the Voynich Manuscript. She was able to use it before you combined it with her, uhh, wormhole power?”

“Yeah,” I said, leaning forward. I hadn’t bothered taking the time to think about the anomaly, and so bouncing it off someone else seemed like a good idea. “She used it constantly. Like I said, she was originally the one that was going to come here.”

“And the bolt came from the Manuscript as well…” He thought for a moment, and then pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and began to sketch out a rough diagram, with crude figures to represent my master and I, and the Pocketwatch, Sundial, her power, and the Manuscrupt. “Excuse my drawing, it isn’t my strong suit.

“There’s conflicting estimates as to when it was written, from everywhere between 1200-something to 1520. I think Yale is going to carbon date it soon to get a more accurate estimation. When did you first get it?”

“We got it in 1571, in Venice during celebration after the victory in Lepanto. I don’t know where the watchmaker got it.”

“If I may be so direct,” he continued, adding to his sketch. “When were you born?”        

“I was born in 1502.” He looked up to me, eyebrow raised. “Yes,” I added with a chuckle, I am nearly 100 years old.”

“Dang,” he said with a laugh, “you’re looking good for your age.”

I laughed again. “My physical aging was stopped when I started working for my master. She herself was born sometime around the first millennium, I think. Never actually got her birth date out of her.”

“Well anyway,” he said, “so she was around a lot longer than you. Has she ever talked of anyone she knew before you?”

“As a matter of fact,” I said, furrowing my brows, “she had mentioned she had known a man that had been tricked into sending thousands of people to their death and then lost his own life. She spoke of this man somewhat affectionately, in my opinion. He apparently told her to use her power to protect the world, and that’s why we were doing this in the first place.”

“I see,” he said, sounding somewhat disappointed, as he began to crumple up the paper.

“But,” I added, and he stopped. “When she was struck with the lightning from the Manuscript and the watch, it was much stronger than those sparks from the hairs on the watch. I was surprised it didn’t kill her, honestly.

“The thing is, she said something after that. I thought it was simply delirium from the electricity wreaking havoc on her nerves, but perhaps there’s something more to it…”

He leaned in closer. “Go on,” he said, immensely curious.

“She had shouted out once I freed her from the lightning, in anger and tears. ‘Why do you hate me so? Why couldn't you let me help you?!’ is what she said.” I suddenly had a feeling I knew where he was going with his idea, and it wasn’t particularly something that was a pleasant idea to me.

“I think,” he said, as he began to add another person to his drawing. “Perhaps, whoever this person is that she knew, is the author of the Voynich Manuscript.”

“Okay,” I said, continuing his thought. “It could be that he didn’t really like her that much, and her affections were one-sided. But that doesn’t explain why it was something that would just start, instead of happening from when we first got the Pocketwatch.”

I began to pick up the Pocketwatch from the table. “Did she ever physically touch the book?”

I stopped, because I never had realized it. Not once did she ever physically handle the book, and I suddenly understood her seeming disinterest in it. “No,” I said quietly, “she never touched it as long as we had it.”

He nodded, beginning to form a theory. “If we assume the author is that same man she knew, and if we assume that he in fact hated her, it might be that he put a curse on the book, to keep her from ever touching it or any inventions contained within.”

“Which would mean,” I started, voice trailing off as I realized where he was going with it.

“Which would mean it was possible the Pocketwatch was never actually finished when you first got it. And using the Sundial to add her wormhole power to it completed it, activating the curse on it. It was supposed to allow time travel in the first place.”

I leaned back, certainly surprised. All the clues were sitting there right in front of me, and I hadn’t put them together. “I see.” I said finally.

He then frowned, and stood up. “That makes the book a Class 1 dangerous Object, for containing powerful secrets. I’m going to go have it moved to the Warehouse.” I nodded in agreement with the plan. “You should go to the employee lounge,” he said as he headed for the door. “There isn’t particularly anything you can do to help with preparations for the flight, so you can just take it easy until we’re ready to head out.” I nodded and he left, and I got up to leave the room myself.

As I thought about it more, I found it hard to believe, but somehow things suddenly made sense. If she did have a crush on this man, who died without her doing anything, clinging onto the Pocketwatch, if it was designed by him, and finding the curse inactive would make sense. But then, I found myself not able to explain why she wouldn’t just save his life as well, like she did mine.

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