The Keeper of Time by Valerie Parente
Chronos jolted out of his sleep to what sounded like a crackling firework.
He knew exactly what he was about to see. Only seconds ago was his brain generating a bizarre dream that would predict the day to come. For the past few months, this had been the case- Chronos having precognitive dreams and experiencing a more potent version of déjà vu as the dreams unraveled in the following day’s reality- but Chronos didn’t dare tell anyone this secret. People would think he was a liar. Or worse, sick– only to be rendered incompetent and unfit to teach. He couldn’t afford that.
Chronos ripped off his sheets and hurried to the bedroom window where he saw a burst of silver sparkle amongst the long grass in his yard.
“I knew it,” he gasped between the windowpanes.
Not a second was spared as Chronos bolted out of his room. He didn’t even care to tiptoe out of courtesy not to wake his dying grandfather, the guardian who had given his life to raise Chronos into the mathematician he was today.
Chronos flung open the doors to his lot and ran onto the lawn, still in his boxers and T-shirt. The Canadian summer night was cold, but adrenaline made it near impossible for him to notice.
Determined to prove what he eerily dreamt about the night before, Chronos stumbled to the la femme creature in the middle of his yard. The humanoid born from the stars, whose lavender flesh was sprinkled with silver stardust, sat ever so patiently with her legs crossed.
“You”, Chronos barely choked into the bitter 2:30 AM air, “I knew you were coming…”
As the glittery humanoid nodded the moonlight ignited the sparkle of her violet eyes.
“Something…” Chronos faltered on his words, hearing the insecurity fragment his distinct tone, “something strange has been happening to me… and… I think you know what it is.”
The humanoid’s glistening mouth stretched into a smile while her pupils dilated. “I do…”
“What is it?” the young man begged. He was just starting his long coveted career and nearly collapsed at the thought of losing grasp of his aspirations to these increasingly frequent paranormal occurrences of precognitive dreams.
“Chronos,” the celestial being addressed him knowingly. There was an old-friend-like quality in her demeanor that contradicted all Chronos assumed a stranger from the stars would possess. “Do not lose any more sleep than you already have by worrying. You were perfectly made.”
“Perfect?! Everything I thought I knew about the fundamental quantity of time has been tipped over on its head!” Chronos cried out. He wouldn’t have been so brash with this amicable being if he didn’t have such a heavy load of additional stress from playing caretaker to his grandfather, all the while grieving a man who had not yet crossed the threshold into death but was on an imminent way out.
“I know you’re scared, Chronos. But fear is often the result of misunderstanding. Time is a form of perception mankind has long misunderstood. You see with the eyes… You smell with your nose! You hear with your ears! You taste with your tongue! And you feel with your skin!” the female, equally silver-tongued as she was silver-skinned, gleamed in a raw and impassioned voice. All the while her eyes began to smile and brightened, invigorated by the very information she was verbally bestowing onto Chronos. “All sensory receptors, sensory nerves, sensory cells, work with your brain to manipulate a flux of external stimuli into the perceptions we call reality. Your conscious, your remarkable human conscious, has been immaculately designed to interpret life through sequential experiences which have come to form the illusion we understand yet understate as ‘time’?”
Chronos’s head felt light. Determined to come to terms with his worrisome dreaming tendencies, he hardened with assertion. “What are you saying?”
The humanoid took a deep inhale, trying to reel in her excitement, then exhaled. “To be impressed by an existence through the flow of time is the natural way of human beings. Time is no more than a sixth sense.”
Chrono’s throat tightened. He didn’t know what to say. So, naturally, the girl from the stars carried on in her passionate voice.
“You see Chronos, when you are overcome by an ethereal wave of déjà vu or when a precognitive dream merges with your slumber you are really experiencing a neurophysiologic glitch. An error in the programming of your brain! As I have said, you see with the eyes- but that perception makes an impression in that intricate brain! Recalling the future is as much a sensory impairment as blindness!”
This newfound information was too much for Chronos. It targeted a portion of his mind that he had never been honed before. Sure he was a mathematical genius whose was used to thinking in overdrive, but this talk of time concurrent with his anatomy was testing his mental capacity, not because it was intellectually revolutionary or mind-bending, but because it was personal.
Slowly Chronos pieced together this other-worldly being’s words. “So what you are telling me is… I- I am not gifted…” he concluded as he felt the boiling hot tears pool into his vision. “… I am sick.”
“No Chronos,” In one fluid motion the celestial girl rose from her cross-legged position and stood before him. She cupped Chronos’s quivering mandible in her warm hands. Her violet irises softened as her pupils sharpened onto the vulnerable human being before her. “You are deeply blessed! All that has, is, and will occur in this realm can be tuned into with a particular combination of brainpower that you miraculously possess! All that is existential in mankind and the universe itself is accessible to your brain.” The fresh essence of awe in the humanoid’s voice, as if she was also discovering this incredible phenomena for the first time, eased Chronos into a serene state.
Valerie Parente (12-4-16)