Time was important to us all, it ran our lives, consumed it. Though we don't really think about it, most of the time we wanted it to pass. On the contrary, in a place like this, time was your everything. It wasn't just important, it was absolutely vital. There was a thing called watches, numbers displayed on your arm in bright green. Your aging stopped at twenty five, and then that watch was counting down, one year to live and one year to find yourself another way to gain more time.
That's what I had to do.
My time started when I was sitting at the docks, tossing pebbles into the water with my bro beside me. We had moments like this, just relaxing by the water. Despite how disgusting and polluted it had become in our "time zone", it was better than nothing, I could always think better by the water.
The starting of my clock hit me like a freight train. It's different for all people, some merely are stirred from naps, others feel like they're having heart attacks. I had prepared to throw a rock, pulling back my arm at just the right angle. Right as I was about to release it, a spasm rocked my body, shot through me, locked up all my muscles. I was dead weight, falling. Bro caught me before I could hit the ground and he held me as I stared at the numbers on my arm. One year was set up, ticking down those numbers looking hauntingly small despite the year on it.
I don't think any other time in my life I had been that scared. Sure, you had a "year" left, but that was just an illusion. In reality, you had a few months. There were bills to be paid, and you had to get food, drinks. You didn't just live for that year, it could be a couple months, weeks. Well that was, if you don't know how to work the system.
When I was old enough to understand what the watches meant my bro had trained me to be what many would consider a "time lord". I could steal other people's time from them, drain their life force. Of course, before my clock started there was no reason, I didn't even need to bother with time back then, but the training got me well prepared none the less.
It was twenty five years later now. When one looks at our society in the past you would think no one had aged past the age of their mid twenties, or that it was simply a land that was stuck in time. In a way they would be right, I was now fifty years old, looking no different than I had back when my watch started ticking. Today was a big day, but my bro hadn't even lived long enough to celebrate with me. I had been walking to work, checking my watch every so often in nervous anticipation, two hours were slowly coming to their end. I needed to work quickly, that or find some poor soul to sap time off of.
Luckily I had gotten there just in time, clocking in and heading for the work rooms a bit quicker than why was probably necessary. In my rush I could see the shadow of someone not too far away down the path. They were just sitting there and it had peaked my curiosity. Sure, it was normal to see people dead, but it was strange to see it happen so close to the work place. Usually those bodies were collected by now.
I continued walking, this time down the path and rounded the corner to see someone very, very familiar. He had those usual shades on his face, his hair spiked oh so perfectly. It was just like him, and I couldn't stop the panic that rushed through me. I saw people die every day, hell I killed them myself. This didn't look like it had just been a kill from loss of time though. Bro never lost a fight with that, his technique was flawless.
Kneeling beside his body I pulled him forward looking over his body to see if there were any wounds. Sure enough I had seen a trail up blood and my eyes moved up to see something lodged into his side. Slowly I began to raise his arm up and sure enough, lodged right into his side was a crudely made dagger. Murder. This wasn't just someone stealing his time. No, that would have been too easy. They actually murdered in cold blood, bro had a good four years back on his watch, they probably didn't even take that from him.
Turning his arm over to see the numbers I nodded to myself. I was right, they hadn't even bothered to take his time. Such a clean murder. In a place like this, people could see it and care less. Standing, I picked him up the best I could and hoisted him over my shoulder. I didn't care how heavy he was compared to me, I was trained to haul away bodies like this. Somehow this felt different.
Somehow, carrying him brought its own heaviness to my heart.
After burying him I took my time to head home, time I didn't have, to scope out anyone who looked like they might have the time that I needed to pass another day. I chose a man dressed in a decent enough suit. Lucky for me, he had another four hours on him. It didn't seem like too long, but for me it was more than enough to make it to the bar for a drink or too and sap some drunk of the rest of his time.
Hell at this rate, I could be a time keeper. Not that I wanted to be one.
Now mind you, the people of Dayton dropped like flies daily, and there weren't many in the bar at times, everyone was too poor to worry about drinking. A few drinks could be the death of them, sapping their time as payment.
That's why it came as a shock to me that day, when I entered the bar and there was a swarm of people. A man was buying drinks for everyone, his face just one big smile as he did so. The man was... Strange to say the least. He looked like someone who would have come from the high class timezone of Greenwhich, and from what I was hearing, he definitely had the time to meet the bill. Close to one million years, this guy was a gold mine of life, and according to the people talking he had only just started the time on his clock.
So how the hell had he gained so much time so fast?
Walking over to the bar I sat down a ways away, scoping him out and keeping my eyes hidden behind my shades, not bothering to take them off for even a second. His hair was dark and his skin was slightly tanned, like he got out every so often. The kid had goober teeth, sticking from his top lip just a bit to press against his bottom when he smiled and laughed. He looked way too innocent for a place like this, innocence meant danger, and the danger was me. How could I give up an opportunity like this, he was sitting right there, flashing his time without a care in the world around people who have never seen so much time in their lives. It was only a matter of time before someone stole that time from him, but it had to be the right person, someone who would use the time right. It would have to be me.
Everyone began to calm down after a while, stumbling off their own ways when they knew they would need to sleep. People here actually had to worry about their time, unlike that guy. I still had my eye on him, having had a few drinks I was maybe just a little bit tipsy, my eyesight blurring every so often. I was still steady on my feet though as I stalked after him when he got up to leave. He had this happy pep in his step and I just wanted to make it stop. Hell maybe I didn't want his time, I just had this overwhelming edge to gut the guy. It was people like him that made people kill like this, people like this that fueled the hatred in the ghettos and the constant deaths.
We were walking down an alley, back to where his car had been parked and I started running towards him. Strider's were known for their silence, and now was a great moment to have it. I ran to a large waste bin, jumping onto it and climbing up onto the roof before running over and diving off, landing hard on the hood of his car right on my feet, granted I nearly toppled over from the impact.
He looked shocked, scared, and I was glad. This was the greatest feeling, the feel of looking down at your prey, and they just knew what was coming to them, they knew that they had no chance and that they were going to die. The mistake that this kid made, was running.
With a pivot in his step he took off in the other direction down the alley way, and I was on his tail in no time, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him down to the ground, slamming him hard on his back and pressing my knee down hard into his stomach as I pinned him down.
"Please." Was all he said, and I couldn't tell for what reason. His eyes said that he would rather be dead, but beneath me his body was rigid, fear. The kid didn't want to die. That was too bad for him. Grasping his forearm I flipped it so that mine was over top of his own, his other arm laid limp by his side and I almost felt... Guilty. Everyone else put up a fight, but this kid just kept his eyes on the watch, swallowing hard and looking brave but at the same time at a loss.
That's what I felt when I ripped my arm away, leaving him with only a week left. I spat on the ground beside him, making him wince and I rose, reaching up and tugging off my shades to look down at him, heel of my foot digging into his stomach. "It's scum like you that drove me to steal time. Scum like you that got my brother killed, and you're going to suffer."
Reaching down I hoisted the slightly smaller male over my shoulder. Now he was trashing, screaming, but I knew no one would come to help him. In the ghetto's of Dayton this was a normal occurrence, and no one fucked with the knight of time.