There comes a moment in the life of a man wherein he is faced with a good ol’ adventure.
Many lesser men think themselves hotshots until that moment arrives, wisenheimers who brag around foolishly, thinking that they would be able to take on mountains if they had the chance to.
When that time comes, the moment hauling ass towards them, they falter, waggling around like they suddenly lost all their smarts, and end up showing what they truly are –chickens.
As opposed to them, when confronted with the chance to go and have a big bang somewhere –or should I daresay, sometime– I did not hesitate, held the chance tight in my hands, and took a step into the dark.
My name is Jake English, and this is the story of my meeting with the Guardian of Time.
The island was quiet, and Jake was overly bored; no creature had appeared to bother him for quite some time, the rations had arrived in time and nothing was missing, and once again he had nothing to do but watch movies on his computer all day.
Despite the alluring prospect, for once the thought of spending hours on end to watch whatever movie he had at his disposal –any movie, he liked them all, really– wasn’t as satisfying as it could be on any other day.
The fact was, Jake was a man of action –or, rather, a teen– and being coped up too long, no matter if in the company of cinematography of epic beauty, made him feel like he was wasting his time.
He had lived all his life on this small island, somewhere in the ocean, far from civilization despite his stable internet connection and relatively advanced technology, and was starting to feel like the world was bigger than that.
He wanted to travel, and see the world.
Picturing the many adventures he could have if only he left the island was his favourite pastime, more appealing than any movie with enticing blue women, more appealing than whatever creature could make its way to his house.
Still, he had never left his home, held back by the feeling that it wasn’t time yet. Something big was going to come, at some point in his life, and if he left before that moment, he would miss that chance, and forever regret it…
And Jake didn’t want to have any regrets in life.
Still pondering whether to go back into his room and maybe chat with one of his online friends, or instead grab his faithful pistols and go find himself some quest, Jake didn’t even notice the figure walking uphill towards him, until he heard the sound of someone clearing his throat right in front of him.
Jake was startled out from his thoughts and blinked, shocked when he realised he was staring right into someone’s eyes –or better then, someone’s shades.
“Holy mackerel!” he exclaimed, pushing his glasses back up and taking a step back. “I didn’t even hear you coming, chum! You’re a silent one alright”.
The guy –a teen probably around his age, Jake noted– raised one eyebrow above the shades’ line.
Jake took a moment to observe him, feeling somewhat bothered by how he had allowed him to get this close without even noticing; it wasn’t often someone stopped by his island, and usually they were people from the mail service.
The newcomer didn’t look like he belonged to any sort of post service, nor was he dressed like a tourist would; he had an attire of various shades of red, and even had a cape on, which was quite weird to him.
He had a mop of carefully braided blond hair, and a good part of his face was, as previously stated, hidden away by a pair of aviator shades that Jake found rather familiar –he was almost sure some actor wore a pair of very similar ones in one of the movies he had watched.
“Sup?” the teen said, voice perfectly monotone as he lifted one hand up in a salute.
“Uh, hey,” Jake scratched his head. “I wasn’t expecting anyone for at least a month, what brings you by my humble abode?”
The teen stared at him, then he tilted his head. “Let me make sure, what year is this?”
“Uh… 2004?” Jake replied, frowning.
“That’s what I thought, but with your stylish lingo, I thought we were back in the seventies,” the teen shrugged. “You Jake English, right?”
“Yes, that’s my name,” a little bit affronted at the quip, as he prided himself to be a gentleman of speech just as much as he was skilled with his pistols, Jake pointed at the weirdly dressed teen with a finger. “It is only congenial for you to offer your name as well as a reason for your presence here”.
The teen’s lips twitched into a small smirk. “Name’s Dave,” he answered, easily bypassing his surname. “As for why I’m here, I was strolling by this timestream and decided why the fuck not, it’s been a while”.
Jake blinked. “Er, you are a weird chap,” he stated, honest as ever. “You been there before? I would remember seeing your face around”.
“Been here couple times, yeah,” Dave looked around, eyes still hidden behind his shades. “Be a good kid, where’s Jade at?”
The name took a moment to click. “Gosh, you knew my grandma?”
A flicker of something passed on Dave’s face –or on the part of his face that was visible, at least– and Jake watched as he froze. Then, slowly, the weird teen lifted one hand in the air, lips moving soundlessly.
It appeared like he was counting.
“Oh, right… it seems I approached the wrong moment,” he shrugged lightly. “I guess I’ll just step up and take my leave now. Places to go, things to see, sick rhymes to compose on the beat of Time itself, you know”.
Jake almost smiled –this Dave was weird, but amusing, and his tendency to rant reminded him of one of his internet friends.
Still, knowing he would have to give him bad news almost physically hurt him.
“Well, I don’t think you could see grandma even if you come at a later time,” he hastily called out as Dave turned around, ready to leave.
“She is–” Jake stopped abruptly when Dave pushed his hand in front of his mouth, one finger almost touching his lips.
“Don’t say it,” there was a small vibration in Dave’s voice that made Jake’s words die. “I get it”.
All of sudden, Jake found himself curious. Grandma Harley had died when he was just a kid, leaving him alone on the island, and Dave looked his age. It didn’t add up. “Say, how did you know my grandma?”
Dave turned to look at him again.
“She’s been my friend for a long time,” he replied, monotone. Then, almost as an afterthought, he smiled. Jake couldn’t see his eyes, but the smile felt a bit sad. “A knack for adventure and one hell of a bitch –in a good way, I assure you. Had her following me ‘round for a good decade or two”.
“Now I know you’re just pulling my leg,” Jake grunted, hands planted on his hips. “You can’t be older than me by a single day, how could you have been pals with my grandma for decades?”
The smile stretched into a smirk, and Dave straightened his back, managing to look far too smug, even if he was shorter than Jake by at least two inches.
“I am a Guardian of Time,” he stated, pressing one thumb on his chest.
Jake opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it, and closed it again. “What?”
“Guardian of Time. Keeper of the Gates of Clockwork, and a lot of other names,” Dave supplied helpfully. “That’s all me”.
“You mean for real?” eyes wide, Jake stared with newfound interest at the visitor. “How did you get on my island?”
“Stepping through the flows of Time, how else?” completely unperturbed by Jake’s shock, Dave mimicked a step forwards. “I know exactly when and where I want to go, easier than laying down some sick beats, bro”.
Instantly, Jake pounced, invading Dave’s space in his haste to get a closer look. This was not a silly, maybe dangerous kid anymore –this was legit!
“So what, are you The Doctor?”
“Doctor Who?” Dave deadpanned.
“That was a horrible joke,” Jake commented, shaking his head, but even the pun didn’t make his excitement fade at all. “So, are you?”
“Of course I am, I left my Tardis parked right in the woods down there,” Dave pointed at the forest behind him with a thumb. “Not going to go anywhere without me”.
Dave allowed himself a second to appreciate the way Jake’s eyes grew even larger, looking almost ready to burst into a thousand million fragments of pure excitement before he lifted one hand up.
“Bro, calm down. I’m kidding,” he snorted at the other teen. “Doctor Who is fiction, nothing but a TV–show. Jeez, you’re such a loser, believing everything I tell you”.
Jake deflated, staring at Dave with a tinge of anger. “Does that mean all you said was a dirty lie?”
“No man, I’m the real deal here, package including time travelling and all that cool shit,” Dave assured.
“Well, what if I don’t believe you now?” he huffed. His pride had been hit where it hurt. “Don’t go selling me woof tickets, mister,” he decided to add for a good measure.
“That is where I either tell you about my adventures on the beats of a rap, words as fresh and cutting as a double edged sword, or I give you proof,” Dave chuckled. “Let Time Roll”.
There was no flicker in the air, no flash of light like in one of Jake’s favourite movies, no world turning on its axis –but suddenly another Dave stepped through air, coming to a stop right next to the one Jake had been talking with.
“Holy–” backing out in shock, Jake observed the two Daves with eyes as wide as saucers, glasses slightly slipping down the bridge of his nose. “How did you…”
Both Daves turned to look at him, the same smirk on their identical faces.
“Time Tricks, bro, the usual for me, one step here and you get to prehistory, one step too far and all the futures lay at my feet, basking in my cool presence,” the first Dave stated smugly.
“Spinning and weaving time with my fingers, best job in the world,” the second Dave continued, although his voice had a haunted tone that wasn’t lost on Jake.
“Did I burn away all your silly resistance now?” both Daves commented.
Jake nodded wildly, hands clenched into fists as a wave of excitement ran through his body. “Sure you did old chap!”
The first Dave turned to the second and offered him a fist, which the second Dave gave a bump to; then, the Dave Jake had been talking with until then made a mock–wave and stepped backwards.
Just like that, he was gone.
“That was –so far out I can’t believe it’s happening right here!” Jake grabbed one of Dave’s hands, holding it tightly. “What other things can you do?!”
Although surprised at the sudden contact, Dave kept the smirk on his face and shook his head. “You’re nothing like him,” he murmured, patting Jake’s arm with his free hand.
“Huh? Nothing like who?”
“The guy who gave me these,” Dave pointed at his shades. “Originals, too, Ben Stiller wore them on his big sweaty nose”.
“Ow, yucky man,” Jake wrinkled his nose. “Those look kind of tacky anyway, you positive they’re originals?”
With a tap on the side of the lens, Dave nodded. “Ironic as hell and equally original, yes. Jade’s… it was a gift from your grandma’s bro”.
Jake blinked in shock at him. He hadn’t been able to meet any of his grandma’s family members before she had died, and none of them had ever visited –they probably didn’t even know where he was– but Grandma Jade always had heart-warming stories about her brother.
“Good man, also travelled with me for a while. Had a good grasp on wind, the guy,” once again, Jake detected a flicker of sadness passing on Dave’s face.
Fumbling with his words, he tightened his grip on the other teen’s hand and tugged. “You gotta tell me everything about your jolly adventures, I say!”
Dave paused for a moment, resisting Jake as he tried to drag him towards his house.
“Man, as much as I like talking about my rad exploits, I don’t think a man of adventure like you would be satisfied with that, hmm?” Dave tapped Jake’s shoulder, then pushed him off, only to offer him his hand again. “What do you say, English? Want to hop onto the Time Train for a while?”
Jake didn’t even have to think about it.
He batted the offered hand away and stomped up to Dave, ignoring his slightly surprised face and wrapping his arm around the other teen’s shoulders.
“I daresay you have yourself a new companion,” he commented, smiling. “Just let me go and grab my pistols then I’m set to go!”
Snorting despite himself, Dave watched as Jake pulled away, hurrying down the path leading to his house and turning around every few steps to make sure Dave was actually following him.
True to his words, the only thing Jake took was his pair of guns, securing them to his sides and staring expectantly at Dave, waiting for instructions.
“If you don’t have a Tardis, mighty Time Guardian, how do you move around?” he asked as Dave made his way back outside.
“A skateboard,” was the deadpan reply.
Jake stumbled slightly, having not expected such an answer. “Uh, I’m sorry?”
“What? It’s highly ironic,” Dave commented, smirking. “But if you’re hesitant to take such an innovative machine, I guess I could find something suitable to your tastes”.
“What about a–”
“No, not a DeLorean”.
“I guess you’ll have to settle for an equally ironic pony”.
“You’re shitting me, Dave, are you?”
Dave simply smirked, and held out his hand again.
Without hesitation, Jake grabbed it.
Looking forwards, Dave counted down the seconds, stepped forwards–
–and then they were gone.
Between all the tomfoolery and adventures I have partaken in with the company of one Guardian of Time, namely Dave, that first encounter has been, despite its lack of perils, the one I still remember the most vividly.
I have been at his side for many years, and still remain, as far as I know, one of the few to know his full name.
I left a life of boredom, the confines of an island I knew like the back of my hand, to follow Dave through time and time again, and insofar, I have yet to regret it.
My adventures with him have not yet concluded, and if Time is on our sides, which I know it will be, many more still await, ready and ripe for me to take.
I am glad to have taken my chance in both hands, and I still hold it tightly, unwilling to let it go. I have been granted not just a never-ending supply of adventures, but a mate to enjoy them with.
Time moves on, and with it, so does he. And at his side, so do I.