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Punch The Clock

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     "--ronica, Veronica! Are you even listening to me?"

Veronica opens her eyes slowly, adjusting to the light in the room. She supposes she must be in the hospital or something, because she doesn't remember much from after Jason Dean's death. She sits up, fully expecting to see a doctor or a nurse or even her parents in front of her. Instead, she is shocked to see Heather Duke, Heather McNamara, and Heather Chandler sitting in front of her, all alive and well if not slightly annoyed.

Veronica leaps out of her seat, and whirls around to see she's standing in the middle of Westerburg's cafeteria. To her left, Kurt and Ram jokingly punch each other's shoulders, and to her right, JD is sitting by the trashcans eating and tapping on his phone's screen. What is happening here? 

"Veronica!"

She is snapped out of her thoughts by the irritated voice of Heather Chandler, the pretty and apparently alive leader of the Heather squad. "Oh, um, sorry Heather," Veronica replies, slightly breathless. She sits back down. "What did you um, say again?"

Heather tosses back her head with an sigh of deepest grievances, as though it truly pains her to have to repeat herself. "I said," she snapped, eyes venomous, "Have you noticed that new kid over there? Trench coat kid?" She points to JD's trash can corner. "He seems gay. Is he gay?"

Though this is an odd question, Veronica finds herself responding with a shake of her head. She knows from past experiences that JD is most definitely not gay. "No," she says. Heather Number One narrows her eyes, while Duke scoffs and McNamara just looks politely disinterested. 

"Are you sure?" Chandler asks. "How do you know?"

Oh, well, because I dated him until I found out he was a psychotic murderer trying to bump off my friends one by one. He blew up after that.

Yeah, no. She thinks. "Um," Veronica searches for a non-weird/murderous answer. "I think I saw him making out with some girl earlier." 

Heather cocks her head to one side in thought, and says, "Hm."

Curiously, Veronica asks, "What would you think if he was gay?"

Heather splutters for a moment, blushing and shocked, before responding with venom, "It would be disgusting. Of course it would be. Why wouldn't it?"

Hm. Veronica thinks. This information doesn't shock her, yet still makes her sad. It makes a lot of sense that Heather Chandler is homophobic, yet, there was still been a tiny part of her hoping that her friend would be more accepting of LGBTQ+ people. Oh well, she thinks. You can't have everything.

Veronica feels this information would have had more of an effect on her if she weren't still trying to figure out what the hell had happened to make her wake up in the middle of a pre-murder lunch at Westerburg. It wasn't like Veronica wanted everyone to be dead, yet, she had a hard time accepting that they weren't. Is this time travel? Is it magic? Wha--

Her thoughts were interrupted by a raspy voice calling her name. 

"Veronica! Veronica!" It says in a deep, rasping voice. She looks up to see a shadowy, cloaked figure with two glowing blue eyes standing right on top of the lunch table. Right on top of Heather Duke's lunch. Oh well. The poor girl isn't about to keep that down anyways.

Veronica gasps in shock, her face turning into one of horror. "Who--? What--?" She sputters, but the creature reaches down and puts a finger to her mouth.

"Shush!" It hisses, blue eyes narrowing. "Only you can see or hear me. Now, make an excuse and go outside where we can talk."

Too dumbfounded to do anything but comply, Veronica stutters out, "I, um, have, an, um, thing to do. Be right back."

With that, she leaps away from the lunch table as though it were on fire and sprints at top speed to the doors at the back of the cafeteria. She ignores the weird glances she's getting and almost trips over her own feet, but makes it out of the heavy double doors quickly. To her shock, the creature is already waiting outside for her.

It gestures with a talon-like hand to follow it, and Veronica helplessly obeys. The thing doesn't say a word until they are safe behind the school by the dumpsters, a secluded location where they won't be found. Only stoners really hang out there, and with luck they'll probably be too high to even care or think anything of the weird scene. 

"I am Father Time," the creature, Father Time, she supposes, announces, flourishing his arms. The hood of his cloak falls down to reveal, well, nothing. His head is more of a black shadowy blob with two glowing blue eyes. They don't have pupils. He lacks a mouth, and, much like Voldemort, Veronica thinks, has only slits for a nose. His cloak is a deep maroon with blue the same color of his eyes lining the insides, and he seems to float rather than stand or walk. His hands are also black and shadowy, but with talon-like claws instead of fingers. His voice, deep and raspy, seems to come not from where his mouth should be, but from where Veronica guesses his heart is, as though the sound is coming from deep, deep inside him. She takes in his appearance, steps back, and introduces herself.

"I'm Veronica." She all but yells, her voice loud and unsteady from nerves. The creature chuckles (could it even be called a chuckle?) and replies, "Oh, I know. I've been watching you."

"I--, Um," Veronica doesn't know what to say. She stares, dumbfounded at Time for just a second before he swoops, cloaks billowing behind him, right up into her face. 

"No time for pleasantries," He hisses, his blue eyes narrowing. "I've come here for an important reason."

"Wha--" Veronica starts to speak, but is interrupted by Father Time. 

"Heather Chandler, Kurt Kelly, Ram Sweeney, and Jason Dean were not meant to die! The timeline is wrong. You messed up."

"But, I, how?" Veronica questions desperately. 

"It wasn't supposed to happen!" He repeats incessantly. He is close enough to be spitting on her face if he'd have had a mouth. "You were not meant to talk to Jason Dean that night in the Seven Eleven!"

Veronica thinks about this for a moment. She can barely remember that night because of the copious amounts of alcohol that had been in her system at the time, but she does remember running into JD. And something about corn nuts...

"When Heather called you from the car to hurry up with the corn nuts, you were supposed to listen!" He insists. Veronica backs up until her back is against the grimy brick wall of the school. 

"Okay," Veronica agrees breathlessly. "But, why do you care? I've never heard of something like, like this, like you happening!"

Father Time swoops away from her again and floats about a foot above the ground, his eyes' glare becoming brighter and brighter. "Because it never has happened before!"

Veronica is confused. "Then why--"

"Because Kurt and Ram were my favorite humans! I have watched over this earth for centuries and centuries. And Kurt and Ram were my favorite! So ignorant! So funny! So entertaining," He flies around and gestures a lot as he speaks, his raspy voice louder and clearer than it had previously been. "But then, that idiot Jason Dean murdered them! Completely unexpected! Heather too," he rambles, "Heather Chandler always was a very pretty girl. Lesbian, too. You don't see that a lot in popular girls. Yet she, too, killed without a second thought! It frustrates me so much!"

Lesbian? Heather Chandler was a lesbian? "Um, Heather isn't gay," Veronica said, the confusion in her tone making it clear she thinks this information is obvious. "She's never--"

Veronica is interrupted yet again by Time swooping forward and pressing a finger to her lips. "No time for this! You are running out of time! There are exactly two weeks until the first murder, and you must stop it. Do everything you did differently. Protect everyone."

"So," Veronica begins, still confused as to what she has to do. "Just protect Heather Chandler for two weeks? That seems easy enough."

Time scoffs, crossing his arms. "Obviously not! The timeline was altered when you refused to get Heather her corn nuts. She wasn't supposed to be first. Therefore, she won't be this time."

Veronica is baffled. If not Heather, then who was the first victim supposed to be? "Who, then?" She demands, putting her hands on her hips.

Time scoffs once again. "I don't know!" He throws his hands in the air. "I can't see the future! Logic tells me it shouldn't be Heather Chandler. But I've never explored this timeline before. I don't know who! Could be anyone! You, another Heather, maybe Chandler. You've got to figure it out yourself!"

Veronica's mouth hangs open. This seems impossible. Protect everyone in Sherwood, Ohio, for two weeks just to make sure JD didn't go crazy and try to kill anyone? Impossible. Simply impossible.

Father Time seems to sense her thoughts, and the creases around his eyes soften in compassion. "I wish I could help. I really do. But I haven't a clue who it will be. I will check in with you in two weeks if the murder is successfully prevented, in order to give you more information. Otherwise, four people, maybe more, will die. Goodbye, Veronica. Good luck."

And just like that, Father Time vanishes, leaving no trace of himself left. Veronica's mouth hangs open in shock, and she can barely think, let alone prevent a murder. Her mind clouded with shock, she begins to walk numbly back to the cafeteria. As she sits back down between Heathers McNamara and Chandler, she wonders what she could possibly say to her friends, knowing that in two weeks, if she doesn't figure this out, someone would die.