Friday, August 9, 2019

Microstory 1165: Garen Ashlock

When Garen Ashlock was in fifth grade, he got into an argument with his schoolteacher. She claimed that George Washington had wooden teeth; a factoid that Garen’s history professor mother had already explained to him was false. He wasn’t a bad student, but when he was right about something, he always needed to make sure everyone around him knew it, and this was one of those times. The fight was really heating up when Garen not so politely suggested she go back to the eighteenth century, and have a look for herself. He was surprised to see her disappear in that moment, but he knew she wasn’t dead, or anything, because he could still feel her. He maintained a transtemporal psychic connection to her while she was in the past, and as easily as he sent her there, he was able to pull her back to present day. Now, most people who have time powers aren’t at too much risk of exposing themselves before they even have a chance to grasp the basics of what they can do, but it has been known to happen. Garen’s actions changed everything about the world forever. Of course, a screaming match between an adult teacher, and an eleven-year-old child, was newsworthy. Several of the other students were filming at the time. The videos went viral, and soon, pretty much everyone knew about the disappearing woman, and enough believed it wasn’t fake. Beaver Haven Prison was designed to contain choosing ones who deliberately failed to keep the truth about time powers a secret, but what Garen did was definitely not on purpose, and the guards are not heartless people. Instead, they sent one of their agents back in time, to the day it happened, and erased the memories of the entire class, except for Garen. The agent also hacked the other kids’ phones, and erased the footage, so it was like none of it happened. Except it did, and it had to. The agent could have gone back even further, and prevented Garen’s power from manifesting in that moment, perhaps by telling him what he was beforehand, but that is not a healthy way to discover such a thing about one’s self. It was best for the reality of those events to stay intact, and only certain people’s memories of them be altered. This was Garen’s moment to learn who he was, and no one had the right to take that away from him completely, because it would inform his future decisions.

Garen moved on with his life, practicing what he could do with the agent’s daughter, who was around his age. He figured out that he himself could not travel through time, but could only send other people. He had to maintain a constant tether to them, so he could bring them back later, or they might be lost in time, and there appeared to be some limit as to how many people he could send to how many different points in time. For the most part, travel through time takes part along multiple realities. As soon as you go back, you create a new timeline, and the one you came from collapses entirely, but Garen’s power was different. Reality still shifted, according to whatever changes his clients were, but since he was connected to them, he retained memories from both, providing him with an interesting perspective that was shared by few others. He did not see it that way, however. To him, this was incredibly boring, because even though he had a sense of what his clients were doing, he wasn’t truly experiencing it himself. He became obsessed with building a crazy life for himself in the present, and the craziest life he could think of involved breaking the law. It wasn’t so much that Garen didn’t have the stomach for a life of crime. He was just a rather incompetent criminal. He wasn’t as bad of a person as he would have others believe, or himself. What he needed was a leader, of really any kind. He found a new family in a group of people looking to do some good in the world, specifically in history. Quivira Boyce could possess other people’s bodies, but could not do so through time. Combining hers with Garen’s ability, however, allowed her to return to the past, and put right what once went wrong. Finally, Garen had a purpose, and that was exciting enough for him.

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