Here is how Andrei’s, Caroline’s and Kaede’s day began…
The Guild – Prelude
“Hey, Kaede.” I stand in the door frame between the kitchenette and the living room.
“Can I come with you to campus today?”
“What, you don’t have shift today? At the bookstore?”
“Nah, I got the day off.”
“You didn’t get fired did you?” He teases, giving me a sideways glance from his desk in the living room.
“Not fair man! Not this time. It’s just a day off, I swear.” I say a little too defensively. I don’t like being teased about getting fired. Happens too often to be a joke.
“Sorry man, It’s cool. I just got Math2011 and SCE2004 till 11:30. Then I’m meeting Caroline for lunch in the student centre. Are you just going to hang out in the library again?” Kaede turns and looks at me from his desk. His mop of black hair half covers his eyes and I can barely make out that he has eyebrows. We’ve been friends since 9th grade when we both entered high school 7 years ago. Now we room together in the basement of a small house in the neighborhood at Sheppard and Keele.
Kaede turns back to his laptop and clicks away, the screen light glows in the early morning darkness of the small common space we share. He seems to be typing up a document, probably for class today.
“Yea, I focus better there. Can I use your login for the computer? They’re running a test today for grade 11 Math.” I say, watching him casually.
“Sure. I won’t need it. Good luck! I’m sure it’ll be a breeze!” He says, reaching for his coffee.
“With your high school notes, yea, no problem,” I say waving a hand from the doorway. He’s been tutoring me for 4 months now, helping me to complete my high school diploma. I dropped out in grade 10 because of the… condition I had that interfered with my class attendance and continues to haunt my work life.
“Yea?” I say as I turn to the kitchen.
“Caroline wants you to bring back that textbook of hers you borrowed last month. Needs it for an essay.” He says.
“Sure, I have it up in my room. Bus leaves in 20 minutes yea?”
“Yea, I think you’re right. Mind packing that coke for me in the fridge?”
“Sure.” I pull open the mini fridge door and immediately locate the half-empty bottle of coke next to a moldy half eaten hamburger from A&W. “I think the burgers dead,” I call out.
“Toss it then.” Still clicking.
“OK.” I toss it in the bin under the sink and scrunch my nose at the stench. I think it’s time to take out the trash.
In no time, we’re on the bus, matching zip-up hoodies with the YorkU logo painted on the front. I got my backpack of books and notes, Kaede – his laptop bag. October is still warm in Toronto, no need for a coat, though Kaede has a thin scarf wrapped around his neck. I believe it’s the one Caroline bought him last fall.
“How you been feeling lately?” Kaede asks. He doesn’t take his eyes off the window. The bus ride is only 10 minutes to campus.
“Pretty stable, no jumps lately.” I’m of course referring to the condition I have. I have a nasty case of time jumping and I’ve never really figured out why. Last month I was gone for nearly 3 weeks. I’d jumped back maybe 80 years to the Hawaiian Islands and helped John Kelly test out the new V-shaped fin on his surfboards. When I got back I had this crazy tan and lost my old job at the library for missing too many shifts. Now it was mid-October and I hadn’t felt on the verge of another jump since.
“Good, good. Man, I wish I could jump with you. It’d be sick to see the past and loaf for free somewhere.”
“Haha, yea…” I mumble. “Jumping isn’t always nice you know. I sometimes find myself in the middle of a tribal war or some political upset. No one really gets the whole clothes of the future deal.”
He chuckles from the window seat. “Yea, I bet. Next time though, I wanna see you leave!” He says excitedly, a grin plastering his fair Japanese face.
“I’m not a test subject man.”
“I get that, but honestly, dude, it’s the sickest thing in the world.”
“Yea, it’s pretty legit.” I shrug.
Next stop, York University Loop. The bus announces over the PA. Kaede and I get off and are immediately attacked by Caroline, Kaede’s 2nd-year girlfriend. SHe’s a year older than us.
“OMG! Guys! I seriously can’t stay here alone any longer. Can I move in with you?” Kaede unwraps her arms from around his shoulders and grabs her wrist, smiling.
“Sure, Car, what’s wrong with the dorms though? Room still have that water leak?”
“Woah, woah, she can’t come live with us.” I interrupt.
“Why not!” They both say in unison. Seriously the whole dating thing is way too much.
“Cuz, there’s only two beds.” I offer. I really just don’t see living with a girl, especially Caroline, being any fun. She’s so studious.
“That’s no problem man, you can sleep on the couch, she can have your bed. Not like your around that much anyway.” Kaede jokes.
“I just finished telling you I was feeling fine,” I frown.
“No, It’s fine. I have a sleeping bag, I can sleep on the couch.” Caroline offers.
“Now that’s a lady.” I tease, offering her my hand. She looks at it like I have leprosy and raises an eyebrow. I can’t help but wink.
“I think you got that backwards, Andrei.”
“No, no, That’s right.”
“Dude, just give her the bed.” Kaede gibes.
“Why doesn’t she share your room? You’re dating her!” I point out.
“What? Eww. No.” Caroline says. “I can’t share a room with him.” I give her a strange look. “We’re not engaged, dummy.” She whispers. “I can’t share a bed with him till we’re engaged. And he knows it.” Kaede rolls his eyes.
“No, but seriously guys, it’s not just the leak!” Caroline continues without a pause. “There are more and more missing student reports every day! I’m terrified!” She grabs Kaede’s arm and hugs it tightly, I see his face grin and bear it.
“Who’s missing now?” I ask, tallying the known missing students from the last month of school on my hand. That’d be 12 now. Pretty serious for a University campus.
“Two more from Life Sciences went missing just this weekend! And it was broad daylight! Jessica said she saw them at the Lions gym just before noon and then they apparently never showed up for their 4 o’clock class in Lassande!” Caroline’s beautiful freckled face was framed by her wavy blonde locks. If she hadn’t been with Kaede before I’d moved in with him I bet I would’ve had a chance. Now, her pretty green eyes were wide with fear and distrust. It was painful to see her like this. “Please walk me to my class today?!” She begs.
“I got class before you do, I can’t take you,” Kaede whines. I nod my head and smirk.
“Don’t worry man, I got it. I can hit the library after I make sure she’s safe and sound at ACW. They’re not that far apart and I’m sure I can keep her safe.” Kaede smiles thankfully.
“No way! I want you to take me Kae.” Caroline whines.
“Common, Car. Andrei is perfectly fit to be your bodyguard. Has he told you about the time-” He looks at me with a glint in his eyes. I take it from there.
“-I learned to fence with the French Musketeers? It was about 1745 and-”
“Yea, I have heard that and I don’t believe you one bit you liar.” I frown and look at Kaede with hurt eyes.
“Caroline, don’t be mean. He’s telling the truth.” Kaede defends. Best friend ever.
“And I have a robotic skeleton and can lift 300 tons of steel.” She sneers.
“Fine then, watch this,” I say, concentrating on my heartbeat. I think about time and movement and I feel the air around me, I feel it thicken like water and I force myself to step around Caroline. Everything around me slows as if in jelly as I walk normally towards the vending machine and grab her a bottle of water. In a matter of seconds, I’m holding out in my outstretched hand towards her, holding the bottle. Time returns to normal speed and in the time it took her to blink once she stops abruptly as she nearly collides with my hand.
“What?!” Her eyes widen, not in fear this time but in shock. “How’d you-?” She stumbles in confusion.
“Time is but a concept,” I say with a wink and pass her the bottle. She takes it reluctantly, looking at Kaede with her eyebrow pinned up. I feel a slight headache.
He just nods and jabs his thumb out. “I should head to class now. Take care of her Andrei. I’ll see you both at lunch!” He takes off for Vari hall and I stuff my hands in my hoodie pockets. “Shall we?” I say, nodding towards the Accolade West building across from the bus stops.
“Fine, But I still don’t believe you about France.” She says, opening the water bottle.
“What about Hawaii?” I ask, going into details about Septembers jump.
By Kayla West