Have you been following Gnat’s story? If you haven’t, it’s best you go back to the beginning to find out what’s happened so far. None of us have discussed this story with each other, so each week is a new surprise for everyone.
Part 1 – by Carrie Sorensen
Part 2 – by Nicole Piles
Part 3 – by Myself
Part 4 – by Tena Carr
Part 5 – by Leonard Suskin
Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a ride, Gnat is about to find a secret letter which reveals who originally discovered the key to time travel, what needs to be done, a little bit about her future self, and a surprising piece of advice for the journey ahead.
And now – Part 6 – The Secret Letter
Gnat looked up at Tyler’s face. His skin was sagging, and his eyes drooped downwards like his shoulders. Tyler looked so exhausted Gnat wondered if he’d fall asleep standing if he didn’t get any rest soon. She wondered how long it had been since he had had a proper nights sleep.
Looking at Tyler’s worn features Gnat felt tiredness creep into her arms, her legs, and she rubbed her face with her hands. She had no idea how much time had passed and her stomach was rumbling again. She could ignore the hunger pains, but sleep was a different story. Tiredness slowed her down and dumbed her senses. Perhaps it was the stress of everything, the years of having to always watch her back, it all made her feel very tired.
“Tyler, you look exhausted, I am tired too. I think we should rest. Can we figure out what to do next in the morning?” A perfectly timed yawn stretched her mouth open to prove her point.
“Yes, let’s talk more in the morning.” Tyler turned as he spoke and started to shuffle down the hall after passing the snowglobe back to Freddy. He didn’t turn back as he continued to speak “Freddy, please bring Naomi something to eat and then let her get some rest.” I’ll see you both in the morning. He shuffled into a room and shut the door behind him.
Naomi thought perhaps she should stay in the bedroom where she found the snow globe, perhaps it might help make Freddy believe her more, at least long enough so she could have some time alone with the notebook. “Ill take that last room, if that’s ok with you Freddy. Who knows, I might find something more in there”
“Certainly Miss Naomi, I’ll bring you some tea and dinner. I’ll be back soon.”
Naomi walked into the room and shut the door behind her. She pulled back the covers of the bed and crawled in without taking off her clothes. Freddy’s footsteps had already faded down the corridor.
Under the covers she pulled out the notebook with the torn cover that she had found. She started flipping through the pages. She knew she was in the future, but she couldn’t quite figure out how this exact copy of the notebook in her pocket was in her possession. As she carefully flipped the yellowed pages she was surprised to find the contents of the pages all matched up perfectly. The last page she had entered in the notebook she carried ended at the exact same page this yellowed version did.
The sound of Freddy’s footsteps approaching was her cue to hide it again which she did quickly and carefully. Freddy knocked two quick knocks and then started to turn the knob.
“Come in Freddy” she said with a weathered tone. Freddy entered with a steaming tray which he sat down on the table next to the bed.
“Good night Miss Naomi.” was all he said as he turned and walked out of the room shutting the door behind him. Naomi didn’t move until she heard his footsteps slowly fade, then stop. She heard the squeaking sound of a door opening and then closing firmly. Freddy was staying upstairs too, and thankfully chose a room with a noisy door. Naomi finally had some time alone to gather her thoughts.
She pulled out the notebook and began to eat the vegetables and grains piled neatly on her plate while flipping through the pages again looking for a clue as to why this notebook was here after all these years. Why did it end where her notebook ended, and why was it left with unfinished pages? Naomi began to flip through the blank pages when she noticed two pages felt stuck together. She held the pages up to the light and saw the faintest tracing of letters between the pages. Her heart started to beat in anticipation. She carefully tried to pry apart the two pages without ripping them and realized they were glued shut. Thinking quickly she grabbed the steaming mug of tea and pulled it closer. Using the steam from the tea she ran the glued pages back and forth across the top of the mug until she could feel the glue loosen.
After 5 minutes she was finally able to pry the two pages open where she immediately recognized her own hand writing, except that she didn’t remember ever writing this. She was surprised to find it was a letter to herself. She instantly recognized her own scratchy barely legible hand writing.
When Gnat received her first notebook, so afraid was she of having her private thoughts read by snooping foster parents, or snotty nosed kids she so often had to share a bedroom with that she had invented a code of messy symbols in place of letters of the alphabet. It was like her own language that she and only she could understand thus further making the notebook and all it contained hers and hers alone.
She lay the book down on the pillow, took hold of the mug of tea and began to read and translate the tiny faint hand writing.
I write this from approximately 38 years after the dreadful fire that changed our life at 14. I have placed this notebook here in this house knowing you would come to this place with Freddy and Tyler and find it. I knew that something was going to go wrong with Tyler, and that he would seek you out and bring you to this place. I know this because all of this has happened before.
I expect that by now Tyler has had the chance to tell you that I am the one who found the key to time travel. I found it because I wanted answers, and to go back, even if for a moment, to the way it all was before the fire, because the pain was too great. I needed someone to share my secret with, and Tyler was the man I loved and trusted more than anyone in this world. But I never should have given it to him. I should have destroyed it instead. Humans are not strong enough to resist the temptation to change what has come to pass. Time and history is fractured each time someone travels away from their present moment, and this causes so much damage.
Tyler left with my gift, and it was only after he had disappeared into time did I find the flaw which would eventually get him stuck. I searched for him, and he for I but we couldn’t quite find each other in the same moment of time.
After I discovered the flaw in time travel, I found a way to fix it, and I hid the information in our secret place. You must go there alone and retrieve it. It is the only way to save Tyler.
I have made a terrible mistake and Tyler has paid the price for it. I have placed this notebook here to warn you so that you will not make the same mistakes that I did, and Tyler will live.
One last word of advice: DO NOT TRUST FREDDY!
Good luck Gnat. Don’t ever lose your street sense.
Gnat had so many questions running through her mind, but her eyes grew heavy, so she did her best to stick the pages back together and tucked the notebook into her pocket and finally closed her eyes. Sleep met her quickly.
She felt like she had only just fallen asleep when a few sharp knocks on the door bolted her awake.
“Miss Naomi, please come, Mister Tyler has news.”
Gnat lay there for a moment while she tried to will her brain awake. She slowly pushed back the blanket crawled out of bed, and followed Freddy who was now walking down the corridor.
She followed Freddy into the room that Tyler had gone into what felt like only a few hours ago. The room was brightly lit but Tyler was still lying in bed. She walked over and sat down on the edge. Freddy left the room but did not shut the door behind him and she could hear his footsteps move down the corridor, stop and then continue.
Tyler looked as if he hadn’t slept at all. His skin was ashen and the bags under his eyes had grown darker. Sitting this close Gnat could see how thin his hair was, and the dark liver spots that freckled his skin, little dark blobs where there was once creamy white skin. Tyler tried to reach for Gnat but his shaking hand stopped and fell back onto the blanket. Gnat reached out and softly held his hand. Tyler clearly was not well.
“Tyler, are you ok?” said Gnat in a worried tone.
“Naomi, I’m running out of time. This body is too old, it doesn’t have much strength left.” said Tyler in a faint voice, a cough escaping half way through his words. “But I just got word. Whoever stole the secret to time travel just got sloppy. She has been spotted. You and Freddy need to go and get it from her”
“She?” said Gnat, her eyebrow rising up. Tyler never mentioned before that it was a she.
“Yes, I have just learned it was a woman. You are strong, you are clever, you know…” Tyler coughed again, this time a little harder. Gnat reached over and handed him the glass of water on the table next to the bed. Tyler took it with shaking hands, taking a small sip before continuing.
“Go with Freddy, please, before it’s too late. Find her. I will wait here. I have given Freddy the exact time and location she was spotted.”
Gnat said nothing. She was getting a bit tired of all this running around without fully knowing all the reasons. She really wanted to know more, but she wasn’t sure after reading her message to herself if going to yet another unknown place and time with Freddy was the best idea. Plus she really wanted to return to her own time so she could go back to her secret place and find what her future self had left there. But how could she do that without Freddy tagging along, or becoming suspicious?
Tyler seemed to sense her reluctance and opened his mouth to speak again, this time his words came out a little slower. “Naomi, please, will you do this for me? I promise, I will tell you more when you come back. Be fast, I don’t know how much time I have left.”
Gnat didn’t move. She sat there holding Tyler’s hand. Tyler slid his hand away and slowly pointed towards the door. “Please GO!” he said in a loud pleading whisper before sinking further into the pillow. Naomi turned towards the door. Freddy was now standing in the room next to the doorway. She noticed Freddy had already put on his jacket, and was holding the black shawl and glasses she had worn the night before. A bag was hanging down from Freddy’s shoulder, which was not completely buckled up. The top flap hung slightly to the side, it’s clasps dangling lazily. Naomi spotted the snow globe through the open crack.
Her eyes moved past Freddy to the doorway where instead of seeing the corridor, she saw what appeared to be a dark narrow alley way, lit from above only by the light of day that managed to stream in from the small open space above. Gnat reached for Tyler’s hand and gave it a light squeeze. “I’ll be back soon Tyler.”
If her future self loved Tyler, and wanted her to save him, she decided she would do whatever it took. Seeing Tyler in this state melted a hard black corner of her heart, and she didn’t want him to die. She realized he still meant something to her, even if that part of her was scarred forever by a fire, and her years on the street.
She got up from the bed and Freddy handed her the black shawl and sunglasses she had been wearing the night before and she wrapped herself in them. Freddy then turned and stepped through the doorway. Gnat took one last look back at Tyler. Just as she was about to turn back to walk through the door Tyler opened his mouth and whispered so quietly Gnat barely made out the words “I love you Naomi, everything I have done, I did it for you.” A small tear ran out of the corner of his eye and dove into the pillow, as if to escape from the grief.
She turned and with determination in her step she walked into the alleyway.
Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr takes over for Part 7.