Sunday Scribbles Writing Prompts, Week 21: Don’t mess with the time police!

Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!

Today marks week 21 of the 52 week writing challenge!

Introductory post: Sunday Scribbles announcement post
Past prompts: Sunday Scribbles past prompts

The prompt for 28th May is ‘Time’:

ssbanner 28th May Time

This week, I decided that time was an appropriate theme. More specifically, time travel. The Flash is over, with the Captain Cold episode being the best, and I only just managed to get my head around season 3’s villain. I enjoyed Arrow much more this year, but that’s a topic for another post! Anyway, time travel is complicated. The time police regulate that.

My Attempt:

Mild language warning.

Time. Life was much less complicated before time travel. Still, without time travel, Clive would be out of a job, and it was a job that he was damned good at. If it wasn’t some dumb ass looking for fame and fortune, it was a poor soul driven by loss to save his parents. Fiancée. Whatever. They all broke the fundamental law of time travel. Change was not inevitable, it was illegal.

Clive glanced down at the list in his hand. ‘Lana Elliot,’ he murmured as he read over her details.

‘Low priority that one,’ Martin, partner in TimeCopz and Clive’s long term friend replied as he twiddled his badge and grabbed his own list. ‘Farm it out to one of the associates.’

‘Right you are,’ Clive muttered. He grabbed his own badge, identical to Martin’s in all but name, and smacked it on the desk beside him.

Every face in the room turned to look at Clive. One associate, George, flinched and fell off his chair. Several wide eyed faces whipped around to glance at him as he struggled to get back up.

‘Get off the damned floor an take this,’ Clive grumbled. He stalked towards George’s desk and let the file thump down. ‘Try not to screw it up.’

‘Yes sir,’ George muttered as he made it back onto his chair.

Clive watched as George’s fingers closed around a borrowed time travel watch and tugged it tighter around his skinny wrist before he fled the room.

‘You got Wells handled?’ Clive asked Martin as his eyes returned to the list in his hand.

Martin smirked. ‘This is me you’re talking to.’

‘Right. Course you have,’ Clive grinned with an excited wave down the hall. Martin’s eyes followed the wave, and he fell into step beside Clive.

‘Don’t you have paperwork?’ Martin smirked as he followed Clive towards a room marked ‘Jump room.’

‘I don’t do paperwork,’ Clive replied with a gesture around him. Stacks of papers and files littered the desk of every associate.

‘Is this why Jefferson quit?’ Martin exclaimed.

Clive shrugged. ‘If he couldn’t handle the pace, it was for the best.’

‘You have to give them a bone once in a while,’ Martin protested as Clive swiped his key card on the reader beside the door.

‘I gave away a case today!’ Clive protested. He lowered his voice and muttered, ‘Even though I could have done it in my sleep.’

Martin’s teeth bared in a half laugh, half grin. ‘You are impossible.’

‘I’m brilliant,’ Clive smirked. ‘You think we’d be ranked first in the country if I didn’t weed out the less dedicated?’

Martin shook his head and jogged to catch up as Clive flew into the control room. ‘Who’re you after anyway?’

‘This one!’ Clive pointed to a name on the list.

‘Grant?’ Martin frowned. ‘But you just caught Tom! You really want to push your luck?’

‘I’m feeling that Grant’s luck’s about to run out,’ Clive grinned. ‘See you on the other side!’

Clive stepped into the portal. The machine shuddered into life, and soon all that was left of Clive was a shimmering silhouette.

Martin sighed and looked down at his own list. Circled in bright red was the name of the very man that Clive had gone after. ‘There goes my promotion,’ Martin muttered. He trailed his finger down the list and grinned when it came to rest on another high profile name. ‘Queen it is, then.’

When Clive shimmered back into existence and glanced around, a frown formed on his face. ‘This can’t be right.’

He twiddled with a dial on his watch and his frown intensified. ‘He’s already saved his parents. Why the hell would he change time again?’

Clive took a step forward into an unfamiliar street. Litter crinkled under his feet, and one particular piece caught his eye more so than the others. He stooped to close his fingers around a newspaper and scowled at the headline.

‘Worse than before,’ Clive muttered. He tossed the newspaper aside and watched as it fluttered down the street to join the rest of the trash. His watch trilled an alert, and Clive broke into a jog as he followed the mini map on the small screen through alleyways and down side streets.

‘Hands over your head!’ Clive grunted as he fumbled for his laser rifle and held it out towards his prey.

The young man ignored the order and his shoulders shook with sobs. ‘Why can’t I get it right? Why?’

Clive looked on, face twisted in horror as Grant threw his head back and screamed at the sky. In his arms lay a young woman. Blood poured from her chest and onto Grant’s jeans from a single stab wound to her stomach. Clive shut his eyes and looked away. 

It was all the distraction the young man needed. ‘One more trip, that’s all I need!’ Grant insisted.

Clive’s head shot up. Grant’s eyes were hard and determined as he turned a dial on a watch identical to Clive’s own. Clive’s finger curled as he pulled the trigger, but it was too late. His tranquilliser bullet hit the wall behind the young man as he faded from existence.

Clive cursed and brought his watch to his lips. ‘Remind me to add stolen technology to his rap sheet.’

In a cafe a few streets away, Clive sighed as his watch tried to find a new location for his target. Like the way a cup of coffee cooled, nothing was instantaneous. Clive twirled his spoon in his cup and let his gaze flick around the room from where he slouched in his stool against the counter. A clock on the wall displayed the time and date. 24th April 2024.

‘This gets better and better,’ Clive grumbled.

‘So, whose luck was going to run out?’ Martin grinned as he slumped into a seat beside Clive.

‘Shut up,’ Clive muttered with a glare over his friends shoulder towards the clock. ‘We have a problem.’

Martin followed Clive’s gaze and his eyes widened. ‘Shit. Who d’ya think did it?’

‘Who else but an associate would be stupid enough to lose their watch before time travel was invented?’ Clive retorted. He tugged at his watch and downed his coffee. ‘Things practically glued to my wrist, custom fitted.’

‘Associates have to borrow em,’ Martin realised as he followed Clive out of the small cafe.

‘Could you…?’ Clive asked with a wave of his hand.

‘I’m on it.’ Martin agreed. A sly grin flitted across his face. ‘Unless you need a hand?’

A shrill beep pierced the air, and Clive glanced down at his watch. ‘Picked up Grant’s trail. That’s all I need,’ Clive insisted.

‘Okay…’ Martin replied with a smile as they stood side by side in a deserted alleyway. ‘See you back at base.’

‘Yeah. Make sure you have someone’s head for me to roll,’ Clive ordered as he activated his watch. ‘Grant must think that watch is a gift from Santa, but whoever lost it won’t be on my Christmas list this year!’

Martin’s snicker was the last thing Clive heard before the alleyway faded around him.

Moments later, the same alleyway shimmered back into existence.

‘Huh?’ Clive muttered. He kicked the dirt and looked around him.

A young man in a dark hooded jacket stalked after a young woman. In his hand, a knife glinted. It plunged into the young woman’s back and she fell to the floor.

Clive plastered himself to the wall as the man dropped to his knees beside his victim. His hood fell back to reveal dark purple hair, but his profile, illuminated by the light of the moon, was a familiar one. Clive swore and pulled his gun.

Grant held up his bloodied hands, eyes wide. ‘I swear… I don’t know why I did this… I loved her… I remember loving her!’

‘Remember when you went back and made friends with your younger self?’ Clive asked as he holstered his gun and squinted to read the tiny text on his watch.

Grant nodded.

‘Well, she saw. Didn’t think you needed her and wasn’t there for you when your parents died. Now, you hate her,’ Clive explained, monotone.

‘That can’t be right!’ Grant insisted with a wild gesture, before he ran his bloodied hands through his hair. ‘I just wanted to…’

‘Time travel only goes to plan if you don’t interfere,’ Clive interrupted. He approached Grant and held out his cuffs. ‘You broke the law. It’s time to pay the price.’

Grant shook his head and slammed his hand on the watch again. Clive cursed and threw the cuffs around his wrists, but it was too late. Grant shimmered from existence and the cuffs clattered to the floor.

This time, it took four coffees and a slice of carrot cake for the watch to find a new location.

‘Well, this can’t be good,’ Clive muttered as he stepped into the third version of 2024 of the day.

Clive wasn’t in the alleyway any more. His gaze trailed up tall skyscrapers, and he sucked in a deep gulp of air when he saw them. Cars flew, not through the streets as they should have done, but through the skies. ‘Super highway wasn’t supposed to be built until 2114…’

A cry of despair drew Clive’s attention away from the sky and towards the guarded entrance of one of the large buildings.

‘Please, you hafta let me in! I’m Grant, Derek’s son!’

‘That’s a sick joke to play, and I want no part in it,’ one of the security guards retorted.

Clive heaved a sigh and stalked towards the security guards. Fingers clasped around his badge, and he flashed it at the guards as they escorted Grant down the steps.

‘Been chasing this one for years,’ Clive explained as he pried the watch from Grant’s wrist with deft fingers and slid it into his pocket. ‘I’ll take him off your hands.’

‘Please do,’ the guard to the left of Grant grumbled as he checked Clive’s badge. ‘We’ve got more important things to worry about.’

Clive gave a nod and glanced at his watch. ‘Give Mayor Grant my best,’ he replied. He clasped his cuffs around Grant’s thin wrists and watched them shrink to fit with a smile.

‘I don’t understand…’ Grant muttered, head down, as Clive led him away.

‘You got your younger self murdered instead of your parents,’ Clive explained with a smirk. ‘No one knows you here, but they do know the mayor’s other children. Honestly, I think it’s not a bad outcome, considering all the shit you put the time line through.’

Grant’s lip trembled, and Clive watched as a few tears trickled down his cheeks towards the floor. ‘What about Nina?’

‘Married someone else,’ Clive muttered with a glance at his watch.

The young man’s shoulders heaved as he began to sob. The cuffed hands that he raised to wipe at his eyes were still caked in Nina’s blood. ‘What…’ he hiccuped. ‘What now?’

‘When time catches up with you, you’ll fade from existence,’ Clive shrugged.

‘So why are you here? To gloat?’ Grant spat.

Clive recoiled and wiped at his face. ‘My job is to make sure time resumes normally.’

‘I don’t know what normal is any more,’ Grant shuddered. ‘I barely know who I am.’

‘That’s because you are no one,’ Clive replied with a sinister glare. ‘You ensured that when you screwed with the time line.’

Clive watched the young man beside him with a discreet flick of his eyes. The tears continued to fall and Clive sucked in a breath. ‘Look kid, it’s my job to put it all back to how it was, but I can’t change what the future holds for her.’

‘Back to before she dies?’ Grant asked, a flicker of hope in his eyes.

Clive nodded. ‘That wasn’t meant to happen.’

‘So it was my fault?!’ Grant exclaimed. He turned wide eyes on Clive and bit his bottom lip.

‘Interfering with the past has consequences,’ Clive huffed. ‘When you saved your parents the first time…’

‘Do it!’ Grant interrupted him. His arms twitched against his cuffs. Clive reckoned that if he could, Grant would be waving them in his face. ‘Please?’

‘I’ll have to lock you up of course…’ Clive mused.

‘But…’ Grant began to protest. ‘You said…’

‘That she wasn’t meant to die in an alley, yes,’ Clive confirmed. ‘Whether or not she waits for you though? I don’t know. Most people accept that punishment for time interference is a permanent arrangement.’

‘What happens to me?’ Grant asked. He looked away and up and the flying cars, but shudders wracked his body and betrayed his nerves.

‘Imprisonment in the 4th dimension,’ Clive replied with a glance at the young man, who shuffled his feet. ‘It’s that or die, kid. Choose.’

And that was how Grant ended up on top of a mountain, surrounded at the bottom by a lake of lava, with a man by his side who he didn’t know. ‘How the hell do we get down from here?’

The man beside him shrugged. ‘Been here a few days, and hell if I know.’

‘Did you mess with the time line too?’ Grant asked with a frown. He kicked a rock and watched it bounce down the side of the mountain to land with a splash in the lava below.

The man shook his head. ‘Killed a time cop.’

Grant’s face twisted in distaste.

‘He was going to vaporise my sister!’ the man protested. ‘I couldn’t let him do it!’

‘She broke the law, and has now been punished accordingly,’ Clive snorted with a glare as he undid Grant’s cuffs and pointed due North. ‘The path towards the exit is that way. It’s long and perilous, and you’ll probably die, but if you do survive, along the way we hope that you learn your lesson.’

Clive stepped off the mountain and activated his watch. His parting words faded with him into a shimmer of white.

Grant’s face lost all its colour as Clive disappeared. ‘Guess we’re stuck here then.’

‘Not likely,’ the man beside him retorted as he started to make his way down the mountain. ‘I’m getting off this damned mountain, breaking into time police headquarters, and avenging my sisters death.’

Grant stared after him. The man turned and tilted his head. ‘You coming?’

Grant shrugged and moved away from the mountain top. ‘Not as if I have anything better to do. Just promise me we’re not changing the time line again, because I am so done with that.’

When Clive stepped out of the portal, his feet trod the familiar path to Martin’s office. Martin said nothing, but thrust a piece of paper into Clive’s hand. Clive glanced at it. ‘You’re sure?’

Martin nodded. Clive span on heel and entered the open plan office of the associates.

‘George!’ Clive yelled as he stomped into the office. ‘You’re fired!’

End Prompt.

Thanks for reading! Time travel confuses me, and The Flash gave me a major headache this season. Also, I’ve been binge watching ‘Suits,’ hence the way the time cops ranks are named. I had far too much fun writing this one.

Next Sunday’s prompt:

The prompt for 4th June is Music.

ssbanner 4th June

Next week’s prompt is related to the #Flashfichive challenge on Twitter, run by Angela Curtis:

In the first week, the challenge will be to write a story inspired by a song. My works are usually too long to be considered Flash fiction, but I will be giving it a go. If you want to join the challenge, details are here:

If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 4th June, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂

If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂

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