24 MAY 2033
11:11 pm. Marcel paces the room, his nerves bunched up like an overstuffed sock drawer, he’s one step away from an anxiety attack. 11:12 pm. Marcel stares at his cell phone sitting on the sink as he wipes his sweaty palms on his pants. He waits, every second feels like a lifetime. His biggest fear? The call won’t come. 11:13 pm. The phone rings. Marcel snatches the phone so fast he doesn’t even notice the throbbing sensation in his fingers that hit the sink. “Hello.” Marcel’s voice shakes with excitement. “What you got for me today?”
Everyday for the past three weeks at exactly 11:13 pm Marcel Preston receives a call from Marcel Preston. The Marcel calling is a day ahead of the Marcel answering.
5 MAY 2033
10:49 pm. Marcel attaches his home built particle collider to the front of the Hiboson Institutes Amatron Generator. On the connecting tray he places a fragment of a fallen star and a piece of Cron matter, both from the Cron planet exploration, both stolen from sector 37. 10:56 pm. Marcel starts both machines, he reverses the pull on the collider to full strength. 10:57 pm. Everything goes black. 11:01 pm. Marcel wakes up, his clothes and the floor are covered in a black-blue dust, the machines are hissing like a broke down car shuddering to a stop. Marcel wipes himself off and heads over to the machines. The tray is empty, both substances gone, the black-blue dust in their place. Marcel checks his watch. 11:03 pm. Marcel looks over the room, the dust is everywhere, he realizes he doesn’t have time to figure out answers he has to clean up this mess before the morning shift rolls in at 5:30 am.
6–7 MAY 2033
10:26 am. Marcel arrives to work two and a half hours late, blames traffic and that damn robotronic helper that’s always malfunctioning, “I’m upgrading soon,” he says to a half listening co-worker. 10:34 am. He makes up a reason to go visit his — when he needs them to be — buddies in the Nanoscience department who are scheduled to use the Amatron Generator this morning. 10:37 am. He arrives at the generator room with a smile, donuts and a lame excuse why he, a — some time buddy — from the Quantum Theory department, Biology to be specific, have randomly popped up. But the room’s empty. Confused Marcel checks his watch, May 7th. That isn’t right, it’s supposed to be May 6th. 10:42 am. Marcel runs into his office, heads straight for his desk and turns on his computer, May 7th. Kim, a co-worker who’s fond of matching her glasses to her outfits, walks into the room. Marcel rushes up and accidentally bumps into Kim knocking papers out of her hands. “Geez, Marcel, coffee much?” Kim says as she kneels down to pick up the papers. “What’s today’s date?”
“What?” She says splitting the distance between looking up and looking down.
“The date, what’s today’s date?” Marcel asks frantically.
“Calm down, what’s gotten into you?” Kim rises from the floor, papers in hand.
“The date, Kim!”
“May 7th, OK. It’s May fricken 7th man.”
Marcel darts out the room knocking the papers out of Kim’s hands again. Like a magnet on a string she swings around giving his back the finger while shouting down the hall after him, “dammit Marcel!!” 10:53 am. Marcel bursts into the Neuroscience lab. “Why aren’t you guys in the generator room, you’re suppose to be in the generator room?” The haste in Marcel’s voice and the sweat protruding from his armpit glands alert the scientists that something’s not right. “Marcel, what’s wrong man?” The red headed floppy mop haired scientist says. Marcel calms himself. “Ya’ll are supposed to be in the generator room and I’m just wondering why you’re not.” The fat scientist, with tiny face pinching glasses, chimes in. “That was yesterday.” “What’s today’s date?” Marcel holds his breath for the answer. “The 7th dude.” The dirty blond weed smoking scientist says, leaning back in his chair putting his feet up on the lab table. 11:12 pm. Marcel sits, his nerves eating him up like a pack of termites on rotted wood, his fingers tapping his desk. 11:13 pm. Marcel picks up his phone and dials his number. “Hello.” His heart jumps into his throat, the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention, the air in his lungs temporarily on hold as he tries to digest hearing his own voice answer back. “Who’s this? And why are you at my desk?”
1 JUNE 2033
11:11 pm. Marcel sits on the toilet with a newspaper open to the sports section, he’s circled the six baseball games that are scheduled to play tomorrow. 11:13 pm. The phone rings. Marcel answers. “What you got for me?” “We fucked up man, we fucked up big time. You gotta leave.” “Whaddya mean we fucked up?” “You gotta leave now, it’s the only way we might be able to fix this shit…Fuck. I gotta go. Leave. Leave now.” Marcel stares at the phone, the dial tone has an eerie buzz to it. 11:15 pm. Marcel comes running out the bathroom, throws his shoes on and bolts downstairs. “Where are you going?” Shit. He forgot Dayna was staying over tonight, they were supposed to have that talk, the one where she moves in, the one he’s been avoiding for three weeks. “The office.” She looks at her watch, then back at him, “this late?” Her look and her tone say bullshit. “The entire network crashed, they’re freaking out, worrying we might have lost everything, including all our backups. I’ll be back as fast as I can.” 11:18 pm. Marcel gets in his car. The phone rings. He doesn’t recognize the number.
“You’re about to get a call, ignore it, whatever you do don’t pick it up.”
“What? Who’s this?”
“It’s me, you, us, Marcel. Did you leave yet?”
“I’m about too. What’s going on? Who’s about to call? Why can’t I pick it up?”
“I had to jump ahead three days to give us more time.”
“Three days.” Marcel’s voice goes up an octave. “For what? What’s going on? Why do we need more time?”
“Just go back into the house, tell Dayna it was a false alarm and the network didn’t fully crash.”
“How’d you…” Marcel stops himself from asking the obvious question, of course he knows, he’s already done this, he’s three fucking days ahead. “It’s eleven twenty. At eleven twenty five the phone’s going to ring, whatever you do, don’t answer it. I mean it Marcel. Don’t answer it. Shit shit shit, they’re behind me. Don’t answer the phone.” 11:23. Marcel’s sitting next to Dayna watching TV. She bought his false alarm excuse, kind of. “So, when are we going to talk?” Marcel’s mind is on one thing, his phone, his fingers nervously tap his leg. “Marcel, did you hear me?” “What?” He says half turning his head, one eye steady on the phone. “When are we going to talk about me moving in?” Dayna shifts her body around to face him. 11:25 pm. The phone rings. Marcel’s face is a mix of fear and curiosity. Why can’t he answer it? “Are you going to answer it?” Dayna says arms folded, annoyed. “It’s proly just work calling to tell me they got everything back up.” Marcel’s palms are sweating, his arm muscles flinching, wanting to reach for the phone. Don’t answer the phone, whatever you do don’t answer the phone, the words playback like a song on repeat. “It might be important.” “You’re right.” Fuck it. He answers. “Hello.” His heart races as he waits.. waits… waits…. then,“Marcel” his face sours into a sickening look, the pit of his stomach churns into a boiling mass of acidity, his entire body frozen like a still life photograph, he knows that voice. “Who is it?” Dayna asks, her voice a combination of annoyance and intrigue. Marcel looks at Dayna, his body feeling like he leaped out of plane without a parachute when the voice on the other end finishes, “it’s me, Dayna, they’ve got me.”