23 junio 2015

Bad Timing (A Destiempo) - A fanfiction of "The Ministry of Time"

(Original Spanish version: March 4, 2015)

   - Quite a calm day, Mr. Alonso -answered, slightly bored, Martial, the appointed watcher of the unfathomable spiral stairs-. Nobody's gone out on a mission, nor are we waiting anybody back from the doors. Some days, I guess, nobody wants to make History.
   - Every day makes History, those who are born and those who die -Entrerrios said-. But we are often busier surviving it than trying to change it. Go with God! -he bid farewell, and after clacking, his boots' heels started to sound down the staircase at a good pace. 

   The honest veteran of the Tercios regiment tried to spend as much time as he could at his own era, to force himself to remember what real life was, and not the weirdness that filled in as modernities in the Ministry of 2015. But, obliged by his sense of duty, he just could not wait to be called for a mission, and every day he traversed that bewitched door towards the future, to take note of the status of the issues. If there was to be some crisis, he'd certainly rather keep on the alert.

   Now, it was time to go back home. Third basement, fourth, fifth of that spiral that got closer and closer to Satan's quarters. Or was it the sixth? He had lost track, again! Alonso leaned over the handrail and looked up, trying to count the basements. On a reflex, he then looked down (he wasn't scared to look into the eyes of darkness), and he thought he had seen another head peering over the handrail, a few basements below. Hadn't Martial said...?

   As he was spotted, the stranger suddenly left the handrail, and Alonso quickened his pace to reach his floor the sooner the better. It could be some agent arrived from any of the Ministry posts, but they usually phoned if they needed to communicate with 2015. More likely, he thought, it was an intruder... and since the trouble with the Germans, he knew that could be a notorious danger. He glanced over the side corridors that he met on his descent. Across a corner he watched a red cloak disappear, and he raced after it.

   After turning, the corridor finished on a dead end. The stranger turned, a few meters from Alonso. He wore a long crimson cloak almost to the ground, which covered most of his body; under that, he could barely guess some boots. He wore a sword on his side, just like himself, so he couldn't come from a century too far from his own; definitely a man, then. But the most remarkable item worn by that individual was a white mask with a scarlet smirk, perpetually frozen.

   - Halt! -Alonso shouted-. Who art thou and where didst thou come from?
   For one second, it looked as if the intruder was going to say something, but he changed his mind, stayed silent and raised a hand, pushing his open palm to the front. He wanted Alonso to move out of the way.
   - I madest thou quite a clear question, sir, and I needest an equally clear answer -he unsheathed his sword-. Or, to put it better, thou needest it.
   The other one looked around, as if gauging the nearest doors. He shrugged and, always silent, he drew his own sword.
   - Alright -accepted Alonso-, let the steel talk -and he charged against his masked foe, trying to disarm him. However, the stranger expected such tactics: he came out of the way with a short step and received Alonso's next stab with ease. He was strong, maybe as strong as him, and every point as skilled with the sword, if not more. Under such a theatrical muffling, a man-at-arms hid-. Who the hell are thou? -he asked again.

   Alonso feinted, answered and counter-attacked, but for God's sake!, the other man seemed to know every trick up Pons and De la Torre's sleeves, and could have  instructed even the great Carranza, specially in the kind of dirty tricks he hadn't learned in the battlefield but in Sevilla and Sicily's dark alleyways. He only managed to block his escape towards any door or the staircase, but he wouldn't manage to disarm him, much less injure him. De Entrerríos broke back a couple of steps, and his rival copied him. A short flight of the crimson cloak allowed him to see the stranger wore simple boots, quite like his own, but the left one was torn on the outside. And, although it had been a fleeting vision, he thought he had seen it was a blood stained tear. If the stranger was already injured, he was bluffing quite well, but Alonso could take advantage of that and trip him, if he could maneuver well.
   They met again, and their blades clashed. Maybe by chance, maybe he had stared too openly to his foe's injury without hiding his intentions: the truth is, it was the masked man who pushed Alonso's weapon aside with a strong blow, and struck downwards at Entrerrios' own left foot, wounding and tripping him. By the time Alonso got up again, the other man had disappeared through a door, numbered 333.

   Raging, Alonso crossed himself and followed him, ready to appear at any time and place. But surely he wasn't ready to appear at just another door-filled corridor of the Ministry.
   - But... what is this? -he said, with a mix of surprise and anger.
   The mysterious doors at the Ministry took to the Past, to places close and distant inside the Spanish geography. Some of them were placed at weird locations. But he had never found a door that took you to the Ministry itself. In what time? Was this what the intruded was after? Stealing the secrets of a previous Ministry, with a more relaxed security ?

   Alonso ran towards the staircase, disregarding the pain from his wound near the heel, and he stopped. His heart beat fast, but he could swear there weren't any footsteps to be heard. No: just silence. He turned around: now he recognised the corridor he had appeared at as the one with the entrance to his own time, the one he took every day to go back to the Madrid of his days. The intruder should have sneaked through one of them, but which one? He took a quick glance in order: a storage room full of junk. His own street, empty. A cave with strange paintings in the walls. A cabin by the beach. A narrow and motley room, with a mirror lit by those "electric" bulbs, full of colorful clothes, big feathers... and a crimson cloak he knew well. He entered through that door (it was a wardrobe) and took the cloak: under its folds lied the white mask of the intruder. He took it, too, and made a face at its smirk. On the other hand, there was nobody else there.

   The room had a white wooden door, which he opened without a doubt: the intruder ought to be outside, still very close, and he was just as injured as himself. It was dark outside: a huge white and green tent rised in the vicinity. Dozens of people were slowly entering it, talking and laughing: families, with plenty of kids everywhere. Alonso was at the door of a wagon, similar to others parked around. They were painted with bright pictures of faces with red noses, wild beasts and ostentatious names; he could smell animals, close, and also strange foods, with an over-sweet scent floating around. He heard a roar, not too far away.

   Alonso entered the wagon again. There were just too many people, he would need help to find that man. He had to alert his Patrol. He crossed back the Time Door and took note of its number: 96. He was ready to cross the 333 as well, to return to the year 2015, when he heard a distant echo of voices. Maybe, after all, the intruder really had stayed at this past version of the Ministry. He stealthily approached the spiral stair to be sure, and listened closely to whatever happened upstairs.

   If crossing a door and appearing again inside the Ministry had astounded him, hearing what he now heard made him turn pale, completely baffled. Sceptical, Alonso looked up and saw the intruder, some floors over him, starting to walk down the staircase. He shouldn't see him, not now that... Alonso run up, limping a bit, and took the first corridor he found. As he now expected, it lead to a dead end. He could already hear the steps of the stranger, behind him, approaching. He would be there in any given moment. And he couldn't see him, he shouldn't see him by any chance. It was then when Alonso noticed he still was grabbing the crimson cloak and the smirking mask.

   He wore them just in time, and turned to face his pursuer, who exclaimed:
   - Halt! Who art thou and where didst thou come from?

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