Read Clocked Online

Authors: Elle Strauss

Tags: #Romance, #science fiction, #1800s fiction, #time travel, #novelette

Clocked (2 page)

BOOK: Clocked
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I’m (bang) knocking (bang) off (bang) my heels.”

I really hoped I wasn’t stuck in the forest with a mental case for long. “Why?”


Because,” she said, her voice pitched higher like she was addressing a child, “these are totally inappropriate for what we have to do next.”

I was so confused.

Just then I heard the faint clop of hooves and the din of voices. Casey stunned me by grabbing my hand and pulling me to the ground out of sight.

I pulled my hand away. “What’s going on? This isn’t funny anymore.”

She put a finger to my lips and shushed me. Two men with top hats and cloaks with coat tails rode by on a trail behind our hiding spot.


Mark my words,” one of them said, “Abraham Lincoln will be the next president, and then there will be hell to pay in the south.”


Role players?” I asked. Casey returned my question with a stern look to keep quiet.

When the riders were out of sight, Casey stood up and then motioned with her finger to follow her.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I followed. “Casey,” I said, “What’s happening? How did we get here?”

She pushed branches out of the way and let out a long breath. “Okay, it’s just; I don’t think you’re going to believe it.”


Try me.”


We’ve gone back in time.”

Did I hear her right? “Whoa, say again?”

She stopped and stared at me intently like she was memorizing my face.


Casey!”


Oh, sorry. Um, I said we went back in time.”

I was expecting a story, but one with a chance of me believing it, not a fairy tale. “We went back in time. Really?”

I waited for her to say, “Just kidding,” but instead she turned around and kept walking. She reached up and pulled pins out of her hair letting it fall to her shoulders, an action that made me forget where I was for a minute. I decided to keep following her.

Chapter 2

 


Okay, say I believe you. But why should I? There could be a perfectly good explanation for this.”


It’s mid afternoon,” she said.


I see that.”


So, a short while ago, it was dark. Night time.”

Good point. “Okay, so as a joke the guys drugged me and I passed out and it lasted several hours.”


Not a very funny joke.”

Also a good point.


I woke up in the middle of the woods somewhere in Massachusetts. We’re still in Massachusetts, aren’t we?”

To my relief, Casey nodded.


The guys didn’t feel like waiting for me to wake up.”


The guys?” Casey said.


Yeah, Tyson, Dylan and Josh. I should’ve known they were up to no good when they dar...” Oh man, what was I doing? Casey stopped and stared at me. I could tell by the look of abhorrence on her face that she understood.


They dared you? You asked me to dance on a dare?”

She spun around and marched through the forest.


No, Casey, I meant...”


Oh, just drop it.”

We turned a corner and came to a thatch of lilac bushes. She pushed through to an opening in the center and I stayed on her heels.


If you don’t believe me,” she said, “then why are you following me?”


I don’t know. You look like you know where you’re going.”


I do.” She pushed a twig hatch off of a hole. To my amusement, she started pulling stuff out of it.

A strange thought occurred to me. “If this was a practical joke, then you’d have to be in on it.”


How realistic is that?”

Hmm. “Not very.”

Casey took a swig of water from a jar she’d pulled out of the hole. She made a sour face then handed it to me. I was thirsty enough to give it a try, but it was nasty. I spat it out.“Ew.”


Hey,” she said sharply, “don’t waste that. You don’t know when we’ll be able to get more.”

Man, she was serious. “Fine. I’ll play along. What’s next in the game?”

Casey sat on an old, half rotted log and threw off her shoes. The way she scrunched up her face as she rubbed her feet, I’d guess they hurt. I sat on the grass across from her, wondering how it was that I’d never really noticed this girl before.


So, is there any food,” I said, needing the distraction. “Did the guys at least pack me a lunch?”

She threw a burlap bag at my feet and said, “Help yourself.”

I found a piece of beef jerky inside. Not the kind you find in a convenience store. This chunk of dried meat was thick and not uniform like the factory spits out. I took a bite. Not bad.

Casey lay down flat on the grass and closed her eyes. The way her eyeballs moved under her lids, I could tell she was in major thought mode and not falling asleep. I decided to lie down, too.

I heard Casey reach for the burlap bag and dig inside


You ate it all?’


Wasn’t I supposed to?”


No!”


Hey, chill out. This can’t last much longer.”

I don’t think she agreed with me. She covered her eyes with her palms and sighed.

The orange glow of the setting sun filtered through the bushes surrounding us. Soon it would be dark. Again, for the second time that day? No, we must be on the next day. Everything that had happened since the dance was just so weird, I wasn’t sure.

I heard Casey’s stomach growl. Now I felt bad that I’d eaten all the beef jerky. I couldn’t believe the guys hadn’t packed us more food for this prank.

Casey didn’t complain though. Instead she took the hatchet she’d buried with her stash of goodies and started digging a small hole. She scoped around for dry leaves and twigs, and after making a small pile, used the flint to create a spark. The way the moon glowed through the pinkness of dusk, she looked like a fairy creature prancing around in her bare feet and shimmering yellow dress. When she brushed her curls behind her ears, my heart skipped a beat. She was breathtaking.


You’re a girl scout?” I said like a moron.

She ignored me like I deserved. I continued to observe her in amazement. She pulled an archaic looking slingshot from her stash and then gathered a small amount of smooth stones. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. She squatted down and waited until a quail scurried by. She closed an eye, aimed, and let the stone go.

No. Way. She actually hit the speedy bird, killing it. I breathed out a low, “Wow,” completely impressed.

The show didn’t end there. She picked up the bird by the feet, laid it carefully on the ground, and, get this,
chopped its head off with the hatchet
. I felt my eyes bug out at this mini horror show.

She proceeded to pick off all the feathers, then cut down the middle of its gut, dumping all the innards into the fire where they shrank and sizzled to ashes. It was gross, but so compelling; I couldn’t peel my eyes away. Wasps instantly came out of nowhere, buzzing around her hands, but all she did was flick them away.

She was so enthralled with her kill; I think she’d forgotten I was there. She caught sight of me as she waved another wasp away then said, “They love the smell of blood.”


All the girls I know would be freaking right now.” Her eyes glimmered a little at the admiration that came through in my voice, but she didn’t respond.

Next, she found a stick and chiselled a point on the end with the hatchet. She tested the point and then punched it through the torso of the butchered bird.


Where’d you learn to do all this stuff?”

She crouched before the fire, holding the bird over the low flames. The coals cast a warm, sensuous glow over her face. “Here, in the past,” she said.


Oh right, time travel.” For some reason, I couldn’t keep the snark out of my voice.

She turned the bird over and the roasted meat gave off a succulent aroma. Suddenly, I was starving.


Smells good. Kind of like a big marshmallow roast,” I said. “Good idea.”

Her lips upturned slightly and one eyebrow inched up. “Where’s yours? You don’t expect me to share, do you?”


Um, well.” Yeah, I was hoping. No such luck. She pointed to the slingshot.


Go for it.”

Oh. Okay, then. I picked up the slingshot and examined it. “You didn’t get this from Wal-Mart, did you?”

I picked up a small stone and mimicked Casey’s hunting technique. A quail ran across my path and I let the stone fly.

Miss.


I’m rusty,” I said in way of explanation.

She shot me a smug look. “Rusty implies you’ve had previous experience.”


Okay, I suck. Is that better?”


Marginally.”

She licked her fingers as she watched me miss twice more. She was making me nervous.


Now that you can feel the speed at which the stone moves,” she said, finally having pity on me, “aim a fraction in front of the bird. They’re fast.”

I did like she said, and bam, I hit the next one. “Yes!”

Again, I repeated Casey’s earlier performance and prepped the bird for roasting. The procedure turned my stomach, but I was hungry enough to keep going. Plus, I had my pride to protect.

Soon my bird was roasting nicely over the fire.


Good job,” Casey said.

Had I impressed her in the same way she’d blown my socks off? “Thanks.”

It was well beyond dusk and the orange hue had faded into blackness. Casey threw a few more sticks on the fire. Then she laid out the burlap bag, and using an old dress she’d removed from it as a blanket, lay down as if she was really planning to sleep here.


You look serious,” I said.


What do you mean?”


You look like you intend to stay here overnight.”


It’s a good possibility.”

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I lay down on the opposite side of the fire, since we really didn’t know each other, and I didn’t think Casey would appreciate me getting too close.

Though I wouldn’t mind
. The thought startled me.


Well, at least it’s a beautiful night,” I said. “Look at all those stars. I don’t remember a night so bright with stars like this.”


That’s because there’s no light pollution.”

This girl was like a dog with a bone. She wasn’t going to let this story go. “Right,” I said, rubbing my chin, noting the stubble that had grown since I’d shaved earlier. “Say I go along with your story. Where are we?”


Just outside of Cambridge.”


And, uh,
when
are we?”

Without a beat she said, “1860.”


How do you know?’


Because that’s when it was the last time I was here.”


Which was?”


A couple weeks ago.”

BOOK: Clocked
2.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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