Authors: Georgia Byng
Rocky began talking slowly and deliberately.
“Please give her back, won’t you—give her back? It would—be so—much—better—”
“Ha! Do you really think, boy, that you can hypnotize me using your pathetic voice? Ha!”
Rocky blushed angrily.
“What are you gonna do with that baby?” said Forest, slightly recovered, handing the puppy to the ten-year-old Molly. This Molly studied the longhaired man in front of her. She’d never met a hippie before.
“Who is that baby, anyways?” he was saying, his round glasses slipping down his nose. “And, hey, why are we here? Man, it’s bad karma to steal people and, like, take them to different time zones. I mean, we like our home zones. Can we go home?”
The maharaja ignored Forest. He tapped the baby’s head with his bony finger.
Molly couldn’t bear it. One slip, one squeeze, and the giant could kill the baby he was holding. That baby was
If he killed her as a baby, then she
couldn’t exist. All the Mollys in the room would cease to exist. Would they just go up in smoke? What would happen? Molly didn’t want to find out. She
get herself back. She concentrated on her clear crystal and somersaulted her mind, bringing the world to a flashing halt. She stopped the world.
But, of course, the giant was fast on the draw, as fast as a beam of light. His skill was beyond any she’d ever
encountered. Everyone in the room froze stiff as an icicle, except for the Maharaja of Waqt and the sleeping baby in his arms.
“CAUGHT you,” he said in a singsong way, whipping his head around to face Molly full on. He glared at her hypnotically, and she resisted his gaze. If the energy between their eyes had been visible, it would have looked like two electric bolts of light—Molly’s green, and the maharaja’s brown with a red bloodshot blot in it.
“Don’t bother trying to outdo me,” said Waqt. “I’m invincible. Always alert. You won’t catch me off guard. Never. I expect attack from every ridection. From the pesent, the prast, and even the future. That’s why I carry this gun.” He patted the leather sheath on his belt that, until then, Molly had assumed was a knife. “Who knows who will, sometime in the future, want to come back and wipe me out? Just think how they could pop up and surprise me! They don’t realize that I always expect them. I expect attack erevy moment of erevy day. And that is why I am always prepared, so, Molly, you haven’t the slightest chance.” Around them, everyone was as still as rock. “You should find yourself more talented friends. That boy’s attempt to hypnotize me was useless! He leeds nessons in voice-only hypnosis.”
The air was chilly. Molly felt scared and lonely here
on her own with Waqt, but she didn’t show it.
“Now that your friends are quiet, I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do.” He put the sleeping baby on a cushion on the floor. It went still. Then he moved toward Molly. He pushed her against the wall, put her left hand through one of the silver metal loops, and clicked it shut. Then he took a key—the key to the handcuffs—off a hook on the wall by the door and slipped it into his pocket. He gathered up the ten-year-old Molly, holding the puppy, the six-year-old, and the toddler Molly as if they were shop mannequins and, choosing not to put movement into their frozen bodies, he placed them in the passage outside the chamber.
He pulled the frozen Rocky over to the wall. Even Forest was reasonably easy for him to move, as Waqt was so big. Soon, they were all handcuffed. Molly didn’t show any emotion, but inside she was boiling.
“What are you going to do with the baby and the other Mollys?” she demanded. Waqt ignored her and picked up the baby.
“WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?” shouted Molly.
“Oh, you? Why, you’re staying here, of course.” The maharaja trembled with laughter.
“The OTHER ME’s,” Molly growled angrily.
“Oh… oh, I
Going to keep them, of course. Going to rear the baby as my own. This is the consolation for you, you see, Lommy. At least you will survive in a new form. Of course, as the years go by, all the other you’s will lose their past orphanage memories. The three-year-old Lommy Loon here will be the first to lose all her memories of being an orphanage child. As this baby relives your life here, and reaches three years of age, her
life will replace the first three years that you had before. And as she grows, all your hildchood memories will be replaced, because this baby will relive your past with me, here. For instance, the child that I rear will have no memories of that fat old woman I noticed doing the ironing when I went there, nor of the orphanage mistress.” The giant paused and made a sour face. “Of course, I will have five Lommy Loons here, which is probably far too many, so after I have learned something about your character from the child Mollys—I might test them a bit—and after I have used them as nannies, I will probably kill them. I will have a cobra bite the toddler and, when she dies, the six-year-old here and the ten-year-old, and
believe it or not, will all die as well. Because if you have died when you were a toddler, you cannot be alive today. I’m sure you understand.” Now the giant’s voice dropped to a
kindly tone, which was deeply creepy because he didn’t have a drop of kindness in his poisonous nature. “But, Molly,” he purred, “remember, there is a consolation. You
live on, in a way, because I will let this maby Bolly live, and so your life will be
baby, whom I will rename Waqta, will have a lorious glife. A life lived in palaces, with everything she desires!” Waqt shut the door and shouted from the corridor, “She’ll have elepants as phets!”
olly unfroze the world.
As she did, Rocky and Forest came to, shocked that their left hands were locked in handcuffs attached to the wall.
“Man, this is ba-ad,” moaned Forest. The children outside began to cry noisily. Then they went quiet, and Molly felt numbness and she knew that the Mollys outside were hypnotized again.
Rocky tugged at the handcuffing loop around his wrist.
“Is he coming back soon?” asked Forest. “What’s the plan?”
“I’m not sure,” said Molly. She explained what had just happened.
“I wish I could have hypnotized him,” Rocky said. “He
was so alert. He knew what I was up to as soon as I started. The trouble with voice-only hypnosis is that you need a good minute of talking to get the subject into a trance.”
“Don’t worry,” said Molly. “I couldn’t get him, either. He’s good, Rocky.”
“And how long does he plan to keep us hangin’ here like unused puppets?” asked Forest. “I can’t do my sun salutations like this.”
“Forest,” said Rocky sternly, “get a grip.”
Molly winced. Only a few minutes had passed and already her wrist hurt where the metal handcuff cut into it. Petula sniffed at Molly’s knee and whined as if to say that she wished she could help. But seeing that there was nothing she could do, she went back to lie down under the hammock to suck her stones.
Molly watched Petula, wishing desperately that she was as free as she was.
“You know, he’s such a freak, he’ll probably leave us here to die of thirst!”
“Unless we could pull these things out of the walls,” said Rocky. “We’d be left with big silver bracelets, but at least we’d be free.”
‘“Free Bird’—man, I love that song.” Forest turned and began pulling at his wrist iron, trying to release it from the wall.
“We need something sharp,” Rocky said, glancing
about the room at the cushions, “to dig the attachments out of the plaster.”
Molly glanced over at Petula.
“Petula’s stones!” she cried. “Heel, Petula! Let’s see what you’ve got.” Petula trotted obediently over.
“Drop!” said Molly. And Petula dropped two pieces of colored glass at Molly’s feet. They made a CHINK noise as they landed.
“Man, you shouldn’t suck glass, you’ll cut your mouth!” said Forest. It took a few seconds for Molly to realize what Petula had been a guardian of.
“WOW! Petula! Where did you get these? I can’t believe you!”
“It’s going to take a lot of scraping,” said Rocky. “Those are hardly sharp at all.”
“We’re not going to need to scrape!” Molly brushed the gems toward her with her sneaker. “Rocky, look! These are time-travel crystals. I can’t believe it! Petula must have taken them off the cushion next door. It was covered in them. You see, Waqt was showing me how time travel works and so he made his servant bring a whole load of them in!”
Petula was very pleased to be making Molly so happy. She sat up wagging her tail.
Quickly, for she knew time was of the essence, Molly explained to Forest and Rocky how hypnotic
time travel worked and how she had fetched the peacock.
“So, if I go back in time, the cuff around my wrist will just disappear.”
“But Forest and me will still be handcuffed.”
“Not when I get the key and bring it forward in time to unlock you.”
“Wow, just like the peacock…”
“Yes, except, unlike the peacock, I’ll have to take the key back in time again and hang it on the hook where it belongs. Otherwise, it will be missing when that old tyrannosaurus needs it to lock us up like he did. It has to be put back or else he’ll get suspicious.”
“Do you think you’re up to it, Molly?”
“I have to be.” Molly slid her sneakers off and wriggled her feet out of their socks. Then she clenched a crystal under the toes of each foot. She took a deep breath and concentrated her mind.
“I’ll see you later,” she said. In a moment there was a small BOOM, and she vanished.
Molly was swirling backward through a cool time wind, focusing her mind on the green crystal under her right foot. Because she was in the
room, with no changing sky above her, the colors around her hardly changed. She tried to remember the feeling
she’d got when fetching the peacock. The timing instinct that had worked for her then was what she needed now. She felt herself passing through the moment before—when the maharaja had been taunting her. Fear shook her, as she thought of his gun. But she knew she mustn’t think of this because if she did, she would never receive the right instinct about stopping. The room changed color. Molly stopped. The first thing she noticed was that her hands were free. The room smelled of mold.
The walls were terra-cotta-colored and completely undecorated. Molly quickly bent down and gathered up the crystals from under her feet. She went to the door where the key hook would be. Then she aimed to go forward in time. She remembered how Zackya had gone red in the face as he tried to park in the correct time zone, and she now understood how he felt. She decided to relax. Perhaps if she relaxed deeply, she would get the correct instinct. Molly clasped the red stone.
A swirl of color took her forward in time. Again, she stopped. The maharaja was standing in the room! His back was to her and all the younger Mollys were standing beside him, their gaze on the bed in front of them. Rocky was in the room and Forest, too. They were all hypnotized. None of them saw her. There, lying on the bed, was her eleven-year-old self, with her
hands over her head and face. The maharaja began to chuckle in a mean, rumbling way.
“Ah, so you are still here!” he said to the Molly on the bed, not noticing the one behind him. Molly could hardly believe it.
She was visiting a moment she had just lived through!
She backed out of the room, her heart cantering. Halfway down the staircase she concentrated on the green stone, and at once she disappeared with a small BOOM.
She put her invisible time-travel antennae out and tried to feel her way. She wanted a very short trip
in time. She stopped and ran up the stairs toward the chamber. This time the room was completely empty, and there, on the wall, was the key. Molly ran forward and unhooked it.
Now concentrating on the red stone, she was soon flying forward again. She tried to sense her way back to the time she’d come from. This was going to be a close call. She didn’t want to arrive in the room while the maharaja was still in it. She thought lightly, tuning her senses, balancing the past and the future, trying to get to exactly the moment she had left her friends.
Then Molly stopped. And there in front of her were Rocky and Forest, imprisoned in the irons. She rushed forward. Petula bounded up to her.
“How long have I been?” she asked.
“About three minutes!” said Rocky. “But you look different. Your skin is…”
Molly unlocked their handcuffs. Three minutes? So she’d arrived three minutes after she’d left them. She’d wanted to land three
after she’d left them! But three minutes was pretty good. Better than good.
“What do you mean, I look different? Actually, tell me in a minute.” Before Molly lost the antennae feeling, she gripped the green stone and the world was spinning backward again.
She shot through minutes and hours to the time that she had felt before. She opened her eyes. There was the empty hook on the wall. She placed the key where it belonged and shut her eyes. Would she be able to arrive exactly in the right moment beside Rocky and Forest?
With a blur of color she was moving again. A certain sensation in her invisible antennae directed her. But there was more than this, this time. The closer Molly got to the time where the maharaja and her younger selves were, the more she could feel them. When the feeling reached a peak, Molly knew she was in time with the six-year-old, the ten-year-old, the toddler, and the baby Molly just as she had been before. Like different notes played on some sensation instrument, the four younger Mollys made an intense harmony that reverberated in her. Molly also thought she could sense exactly where she herself had come from. The
combination helped her know when to stop.
Rocky and Forest looked surprised to see her. Both were out of handcuffs.
“Man, it’s so cool how you do that! You kinda pop up!”
“How long ago was it that I undid your handcuffs?” Molly asked, quickly slipping her socks and sneakers back on.
“About an hour,” said Rocky. He looked upset and worried and very relieved that Molly was back.