“Are you sure you haven’t seen Ronnie anywhere?” Fanaka said.
“Nay, faith sir, I’ve not,” replied the armoured knight behind the icecream counter.
The ice cream shop was relatively new, it’s one staff member on duty was not. He was dressed head to toe in medieval armour, save for the steel gauntlets which had been removed to better facilitating the handling of gelato.
Fanaka sighed an angry sigh. Sir Kay was the last. He had now made contact with everyone from the Time Lost Support Group and no one seemed to know just where Ronnie had hidden himself – and, presumably, Mildred’s prototype rocket.
“If we don’t find Ronnie, he could launch a high-explosive rocket at the Pyramid!”
“Thou meanst he meaneth to hoist that thing of evil that all men despise?”
“Yes, we must stop him!”
“Gadzooks man, why?”
Fanaka sighed as he had when he’d answered all of the other time lost people he’d talked to: “Look, we really need to know what we’re doing before we go trying to blow it up.”
“It seemeth to me that blowing it up wouldst answer many questions that we haveth concerning the wretched thing, forsooth,” Sir Kay said. “But ’tis neither here nor there. Canst I help thee to a confection of icéd cream? By my troth, the burnt fig and caramel be as delectable as finest Portgual marchpane.”
“No!” Fanaka said. “Actually, yes, that looks delicious. Look, this isn’t medieval world, this is the twenty-first century. You can’t just blow things up because you don’t like them.”
“Well, granted, but…”
“Besides, I come not from medieval world, good sir scientist,” Sir Kay said, scooping the icecream. “I come from a world most similar unto this one, but in which medieval recreationism has become the dominant religion of the Western world, forsooth. Wafer?”
“That be what everyone sayeth.”
Fanaka looked around the little shop, which was located between two of the Super Centre’s lesser carpet shops.
“There is too much happening, and too quickly,” Fanaka said. “Last night, I was at a trial for a Dark Brownie, and now this! How is a fellow supposed to keep track of all these preposterous twists?”
“Thou couldst simply let events unfold as they willt, and content thyself with enjoying the amusing interactions between characters?”
“No, there’s no time for that, Sir Kay,” Fanaka said. “I have to find Ronnie.”
“Hast thou asked Captain Pete?” Sir Kay asked. “Everyone knoweth Captain Pete.”
“The weird aquarium guy at the Place O’Pets? He gives me the creeps.”
“He giveth everyone the creeps. But that be only possible because he knoweth everyone.”
“Good point,” Fanaka said, exiting with his ice cream.
Fanaka shifted the circlet of brass gears that he wore on his head so that he could scratch beneath. The Place O’ Pets. Well, it was a good a place as any, though he thought he should certainly try to avoid getting sucked into a conversation with Zorbar…
Before he could even finish the thought, Fanaka ran into the customer – the strange woman in the Laplander hat who had left the Watch at Alfred’s shop.
The customer was walking out of Mostly Carpets (the Rest are Rugs), and not looking where she was going. She ran right into Fanaka’s solid form, rebounding slightly before coming to a stop. She wore the same patchwork coat that she’d worn the last time Fanaka had seen her. When she looked up at him in surprise, he was reminded just how intense her grey eyes were, and how strangely they contrasted with her overall demeanor.
“Oh, hello,” Fanaka said without enthusiasm. “You must be after your Watch back.”
“Hm?” the customer said. She reached into her pocket produced the Watch. She opened it, and shrugged.
“Because of course it is,” Fanaka sighed. He took the Watch from his pocket and held it up for the Customer to see.
“Ahhh,” the customer said. “You must be Mr Clock.”
“There is no such person as Mr Clock,” Fanaka said.
“Ah, well, he probably needs that Watch then. I’d best get it to him as soon as…”
“Forgive my impatience, please,” Fanaka said, rubbing his eyes, “but instead of cryptic statements that might just make sense later, could you just tell me who you are, what this watch is and what is going on?”
The customer pocketed the Watch and raised an eyebrow.
“You are lost in time, are you not?”
Fanaka let out a huge sigh. No. No chance of someone simply spilling the beans. No chance at all of anyone being actively helpful in any way.
“Yes,” he said, quietly. “I am lost in time. And I have a Watch made of pure time in my hand, and I believe that it is a future version of the Watch that you hold, because you could not more obviously be a time traveler if you were parking your Delorean next to a Police Box. Now please — as much as my frail brain that deals with one second after another can handle it — just tell me what is going on.”
The Customer looked at Fanaka with pity.
“Fanaka,” she said. “You don’t trust me yet, but you will.”
“Oh, will I? Will I, indeed?”
“Trust me on this.”
It was only the realisation of how very childish it would seem that prevented Fanaka from throwing his icecream to the ground. “Fine!” he said. “Whatever! I’m going to go talk to the real, solid Captain Pete who may know where the very concrete Ronnie is so that I can stop an actual rocket being fired at the Pyramid. I’m sure when you want to give me more pointless cryptic comments, I’ll see you then… Or now, or before or whatever. Goodbye!”
Fanaka turned and stomped away. “You will fail to stop the rocket launch,” came the Customer’s voice from behind him. “Is that definite and concrete enough for you?”
It was, but even so Fanaka pretended not to have heard.