It only takes an angry pebble to start an avalanche. My uncle used to say that all the time. Even at five years of age I’d always correct him, pointing out that pebbles didn’t have feelings and therefore couldn’t get angry. He’d laugh and tell me I was just like my father.
My father taught math in Barcelona before I was born, but here in America he’s always called himself a tinkerer. He could fix anything, which is how he paid the bills. He could build anything too, which was how our apartment filled with gadgets and devices that all our school-friends would marvel at. We were the first on the block to have a radio, albeit one four times the size of what they sell in stores and housed in twelve old cigar boxes that I helped papa glue together. I helped him make it and I’ve been a maker ever since.
I never feel more rushed than when I stop time. For me, those are the busiest seconds of my life, even as the world around me freezes. It actually makes sense - in truth I’m the one who has speeded up. They’re all experiencing time just like always. In my little chronal bubble, I’m the one moving at a million seconds per minute.
Like a speeding train, my time-trip will eventually run out of track. There’s only so much bending that time and space can bear before they snap back to true, and I don’t want to be caught in those particular closing jaws. So I’ve only got a short window of time - what I call hyper-time - to make a difference.
If I could be there when that pebble got angry, before things came to a crisis point, it would all be so much easier. But my Temporal Anomaly Generator doesn’t let me see forward or look back - I can’t find those small moments that become deadly avalanches. Like everyone else, I only know something’s wrong when I hear the rumbling. Unlike everyone else, I start running towards the ominous sound instead of away from it.
Why play police? Aren’t there better people for this kind of thing, soldiers and firemen and what have you? These are questions my brothers and sisters ask me all the time. I assure them that I’m in no danger, that my invention keeps me perfectly safe ,so it would be the height of selfishness not to help out in ways only I can. In truth only that last part is true - if I don’t time things just right, when that chronal bubble bursts I can end up just as dead as anyone. There have been a few close calls. More than a few if you count the times I pushed the generator past the safety margin.
But this city needs all the help it can get right now. This depression, it seems to have drawn out the madness in some. The 1930s are looking like they’ll be a lost decade. If things keep going as they are, they may mean the death of civilization. The bootlegging gangsters of the 20s might not need to hide their liquor sales anymore, but they haven’t given up their tommy-guns. The slum lords and robber barons might have lost it all in the market crash, but they’re not cutting anyone a break even as they cut every corner when it comes to safety and fairness.
And where to even begin with maniacs like Jack of Bedlam and his cult of chaos-worshipping followers? He seems like he wants to tear the whole world down with his bare hands. If only he’d stick to bare hands and give up the bombs, the acid, and the poison gas. Someday I’ll catch him in time and make him give them up.
For now though, I do my best - carving out a few extra seconds whenever I can so I can pull innocents out of the avalanche’s path. And if a few madmen end up pushed into the path, well, so much the better.