An ON TIME Excerpt: “Time Will Tell” by Justin Alcala

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Enjoy an excerpt from Justin Alcala’s “Time Will Tell” featured in our new anthology ON TIME.

Tammy pointed to the digital clock illuminated near the kitchen entrance. 

The woman on screen mentioned time just as he glanced at the timepiece. 

It was nearly nine. 

“We project that in ten years,” the woman on the television stared stone-faced at the reporter, “developers will be able to change temporal displacement from fringe science to everyday procedure.” 

Jasper narrowed his eyes at the woman on screen, taking in her white lab coat stitched with his corporate emblem. She was with the company, but what department? 

This was one of the lab physicists from the research department. Stale emotions dusted themselves from his memory. She always gave Jasper hell when he pressed them about venture production. 

The physicist and her team were researching practical applications of cell rejuvenation. Their latest breakthrough proved that with enough resources, they could not only reverse organic deterioration but subatomic particles of all types. Things really caught fire when the physicist claimed that one day they could reverse the linear structure of time itself. It was a dead-end project, but he didn’t cut off funding because his chairman, old Mr. Delchester, was highly interested in the concept. Jasper shook his head. Who approved this interview? He’d take a look in the morning. 

Jasper’s concentration was broken by the painfully awkward pan of the reporter smiling into the camera. 

“Well,” said the mannequin correspondent with a fake grin, “look out Marty McFly.” 

Jasper massaged his temple. He wished he smoked. 

“Crazy isn’t it?” Tammy collected Jasper’s menu. “Time travel. I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“It’s a fantasy. The only reason she’s on the screen is because the chairman of her megacorp is on his last leg.” He must have been tired because Jasper opened up to the waitress without restraint. A decade of built up venom will do that. He took a sip of his coffee in an attempt to shut himself up. 

Tammy didn’t waiver. “Oh, you must be an important man to know these things.” 

Jasper shrugged. Anyone who knew about the corporation, specifically Mr. Delchester, could put it all together.

“Anyway, even if it is just a fantasy, it’s kind of fun to think about.”

Jasper indulged the idea. He’d fought tooth and nail for nearly eleven years to get where he was. Why would he ever want to travel back? Jasper fingered the large S-shaped scar snaking down his thumb. It had been so long ago, he nearly forgot how he earned it. They were a pair of art students traveling the world in a car without air conditioning, too busy running away from the world to deal with it. If he could get that time back, maybe he’d be even closer to taking Mr. Delchester’s position. 

“If I did go back,” Jasper began tapping his scar. “It would be to make things better.” 

“Oh, well that’s sweet. Well, let me get your order in.”

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Justin Alcala is a novelist, nerdologist and Speculative Literature Foundation Award Finalist. He’s the author of four novels including Consumed, (BLK Dog Publishing) The Devil in the Wide City (Solstice PublishingDim Fairy Tales (AllThingsThatMatterPress) and A Dead End Job (The Parliament House). His short stories have been featured in dozens of magazines and anthologies, including It Snows Here (Power Loss Anthology),The Offering (Rogue Planet Press Magazine) and The Lantern Quietly Screams(Castabout Literature). When he’s not burning out his retinas in front of a computer, Justin is a tabletop gamer, blogger, folklore enthusiast and time traveler. He is an avid quester of anything righteous, from fighting dragons to acquiring magical breakfast eggs from the impregnable grocery fortress.

Most of Justin’s tales and characters take place in The Plenty Dreadful universe, a deranged supernatural version of the modern world. When writing, Justin immerses himself in subject matter, from stuffy research to overseas travel. Much to the chagrin of his family, he often locks himself away in his office-dungeon, playing themed music over, and over, and over again. Justin currently resides with his dark queen, Mallory, their malevolent daughter, Lily, changeling son, Ronan, hellcat, Misery and hound of Ragnarök, Fenrir. Where his mind might be though is anyone’s guess.

ON TIME is out now. Get your copy at AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, or the exclusive hardback at transmundanepress.com.

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