It’s not fun being a lawyer, not when you’re the main source of information for the Chronos laws. These laws govern the laws of time, as sensitive and brittle as string, the littlest touch reverberating through the bones of space and all those who live within it. Time is not a toy, and Ben is not a guardian. He is a toymaker of time. He is a timekeeper of more than just a stopwatch.
Ben sips his warm cup of jasmine tea, and pulls up his velvet-lined Elizabethan chair in his small, cosy office space. He must keep working on the laws, as only he knows how to refine them, to fish out loopholes and to improve the laws. A lot happened throughout Ben’s life, and middle age has met him too soon. At over thirty-five, his deep lines are disproportionate for his chiselled face, as they fold now while Ben enters his train of thought for the day.
He must add a sub-clause about experimenting with life. There are already three hundred clauses with thousands of sub-clauses, but his work will not be done until the rules are complete. The spindle of time that has been unwound by Ben’s history was simply a well-known disturbance. The string was moved, it struck the world with mayhem, and it was set to normal.
Everyone has a different view on time. Reality is, however, of time being figurative strings, strings that cannot be broken ad are woven together. You can bend it, and that is what Ben did when he first discovered time travel. This made him looked upon as a God, as one who wields the power of the realm of time.
The most powerful of positions are often bestowed upon the most average of people because it is not the charisma of a pretty face that solves problems, it is the unlocked potential of the uniquely average that gives a true sense of awe when most needed because greatness can come from something small and relatively meaningless.
This is what Ben represents, a man of few words, but a can filled to the brim. He was always average, but his knack for science brought him to discovering time-editing, which changed his life. The life’s work of those deemed madmen have now made him a living, as their words and numbers are proven to ring true vastly beyond their graves.
Ben puts down his copy of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and sips at his tea. Cold. He looks at the grandfather clock to his right. A good half an hour has elapsed, and it is time for him to get to work. He types away on the Chronos law, making the great piece even greater, already revolutionary in its existence.
Ben looks to his left. Another grandfather clock indicates that it is almost noon. A late day is not usually Ben’s style, but once in a while sleeping in does no harm. His house is filled with grandfather clocks, many in each room, and they all beat in perfect unison like an unending orchestra of ticks and tocks. A small half lot double storey house, it is as cosy as it is extravagant for a single man with his beloved feline.
A fluffy calico walks into the room and climbs onto Ben’s lap. Not a care in the world, if you’re a house cat. “Any minute now, Paris, and today’s phone call will make the day interesting.” The cat purrs in response, head upside-down, eyes closed.
Every day, Ben gets a status update. The United Nations has had many meetings to discuss the mischief Ben has caused as the first ever person who has dented time. People must not be allowed to fiddle with a commodity so natural yet so dangerous. It’s like a bedsheet, but with an infinite thread count; delicate in its glory and for it, it must be respected.
The status updates are to inform Ben if anyone has done anything wrong regarding time travel. The most usual occurrence is attempting time travel, even though this is punishable by death. Yes, Ben wrote that law. It’s as necessary as it is harsh. Some try to steal Ben’s previously non-copyrighted plans (that are now banned altogether), some try to rebuild his machine and some even try to get information from him.
“Which will it be today?” says Ben aloud, a wheel of fortune crossing his mind. His cat simply meows and jumps down, walking over to the corner of the room to inspect a rather large speck of dust. “Well Paris, let’s find out.” It is almost noon, the time for the updates to come in. Ben waits as he gulps the rest of his cold tea, when he notices the speck of dust Paris found interesting is blinking on and off.
“Meow! Meow! Come here Paris!” Ben beckons for Paris to go back to his seat. Paris hops along to Ben, surprisingly bringing the blinking object along. Ben could almost swear Paris is a cat with the soul of a dog. Ben inspects the object closely, finding it to be some sort of listening device.
Many thoughts run through Ben’s mind. The first was how stupid the spy is to place a listening device in the house of a man who barely speaks. The second was that there was a spy listening to his conversations and movements. Some sounds are not meant to be heard. In any case, this was not good. At least Ben had made no sound to indicate that he had found the device. He was used to it by now. This isn’t the first time a listening device popped up in his house.
Simply enough, he brought the device over to another nearby empty room and left it there. It may or may not have been his cat’s special room. As he set the device down, the phone in his office blared Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. He waltzed back over to his room and picked up the phone.
“Yo Leo, what’s up for today? I found another bug.”
“Dear Benedict, yes, indeed I was about to inform you about the said remote listening device.”
“Well, it’s taken care of, so I wouldn’t worry too much.”
“Ah, but on the contrary sir, I’ve received intelligence that the ones behind it are, this time, actual spies.”
“So should I start taping up my laptop camera?”
“No, sir, start cocking your gun. I’ve tracked the source of the signal and it seems that they noticed their tracker being misplaced. The signal is moving towards you. Maybe a van? That would fit around ten of them. I’d say maybe an hour?”
“I’ll be fine,” said Ben with a rather cocky smirk.
It’s a simple set-up Ben was thinking of. Intriguing yet seemingly innocent in its concept. Except of course, Ben was perfectly fine with killing people. After all they will be trespassing private property and very likely to use armed force. “Ah, a botched ambush. So Paris, today will be interesting after all!” Paris simply rolled onto its back.
Ben’s idea is simple; he will rig his house. To be frank, he’s never had to face an actual ambush in his house before but he’s always been prepared. His panic room is filled with ‘goodies’ that even Fred and George would be proud of.
Home Alone will have stern competition in terms of content by the time Ben is done with this. Ben grabs his Glock and goes upstairs to take a bath. Maybe not the best idea, but certainly he’ll feel better.
Just as he was about to undress, Ben hears the sound of a minivan pulling up on his driveway. Pulling up his pants, Ben takes out his phone and turns on his remote control app. A familiar yet hoarse male voice shouts for Ben to go meet him. Ben simply stays put and presses the button for the door to open.
Muffled screams could be heard from downstairs as heavy men fell flat on the floor, marbles flying in every direction. Ben can practically feel the disorientation of the men in the floor below, feet aching and heads thumping. Groans as loud as bears could be heard, making no move to hide the annoyance in their voices. Ben can hear that they’re coming to their senses, getting up and making their way up. Being greeted by a trap like this, they must think Ben lost his marbles.
Marbles under the welcome mat? Check.
Trap number two is soon to be in session. The dining area is situated between the living room and the staircase, leaving nice space for trap number two. As they step onto the tiled flooring Ben dons a sly smile and presses the second button on his phone screen, activating the rigged microwave. Its door is open and fully functional, filled with knives, jagged edges meant to spark and sound like bullets firing through the air.
Metal knives in a rigged microwave? Check.
A loud voice screams to hit the ground, followed by a loud thump of bodies clashing with the floor below for their lives. Ben activates the third switch, for his Roombas with knives attached to them to do their work. He is a very lazy man, who leaves machines to do his cleaning for him. He doesn’t believe in maids, as he feels it is offensive for women to be stereotyped as cleaners, and so Roombas it is.
Screams of terror can be heard as Roombas cut through flesh and blood seeps over the limestone tiles. The tiny robot warriors get even more excited as they sweep the floor with blood, trying to clean it but instead producing random, beautiful patterns of human trespasser blood.
Roombas with knives? Check.
“Ow! Get up! Ow! There aren’t any actual-ow, any actual bullets! Ow!”
Ben raises an eyebrow. The trespasser sounds an awful lot like him, and Ben can almost imagine himself in their situation. It’s only funny because it’s not him getting injured, but it is okay, Ben is fighting for his life as well.
As Ben hears the trespassers climb the stairs, button number four goes off to have a Roomba tip over and spill a freshly boiled container of motor oil. The searing of skin can be heard as a duo of screams fills the indoor summer air. Nice, only two left. The last scream from the Roombas was a quartet.
Hot oil on the stairs? Check.
As the last footstep gets through the obstacle, Ben giggles. His final trap will surely get the last man standing. As the slow footstep nears, Ben readies the fifth and final trap. He presses the button to electrify the doorknob to his bedroom.
Electrified doorknob? Check.
Much to his surprise, the doorknob still turns. How this could be, Ben had no clue. He cocks and aims his gun at the door only to find his reflection staring back at him. The gasping, tarred, bleeding figure takes a deep breath and removes his insulating rubber gloves as Ben lowers his Glock.
“Are you from the future?” Ben asks
“Yes,” replies panting Ben. “All of us downstairs are you. We’ve come to warn you. Your life is in grave danger and we’ve broken laws, been hunted by the Interpol, dinosaurs and ninjas to warn you that if you die, the world is in grave danger as well. You must finish writing the Chronos laws. Then you must recruit yourself from other times to come back in time and warn your past self like we did. Nice traps. We fall for them every time. The ones downstairs will return to their timelines once they wake up.”
Ben stares in awe. Even covered in muck and frothy blood, he is so handsome. However, that being beside the point, Ben heeds Other Ben’s words.
“What do I do? How do I live?” asks Ben with a small sigh and wide eyes.
Dirty Ben shouts only one thing, “Duck!” Ben immediately ducks as the window behind him shatters into a million pieces. A duck materialises on the floor in front of Ben, bloody Ben nowhere to be seen. The warning, the trespassers, the bug. It was all him. All set up to warn Ben so he wouldn’t die at the edge of the blade of a Mallard’s mouth.
Now, Ben knows what he must do.