Time Machine

“Don’t you wish you could go back?”

“Go back where?”

“To a better time.”

Cassie thought on this for a long moment.

“There hasn’t been a better time,” she finally replied, her eyes on her bare, dirty, feet.

A warm wind washed through the two girls; it was almost comforting.

“Besides,” Cassie continued, “time travel isn’t real. We’re… stuck here.”

Tanya looked upon the vast emptiness before them, and after them. Father would be making his rounds soon. She sighed.

“I know. I just like to pretend.”

The girls carried on with their shovelling in silence, until father had came and left.

“Where were you before this?” Tanya asked. She had always been one to speak out of turn, but even for her, this was bold.

Cassie kept her eyes on her work, her heart thumping. She couldn’t tell if it was excitement, or fear, or an oddly pleasant mixture of both.

“No where.”

“You were somewhere. We all were.”

Cassie shivered, growing uncomfortable now. “I was no where. Or – well, I don’t remember.”

Tanya shook her head as if to say she understood completely. “I was somewhere. Somewhere beautiful. That’s where I’ll go back to. When I build my time machine.”

Cassie flinched. Angered by something she could not describe.

“Stop being a fool and work. He’ll be back before you know it and you’ll have no progress to show for yourself.”

“I will you know; build it.”

“Shut up!” Cassie directed her eyes right into Tanya’s now.

“You can come with me Cassie. I’ll take you with me, I promise!”

Tanya leaned into Cassie but Cassie’s stiffened body pulled away.

“I’m not going anywhere, Tanya. I’m a Child of Mercy and so are you. This is where we belong. Now stop your daydreaming and get back to work.”

The next morning the girls awoke to find that their number had been reduced to 12. Tanya’s bed appeared un-slept in, although the other girls could swear they had seen her turn it down with the rest of them. No one had heard a thing. No one had saw a thing. There was no note left behind. No good-byes. No explanations.

Tanya was simply gone. Vanished. She hadn’t built a time machine. Cassie was sure of that. If time had been turned back, Cassie herself would be back at home by her mother’s side, singing a lullaby to her baby brother – wouldn’t she?

 © Shyla Fairfax-Owen





It’s 11:53 am. I head to the back of the room, nodding at Linus, the bartender. I take my usual booth, hood up. I know it’s a bit conspicuous, but no one here pays much attention to anything other than their pints and newspapers.

I always tell my clients not to arrive even a moment earlier than the agreed upon time, which in this case is noon. I like to watch them enter, so I can get a full read on their intentions before they even say a word.

At 12:00 exactly, she enters. She’s a little short, thick with womanly curves, but as she approaches I can see in her face that she’s just a child. A scared child at that. I have no idea how a teenage girl would get my number, but I immediately want to hit someone.

She comes directly to my table, as directed, and sits down.

“Jamie Medes,” she offers with her hand stuck out.

“How did you find me?” It’s always the first question I ask, but it’s the first time I’m burning for an answer.

“Does it matter?” she asks. There’s a bite in her tone that tells me she’s tougher than even she knows.

“As a matter of fact, yes, it does.”

Jamie shifts in her seat, visibly uncomfortable. “Friends of friends.”

I hate that answer, and I sigh hard so she knows it. Her gaze wanders.

“Look, I don’t know what you heard but I’m not a hitman and I don’t fuck around with minors so I can’t beat up your prom date or whatever.”

Her glare comes at me like a speeding bullet and I see her chest begin to heave. Her entire demeanor hardens and I realize I’m way off base.

“Hey, I’m sorry. It’s just, you’re not my typical client. I’m a little thrown here. I don’t know what to think.”

“So don’t think. Ask.” She holds my eyes and I can’t help but smile. I gesture for her to go on, and she does. “I’ve been involved in a couple – incidents. Traumas, I guess.” Now she looks away again. “Cards down, I’m having some trouble with PTSD, and all the therapy and pills in the world won’t give me what I need.”

“And what’s that?” I recognize her now, from the news. The sole survivor of a home invasion, and later a witness to a bank robbery. She took two shots to the arm.

“Protection. I want you to train me. I know it’s not what you usually -”

“Yes,” I say. “When do you want to start?”

“Well,” she bites her lower lip, “how much -”

“No charge.”


“A young girl like yourself is entitled to safety. No charge. I do have one rule though.”

“What’s that?”

“No slacking. Now let’s get out of here before you get carded.”

I never tell her that I know who she is, but I assume she figures I do. Either way, it seems like a courtesy worth extending. We train three times a week and the greatest improvement I see by month two is her confidence when she takes the gun from me. I teach her how to channel that strength that’s been inside of her all along – the strength of a survivor, like me.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen


It started with nothing more than a quizzical glance from the girl next door on a stormy afternoon in September. It was the first time Jackson had seen her, and as he stared – as though marooned on a surreal planet made up of only her eyes – it occurred to him that her sudden appearance that day made perfect sense. If spring was a time of beginnings, it followed that fall would be the dawn of ends. She, he knew somehow, would be his death.

Noticing that he had mysteriously managed to grab her curiosity, if only for a second, Jackson decided to work up the confidence to approach her. He was not typically a shy guy, in fact he was usually downright impulsive, but something told him that this manoeuvre demanded a rehearsal or two. It was the way a simple glance from her seemed to tug at his brain and nestle in his gut like a parasite. She, he knew somehow, was a tumour.

Thanks to the storm, the bus was behind schedule, giving Jackson time to plan his attack. Her alarmingly green eyes, which had passed over him with an undeniable intensity, were now buried in a book. Her small umbrella seemed more protective of it than of her, and heavy droplets were rolling down her head and falling off of her pointed nose as a result. Having no umbrella of his own to offer her, Jackson opted for a more daring approach. He pulled out his phone and dialled a taxi. When it pulled up (luckily, before the bus), he gestured her towards it with a simple, “on me.”

“I’m Jackson,” he said once they were safely seated in the vehicle, which splashed silt up at the passer-bys as it took off.

She eyed him once more, squinting with persistence. Jackson almost worried that she was seeing through his veil of false-ease, but then decided to blame the dark grey day for her carefulness.

“Lianne,” she finally responded.

“Well, Lianne, where are we off to? Ladies first, of course.”

“Well, Jackson, that depends on whether you’re willing to play hookey with me.”

A subtle smirk appeared across her face just as a flash of lightening cracked through the sky. Had he not been stunned by her forwardness, Jackson might have noticed how it revealed a hint of monstrous salacity behind those increasingly haunting eyes. But wasn’t that always the story?

He, she knew somehow, would be just as easy as the rest.

©Shyla Fairfax-Owen

A Penchant for Madness

I’m not quite right. Never have been.

Sometimes, I feel only partially human, as though I might be an Android from a distant world.

Sometimes, I feel only partially present, as though I might be a shadow of a fuller me.

If either of these things were true, I’d be less accountable.

I haven’t quite decided if that’s what I want yet.

And what I want, well, it changes day to day.

If I wasn’t made to be broken, I wasn’t made for anything at all.

Come the day’s end, I just know –

I’m not quite right. Never will be.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©