“What in the name of the Empire are those?”
“One, will you quit with the Empire, two, you’re the brains, you tell me,” Jason moved closer to one of the figures. They were perfect human forms but you could see nothing of them. The one nearest him lifted an arm. Quickly he backed away as the bizarre, watery limb reached for him. The arm carried on its movement undeterred. It looked like a body of water dancing in front of him.
“It’s not reaching for me,” Jason muttered.
“This one, it moved but it’s not reaching for me,” he paused and looked to where the arm was reaching for. The hand was moving but the refraction of the light made it hard to make out what it was doing. “It’s not even reaching for something here. But it’s definitely doing something.” Sheridan picked his way over foliage that carpeted the ground to get a closer look. Jason noticed him inspecting the floor as he moved.
“Notice the footprints?”
“They’re mine,” Jason shrugged.
“Exactly,” Sheridan smiled in a thoroughly infuriating way. “And those were the only ones. No other sticks are broken or leaves crushed. You and I are the only ones to approach the figures for some time.” Jason looked to the ground. He was right. No-one else had moved towards them so no-one had put them here, at least not recently.
The figure nearest to them brought their arm back down. The movement was slow, painfully so. As it passed Jason’s face he saw the distortion of the light close up. It was like looking through oil – you could see through it but it didn’t look right. Through the figure he could see the trees that lay beyond but they were bent and curled up, rippling with every movement of the figure.
Jason pushed his sleeve up and looked at his chronometer. He fiddled with some settings at the side and waved his arm in front of the figure. Sheridan looked on expectantly, lifting himself up on to the balls of his feet as he waited.
“Well?” he pushed when Jason said nothing. That couldn’t be right. Frowning, Jason moved to the next figure and did the same. Same result. “What is it While?”
Jason shook his head, shrugging and held his arm out so Sheridan could see the readout.
“Impossible,” Sheridan stomped immediately to the nearest figure and craned his head closer so his nose was nearly touching it. He lifted his head up and down and circled the figure before moving to the next one. Tentatively, he reached his hand out getting as close as he dared to the surface. Static, Jason heard him mutter.
A whistle blew through the trees, drawing Jason’s attention upwards. The sun was beginning to set. It was nearly time to check in with the Ministry. Leaves fluttered down form the canopy, brushing Jason on the shoulder. The movement made him recoil. Damned ghosts were making him edgy.
“Maybe we should go back and bring some more boffins and equipment,” Jason hoped Sheridan didn’t pick up on his unease.
“You were right, they are interacting with something, something that isn’t here,” Sheridan had clearly ignored Jason. Again. “Dear Lord.” Sheridan stepped back suddenly, making Jason reach for his weapon, eyes scanning the surroundings for a threat. “They have been shifted.”
Jason lowered the weapon with a sigh, “Shifted?”
“Out of time,” Sheridan turned to look at him. His eyes were wide with excitement.
“We know what out of time looks like Toby, this isn’t it, trust me, I’d like it to be,” shudders went down his spine as he vividly recalled having the oxygen sucked out of him as he floated in eternal darkness.
“Not outside of time like that, but shifted out of sync,” Sheridan waved his hands around from side to side as if that would make it easier to understand. He always did start waving a lot more when he got excited.
“Like when the audio isn’t right with the picture on the tv,” Jason suggested. “What? Oh your televisual box thing again. Perhaps.” He flicked his hand dismissively. Jason’s eyes narrowed as he took calming breaths. He had promised the Minister he wouldn’t beat him senseless.
“Alright smartypants, how did they get out of sync?”
“I have no idea,” Sheridan shrugged. “I had no idea it was even possible, the only time I’ve heard anything…” He trailed off, his gaze lifting into the distance.
“There was a man who mentioned something like this. I did assess him and well, I thought perhaps he was harmless.”
“Who was it Tobias?”
“Name was Tesla. Nikolai Tesla I believe.”
Written in response to Mid-week Flash Challenge No.125 from Miranda Kate