The Time Stealers (A short story by Gareth Doble)

The Time Stealers (A short story by Gareth Doble).


The Time Stealers (A short story by Gareth Doble)


By Gareth Doble (© 16.08.2012)

The man moved frantically down the street, beads of sweat pouring off his face despite the cold winter morning air. His eyes looked all at once like that of a cornered jaguar and a tiny rabbit, running from the all seeing eagle. His dark, greying hair hung damp and untamed in his face as he moved.

Even though it was early morning, the rush hour in the central business district of the city had begun and the streets were a literal sea of people, moving in great waves that coincided with the constant high tide of trains and buses, arriving every few minutes, flooding people into the city at the same time every day.

Thousands of people struggled through the crowds to get where they needed to be, yet he seemed to glide through the masses, like a ghost, unnoticed. He knew he wasn’t invisible. It was just that he didn’t seem to fit. Perhaps it was the crazed look in his eyes, or his unkempt appearance and old dirty clothing. He did not know, nor care any more. The people in the crowds saw him, but simply moved away, either looking down or anywhere but straight at him. He was the oil in the great ocean of people flowing through the streets of the city. He picked up his pace, then looked over his shoulder to check if they were following. “No one there.”

Glancing down at his wrist, checking the time he was surprised to notice that he wore no watch, despite repeating this ritual a number of times, every single day. A siren screamed suddenly, above the din of the people and traffic, and the man turned quickly down an alley, pushing himself against the wall and ducking down slightly, out of sight. His eyes darted left, then right, noticing for the first time two men in black suits with dark sunglasses standing across the street. They stood either side of the entrance to the central metro line station, one leant back, leafing through a magazine and the other seemingly on his phone. His glance darted back to his left down the street as the siren grew louder. The police cruiser flashed by in an instant, off down the street and the sirens faded as the city reverted back to its usual hum.

Following the police cruiser with an intense gaze until it was out of sight, he turned his attention back to the two men across the road. His mind raced and his heart rate quickened suddenly.

“I’ve seen them before. They were there that day when the others first came. They work for them, always watching. Like an army of spies, always there somewhere in the shadows,” he spoke in a hushed tone. A woman passed the entrance to the alleyway just as he spoke, pausing for a moment in confusion at the sight of the man at the edge of the alleyway, seemingly talking to somebody crouched beside him. He glared up at her, noticing here staring. She noticed that instead of malice there was genuine fear in his eyes, almost pleading to her for help. They held each others gaze for just a few seconds, before he looked back over the street. His face turned white.

“They’re gone!” he said, gasping as he said it. The two men in black suits who had stood across the street only moment before had disappeared. He stood up, now ignoring the women, looking up and down the busy street searching for the men.

“We’ve got to move now! We have to get out of the city,” he said, still speaking to the companion that only he could see. His head was throbbing and his vision began blurring slightly as his heart pounded in his chest even harder now. His clothes were drenched in sweat as he made his way across the street toward the entrance to the central metro station. He had almost reached the middle of the street when he spotted one of the men again. He was standing beside a news stand, with his back to him, barely thirty feet away. He was rooted to the spot in the middle of the road, frozen. “What the hell? He wasn’t there before. They appear from nowhere,” he said in a whisper to his companion. His mind churned, trying to force his body to move. He glanced to his left, as if looking at somebody. He frowned, the look of terror on his face deepened. “Where are you? Can you hear me? He looked frantically all around desperately searching for his friend.

It was then he was jarred out of his manic daze, by the harsh blare car horns.

“What the hell are you doing, you idiot. Get out the road!” he vaguely heard someone shouting in between the sound of the horns.”

“Its happening again. They’re taking it from me…..” the man spoke out loud to himself now, either ignoring or oblivious to the increasingly angry onlookers and drivers. His gaze whipped back to the news stand, just in time to see the man in the black suit staring straight at him. He removed his sunglasses and his piercing eyes locked onto his own. He could feel him inside his head. Looking to the left he noticed the other man had reappeared and now also moved towards him with the same look in his eyes.

The man turned round to go back the way he had come. The woman was still watching him. Seeing the terror on his face she approached him. “Are you okay Sir? Do you need help?” Her voice sounded so young and innocent. For an instant his heart leapt at the thought of somebody offering him some help. He was on the verge of asking her, before a voice placed doubt in his mind again. “No, no, no, this isn’t right. Its the Time! It’s always the Time! Why can’t any of you see it!” he almost shouted the words at her. Glancing sharply over his shoulder, he saw the two men in suits getting nearer. He turned and began sprinting toward the subway entrance. He bounded down the stairs, turning his head at the bottom just long enough to see the other two men at the top of the stairs, also running now. His heart felt like it would explode in his chest any second. He ran through the subway tunnels, vaguely heading in the direction of the main line platform. People scattered as the crazed man ploughed his way through the crowds.

He turned his head, the two men were gaining on him. He had reached the main platform now, which was heaving with hundreds of commuters, waiting for the imminent arrival of the next train.

He ducked down in the middle of the mass of people jostling for positions on the platform. Scanning the platform he saw no sign of his pursuers. His breathing was heavy, and he tried to slow it down and focus his thoughts now, when he suddenly felt a vice like grip on his arm.

The black suited man leant forward, whispering something in his hear. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. He could no longer hear the sounds of the station, everything silent now, apart from the large electronic clock hanging overhead, the seconds ticked by sounding like pistol shots. He thought he heard the sound of a train signalling its approach into the station.

Then, with one final explosion of energy he sent his free elbow crashing into the other man’s face and broke free from his grip. Running forward now, the only way to go, he was almost at the platform edge and trying to turn and run along the edge. He tripped and stumbled, attempting to stop himself in vain, as he was suddenly falling into an abyss, helpless to stop himself.

A woman’s scream rang out over the platform, as the man disappeared beneath the train. The entire station was suddenly deathly silent for an moment. After a few seconds, the scene was chaos as people rang for help on mass. The older looking man in the black suit stared on, unmoved. He glanced down the platform at the younger man, shaking his head as he put his sunglasses back on, and both left the station, unnoticed by anyone.

A man lay on the tracks in a dark tunnel. Just as he closed his eyes for the last time, he managed a little smile, reflecting on the irony, that in his desperation to defeat those who would steal his time, he now had none left to give. In some way he had won.


My first blog

Good afternoon.

Well I never quite know what to say in these things. Its kind of like writing a letter with the strange feeling that millions of people are watching over your shoulder, or possibly none at all, depending on how paranoid I am!

So, yes, quick intros. My name is Gareth Doble. I am 33 years old, and have finally realised what I want to do with my life. I often think that I’ve done everything the wrong way round, but then again who has the time to worry. Everything happens for a reason. I have a wonderfully supportive partner, Alex who has put up with me for over ten years now. Alex and our two amazing children are a constant source of inspiration and happiness in my life. Alec will be 8 next week and Faye turned 1 on 27th June.

So after working in various jobs (mostly hotel work)  since I left South Africa in 1999, I’ve now decided to turn an occasional hobby and passion into what hopefully will turn out to be a career from which I can support my family doing something I truly love doing.

My first book is set in the world of Areslenia which began as a map doodle in a notebook back in high school, then sat on a shelf gathering dust until recently. Recent events in my life, largely of my own making so I won’t go into too much detail, led to me losing my job. It was at this point that I sat down and thought, wait a minute, what is it that I really want from life. It hit me, I want to be a writer. So I dusted off my notebook and sat down and began writing the story that started as seed somewhere in the back of my imagination, shelved by years of concentrating on other things, some healthy pursuit, some complete wastes of my time.

Book one see’s us being introduced to some of the main characters, including the birth of the two that will be central to the outcome of the story. Magic, indeed all things in Areslenia are based on music, it being the essence of all things in the world and also the universe itself. Whatever form it manifests itself in, all life, energy, power is music and has it own notes, composition, rhythm and timing.

The wizard, Mirithan is part of an ancient order of wizards charged with ensuring the balance of all things of the world. There are two, known as the Seeker and the Searcher, who are the heads of their order. The spirits of the Seeker and the Searcher fade from time to time out of their mortal form and are reborn again into physical form in new bodies. The story begins at the end of a long period of peace which has seen Mirithan’s order without their heads. For the first time in history the Seeker and Searcher are reborn as twins. Their birth coincides with the return of an ancient enemy, seeking to restore their empire and dominion over the free people’s of Areslenia. The enemies actions, forever alters the natural balances and threatens to  plunge the world into turmoil. The fates of Arianna and her brother Shilah are uncertain as their lives now follow very different paths, both directly tied to the fate of the world.

Book one ends with a great uncertainty for Mirithan, his order and the people of Areslenia.

Check out my website if you wish. Sample chapters are available.!ahome/mainPage

I was thinking today about donating all proceeds of the first book to a local charity. I would love to know other people’s opinions on this. I mean I’d love to make a load of money from writing eventually, but need to become known first. What do you think? Would this be a good way to do it? Get in touch.

Thanks for reading guys. Hopefully I will get better at blogging and time goes by. Comments/advice Good or bad will be welcome

Gareth Doble 28.07.12

Map of Areslenia

World map of Areslenia