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SUNDIAL SHARES: A Short Story by Katie Alerte and Art by Morgan Moss

Katie Alerte
Based on the prompt: You are a time traveler and have been stuck in the Roman Empire for years. On the Ides of march of 44 BC after Caesar has been assassinated, you hear someone say, “This is so sad Alexa play Despacito”

I have to talk to him.
It’s stupid, it breaks protocol, and I might be killed if I do so, but I have to.
A crowd has gathered in the town square and people yell and cheer. Some happy at the death of their ruler and others terrified as to what it means for the fate of the empire. I should be among them, trying to blend in as best as a can, but the sound of those words, that stupid meme that always made me cringe when I heard it in the hallways at school, makes my hair stand on end. (Click on headline to continue reading)
 
My family is part of a league of superheroes known as The Agency. Each of us has separate powers that allow us to keep the world in order when regular humans can’t figure things out for themselves.
And I, well, I’m a time traveler. Ever since I was little, I’ve been moving back and forth across decades and millenia to make sure historical events happen in the way they were intended to. When, I was five, I took down the man who was going kill John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. This time, I’ve been sent back in time to make sure Caesar was assassinated, and my work, as it seemed, was done. Caesar had been killed. People felt however they did about it; it didn’t matter to me. At this point, I normally would’ve hightailed it back to wherever I was staying to get into contact with my superiors and go home--this was what I was expected to do, it was that protocol I’d mentioned earlier--but I just couldn’t.
As far as I knew, I was the only member of The Agency with the ability to manipulate time. If that was true, then how on earth had this man--I tried inconspicuously to peer over my shoulder, he was more of a boy honestly, maybe around my age--who knew about that stupid meme and knew modern English managed to end up in 44 BC.  
Unless...It couldn’t be. Long ago, my mother told me a story of one of The Agency’s oldest members, a man who, while lying on his deathbed, disappeared. The thing with this man, though, was that nobody’d known what his powers were. Both of his parents had had powers, super strength--boring, I know--and the ability to control water, which practically guaranteed that their son, would too, but he’d grown up believing he was ordinary. The story of this man had, for the most part, been kept on the down low, with it only being told to those who had abilities that could potentially be used to contact him. My mother, who could convene with the dead, had been told when she was young and had tried all of her life to establish a connection with the guy, and I knew that I too would one day be put to work to try to get into contact with him. The Agency didn’t just lose people like that, and if word got out that we’d been unable to discover someone’s powers, our organization stood the chance to lose all of its credibility.
I allowed myself one more glance over my shoulder. The boy was still there, standing with a couple others on a pedestal allowed him to overlook the crowd. In less than a second, I’d made my decision, quickly--a bit too quickly, I almost knocked someone over--I turned and made a direct beeline towards him.

Help me up?” I asked in Latin, the language of the time. Almost every time I went on a mission, I was forced to learn a new language in order to blend in. This one still felt incredibly foreign on my tongue.
The boy obliged, and when he held out his hand to me, I allowed him to pull me up onto the pedestal next to him. I didn’t quickly drop his hand though as he might of expected. Instead, I lightly pinched the skin between his thumb and pointed finger, a way for members of The Agency to secretly greet one another.
His eyes flitted over to mine for less than a second. Lowering my voice to a whisper, I started, “Who are you?”
“I could say the same to you,” his response came in perfect English, as I’d thought it would.
For a second, I just looked at him. Revealing my identity was against protocol, too. He must have at least known that.
“Whatever, just listen, okay?” he muttered. “Just before I died, my power manifested itself, and I was reborn to a family in 17th century Zimbabwe, then when I died there, I was in the future. Now, I’m here. I’m on my fourth life, and I don’t know how to break the cycle. I’m not even sure if I want to at this point”
I resisted the urge to allow my mouth to drop open. Part of me wanted to believe that what he was saying was absolutely insane, but then I remembered that I was friends with shapeshifters and people who could turn their blood into apple juice. Was anything actually insane to me?
Slowly, I forced myself to work through all that he had said. Zimbabwe, the future, and now Ancient Rome.
“What do you mean by the future?” I ended up asking, a bit too loudly if I’m being honest. I couple of the Romans turned to look at me--I was speaking gibberish to them, but, luckily for me, they lost interest and turned away.
He furrowed his eyebrows. “I don’t know, maybe late 2018? I died in a car accident on New Year’s Eve then, and now I’m just here.”
“That’s when I’m from,” I said. “Like actually,” I added quickly. “I’m a time traveler, but I can manipulate it on my own, it doesn’t depend on whether or not I’m about to…you know...” I trailed off, not sure if I should mention how many times he had--or hadn’t really--died.
“Yeah, whatever.”
“Wait, why didn’t you ever come back to The Agency?” I blurted out. “We could’ve helped you or at least done something to get you out of this.”
The look he gave me was enough to kill a man. “Do you honestly think I want to go back to those people? You and your little Agency do nothing but mettle in people’s lives and cause them to think that they’re worthless. ”
I opened my mouth to protest, but let any objections die in my throat. Causing a scene wouldn’t be worth it, but maybe if I was able to make him comfortable, convince him that he was safe with me, I’d be able to get rid of this problem once and for all.
It wouldn’t be the first time I had killed.
“I understand where you’re coming from,” I said, trying to sound earnest. It was something I’d gotten pretty good at over the years. “So maybe we should just start over.”
 
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