‘Take a good look at the time. It’s the third already. The price can’t stay cheap with demand this high.’
The slight movement of their mouth sent ripples echoing through the blubber that encased their body. The low grumbling of words was barely audible, but Anya would’ve been able to make out what they had said even if she were deaf. She took a moment to consider her response, but discarded her reservations and spoke freely. ‘At least it’s not gathering dust anymore. Isn’t that why you gave it away, so it could be useful to someone?’
A deep rumbling announced the Chef’s eruption. ‘A shared burden is useful to nobody!’ The horns that shaped a beard under their chin glowed as red as their tongue, which whipped out bile with every word it was touched by. ‘Careless use is not what I gave it away for!’
Anya had taken a few steps back to avoid a literal tongue-lashing. Though shards of glass from the broken watch in her hand had pierced her skin due to her tightened grip, she didn’t dare look away from her lender. A clever response popped up in her mind, and she had to fight not to speak it.
‘But…’ the Chef spoke contrastingly calmly, ending Anya’s internal struggle, ‘I suppose the contract does state it is your unholy toy to play with.’ They swept a handkerchief over the drops of bile on their suit, but all it did was add to the smears that were already there. ‘Understand, however, that repairs will get costly. Prudence… is advised.’
‘So,’ she spoke, attempting to put up an air of confidence, but not sure if she was succeeding, ‘What is the price this time?’
A crescent grin of jagged fangs grew on the Chef’s face as they finally spoke clearly. ‘Samuel’s head.’
‘I’m pretty sure… we need that guy.’ Anya responded, her voice giving off both reluctance and determination. ‘I can’t just–’
The Chef gently bounced up and down, the sloshing of their fat drowning out the sound of their laughter, if it was even there to begin with. ‘I’m pretty sure…‘ they mimicked mockingly, ‘That my troubles end where yours begin. Moreover, time is not on your side.’
The Chef was right. Anya looked around her, seeing nothing she hadn’t spotted in her last couple of hours. A bustling marketplace, traders earning fair coin, children playing in the plaza. But the people didn’t move, everything of value had been stolen, and the kids’ ball still hadn’t hit the ground. Things had been like this since Anya smashed the pocket watch. For everyone in the world, it hadn’t even felt like a second yet. But for her, she could already feel endless time weighing on her shoulders.
‘Summon me again when the price has been paid. The Timestopper won’t mend itself.’
Hope you enjoyed that!