'Where did that come from?'
I had a Snizzleclapper crawling up my leg.
'Just don't make any sudden movements.'
Well that was reassuring. I could feel each of it's eyes penetrating my soul, searching my memories for a nice juicy one.
'Get it off.'
'I'm not touching it,' said Ian.
'Can't you give it a flick?'
'A flick?' he said, 'you can't just flick a Snizzleclapper.'
I knew. But when you have one crawling up your leg it's not easy to think straight because you know you haven't got long left.
We were all squashed inside the Time Cube. Me, Ian and the Snizzleclapper. Not very comfortable at all and outside it was raining fire again but it was a heat we couldn't feel.
It was on my chest now. Little slimy bastard. I was forgetting things more quickly now. He was half way through my childhood and heading towards my 12th birthday. Soon I wouldn't remember my own name.
I tried to grab hold of it. But it was wriggling in my hands as if my own name was a miniature Snizzleclapper of it's own.
Way too short. Not much to cling on to. Just three letters. Pathetic. Why couldn't mum have given me something longer, something a bit more substantial? William or Alexander. Something I could really get my tongue around.
Mum's name was gone. It went a few minutes ago. The Snizzleclapper had it.
'Awful weather isn't it.'
'Ian,' I said, 'Shut up.'
'Doesn't this thing work?'
It didn't. We were stuck, it was resting.
They eat you see. That's what they do. Snizzleclappers. They eat all of our left over memories, I don't think they do much else. He was eating mine and soon I would be a useless lump of nothing. I've seen what happens to people like me. It's not nice. And once it was done with me, Ian would be next.
Stupid, stupid time cube. I should have checked it before we jumped in. Given it a once over or something and then we would have seen it.
It was on my face. It was crawling close to my eye and Snizzleclapper's love eyes. Eyes are unfortunately considered a bit of a side order. Eyeballs are Snizzleclapper's version of onion rings and french fries.
'Close them,' whispered Ian.
I humoured him but I knew it was a useless gesture. Soon it would be making it's way into my twenties and then it would be all over. I was only 25. My name was gone and Ian' name wouldn't be around for much longer.
'Got to try something, don't move,' he said
'I'll try not to.'
What was he doing?
'Try not to speak Ben, keep still and stay quiet.'
Who was Ben?
At first I had a horrifying feeling that he was kissing me but then I realised exactly what he was up to.
But I didn't have any strength left, the Snizzleclapper was nearly finished with me.
'Tastes like chicken.'
'Why does everything always taste like chicken?' He said.
I was willing the time cube to move. Maybe if we could get back home somebody could stop him. But it had been set for one hour and we had only been here for about twenty minutes.
Outside the rainfire had stopped and the shadow people had returned and were making the most of the precious interval. They wouldn't help us. We were invisible and they were too busy anyway even if they could see us.
He was dead and had taken the Snizzleclapper with him. Stupid sod.
Mum's name popped back.
And small things followed. My first bike, my dog, my surname and then bigger things like my house, my father's smile. My sister. Fragments of my memory that I didn't realise had gone in the first place.
I threw Ian out and closed to door tight before I could be sucked out with him.
I watched him burn.
Nobody could stand 5 seconds on Kipple 9. It had always been an observational visit only, anything else was sheer suicide.
And I waited.
Soon I would arrive back in the bunker. I would need a few days off.
Maybe I would need the rest of my life off but I couldn't stay still for too long. The future of the human race was in my hands now and my hands only. The Snizzleclappers had control of the Earth's past, it's present and it's future. Time cubes were our only means of escape but they were too uncontrollable, too unreliable.
I watched and waited. The Shadow People appeared and disappeared from behind their tall, curved buildings. They were quick. Too quick for me. But they had to be. It would be raining fire again soon and they had things to do. They lived, they breathed, they were oblivious to me and what I had to do next.
(C) Ally Atherton 2014