A Stitch in Time
Was it only yesterday? Sam check her clock, but it wasn't much help, good for time but not the date.
"Are you feeling Okay?"
Sam looked up from the recipe book she had placed on the kitchen bench, she hadn't paid much attention to the recipes, or page, she was looking for something, only she couldn't find what she was looking for.
"Sam!," said Bruce.
"Yeah, Yeah, I'm Okay."
"Your quiet, and you've been looking at that page for an hour."
"Have I? Maybe I should take a walk for a while, clear my head."
Bruce studied Sam, he was worried about her, worried that the move he had to make to keep his job had left Sam without any friends close by. He wanted to walk to with her, but sensed that there was something she had to work out for herself. Something happened yesterday.
"While you're out, can you find the Sam that left yesterday? And you might want to return this milk to the supermarket, it's gone off. I found the docket in the bin, still good, but they will have to excuse the teabag stain."
"I'll do my best." Sam smiled. Taking the bag with the milk and docket, She collected her coat and shoulder bag from the hall stand. I would like to find the Sam that left yesterday too, Sam thought, and the milk I bought yesterday should be good. She looked at the use before date on the plastic bottle, there were seven days to go.
Sam left their third floor flat, walked down the stairs and opened the door to the street. It would be quicker if she cut down the back alley, she stopped, that was what she had thought yesterday.
"Warning. Warning," screamed a mechanical voice. "Catcher CattB12 contamination clearance ordered, Bots to control room asap."
"The milk!" Sam watch as the white liquid spread on the metal floor of the craft. A finger was busy tapping a red circle. "I know, I know, get the bubble into the red circle. I was here yesterday."
"Bot clean that mess up," said JacZ, he pointed to the white liquid on the floor. Sam suspected that the bot did not see or need the pointing finger to find the problem. "Sam, grab the joystick, get the bubble into the circle."
"Nit Fizz. Warning. Nit Fizz."
Sam tightened her grip on the joystick. Closed her eyes, held her breath and mentally crossed her fingers. One of the bots squealed. The joystick moved and so did her feet. She opened her eyes to a smoking bot, and released her breath, and wish she hadn't, the smell of frying bot was worse that stale milk.
"Eye on circle, eye on circle," said JacZ.
"Okay for you to say," said Sam. "You have magnetic link to the floor."
"Bot anchor Sam."
Sam watched a bot scoot towards her, two of its top segments opened like a sports stadium roof. Only the bot released a metal claw from the opening. Slow and steady the claw floated towards her feet. She tried to kick the claw away but kicking at the claw swung her feet over her head in a somersault. On the downward swing she felt the claw grab her left ankle. The bot reeled Sam in till her feet were on the floor.
"Eye on bubble. Bubble in red circle." The voice vibrated her cells and sent shivers down her spine.
"I've done this before, and I thought the patch you did the last time I was here was all that was needed."
"Had a filament snap, just before the patch set. And I didn't do the job, would have worked if I had."
"You look the same as yesterday, your arm is fixed."
"That was JacM, and his arm is not fixed."
"Pardon. There are two of you."
"Twenty six, in this quadrant. Something has unsettled the equations that hold the code to everything, JacM and JacZ are only units left to patch, support is due soon, but is having trouble due to the filament snap.
"Your JacZ." said Sam. Duh, thought Sam as she looked at JacZ's chest where there was a large 'Z' on the human looking something. Sam did not have a word for what she was looking at.
"Eye on the bubble. Bubble in the red circle." Not one for conversation either thought Sam. Better get this over with. Sam concentrated as she nudged the bubble into the red circle. The instant the bubble hit the centre she felt her body drop. The bot next to her left foot tightened it's claw. She wanted to kick the bot to the furthest corner of Catcher Catt12 but found the thread that attached the claw to the bot was solid. She could not lift her foot a millimetre.
"Keep your eye on the bubble," said JacZ.
"Jac!" Sam dropped the letter, there was something that he wasn't telling her. "What happened? "JacM had it all patched."
"You stay, keep your eye on the bubble."
"I will let go of the joystick if you don't tell me what is going on." She would not float, she realised, she was anchored to the bot who had a magnetic link to the craft. "How long do I just hold the joystick."
"How long is a piece of string?"
"Oh great, so you don't know."
"Time here is not the same as time from where you come."
"That might work for you, but even here in the land of no time, I can feel time passing, I am not built for infinity. You need to fix the problem." Sam pause to keep an eye on the bubble in the red circle."
"It is not that simple, the thread, the filament it snapped. I do not have enough of your words to say, could I dock with you circuits?"
"If it means that I can go back home." Sam did not want to 'dock' with this gadget, and she did not want to spend forever holding a joystick keeping a bubble in a red circle. She had been doing too much of that sort of thing lately, maybe she should buy a goldfish, or two and a large tank. If she got home. She hoped goldfish were a pet the landlord could live with. At least she would not be alone when Bruce went to work.
"Prepare to sync," said JacZ as he moved his hands towards Sam's head.
Sam kept her eye on the bubble, and felt Jac place his hands around her head. Her head hurt for a couple of seconds, as JacZ formed a network sync with her. Sam jerked when she heard JacZ's voice buzz in her head, keep looking at the bubble, make sure the bubble is in the red circle.
"So what went wrong? said Sam."
"I will show you."
In her mind Sam began to see grids, that formed into loops. There was a tear in the middle. A rectangle of similar looking grids and swirls was moved to cover a gap in the grid. Sam was sure she had seen something like that before. Where? The pattern was familiar. Sam followed the thread, traced the loops. And then she saw the loops spread, and part.
An object moved towards the weave, closer, until Sam knew that the object would hit the weave, the weave bulged, and then flicked back, flinging the object back into the space, it had come from. Another object came into view crashing against similar objects. Some turned to dust, others changed direction and headed out into the space on the other side of the weave and others slipped through the gap.
"They come in groups, normally the weave can cope, but the patch that JacM put in did not."
"I think I can understand, the weave needs to be weave, it looks like my knitting, stocking stitch. I think the thread needs to be grafted, the seam that knitters use to sew socks together. When the seam is finished you can't see where the seam was sewn closed, the fabric looks continuous."
"Think what you say, I can see and test."
Sam thought about the seam, she worried that she could not remember the instructions properly, she had only knitted two pairs of socks and each time she had needed the instructions for grafting the toe seam, one stitch at a time.
"That will work," said JacZ. Just a moment. Done. You are release." JacZ removed his hands and the bot's claw released from her ankle. "I am sorry but we cannot return that white liquid you were carrying."
A bot bumped into Sam's foot. She looked down to see that it held her shoulder bag. Sam picked her bag up. "It's okay about the milk, I can get some more . . ."
Sam wasn't sure, she wanted, she hoped she would go home, she didn't even know if she was anywhere at all, at this particular moment.
"I have organised that you are paid for your service to the universe, it is in your bag, you have served above and beyond."
Sam tripped over something in the pavement. Just missing the blue bin. Her bag landed next to her left ankle on the pavement, the word SORRY echoed inside her head. She bent over to pick her bag up off the pavement. Bruce would not be happy about the milk she needed to buy. The budget was tight.
She opened her bag to make sure her purse was still there, she had memories in her head, that she did not understand, and she did not remember placing the large envelope in her bag either.
The type on the envelope said, 'thanks for your help.' Inside was a fistful of $50 notes. Sam flicked the notes, there were thousands. "The money is legit, your kind lose a lot of notes, the bots are good at sniffing and finding, and I hope it is enough for your inconvenience. Thanks again."
Sam turned and looked behind her, then to her left and then to her right, and then she looked down the alley looking for the owner of the voice. She couldn't see anyone. She looked up towards the small bathroom window, of the flat, where she had lived for three months. The fire escape door, that led to nowhere, a place, that was in her head, it wasn't the flat, it was what she had made of where she lived.
Sam turned, she would not walk down the alley, strange things happened every time she thought about the short cut. She wanted to take the long way to the supermarket, buy some more milk, sign up for the photography course, she had always wanted to be a photographer, but had never had the time or money. Now with a fist full of dollars she could buy a nice camera, and maybe a computer.
She had put a stitch into time, she realised. She would tell Bruce that she had grabbed an opportunity, hopefully one that did not return, and now she was grabbing another, she was going somewhere.