From the author: A dark fantasy short story exploring the consequences of messing with time. Originally published in Lakeside Circus, it's now only available here or in my collection, Crow Shine.
All the Wealth in the World
by Alan Baxter
The Time-Maker’s expression is serious. I can’t stop looking at her translucent skin. She must be a thousand years old. Her eyes are almost lost in folds, but dark brown irises glisten, bright and sharp, in the tiny gap. “Nothing without a cost,” she says again, voice heavily accented. Eastern European, maybe Russian.
“I know,” I say.
“Do you really? Not just money.”
“Whatever time you give me has to come from somewhere else. I get it.”
The old woman sneers and turns away, busily shuffles among the detritus on her desk. Her tiny apartment is packed with the accumulation of countless years of hoarding. Books and magazines, trinkets and souvenirs, all covered in dust.
She turns back holding a strange device of metal and glass. It’s beautiful, finely crafted and delicate. Cogs and wheels, tiny gears that interact with crystal spheres like miniature bubbles. I’m mesmerised by the craftsmanship of it and gasp when she moves away and sits,...