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A Winifred of Time

by on August 18, 2015

Evinrude was wafting through space as a disembodied consciousness. He wasn’t entirely sure how this had happened. He had been running for his life down a tunnel as a gurgling tentacled Thing charged at him, when quite suddenly he had tripped. Evinrude had expected to be eaten, or possibly driven mad. What actually happened was that the tunnel walls melted away, the Thing vanished, and Evinrude suddenly found himself floating in a dark and silent void.

He waited, for a while, and nothing changed. Evinrude wondered uneasily if this was the afterlife. Perhaps he had been sent there for his sins. The question was, what were his sins? He’d been the crown prince, not the actual king, so he’d never had a chance to influence his country’s policies. The only thing that came to mind was that he’d sent letters bordering on the romantic to Lady Eulalie, while he had been betrothed to Lady Amaryllis. All right, Evinrude admitted, that was pretty bad. True, on the few occasions when he had met with his intended, their conversation had never left the topic of the weather. But perhaps that was his fault. Perhaps he should have made more of an effort to understand her. His conversations had just been so much easier with Lady Eulalie. Still, he had responsibilities. If he could only get back to Maventry, he vowed, he would fix things.

At that moment, a light shone in the void. The figure resolved itself into a woman, who appeared somewhat stressed. “Oh, okay, you’re here. Great. So, who are you, and what do you want?”

“What?” said Evinrude.

“Sorry,” she said, pushing back her hair and consulting a flashcard. “I’m new at this. I used to be Death, you see, but that job got passed on. I’m working Time now. My name’s Winifred.”

“You’re….Time.”

“Yep.”

“I thought Time was an old man with a beard.”

“Well, he was, but he retired, lives in New Florida now. I was between jobs…I hope I’m doing it right?” Winifred consulted her flashcard again. “I’m supposed to ask you the question, and then you answer, and then we review your life history, and then you answer again, and then I send you back. You’re supposed to get a moral out of this!” she added, helpfully.

“Well,” he began, “I’m Evinrude, and what I want is to get back to where I came from.”

“Er, that’s not quite how it works…” Winifred attempted to explain again, thinking that perhaps she had not been clear. “See, you’re supposed to reflect more deeply, consider your life choices-”  She brightened. “Why don’t we do that, then? You need to replay your life history! Roll film!”

A blur of images shot past. Evinrude got a vague glimpse of fire. Then all was dark again. “The projector’s messed up!” Winifred exclaimed in dismay.

“I’m so sorry,” Evinrude said. “Can I go now?”

“But… but you’ve got to learn something. It’s not right if you don’t learn something, and I meant for you to, but then the projector broke, and…”

Evinrude sighed. “Fine. Is there a way you can repair the, ah, projector?”

“Maybe if I asked Milton? He’s War, so he knows a bit about tech…”

“Maybe you should.”

“Great!” Winifred said. “Back in a flash!” She disappeared, leaving Evinrude to waft in the void again. After some time, the images appeared again, much slower this time. Evinrude saw his life play out before him. Only Winifred, in an effort to be as helpful as possible, hadn’t just included the parts that he knew. She had included everything. 

Evinrude saw Philip of House Shirley make the arrangement to have Eulalie flamed by a dragon. He saw Philip murder Amaryllis and use her death as pretext for a war. He saw himself asking Rowena for help, and Rowena sending him to his death to cover the truth about her father. He saw Philip becoming king of his country, and Rowena becoming Prime Minister. He saw Maxwell Valerian abandoning him to certain death in the cave. Then, when he had seen everything, Evinrude knew exactly what he wanted.

When the replay was done, Winifred reappeared. “Okay!” she said, producing her flashcards again. “It’s time to talk about what we learned today! So, who are you, and-”

“I am Evinrude, rightful king of Maventry. And I want it back.”

Note: this is a continuation of Evinrude’s story arc, which you can find here.

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12 Comments
  1. Cheney permalink

    Interesting. I didn’t really know what was going on at first because I’ve never read anything with these characters in it before, it seemed like it was a continuation of something, but by the end I got how Evinrude tricked her, tricked Time, and that was cool. Even if this is a part of a longer story it’s nice that there’s a little something interesting for new readers.

    • This is a continuation of a prior story arc; I realized that I left off the note I usually put at the end explaining that. I do try to make it work relatively well for people who hadn’t read the prior entries, make it somewhat self-contained and so forth. I’m still working on getting that right. 🙂

  2. Hello! Love the names you have chosen. I always struggle with finding original ones that suit & help to frame my characters! This piece is quite long but I’m guessing this is because it’s a scene extracted from a longer work? I felt that there was a strong comedic undertone – I hope I picked this up correctly! Good job.

    • You did pick up the tone correctly; while I meant for Evinrude’s intention at the end to be taken somewhat seriously, I meant Winifred to be comedic (yet sympathetic). I struggle with names too, I admit. 🙂 I don’t remember where I got Winifred from, but Evinrude I got from Disney’s The Rescuers.

  3. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    Really nice job of showing Winifred’s character. I loved the opening line, and appreciated the film-recap at the end, very clever. 🙂

    • Thanks. 🙂 I try to use the word wafting often. It’s a nice word, like marina, smock, and rapscallion.

  4. I like the juxtaposition of the flaky Winifred struggling in her new job versus the Evinrude at the end – fiercely determined to regain his kingdom.

    • I don’t know if I deliberately meant to create that juxtaposition, but, now that you mention it…it worked out interestingly. 🙂

  5. Love the L’Engle allusion. I also enjoyed the review of the events in Evinrude’s story arc. Getting excerpts once a week isn’t enough for me to remember major plot points. You have yourself a universe that rivals George R.R. Martin.

    • I need to start doing a “last time, in The Tales of Evinrude” intro, although that does eat into the word count. 🙂

      I very much appreciate the compliment, though I hope my universe isn’t quite as bleak as Martin’s. (of course, I’ve already got two people murdered by dragon and arrow respectively, so….)

      • It’s not. I just meant in terms of scope. I’d liken your style and tone more to Chistopher Moore.

      • I haven’t read his work, alas. I have read the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, and two of Terry Pratchett’s works. I intend to read the rest of Discworld, after I finish my current read-through of Brandon Sanderson’s stuff.

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