The Timefang's Prowl

‘Getting old', Vyncor thought, ‘has been my worst decision yet'. He stretched and felt each of the gnarled knots of pain that ran through his back and neck, twisted up like tangled fishing lines. He had done this to himself, of course; everyone knew there was only so much time a man could have.

Vyncor buttoned his rough shirt, groggily making his way down the stairs. His son, Winthrow, was out tending to the livestock, idly chattering at the hogfowl. Vyncor grabbed some toast off the stove and made his way outside to assess the day's chores.

Vyncor eased himself down to a bench near the hogfowl pen and watched as the small birds slowly ate their slop. A light breeze blew past bringing the calming scent of morning dew. The rising sun shimmered softly through the boughs of an old oak tree. As Winthrow sat down next to him, he wondered what he had done to deserve a life as peaceful as this. The sweet moment seemed like it could last forever.

Finally, Vyncor broke the peace. "I need to go to the farrier to purchase some new horseshoes. Can you milk the cattlesnakes while I'm out?"

The question earned him a somewhat delayed eye-roll from Winthrow. Agonizingly, he got to his feet to set out on his morning quest. ‘I am simply getting too old for this -- I wish Winthrow would step up more often,' Vyncor thought with a sigh.

Vyncor wiped the sweat from his brow as he entered the farrier's forge. ‘That road was definitely shorter a few months ago,' he thought with a chuckle, and again regretted getting old.

The forge's dark interior caused Vyncor to squint as he looked over the shelf for the U-shaped shoe sizes he needed. He walked over to the counter near the door, selection in hand, and dropped the bulky pieces of metal with a resonant thud. A voice from behind him called, "Those will be sixty each!"

Vyncor felt a chill run through him. ‘Sixty minutes? Who does this crook think he is?' Frustration twisted in his gut. Last time they had been less than fifteen. Attempting to contain himself, Vyncor instead said, "A fair price, sir. A fair price indeed".

"A fair price, you say?" the farrier lazily replied, "Well, if you want a fair price, I'll give you these for thirty apiece. No need to rob you blind."

A more reasonable unfair price is still an unfair price. Vyncor put on his best bartering voice, "You are kind, but it must have taken hours to make these shoes. Sixty is more than fair."

The haggling took off from there. After just a few minutes, the price came down to a respectable total of twenty minutes. Pulling out their small, angular, brightly glowing life crystals, Vyncor created a time field between his and the farrier's, then walked away twenty minutes older. ‘I could have spent that time better. But,' he chuckled, ‘that's how it always seems'. "May you have many happy moments!" he called in farewell.

"And may the timefang's prowl pass you by!" came the farrier's muffled reply.

Vyncor returned to find his son burning time.

‘That boy should spend his time working, not slacking off!' Vyncor ran over and seized Winthrow's shoulders. Stumbling as he entered abruptly into his son's time field, things blurred slightly as time around him sped up. The leaves on the trees melded together as they shook in the wind, the warmth of the sunlight slightly more intense on his back, the smells of the barn more potent. The euphoria of the sensory overload nagged for him to stop and let go of his thoughts.

Winthrow shouted in surprise, and it was all over in a split second. Time reverted to its normal flow with a loud pop when Winthrow's life crystal clinked to the ground. For a moment, things seemed eerily still. There was a feeling of emptiness as things registered in normal time.

A somewhat disoriented Vyncor stalked away, his son left to shame over the sour moment.

Vyncor grumbled to himself as he was shoeing the turtlehorses, "Ungrateful kid. Comes into this world cutting his mother's time short, then goes wasting his life like he owns the king's trove of centuries." He absently rubbed his wife's life crystal in his offhand.

The hogfowl began to squawk and snort from their pen near the barn. Vyncor turned to see a sputtering Winthrow running toward him. ‘Of course, NOW he has the sense to hustle about and save his time for later,' he thought begrudgingly. ‘Come to apologize, has he?'

Winthrow paused and panted for a moment. He wheezed out words between gasps, "Ti-timefang... near... the b-barn..." Vyncor cocked an eyebrow thinking, ‘There hasn't been a timefang sighting here for decades.' Winthrow's moment of apology would have to wait.

Vyncor snatched a nearby pitchfork as he stumbled out of the stable and, unfortunately, confirmed his son's stutterings. The wolf-like beast was prowling around to the barn door, lean muscles primed to pounce on an unwary victim.

The timefang turned as Vyncor drew closer, eying him with luminescent, flame-red eyes. A low growl began as the beast snarled, revealing the crystal fangs that held stolen centuries; each gave off a glow, far brighter than Vyncor's life crystal. From the barn, the cattlesnakes began to scare — anxiously mooing and rattling their tails.

Brandishing his pitchfork, Vyncor lunged at the beast. The lithe creature twisted out of range of the jab and snapped its jaws in return. Attempting to drive the beast off, Vyncor shouted and stabbed locked in a tense dance of death. With its powerful maw, the barbaric fiend bit off the tip of the makeshift weapon, leaving Vyncor a jagged stake. Age taking its toll, his arm seized up, creating an opening for the beast to sink its fangs into his chest. A time field exploded around the two interlocked beings. Vyncor screamed, growing cold as his time was sapped into the beast's crystalline fangs. Withering by the second, he rammed what was left of the broken tool into the fiend's neck.

Vyncor felt the grip on his torso slacken, and with blurry vision, watched as Winthrow came running from the sanctity of the stable. The weight of years began to smother Vyncor. Looking straight at his sobbing son, his wife's life crystal weighing in his pocket, he muttered slowly with his last ounce of strength, "The moments... I... cherish most... are with... those I love."

With the fading glow of his life crystal, Vyncor's final moment ended.