Patrick Thomas’ “As Time Goes By” tells the story of a super-powered villain who served his time in prison, and then, upon release, dedicates himself to being a good citizen, building a better life to share with his loyal wife, and using his powers only for the greater good. But can a well-meaning ex-con—even with super powers and a mission to do right—ever really escape his past?
To find out, here’s an early look:
As Time Goes By
by Patrick Thomas
It wasn’t every day that a super villain was released from the Gulag Penitentiary. Marcus McGowan had served his time, the irony of which was not lost on the man called the Tempus Fugitive.
Marcus wasn’t a killer, but he had powers. He’d robbed a few banks and jewelry exchanges to finance machines that helped him speed or slow the flow of time. He had the ill fortune of being captured by the Luminary.
Taking a plea deal and returning the money he stole, along with good behavior, got his sentence reduced to three years. But to him, it had been about ten days. He requested solitary confinement and had slowed his time-flow whenever possible, so serving his sentence had been nothing more than a long rest.
None the worse for wear upon release, Marcus walked out into the sunshine and enjoyed his first breath as a free man. By the time he took his second breath, he had company.
Marcus’ eyes hurt just from looking at the glowing man. He reached into his jacket pocket and put on a pair of sunglasses, which helped only slightly.
“Hello, Luminary. Come to threaten me? Make sure I don’t return to a life of crime?”
In the radiance, the man smiled.
“No lecture. What you do with your life is your decision. I am here to wish you good luck and to point out some things that perhaps you hadn’t considered,” the world’s most powerful hero said.
“How I’ll never get away with it, so I shouldn’t even bother? That kind of thing?”
The glowing man chuckled. “You know what I’ve found is the main problem with the Daring who get categorized as villains?
It’s not a lack of creativity. Most of you have that. It’s a lack of vision. Considering what you can do, there is no reason for you to rob a bank.”
“Sure, like money will just fall from the sky.”
“Maybe not, but with your abilities, you could have made it rain.” The Luminary handed Marcus a lump of coal. The Tempus Fugitive looked at his hand, then back at the glowing man. “You working for Santa now, trying to tell me I made the naughty list?”
“Your abilities as a mechanical engineer are impressive. It wouldn’t be difficult for you to rig a device that would duplicate the heat and pressure miles beneath the Earth’s crust.”
“Sure, but what’ll crushing coal get me?”
“What happens to coal under pressure for a billion years?”
Marcus McGowan’s eyebrows brows raised. His pupils got wide. “Diamonds.” He paused a moment to let that sink in. “I could slow the time-flow on the heat and pressure source as I rapid-aged the coal. A billion years would probably take only three years in real time, and if I used a big enough hunk of coal, it would create a diamond worth hundreds of millions. I’d never have to work again. I’d have enough money for three lifetimes. I’m an idiot. I didn’t have to become a criminal. I’d still have Sherri.”
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