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“I died?” said Lachlan. “What do you mean I died?”

Lachlan had resumed his walk beside Sam and the back of the group, although he was looking back over his shoulder a lot more now.

Sam was still missing his singlet, but he had his jacket on again. Much to Mrs. Sharma’s impatience, Sam had turned away from the group without a word soon after regaining consciousness. He’d entered a nearby shop and returned moments later with the jacket over his arm, shrugging and saying “My neodymium magnets were in the pocket. They’re extremely rare and valuable.”

Lachlan had almost pointed out that he’d seen those magnets in toy shops before, but he’d stopped himself. Sam had just saved his life after all.

“I mean just what I said,” said Sam. “I watched you die, and then something really weird happened to me.”

Lachlan frowned. After all the weirdness he’d seen in this place, he wasn’t ready to discount what Sam was saying, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense.

“What do you mean something weird happened to you? And how exactly did that lead to my miraculous resurrection?”

“It wasn’t a miraculous resurrection,” said Sam. “Let me finish explaining. Do you remember your theory from earlier about me?”

Sam didn’t look at Lachlan as he spoke, instead, staring ahead of them over everyone else’s heads as though he was staring miles into the distance. He looked lost, but at the same time, he carried himself with so much more composure than before. His expression was distant, but his posture was confident as he strode forward, never glancing down.

“That something very weird is going on with you?”


“And I’m guessing whatever happened to you has proven my little hunch?”

“At this point, it’s not even a theory or a hunch. Something really weird happened to me.”

Lachlan tried not to let his concern show on his face.

“Something besides the obvious newfound powers of flight and swordsmanship, I’m assuming.”

“Yeah,” said Sam.

“And are you going to tell me what that something is?”

“It was…” Sam paused, closing his eyes. “It was hard to explain. You were lying there, covered in your own blood, and Mrs. Sharma said you were dead, but I had this overwhelming sense that I could save you. It was like my instincts took over and I started walking. I don’t understand it, but I traveled through time.”

“So what? You have the power to manipulate time now?”

“I don’t think I was manipulating it. I was just moving through it, as easily as we’re walking down this road right now.” Sam frowned. “Well, almost as easily. It felt really weird.”

“What did it feel like?”

“Kinda like falling backwards, but you never hit the ground.”

“Ah,” was all Lachlan could think to say.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Sam. “I don’t know how it could have happened. I was defying so many laws of physics. How could I have survived outside of time? There was no air movement, no heat… How could my body systems have functioned? Maybe you were onto something with that mad-scientist brain-in-a-jar theory. It’s the only way any of this adds up.”

“If you want my opinion, there are three possibilities,” said Lachlan. “The first is that our mad scientist friend has decided to really live up to his title.”

“What are the other two?”

“Well, one possibility is that there was some sort of shield or temporal barrier protecting you,” said Lachlan.

“Interesting. I wonder how something like that would even work,” said Sam. “What’s your third option?”

“That you changed,” said Lachlan. “That something transformed you on a fundamental level.”

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