Time Matrix: Part Two

"Time Matrix Part 2"

By D.K. Smith

If you haven't read the beginning of this story yet then click here for part 1.


Society has been usurped by new technological devices called Time Matrixes. Invented by Professor Alfred T. Witherspoon, the Time Matrix is a handy, portable device designed to influence a person's perception of time. Suddenly ten hours can seem like one. . .or one can seem like ten, or any other conceivable variation. Many people thought that the inception of Time Matrixes would revolutionize modern society.

They did: society collapsed. Employers started regulating their employee's perception of time, causing unrest. During off hours employees had too much time to think and to agitate. Thus, society crumbled and at present is divided into three realms. The story begins in one of these realms, the desert, in a middle of a gang war between the Princes and Princesses.

Meet Tyler and Rosalie. The only common thread between them now is that Tyler and Rosalie need to make love and have a child. If they do not, humanity will be destroyed. Or so said an aging Professor Witherspoon, who somehow thought that Rosalie and Tyler's son would become a "Guardian of Time."

Unfortunately, Rosalie and Tyler belonged to rival gangs. They fought over the Professor's time machine, causing the Professor's death in the process. Tyler managed to wrestle possession of the time machine from Rosalie, yet while making his getaway he had an unpleasant encounter with Rosalie's gang. Seriously wounded, Tyler used the time machine to travel five years into the past to escape further harm, and "there", or "when", he meets Rosalie again, as she was five years ago, just before she joined the Princess Tribe. Maybe now, Rosalie would be willing to help him.

Or maybe not.

Rosalie sat in a ring of fire.

The desert was very cold, and she sat alone, arms crossed over her chest. The ritual black and white initiation dress she wore was a little thin for the desert night, despite the bowlfires. Beyond the flames, the Princesses prepared for the ritual which would make Rosalie a Princess.

"You're a fool!" said Tyler.

He was tied to a stake beyond the bowlfires. Evidently he was in great pain, and she was surprised he could even speak. His leg was broken, and been untreated for hours. "Rosalie. . ."

She had found him alone, lying wounded on the desert sand. She had been trying to help him when Princess Ryanna had seen her, and Princess Ryanna had not been pleased.

"You're a fool. . ."

The Princesses had decided to leave Tyler alone--after tying him to a stake and posting him outside her ring of fire. Now he died slowly from exposure and shock, marring her otherwise perfect initiation ceremony. She had known that the Princes were their mortal enemies. Why had she been helping one?

"Rosalie. . ." Tyler babbled. "Rosalie, these women will betray you, I saw them. They'll just run over you while you're lying helpless on the ground. . ."

In exasperation she closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the future. Soon, she would have a Matrix. The Matrix, a symbol of power: it was all she had ever wanted, to have power over something, anything. Her lips turned upward as she fantasized about what her life could--would-- become.

A long moment of silence, then slowly her eyes opened. She looked over her shoulder, to see Tyler's head hanging limply over his chest.

The image was somehow foreboding. She looked away, to the roaring, hellish flames. "Power," she said, shaken. "I just want power. . ."

One of the Princesses stepped between the large bowls set in the desert sand. The bowls' gas burners were set high, igniting the flames to roaring heights, and the woman was framed by fire. In her hands she held a small, gleaming dagger.


"Y-yes, Sister?"

"Will you swear allegiance to the Tribe of Princesses?"

"Yes, I will, Sister."

"Will you consecrate this allegiance with sacrifice?"


"Yes what?"

"Yes I. . .will, Sister," she said, hoping her trembling was not visible.

The Princess approached, lowering the blade. Rosalie sucked her breath. She smelled the other woman as she knelt before her. The woman raised the dagger, and polished it carefully it on her leather armbands, her long, stringy blond hair falling onto the desert sand. The blade looked wicked and sharp. The woman's blue eyes would not leave her's. "Are you sure," she said, raising the blade, "That you want to do this?"

Rosalie gritted her teeth. "I do."

The woman gestured at Rosalie's bosom. "You won't get it back."

With fumbling fingers, Rosalie opened her blouse. "Just do it."

The woman smiled. "Ya got guts," she said. Suddenly the woman pressed her hand into Rosalie's. Rosalie looked down with surprise; the woman had pressed a pill into her hand.

Rosalie stammered. "Take it, now!" the woman hissed. "It will help dull the pain later."

"But-but I thought--"

"Take it! Before someone notices!"

Rosalie gulped the pill.

"Now close your eyes."

Rosalie closed her eyes. I will not cry out-- Rosalie swore to herself, I will not--

She screamed. Her cry flew over the desert like a coyote's howl.

Five minutes later Rosalie held rags over her bosom while tears fell from her cheeks. The woman closed her first aid kit, rose and without any further effort at consolation, walked stiffly away. She paused at the flame border; "Will give you five minutes," she said. "By then the pill should have kicked in."

Rosalie squeezed shut her eyes and fought the pain. She had trouble believing what she had just done. "Why?" she had asked. "Why do you cut someone before they can join the Sisterhood?"

"It's a mark," she had been told. "A sacrifice showing strength. If you can get through this, you can get through anything."

They had just cut off the nipple of her left breast. And right now all she felt was , raw, red pain--and rage. Desperate rage. But it was the last time, she swore. It was the last time anyone would hurt her, ever. Once she got a Matrix, she would learn to be invulnerable, this was the last time.

Slowly, though, the pain ebbed. She had not expected the pill. Perhaps Princess Ryanna was kinder than she had thought. . .

She heard a commotion beyond the flames. Looking slowly upward, she saw several distant men: from the tatoos on their biceps, she could tell that they were Princes. Already the women were gathering at the camp's perimeter. "Hey," called one blond lady, cocking her automatic shotgun, "This is an initiation. This is neutral turf, ya' pricks."

One of the men shouted something, yet Rosalie was unable to understand the words. So she closed her eyes again. The pill was causing all traces of pain to vanish. In some ways, the lack of pain was a form of pleasure itself.

Suddenly she felt as if someone were staring at her. She opened her eyes.

He stood outside the bowlfire ring. To avoid the angry princesses who guarded the perimeter he maintained a careful distance of several feet. His companions were further away, and clustered together, so apparently he was less cautions than most. He grinned at her. The black wires of a Matrix curled round his ear, and its trademark visor looked like fancy sunglasses over his eyes.

She crossed her arms more tightly over her bosom. "Who's on the stake?" the Prince called lazily.

"Some prick like you," warned one of the Princesses, raising her shotgun. "And if you take one step closer. . ."

"This is neutral territory, sister," he said.

"One step closer!" the Princess almost screamed.

"I just want to know the name of my dead brother, " he replied, never losing his grin.

"If you don't leave--"

"His name is Tyler," Rosalie said loudly.

"Really?" the man said. "Wow. That's my name, too."

"Back!" one of the Princesses shouted. "Back, back, BACK!"

The man's gave the threatening woman an insulting gesture and laughed at her flash of rage. Turning his back on her, he left with a most arrogant swagger.

"If we weren't in neutral territory," the blonde snarled. "If we weren't in neutral territory!"

"Can I get my Matrix yet?" Rosalie asked plaintively.

The blonde whirled. "And when will YOU learn to SHUT UP!" Rosalie looked downward, meekly. "You damned idiot! We don't associate with them!"

"I'm sorry, Princess Diane," said Rosalie in her smallest voice.

"Yeah, whatever." A brief silence, before Diane said, "Denise? Get her a damned Matrix."

A hefty woman thrust herself between the flaring, dancing flames. "I'm here, I'm here," the lady huffed. "I think I've got just the thing for her, too."

"Whatever." The blonde turned to glare into the darkness.

Denise waddled toward Rosalie and knelt with a groan. "Oh, child!" she sighed, "I know it hurts." She shook her face, wobbling jowls. "Here, here, let Momma have a look." Denise put her hand in Rosalie's, and again, Rosalie discovered a small pill.

"Princess Ryanna already gave me one," she said. "I don't feel anything, right now."

"Did she?" Denise blushed. "Well. . .I didn't know if she did. I'm glad."

"I thought the whole point of this stupid ritual was to see if I was strong enough to a Princess," Rosalie said bitterly. "So why are you all giving me pain pills?"

Denise hesitated. "Well, we do want to see if you're strong enough," Denise said. "But the pill doesn't take effect until after the cut is made, and even with the pill. . .well, we aren't heartless," Denise finished finally. "It's more the Queen's edict that ours. She says that only those who have survived a ‘baptism' of pain are strong enough to join. We agree. . .sort of."

"Why didn't you just give me a mission?" Rosalie asked. "Like bring you a man's balls or something."

"Because in order to fight a matrixed opponent, you have to have a Matrix yourself," Denise explained gently. "And using a Matrix is a skill which must be learned, and that takes time. Matrixes are rare, and valuable. If you couldn't cut it, we loose you and more importantly, we might loose a Matrix. The tribe can't afford losses like that. But the same time we try to give some comfort for the sacrifice." Denise shook her head. "I know it hurts, I know, I know. Look, we have a few minutes. Why don't you tell me why you're really joining the Tribe?"

After a moment, Rosalie raised her chin high. "I'm not just a village person," she. "I'm a warrior, a warrioress. I don't want to be helpless, like my Mother and Father. I want to be strong, I want to have power, so no one can ever hurt me again."

"Ah, child, so you think the Matrixes give you power, hmm?" Denise sighed. "Unfortunately, they might give you too much power. You really joined for the Matrix, I bet. They all do. They only tolerate ole' Momma because she has a way with Matrixes. It's always ‘Denise, get over here!' or ‘Denise, something's wrong!' So who hurt you, child?"

"No one!" Rosalie snapped. "No one's ever hurt me, and no one ever will! Now where's the Matrix?"

"Shh, child, shh--no need to shout at old Momma. How old are you?"

"Nineteen. Where's my Matrix?"

Slowly, Denise rose, and with an intent expression, she strode to the stake on which Tyler's body was fastened. With deliberate, expert hands, she removed--click, snap--the Matrix from his body. "Now here's a good one," she said. "Here's a good one indeed. He must have been one fine warrior, this one, to have warranted such a good piece of equipment. I'd say he had a lot of power." Denise looked at Rosalie. "Did you kill him?"

"No," she said, more emphatically than she had intended. "No, I just found him, in the middle of the desert. He just sort of appeared there, actually. One second, there was nothing--the next he was there."

"And he was already wounded?"

"Yes. I tried to help--I--I--"

Denise's face hardened. "You tried to help a man?" she said coldly.

"W-why!" Rosalie stammered. "He reminded me of someone--Why so much hatred toward men? Not all men are bad. Maybe most, but not all. I can understand forming a sisterhood--but why waste so much time on hating men? My father--the only man I really knew--he was always kind to me."

Denise returned to Rosalie's side. "When a matrix is used to speed up time," she said. "The body's reaction times are affected. Now a matrix only affects a person's perception of time, not the pace of time itself. Yet if one's perception of time is increased, in many ways time's actual speed begins to make little difference."

"I don't follow you. What does this have to do--"

"Be quiet and let ole' Momma talk. When people are bored, time seems to pass real slow, right? So their heart slows down. Their temperatures gets lower. Its just a plain fact that mood affects the body functions. Well, mood affects the perception of time as well. If you're excited, your hearts pounds, your temperature rises, you move around quickly and anxiously, and time might seem to pass faster. So when you speed up your perception of time with a Matrix, your body's biorhythms are affected, too. Your heart starts beating faster. Your temperature will rise. Your pupils will dilate. And you will start moving very fast.

"You see, child, a Matrix is not just an ‘activate and whistle a happy tune device.' Not in the hands of pros. In the hands of us desert rats, it becomes a finely tuned instrument--you must learn to control your body, your heart rate, everything. Because if you start perceiving time too fast, your body will literally overload."

"I still don't get what this has to do with. . ."

"Think child, think. What is the most constant and hopefully regular factor of a woman's existence, until she reaches ole' Momma's age?"

"Her period?"

"Right. So what happens if you start messing with time?"

"Not with time, with your perception of time."

"It don't make no difference to ole' Momma, child." Denise shook her jowls again. "Perception of time is time, as far as I'm concerned. If you start speeding it up too much, you start having two, three, four periods a month. . .sometimes worse. And that really messes things up."

"This is the cause of the war?" asked Rosalie incredulously.

"In the Cities, men and women live together peacefully because they have no choice. Out here, though, unless you live in the Villages, how do you think you gonna have any babies without the Women taking off their Matrixes? And you think women are going to do that without fight?"

"What are you talking about? Just take them off."

Denise looked up mournfully. In the tufts of her short, gray hair, Rosalie saw the black wires of the Matrix. "Oh, no child," she said. "You can never, ever, take it off."

Again, Rosalie felt a pang of doubt. "But. . .your control of time--"

"Some say," Momma whispered, "That the Time Matrixes take humans to the next level of existence. Because it allows us to have. . .time to do things we never could do otherwise. Yet the physical effect, child! How old do you think I am?"

"Sixty? Seventy?"

"I'm only forty," Momma whispered. Rosalie gasped. "Take it this way," Denise continued. "You haven't experienced what it can do yet. Yet the more you speed up time, the closer you come to your own physical death."

Rosalie was silent, shocked. Finally, she said, "But what if you slow time down?"

A slow smile came to Denise's sallow face. "Ah, child, you catch on fast. Yes, you can equal it out. . .yet most people I know just don't have the patience to hang around on slow time, with the world zipping past. And that doesn't help with childbearing. No woman has ever had a child while wearing a Matrix. Because of the frailties of the human body, a child can only be had during normal time. The baby always dies any other way."

"This causes men and women fight?"

"Yes. Women are not very sexually inclined while on fast time or slow time, because of the problem with their cycles. Men obviously do not have this problem. While the sexual libido decreases with some women--though it most certainly does not disappear--for some reason it actually increases in men. And so the chasm between the sexes widened. Gradually it became true that matrixed women would tend to avoid matrixed men. Realizing that, it just figured that the two matrixed sexes would naturally drift into their own, separate gangs. Men became more aggressive, women became more defensive. Little by little the two gangs began to battle for territory and resources." Denise shook her head. "Now it's just war."

"How do you get new members?"

"Well, not everyone's a Prince or Princess. What about all the other people--the ‘sheep' as we call them--the people who escape from the Cities, the villagers who have children--children like you. Very much like you." Denise dropped Tyler's matrix by Rosalie's knee. "Anyway, I guess this one can be yours. Ole' Momma likes you, so she'll give you a good one. Just one sec--" Denise removed some small device from her voluminous clothing and touched it against three places on Rosalie's head. Rosalie shivered--"That sets the contacts. Just slip it on, it will take it an hour or two to take effect." Then with a huff, Denise rose and waddled away, past the campfires.

Now power lay at her knee.

Hesitantly, she reached for it, yet paused. She had only wanted to leave her boring life in that squat, gray little village, and find some meaning to life, some adventure. The Princess tribe had always been her ideal, her picture of romance and adventure. She wanted to drive around on motorcycles, and fight bad guys, and most of all, control time.

So slowly, she raised the black device. It was round, about half the size of her head, with a thick visor connected to the main body. Two thick wires looped from the device. These circled the head to create the neuron field, which controlled one's perception of time. Slowly, carefully, she fit the device over her hair, over her eyes. She felt a momentary snap, a click, then a fizzle, and a hot electric frisson coursed down her back and seemed to electrify her nervous system. Then her vision cleared.

Yet there were no other effects. She tried awkwardly to speed or slow her sense of time, yet nothing happened.

Denise had said it might take some time.

So she waited, patiently. The Princesses went about their business. Tyler's body was taken away.

As the night continued, she began to worry that maybe the Matrix did not work for her. With each passing hour her fretting increased. When dawn began to creep over the desert sands, she was ready to snatch off the Matrix and stomp away in disgust, and to hell with the Princesses.

Then she realized that she had never quite seen the sun rise this manner.

It seemed just a little faster than usual. It still rose relatively slowly, yet it was faster than any dawn she had ever seen. It spread over the sky like spilt milk. Suddenly she realized that she was watching a sun rise--in just seconds.

"Slow down!" she gasped. "Slow down, slow down!"

And obligingly, everything did.

The women were making stew. One was laughing, shaking her hair. Rosalie watched it inch round her shoulders, as steam crawled into the air. Every one of Rosalie's senses felt a thousand times sharper, everything pressed in on her more firmly, more intensely, for she had all the time in the world to experience--everything. The smell of stew, it flowed into her, it became her being, it filled her forever. The flames in the bowls flickered ever so slowly. Her heart beat, slowly, as if it were some other living thing, some other creature inside her, for no heart beat this slowly, and no flame curled so finely. The women, and how they moved--how world changed like a slow painting-- Reality became more and more alien, an it became a whole new reality, a whole alien dimension created simply by an adjustment in time.

"Speed up," she commanded.

The sun's light hit the desert like an explosion. The fires roared like the furies of hell. Her heart slammed into her ribs like a drum. And as her blood pounded in her ears, the air seemed to throb. Somehow, she managed to raise her hands, and stretch them toward the eastern sun screaming up the sky. "Power, power!" she cried in rush of ecstasy. "I'm alive, I'm alive--Oh God, I rule time----"

To be continued!

Copyright 1997 by D.K. Smith

Biography:"D.K. Smith is an aspiring young writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has been published in several Webzines, including Aphelion, Cosmic Visions and Writer's Block, and in the latter he won runner-up status in their Anniversary Contest. His hobbies include sketching, painting, music, computers and computer games, and his most pressing goal is to complete his schooling. Finally, he is still recovering from the Abduction, and he writes to help relieve the stress of the Visions." He can be E-Mailed at:tinydk@juno.com or tinydk@hotmail.com

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