If you aren’t careful, Reynard will find you.
Reynard used to be just like you. He used to walk across the years, in any direction he pleased, without taking precautions. And the thing you’ve been warned about -- it happened. The time found its way into him, and it changed him.
Reynard used to be just like you. He thought he was clever. He thought he was above the rules. He thought he didn’t have to watch his back when he was stretching his legs and straddling the centuries.
Reynard is not like you anymore.
That time that you were sitting at your desk and you looked at the clock and were shocked to find that three hours had passed -- where did the time go?
Don’t be foolish. You know exactly where it went. Reynard has it.
Reynard took it.
You were hired because you are clever; but remember that you are not as clever as Reynard. All the time he’s taken from people like you has given him opportunities to learn, and he’s always watching.
You were hired because you are ready to take risks. That’s important for this job. There’s no guarantee of safety, not when you’re in the depths of time itself, gathering intelligence for us. There are no guarantees at all within the ranks of The Kingmakers.
But you were also hired because you are as smart as Reynard was when we hired him.Oh, did you think Reynard was a myth?
We thought you were clever.
A man looks at his watch and bolts out of his chair. He is late.
A woman startles out of her reverie, and sees that the shadows have grown long, and wonders where the time went.
Reynard is looking for you. Reynard is looking for The Kingmakers.
Rule 1: Don’t linger between the years. It will be tempting. The space between one year and another is thick and warm and inviting, and you’ll want to stay there.
Here is how you will know if Reynard has found you: you’ll find yourself drifting away through the hours. Your friends and family will comment on how busy you are; why, they’ll ask, can’t we ever seem to find the time to get a drink together anymore? You’ll cite your children, your work, your projects -- but you’ll know the truth. The days have been slipping away from you. The summer, which used to stretch before you like a still-sticky, fresh-paved road, now drops away beneath you before you’ve so much as set foot on it. You’ll find yourself saying things like “wow, Christmas really snuck up on us this year!”
Other people will nod as if they agree, but they won’t really understand what you mean.
Rule 2: If Reynard finds you, leave. Flee. Disappear into the future and never return to the past. The past is where he hunts, and you will no longer be safe there.
Here is how we will know if Reynard has found you: You will stay longer and longer in the times to which we send you. You will return with the information we need, but it will be fuzzy, half-forgotten. You’ll say things like “Is it Wednesday already?” and “Time flies.”
We will exchange glances with each other as we read your shoddy report, because we know that time does not fly. We will not look you directly in the eye. We will wave you out of the room. We will say that you’ve done a fine job, and that we’ll contact you when we have something else for you.
We will know that Reynard has found you.
A child plays with a stick in the dirt, and the afternoon is endless before him, and he is happy.
A boy is about to be a man. He wonders what happened to his childhood. It slipped through his fingers so quickly.
Do you know what has happened to the boy?
You will walk into a room, and you will not be able to remember what you were going in there to do.
You will open the refrigerator, and you will look inside, and you will walk away without having recognized anything within it.
You will check the time, and then you will immediately check it again, because you will not have remembered what you saw when you looked the first time.
What was I saying?
Oh, yes. Of course. Reynard.
Here is how we will know that Reynard has you.
Did I already tell you this? I’m sorry, it’s been a long day.
He will stand beside you, as slick as a fistful of hot fat, and he will whisper in your ear that you’re just tired, or hungover, or preoccupied.
He will make the excuses for you.
And he will eat your life.
Were we not clear? Reynard is hungry. He is hungry for what we are all constantly running out of: time. You took this job because there was not enough time. You wanted to see the breadth of it. You wanted to be the master of it. Reynard wants the same thing.
He wants time.
So he takes yours.
Reynard is hungry.
Did I already say that?
Rule 3: If you find that a colleague has fallen to Reynard, do not hesitate. Do what you must do.
You know what you must do.
A man - really, though, a boy - looks up to realize that he didn’t hear the whistle of a mortar. He was off in his own world, he realizes. It is the last thing that he will realize.
The porridge has burned. It was all that there was. It was all that was left in the pot; it was all that was left of the harvest.
Reynard is looking for you.
You will need to outsmart him. You will need to outrun him. Reynard will follow your scent. Reynard will not give up until he has you.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Your assignment. You’ll need to get going. It’s already so late.
I didn’t realize it had gotten so late.
Where does the time go?