Tales of the Black Room: Hours in the Day

Ellis Hammond watched David Dare. David Dare watched the clock on the corridor wall. It was 23:42. It was a Thursday.

“What are we doing?” asked Hammond, feigning boredom. Her cameraman zoomed his lens in tight on Dare’s face. The enigmatic director of The Black Room might have the ultimate poker face when it came to deal with alien warlords, magicians, and super-powered mutants, but there was something about Ellis Hammond that got under his skin. Something about her pressed buttons that probably shouldn’t be pressed, and she pressed them every time she could. She was convinced that she could get Dare to crack and that, when he did, he’d give her the truth about The Black Room.

“We’re watching the clock,” replied Dare laconically. “Shift change on the hour, I thought you’d like to see that.”

Ellis stifled a real yawn. “The Black Room runs twenty four hours a day, everyone knows that. What’s so special about a shift change?”

Dare’s face folded in something that might have been a smile, if he had the kind of face that was capable of smiling. He nodded up at the clock. It was 22:43.

“Wait a minute, what just happened?” spluttered Ellis. She grabbed the lens of the camera and swung it up to the clock. “Tell me you got that!” she hissed at her cameraman. There was no answer, just a dumb nodding of the lens.

Ellis rounded instantly on Dare. “The clock just went back by an hour. How do you explain that?”

“Simple,” said Dare. “The Black Room is open twenty five hours a day.”

“You have an extra hour in the day? How is that possible?”

Dare rolled his eyes. “We live in a world of superheroes, Miss Hammond. How many time travelers can you actually name?”

Ellis shrugged. “Well I guess there’s…”

“Four hundred and twenty six,” said Dare, cutting her off. “There are four hundred and twenty six active time travelers.”

“That’s ridiculous, how can you possibly know that?”

“Because it’s our job to know, Miss Hammond.” replied Dare. “It’s our job to know it and our job to control it. We built an extra hour into the day so that we can track and trace any unexpected changes to the timeline and repair them before they become a problem. Someone goes back in time and accidentally kills their own grandfather? We clean it up. Somebody decides to bump off Hitler? We’re the people who put time straight again.”

“And you can do that in an hour?”

“When it’s an hour that nobody else has? You’d be amazed at what we can do.”

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