The Adjustor by WingZ

This is really less of a story and more of a writing exercise (something to jog my mind and break the tedium of writing reports). I’m only posting in the offchance that someone will actually enjoy it. More Legends coming soon.

The Adjustor
By: WingZ

1
The pendant around my neck is actually an hourglass, albeit an hourglass like no other. The sands contained within it do not measure minutes and seconds, but merely distance to the inevitable. People like to think of time as a mystical dimension all its own. It’s really just a yardstick they haven’t figured out how to grasp yet.
I hold the pendant in my hand and watch as the sands empty through the narrow funnel of the top portion and accumulated rapidly in the bottom. By my estimate, there are only five minutes (their time, not mine) and my charge had yet to show herself. Though my training strictly proscribes impatience, I can feel apprehension set upon me nonetheless. This is only my first call. I have three more to make before the day (their day, not mine) is out.
At long last, my charge enters. She is Jodie Thompson, 23 years old and quite fetching in a red sweater and black pants. She approaches the sink and turns n the faucet. I hover above her, immune to all attempts at sight. I am only seen when I wish to be and I only wish to be seen when I need to be. Together but apart, we stand in the ladies’ room of a modish downtown bistro. Only three minutes remain.
I tire of her dallying and decide to make myself known. Predictably, she misses me at first. She shuts off the faucet and goes to dry her hands, only to stop and look in the mirror once more. Shock registers on her face. Her eyes (brown, like her hair) widen. Her small hands grip the cold marble of the sink fixture to steady herself against the rollicking unreality of what now looms behind her. I wish I could tell you what she saw, but I’ve never been permitted to see my own reflection. Vanity is right up there with impatience as far as no-nos go.
“Be calm,” I tell her. “I’m not here to harm you.”
Her lips shake soundlessly in some semblance of understanding. She is scared, but this is hardly a problem. They are all scared at first. It’s the ones who aren’t that I worry about.
I reach under my cloak and produce a plasticky white diaper, sized to fit her perfectly. Her shock melts into confusion as I attempt to hand it to her.
“Put it on,” I urge. “Quickly now.”
Jodie is still not cooperating. She is too scared to move and too scared to scream. Venomous fear holds her steady, her mind locked at attention. I see her eying the door opportunistically and know it is only a matter of time before her paralysis breaks.
“Put it on,” I repeat. “You won’t regret doing it.”
She is starting to come around. Her hands relax their grip and her still-pallid face turns slightly sideways.
“Once you leave this room, you’ll have no recollection of this,” I tell her. “Now put it on.”
Nodding, she extends her hand as if to accept my offering. Instead, she pushes past me and runs right out the door.
I sigh and reset the pendulum. People can be quite silly sometimes. In fact, a good majority of them are. Nonetheless, it feels as if I always get stuck with the stubborn ones.

2
The door flew open and Jodie darted out of the restroom. She found herself standing in the restaurant, confused beyond belief. She gazed at her hands and began to retrace her steps. She remembered meeting Finn for lunch, ordering drinks and talking. She remembered feeling flushed and excusing herself to the bathroom to splash some water on her face. She did not, however, remember actually doing so.
“Maybe I’m coming down with something,” she speculated.
Dazed or not, Jodie was able to locate her table with relative ease. Finn Kelleher, her boyfriend of one and a half years, was hard to miss in his fawn colored jacket. He, like her, was a recent college grad struggling to make his way in the world. He found a temporary footing in the production department of a local radio station; she clerked in the governor’s office. Facing high pressure and low dividends, they found salvation (or, at the very least, a brief respite) in each other.
“Feeling OK?” Finn asked as she returned to her seat.
Jodie cleared her throat. “Fine.”
“Really? You look a little pale.”
“It’s nothing,” she insisted.
“Good,” he said with a smile.
They looked over the menus with careful discretion. Finn was quick to decide, but Jodie remained uncertain.
“Try the chicken al Giorgio,” he suggested.
“What is it?”
“It comes in a little pastry. You’d like it.”
She decided to take him at his word. When a waiter arrived, Finn told him to be certain he didn’t forget the sauce. Jodie eyed him suspiciously.
“You know I don’t like weird sauces,” she said.
“You’ll like this one,” he insisted.
They continued to chat while they waited for their food to arrive. Jodie felt herself becoming faint once more. She probably was coming down with something, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave. With their busy schedules, she and Finn saw so little of each other lately. This lunch was supposed to be special and she didn’t want to ruin it for either of them.
The food finally arrived. Jodie noticed the waiter set down a small plastic box beside her chicken.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“The sauce,” Finn explained. “They serve it separately.”
“Odd,” she commented.
“Give it a try.”
Figuring she had nothing left to lose, Jodie picked up the box and inverted it over her chicken. Instead of a brownish liquid pouring out as she expected, the top of the box gave way and a ring tumbled forth. It shimmered under the soft glow of the restaurant lighting. Across the table, Finn sat grinning auspiciously.
“Jodie,” he said. “Will you marry me?”
Surprised, she sucked in her breath. “Finn,” she began. “I….”
The feeling of faintness returned at a fever pitch (no pun intended). She went from being pale to feeling very, very flush. The temperature around her seemed to escalate twenty degrees.
“Jodie?” Finn asked, his elation replaced by concern.
Unable to answer, Jodie slumped backwards in her chair. Finn’s eyes widened as he watched his girlfriend helplessly piss herself. A few heads turned and he quickly rose and hauled her to her feet.
“Let’s get you out of here,” he whispered in her ear. He sounded down, but not defeated. “It will be OK.”
Sniffling, she nodded weakly as he led her out. Their lunch was ruined, she was humiliated, he was heartbroken and that wasn’t even the worst part. Physically, she felt like slow death.

3
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, of course, but it did. Finn will take Jodie home and dote over her. She will feel embarrassed and will want nothing more to sleep. At long last, he will leave her be.
The next day, Jodie will be feeling slightly less sick but no less horrible. She will blame Finn for what happened in the restaurant. It was his idea. He set the date, he ordered for her and he surprised the living hell out of her with his stupid ring. Moreover, it absolutely infuriated her the way he pretended nothing was wrong. His grand romantic plan lay in ruins and he will still play The Good Boyfriend.
For his part, Finn’s patience with Jodie will begin to wane. He won’t dare raise the question again since his botched proposal, but she will give no indication, neither yea or nay. Furthermore, her attitude towards him will turn icy and she will become increasingly aloof. Finn will not break up with her. After a year and a half, he feels too much is at stake. He will, however, cheat on her with a girl from his office. She will find out and they will feud and part acrimoniously. Thirty-six years later, the world will end. It wasn’t supposed to happen.

4
I hope things will go more smoothly the second time around. If not, I will be obligated to try a third and even a fourth time. In fact, I have to keep trying for as long as it takes for the adjustment to be made. My all-time record is fifteen attempts. It is not a record I look forward to surpassing.
The pendant tells me that approximately three minutes remain. Surely enough, Jodie enters and begins to run cold water over her hands and face. I swoop down and materialize once again, hoping this time to make more of a forceful impression. Of course, I am not permitted to literally force a decision. That would constitute a clear-cut violation. Contrarily, it would also save me a lot of time (again, theirs and not mine).
Jodie does her standard freak-out. The eyes widen, the face grows pale, the hands tense up. There is something different this time though. I can see the faint glint of recognition on her face. It is a very scant trace of deja vu.
“Back again, I see,” I say, reaching under my cloak to offer her the diaper. “Maybe this time you’ll listen.”
Her paralysis breaks sooner than expected and she snatches it from my hand. She examines it curiously for a moment, as if it is an alien artifact and not a garment similar to the ones worn in her youth. I do not know what leads her to accept my offering. To think that she, or any other human being, has the capacity to be cognizant of past attempts is preposterous. On the other hand, the great yardstick of time does occasionally chip and crack. A few splinters have been known to get through.
“That’s it,” I encourage. “Put it on.”
She turns to look at me, her eyes wet with some unidentifiable emotion. Fear? Gratitude? It is not my place to know such things.
“No one else is coming,” I say to her. “But you don’t have much time.”
Jodie finally gets the message, drops her slacks and promptly diapers herself.
“Good girl,” I laud. “Now go.”
“Who are you?” she asks, her voice drained of all apprehension.
“An Adjustor,” I explain. “Ninety nine point nine percent of the time, you humans are stuck with whatever decisions you make. However, on occasion, something happens that is not supposed to happen. My job is to make sure it doesn’t happen by going back to the origin of the decision and altering the outcome.”
“Who sent you?”
“I think you know who,” I say in a low voice. “Now get on out of here. I don’t want to have to do this again.”
“And I won’t remember any of this?”
“No. Now go.”
She turns and walks out the door, throwing me a furtive glance from over her shoulder just as she passes. By the time she does so, however, I am gone. The pendant has already reset and I am off to make another adjustment.

5
Jodie picked up the box and inverted it over her chicken. Instead of a brownish liquid pouring out as she expected, the top of the box gave way and a ring tumbled forth. It shimmered under the soft glow of the restaurant lighting. Across the table, Finn sat grinning auspiciously.
“Jodie,” he said. “Will you marry me?”
Surprised, she sucked in her breath. “Finn,” she began. “I….”
The feeling of faintness returned at a fever pitch (no pun intended). She went from being pale to feeling very, very flush. The temperature around her seemed to escalate twenty degrees.
“Jodie?” Finn asked, his elation replaced by concern.
“I’m OK,” Jodie croaked. She leaned forward in the chair, bit her lip and emptied her bladder into the diaper. She then very calmly grabbed her glass of ice water and held it to her forehead. A moment later, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Finn was dumbfounded. “What was that?” he asked.
“Jitters, I guess,” she replied. “But I’m over it now.”
“Well?”
Smiling, she examined the ring and slid it on her finger. “I think you know,” she said, savoring the moment while couples at nearby tables raised their glasses in celebration.

6
Jodie and Finn will get married and continue to ever-so-slowly work their way up in the working world. Eventually, they will have a child: Thomas Michael. It will not be easy, but they will manage. After months of long nights and penny-pinching, Finn will produce a hit talk show that will rival the popularity of Howard Stern. Their worries, both financial and otherwise, will greatly diminish.
Thomas Michael will grow up with the benefits of a good education, a steady allowance and two loving parents. A bright, outspoken boy with a natural gift for leadership, he will take an early interest in politics. At the age of thirty five, he will become President of the United States. His first act in office will be to sign a treaty ending an armed conflict, thereby sparing the use of thermonuclear weapons and saving the world in the process.
I will be there watching, of course. No one will see me and no credit will be given to either myself or my employers. Eventually, the world will be a split-second away from being destroyed once more and the pendant will again refill. Until then, I remain dormant and perplexed by those humans who I am obligated to save. It often puzzles me why I am compelled to do this. After all, people are so unbelievably stupid.