Frank considered himself to be a man of little desire. He would cling to his routine like a child clings to their favorite toy. It wasn’t as if every detail needed to be perfect, but he felt most relaxed when doing the same thing.
Every morning he would wake up and turn on his radio. The news kept his mind focused on something other than the bags under his eyes. Then his shower was timed precisely with the 6:45 show. The usual topics were celebrities and sports, so Frank didn’t mind missing out on most of the content. As it ended, the jingle would play for the 7:00 report and he’d exit the shower with haste. He’d listen attentively as he put together his wardrobe. As he finished, he’d turn the radio off and slowly head downstairs to make his breakfast and head out for the day.
Today, however, there was a woman standing outside in his driveway. She looked rather put together and he could feel like she was presenting herself. Her smile was as off putting as her presence, but Frank didn’t miss a beat as he walked right up to her and squared up.
“Is there something you’d like, ma’am?”
She leaned in and placed a hand on his shoulder. With a wink, she turned and walked away. Frank held a bit of pride for being able to solve confrontations quickly, so he was off to work.
On his way in, he noticed that the 7:00 report was being repeated. It was an odd thing for him to hear the same segment on his way in. As Frank went to park, he realized he was hearing the celebrity and sports news segment. He began to sweat a bit as he watched his clock tick from 6:48 to 6:47.
Frank shrugged this off as a mental blip, something that may have happened to to the number of times he had listened to the radio in the morning. After coming to the idea of skipping the radio the next day, he noticed the sun was getting noticeably darker. A lump formed in his throat as the doors to the company were locked tight, as they would be before 7:00 each morning.
He returned to his car and went home. On his way, he noticed things were functioning as they normally would; people were jogging, walking their dogs, and driving through the neighborhood in the correct direction.
As Frank stumbled inside, he quickly tried to recount what happened the night before. He had decided not to go out with friends and instead stayed inside to play an online card game. He recalled winning a close match with his rival to take sole possession of first place on the world leader board last night.
Soon, he noticed the number of missed calls was slowly going down on his phone, so he quickly tried listening to one.
“Frank! Frank! I can’t beliv-”
The message was gone. No trace of it was left on his phone. He stood up and rushed out to his driveway. Things were going a bit quicker now, as his phone said it was 11:43pm and it was ticking backwards rapidly. Soon the woman appeared again, a smug look on her face.
“What is it you want from me?”
“I need you to stop Night Terror. He’s a horrific being that is born from the things that happen tonight. So, I need for you to do it right this time.”
She touched him on his shoulder and turned away once more. He went to stop her but looked down when his phone buzzed. It was his friend, Jake, calling just as he had last night around 9:30.
“Frank? Bro! You have to come out man. There’s this new bar in town and we’re totally closing it tonight!”
Before, Frank had told him that he couldn’t go on a weekday. After all, work was not going to simply wait for him to stop having a hangover to start. This time, he knew his choice had everything hanging in the balance.
“I’ll come, man. Just give me the address.”
As far as he knew, time was back to the way it was, if not an entire day prior. When he arrived, his friends all gave a cheer.
“I told his his frumpy ass would come out tonight! There’s no way he’d miss this.”
He noted that there was an individual looking to blend into the background while they took their seats. His eyes were very attentive and a scowl was on his face. Frank noted how the man’s fists were white and his foot was tapping on a beat much faster than the rhythm of the song playing overhead.
Frank had gotten it into his head that he was meant to be here for a reason. So much so, that someone had gone through the effort of reversing time to get him here.
A band had taken the stage around midnight, one that looked young and spunky. The lead singer was running around and waving his arms. Frank thought the plea for attention was akin to a dog begging for it’s owner to feed it.
“What’s happening?! Let’s get this bar opened with our new drummer Sam!”
The man in the corner tensed. Frank has put it together, this was the old drummer coming to the new one’s first show. It seemed the parting wasn’t amicable. As they began to play, the man chugged his bottle and got ready to throw it at the stage. Frank jumped out of his chair and rushed towards the man.
The man saw Frank coming and braced himself. While unbalanced, Frank was able to quickly take him to the ground. Both men began to brawl as the bar exploded in cheers. Franks friends rushed to his side, and an all out riot began. Few patrons were able to escape from the brawl and when the dust settled, Frank had a scar on his eye.
He returned home, limping, early in the morning. The police had listed him as the man who started the fight unprovoked and he was to be arrested soon. His job, his family, and his normal way of life were about to be vaporized in one fell swoop. The woman stood by his front door, gleefully happy with his return.
“What the hell are you doing here? I stopped the man at the bar. It cost me everything, but I did it.”
She raised an eyebrow and simply let out a quick giggle.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I came to stop you from ruining a young kid’s leader board streak. Turns out he went insane and became a super villain that used fear and stealth to terrorize the world. I’ve been sent back to stop that. I’ve been sent to stop the future evil of ‘Night Terror’. No hard feelings, right?”
Frank grasped at the air around his fists, hoping to squeeze some sort of resolution out of them. His anger boiled, attacking the young girl. She barely escaped and rushed off down the road.
His unbridled rage turned into a silent contemplation. A smile slowly appeared on his face and he whispered into the wind.
“Night Terror, huh?”