Max closed his eyes and sighed, clearly he was finding it a little harder to accept this little mishap as normality than usual.
I had shrugged it off immediately. This was easy. I knew how to sort this, but like most things, sorting it could go two ways: perfectly right, or disastrously wrong.
"Right," I said. "I think I've got it."
He looked at me with complete bewilderment. "Sara, only you would... just get on with it."
I laughed and stood next to him, cautioning him with comical seriousness to stay exactly where he was. Max did as he was told, even though I could tell he was just not in the mood for this right now.
"OK then, do you want me to explain at the same time?" I asked. He nodded simply. "'Kay."
I reached my hands forward until they hit the invisible density that was blocking us. Closing my eyes helped to concentrate, and as I felt deeper it was more like solid caramel that was slowly melting. It got harder to get through towards the middle, and when I actually reached the center I was met with some kind of resistance. Much like when two magnets are forced together with the same pole. The force of this resistance was so strong that it actually pushed my sense away from it, and sent my body staggering backwards.
Max's reaction was predictably automatic, but also worryingly robot-like. He caught me before I could fall and steadied me, then went back to the exact position he'd been standing in before.
"Thanks," I muttered absently, before reaching out my time sense more carefully into the barrier. This time when I found the center I could work out that this thing encircled us. It seemed to me like something like a... a kind of instance explosion had happened, casting out all the time in that instance to the edges. All that time, compressed into this space somehow caused it freeze, trapping us. But the only thing that would cause an instance explosion would be if too much time was forced into that instance, something that couldn't happen naturally. And I was pretty sure that I hadn't done it.
I explained all this to Max, and he just looked at me blankly and waited patiently for me to finish. When I had done, he didn't say anything, so I told him what I thought would work to fix it.
"I have to... to move the time. I can't get it all to start again, I've tried already, but I think I can move it..." I looked at him properly for the first time that day and he looked back at me with no expression. Concerned, I gently stroked his face as an attempt to comfort him.
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He seemed very, very tired. He then opened his eyes again, placed one hand on either side of my head and told me, "That doesn't make sense, Sara."
"I know," I said, sensing that he was quite depressed. This mood he was in worried me so much. It wasn't like him at all. "I'm sorry."
He looked right into my eyes. "I feel so..." He shook his head and sighed. "Just get us out of here."
I nodded and once again focused on the resistance. It was easier than I thought, I just sped the time around it up a little and it let down the barrier. We got out of there as fast as we could, and had walked roughly a mile when Max slowed to a complete stop.
"Sara..." he said. I turned to face him, and he burst into tears.