Brandon stumbled down the stairs, trying but failing to remain upright. He fell over and tried to catch himself, but his wrist crippled under the sudden pressure. He hit his head on the basement floor and cursed loudly at Jaina.
"It was worth a try," Jaina shrugged, fighting back a smile.
Brandon sat up slowly, rubbing the sore spot on his head first, then his wrist. He loosened the watch, which was pinching tightly into his skin. And that's when he looked at the watch for the first time.
It was 12:43 p.m., which struck him as an important bit of information, although he didn't quite know why yet. But he had a hunch that if he stared at it and thought about it long enough, something was bound to become apparent. It was just after noon now, though it had been rather late in the evening when he'd suddenly been set on fire in his bed. And a similar thing had happened when he'd first arrived in Igladia. It had been night-time on Earth, but early in the morning there.
"Are you alright?" asked Jaina from the top of the stairs. "What are you doing?"
"Shh," said Brandon. "Thinking."
Jaina huffed in annoyance, turned around and left him there.
Brandon couldn't be bothered with Jaina just now, though he knew he'd probably have to apologize later for his rudeness. But at the moment he felt in a daze. Maybe because of his recent head trauma, but hopefully because he was on the brink of finally understanding something.
There was something weird about time. He knew it had to be the key. He was aging backwards in Igladia. His future was their past. And apparently travelling between worlds made him jump a few hours in time...
And then he saw it, in the top left-hand corner of the watch, the tiniest little digital letters: WED.
It was Wednesday! Wednesday at 12:43 p.m., not Friday, or Saturday, or whatever day it should be if time had progressed normally. It was the day before the Thursday which ended in him falling asleep and being transported to another world. Forgetting his head injury, he leapt up and climbed the stairs two-at-a-time.
"Jaina!" he shouted, and without waiting for a reply, demanded, "How long has it been since I woke up in Igladia?"
"Two days," she said, looking up from the pad of paper at the kitchen table, the pencil held awkwardly in her hand. "Why?"
"One full day and one half day, right?" said Brandon. "A day, a night, and another day."
"Yes..." said Jaina, now thoroughly confused. "Why?"
"Because," declared Brandon with the air of one immensely proud of having finally done at least one thing useful, "the exact same amount of time has passed here, only... in reverse!"
Jaina stared at him. "So?"
"So," said Brandon patiently. "We can get back to Igladia the same way I got there in the first place. The exact same way. Tomorrow night."
"And in the meantime, what?" said Jaina. "We just wait around, knowing that everyone in the castle is in imminent danger and desperately needs your help?!"
"It's okay though," said Brandon. "because time is going backwards there. When we leave here tomorrow night, we'll arrive in Igladia yesterday morning, and everything will be the same as it was when I first got there. Except this time, I'll already know what's going on, and... I won't look like such an idiot."
He ended his enthusiastic speech a bit bluntly and looked to Jaina for some sort of approval. Or any reaction whatsoever.
As uncomfortable as she was with the idea of sitting around for a whole day, not knowing whether Igladia was still in trouble... she couldn't think of anything else to do.
"I guess it's worth a try," she sighed.
"Yes, it is," Brandon insisted. He had known it was a good plan from the moment he'd conceived it.
"And in the meantime, we have a whole day-and-a-half to try to figure out what the hell we're going to do when we get there."