It was his watch that finally drew his attention to the issue. It was losing time; first seconds on the day, measures within the realm of mediocrity that was the prevalent notion of the day. His irritability turned into confusion as the seconds became minutes, and then hours. He could never bring the problem to focus, never shackle it down and force it into his own reality. He brought stop-watches by the cartoon, wholesale from Swiss vendors circulating the new, crystal variety.
Each one timed against his watch showed fidelity to an unreasonable degree. Milliseconds remaning constant over meticulously recorded minutes and hours. Yet every day he found himself farther and farther back. Whole mornings having escaped the notice of his watch; afternoons dissipating into some unseen aether. Each second marking its passage on the glass face but lost to the spectrum of his life.
Braulio began to understand the source when, after another fruitless but detailed study of one second piling upon another, he found that the issue had so progressed that he was no longer merely losing time: his watch had actually traveled backwards; even as he stared unceasingly at the dials proceeding in the forward direction, several minutes had returned to him, leaving him behind his starting point. In that moment he perceived that is was him and not some physical contrivance that was at the source. A flesh and blood temporal displacement in the midst of a river of inevitability. Some sort of dimensional warping forcing his path into reverse amidst his fellows.
This was not unheard of among mining scholars. Cases of cause-effect reversals having been reported for centuries beneath the surface. Most attributed this to depth inversion, finding height measured downwards the other aspects of life simply followed the simple reversal. Braulio was entirely unaware of this tradition of time altercations amongst his spiritual forefathers, but as with the rest of them he could have immediately ruled out this foolish depth-time relation for such as held that view. The two dimensions were unconnected: it was light. Light has always been the source, always been the arbiter of space.
Darkness ruling in the man-made caverns, blackness permeating into the realities of the mine. It was Braulio's sacrifices to that ruling power which joined him with the opposing directions. As black became his light, so forward was replaced with its opposite: that old 'bait and switch' practical joke that was a favorite of so many that had gone before.
He became a walking doorway into a realm of possibility. The reversal not so of time itself, but more directly of inevitability. Sure things, known outcomes, quaking in his presence. Questions of entropy increase and thermal chemistry reaming unknowns in that pocket of space he occupied. Was this the method God had ordained to return structure to His creation? Some sort of embrace of darkness, a rejection of the gift of sight? Perhaps the blind were to be leading the sighted, bringing them down past the nexus of surface into the subterranean kingdoms.
The questions flamed up in the mind of Braulio, but were swiftly stamped out, dosed by the inundating routine of down-world survival. The day-today trivialities easily crowding out the meaning of true discovery. He became accustomed to merely asking around in order to determine time (no longer able to trust the clocks he had worked by) and the matter began to fade into the ever-present blackness.