“This was wrong, David. Wrong.”
“Give it a chance, Edith. Come. Let us discover this world.”
Edith stares about wearily, looking at the strange world before her.
David had parked the space-time teleportation vehicle––his “travel whatchamacallit,” as Edith always liked to mutter when he was not around to hear it––in the dark alleyway between two large brick buildings. She had fallen out of the vehicle rather nauseous, groaning, holding her throbbing head in her hands. David, of course, was giddy, excited; he leapt from his seat and into the humid air, hands on his hips, looking proudly before him.
Edith had not wanted to come; that much was sure. But David had been excited to try out his new plaything, his gadget. She did not want to take away from his joy.
In all honestly, she had not considered that the vehicle might actually work. She had been only two steps away from calling the community asylum. But, to her utter dismay, his invention was successful, and here she was.
Transported to the year 2100.
Two hundred years ahead.
Edit follows her husband as he strides forward, eager to begin exploring. She is nervous, but shakes her head, determined not to portray fear. Her husband would never forgive her if she ruined his one successful invention of life. The Lord knows all the others had failed, and rather horribly at that.
“Come, Edith. Do you see that light? That is joy. That is success. Let us find out what it is and who we might share it with.” He reaches out his hand, smiling. She forces a smile back and takes it.
They walk down the alleyway, hand-in-hand, toward the light at the end of the narrow tunnel. As the light gets closer, she narrows her eyes, almost blinded by the intensity of it. And the heat. It is warm, warmer than the warmest summer back in her time. Sweat drips from her brow.
And then, they enter the light.
There is desolation everywhere. Complete, utter desolation.
The buildings… they are beyond antiquated. Beyond worn. They are decayed. Grotesque. Many of the large structures have seen awful destruction; several are crumpled to the ground in a heap of wood and bricks and other unknown materials melted from the heat. The road is hard––it is covered in a thick, black material that is cracked and uneven. The air has a hazy, brownish tint to it; she can taste the dust and dirt as her mouth drops open in shock.
And, there is not a soul in site. Abandoned.
They are completely alone.
Edith turns to her husband, aghast. He stands before the horror, hands on his hips, grinning from ear to ear. He looks around in complete and utter wonder at the demolition.
Edith sees what she fears most: pride.
“David, how can you––"
“Now, now, Edith. Remember, we are only here to explore. And look! We have found abandonment. I am filled with only intriguing questions. Are you not? What happened here? Why? Who is the cause? Or what? The possibilities are endless, Edith; endless!”
She stares at him. “David. What on earth are you talking about? We are going home, at once.” She draws her shawl tighter around her shoulders, shivering despite the heat radiating from every air particle. “This is a dangerous place. A dead place. We now know the earth has seen violence and––and––and war. This is war, David. We do not belong her.”
“Hush, Edith,” he says, already distracted. He begins to walk forward, picking his way carefully between the slabs of building and materials in front of him. “Come along.”
“David, come back here!”
He does not turn. She has no choice; she follows him, her blood boiling.
David strides to the building next door, finding the entrance. The door is hanging at a precious angle above a small set of cracked, broken stairs. He hops upon the stairs without hesitation, ducking under the doorway and stepping over the threshold. Edith follows after him, stumbling on the stairs and nearly losing her footing. She scowls as she enters the building.
It seems to be even warmer here. She did not think it possible; she pants for air and dabs at her forehead with her shawl.
“Wow, Edith. Look. A barbershop.” He points excitedly at dusty, antiquated chairs and cracked mirrors along the walls covered in grime. “How fascinating!”
“That is not the word I would use, David,” Edith huffs, crossing her arms. “Now, you’ve had your fun. Come on. We are leaving now. At least, I am.” She turns her back on him, and begins to walk.
“I wouldn’t do that, dear.”
She freezes, and slowly turns around to face him. He said the words easily, lightly; he is investigating the chairs now, running his finger through the dirt, feeling the texture of the material.
“What do you mean, dear?” She says, her voice hard and cold.
“I mean, I did not program the vehicle to return. Like humanity, it only knows the way forward. Not backward.” He waves his hand dismissively. “We cannot go back. This is our home now.”
She stares at him. The words do not enter her mind; they do not settle. She waits for them to make sense. But, alas, they do not.
Instead, she feels an intense, overpowering fury. Rage.
“David,” she says, her voice dangerously quiet. It is such a different tone that her husband’s head snaps up, looking at her in surprise.
“David, do you mean we cannot leave this place? This time? Are you saying... are we stuck here? Stuck in this horror?”
“Horror?” His eyebrows knit together, puzzled. “Edith, dear, this is not horror. Look at the… the potential here. We have a chance to begin something. To start anew. We can build our own society, or own civilization. This particular year is even better than I had hoped; we can lead.” A strange smile comes over his face. “We can rule.”
Edith just stares at her husband. She shakes, trembles with a force that is beyond help, beyond repair. Her gaze breaks whatever once held them together; they are broken like the world around them.
“David,” she snarls, spitting the words through her teeth. “What have you done?”