Science Fiction

“Alright, you have 20 minutes. Your wrist watch won’t work, so we will give you the signal when you have 2 minutes left. Okay, you ready?”, said the nice lady wearing the lab coat 

“Yeah, I guess.” I said,  looking around the lab, strapped in the weird looking machine.

It had been a year since they developed this technology that could take you to the past. I read about the discovery they made about the god particle in the papers, and after that it wasn’t long before they came up with this. They found a method to send anyone to their pasts, but it was more of reliving a memory rather than time travel. I could not interact or do anything there, I could only be a spectator cause even after all those developments they did not want to mess with the time continuum.

“Alright. Give me the date”, the lady said, at her desk.

“December 23rd, 2016. 10:10 AM” I said loud and clear. 

She turned on the machine, it made a whirring sound, and I don’t remember very clearly what happened in the next couple of seconds, or minutes or however long it was. I passed out.

The next thing I remember is that I opened my eyes in front of my school. I looked around. I could not believe it. This wasn’t a dream. I was seeing it for real.

The guard was opening the gates, and that told me that it was a few minutes to dismissal. I went close to him and said “Hey”.

He did not seem to hear it. He went and sat on his chair. 

I tried touching the gate, and my hand passed right through. And I realized I was like a ghost there. They had already told me but it was still so weird. No one could see me, I couldn’t touch or feel anything.

The school bell suddenly went gaga, and it was the most beautiful sound I can remember having heard. All of those emotions, excitement from those days, when we used to just keep looking at the clock for the last period to end, and then how we jumped up when the bell rang came back to me. 

I saw the young ones, the 5th and 6th standard kids come running out of their classes. The first bell used to be for them. I looked at them ; they looked so innocent and  pure. The only concern they had was if mom had made karela for lunch. I saw one of them showing off  the 5 rupee dairy milk he had gotten in class to his friends . All his friends were fighting about  why they should  be the one he should share it with. One of them took out the hair clip of the girl standing beside her, and said he would give it back only if she shared the chocolate with him.  they both started wrestling for that hair pin. I could not stop smiling. “Where did that innocence go?” I thought.

I was looking at them when the third bell rang, and the tenth graders started to come out. I looked at them as they appeared out of the gates and passed through me. So many familiar faces, so many friends I barely even remember the names of.

Then I saw myself. My hair was so long that I just couldn’t get it out of my eyes. I was laughing so hard with Anubhav, my best friend. I saw the rest of my friend circle- all of them who had stayed with me till now, those who had lost touch, but at that moment, we all knew in that moment nothing else mattered. A tear rolled down my cheek, and I smiled at the same time.

I saw my group walking to the samosa shop on the other side of the road, which was a regular stop for us every day after dismissal. I can never forget all the memories I have of that place. I saw all of us laughing, probably on another one of those silly jokes of Ravi.

And then I saw Anusha, coming out of the door with her characteristic blue Disney bag. And she was the actual reason I was here. She died that day, it was an accident.

The last time I talked to her was on that day, and she wanted to tell me something. I did not hear it, and I have lived with that feeling of regret ever since. What was she going to tell me? Maybe I could have helped her. Maybe things wouldn’t have been like this if I had just listened. I needed to hear that, for closure. 

She walked right past me, and then she stopped. She looked back, looking here and there, probably for Shreya, her best friend. She seemed confused.

I followed her as she walked upto the samosa shop. She stopped by the big banyan tree that stood on the side of the road just in front of the shop. She looked at the younger me. And I remembered that moment so clearly. I knew everything that I was going to do next.

My younger self saw her, and said something to Ravi, and then came running to Anusha. I knew what he had said. I had told him to buy the next round and that I would be right back.

There was a weird tingling in my ears all of a sudden, and I heard a voice that said two minutes. 

 I panicked. I had only two minutes. But I knew I couldn’t do anything about it. So, I just watched my younger self take all the time in the world to walk up to Anusha, dancing and jumping on the way.

“Hey Anusha. What's up?” He said when he reached the tree.

“There is something wrong.” Anusha said, and I remembered how that moment had played out originally. Ravi shouted something at the same moment, and I didn’t hear what she said. But this time I did. She said, “I feel like someone else is here, and it has been following me since I came out of the gate. I can feel its breath on my neck.”

My younger self did not listen and ran back to the shop, to probably fight over that extra samosa Ravi had bought. Anusha just stood there, confused and I stood there,  my jaw dropped.

I whispered, “Can you hear me Anusha?” and touched her on the head, gently.

She cried, all of a sudden, freaking out and stumbled onto the main road. The bus driver was going too fast to stop that suddenly, and I just stood there, staring at it all, blankly. Everything  blacked out, and I woke up in the lab. 20 minutes had passed.

September 27, 2020 06:11

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