Contemporary Teens & Young Adult Suspense

“Let me get this straight. You want me to wait here with you, in this chair, on this porch, and not go anywhere for the next twenty-four hours, or I’m going to die?” asked Martin. 

Fred nodded vigorously. “Yes, that’s right. We have to try and do something different this time. Please believe me. I can’t watch you die again.”

“Die again? Are you mad?”

Fred took a gulp like he was trying to swallow something unpleasant. “I’ve seen you die about fifty times and this is the first time I’ve levelled with you. You must believe me.”

Martin turned and took a step away. He laughed and turned to face his little brother again. “You’ve got a sick sense of humour. You know that? Ok, I’ll humour you. How do you keep seeing me die?”

Fred took a potion out of his pocket. “This potion. It lets me travel back in time by seven days. And each time I return to today, within an hour of this time now, you die.”

Martin smiled but contained his laughter. “And how do I die, exactly?”

“It varies. That tree branch that I cut down yesterday that was over there. That’s how you died the first time, when it randomly fell and hit you in the head. But I stopped that from happening by cutting it down. Then there was a faulty switch that electrocuted you. I fixed that too. I’ve spent the last seven days running around fixing and preventing things that I know will kill you. But no matter what, something else always happens that I can’t predict. So now I’m trying this. I want you to sit on this chair with me, on our front porch, away from dangers and sit and do absolutely nothing and then maybe I think you could be safe.”

Martin started to laugh slowly. It got louder and louder as what had been said sunk in. He continued like that for some time. Eventually, managing to speak between breaths, he said, “Good one Freddy, I needed that. You always did crack me up. I’ll see you later. I’m having dinner with Kasey.”

He got up to leave. Fred jumped up and grabbed his hand firmly.

“Don’t go.”

“Let go,” Martin said, his face frowning, “What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m serious,” Fred said, “stay.”

Martin struggled, but Fred’s grip was tight. Martin shoulder barged into Fred’s chest, and the grip loosened enough for Martin to pull away.

Martin darted away further, shaking his head. “You always did have a screw loose,” he said. He stepped out down the garden path, opened the gate. Walked out onto the road. There was an awful screeching sound as a car lost control going around the corner. Martin froze. The car careered toward him. It struck his knee and he crumpled into the bonnet and then his face hit the windscreen. He fell to the pavement.

“No!” shouted Fred and he sprinted to Martin. He cradled his brother in his arms. Martin looked up at Fred one last time, eyes wide in shock, pupils dilated.

“I love you, man,” Martin said, before all the strength left his body and he became limp in Fred’s arms.

It was painful each time. But he knew what to do. He couldn’t let this happen. He marched back to his house. Slammed open the front door.

“What's wrong, love?” asked his mum as he stomped past her.

“Martin just died,” he said.

“What do you mean,” she screamed, her face horrified.

“Check outside our gate”, he said coldly over his shoulder.

He’d broken the news to her so many times, he didn’t want to see her reaction today. He wanted to be alone. He ran upstairs to his room and slammed his door. He could still hear his mum’s sobbing outside. He needed to go back to the past, away from this terrible day. He took the vial from his coat. It was cold like it sucked energy into it. He threw it onto the floor, and it smashed. The contents shot out like a small explosion and immediately a manhole-sized black vortex with crackling electricity appeared on the floor. He jumped into it.

He landed with a thud on the floor of his bedroom, one week before. At the time where he originally created the potion. The timeline he just lived, he knew, had rolled back a week for everyone and everything. He imagined the vortex was a wormhole, anchored to this moment. Everything was the same as it had been a week before, except he was a week older. And his old self was never here. So maybe he was in a slightly different alternative reality. He didn’t know. He didn’t care.

It did matter that he kept getting older. He’d done this fifty times now. He was nearly a year more mature. He knew when he went down for food later, he’d look older and more muscular than he did an hour before. He’d say that he’d had a protein shake and try and laugh it off. But that line wouldn’t keep working if he went up to his room a teenager and came back a man. And he’d have spent most of his life in the same week, the same loop, trying to do something that wasn’t working. Fate seemed determined. It must be his brother’s time.

He crashed onto his bed and allowed himself to sob. He mourned for Martin. Dad hadn’t been around and mum had tried her best, but really, Martin had been like a father to him. There was only a three-year gap, but he’d taught him everything he knew. Helped stop him be a dork at high school. Coached him on asking out Kate, who he’d kissed on that first date. He’d even taught him how to tie his shoelaces, although he’d got it wrong slightly and now he was forever doomed to tie them back to front, but it still got the job done.

Perhaps he should stop now. If he didn’t make another potion, that would put an end to it. Then he couldn’t return to this time and couldn’t try again. He would have to go to his brother's funeral. And then get on with his life.

Somehow he found himself pushing his legs off the bed and sitting up. There was one last thing he could try, but he wasn’t sure if it could work. He went to his workbench and turned on the overhead light. Picked up an empty vial and placed it in the wooden rack. He ground herbs from the forest and mixed them with a solution of bat blood and saline. He recited incantations as he worked, murmuring the Latin words. He’d learned the potion-making skill from youtube. They weren’t serious on that channel. But somehow for Fred, it worked. Like the process created an unbreakable bond to this time and place where it was created. 

And then it was done. One last potion. It sat on the rack with the cork stopper in the top. The liquid spun like a whirlpool, and mini jolts of electricity discharged within itself.

A week passed, and Fred and Martin were standing on the porch once more. 

“Let me get this straight. You want me to wait here with you, in this chair, on this porch, and not go anywhere for the next twenty-four hours, or I’m going to die?” asked Martin. 

Fred nodded. “But before we do that, have a look at this.” He threw the vial on the floor, it smashed open, and the vortex appeared in front of him.

Martin flinched, took a step backwards, and reached out to hold onto Fred for support, before stopping himself, standing taller and becoming curious. “What’s that?” he said.

“It’s a bit of magic,” Fred said, “Like a storm cloud, but way cooler.”

Martin nodded and stepped forward to have a closer look. Fred pushed him in. He disappeared into the vortex which vanished leaving behind a wisp of smoke that drifted off into the breeze. And then there was silence. 

Fred didn’t know what he was expecting to happen. But nothing did. So he sat on the seat on the porch and waited. He was hoping that Martin would appear and breezily say hello, and then they could carry on living their lives. He kept looking left and right. There was no Martin. He could hear a commotion across the street. Two people having a domestic argument. He didn’t remember that happening before. But then he’d never gotten this far before. He smiled. He’d gotten the furthest he’d ever gotten before without someone dying.

Suddenly, he felt a terrible burning pain in his chest. He touched it with his hands. He felt pain and saw blood rushing out of his chest onto his hands. This was not good, he thought. He looked wildly around and realised that a gun had discharged from the couple arguing and he’d been accidentally hit. 

He slumped from the chair onto the porch. He’d saved Martin’s life. But now he was going to die. He was not sure he would have chosen that, but, despite it, he smiled. At least he’d saved Martin. He looked up at the blue sky and his vision faded to black. 

The last thing he saw was the blue sky. But the last thing he heard was a voice shouting that he would fix it and the sound of a vortex appearing.

December 15, 2022 09:38

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Tommy Goround
21:38 Dec 20, 2022

Nice flow. Nice characters. (I seen the same exact plot before. Star Trek? Can't put my finger on it) But kudos: and this is like the dark Tower except the Jake boy doesn't die. Or at least Roland tries to keep him from not dying.


William Richards
03:32 Dec 21, 2022

Thanks for reading and your comments. This story came to me in an instant when I was thinking about the word 'puncture' for some reason... The idea of the potion puncturing space and time. But I agree, it is obviously inspired by some modern films/tv shows but I'm also not sure which!


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Mike Panasitti
15:00 Dec 22, 2022

This story is very original. I personally don't remember having read or seen anything with a similar premise before. However, I think the ending is somewhat cloudy and abbreviated. Fred's getting shot on his front porch by neighbors engaged in a domestic dispute seems somewhat farfetched unless some additional backstory is provided (e.g. a previous scene or mention of the troublesome neighbors and an explanation of why they're so argumentative). Lastly, does Martin exit the wormhole into Fred's room? Is there more of the potion sitting...


William Richards
04:06 Dec 23, 2022

Hi Mike, thanks so much for reading. And good points about some suggestions for future revisions


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