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Science Fiction Romance

[1st 712 words written during your YouTube sprints]

“Oops. That old TV made an odd racket as it tumbled down the stairs. The explosion I expected didn’t happen, thank the gods. The huge hole it made in the drywall at the bottom of the stairs should be easy to fix. After a little paint, no one will ever know.” “Wait, honey. This hole goes much deeper than it should. This is an outside wall so why can I put my whole arm in it?” “Careful Jen, there should only be about six inches to the outside. Help me pull down some more drywall?” Within fifteen minutes, we made a six-foot high hole that’s three feet wide. “What’s this? It looks like a dust-covered control panel in here. The small screen says ‘PROCEED.’ Did you know about this when we bought the house last month?” “No, Jim. The realtor never mentioned anything about any secret panels. Why would she, even if she knew?” “Oops. The message changed when I wiped the dust off the number pad. I wonder what ‘Enter Date’ means. Maybe today’s date? Let me try that.” I checked my watch first. It read 13:23 3/21/20. “I guess that’s not it since it now says ‘You may not travel to today. Press ‘info’ for restrictions.’ Do it, Jim; I can’t read it from here.” “Sorry, Jen. It scrolls too fast. Maybe there’s a pause? All I caught was part of a warning about staying too long there, and aging something. I don’t get it. Pick a good date and let’s see what happens. Oh oh. That reminds me of old jokes that start out with ‘Watch this!’ — they never end well.” “I remember some of those. Jim, how about your birthday 12-2-1947? Maybe it brings up a newspaper headline?” “OK. Did it. Now the dim, green display is asking for map coordinates for the place. I guess it’s too old to know about GPS. Our world map is still rolled up there, let’s see what it says.” “Here it is. Punch this in, Jim.” As soon as I pressed ENTER, an ever brightening vortex formed in the shallow wall and extended and grew until it enveloped me — all within a second. I heard my wife, Jen, scream, “Jim, Jim, what’s happ . . . ?” as I dropped into a bright, warm day in a field. But, but how is this within that wall? Where am I? A woman lay on her back, crushing field straw as a man struggled to deliver a baby and ignore her cries. The bluish baby came into the world silently. I moved closer and asked if I could help them. They ignored me. The father tied and cut the cord then spanked the baby until it gasped and turned pink. Dad cried out, “Welcome my son, James.” I moved around and recognized the man from family photos. He was the dad who died when I was two. The woman? Yes. She is my mom, so is that baby me? I cried out to them, but they didn’t hear me. When I tried to hug them, my arms passed through them. Could I be a ghost? An hour passed as mom recovered without incident. I watched her feed her nipple to a reluctant me. When I looked around, I recognized the small stone hut, the well and the small house on the green hill mom always described to me as a child. Is this real or am I dreaming my birth? If I’m still in the wall, how do I go back. “JEN, Jen. Can you hear me? Help me.” No answer. Dad helped mom get up and I followed them up to the cottage. When he closed the door, it passed through me, reminding me I was just an observer. Days passed. Weeks became months as I watched myself grow and face milestones I couldn’t remember — weening, eating solid food, walking, talking. Months became years and the day I disbelieved would come, finally came. I watched dad die in a farming accident; watched mom suffer in stunned depression and watched me and my confusion about why dad never came home. Soon after that day, mom and I fled to the USA to start a new life. Why wasn’t I hungry in all this time? Provisions on the boat across the Atlantic are sparse, but I know they, umm WE, would survive. In just three short weeks, we arrived totally confused. I now understand things I barely remembered. Mom found menial jobs and was thrilled she could afford horrible apartments. She put me through grammar school, then a Jesuit high school. I watched me move out, find a job and marry my first wife. Oh, Jen, where are you? Twenty-two years and you are still on my mind. That year, as I watched the birth of my first child, the air chilled around me and the blinding whirlpool formed. Suddenly, Jen fell out of the vortex and jumped into my arms. “This is where and when I knew you’d be. I keyed in the location and here I am. Wait. They can’t see us? We can watch your son’s birth, but let’s go home after that? I made the panel scroll slowly and read all the instructions so I know how to get home.” An hour or so later, we each pressed and twisted our bare navels as we recited the key words, “There’s no place like home.” Twin vortices formed, the air glared then dimmed abruptly and we popped back into our new home at the wrecked wall. Everything looked normal. Our clothes, the ragged hole in the wall leading into the impossible passageway, the old TV resting across several steps, all exactly as I left them twenty-two years ago. When I checked my watch, I saw the time change to 13:24 3/21/20! So . . . ? “I went into that passageway just one minute ago?” “Yes, Jim. But remember the message about staying too long and aging? Come, look in the hall mirror.” As I went down the last two steps from the stair platform, I heard my joints creak and crack; felt my back pains and some dizziness. Those still didn’t prepare me for the old man I saw in the mirror. I turned to see who that was, but no one was behind me. I was the ninety-four-year old man! Jen caught me as my legs gave out and I staggered back in shock. She pulled up a chair for me and I worked out the clues before I wondered aloud, “Where or when should we go next if this becomes my last trip?” She ignored my half smirk. Jen looked down at me with doleful eyes as if indulging an old fool. As she knelt to look directly into my eyes, she said, “I love you, old man. There was a post script to the directions. It said traveling would be difficult. Literally, it said ‘Time travel is a bitch.’”

March 20, 2020 21:09

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1 comment

Christina Steele
21:56 Mar 29, 2020

"There's no place like home." Good story.


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