Space Time Continuum

Submitted into Contest #154 in response to: Write a story featuring an element of time-travel or anachronism.... view prompt

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Fiction Science Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

 "In just a few days, we will be sending one of our scientists, Timothy Archer, into the past with our time machine. For the last few years, many of the StineCorp scientists have been working on this time machine. Months of hard work, millions of dollars, and an endless stream of coffee..." Joseph Stine, owner of StineCorp and the lead scientist on the project, paused a moment as the crowd laughed politely. He continued speaking, but Jeff was no longer listening.

He pushed his way out of the crowd, dodging elbows and shifting feet as he went. He had heard all he needed to hear. The time machine was now functional. That meant he could finally put his plan into action. Hurrying home, he settled at his desk and pulled out his notes.

He would have one chance, and one chance only, to get into that time machine. He had to do everything perfectly. Three years ago, when he had found out about the time machine StineCorp was attempting to make, he had begun working on a plan. He had managed to get a job at the lab, he was no better than a fetch-and-carry boy, but it had been a way to get inside of the lab. It did not, however; afford him the opportunity to be in the highly secure area of the lab where the time machine was being built.

But that was where he began working on the second phase of his plan: befriend those in higher positions. It had been a hard and long process. During the time he had not been working, he had been stalking the scientists and security, learning the whereabouts and their routines. His biggest asset in this regard was Timothy Archer, the scientist that was meant to be the first person in the time machine. He was a man with a brilliant mind and was dedicated to science, but he was not without his vice. Alcohol. All Jeff had to do was find him at the bar he frequented and ply him with drinks, and he became a fountain of information.

Information that now lay in front of Jeff. He felt a bit guilty at using Timothy, especially since he had grown to like the man, but he pushed the guilt away. He was not going to ruin the time machine or make any trouble for Timothy, he just needed to go back in time and save his mother. He reached for the picture on his desk and fingered the edge of the photo. "I'm coming, Mom."

The following morning, he awoke before the sun. He slipped on clothes, pocketed a page of his notes, and walked to StineCorp. Arriving at the door, he entered his passcode and stepped inside. As he made his way closer to the time machine, he would need to consult his notes for the other codes, but for now, he could do what he usually did on a workday. He nodded to people as he made his way up the stairs. Once he reached the fifth floor, he entered a bathroom and switched his clothes for the garb of a scientist. Lab coat, protective eyewear, a mask, and a name badge he had stolen. He tucked his clothes in the last stall behind the toilet and strolled out of the bathroom.

Realizing the danger he was about to step into, Jeff felt his heart begin to beat a rapid tattoo. He forced himself to keep an air of calm around him, despite his nervousness. He could do this. He had to.

Walking down a hallway, he turned left, then right, then right again, left, left, left, left, down a flight of backstairs, to a door marked 'Restricted Access' and 'Dangerous." He glanced at his watch. He had under a minute to enter the door before the guard walked back this way.

Jeff pulled out his notes and ran his eyes down the page until he saw the password he sought. 738843289958327847985858844. His hands began to sweat as he typed out the numbers. Access denied. "No, no, no, no," he muttered under his breath. He only had fifteen seconds left. He started typing again, this time saying the numbers as he did so. "7-3-8-8-4-3-2-8-9-9-5-8-3-2-7-8-4-7-9-8-5-8-5-8-8-4-4." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a black shoe. He glanced back at the door. Access granted. The door clicked open and he rushed in.

He had done it. He was here. Glancing up, he studied the beast that was the first-ever time machine. It was big, with cord and wires, switched and colored buttons. In all, it was a sight to behold. Stepping forward gingerly, he came to stand in front of the door. He pulled open the door and stepped inside. At the same time, the outer door that Jeff had passed through opened.

Joseph Stine stepped inside. "Hey, what are you doing in there? Get out at once!"

Jeff froze. No, this could not be happening. He had come too far, done too much, to fail. Quickly, Jeff started flipping the switches and pressing buttons in the sequence that would activate the time machine.

"Stop!" Joseph stepped forward, but he was too late. Jeff typed in the time he wanted to go to, four years ago, and in the next second, he was being transported.

The feeling was unlike anything he had ever felt. And were he asked to explain it, he would be unable to. The next moment, the feeling was gone and he was four years in the past. "It worked." He glanced around at himself and then at his surroundings. It had worked. He was here. All his hard work had not been wasted. Now, he just needed to find his mother's killer and kill him.

He waited for what felt like hours but could have been minutes. Then he saw his mother walking with a younger version of himself. Jeff watched himself talking animatedly with his mother, not knowing that his world was about to be ruined. But not this time. He pulled the gun out of his pocket and aimed it at the alley the killer was going to walk through. He cocked the gun.

"Jeff, stop!" Jeff turned to look behind him. Timothy stood behind him, hands raised.

"Timothy, what are you doing here?"

Timothy ran to meet him. "Stine told me that you used the time machine. I had to go after you. Don't do this."

Jeff stepped away from the man and re-aimed his gun. "Leave me alone. I have worked too long and hard to allow you to get in the way."

"You don't understand, Jeff. You can't do this. If you alter history, you will tear a hole into the space-time continuum."

Jeff scoffed. "You read too many comics."

Timothy stepped in front of his gun. "I'm serious, Jeff. You will ruin the world if you do this."

Jeff paused. Could that be true? No, Timothy was probably saying that to scare him away. But before he could step around Timothy, he heard a gunshot and his mother's scream. "Nooooooo!" His scream mingled with that of his younger self. He pushed past Timothy and hurried to his mother's side.

His mother's pale eyes looked from him to the other him. Then they closed as the life drained from her body. Jeff pounded the ground with his fist. He had failed.

Timothy pulled up beside him. "I'm sorry, Jeff, but it was for the best."

Jeff shook his head. "No, I can't do this again. I can't live without her." He raised the gun. The killer was long gone, and while killing him now would be satisfying, it would not bring his mother back. "I'm sorry, Jeff," he told the younger version of himself. "We can't live without her." Then he pulled the trigger.

July 10, 2022 20:31

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22:29 Jul 20, 2022

I was not ready for this ending! I was hoping he would save his mother!! People often wonder what it would be like to go back in time and fix something from your past.


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