The Inevitable Fate

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt

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Thriller Fiction Suspense

` Time is a curious thing. In certain moments, it seems to chug along like a tired student running three miles. In other moments, it seems to travel at the speed of light. Recently, I discovered that I could alter time. My ability would choose to slow down or speed up time whenever it wanted to. In the past, it had come in handy. I had encountered a pop quiz in college, and my power slowed down time, giving me the time to study the materials before taking the test. Days later, I learned that I had passed the test with flying colors.

*Present time*

"Hey Lauren, I'll be there in five minutes. About 6:45. Don't worry, I have the pizza with me, and the kids are in the car," I said, looking down at my phone.

"Mm ok, come fast!" mumbled Lauren, my wife. She had received a promotion at work, and we were going to celebrate with a pizza-movie dinner. I looked over at the large pizza box sitting in the seat next to me. The vegetarian pizza from Dominos was her favorite. 

My right hand let go of the wheel to press end-call. When I looked back up at the road, time slowed down. My eyes slowly took in my new surroundings. A large UPS truck was headed straight toward us at the pace of a tired student running three miles. It was about twenty feet ahead. Instinctively, my hands tried to yank the wheel to the right and onto the sidewalk, but the wheel wouldn't budge. Time had slowed down. But only for me. I could only change my surroundings according to the real-time they experienced. 

Taking a deep breath in, I unbuckled my seatbelt and tried yanking my children, Isabella and Crystal, from their seats. Maybe I could save them. Once again, neither of them would budge. I tried waving my hand in front of their face. No reaction. I tried yelling into their ears. No reaction. My eyes carefully observed Crystal's face. Her light blue eyes stared back at me for what seemed like five whole minutes. I watched Isabella the same way. Once again, her innocent gray eyes only stared back at me, unburdened by the knowledge that a truck was about to slam into us.

6:40 pm. For the past second of real-time (according to my car's clock), I counted the seconds that passed for me. I was never that great at math in college, but my brain never failed me for small calculations. For each second in real-time, I had about five minutes. Given the distance between our car and the truck, and the truck's speed, I used my phone's calculator to find how much time there was until the truck slammed into our car. 10.0 seconds. Exactly 10 seconds. Not a millisecond more or a millisecond less.

Frantically, I jumped out of the car and ran towards the truck. The truck was like a massive three-story building. I was a mere puny snail in comparison. My eyes squinted to look through the dirty windshield. The driver wasn't looking at the road but instead at his phone. Tch. He better be fired. I gulped. He most likely wouldn't even survive.

Maybe I could redirect the truck from our path. Maybe my ability wasn't limited to slowing down time. Could I push the truck out of the way? My brain focused on moving the truck out of the way and slowly lifted my hand in front. Channeling my inner Eleven, I slowly moved my hand to the right. Five seconds later, I opened my eyes and looked up. The truck hadn't moved one inch.

My body wobbled and collapsed onto the sidewalk. The weight of the situation was starting to weigh down on my shoulders like a massive boulder. Was this just a dream? My children and I were mere seconds from getting run over by the huge UPS truck, and somehow I had paused time. Someone had given me the opportunity, the chance to save my children and me from such an awful fate, yet I was wasting it. I was stuck alone, unable to change anything. All I could do was sit and wait for my inevitable fate. My vision started to become blurry. The truck and my car blurred together into one gray mass.

After minutes of heavy sobbing, I stood up and wiped away my tears with the back of my hand. Maybe this was just a dream; my fingers instinctively pinched my arm. Ouch, this was real.

There was no point crying over milk that hadn't even spilled yet. Maybe the solution was hidden somewhere else. Maybe there was a way to stop my inevitable fate. Time must have slowed down for a reason.

Where do I start? My legs instinctively carried me towards my house. We were mere minutes away. It was only a walking distance now. Large crowds of people stood like statues on the sidewalk. I tried waving my hands in front of them and screaming into their ears. No reaction. No blinks. Nothing. Negative thoughts started to fill my head, pushing away the light of hope. My hands smacked my head a few times to keep the dark thoughts at bay.

Our house stood in front of me, shining in the sunlight. The cleaners had recently cleaned all the spider webs off the white walls and the dry leaves off the rooftop. Our plants shone in the sunlight; they were green as ever. Lauren had an obsession with plants. She had filled every room in our house with at least one green plant just a day after we bought the house. I remembered having complained every day about having spent too much money on watering all the plants. A tear slid down my face. Right now, I would buy a million plants or pay a million dollars to talk to Lauren again.

My feet carried me to my front door. Instinctively, I knocked quietly. How stupid. My hands tried turning the doorknob. It wouldn't budge. Quickly, I rummaged through my pocket before slamming my head against the door. My wallet was still in the car. Today was not the day for mistakes or forgetfulness.

The back door from the garden was always left open. Lauren always wanted to allow our dog, Benji, to roam freely from our backyard to our house. She hated locking him up in either place, and Benji loved his freedom.

Fortunately, the door was still open. I ran inside and searched for Lauren. She was sitting on the plush red couch. It was the first couch we bought since we moved in. Dozens of happy memories flooded into my head, fueling my desire to fix my mistake of checking my phone while driving.

Lauren's hand was still holding onto her phone, and her unblinking eyes stared right at me. Hope flooded into my brain. Maybe she could see me. I jumped around frantically and screamed into her ears. Her eyes remained open, and her posture remained unchanged. It was hopeless.

My hand randomly decided to grab Lauren's phone. To my surprise, I was able to. Why? How was her phone supposed to help me? There had to be a reason. My sanity clung to this false hope of a solution.

I dialed 911, but the call wouldn't go through. I dialed all my relatives and friends, but none of those calls went through either. Scrolling through her recent calls, I decided to call myself. Lauren's phone read ringing; my phone must mean something! My hands patted all my pockets, checking for my phone. I let out a groan and dropped my head dropped into my hands. Once again, I had left my phone back inside the car.

Minutes later, I arrived back at the intersection. Putting my hands on my knees, I paused to catch my breath. The truck was only one foot away from our car. My eyes widened. That meant the ten seconds were almost up. My heart rate quickened, and my hands started sweating. Quickly, I shoved the car door open and rummaged around for my phone. Once again, I tried dialing 911 and all the contacts I had. Nothing worked. I looked up through the windshield and took notice of the truck's wheels inching towards us.

"Stupid phone!" I yelled, slamming it onto the ground. Panting, I sat back inside the car and tried hitting the breaks. It was hopeless. In less than a minute, the truck would slam onto my car.

Our fate was inevitable. The only thing I could have done to change it was to have paid attention to the road. I could have just kept my eyes on the road. I could have held onto the wheel. I could have saved my children and myself from this inevitable fate.

Suddenly, time sped up. The truck slammed into our car, and everything turned black. My thoughts slowly drifted away.

January 01, 2021 01:11

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2 comments

Roland Aucoin
20:26 Jan 08, 2021

Well-written. Brutal content. Beyond that, I am lost for words, and that does not happen often.

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N S
23:03 Jan 08, 2021

Haha, thanks. I wanted to try something different.

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