stood mesmerized by the swirling void I had created. I had never
visualised anything like what stood before me. The time portal looked
much like a blackish whirlpool trailing into infinity. I knew once
I stepped across the threshold, I could never return. My whole life
since my only child's accidental death nearly thirty years ago had
been focused on this moment. After the accident I managed to go
on but the joy had left my life.
passed before I saw the possibility of an answer in the time equations
I had been working through. I knew the solution had to be there.
I only needed to find it.
only when I had to, ate only when my body demanded sustenance. I
lived in those formulas, driven to return to that fateful day. I
would build a time machine. I would change all that had happened,
all that was happening now. I sacrificed everything to work the
formulas. My wife left me after two years and I missed her very
much, but I knew that when I succeeded, she would not know the anguish
of losing a child. She would never experience the pain of watching
me self-destruct. None of it would ever happen. My long suffering
colleagues brought me food and left it outside the cottage door
because I wouldn't let them in. I was gaunt to the extreme and my
body was covered in scale and sores from lack of attention. I developed
a ragged cough that tormented me constantly. My grey unwashed beard
hung past my chest, but none of it mattered. Everything would change
once I succeeded.
swirled and coalesced in my mind forming constantly changing permutations.
Then I saw it. The last piece of the puzzle slotted neatly into
place. In the end, it had been so simple, so logical. I didn't know
why I hadn't stumbled on it years ago.
the next eighteen months in hospital as my body slowly recovered
from the excesses I had demanded of it. I spent the time designing
the equipment and electronics necessary to make my time machine
workable. It took another eight years to complete the designs and
funding to turn my obsession into a reality. The time didn't matter
to me. I knew I'd get it back once my machine was complete.
Now I stand,
staring into the void. The time slice had been calculated and programmed.
All I had to do was step into the portal. I had considered what
I would do many times in the past and had decided to simply enter
the front yard and take the brightly coloured ball so that Jamie
couldn't chase it out onto the road.
I felt myself tumbling and grunted as my shoulder slammed into
the ground. I looked around trying to get my bearings, realising
immediately that something was wrong. My calculations hadn't been
accurate. I had landed on the opposite side of the road and I watched
horrified as the coloured ball rolled off the curbing and bounced
into the path of the oncoming vehicle. I saw Jamie running across
the footpath to fetch it, unaware of the danger and I leapt to my
feet, determined to prevent history repeating itself.
toward my son, I scooped him under the arms and threw him as hard
as I could toward the footpath, moments before the bonnet of the
car smashed into my hip. My body lifted clear of the ground and
I seemed to float. Agony tore at my senses as my face crashed into
the top of the windscreen. I felt the bones shatter and the flesh
tear from my cheek as the force catapulted me further into the sky.
I hit the ground hard and rolled over and over.
from my open wounds as I cracked open my eyes to see Jamie rising
from the footpath where I had thrown him. Agonizing tendrils lanced
through me as I lay on the warm bitumen.
I felt my old memories fading to be replaced with new remembered
experiences. Jamie's high school graduation ceremony had been a
cherished moment for both my wife and myself. He went on to get
his law degree and I remembered how proud we were of him. We were
thrilled when he informed us that Jill had accepted his marriage
proposal and holding our newly born grandson, Carl, in my arms was
a memory more amazing than I can describe. I knew I was dying but
the memories I had of my life were worth any sacrifice.
a fulfilling life, a life to be proud of. I remembered several colleagues
and I had been working on the concept of time travel. We hadn't
solved the puzzle yet but we were close to a breakthrough.
The pain vanished and my body was whole again. I watched helplessly
as my son crumpled to the ground. His dead eyes stared at me over
his bloodstained shirt. My precious memories faded to again be replaced
by years of endless work and deprivation. Memories of the breakthrough
and the building of the time machine filled my mind.
I screamed as I again felt my bones break and flesh tear from my
face. I saw my son rise from the ground. New memories invaded my
mind. Memories of my wife, son and grandson filtered through my
stricken consciousness. Again the unsolved time equations intruded
on my thoughts.
between life experiences moved faster and faster until my body squirmed
in agony. I was locked into a time loop. Somewhere in my splintering
mind, I knew the paradox would have to be resolved. Time must continue
for all others, but not for me. My fate was sealed. An eternal sea
of joy, anguish and pain consumed me, tearing my consciousness completely
Doctor Donaldson felt disappointed that, in the twenty three years
since the accident, he had never been able to help the John Doe
lying on the hospital bed. He wiped the spittle from his patient's
horribly disfigured face before rising from the chair. As he headed
for the door, he heard a call over the PA requiring him to go to
reception. Donaldson knew Paul Ryan must have gotten his phone message
and would be waiting for him. On rounding the corner he was surprised
to see Ryan's son, Jamie, holding the hand of a young boy.
in front of the boy, he said, "Hello, little man, and what is your
replied the boy shyly.
"Can I see
him, Doctor?" Ryan asked.
looked up at the grey haired man who had spoken. He saw clearly
the sorrow deeply etched into Ryan's fixed expression.
his head slowly before replying, "He hasn't much time."
his son and grandson in the reception area and walked with mixed
emotions down the corridor toward the dying man. The suffering this
anonymous man had endured for saving his son's life saddened him,
but at the same time he was glad that it hadn't been Jamie lying
in the middle of the road. Ryan had always been too afraid to imagine
what his life would have been like if his only son had died in the
street that day.
They said I wasted my life after my son's death but, if I had been
able to, I know I would have disagreed.