I was going back again, but this time would be the last. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back, only ever really managing to remember the last two. Time plays tricks on the mind. I laughed at the irony. Explosions from outside the complex shook the room. I switched on the machine and focused on the destination. An hour after my first meeting would cut down on the explanations. Climbing into the machine, it spooled up, charging the exotic matter needed to slip through space and time.
It fired as the room started to break apart and released me into the void, away from the armageddon that was occurring around me. Once again, I had escaped my fate and once again, I went to change it.
The change from now to before was almost instantaneous. There was an after-effect that left me reeling, much like sunspots after looking at the sun directly, except with an all-over-body experience. It always took me a while to reorientate.
Once the world returned to a perceptible normality, I got up and went to find myself. It was a good forty-seven years since my last meeting with myself, but my augmented memory was crystalline clear and rich with vivid details. My other self, the younger version of me, would still be reeling from the first encounter with myself, from what I recalled. He would be at home, in his room alone, and it was there that I found me.
“You’re back!” he said with a bright smile on his young face.
I signed, wearily, and sat down on his bed, my face in my hands.
“It’s not the same one as last time, this time I’m you but older.”
“That’s what you said last time!”
“I know, but the events that he went through aren’t the same as what I did, because I went through and changed the events like he told me to.”
“So it still didn’t work out?” the younger me asked, crestfallen. Even though he was only eleven, he was still quicker on the uptake than any human alive. He was beyond a genius, and it was no wonder that he would develop the very technology to travel through time. That very same technology would lead to the destruction and extinction of all life forms on the planet. Or was that me who was responsible?
“No matter what I do, it doesn’t change. Everything always leads to death.” I said, helplessly.
“There has to be a way to stop it happening!” the younger me said, excited and full of the passion that comes from youth.
I sighed again. Weariness had become my entire existence. I just wanted it to be over. “There is a way, but you won’t like it.” I said.
“What is it?” he asked me.
“Don’t do anything.”
A few minutes of silence followed while he digested the implications.
“You mean, not invent anything?” he finally asked, quietly.
“But that’s what you asked me to do last time,” he said, perplexed.
It was true. In my past, I remember having a conversation with a previous version of my time-self. He had suggested that I not invent anything. He had pleaded it. But I had to have a backup, just one thing in case it didn’t work. I had to be able to return and fix it if it didn’t work. To fund that option, I needed to invent a few other things.
This meant that I couldn’t not invent. I couldn’t help myself. I always had to have an option.
“So what now?” he asked me, his eyes wide.
I moved quickly, stabbing him in the leg with the dispenser. The nano-toxin worked instantly, and he was dead before he could even ask the question of why. It was painless.
I placed him on the bed gently.
“I’m sorry, but I had to stop it somehow.”
I closed his door quietly on the way out. *
About the Author: Thomas George is 29 and lives in Sydney, Australia. He works full time in a supermarket and studies full time at university. He hopes one day to be a writer or something more than a supermarket drone. He has a diploma in Information Technology and has been writing stories since he was 8.
(c) 2008 Thomas George email@example.com