A shaded balcony
Chlorine wafting from the pool like a Siren's song
Scrape of colorful chalk, tattooing concrete
Flowers in bloom
Red petals dancing in summer's light
Cyclist meandering by
Wheels cracking and spokes creaking
Wind in grass
Dried morning trimmings blanketing the walkway
The year is 3020 and time travel is an execution method.
A few years back, it was a hopeful science experiment. “Humanity’s next great breakthrough,” said World Union’s propagandists. It earned them a few willing volunteers. A couple hundred if I remember right, but after humanity’s next great breakthrough turned its volunteers into charred corpses, WU couldn’t find a soul patriotic enough to step into a pod.
So these bastards used it to kill “criminals” or, better said, revolutionaries like me.
I wish I kept quiet. If I hadn’t written those papers. If I’d just stayed an obedient citizen…
My feet felt heavy as my handlers led me to my pod. My heart beat rattled my body and I couldn’t find the strength to walk anymore. Hands yanked me from the ground and tossed me into my pod. They strapped my arms to my seat and, when I was secured, pressed a button that lowered the pod’s door. It made a hiss as it sealed me in.
A priest stood outside and prayed for me, but I couldn’t hear him. Not over my loud breathing. Not over my heartbeat, now thundering in my ears.
The machine whirled to life when he disappeared from view. I felt it attack my body first, pulling me apart atom by atom, then it went for my mind and crushed it.
The year is 1985; I live in London with my wife, and I’m the first human to survive a time jump.
I want to be alone… with someone who wants to be alone.
We rented a motel room in a city far away from our respective lives. The moment we entered, we killed our phones then sequestered them in the old drawer – charging be damned – officially going off grid.
Two chocolates and a courtesy “Hope You Enjoy Your Stay” note sat in the center of the bed. We pushed them onto the floor and stowed away under the cold covers, embracing each other for warmth and, at some primal level, a need to belong.
But when our embrace didn’t scare away the loneliness that festered within us, we resorted to kissing it away.
Our respective decomposing worlds faded into a fog, leaving us alone.
Under satin sheets Your soft snoring in my ears Sheltered in your warmth
That’s when I screamed as loud as I could. So loud that a photographer dropped her camera. I curled into a ball and grabbed my knees. “Please stop talking. Please stop talking.” I repeated like a madman.
There was nothing like it. Their first kiss. The way they’d fallen in love. The loneliness that existed before and the salvation he brought. She could see a life with him: a house, a little dog, and maybe a child.
She dragged her knife against rigid metal, grating its edge to a sharp point. Well, she thought, turning to her victim subdued in the kitchen chair. His new girlfriend is welcomed to my leftovers.
I still tasted the last of the toothpaste. The minty feeling reminding me I’d have to replenish both bathrooms if there was anything left between bills and food. Hell, my family might have to go a week with rancid breath. That ought to be fun.
I shifted in my recliner. A torn, ragged thing I found at a thrift store that’s now even more fucked up since crossing my threshold. My kids—did I school them today? — have picked at the old fabric until stuffing jutted out like skin through ripped jeans.
I made a last futile attempt at comfortability, then settled in, ignoring the serrated leather cutting into my flabby thighs.
I fixed on my reading glasses and snapped open my magazine. For a moment I brood over not buying one of those tablet things that Renee has when I had the money, but soon think better of it. She could barely go two taps without Big Brother trying to sell her some shit she looked at two days ago.
But… I’d take the ads any day.
It’s better than this unexplainable dread that fills me as I leaf through the streaky magazine paper. Every page detailing how the world is falling apart. Hell, how it might even die before my own little shits come of age. I let the pages slip between my thumbs, fast forwarding through all the bullshit.