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.
“Blue skins aren’t allowed on Station 3,” the terminal conductor repeated with some annoyance.
Her father waved a holo display in the conductor’s face. “Would you look at the papers. She’s a legal citizen and has the same rights as—”
“I don’t care what it is. Letting that thing on the transport will only cause problems with the other passengers.” The conductor slammed the transports’ doors and fired up the engines, leaving the two of them alone on the space bridge dock.
“Your species is filled with assholes,” Jamie finally said, interrupting the silence.
A martian usher escorted the woman away from the rest of us enslaved musicians. As she stepped onto the levitating stage, the alien audience let out a deafening cheer that rumbled the ship.
“She’ll be the one that wins her freedom,” Mikhail, my accompanying pianist, said as the ship began to quiet.
I nodded. Why wouldn’t she win? She was Alyssa Garner! A gifted violinist coveted by conductors back on Earth.
Alyssa’s bow hung in the air. Once it was silent, she struck the strings and played a strong chord. She progressed through her piece. Her delicate fingers gliding across the violin’s neck with practiced precision.
A true master.
But her enchantment on me shattered when she yelped. The stage split and sucked her into space. A raucous noise, that I can only describe as laughter, erupted from the audience.
I wrote this for a comedy flash fiction challenge years ago. I didn’t win, but I still find this scene funny. I think that says something about my sanity 🙂
I stepped into a sterile glass box that whirled as it carried me into the computerized brain of the Ancient One. Red lights ran the length of my body, gathering data for the algorithm that would determine my life’s purpose or, as the Ancient called it, Life Assignment.
A disembodied voice told me this was the day I’d truly begin living my life, but what the machine considered living…wasn’t living at all.
“’Til we’ve landed?” I said. “That’s five months from now.”
He smiled and lowered his voice. “Do you know what separates us from the beasts, Viola?”
I frowned, sensing a lesson. “The ability to wait to open a present?”
He laughed. “Fire,” he said. “The ability to make fire at will. It allowed us light to see in the darkness, warmth against the cold, a tool to cook our food.” He gestured vaguely in the direction of the Delta’s engines. “Fire is what eventually led to travel across the black beyond, the ability to start a new life on a New World.”
Viola’s family is given a mission to prepare The New World for human colonization. It’s
a honorable mission because no one else on ships Delta and Alpha have lived on a real planet. In fact, humans haven’t lived on an actual planet since Old Earth was poisoned generations ago.
However, Viola doesn’t care how “honorable” the mission is. Deep down, she’s actually afraid. And why not? The last settlers didn’t come back. It’s disheartening! But everyone wants her to have hope.
Approaching their destination…something happens…
Overall I enjoyed this short read! The ending of this prequel makes me want to check out the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy. Another thing that I really enjoyed was the theme of hope.