Short Story: Will Through Time
So last month I entered the writing competition over at The Cult Of Me blog, and I was pretty thrilled with my entry. It didn't win, but c'est la vie. I get to shove it one here, and you get to read it anyway. You lucky lucky things. The competition rules were that it had to be no more than 500 words and inspired by this picture:
Will Through TimeI stand on the shore with my feet in the surf and I close my eyes and will the thing back from the past. If I can get this right, if I can just hold it in my mind and not let it slip, I could change history.
This thought makes me wobble. All of a sudden the sea seems incredibly cold around my feet. Clouds shift to obscure the sun. There are long shadows and they’re not falling because I have successfully pulled it forward in time. I have lost concentration and in a moment the thing will go crashing back through the waves of time and I will have made no difference at all.
Bardie’s words, unwanted as ever, arrive in my head.
“You can’t change anything. It already happened. If you reach back and change something there you change EVERYTHING here.”
I remember his impatience. My dismissal.
“”That’s the point,” I told him, “I want to change everything.”
He cannot explain to me how vast my mistaken belief is. For once he has no words, only huffs and squints and the sharp tang of angry disappointment. I know he thinks I should be smarter than this. I want to tell him that I have thought about this. If something didn’t happen then how does it impact on now? What are the new effects that go rippling through time? Does nothing change? Does everything change? Will the signal that I hope to remove, the striking sound that starts a small murder that becomes a massacre, will that be replaced by something else? Stubbornly my only response to this question is “we’ll find out”.
I know I won’t find out. I know I won’t be here – none of us will. But I am positive that by wiping clean the past, whatever present knits itself into being, whatever replaces this weak and anxious world that we live in, will have to be better. I really don’t see how it can be any worse.
I remember how firm I am in this decision. I send the doubts away, shrugging them off like a loose coat. They pool around my feet and are washed away in broken pieces by the tide. I narrow my focus, I send out my thoughts like two huge hands, reaching back, cupping the cornices of the clock tower, taking firm hold.
I am only just in time. I can sense whispers of anticipation nearby. Somewhere a murderer waits breathlessly for the agreed signal; the clock striking seven. The mechanisms crank. They are grinding through time. I heave at the structure. But I am not just bringing bricks and mortar, glass and steel, cogs and chains… I am dragging the weight of this days time. The seconds are heavy with what should happen next. Everything moving towards this moment pulls away from me, my fingers slip. I see a shimmer in the ocean. I nearly had it. And then the bells in history start dimly to chime.