Sitting on this desolate beach looking down at my dirty suit, I yearn for home again. Home for me is not a place, but a time. 2022. I laugh to myself as I long for my washing machine! Missing my nanny, Miss. Madison, my lizard, Lizzy, my parents, and most of all, my horse, Maybell. There are no horses here, no people, and no fish.
That’s what started our demise, all the fish died. Washed up on shore, but too toxic to ingest or you would perish. Many did. The pre-crisis caused a lot of hysteria, destruction, and grief for everyone on Earth. In fact; it essentially ended it. The panic that went into guarding us against “the sickness” rapidly created another pandemic. One that would kill billions. Extinction level crisis.
There is no distance I could travel, no mountain to climb that would take me back to 2022. I will have to figure out Dad’s machine calculations, rip another hole in the time and go back. However, twenty years back instead of forward! I can't believe I traveled through time just to find this baron land. Perhaps he had not figured that out yet. This clunky junk seems like a prototype for certain!
I am not just your average high school kid; I am a textbook genius! My parents are both world-renowned scientists and work for Nova Corporation. I hypothesize that with their combined DNA, those two overachievers created this complicated vessel I’m driving right now! A human calculator, dictionary, encyclopedia, and your overall generalized nerd.
I should be a pristine University Professor who researches life-saving medications with my parents, not graduating High School. My abilities have been the best-kept secret since, well, I can’t tell you about that either! My parents have always been steadfast in their belief that people should treat me as an equal. They always harnessed my abilities themselves and hide the evidence, proving I am some sort of superhuman.
They always made me believe it was for my well-being and I guess that is true. I made high enough grades to get me into the most prestigious of schools. However, I do dumb it down for my teachers, aside from the Nobel Prize I stumbled across. It’s like secretly having superpowers. My Dad publishes my work now, at least he did, or he was?
I will take you back to the day I arrived in 2048, although my memory of the events is fogging. It seems time travel has an adverse effect during the time surrounding your departure. You arrive disoriented and confused by what transpired days before leaving.
As the gravity of my situation hits me, I sob uncontrollably with a powerful force releasing deep inside. This quickly breaks the silence of the land. Mother Earth did not welcome me back with open arms and I was alone. Gasping for air, but unable to breathe as I struggle to crawl across the calm beach, towards our house. I give up and collapse on my back, feeling the pressure closing in on my lungs. I heard muffled voices yelling with urgency and stomping footprints in the sand as I lose consciousness.
As I come to, I hear two very distinct and familiar voices. “Mom! Dad!” I wailed, still very overwhelmed. “What happened? I couldn’t breathe out there!” They examine each other and looked at the floor, seemingly with deep sorrow. “We thought you had come up with a solution,” mutters Dad in anguish. “No, I found your time machine in your secret laboratory under Maybell’s barn! I, I, um, stole it.”
“Did you figure out how to move backward in time? I could only ever go forward! Started with three-minute jumps, then one hour. I figured I better stop using it until I worked out how to return.”
That was the very moment I figured it out. I was stranded in this empty wasteland. “O.k. but why can’t I breathe outside?” They looked at each other again and avoided eye contact with me as though they were hiding a secret. That’s when they told me about the sickness that would strike in 2024. The entire world turned clean freak and all those chemicals going into our water at once.
I looked into the eyes of my parents, aged 26 more years, I realized something else. “Why are you looking at me like I am dead?! I am dead, aren’t I?” Mom started sobbing, however she motions towards me to let me know I was still alive. “we always kept your abilities a secret because...”, “Stop, Rita! The boy is too young!” Interrupts Dad. I look back and forth until Mom carries on.
“Your Father and I were experimenting with embryos, our embryos. We were trying to isolate and delete certain defects like Cancer and diabetes. The trails were going so well! We just had to test this on humans. If Nova ever found out...” This time I interrupted. “I am an experiment.” Dad chimes in with his usual humor, “And an impressive one at that, my boy!” I pondered aloud, “Where am I then?” I had never seen my Mom with such hatred in her eyes and she spoke, “Nova found out. Right before the hysteria hit when you won your second Nobel Prize, in 2023. I told you to stop doing trials for your Science Teacher to find!”
“So, I am being held captive?” Reeling from all the time traveling and information, I suddenly projectile vomit all over my dad’s white lab coat. While he is cleaning, my Mom urges me to rest and I decline. “I need to know everything Mom, I think that was just from the trip.” Dad agrees and continues explaining. “Most of the humans are gone! Billions died when starvation set in. Nova, or you rather, built these pods for the survivors. We raced to fix the issue, but with a surge of chemicals going into the water at once, it quickly accelerated what was already happening. Laundry detergents with the harshest ingredients were being used and way, way too much of it. Our waters couldn’t handle it and the ecosystems built by design to keep this planet alive just died. Irreversible consequences!”
“How many survivors are there?” I ask quizzically. Mom opens her laptop to find the answer. “50 million, 400 thousand and 43. Uh, 44? Rather! Nova tagged us all like animals with their trackers, monitoring our vitals and location. They said it was a vaccine for the sickness. They knew this was coming!” Mom has always been passionate about helping people and the environment. I remember her talking about the negative effects of household cleaners, especially detergents in our waters. “It was my prediction exactly. You get the idea! It was sped up from the frenzy of cleaning; trying to guard off from the virus, but people didn’t understand what they had to do. The entire world went overboard and now we don’t have enough oxygen to live like we used to, with the sun directly on our faces. Excuse me.” Mom becomes visibly upset and scurries away into another room, then Dad takes over.
“Do you remember how she used to love sailing and collecting water samples? We can’t do that anymore without suits on.” He explains. “Seeing you probably brought back memories of the past, when times were abundant. Dwindling rapidly, but abundant nonetheless. Scientists are the only ones left. They say a single child hasn’t been born since and won’t be permitted until numbers plummet to keep up with the oxygen and drinkable water supply that we have left.” He peers out at the crashing waves that surround the pod with wonder and continues his task.
“Decontamination of the water we tainted is underway, but it could take up to 50 more years to achieve that. One company in particular cashed in on the first pandemic, then caused this one. He is too saddened to look outside when he recalls how this happened. They continued to create stronger detergents against our scientific evidence. The law takes so much time to catch up to science that we lost the battle and with it, this world. By the time they set up water rations and other life-preserving precautions, it was too late. PEOPLE JUST DIDN’T LISTEN!” Dad becomes enraged and knocks over a metal drinking cup and tons of paperwork. As his breathing deepened, I grabbed hold of his waist and gave him our famous Father and Son Grizzly Bear hug with all of my might.
“Can anything fix this, Dad?” With a gleam of hope in his eye, he said, “Yes, son! A time machine!” He laughed. “But where is yours?” he paced around the room as he replies. “It’s all the way in the barn! I don’t have enough time or oxygen allowance to go out there much. We have an agreement with Nova that they don’t do any experiments on you that affect your health in any way which you offered voluntarily. We get more oxygen to run examples and we don’t blow the hell out of the main generator that keeps the pods active.” He states as a matter of fact as Mom enters the room, composed and collected.
“I will call and have our allowance doubled. I will tell them we have had a breakthrough in our research with the phytoplankton algae.” She shakes her head shamefully. “There hasn’t been, though. There just isn’t anything we can do, except get you back to your time with a message. You can use my suit. Best you both get started.”
Months go by as fast as our food portions. The clock on the wall of the barn ticking outside of my space suit. Dad lets out a ghastly cry as the next simulation fails. He almost levitates across the floor as he exits the room, pulling at his hair and clothing. Suddenly, an alarm sounds throughout the barn. Dad returns just to grab me and run towards the pod as if our lives are in danger, more than they already are.
He drops me on the floor with a thud as soon as the pod doors slide shut. Racing to decontaminate and redress, he yells to my mom. “Is it her? Are they here? Is it Nova?” Mom is frantically getting her lab equipment in some sort of order. They both look at me and with one smooth motion they both lung towards me and yell, “HIDE!” Dad looks about the cabin and picks me up before squashing me into an empty overhead compartment in the kitchen. “Be quiet, who knows what they will do if they find you!”
After a few minutes, three tall men and one tall, thin woman emerged from their suits. “James! Rita!” boasted the woman as though they were long-time friends. “Pleasure is all mine, I am sure!? I thought I would bring your son for your yearly visit early and see how the project is going!” Oh my god! It’s ... ME! We all hug furiously as Dad cradled my adult face. “David! Are they treating you well? ARE THEY?” He demands. “Yes, yes.” Future me replied, “The very best.” After checking my body for needle marks and injuries, everyone in the pod agrees to sit and discuss current events.
“After we eat, you will take me to your laboratory for inspection.” The woman dictates to my Mother as if she were a child who was about to be in trouble. “Great!” Mom stammers, “It’s a pity you didn’t approve my request for more water Evelyn, the whole batch went tits up during the night. I told you time and time again, I need the resources to do my job.” Evelyn puts her hand up for silence. I can tell right away this woman is in charge.
“I will come to my own conclusion after viewing all the data, now won’t I–hmm?” She says while eerily staring into the whites of my parent's eyes. Never breaking eye contact as though she were interrogating them. The men followed behind as Mom lead them to the laboratory by the barn. My Dad acted naturally until the moment the door closed behind them. He sprung from his chair and ran to the camera system, focusing on the Algae laboratory to watch.
Being satisfied with Mother’s explanation of the “failed experiments” and use of resources, the group came back to the living quarters. My Mom slyly asked Evelyn if adult me could stay for a few months to assist in the research along with more resources to “properly” run the samples. “If you could just figure it out, Rita! We would all be saved! Think about what you have accomplished here. This man is probably going to live to see 150 years old, 200 even. IF we can make that oxygen happen.” She slams her hands on the desk, causing me to jump and hit my head on the top of my compartment. “Ouch!”
“What was that? I heard something come from your kitchen.” Mom redirected the conversation. “If you would give me the proper resources and my son to help, I can and I will make this happen.” Evelyn went intimidatingly close to my Mother’s face. “You can have him for two weeks. If you haven’t got a solution, I will pull the plug on this pod MYSELF!” She left with her goons as quickly as they slithered in.
I suddenly jumped from my hiding spot with a thud. “Who was that? She seems like a real...” I am interrupted by a swift punch in the face. So strong that it knocks me off my feet and onto my back. I just punched myself in the face! I remember thinking as I regain conciseness. “you should have seen it! Older David punched you! By accident, you startled him. Then it sent you BOTH flying! Remarkable how the cells interact with one another! Miraculous!”
“It IS me!” Older me stammers. “Hi.” I peep, trying to regain my composure. Suddenly, a pain shoots through my brain and soon we are both screaming in agony. “My head!” we both explain simultaneously. “It’s like I am forming brand new memories that I did not have before! Of you–or me arriving when I was his age. We worked and worked for months after this. Quick, give me something to write with.” Older me spends the next thirty minutes writing and tweaking formulas.
“THIS! Is the one!” Older me exclaims as I rip out the paper from the coil notepad. “NO!” Dad exclaims! “It can’t be!” Older me nods reassuringly and motions that it’s time for me to go home. As I get in my capsule I whisper to my parents, and myself, “do you think when I tell them in 2022, they will believe me? What if I go home and this is still going to be our fate?” My Dad smiles and hands me a note. “Give this to me. Don’t open it. Everything is going to be alright!” He pats me on the head, ruffling my hair around.
I look at the older me and ask, “Are you sure this is going to work?” He replies, “Yes. If not, you will be ripped in half and stuck within the time-space continuum forever.” My eyes go wide as he laughs at me and seals the door.
The vessel rips through the top of the barn and I can see that my family is at a safe distance from the blast. Waving from my small window, suddenly everything goes black. It feels as though I am dreaming as the ball of blinding light disappears. I am greeted by a much younger version of my parents! “2022?!” I shrill with joy. “We can save the world!”
My parents look at one another. “What happened?” I simply reply, “When happened?!”
About the Creator
I have written since a little girl. With love for story telling, I was eager to learn how to write, so I could piolet my own adventures! I finally am pursuing as a career but have no idea where to start! Consider subscribing! Enjoy!
Nice ! great work