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If Time Is Infinite...

If time is infinite, then time isn't time.

By Stephen Kramer AvitabilePublished 2 years ago Updated 10 months ago 42 min read
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If Time Is Infinite...
Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

March 8th, 2131

Dirty air swept slowly along the desolate plains and attempted to enter Sara’s nostrils, though her balaclava was pulled tightly over the bridge of her nose. She could still smell the putrid, stale, deathly stench of the gray-green skies. And though the smell was one she has had the misfortune to sniff her whole life, it was always far stronger outside.

She pressed her head against the giant boulder she hid behind, feeling how cool it was on her temple. The sound of the men screaming was growing fainter. Sara looked over to John. He was 10 yards away, hiding behind another large boulder. He held up his finger, signaling they should wait. The screaming men grew even fainter.

Sara motioned with her hand that they should go. John nodded. Without hesitation, the two leapt to their feet, sprinted away from the boulders, and towards the stone building they had originally set their sights on.

Immediately, the shouting of the men in the distance grew louder and more hostile. Sara turned back and, in the distance, she saw the ravenous pack of half-clothed men rumbling after them. Sharp weapons drawn, blood-thirsty cries screeching across the dirty fog.

“Come on!” John screamed.

Sara looked back ahead and realizes she was falling behind John. She put her head down and redirected all her energy into her legs, racing after John. She peered up and through the fog could start to make out their surroundings better. The stone house they raced for was one of just a few still standing in this area. Many had been reduced to rubble. This particular house was in great shape given the situation. And it was built like a fortress. Windows were boarded shut and walls thick with protection.

Sara and John reached the pavement that was once a road and raced across it. They moved from cracked pavement to a large patch of dusty dirt, a few blades of grass poking out. The men were still crying out from behind them, continuing to follow them. John and Sara moved across the entire patch of dirt and ran right up to the stone house. They slammed into the front door and began banging on it with all their might.

“Help us!” Sara screamed out. “Let us in!”

“Please, let us in!” John begged. “We mean no harm! We need safety!”

They continued banging on the door. The sounds of the men were growing closer. Sara looked back. The men were closing in. She could make out details of their faces, long scruffy beards, red splotches and stripes painted across their faces. She saw each of them holding a different weapon. Some looked to be pulled from gardening sheds, others seemed to have been fashioned with crude instruments.

Sara turned back to the door and pounded on it even harder. Her whole hand was throbbing from smacking it repeatedly into the door.

“Please let us in!” Sara yelled. “If you don’t let us in, you are letting us die!”

The pack of men continued racing towards Sara and John. They were approaching the pavement. Their screams were so clear now, Sara could even make out words they were saying.

“The girl’s mine!”

“I haven’t had the leg of an adult in days!”

Sara took a deep breath and stopped banging on the door. She exhaled slowly, wondering if this was it. She leaned her head on the door, feeling how cool it was on her skin.

Suddenly, the door was flung open and Sara tumbled inside the house. John quickly rushed in, helped Sara to her feet, and the door was slammed shut behind them. They spun around to see an old man sliding a metal barricade across the middle of the door, then subsequently locking several other heavy-duty locks.

Bodies were thrown into the other side of the door resulting in loud and terrifying banging. Sara and John quickly backed away in fear. The old man stood still for a moment. It was dark in this house, but Sara could make out his gray and white straight hair falling past his ears, slightly quivering. The banging against the door continued and more shouting was heard from outside. The old man backed away slowly, not in much of a rush.

Some of the banging subsided, but there were still thumps and bumps against the walls from outside. The old man whirled around to face Sara and John, a large pistol pointed right at them.

“Who the hell are you?!” He pulled the hammer back and raised the pistol.

“I’m Sara!” Sara’s arms shot up into the air as she responded immediately. “This is John. We’re just looking for safety.”

The old man pointed the gun down at the floor and fired once. The shot was deafening in the house. The shouting from outside turned to that of surprise. The thumping and bumping stopped. Silence from outside. The old man put his pistol away and offered his hand in the form of a handshake.

“Haruto.” He said pleasantly. They shook hands.

“That’s it?” John was bewildered. “We tell you our first names and you’re all of a sudden fine with us?”

“The savages don’t use names.” Haruto stated plainly.

*******

Sara was having that recurring dream again. It came on oftentimes when she was having a lot of stress. Though that wasn’t always the case. She had this dream so many times, it had gotten to the point she knew it was a dream when it was happening. For the most part. It still felt so real.

It was still so terrifying when the old plane flew low overhead. When she and her fellow soldiers immediately dropped to the ground, hoping to not be spotted. When the sound of rapid gunfire peppered down all around them, tearing up the ground, tearing up the soldiers, leaving them dying in the mud.

Her arms and legs wouldn't move. The tears in her clothing from the bullet holes revealed blood seeping from her skin. Her gun laid in front of her in the mud, it looked like an antique. No matter. It was out of her reach.

Sara raised up quickly, gasping for air. She realized she was on a cot with a thin, dingy yellow blanket. She could hear John snoring. He was on the other side of the room on another cot. She remembered they were in the old man’s house.

Safe.

Safe enough…

*******

March 17th, 2131

Sara sat on the cot that had been designated ‘hers.’ She had been sleeping in it for over a week. It was as much ‘hers’ as anything else really. The only belongings that were truly hers were what fit in her backpack. But Haruto had been very kind to Sara and John. First and foremost, he allowed them to stay in his house. He was kind and understood what the outside world was like, how unforgiving and vicious it was.

He supplied them with many reading materials to pass the time. Sara currently was reading an old history book of his.

Introductions and background information were slowly unfolding among the trio. So far, Sara knew Haruto had lived here alone for many years. Haruto hinted at the fact that someone else may have lived there decades ago. She also knew that Haruto was well educated. Sara didn't know how old Haruto was. She guessed he was in his 80’s, but that he looked great for his age. He was quite spry and lively, moving about quickly with his silvery hair.

She didn’t know Haruto’s last name. She didn’t know anything about his family. But she knew that there were two rooms in Haruto’s house that her and John were not allowed inside of. There was the room in the back of the house on the first floor with the large door. Haruto went in there, locked the door behind him, and wouldn’t emerge for hours. One day he was in there for six hours. Then, there was the room at the top of the stairs, just before the room Sara and John slept in. Haruto didn’t go in there every day. When he did go in there, it tended to just be for half an hour.

It was a strange living situation. But then again, the alternative was being out there… with the savages…

*******

June 10th, 2131

Sara could hear the screaming of the men in the distance. Growing closer and closer. The wind softly tussled her hair. She squinted and peered off into the distance, across the road. Just a dirty haze stretched across the land. The screaming of the men grew even louder. She couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see her, but they could smell her. They were coming for her.

“Alright!” Sara called out. “I think it’s time to go in!”

John moved closer to Sara at the front door of the house. He held Haruto’s gun tightly, aiming it off into the haze filled with chaotic screaming of a pack of savage men.

“Hurry up Haruto!” John yelled in a panicky tone.

Haruto came rushing out from behind the large, barbed wire fence that enclosed his garden. A sad, little garden in his side yard that had potatoes and mushrooms and squash and carrots. He carried a big burlap bag filled with vegetables. He slammed the door shut on the fence and quickly pulled out a key. He locked it shut. Haruto hustled towards Sara and John, silvery hair flowing behind him. Sara held the front door open for him. He rushed inside. She looked off into the haze once more. Shadows of the men moved through the haze and trampled the land on their way towards the house.

“In! In! In!” John yelled.

Sara ducked into the house. John followed. He and Haruto slammed the door shut. They locked it in a hurry. Then, they stood back.

Silence as everyone held their breath.

BANG! Against the door.

BANG BANG! Against the walls.

Thumping emanated all around the house. Sara covered her mouth, as if a whimper would give away their location. The ravenous pack of men already knew where they were.

Haruto pulled the pistol from John’s hand and fired a round into the floor. The banging from outside stopped. Haruto crouched down, scooped up the burlap bag full of vegetables, and carried it off into the kitchen.

“Got a pretty good haul this time around!” Haruto shouted happily from the kitchen.

*******

January 8th, 2132

Sara and John sat together at the rickety dining room table, eating their potatoes with ketchup. Haruto had apparently bought every ketchup bottle he could get his hands on before the world went completely chaotic.

Sara and John heard the locks unlocking on the big door to the back room. The door opened and Haruto emerged from the room, having just been in there for three hours. He quickly closed the door. He headed for the staircase, glanced over at Sara and John, and gave them a quick nod.

Sara and John continued munching away on their potatoes. They heard the door at the top of the stairs open... then a loud crash and Haruto howling in pain. His screams and yells were horrendous. Sara and John sprinted up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, the door to the room they’ve never seen the inside of was open and Haruto lay in the doorway. He clutched his arm, blood squirting out. Next to him there was a large piece of jagged wood, chipped off from the doorway.

“It cracked off and sliced my arm!” Haruto howled.

“Hold the wound! I’ll be right back!” Sara shouted and rushed off.

“Don’t worry, she has plenty of training with this.” John said crouching down. “She comes from a long line of doctors and nurses and… well, people who have practiced healing in these times.”

Sara returned with alcohol and bandages. She jumped into action, tending to Haruto’s wound. A large gash on his forearm. John moved aside so that he wouldn’t be in the way. Then, he realized he was standing in the room… one of the two they were never allowed to see the inside of. He scanned around the room, like a child that knew he was getting away with something. Then, he saw it. In the corner of the room.

A human skeleton.

“What the hell is that?!” John jumped back.

Sara finished wrapping up Haruto’s wound and looked up with confusion. She peered into the room and saw the skeleton. She gasped. They looked to Haruto. Haruto was flexing his hand, still grimacing from the pain in his arm. He took a few deep breaths, composed himself, and then propped himself up.

“Please do not be alarmed.” Haruto started. “That is my mother. She died many years ago. I wanted to give her a proper burial. But it’s too risky to go outside and dig a hole. It would take too long. I have only ever gone outside to tend to the garden in all these years. Other than that, I do not go outside. So, my mother has stayed in her room.”

They looked around the room and saw all the decorations. They tended to be in line with that of an older woman. But there was also a lot of science related equipment, science books, etc.

“Her name was Ichika.” Haruto said. “She was a scientist. She taught me everything she knew. And we have been working on something… all of my life… all of her life…”

Haruto slowly pulled himself to his feet.

“Follow me.”

Haruto led them downstairs, to the other room that they were never allowed to go inside. He unlocked the door. He pushed the door open.

“I feel I can trust you two now.”

The door swung all the way open, and Sara and John saw that it housed a room that was a makeshift laboratory. On the far side of the room, past all the equipment and books, was a large machine that almost looked like the front of a vehicle. It had two seats inside, a dashboard with levers, and buttons and dials.

“My mother’s invention.” Haruto said through labored breath. “A time machine. And it works.”

Haruto went on to tell them all about the time machine. It ran off certain materials that he had a finite amount of. He and his mother Ichika had tested the time machine out several times in the past. But he hadn’t used it in decades. He was running low on materials. Haruto and his mother had used the time machine in hopes to put a stop to the war that commenced 80 or so years ago. The war that sent countries into blind rage. The war that saw dozens and dozens of nuclear warheads launched and slammed into the Earth’s surface. The war that massacred the planet, sent it into a state of complete disarray and destruction. The war that ended so much of human civilization, that killed billions, that killed and extincted many species of animals and plants. The war that sent them into this dirty and dusky and depressed existence that Sara and John have known their whole lives.

But each time Haruto and Ichika had tried to pinpoint a moment from the past and done what they could to change the outcome, the war still happened. Destruction still happened. Death, on the grandest scale known to man, still happened.

“I need to figure out the inciting incident of our past.” Haruto told them. “I need to go back and change it, or stop it, so that this never happens.”

“We’ll help you.” Sara told him.

She looked to John. John nodded.

“The problem is, so many books have been destroyed.” Haruto explained. “There is only so much to work with to learn about the past. My mother would tell me stories of this thing called the internet, which used to be a digital house for all the information in the world. What I would give to have access to that.”

“My father had told me about that too.” Sara said. “Of course, passed down from his parents, and their parents. They told me a lot of how the world used to be. The blue skies. The green trees. It sounded beautiful.”

“I was only a child.” Haruto sounded depressed. “I have few memories. You mentioned your father. Where is he?”

Sara slowly shook her head and looked down. It was quiet.

“The savages.” Her voice was breaking. “A few years ago. I ran.”

“We found each other.” John interrupted to save Sara from talking. “We were both on the run. And have been for the past few years.”

“I watched what the savages did to my parents.” Sara said after clearing her throat, returning herself to strength. “So, I will help you with this time machine.”

*******

September 16th, 2132

Sara munched on some white button mushrooms with ketchup while she perused one of Haruto’s many history books. She sat in a chair next to the time machine as Haruto tinkered with it. John was finding a new history book from the bookshelf. He opened the book; it’s hardly held together at the binding. Pages were torn and in bad shape.

Haruto threw a wrench down in anger.

“I still can’t move this dial!” Haruto exclaimed. “I’m not even sure I can fix it!”

“It’s alright.” Sara tried to reassure him. “Just take a break and try again later. We don’t even know where or when we need to go to yet anyway.”

It was true. For months Sara and John had been helping Haruto comb through his books, searching for that inciting incident that sparked the war. Something that, if reversed, could stop all the destruction from happening.

“Right, but whenever we do find it…” Haruto sighed. “Only the dial with the year on it is responding to the currents in the machine. So, we can go back to a specific year, but it will be that day and that month.”

Thumping suddenly against the wall of the house from outside. John jumped from the noise and dropped the book. The savages were out there. They must have heard them. The thumping on the walls continued for a minute or two. It subsided.

John scooped the old book up carefully. He began reading on one random page in the middle of the book. Sara noticed his eyes lighting up more and more.

“Look!” He rushed over to them with the book. He pointed to a tattered page with smudged and hard-to-read ink.

“This guy, Bourne.” John continued. “He was Secretary of Defense back in 2052. Killed by terrorists in an attack, along with many other people on his and the President’s staff. Many other people who would’ve succeeded him. So, after he died it went way down the line to figure out who would replace him…”

“To that Pantoliano guy!” Sara cut him off excitedly. “The trigger-happy guy who advised the President to launch missiles after that second terrorist attack!”

“Right.” John grabbed another book on a nearby table that was open. “And this Bourne guy, he was much more calculated, not prone to going on the attack. Had he never been killed…”

Sara and John looked to Haruto who had a wild look of excitement in his eyes that they had never seen.

“Then, maybe none of this would’ve ever happened.” Haruto was barely speaking above a whisper. “When was Bourne killed?”

“It’s smudged here.” John squinted at the text in the book. “Well, definitely May of 2052. That’s either a 12 or a 13.”

Everyone squinted at the text in the book. No one else could make out the number perfectly.

“I remember my mother telling me about the day he was killed.” Haruto was deep in thought. “That was just down the street from where we lived. There was already a 911 call to the area, a complication with a woman going into early labor. But because of the destruction and everything that happened, paramedics couldn’t get to Bourne and the others… or the pregnant woman. Along with Bourne being lost, there was also a baby lost that sad day.”

Everyone was silent for a minute.

“Either way, we have to wait for me to fix the dials on the machine, or we have to wait about eight months until we reach May ourselves.” Haruto said. “You wouldn’t want to go back too early.”

“I suppose we should do some more checking and referencing on this anyway.” John continued to read through the book.

“But it sure sounds like you found the date.” Sara said. “2052, May 12th or 13th, the world changed, and we need to change it back.”

*******

April 2nd, 2133

Sara and John sat in the room with the time machine, books out, studying. Sara stared at photos in an old photography book, admiring the bright colors the Earth once saw. She’d never seen a sky that wasn’t gray. She’d never seen enough grass to cover a spot of land larger than her foot. She reached for her plate, stabbed a piece of potato with a fork, dipped it in ketchup, and munched on it as she leafed through the book.

Haruto was working on the time machine and threw a wrench down in frustration.

“I cannot fix these damn dials!” He screamed.

“It’s alright.” Sara reassured him. “It’s April 2nd. We’re about a month away from the event. We’ll just go back exactly 81 years and be good.”

“But we should still wait a few more weeks.” Haruto said. “Wait until it’s maybe, May 10th. We don’t want to spend too much time back there. Bringing attention to ourselves… you sure you’re good to go with me?”

“Absolutely.” Sara nodded.

“Now, when we get there, my mother will be alive.” Haruto explained again. “I will be very young. A few years old. But I still shouldn’t come into contact with my younger self. So, you’ll need to talk to my mother. And you have to tell her the phrase…”

If time is infinite, then time isn’t time.” Sara repeated the phrase from memory.

“Right. She only ever told me this phrase. So, she will know, anyone who says this to her… then they know about the machine.” Haruto took a bite of his own potato. “When we arrive, we will be in an area that was known as Brookline. We will need to head to a place called Boston. That is where my mother and I used to live. She can put us up in the guest room.”

Haruto dipped his potato in ketchup and finished it.

“Damn this was a good batch of potatoes! I’m going to go pick some more.”

Haruto headed for the front door. Sara promptly closed the book and John closed his. He plopped his book on a pile of several other books and snagged the pistol off the table. They followed Haruto to the front door. Haruto placed his hand on the first lock on the door. He waited.

Silence.

He nodded to Sara and John.

He unlocked every single lock, removed the barricade, grabbed the knob, and slowly pulled the door open.

A massive hand, coated in blood ripped through the opening between the door and the doorframe! It slashed into the house, trying to grip anything it could. Haruto panicked and leaned into the door. The force of several bodies slammed into the door and pushed back. The door started to push open and the sound of the savage men on the other side of the door was heard, trying to break in. Sara and John slammed their bodies into the door in order to help Haruto shut it. They pushed with all their might, forcing the door back towards the doorframe.

Closer.

Closer.

The door was moving towards the doorframe. The space between the two was shrinking.

And shrinking.

BOOM!

The force of several more bodies slammed into the door and sent the three careening back into the house and onto the floor. The door was flung wide open and five large, savage men tumbled into the house. Sara, John, and Haruto scrambled to their feet. John pointed the pistol at the first savage man to get to his feet and blasted a bullet into his head. The other savage men screamed and lunged forward. John fired another bullet, striking the shoulder of someone. He fired another bullet, hitting that same man’s neck. He fell backwards.

Then, six more savage men rushed through the open doorway and into the house. Nine of them in total. Rushing into the place as Sara and John and Haruto all backed up. John kept firing the gun. But it wasn’t fast enough. One of the men jumped onto Haruto and tackled him to the floor.

Haruto held the savage man at arm’s length away as he was pinned down. The man was drooling. Saliva dripping from his mouth and onto Haruto’s face.

“Go!” Haruto screamed. “Go now! The machine!”

John fired a shot at the savage man on top of Haruto and knocked his body back. The other savage men closed in on Haruto.

“Go!” He screamed again. “It’s the only way!”

Three of the savage men jumped onto Haruto all at once. As they bared their teeth, and their mouths redirected towards Haruto’s flesh, Sara and John turned around and sprinted for the room with the machine. They blasted through the doorway and didn’t even bother shutting the door as they could hear the pounding of the savages behind them.

John snagged the pile of books on the table and jumped into the machine. He gout into one of the seats and Sara was about to jump in and then stopped. She turned back and looked to the table. She quickly snatched the book she was looking at.

“Come on!” John screamed.

One of the savage men entered the room in a flurry. Two more piled in behind him. They saw Sara and John across the room. Sara ran back for the time machine, jumping inside. Her and John pulled the doors shut. The savage men ran for the machine. Sara briefly checked the dashboard. She placed her hand on the large white button. The savage men collided into the outside of the machine, pressing themselves against the windshield. Their faces and hands stained the windshield with blood of a recent kill.

Sara pressed the button, and the machine began to whir. Her and John braced themselves, unsure of what this was going to feel like. All they knew was what Haruto had told them.

Lights brightened all around the machine as the savage men continued to attempt to claw into the machine. They pounded on the glass repeatedly. A crack spiderwebbed on the windshield from the heavy fist of one of the savage men. The machine began to heat up significantly. It shook and rumbled. The savage men screamed and hissed. The machine rumbled more. The men jumped back in confusion.

And then, a rollercoaster hit their intestines. Sara and John went blind but heat waves streaked across their corneas. They could see heat. But nothing else. Their throats propelled into their foreheads as their stomachs dropped to their feet. Sara choked. She'd heave if she had any control over her throat. She was lunged forward while her mind was thrown behind her. Her eyeballs felt like they were sinking into her skull. Her nose began to drip uncontrollably yet there was no fluid. Her whole body was as dry as sand. Her fingernails ached. Her shoulders were liquid. Her toes were curling, and the soles of her feet were cramping.

Just as she thought she may implode and die… it all stopped. Sight returned to them both. They were still in the machine. But outside of the machine… was the outdoors. They were in an empty dirt lot. A perimeter fence surrounded them. And the sky. It was blue. So bright blue it hurt their eyes. The combination of the brightness of the sky and the entire experience they just endured caused them to both faint.

Sara was so lacking energy. But she still fully experienced that same dream that she always had. The peppering of bullets from the plane above. Her and her fellow soldiers dying in the mud. Her antique gun just out of reach. And then everything went black.

*******

April 2nd, 2052

John shook Sara awake. She slowly came to and realized that they were still in the machine. The machine was still in the dirt lot. The sky was brighter than anything the two of them had ever encountered.

The two were squinting, eyes in pain from the sun and sky. They opened the doors to the machine and stepped outside. There was no dirty smell in the air. The air smelled sweet. Every breath was a treat. But it was so bright, the two could hardly keep their eyes open.

Sara reached back into the machine and grabbed the book. John grabbed his books. Sara pulled a sheet of paper off the dashboard. There was no one in sight. The lot was abandoned. The machine hid inconspicuously among heaps of junk. They navigated to the edge of the lot. The large fence had a door that they could open from the inside. They exited the lot and onto a long strip of solid gray rock that extended on in both directions seemingly forever. There were two bright yellow lines in the center of the strip of rock and they extended on forever as well.

Sara referenced the paper that Haruto had taped to the dashboard. He had the foresight to include directions for where they needed to go. Even though he was planning on going himself, he was smart enough to know that he should include directions… just in case.

So, Sara and John followed the directions, squinting all along the way.

*******

It was a long trek for Sara and John. It was continually bright. The brightness never let up. And there were so many people along the way. Sara and John cowered in fear the first few people they came across. Large men in short pants and shirts with no sleeves. Other than a few strange looks, none of these people did anything to Sara and John.

They continued in their trek. More people passed them. Most not paying them any mind, except the occasional glances. Seeming to be fixated on the clothing of Sara and John. They noticed most other people’s clothing was bright and exciting and less drab than what they had hanging off their bones. And so many machines, similar to the machine they flew through time on, had been passing them on the road.

Sara and John remembered that these were called ‘cars’ or ‘vehicles’ as told to them from their families when they were younger. But the speed of them, the power with which they rumbled through, it was still surprising.

Eventually, they reached their destination. An unassuming house among many other houses. But still nicer than any house they had seen in their lives. They collected themselves. They slowly moved up the walkway towards the front door. Sara knocked at the door.

They waited.

They glanced over their shoulders.

People walking by were staring at them more and more. They felt awkward. Like they stood out among everyone else.

They continued to wait. Sara felt a droplet of sweat drip down her temple. She knocked again.

The door opened. There stood a young woman, in her 20’s. Beautiful, dark circles under her eyes, dark hair, and a small child in her arms who looked like he just awoke from a nap. The woman stared at Sara and John with much confusion.

“Um.” Sara was caught off guard. She collected herself. “If time is infinite, then time isn’t time.”

The woman’s eyes popped open. She froze. She glanced behind Sara and John to the road and saw people staring up at them from the street.

“Quick, come inside.” She ushered them inside.

It was a long conversation, Sara and John explaining their reality to the woman. The woman did turn out to be Ichika. The young child, about three years old, that was Haruto.

But Ichika listened to every word with her full attention. Sara and John explained how the future was. They explained the situation that would unfold on either May 12th or May 13th. They explained why they came back a full month early. They even mentioned their last moments in the future with Haruto… but without too much detail about his death.

Ichika explained to them she hadn’t yet completed her time machine, but she was currently in the works on it. No one besides her husband knew she was working on it. He was off on business currently. She had been alone with Haruto for a couple weeks now.

Sara remembered that Haruto had mentioned he didn’t remember his father at all. She assumed that meant he never quite made it back home from this point in time. She didn’t say as much. Perhaps it would be more ammunition for Ichika to help them to accomplish their mission, for her to continue to work on her time machine as it would be important for the future. But she accomplished this feat without this knowledge the first time around, so why mess with what had already happened?

Ichika offered the guest bedroom for Sara and John. There was just one bed. John told Sara she could use it. He would sleep on the floor. Ichika offered clothes to the two of them. Some of her clothes for Sara so she could blend in with present time and ditch her drab clothing. John was presented with many of Haruto’s father’s clothes. His name was Kosuke. He was a snappy dresser. John relished in being able to wear this extravagant clothing.

“So, we have about a month?” Ichika asked, already knowing the answer.

“Plenty of time to prepare.” Sara shrugged.

*******

April 4th, 2052

Ichika pushed Haruto in a stroller. It was what he preferred. Sara and John followed behind. It was their first day exploring their surrounding area. They’d studied everything they knew beforehand about the terrorist attack. They’d clued Ichika into what they know. She had determined which general area it must be that the attack takes place.

They arrived at a restaurant named ‘Café Verde.’ It wasn't far from Ichika, she came here often. And by all the accounts they read, it appeared the attack happened in this general area. This particular street, Hitchinpost, had quite a few businesses on it. Mainly clothing stores, bookstores, and a semi-large office building called Wep-Tec. Ichika said she believed that office is a government building, so that was likely where General Bourne would be heading into on May 12th or 13th.

And Café Verde was across the street from Wep-Tec. It was the only place nearby with outdoor seating. So, it would make for a good place to post up as they prepared for the attack. In the meantime, maybe they could scope out the area, see if there was any information they could glean.

The four got a seat out on the patio.

“It’s the first nice day this year.” Ichika said as she looked over the menu.

“This is the nicest day I have ever seen.” Sara admitted. Though two days ago, that was the nicest day she had ever seen. Then, yesterday, the new nicest day she had ever seen. She enjoyed the past. Every day she had witnessed so far was a million times better than any day she had ever witnessed.

An employee of Café Verde came over to their table to took their order. Ichika instantly recognized him.

“Avery!” She said gleefully. “Are you taking care of us today?”

“Absolutely! You’re my best customer.” Avery grinned. He was quite handsome and Sara was instantly drawn to him. A feeling she had never felt. His eyes were shining bright like these new skies she was still getting used to. And he was full of warmth.

“Avery is actually the owner of this place.” Ichika informed Sara and John who were staring at the menus with utter confusion. It was their first time seeing a menu, a restaurant, meeting an employee of a business.

“You guys new here?” Avery asked, mainly fixating on Sara.

“Very new.” Sara admitted.

“So, have you guys had vegan food before?” Avery asked.

Sara and John shook their heads stupidly. Neither of them even knew what ‘vegan’ was.

“How about this?” Avery smiled big. “Ichika, you and Haruto, the usual? And for you two… I have the chef make his specialty.”

Everyone nodded. Even Haruto who banged the table excitedly. Avery left. Sara leaned in towards Ichika.

“He owns this place?” She asked. Ichika nodded. “He may be able to help us. Provide information he may have.”

Ichika and John both nodded. Sara looked across the street at Wep-Tec. The office building was almost menacing itself. On a street filled with small businesses, it was a behemoth. It loomed over the rest. Lots of glass and metal on the outside. It was slick and intimidating. A large vehicle passed by that Sara remembered Ichika called ‘a bus.’ Another intimidating thing. Ichika assured Sara they were just helpful forms of transportation. The wind of the passing bus whipped Sara’s hair around wildly. Something with that size, with that force behind it, Sara felt she should remain cautious. She believed Ichika. But she would continue with silent skepticism.

*******

Sara waited outside the front door of Café Verde, staring off into the sky. Ichika, Haruto, and John had gone off to Ichika’s home. Sara was in absolute wonder of the beauty of this same ugly planet she existed on, years before her time. Avery exited the front door and broke her from her daze.

“Hey there!” Avery was surprised to see her, but glad.

“Hi… Sara.” Sara said awkwardly. “I had some questions about your place… and the surrounding area… some of the people here…”

“Oh?” Avery was confused.

“See, I work with the government.” Sara lied. “And I have reason to believe that there may be some suspicious activities going on in the area. I was wondering if I could pick your brain a little. It would all be kept off the record. I can’t break my confidentiality agreements anyway so…”

Sara was ready to keep the lie going as long as she needed to. Ready to exaggerate and add fake detail wherever was needed. But Avery was nodding along happily all the while.

“Absolutely.” He said right away. “I’d be happy to help. I’m rushing off to a class at the gym, but let’s do dinner sometime.”

Avery handed her a small card that had his name and some numbers on it. He complied so quickly. Maybe Sara’s lying was so good. Or maybe she had already developed credibility with him, being a ‘friend’ of Ichika’s… someone he knew well.

“Great! Tell Gym I said sorry for making you late!” Sara tried on the enthusiasm she had seen on many people of this time.

Avery smirked a perplexed smile, waved, and hurried off.

*******

April 6th, 2052

Ichika handed the thing to Sara. She called it a cell phone. Sara and John stared at it. They had heard about these things. But they had never seen any pictures of it. Ichika laughed.

“It’s like the apes in 2001.” Ichika said.

Sara didn’t get this. 2001 was 51 years ago from this current year. And she didn’t know what ‘the apes’ is.

“Those numbers on his card…” Ichika explained. “You push those numbers, in that order, and then it will call him. He will answer, you will hear him through the phone, and then you can talk to him.”

“And does it have to stay plugged in the whole time she uses is?” John asked.

“No.” Ichika managed to say through laughter. “It doesn’t need to be plugged in at all.”

Sara did as Ichika said. She had already practiced what she wanted to say to Avery. She pushed the numbers on the phone. Ichika motioned for her to hold the phone close to her face. Sara did this. A strange tone played on the phone. Like a sad and boring song. Then she heard Avery’s voice say “Hello.”

“Hello, Avery.” Sara started her speech. “This is Sara. We met at your place of business two days ago. You gave me your card. I would like to have dinner with you. We can go to Little Barn tomorrow, April 7th, 2052, 7:00 P.M. Eastern Standard time. I have made reservations for two.”

Sara heard a chuckle come through the part of the phone near her ear. Then, she heard Avery’s voice again.

“I love that place. Sure.”

Sara held the phone away from her face and looked at Ichika. “He says he loves that place. And sure.”

Ichika whispered ‘no, no’ while motioning for Sara to do something but Sara was confused as to what Ichika wanted her to do.

“Just say goodbye.” Ichika whispered.

“Goodbye.” Sara said into the phone. She handed it back to Ichika.

Ichika ended the call.

“Okay, pretty good.” Ichika was laughing. “We need a little more practice on phone etiquette. But not bad for your first time.”

“Am I keeping that thing?” Sara asked bewildered.

“Yes, I got one for each of you.” Ichika said. “In order to fit in, you two will need them.”

*******

April 7th, 2052

Sara enjoyed her meal and enjoyed sitting across from Avery and getting to look at his face while she enjoyed her meal. She also enjoyed the conversation even if it felt clunky to her at times.

“So, who are you, really?” Avery asked.

“I am Sara.” Sara stated plainly.

“Right. Sara. Knew that one. But no, I mean, you really work with the government? Or were you just trying to get me to have dinner with you?”

“The answer to both your questions is yes.” Sara stated.

“Alright.” Avery laughed. “So, what did you want to know about the area where my business is?”

“Have you noticed any suspicious people around there lately?” Sara dove right in. “Also, how long have you owned that business for?”

Avery went on to tell her that he didn’t recall seeing any suspicious people, but that he would keep an eye out. And it turned out, Avery had owned and run Café Verde for three years now. But his parents owned and operated it before him. They died and he took over. Sara was surprised by his immediate vulnerability. She was unsure if this was normal practice in this time. But people do not always discuss these types of details so readily in her time. She felt compelled to tell him that her parents died as well. She was not sure why, but it felt right.

“My parents died also.” She said frankly.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Avery’s eyes lost that brightness for a moment, but they kept that warmth. “May I ask how?”

“Murder.” Sara said without flinching. It even surprised her. It was so sad for her. She didn’t like to talk about it. But here she was, divulging this information to a stranger.

“That’s horrible.” Avery fell silent. It was quiet for a very long time. “Mine died in a car crash. Drunk driver. I’d do anything to get them back.”

“I feel the exact same way.”

After dinner they went for ‘a walk.’ Which just meant walking aimlessly. Sara enjoyed it once she realized there was no destination. They talked a lot more. They really connected on a lot.

Avery explained to her that he was vegan and so were his parents and that’s why they opened the vegan restaurant. When Sara asked, he explained to her that vegan means eating only plants and grains and no meat.

“I would hope you wouldn’t eat human meat.” Sara shuddered, thinking about the savage men from her time that would eat both humans and animals.

Avery laughed and explained he only meant animal meats… but of course, also human meat. When he said this, he peered deep into her eyes. She said this with such sincerity, it should seem so strange to him, but it didn’t.

They began to talk about dreams and Avery detailed a dream he often had. When he was a soldier, and a plane flew low overhead, and peppered the ground with bullets, and he lay in the mud. The detail with which he described this dream was uncanny. It was exactly Sara’s dream.

“And your gun is just out of reach, and it looks so old, like an antique, but you can’t move your arms at all.” Sara interrupted.

Avery’s jaw dropped.

“I’ve had the same dream.” Sara said. “Maybe I have watched too many of my grandfather’s old war DVD’s…”

“Whoa, DVD’s huh?”

“Or maybe… do you believe in reincarnation? Multiple lives? In my dream, I see other soldiers on either side of me. They are all in the same predicament. In the mud, guns out of reach, stuck. Could it be…”

“That we both lived another life and knew each other in it?” Avery interrupted this time. “I absolutely believe in reincarnation. Have you heard the theory about reincarnation, where each new life you live, starts immediately after you die? Like, your soul skips from one body to another. From one vessel to another.”

“Vienna Grey Lessard!” Sara was so excited. “I have read her work. I absolutely believe that!”

Sara couldn’t believe how well the two were connecting. She felt like she really had known Avery for a long time. Like they did spend time together in a past life. Or in past lives. They both also connected on their love of learning history. Of course, Sara had a reason for paying such close attention to history nowadays. But even before she met Haruto, when she lived with her parents, she used to study all her parents’ old history books. And their atlases as well. Another thing Avery and her connected on. They talked about their favorite colors. Their favorite numbers. They exchanged birthdays.

“February 4th, 2024.” Avery said.

“November 29th, 2107.” Sara said. “Uh… 20… 27, I mean.”

“So, not in the future?” Avery asked in a joking manner.

Sara nodded and looked down. Avery studied her. Not in a negative manner. But in a very curious manner. He could tell Sara was different. He likesdit very much. He walked her back to Ichika’s place, and they said goodbye to one another. Avery leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. Sara was shocked.

“Let’s do dinner again.” Avery said. “Pick a time and place and call me. I love your phone etiquette.”

*******

April 19th, 2052

Sara and John looked through the limited books they had brought with them from Haruto’s. Ichika was looking at the computer which had some internet on it, and she was getting information from it.

“This is what General Bourne looks like.” Ichika said, pointing at the computer. “I’m going to print these up so you guys can memorize him.”

Then, Ichika used some other machine next to the computer machine and the images of the man on the computer machine came out of the other machine called a printer. The images were on paper, as if ripped from a book. John closed a book, sighing in exasperated fashion. He walked for the front of the house.

“So, have you learned anything from Avery?” Ichika asked Sara.

“He hasn’t seen anyone suspicious, but I asked him if I could reserve a table at his place for lunch on both May 12th and May 13th.” Sara said.

She had been on three ‘dinner dates’ with Avery. She kept hoping to get some information from him but couldn’t get anything. No matter, she thought. They would just make sure to be at the restaurant on those days and wait to see what happened. And whatever went down, Sara was going to stop it. She was going to save General Bourne. Sara didn’t quite mind not learning information from Avery… because she was learning all about Avery instead. He was so fascinating. They had such a good time together. Sara had not felt happiness like this in a long time. Maybe never. Each night he kissed her before leaving her. It was nice. They had deep discussions that she’d never had with anyone.

A knock at the door. The door opened. Ichika looked around. They heard both John’s voice and Avery’s voice. John and Avery entered the room. Avery greeted everyone and Sara was a bit taken aback. She got up to greet Avery and the book she was reading fell onto the floor.

Avery stooped down and picked it up. He looked at the cover. He examined it.

“Published in 2056?” He read the copyright. He leafed through the pages and saw so many dates and accounts of events that had not yet happened. “Whoa, what?”

“Sorry.” John realized he messed up.

Avery quickly scanned the room and saw the images of General Bourne that had been printed.

“It’s alright.” Sara was calm. “Avery can probably handle this. We’ve had deep conversations about life. Avery has an open mind. Avery, can you continue to keep an open mind?”

Avery nodded. Sara, John, and Ichika went on to explain the situation as best they could. Sara took the lead. Explaining she was from the future. Explaining the destruction. Explaining their mission. Just as Sara expected, Avery kept an open mind. He was shocked. He took his time processing this. But he read through the proof in the books that Sara and John had. He carefully considered everything they told him. The conversations by no means were fast and easy. They took their time. They took much of the night. Avery digested the information.

After a few hours, he chose to believe it. By the end of the night, he vowed to help them.

*******

May 8th, 2052

The day was coming closer. Whichever day it was. May 12th or 13th. The plan was that Sara and Avery would be at a table at Café Verde. Both days. Watching the streets. John would stand somewhere on the sidewalk nearby. He would pretend to look at his phone. He had gotten good at that.

“You like this Avery guy, huh?” John asked.

He and Sara were alone in the guest bedroom at Ichika’s. Sara nodded. John took a deep breath and sighed.

“I hadn’t mentioned that I found this yet.” He said. He pulled out one of the books he brought with him. “Avery Simons. Dies, November 29th, 2107. Lived to be 83. After his restaurant was destroyed, he built and ran a safe haven for people. He protected people from the savage men and other dangers. For many years. He was very successful in helping many like us.”

Sara snatched the book from John. She read it over.

“If he is involved with us on this mission, who knows what could happen to him. And then…” John was trying to reason with Sara.

“If we succeed, none of that will happen. He won’t have to run a safe haven.” She tossed the book back at John.

“If we fail… or if we are wrong about this… the world after this point will need people like Avery. Maybe you should tell him.”

Sara got up and left the room. She stopped at the doorway.

“May 12th. Be ready.” She left and called out as she walked away. “May 13th also be ready!”

*******

May 12th, 2052

It was a beautiful and warm day. The sun was inviting, not overbearing, it didn’t seem like anything could go wrong on this day. That’s exactly what Sara thought as she sat with Avery out on the patio of his restaurant. It couldn’t be today. It was probably going to be tomorrow. Either way, they had to stay prepared for both days, just in case.

Sara looked off to the left, seeing John at his post across the street. With a cell phone in hand, pretending to look at it. He leaned against a telephone pole, occasionally scanning the area. He was about 100 feet from Wep-Tec. Sara scanned the tops of the buildings even though her and Avery had already done this. There was no one anywhere, which was where she would have suspected an attack would come from. From above. Her and Avery had gone onto the roof of his restaurant and double checked, they looked around to the tops of the other businesses. Everything checked out.

They also had not seen General Bourne yet. It was seeming like tomorrow would be the day. In fact, a very expensive car had pulled up in front of Wep-Tec across the street and several people had gotten out and gone into Wep-Tec. They didn’t see General Bourne with them, granted they didn’t get a great look at everyone’s face. One person waited in the car. Sara figured this to be recon, a step one before the step two of General Bourne actually showing up for some meeting the day after. This was probably his team here checking the place out, making sure all was good.

Sara and Avery scanned the faces of the guests at his restaurant at the same time. They were so in sync. A table of a family of four, two young children. Another table with a young couple. One table with about five women in their 30’s all cackling and having a great time. And then the table of four men in suits, quiet, reserved. This was the table that gave them both pause. They kept a close eye on this table.

Across the street, a police car pulled up behind the expensive car. Two police officers, agitated and rude, got out and began yelling at the man sitting in the driver’s seat of the expensive car. They told him he couldn't be parked there. They made him park elsewhere. He pulled the car up and turned it around, parking just in front of Café Verde. The expensive car sat just 10 feet to Sara and Avery’s right, just past the low fence that enclosed the patio of Café Verde. The police car stayed parked in front of Wep-Tec. The two men returned to the car and went over paperwork together.

They waited another hour or so. Everything was still. John paced back and forth near his post on the other side of the road. He was clearly impatient, but he kept up his charade. Sara and Avery remained vigilant, but they looked to each other and nodded. Today was not the day. It wasn’t going to be May 12th, they both thought, almost with the same brain. It was going to be May 13th, wasn’t it?

Horrified screaming from behind them. Sara and Avery spun around to see one of the women at the table was screaming and crying in pain. Sara rushed over to her and instructed Avery to grab his first aid kit. As he rushed off, Sara saw blood. She called to Avery to bring plenty of towels too. Sara tended to the woman, asking what was happening. The woman could barely talk.

“She’s pregnant!” Another woman yelled out. “She isn’t due for another month!”

Sara inspected her. Something was happening. This woman was bleeding. And the baby was coming now. Or at least it was trying to come. Sara was going to need to help her.

“Miss, I can help you, but I need you to remain calm.” Sara tried to soothe her. “What’s your name?”

“Polly Chanysheva!” She said through labored pain. “My little Kyle! Is he going to be okay?!”

“Yes, I just need you to listen to me and we will be fine.” Sara continued to soothe her.

Avery returned with all the supplies and gave them to Sara. A couple employees of the restaurant showed up to assist Sara. Avery suddenly drifted away. Just a few steps. His attention was caught, from across the street. Even though a life hung in the balance just a few feet from him… he was instantly drawn to something across the street.

There was General Bourne, exiting Wep-Tec with his associates. He must have snuck inside without them noticing. As he and his associates exited, they looked for the expensive car and saw only the police car. General Bourne noticed the expensive car parked across the street, in front of Café Verde. He threw his hands up in annoyance. At that very moment, Avery noticed the police officer in the police car get on a walkie talkie and speak rapidly into it.

General Bourne and his associates began to cross the street. At that exact moment, from the left, a bus came roaring up the road. It sped along the road, going over 60 mph and heading right for General Bourne who didn’t even notice it.

Avery didn’t hesitate. He sprinted. He leapt over the low fence. He landed on the sidewalk and raced into the street. The bus was approaching with speed and force. General Bourne and his associates looked up to see Avery rushing at them, then they noticed the bus bearing down on them.

Avery leapt forward, arms extended. He shoved General Bourne backwards, out of harm’s way. General Bourne fell to his back in the street. The bus smashed into Avery’s outstretched body, knocking him to the pavement. The heavy wheels crushed his body as the bus sped on, lost control, and careened off the road. It crashed into a nearby building and an explosion filled with flames rocketed into the sky.

General Bourne sat up, unscathed. He looked directly in front of him… Avery’s lifeless body laying flat in the street. A baby’s healthy cry entered the world. Sara held the baby, little Kyle. Opposite ends of the emotional spectrum hit her at once. The life of a newborn baby saved… in her hands. The life of a thoughtful, wonderful, brave man lost… just dozens of feet away. But he just gave his life… to give everyone else life.

*******

No words were really spoken much of the rest of the day. Sara and John rejoined Ichika and Haruto. It was a day that mere words couldn’t do justice for.

Until John spoke.

“The books have changed.” John said. “Have you noticed?”

He pointed out one book in which the historical events had changed quite dramatically.

“Look here. Kyle Chanysheva, wasn’t that the name of the kid?” John asked. “Important political figure, did much for inclusion of minorities in American politics, negotiated peace talks among several hostile countries. Did a lot in his life. Passed away… November 29th, 2107. Wasn’t that the day Avery originally… passed away?”

John cringed at his own question. It was silent. Sara nodded.

“Yes… and the day I was born.”

Sara never once again had those horrible dreams of her as a soldier, dying in the mud. But she would always remember them… like she lived them… because she did live them. She lived many lives.

Sci Fi
3

About the Creator

Stephen Kramer Avitabile

I'm a creative writer in the way that I write. I hold the pen in this unique and creative way you've never seen. The content which I write... well, it's still to be determined if that's any good.

https://www.stephenavitabilewriting.com/

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