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One Mistake, Many Consequences

By Bradley Ramsey (He/Him)Published 2 months ago 5 min read
Image: Levi Xu via Unsplash

Rain was a third-level jumper in the Chronos Division. The Chronos Division had three rules:

One: Anonymity is key. Never, under any circumstances, reveal your true name.

Two: Do not alter the past or try to influence the future.

Three: Never interact with another version of yourself.

In the span of the last twenty-four hours, Rain had broken all three. They sat chained to a glimmering silver table in a padded room, clad in cuffs connected to the table by an ethereal thread of glowing plasma.

The table, the chair they sat in, and Rain themselves, all floated just above the ground in low gravity. The ship was shutting down due to a lack of fuel. In the vast reaches of space, oxygen was more important, so the gravity had to go first.

The door swung open and a pair entered the room, propelling themselves through the doorway with an awkward leap. They steadied themselves on the edges of the table, staring at Rain silently. One was a nobody, the other was a perfect copy of Rain.

“We’re evacuating in fifteen minutes, at which point the oxygen in this room is going to run out. You can come with us, if you tell the truth,” the nobody said.

Rain looked to the other one and locked eyes with them behind their helmet. It was like looking in a mirror.

“I told you, this is all a big mistake! If you just give me back my zero-point field manipulator, I can fix this!”

The other version of Rain shook their head. “You may look like me, but your story doesn’t match up. There’s no such thing as time travel, and if Earth was a real place, don’t you think we would have heard of it?”

“I miscalculated the butterfly constant, I didn’t mean to alter the timeline, but I can fix this! Just give me back my device and leave me here to die! What do you have to lose?” Rain asked.

“Humanity is hanging on by a thread, drifting through the cosmos on ships that will soon run out of power. No home to call our own, and certainly not some perfect planet fit for life. Do you know how many planets we’ve scanned trying to find a home? Millions,” the nobody said.

Rain looked up to the copy of themselves, trying to plead with them. “What about the coordinates I gave you? The star charts? Did you scan the solar system?”

The other Rain nodded. “Yes, we saw seven planets, none of which are fit for life.”

It’s really gone.

The realization made Rain nauseous.

“Besides, this device of yours could buy us a few more years. The power source is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. If you tell us where to get more, we may show mercy on you,” the nobody said.

“I’m sorry, I can’t, but if you let me have the device back, I can fix this, I promise you that.”

Rain felt like a broken record, and neither of their interrogators were dancing to the tune they were singing.

“A shame. Well, enjoy your final moments. I hear suffocation is excruciating,” the other Rain said.

They both left without another word. Rain wanted to shout and plead for them to reconsider, but knew it would just use up more precious oxygen.

Rain turned their panic inward, frantically searching for some sort of solution before the air ran out. Any attempt to rip or tear the plasma connecting Rain to the table would scorch their flesh or possibly burn their hand off entirely.

Rain had minutes, if that. Panicking was a waste of those final moments. Instead, Rain thought about everything that had led them to that moment. Thought about the mistakes, thought about the people they could have saved if they had just done things differently.

Rain closed their eyes, focusing on shallow breaths. Their eyes shot back open when they felt a hand on their shoulder.

Another Rain floated beside them in the low gravity. Slightly younger, with a nose piercing and brightly colored makeup. Rain blinked rapidly as another flash brought yet another version of themselves into the room on her right. This one was more masculine, with a beard and a jagged scar just beneath their right eye.

A third Rain appeared, a fourth, and then a fifth. All of them drastically altered versions of the same person. Those who walked a different path but carried the same soul.

The Rain that had first appeared spoke for the group. “You’re not dying here, Rain.”

“I’m not?”

The other Rain shook their head. “Earth is gone from every timeline, it’s true, but not all hope is lost.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but what do you plan to do? They took my zero-point field manipulator, I’m running out of air. It’s nothing but a thin sheet of metal and then miles of nothing out there.”

A new version of Rain pushed through the crowded room of copies. They had long blonde hair, striking blue eyes, and carried a glowing cube. With every step, the sides rotated like the pieces of a puzzle. Its light was warm, full of life.

Rain’s jaw dropped. “A Chronos Key? How did you get this?”

“We’ve been busy, just like you,” they said.

“With this, we could reach the Chronos Division HQ, beyond the third dimension. We could view the master timeline. We could find Earth,” Rain said, excitement rising in their voice.

The other Rain nodded, staring deep into the rotating cube’s light.

“Ready to get started?” they asked.

Rain nodded. “Let’s get out of here. We’ve got work to do.”

Short StorySci Fi

About the Creator

Bradley Ramsey (He/Him)

Lover of dogs, gaming, and long walks on the beach. Content Marketing Manager by day, aspiring writer by night. Long time ghostwriter, finally stepping into the light. Alone, we cannot change this world, but we can create better ones.

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