short stories collection - a compilation of my short stories.
It is a century and a half in the future and I am staring at my grave. Vines crawl up the sides and bits of stone have fallen off in places. Across the top my name is barely visible and the dates of my birth have long since been worn away. I look around the graveyard, at my friends, enemies, confidants and others. All of them are fading, the last vestiges of their existence being worn away by wind and rain. I hear a beep to my left and sigh. The machine only gives me ten minutes per jaunt into the future. And there is no going back, only forward by ten year increments. I started it twenty-four hours ago if my watch is to be believed...
A story about a man's legacy.
“ It is a century and a half in the future and I am staring at my grave. Vines crawl up the sides and bits of stone have fallen off in places. Across the top my name is barely visible and the dates of my birth have long since been worn away. I look around the graveyard, at my friends, enemies, confidants and others. All of them are fading, the last vestiges of their existence being worn away by wind and rain. I hear a beep to my left and sigh. The machine only gives me ten minutes per jaunt into the future. And there is no going back, only forward by ten year increments. I started it twenty-four hours ago if my watch is to be believed.
The beeping grew louder and more urgent. I haven't actually tested what happens if I don't re-enter the ship at the specified time, but given the wastelands I keep ending up in, I'd rather not find out. I passed Marleen's gravestone on my way back and stopped. She'd been everything, until she left for some tech magnate who was to be the Next-Big-Thing. Yes, he was to leave a lasting mark on the world and who was I? Just some engineer slaving away in the depths of a DARPA project. Nothing too exciting. He'd come from Bermuda and had the backstory, charm, and looks to complete the package. I was from Cairo. No, not that Cairo, the one in Illinois. I often lamented while staring at the mirror at my nose; though everyone said otherwise I am convinced it bends rightward. Don't remember his name now, probably for the better. The beeping grew louder and I snapped out of my daydream.
BEEP BEEP BEEP bzzzt BEEP BEEP BEEP. The machines cries grew more urgent, louder and an ominous tone crept into the tune. It sounded as though the dead would wake at any moment and come clawing at my feet to drag me down, keeping me here forever. I swallowed the lingering fear, ran over and climbed into the craft. The door closed with a satisfying hiss and the machine began to whir, a sound which I could never find the source of. The viewport to my right shone white and suddenly I was in a grassy hill. It reminded me of a time long past, when my father and I used to go hunting for crawfish in the stream near our house.
"Hey boy, slow down! We've got all day, you hear?" my father called out to me as I bound down the hill. My pack bounced against my back and my small net fluttered in the wind. The day was partly cloudy and had that blue hue that I so associated with those summer days when the stream was full of life, the forest felt like an endless playground and the town smelled of fresh food. Father caught up to me and started to setup shop. He'd gotten so efficient at it, I sometimes wanted to blind-fold him to see what would happen...
The machine began whinging again and reality gripped me once more. Down below the river had run dry and fish bones littered the shore. I looked out into the distance, over the rolling hills with their wilting flowers and dried up trees. Past the forest, dense and dark, that used to be our play area. I could make-out several houses that we used to call our own. The one I had spent years in with Marleen was naught more than a chimney stack and a pile of bricks. Out beautifully decorated room, gone. I loved that room, with its dazzling parquet wood floors, an old Citapore rug from Khairabad and some odd trinkets from our trip to North Maluku. I'd installed the chimney, spent a whole summer designing it by hand and layering each brick myself. Our son, Arnold, used to sleep there. He loved the fire and the warmth of the carpet. I would often have to go and move him back to his room while he slept. He always assumed he was a good sleep walker. Guess he'll never know, he's dead now.
BEEP BEEP BEEP bzzzt. It called out to me and I looked back one last time. I picked up a steel sign that had marked our street, the paint long gone, and ran over to the machine. Ducking under the entrance, I sat down on the cold floor. Nothing happened and I had hope this ordeal was over. Then the world outside went white and we were on our way.
I sat in the corner of the machine and scratched my name into the blemished steel. Opposite me sat the small bag I'd brought. It had some food, but most importantly, I'd carried along an escape plan. Suddenly I was flying through the air and hit the ground with a thud. I looked out the viewport and saw nothing but an endless sea of buildings. Around me buzzed the sounds of the city and a vehicle of some sort whizzed by me. It is all quite fantastical, but I see nothing of my old world. I've taken out the escape plan and got it ready. Hopefully this works. ”
The train pulled up to the station with barely a hiss. "Edgware Station. This is an interchange. Passengers please alight," a feminine voice announced. I glanced at the piece of paper I had chanced upon while taking my preferred shortcut between Blocks 36 and 37. It was under an old scrap of steel that I threw away. Pity people still littered, thought we'd done away with that abhorrent habit. I was about to throw away the paper, but it seemed to contain a portion of someone's screenplay. It is alright, but there are certain parts I would ameliorate. "Doors closing," called out in that annoyingly calm voice. I lept into the air and dashed out the door right as they slammed shut. There was a trashcan on my way to the gates where I discarded the paper. Whoever wrote it has a copy anyways, no one will miss it.