Categories > Original > Sci-Fi1 Reviews
A story about Time Travel, Groundhog day, and trains.
HOWEVER, I managed to get some writing done, but I didn't post it. More short stories, because I suck at tackling projects.
He wakes up on the L train heading downtown. Not that it’s different from most days. That’s just how this day starts. He unwraps the big black jacket from around his shoulders, spreading the arms out like the wings of a bat. He slides it on gingerly, gears and sprockets banging against each other in the pockets. A worry crease folds between his eyes; how long has he been here, again? And why aren’t the gears in the right order yet? The L train goes through an overpass, momentarily shading his face. He decides to do something completely unexpected, for once. He turns around and starts talking to you.
“Can I talk to you for, like, two quick seconds?”
You are taken aback. Normally you don’t talk to crazy people on trains. But he doesn’t look crazy. He looks like he’s fifteen, with badly-dyed blue hair and dark eyebrows that stand out like a rebuttal.
He blows air out of the side of his mouth. “You remember what happened last time?” he says, and when you shake your head, his eyes glaze over with boredom and disinterest.
“Okay, cool, whatever, see you tomorrow,” he mutters, and unfolds out of his seat, striding towards the PULL IN CASE OF EMERGENCY lever. Yanking it down, and when the doors open, he jumps down to the tracks below and into the way of an incoming train.
He wakes up on the L train heading downtown. Not that it’s different from most days. That’s just how this day starts. He unwraps the big black jacket from around his shoulders, spreading the arms out like the wings of a bat. He slides it on gingerly, gears and sprockets banging against each other in the pockets. A worry crease folds between his eyes; does he really have to do this again? Why can’t he fix anything?
The L train goes through an overpass, momentarily casting shadows. Looking over his shoulder, he decides to try again.
“Humor me for a minute. Pretend I’m not a crazy train person,” he says to you. You were sitting behind him, and are completely surprised by this development. He doesn’t look crazy. He’s got blue hair that looks like a bad dye job more than anything else, dark eyebrows, and grey eyes.
“Have we met before?” you ask him, because something about him seems familiar, but surely you’d remember somebody like him? He looks at you for a minute, then starts to laugh, big shaking laughter that makes his eyes water. “Oh my God! You! You’re too funny!” he wheezes, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. You chuckle nervously, not understanding what’s so funny.
“Okay, listen, you. How much do you know about time travel?” he asks, once he’s gotten his breath back. “Not a lot,” you answer honestly. He rolls his eyes. “Do you know about time loops?”
You shake your head. “Time loops?”
For a moment, he looks defeated, then launches into an explanation.
“Time loops are solid circuits of time. Ever seen Groundhog Day? It’s kind of like that. A stable time loop can go on for a really long time like forever even. If you can hypothetically travel through time, time loops are great places to be, because you pretty much have an infinity to do whatever it is you want to do.”
You nod. Most of that makes sense. The train pulls into one of the stations, and the boy jumps up. “What’s your name?” you ask him.
“Hannibal! See you tomorrow!” he responds over his shoulder and leaves the car.
He wakes up on the L train going downtown. Not that it’s different from most days. That’s just how today goes.
How it always goes.
His jacket feels like it’s trying to smother him, so he unwraps it. Gears clank together in his pockets, and he lets out a quiet, “Oh, boy.”
“You okay?” you ask him. He turns towards you, blue hair stuck up like a frightened octopus. He looks scared. “No. No I’m not okay. I’m stuck here and I can’t go home.”
“Where’s your stop, then? Do you have a phone?” you ask, but he doesn’t really hear you. “I’ve lost my travel buddy. See, you’re not supposed to go through loops without somebody to have your back. My travel buddy, Marla, she abandoned me here after I broke the music box. See, the music box, with one wind takes you back a loop and two winds takes you back two loops, so I’m lucky that we’re stuck in this loop instead of the 1964 one.”
You blink, then stare out the window, hoping he’ll calm down on his own. He drops back into the seat in front of you. “What’s your name?” he asks you.
You tell him your name, and then ask for his.
“I’m Napoleon. See you tomorrow."
He wakes up on the L train heading downtown. Again.
He closes his eyes and tries to go back to sleep, tries to forget what happened. Everything had been peachy between Marla and him, until they jumped into this loop. He'd miscalculated where they'd land, and they landed on the lip of a tall building. He'd nearly fallen off, but managed to right himself last minute.
The music box took the plunge instead, and did not survive.
Marla hadn't been impressed at all. In fact, she nearly threw him off after the box. That was the last time he'd seen her.
He's startled awake by a poke to the shoulder. He cracks open one eyelid to stare at you.
"What's up, Doc?" he asks.
"Don't I know you?" you ask him.
"Doubt it, kid," he says, pulling his knees closer to his chest.
"No, wait, I know you! Your name is Hercules, right?"
His eyelids fly open. Time loops always reset. Always always times one million billion bajillion. So why oh why did this person remember his lies? Why? Answer A, Time traveler. Unlikely. Answer B, much more likely. The time loop was unstable and no longer safe to be in.
Hercules's eyes catch on a shadow in the corner of the train car, noticing it thinning, spreading upwards into the ceiling. Two spots of light form in the centre of the shadow, impossible impossible, but yet true.
Hercules turns his attention back to you. "Do you remember time loops at all?" he asks. The notion surfaces in your brain like a far-away whale. Murky. Faint. "Sort of."
"Okay, basically, time loop no longer looping. Big problem. I need to either find a new time loop or stabilize this one, or else!" he widens his eyes dramatically.
"Or else what?" you ask.
"I die. Have you seen something, anything really, that doesn't do what it's supposed to do? Most of those are bewitched, right, natural time travel juju object things. Gospel!" he exclaims, looking around like one of these things might be hiding in the car.
"Bewitched means able to travel through time, right?" you ask. He nods, then says, "They're stuff like a cigarette machine that doesn't sell cigarettes. Seen one?"
You shake your head, and his head drops.
"Ah well. C'mon. It's time to get off the train. I expect you to follow me, but you don't have to if you don't want to. Your loss."
You think over his answer, then decide. "I'll follow you. Just tell me your real name."
He grins, all canines and deceit.
"You may call me Smack."