Distributed by Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Isabel Pelech
Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied, and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form.
Honestly, if you were a writer and had a time machine, you would think of it, too. But whether you’d do it or not—that depends on a lot of things, such as how you see yourself and whether you enjoy writing.
I don’t. Never did. I just happen to be good at it, and enjoy having a completed story in my hands. So away we go.
The time machine can’t take you back to your childhood, or points beyond. It can’t take you anywhere. It’s basically a communications device. Turn it on. Wait a little while. You will be able to send a message—standard Augmented Text File, at the moment—to any point after the moment it was first turned on.
Of course, if you get a message, you have to remember to send that message later, otherwise bad things. But on the bright side, the fact that a message got sent pretty much guarantees that you’ll be in the right place and the right state—alive, conscious, etc—to send it.
You see where I’m going with this, I hope. I turned on the time machine, and no more than thirty minutes later, out pops the first story.
It was something that I had been faintly thinking about, dated two weeks from today. It was my words—I could tell it was. But I would never have to struggle to put those words in order. The self that had done that had evaporated into a sort of quantum dream. All I would have to do was to copy the story back into the time machine and send it to myself.
And reading what I had written, exactly as I would have wanted it to go, but without the memory of having had to sweat and doubt over it—that was a magical feeling. I was going to do it again.
I did it again.
And I did it again.
I don’t think I noticed as soon as it started happening, but the stories started to change. The word choice became simpler, more brutal, even as the subject matter became baroque and twisted. Mutilations. Creeping alien parasites that become vital to a degraded existence. Lakes that eat, towers that hunt, pyramids where the last remnant of mankind is pinned on display, like a butterfly—
I remember realizing that I regarded the red “Incoming” light on the time machine with trepidation, not eagerness, and wondering how that happened.
The stories were coming from further and further in the future, because of course they were. It takes time to write, even if you aren’t really writing, and these were longer pieces. Novellas and novels.
Screaming faces that appeared in windows, but weren’t there when you went inside. The three-mirror trick making endless reflections, and what happens when the furthest reflections don’t match.
Either I was going to be a different person in a year or so, or there was something else going on.
The “me” who wrote the stories disappeared. That means that as soon as I started typing, I was committing an act of protracted suicide, and knew it. Of course, I would also live on, but—it was enough to explain the grimness of the stories. Was it enough to explain the strangeness?
The “me” who wrote the stories disappeared. That was a fact of the time machine. Wasn’t it? What if the stories weren’t coming from me at all? What if the operation of the time machine allowed them to slip into the universe, from—where?
An empire of blood-drinking butterflies. An endless wooden stair in the darkness behind a theater.
Why wouldn’t I stop? I could stop any time—in the future. Here, now, in the present, I was a slave to what came out of the machine. I had to send it when the time came. But the self-that-wrote, if the self-that-wrote was real—that “me” could stop.
And which possibility scared me more? That all these cold, twisted things came from something inside of time, or that they came from something inside of me?
Every minute takes me closer to the moment when I have to type those things back into my computer, when I have to send them to a self who is becoming more and more frightened. I have to do it to myself. I can’t stop.
More and more, all the stories seem to scream the same thing. I can’t stop. I can’t stop. I can’t stop.
I want off. I want out. I can’t stop.
Thank you for reading my short story. I hope you enjoyed it! Please consider leaving a review at your favorite retailer.
If you did enjoy this story, consider checking out , available from Shakespir and multiple ebook retailers.
About the Author
Isabel Pelech is a mother of twins living in the Southern United States. She is obsessed with space and storytelling. She hopes you enjoy reading about the worlds in her head.
A writer discovers a way to avoid writing and still enjoy having written. Until it starts going wrong. A very short story involving cross-time communication and how not to use it, available for free.