By Tracey Squaire
Copyright 2017 Tracey Squaire
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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. If you enjoyed this book, please return to your favorite ebook retailer to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.
In 1960, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act into law; in 1963, equal pay for equal work was enacted for women; and in 1965, I was born. I’d never had any reason to believe that, in the grand scheme of human history, my birth was important to anyone except myself, but obviously I was wrong.
October 3rd, 1965. The sky was shrouded in night, the ground blanketed in snow. In a hospital room, my mother had lain in bed for hours struggling to deliver me. I Stepped into the Moment minutes before I was scheduled to be born. I’d watch the full scene dozens of times since I had discovered Stepping. When you discover that you have a power almost no one else has, you have to remind yourself from time to time that you’re actually human. At least, that was how I felt.
I didn’t notice you there immediately, though I know you had been watching me from the second I arrived in the Moment. I was so focused on her. On my birth. It wasn’t until you Stepped forward to her bedside that I realized you didn’t belong, and before I could take my own Step toward you two, you had taken a knife and plunged it into her chest at the same time that I slipped from her body.
It took the doctor and nurses a moment to realize something had happened to their patient. My deliverance into the world had distracted them, and they did not realize that her pain-filled screaming was anything other than a result of birthing pains. The blood dripping from her chest and pooling in her lap quickly revealed to them that something was wrong.
While the nurses scurried to figure out what had happened, I stood frozen. Unable to move. I was experiencing my mother’s death again and again as each memory I had of her went away. The moment your knife met her heart, I felt every memory of her face disappear, every hint of her laugh dissipate into the air, and every moment I felt her love shriveled up into nothingness as the woman she would have been ceased to exist.
You had killed her. With your knife, you had carved a hole deep within my soul with the loss of her. I couldn’t remember what I’d lost, but I could feel it deep within my being. And I had done nothing to stop you.
You watched me calmly, waiting for my reaction, but I could do nothing but stand frozen in shock at the loss of a woman I had known so intimately but not suddenly did not. You stood amongst the frenzied nurses in the room, and I watched as you Stepped from this Moment to the next and made your escape.
That was the first time we met, but it would not be the last.
Not long after, we encountered each other again. Our meeting was inevitable,of course. I’d been hunting you for months, trying to pay you back for what you’d done. Trying to figure out the vendetta you had against me. When we finally met, it was explosive to say the least.
It was Chicago, 1871, just days before the city was set to be ravaged by flames. I’d caught onto your trail back in London, 1666. You were chasing fires.
I’d been following you for a while, being careful to keep myself from your gaze. You were making your way to the South side of the city, and I followed not far behind. You passed people on the streets living their lives normally and never suspecting what would soon come for them.
You seemed comfortable here in this city. People greeted you often, you stopped to talk to them or stopped to go inside a building. I had to force myself not to follow you inside. I was worried I’d lose you again if you decided to Step away. You always came out, though. You were content to walk these streets with these people, and it angered me thinking that you acted so normally and thought you deserved to laugh companionably with any of them. I wondered to myself how none of them could see that monster that lay inside your heart.
I’m not sure what eventually gave me away, but I saw as you turned around and immediately set your eyes on me among the people in the crowded street. You frowned at me and Stepped away, but I was ready. I Stepped with you, following your trail in the split second before it disappeared. We were at least 12-yards away from each other before we Stepped, but we were next to each other as we arrived into the Moment.
I had followed you right into the middle of the inferno that was consuming the south of Chicago. The roar of the fire almost covered the screams of those poor souls unable to escape the blazing death that devoured everything in its path.
“Do you see what you did?” You didn’t yell, but I could hear you clearly, despite the sound of the fire surrounding us. You turned in a circle, arms out as if to include the world in your statement.
“Me?” I roared. I inhaled sharply. The air burned my lungs, almost choking me. I pulled a knife from my belt, ready to deal to you a blow equal to the one you had dealt my mother. I swung.
“Yes, you!” You replied, easily dodging my attack. “You’re so ignorant of how things work. Of how you work. What do you think happens when one traveler attempts to tackle another while moving through time and space? Their energy collides, causing a boom.”
I backed away from you, angry at your implication that I was the cause of the destruction surrounding us. I wondered how you had learned of this. I had met no other traveler before you, so, as you said, I was incredibly ignorant of what I did and how it worked. Most of what I did was instinctive. I pushed those thoughts away and continued my attack. You dodged my every move. I could tell I would lose this fight. You were a fighter, and I wasn’t; I’d never needed to be one in the past. I Stepped out of the Moment and back into it again behind you.
You swung around to face me, but you weren’t expecting the move which gave me enough time to land a blow on you. My knife sank into your shoulder, and you grunted in pain. Your counterattack was quick. Your leg swung up and into my stomach, knocking the air from my lungs while at the same time your elbow came down onto my back. The pain blinded me for only a moment, but that was all you needed. I felt the air change as you Stepped away.
I looked down at my knife. The blade, still clutched tightly in my hand, was covered in your blood. I had injured you, but you had gotten away. A rage as hot as the fires all around consumed me, and I was momentarily blinded by the emotion. You had gotten away. It was the only thought in my mind, and it played on a loop. You had gotten away. I screamed in anger because of the unfairness of it all. I Stepped away.
Again and again, we met. I chased you through the past. Toronto, 1998; Paris, 1960; New York, 2001; everywhere we went, disaster followed. It was not always I who did the chasing. You preferred to wait for the future to come for me. Rome, 2081; Sicily, 2176; Egypt, 2022—the list went on. We hit all the major places together, it seemed.
Neither of us could get the upper hand. Sometimes we would injure the other, but never to the point of death. You were the superior fighter, but you couldn’t manipulate time and space as instinctively as I could, despite your apparent superior learning. Years passed in this fashion, though there were times when I didn’t see you for so long. I would hope you had died somewhere, cold and alone. Of course, I knew you wouldn’t die until I killed you with my own hands, and I felt as though that would never happen.
During one of our many hiatuses, I travelled the world visiting small towns rather than the larger cities I usually Stepped into. I knew you were more likely to find me in those cities.
It was 2013 in Roeselare, Belgium, and I was resting after exploring the limits of time my power would take me to. I was eating, but not really paying attention to what I ate because I was lost thinking of my discovery of not being able to go anywhere in time devoid of humans. The weather was cloudy and looked like rain, so I sat outside to avoid the other patrons of the restaurant who would be hiding from the unpleasant weather. I had just been wondering if you had tested your powers in a similar fashion and discovered the same thing as I had or if you were even limited as I was to the mere whole of human history.
That was when I saw you. Only, it wasn’t you. This you was different. You were a child, your hair untouched by the gray I knew and your face unscarred by the many fights we had fought. Your eyes were so much softer than I had ever known them, but this was undeniably you.
You walked past my table hand in hand with a woman I assumed was your mother. You were some feet away from me before I could make myself move to follow you. Seeing you here startled me, and I’d froze like the first time we met.
I wasn’t thinking. I just walked and watched. Neither of you looked back once, which was a blessing because I wasn’t in a right enough mind to conceal my stalking of you. I followed behind until you two got to your home. I stood outside for hours, but neither of you came back out.
I Stepped to the next day and watched as you played in your front yard. Your mother sat on the porch watching over you. I Stepped into your room later that night and watched as you slept. You were innocent now, but I knew you would grow up to be a monster. If I could get rid of you, my mother would be alive again.
As I was contemplating the best way to kill you, your mother decided it was a good time to check on you. I didn’t hear her come in, but I heard her scream, “Who are you?”
Startled, I turned to her. She stood in the open doorway in a nightgown, a horror-stricken look on her face.
You gasped, and I turned back to you, already reaching for you. I grabbed your arm and Stepped away, and at the same time I felt your mother grab onto me. Both you and your mother screamed as we Stepped away from the relative safety of your bedroom and into a fiery Moment. I had Stepped us back to Chicago, 1871, and your mother had hitched a ride. I hadn’t planned to come back here, but I couldn’t help but think about the first time I’d had a chance to kill you and failed.
I had lost my grip on your arm during the Step, and you landed a few feet away from me near a burning building. Your mother was still screaming, even after the Step was complete. I searched for her, though the smoke clouded my vision, and I realized that she was stuck in the fire somewhere. She continued to scream in pain, and I was filled with regret.
I tried to ignore the sound as I turned back to you. I had to finish what I’d gone there to do. If I managed to kill you, maybe this version of me would never come here and cause the death of the innocent woman who had raised a monster.
You continued to lay on the ground, quietly shaking, eyes wide. Tears flowed from them freely, making streaks on your face where they washed away the dirt and ash. It was hard to walk toward you because you were not yet the person who I hated but rather an innocent child. But I did it anyway.
As I walked closer to you, knife out and glistening in the light of the fire, you closed your eyes and flinched. As you did so, you Stepped. Out of shock, I froze. I had never stepped without actually taking a step, and I had never seen you do so either. My hesitation, though only momentary, cost me the precious time I needed to follow you. I couldn’t believe you had gotten away from me again, and so easily as well. I felt defeated and didn’t even have the energy to scream.
And when I stepped away from that moment of defeat, I came here and found you waiting for in this Moment.
“That’s quite an interesting story, to say the least.”
“You don’t believe me…”
“I do. It makes sense.”
“Do you understand how this all happened? Why we’re both here? How you could easily stop all of this if you just don’t hurt her?”
“Yes. I do understand. Far more than you do. That understanding won’t stop me from taking from you what you took from me… Goodbye now. I promise I’ll see you again soon.”
You Stepped away.
Thanks for reading this story. If you enjoyed it (or even if you didn’t) leave me a review at your favorite retailer!
About the author:
Tracey Squaire is a writer and editor with experience working on multiple literary magazines, serving as a co-editor and critic for incoming works. Tracey has also been published in multiple literary magazines such as The Kilgore Review and The Emerald Coast Review. When she’s not writing her own stories or editing the work of other’s, she is likely cooking, reading, or running a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Read Tracey’s Shakespir interview here:
Connect with Me:
Follow on Facebook:
Favorite me at Shakespir: