Bewildering Stories

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Draw Cab

by Jonathan Laden

And then I died.

“The time machine works!” I exclaimed, drawing a curious stare from the bird.

A genuine dodo waddled by, the pink tongue that would later cause its extinction lolling out of its mouth.

Blood leaked from all my pores, Tachyonic inversion destroying the very fiber of my being.

Shrugging, I wondered if I shouldn’t have been more cautious departing my shielding.

The last wisps of my wave coursed through me.

The sun beat down with a bright intensity I had never felt before.

The air smelled fetid, like overripe mangoes rode the very currents.

I staggered out of the draw cab and fell to the hot, sandy ground.

Finally, finally the voyage slowed to a stop.

Real or illusion, I did not know, but it didn’t matter; my body was real enough to convey sensations to my self.

I was myself, at the same apparent age as when I had first entered the cab and sent it on this voyage.

One again, I looked down at my arms.

I greeted reconvergence with a feeling almost of regret.

But I was still me.

Fragmentation continued to a degree I had not considered possible.

Sharp crack of my mind, and I was in two places at once.

Swimming, lazy, comfortable, secure.

And then I passed the threshold of my birth, and I was in the womb.

My experience was unaffected by the direction of time’s flow.

As a baby, I was just glad, or scared, to be alive.

I couldn’t comprehend the scientific expedition I was on, but in many ways my kid self understood this voyage best of all.

I was a child again, laughing and enjoying the wonder of an ever changing now.

It was the strangest sensation, like living time backwards almost, but though the minutes flowed in reverse order, each second seemed in the right place; coherent.

I passed through adolescence, enduring silently those years of uncertainty and growth.

I called my module the draw cab, for the obvious reasons.

What could be better to explore our many yesterdays?

Built in the Chinese moon lab, it was marketed as “Tomorrow’s plastic today.”

I built the module out of plasticated metals and their stereo-isomers, figuring the inverted structures might protect me from the dangers of my expedition.

But I did.

I had boasted, making it come true was the hard part.

“I’ll show you, Dennison! I can, too, make a trip backwards through time on a wave of guided tachyons,” I said.

Now that I have started, I will record my marvelous breakthrough for posterity and the Nobel Prize that surely awaits me upon my return.

How much further, I didn’t know, maybe a decade or more.

With a flourish I turned the knob back five years, but it snagged on my sleeve and went further than I had intended.

Copyright © 2003 by Jonathan Laden

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