Time After Time
Unless I press the button, that is.
It’s 6:26 AM. The forecast on the radio is a cloudy day with scattered rain showers. The next song to play is some Top 40 crap. Downstairs, my wife is making eggs and bacon to surprise me. In eight hours, she’s going to be dead and I can’t do a thing to stop it.
I see myself from behind but can’t stop myself from pushing the button, no matter how much I scream. I feel a moment of pure regret before everything goes white and I wake up at home.
I burst in the door and start pounding on the glass. Maybe this time I’ll get through to me. Maybe this time I can break the cycle. Turn around. Turn around, damn you! Please, just this once. Turn around and listen to me. Please.
I’m running now, as fast as I can, trying to keep up with myself. I remember the exact order of turns, which helps. Left, right, right, left, left, left, right, right, straight ahead. 49264#. Turn the handle clockwise and push. Maybe I can be fast enough this time. Maybe I can catch up and stop myself from ruining reality. I just have to be faster. I have to run, even though my lungs are burning with exertion. I have to do this.
I’m entering the building and I feel the frantic pulsing in my veins as I look for myself. It shouldn’t be hard. I know what I look like. There! Rounding that corner. Oh no, there’s gunfire. Those men – three of them – are dying again. Over and over. I want to say I can’t imagine a worse fate, but I kinda can. Ignore it. Move past them. Catch up.
I’m driving like a maniac through the streets, hoping beyond all hope that I can catch myself before I do the stupid thing I am going to be doing. I know I have the gun. I just pray I haven’t used it yet, but I know I have. I always do.
The car peels out of the driveway and I helplessly watch myself drive away. I wasn’t fast enough. There’s the other car, though. Thank goodness.
I see my wife on the floor, blood everywhere, and I almost kneel in grief before it dawns on me that I’m not there. I realize what I’m headed to do. I have to stop myself before I start this nightmare.
I’m outside my home now, listening to the gunfire going on. I know what’s happening but I can’t stop it. I can’t.
Get out of there, I scream to myself. Break this cycle. Don’t be home when they come. It’s too late. The SUV slams to a halt and they exit, guns in hand.
There’s a button at work, I hear myself tell her, that can fix all our problems forever. And I have a key to the room. I think I’m going to press it.
I messed up. I didn’t intervene.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.