Saturday, April 13, 2024

Me and My Son Invented a Time Machine, Now I'm Going to Spend the Rest of my Life Regretting It

I wrapped my arms around Alexei, my only son, as the terrible regret hit me. I could feel his matted, blood soaked, hair run between my fingers as I watched the light leave his eyes. It happened so fast, we were having another argument, God it must’ve been our third today. It was getting more and more heated, eventually I lost control. All I did was push him, that’s it, I didn’t want to hurt him, I just wanted to… I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway, there was something on the ground. When I pushed my beloved son he slipped and fell, his head making a sickening crack on a nearby table. I held him closer, his faint pulse was gone. He was gone. I would do anything, give anything, to go back and stop this. I looked around at our lab, at the machine we had built. Maybe I could.

Me and him had come from a long line of physicists. In my youth I had become obsessed with science fiction and stories of going back to the past. I passed that obsession along to Alexei. Eventually this turned into us trying to create a time travel device of our own. We both knew that such an endeavor was likely to be ridiculed by the greater science community. Thus we kept it to ourselves, working tirelessly in our offtime, developing novel theories and techniques. Just a few weeks ago we had reached a point where we felt the math lined up, and we had been adjusting the device in preparation for its first real test. I stared at the machine, felt Alexei’s body slowly cool. This would be the test.

I double checked the control panel and crawled in. With a heavy “thunk” each switch was set. I stared at the big red button in front of me and prayed. Prayed and pushed.

My heart nearly sank out of my body as I entered an indescribably black void. For the slightest moment I was in oblivion. Just as quickly I was back in the corporeal world. The lab was just as it was, and Alexei was right in front of me. He was yelling, and yet I was overcome with emotion. I was ready to throw my arms around him and tell him how much I loved him, how proud I was of him. But I couldn’t. I willed my body to do as I wished and yet nothing happened. No matter how hard I tried I seemed to be moving without my control. I could hear myself yelling, hear the horrible words that had left my mouth earlier that day. No matter how much I wanted to take them back, they kept coming out.

Something was wrong. I was not a third party to this argument, I couldn’t walk in and break it up. Instead I was trapped in my past self. A caged bird forced to watch and unable to act. As I heard my voice grow louder I knew what I was about to witness. With every fiber of my will I tried to stop my hands from moving, and yet they moved anyway. I watched my son slip and fall. Heard the sickening crack of his skull breaking. Watched him die in my arms.

Staying imprisoned, I got to experience my grief take over me. I watched as I walked to the time machine and put in the information. I reeled in horror at the thought of having to experience Alexei’s death for a third time. I started to wonder if the time machine had actually killed me, and that an eternity of this was my divine punishment.

As I entered the machine and pushed the red button I could suddenly feel control return to me. Back in the present I was able to move and I quickly pressed the emergency override. The whirring machine died down and I felt myself struggle to breathe.

Once I collected myself I ran to the control panel and tried to change the values, I must have messed something up. I corrected a few mistakes and tried again. The void took me again, and soon I was once again a prisoner of my own flesh. I watched Alexei’s head crack again.

And again.

And again.

No matter how many times I tried, no matter how many variables I entered, it was always the same result, again and again. Maybe that guess was right, maybe this is my hell. As I write this I check my phone and see that three days have already passed. I haven’t slept. I think Alexei is starting to smell. Part of me wants to keep going back, again and again, hoping that I’ll bring him back. Another part of me wants to give up, and I hate myself for it. Though, if I can’t bring Alexei back to me then perhaps… perhaps I can join him. The thought doesn’t upset me as much as it should.

Now that I’ve written this out, my head feels a little clearer, I can remember what me and him were arguing about. He had done some math and come to a terrifying conclusion. The path of our universe is set at the moment of creation. You can go back in time, but you can never change it. As I stare at his body I find myself full of fear, fear of spending the rest of my life killing him to prove him wrong, and fear of having to live with the fact that I proved him right.

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Me and My Son Invented a Time Machine, Now I'm Going to Spend the Rest of my Life Regretting It

I wrapped my arms around Alexei, my only son, as the terrible regret hit me. I could feel his matted, blood soaked, hair run between my fin...