“You can’t do this Eric!” Said an old man in a lab coat.
The middle-aged man who was getting into a capsule responded in a calm tone. “Listen, Walter, I am going to do this. I will save her. I know I can.”
Walter wrung his hands and smoothed his coat, “But Eric, we don’t know what this will do to the timeline! What it may do to you! To all of us!”
Eric looked at the kindly old man who had been his mentor for half a lifetime and said, “I don’t care! I have to save her.”
The argument settled in his mind Eric closed the door to the chamber. The machine which had been preprogrammed began the countdown after he strapped himself in.
The mechanized voice counted, “Ten… nine… eight…” Walter pounded on the door but inside he could not hear what he was yelling. “Seven… six… five…,” the computer continued. He saw Walter back away from the time capsule but he knew he had made the countdown irreversible. “Four… three… two… one… initialize.” The capsule filled with light and he could not see. Everything was white, everything was…
He found himself standing in a clearing and next to him was a small bag. He raised his hands and looked at them with wonder. Gone were the lines of age, and they were smaller. He had jumped into his younger self as planned. He looked around and recognized where he was. He was a couple of miles from her house. This is where they used to come to play.
He looked into the bag, “Yes it worked,” he said. Inside were his supplies, he took his chronometer out. He had designed this one to adjust automatically, he hoped, to the time fluctuation. Studying it, he sighed in relief. It worked. He was back. He just needed to find her before his hour ran out.
He grabbed the bag and set off towards her house. As he walked through the woods of his youth, he was struck by the memories of it all. He had not come back here in decades. He was lost in his revelry his mind wondering on phantoms of the past. Realizing this he snapped himself out of it and looked at his meter. He saw he only had thirty minutes left. Pocketing it he increased his pace with renewed fervor.
As he approached the fence to her yard, he saw he only had ten minutes before the auto-recall initiated. He heard the yelling then. Her father was drunk again. Pulling the pistol from the bag he quietly swore to himself he would not let this happen again. He dropped his bag and ran towards the house.
He heard the smashing of plates against the walls and he knew he did not have much time. Kicking the door that was always unlocked open he burst into the house gun at the ready. He saw her cowering before her father. The drunk bastard had a baseball bat raised above her ready to swing.
“No!” Eric yelled and pulled the trigger repeatedly. Shot after shot rang out until the chamber emptied and all that was left was the clicking of an empty mag. Red spots started to form on her father’s white tee, and he slumped over falling to the ground where he laid unmoving.
In the silence afterward, she softly said, “Why… why would you do that?” There were tears in her eyes, “Dad… daddy… daddy…,” she held onto the form of her dead father and cried.
Eric said, “I had to, he was going to kill you.”
She looked up at him, tears streaking down her face, “I’ll never forgive you!” She exclaimed.
In his pocket, his meter started to beep, “No,” he said, “Not now, I need more time.” Everything around him started to turn white.
It enveloped him and the last thing he heard was her say, “I’ll make you pay for this.” All went white…
He found himself in absolute darkness. Confused he went to stand up and banged his head on a very low ceiling. Panic filled him. Reaching out he realized he was in a confined cubic room.
He started to shout, “What’s going on… Walter… Walter let me out!” he continued this for minutes, calling out in fear. Finally, he heard footsteps and a small panel opened in one of the walls.
A gruff voice said, “Shut up, or I’ll have the warden extend your time in solitary for a full month.”
“Solitary?” Eric questioned, “I’m in prison?”
The voice behind the opening laughed, “No you’re in a spa. Come on. Has the confinement made you loony? You’ve been serving a life sentence for thirty years now. Now shut the fuck up or else.”
The small opening of light shut and he was once again left in total darkness. He realized he had saved her but he had lost everything else. And in the dark of his cell, he began to cry.
This story won the Monthly Writing Prompt Competition
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