Short Story: “Traveler”

Time travel has been written and spoken about for ages. It’s a possibility so endless that there isn’t a soul on this planet that wouldn’t jump at the chance to take a journey through time. Some might say they would. They’ll say they’d never take such a risk.

Those people are full of shit.

I’ll be honest, I was one of them. I always said I would never do it, that “I would never mess with the space-time continuum.”

That was bullshit. Turns out, all I really needed to do was figure it out. For as I write this, I am stuck in a time machine that has seen fit to randomly show me moments in time. It’s either pitch black, or it’s a blinding white light, followed by something horrible. I’ve come to the conclusion that the machine has a mind of its own. When it first stopped, the date on the automated dashboard read November 22nd, 1963.

JFK was assassinated on that date.

A polaroid photo by Mary Ann Moorman taken a fraction of a second after the fatal shot (detail). (Courtesy of Wikipedia.com)
A polaroid photo by Mary Ann Moorman taken a fraction of a second after the fatal shot (detail). (Courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

I’ve always been fascinated by that man. He was such a contradiction. When he was in front of the camera, he was America’s poster boy. He was going to lead the Country into a new age: the space age. Behind the camera was a different story.

I observed his whole day. From the moment he awoke, until the moment his heart finally stopped beating. The feeling you get from watching a man who is unaware that his maker will come to meet him in mere hours is indescribable. It was business as usual with The First Family. Jackie would barely look at him, and Jack himself? He was dead set on the idea that he could fix it all. He was going to save his family, if not for Lee Harvey Oswald.

Lee Harvey Oswald (Courtesy of Wikipedia.com)
Lee Harvey Oswald (Courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

That was the only disappointing part of my first trip through time: there was no gunman on the grassy knoll. There was only a man who could shoot a hell of a lot better than his paperwork said. Lee Harvey Oswald was not a man you could simply understand with one glance. That was something Jim Garrison could never understand. He couldn’t fathom the idea that there was anything more than a dumpy little man. He only saw that book for its cover; the inside didn’t matter. Through my travels, I have discovered that as a constant problem.

The horrors I’ve witnessed at the hands of men who were misjudged are many. Too many. Ted Bundy leaps to mind, confessed killer of over 30 young women. He was a man born with boyish good looks and the mind of a sociopath. About two weeks into my travels, I had the misfortune of landing on the date of one of his countless murders. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t shift my focus from the man.

Ted Bundy (Wikipedia.com)
Ted Bundy (Wikipedia.com)

Bundy was all there was.

I watched him for hours. It was an hour leading up to the death of poor Susan, and it continued for hours after. I watched Bundy snuff the life from that poor girl. A girl with a future, with promise. She could have been anything. Instead, she’s another statistic. I’ve learned to get used to the horrors. You have to in a position such as mine.

I’ve been traveling through time for 66 days now. The automated dash has kept track of the days for me. I’d be truly lost if not for my dash. Not only would I be lost in time, but my time would be lost. I’m hungry. Really hungry. My food supply was drained weeks in. This is what it’s like slowly dying. I’m surprised my thought process has remained fluid this long. I’m fucking starving.

I don’t want to die lost in time. I’ll never see them again. Not Stephanie, not Karen, not Paul, not Mia, not any of them. What do they think happened to me? Am I listed as missing? Are they searching for me? Were they searching for me at one point? Now is never. The present means nothing. All I see is black out the front of the machine.

It’s been some time since it’s stopped. That can’t be a good sign. It must have something in store for me. This machine will break me. If I get too comfortable, if I observe too much good, it always drops me back down in the muck and mire of mankind’s history. I witnessed the completion of the Sistine Chapel on one day and the arrival of the first trains to Auschwitz the next.

(History.com)
(History.com)

It seems dead set on making sure I know that the good never comes without a price. If there’s a singular moment of beauty out there, you can bet a moment of pure horror followed not long after. It’s simply the way the world works. I think I was put into this machine to see that. At one time I was a beacon of light. Everywhere I went I brought sunshine and optimism with me.

If I make it out of this, it will be as a significantly hardened man. But that doesn’t matter. There’s no making it out of this. My design was flawless. The power source is set to last years. I don’t know what to do.

THE WHITE LIGHT!! It’s back.

It’s blinding for moments, but when it fades, I see more than I ever have. Like I said, I see all. When is it dropping me now?

August 26th, 2026. What’s special about this date? Take a look around. Find the reason you’re here. You can see it all.

Focus.

See what matters.

See… Paul. My baby brother. He should be what, about 36 now? That sounds right. Who’s the woman? His wife? Could it be? 

“Honey,” she says without opening her eyes, “I don’t feel very good.”

“What is it,” Paul asks, sitting up in his bed, “What’s wrong?”

“I think my water broke.”

Paul snaps to attention immediately and pulls back the blanket…everything is soaked.

A baby? Paul is having a baby? If I were there, I’d have a nephew? I can’t be in this fucking machine anymore. I want to meet my nephew. I want to watch my brother grow into a father. How do I stop it? Please God, show me how to stop this!!

If anyone finds this, I hope you can understand what I’ve written. If so, if the date is before May 20th, 2013, please find me and stop me. My name is Edward Stenwick. My address is 612 Elmwood Drive in Greenwood Lake, New York.

If you have the means, please stop me.

Please save me from myself…

THE END

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Fcmalby.wordpress.com

Mr. X
drunkensailor2010@yahoo.com