So I did manage to write something today, though it took a whole lot of effort and I pretty much forced myself to write something, ANYTHING fictional for LJI. Here’s my shoddy attempt at something dealing with time-travel:

***

“We need to go back,” she said, eyes shining in the low light of the sun. The sky around us held all colors of the rainbow, from yellow to red to the deepest blue. I stared at her, my lower jaw somewhere close to between my knees. “We need to go back, Cameron!” 

“We can’t go back!” I snapped, my hand tightening around the strap of my backpack. “We’re not supposed to go back — once we’re done the mission, that’s it.”

“But that was our home!” Lisa cried. “We just destroyed our home, Cameron! What about our children — their children, our families?”

“We swore to the State that if we were called, that we’d go,” I managed. My eyes stung, and I hitched the backpack even further up my shoulders. “The population is struggling. The State called us. They wanted us to do this. You agreed to it –“

“Because I didn’t want you to die!” She stomped her foot into the dead grass underneath her feet, the unhealthy crunch loud and jarring to my ears. Tears rolled down her face, her gray eyes begging and pleading. If there were a way for us to go back, I would have taken us by now. 

The devices the State had given us only went in one direction — forward, so we literally only had one way to go: to this place. Only a wasteland, the ground stripped of all life. Even the setting sun didn’t look the same, what with no trees to hide behind. This couldn’t have been our home, our land. But it was. Those were our children, grown now, with children of their own, all scared and wide-eyed.

How they had survived for so long, I didn’t know. Maybe the State still existed. Maybe it no longer did. What would it matter, though? We couldn’t go back to it. Death was the only solution for those who shirked their duties. We did what we had to do. We left our time and moved on to another, forced to survive with only the clothes on our backs. 

“We did what we had to do,” I forced through gritted teeth. I grabbed her arm and pulled, prompting her to fall into step beside me. “We had no other choice.”

Lisa’s tears hadn’t stopped falling, but she nodded her head, anyway, and kept her eyes forward. What was the point in looking back? The house had gone up in flames, just like we were told it would. We waited for the flames to die out, just like we were told to do. Made sure there were no survivors, too, just like we were told to do.

How moving forward instead of backward would help, I didn’t know. How killing those who had survived the impending nuclear war would help the human race now, I didn’t know. I wasn’t meant to know. I would never know. We were only meant to know and do one thing: follow orders.

Except the device — the HEART — there were rumors that it could go back. That one could rewire it, if they had the skill. As nothing more than an educator, I didn’t think that I could. I wasn’t sure that I’d want to go back, either. Our children back home were young, less than ten years old. They had no idea why their parents left, or where they went, or when they’d be back. If they’d be back. 

“Can’t we try?” Lisa sobbed, breaking through my concentration. “Can’t we try, Cam?”

Squaring my jaw, I turned to look at her. Again, her eyes begged for me to say yes. Her hands fisted at her sides as her shoulders shook, those tears of hers never relenting. 

“We can’t,” I answered, tearing my eyes away from her. Forward. We could only move forward. 

The more I kept telling myself that, the better. The more we pushed forward, forced to survive a world that had hardly survived us, the better. 

Forward. No looking back. No going back. No redoing. We accepted this fate, accepted that we might be called to go forward, never to return. 

Except I couldn’t stop my hands as they pulled my backpack off my shoulders. I settled down on the dusty ground, kicking various debris aside as I began to unpack it. I held the HEART in my hands, it feeling more alive than the world around us, the quiet unsettling as no wind, no animals, no nothing sounded in our ears. 

I might not have the skill, but I could at least try.

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