Fading: A Short Story
If you are reading this from any millennium before the 3000’s, you might be thinking that in a couple of hundred years, there will be flying cars, hoverboards, and holographic skype. You, my friend, are very wrong. The only things that have advanced since 2036 are microwaves and memes. I don't really need to go into detail about why we didn’t have jet shoes by 3018 yet because this story isn’t about that. I just wanted to give everyone reading this from the past a forewarning, so no one gets their hopes up about the future.
My name is Skipper. I was born in the year 3013. I'm currently unaged at the time of writing this, but we’re starting the story from when I was 5 years old.
My life was pretty sweet when I was young. I lived with my family inside a nice 4000 square foot house. I had no brothers or sister, and practically got whatever I asked for. Although I lived luxuriously as a child, I was still a good kid: hardworking, obedient, and most of all, curious. I used to help my dad every day in his electronics repair shop. He taught me how to repair and build computers, create electrical circuits, and how to make a walkie talkie using household items. I learned everything about electronics from him. By the time I was 8, I might as well have had a PhD in electrical engineering. However, it was everything my dad had taught me that would, in due time, ruin my entire life.
On Thursdays, my dad would ask me to go put the weekly savings into his bank account. I asked him why we couldn’t just keep all the cash in our house. He said I should never try to find the easy way out of things, but I didn’t really understand. One fine Thursday morning, I was on my way to the bank, surrounded by philosophical thoughts like: “who put the alphabet in alphabetical order?”. My complex thoughts were then abruptly interrupted when I felt a dry, wrinkly hand grope my shoulder. I turned around in panic to see an old man dressed in the strangest clothing I had ever seen. He seemed to be falling, and at the same time screaming at me. I couldn't make out a single word he said. With one hand still on my shoulder, and the other being waved around my head, it was as if he was casting some sort of spell on me. All of a sudden, he became silent, eyes widened, as though he was in a state of extreme shock. He then slowly began to fade, becoming translucent, then transparent, and then to the point where he completely vanished.
The rest of the walk to the bank was a blur. My mind was clouded, too busy figuring out what in the world just happened. On my way back home I was hasty, intensely paranoid. I had planned on telling my parents about what happened, but that thought was interrupted by loud sirens zooming by me. I watched a fire truck speed down the road, and take a left. “That's my street!” I exclaimed. I ran as fast as I possibly could towards the direction the fire truck had gone. Turning the corner, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt a trembling void in my stomach, as I watched flames burst through my house. My first reaction was to look for my parents. I started panicking as I realized they were still inside. I tried running in to help them out, but the firefighters said they would take care of it. That didn’t satisfy me. At this point, my face was covered in tears. All I could hope was that my parents made it out alive. I didn’t know how this all of a sudden could have just happened. My parents were very circumspect, there was no way they could have just let the entire house set on fire. After what had felt like an eternity, I finally saw the silhouette of a few people carefully navigating their way out of the house. I felt a breeze of relief knowing it was my parents and the firefighters. However, before anyone had made it out safely, the roof collapsed, crushing everyone and everything inside.
My parents had died that day. The firefighters who survived said it was an electrical fire. None of it made sense to me though. It all just happened so fast. I was forced to move in with my uncle. He really isn't the brightest leaf in the family tree, but it was my only option. After my house had burned down and my parents died, I had fallen into a state of depression. Once I finished moving in with my uncle, I didn’t leave my room for a whole month. Not even for school. My uncle didn’t seem to mind though, for obvious reasons.
During that month, there was no one there to disturb me and my thoughts. I would think about things deeper than a thief's pocket. “What’s the point of life if we’re going to die?” and “If the universe is endless, does another earth exist?”, thoughts like that. It didn't take long for me to remember that my dad, or actually me, put all his earnings into the bank. This meant I had a lot of money on my hands. However, I only wanted to use it when it was totally necessary. For now, my uncle had my back.
Eventually, I came out of my room, and tried to live a normal life again. Yet, it seemed as if I was cursed with bad luck. For the next ten years, nothing was going right for me. My uncle went on a gambling trip and never came back, forcing me to live alone. I got expelled from my middle school because I was accused of buying 500 dodgeballs using the gym teacher's credit card. I failed my university course on physics, when I accidentally deleted my thesis and never handed it in. It became so bad to the point where I randomly got a heart attack when I was taking a nap.
Figureing it out
One afternoon whilst sitting under a tree, I was pondering upon my life, feeling sorry for myself. “Where did it all go wrong?”. That was the question I repeatedly asked myself for several years. I decided that since there was nothing better to do, I might as well have tried to answer that question. After some Einstein level calculations, I came to the conclusion that life began to hit me like a baseball after that one incident. That one time, when I was walking to the bank, and that crazy old psycho attacked me. Somehow, it was all just his fault. My life was perfect before he came along. If only he didn’t. Maybe if I had left the house five minutes earlier, if I had just walked a little faster, my life wouldn’t be this bad. And then it clicked.
I lived for one and one reason only after that moment: to go back in time and save my life from disaster. This is where all the of my dad's money would be invested into. This was also where everything I learnt from him would come in handy. I studied time and space, space relativity, quantum mechanics, and everything else you can think of when you think about time travel. Unlike in school, the stuff I studied was interesting and useful, for an example: the 6 dimensions. I also learned about something that I realized would pose a threat to my mission. A big risk I had to take. Time travelling can cause a ripple in the space time continuum, which is known as the time ripple effect. This meant that if I travelled back in time, then back to the future, I could possibly end up in a reality where Hitler cured cancer, or in a reality where my mom caused WW3. There are a plethora of things that could have went wrong, but I didn't care because my life couldn't be any worse than it was.
It took me many years until I had finally managed to build a time machine, although it was nothing like how I imagined it to be. It looked more like a porta-potty, but that didn’t matter. It worked, that mattered. I tested it out by time traveling an apple five minutes into the future. When I opened the time machine, the apple was gone. Though I didn’t know where the apple had went, I considered that experiment as a success. It was about time I got my life back on track and prevented myself from meeting that lunatic.
I took a step inside, shivering with excitement, yet still quite nervous. I launched the time machine, following the correct procedure, and inputting the time and date of where I wanted to go. I didn’t know that exact date I met that man, so I took a guess. CLICK. I pressed the red button. The machine began to whirl and spin. Lucky enough for me, I had made a little window in the time machine, so I was able to see what was happening outside. The world had begun to turn white. All of a sudden, the machine began to accelerate forward at an incredible pace. I took a peek outside the window, but there was nothing there, just plain white. It only took a few of seconds before I was able to see something. Little bubbles. Everywhere, colorful little bubbles bumping around. The multiverse: an infinite amount of universes, something in relation to the 5th dimension. The multiverse is the only reason time traveling is actually possible. I was amazed. Such an astounding sight. I thought that if I survived, I would’ve gotten all the awards a smart person could get. The machine began to head towards one of the universes at immense speed. In a matter of mere seconds, I was back in my hometown 38 years ago, behind some dumpster in a shady alley. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. It didn’t even make sense. “How is this possible?” I told myself, forgetting about the multiverse. I got out of the machine and started looking around. There wasn’t much to see in that alley, so I went out onto the busy streets of my childhood home. I quickly realized that what I was wearing was years ahead of these people's time, so I looked pretty strange. I felt a sweat break on my forehead. When I wiped it off with my hand, I noticed how dry my hand looked. I looked at my other hand, which was also just as dry. “Should’ve put on some lotion” I thought. As I was walking down the streets of my former neighborhood, I noticed that my reflection in the windows of the shops looked very strange. I stopped to take a closer look. My face had become wrinkled. It was then I remembered that in a book I had read about time travel, it said that staying in a reality where you exist from the past will cause your current self to experience accelerated aging. It also mentioned how staying in that same reality for too long will cause you to become non existent. I began to panic. I had to find my past self fast, or soon I wouldn’t even be alive. As I hurriedly walked towards my old residence in hopes to save my past self, I noticed a little boy who seemed extremely familiar. I kept walking however, not caring much about anything other than my one mission. Only a few moments later, it hit me: that young boy was me! I ran as fast as an old man can run. I had finally caught up with my young self, but as I had reached out in order for him to take heed of me, I tripped. Whilst managing to gain my balance, I had also managed to grab his attention. There was no time to lose. I tried warning my past self about that strange man with the little time I had left, but I couldn’t speak properly. I had aged and became too old to communicate clearly, and was out of breath. All I could do was yell and wave my hands around to stall myself. I thought if I could waste enough time, that strange man would never have seen me, and might instead ruin someone else's life. As I began to fade away from that reality, I realized something. I felt like I had swallowed a boulder. I couldn’t breath. I wished I wasn’t ever born at this point. After 38 years of living miserably, I had finally realized that the strange man who ruined my life, was me. Time Ripple Effect, I thought, as I slowly faded into non-existence.