Time Machine

“Don’t you wish you could go back?”

“Go back where?”

“To a better time.”

Cassie thought on this for a long moment.

“There hasn’t been a better time,” she finally replied, her eyes on her bare, dirty, feet.

A warm wind washed through the two girls; it was almost comforting.

“Besides,” Cassie continued, “time travel isn’t real. We’re… stuck here.”

Tanya looked upon the vast emptiness before them, and after them. Father would be making his rounds soon. She sighed.

“I know. I just like to pretend.”

The girls carried on with their shovelling in silence, until father had came and left.

“Where were you before this?” Tanya asked. She had always been one to speak out of turn, but even for her, this was bold.

Cassie kept her eyes on her work, her heart thumping. She couldn’t tell if it was excitement, or fear, or an oddly pleasant mixture of both.

“No where.”

“You were somewhere. We all were.”

Cassie shivered, growing uncomfortable now. “I was no where. Or – well, I don’t remember.”

Tanya shook her head as if to say she understood completely. “I was somewhere. Somewhere beautiful. That’s where I’ll go back to. When I build my time machine.”

Cassie flinched. Angered by something she could not describe.

“Stop being a fool and work. He’ll be back before you know it and you’ll have no progress to show for yourself.”

“I will you know; build it.”

“Shut up!” Cassie directed her eyes right into Tanya’s now.

“You can come with me Cassie. I’ll take you with me, I promise!”

Tanya leaned into Cassie but Cassie’s stiffened body pulled away.

“I’m not going anywhere, Tanya. I’m a Child of Mercy and so are you. This is where we belong. Now stop your daydreaming and get back to work.”

The next morning the girls awoke to find that their number had been reduced to 12. Tanya’s bed appeared un-slept in, although the other girls could swear they had seen her turn it down with the rest of them. No one had heard a thing. No one had saw a thing. There was no note left behind. No good-byes. No explanations.

Tanya was simply gone. Vanished. She hadn’t built a time machine. Cassie was sure of that. If time had been turned back, Cassie herself would be back at home by her mother’s side, singing a lullaby to her baby brother – wouldn’t she?

 © Shyla Fairfax-Owen

 

 

 

Haunted

There was no way to undo it. That’s the thing about surviving. The medley of blood, hair, and fingernails just kept swirling about in Jordan’s mind, imprinted behind his ocular nerve. Tugging and pulling so that the recalled sight of it was accompanied by physical pain. It was all he could manage to spread his eyelids every now and again; check if the world was really still there – wondering if he had really made it out, wondering if Jess and the others really hadn’t.

The melody of the epidecium hummed deep in Jordan’s ear drums, rattling them back and forth no matter how unpleasant. This was what it was to be haunted. The ghosts were only inside of his head, but they were real. They were persistent. They were his friends; all of them dead, along with the biggest part of him.

“Jordan Marks?”

Jordan looked up, surprised he had recognized a sound outside of himself. The secretary was trying to smile as she held the door open for him. “Dr. Casey will see you now.”

The doctor was gentle, but rushed. There were a lot of patients in the waiting room, so it came as no shock to Jordan that getting the prescription had been so easy. Anti-depressant experiment number 4. Maybe this one wouldn’t make him tear at his skin, drool on his sheets, or mix-up his words. Maybe.

The first few hours were good. Relief came like a tidal wave, throwing him off balance then gracefully carrying him away. He didn’t think about Jess; about the blood, the hair, or the fingernails. Instead, he thought about the beach on a sunny day. But once the high dulled, so did the sunshine, and Jordan was back in his dark, damp, room. No – he was back in the dark, damp, cave. And there was the medley of gore he just couldn’t escape. He thrashed in the swamp of sewage and bodily fluids. He clawed at the rocky walls, and screamed so loud he hoped he might break, and somehow blind himself from the horrors before him.

Jordan’s mother crashed through his bedroom door and eyed her son helplessly as he scrambled violently in his bed. She cried out his name through a tear-soaked tongue, trying to remember a time when he was just a normal teenager, vibrant and brave and full of life, seeking an adventure. A time before the monsters came.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©