Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friday Fiction for June 3, 2011

Welcome! Friday Fiction is hosted right here this week! Please submit your link in the Linky tool at the end of this post, so we can all enjoy some great reading this week.

This week is the final part of Step Through. The story and the concept offer a lot of potential for expansion, but for now, I liked how this wrapped up the tale. I hope you enjoy, and maybe get a little something to dream about yourself.

Step Through

Part 5

The street to the building was just as deserted as before, and he stopped at the entrance alcove. Well, Ian, you’ve put this off as long as you could. It’s time. He pulled the key from his pocket as he stepped towards the door, and slipped it into the lock. He turned it until it clicked, and then swung the door open. Once inside, he relocked the door and then headed for the stairs.

Pausing at the bottom, he looked up towards the floor above. C’mon, Ian. It’s not like there’s any mystery to what’s waiting up there. You’ve climbed these stairs before, after all. He ascended slowly, taking one step at a time and hesitating between each one. Funny; it didn’t seem like such a long climb last time.

At the top of the stairs, he turned towards the center of the room. The Step-Through was active, offering the view of the room in two different time periods. He leaned against the wall and just stared at it, before Chronos noticed his presence and ran up to him, wiggling his tail-less backside enthusiastically. He pulled a biscuit from his coat pocket, and offered to the dog. “Here, boy. Did you miss me?”

“Ian?” Jeff said.

“Yeah, I’m here. You can shut the machine off, Jeff.”

“I didn’t see you come back. When did you return?”

“Just now.”

“Huh. My mind must have phased out, or something.”

Ian stepped away from the wall, and adjusted his glasses. “I didn’t come back through the Step-Through, Jeff. I came back through the front door.”

“But, that means - ”

He took the hat off his graying, thin hair. “It means it’s been over 21 years for me, since I left here.” He chuckled. “I guess all those years, people were wrong when they told us that we can’t live in the past. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since I left here.”

“Why? You could have set things up back then, and returned here to a better life.”

“Who says I didn’t?” He reached down to scratch Chronos’ ear, when the dog kept pushing a wet nose into his hand. “When I first went back, I called my Dad, and went to the old theater and watched a movie. I decided I liked the world better back then, and when I left the theater, I went to a hotel and stayed the night.”

“You weren’t worried about keeping me waiting here?”

“Yeah, about that. I figured out the next morning that, if you didn’t come looking for me, then something must have told you there was no reason to be concerned. I spent another night, and you didn’t come looking for me, so the only conclusion I could reach was that you knew right away that I wasn’t coming back.”

Jeff began to laugh. “Now that I think about it, it makes sense. The same rules of continuity have to apply whether we’re looking backwards or forwards. Yeah, if you hadn’t come back in a reasonable time, I’d have come through looking for you. So, what have you been doing the last 21 years?”

“Living well, in a small town in the Midwest, where no one ever knew who I was, or had any reason to question why there might be a younger me in this town. You were right – knowing what investments will be lucrative makes it easy to amass a decent portfolio. I met someone, got married, and we’ve got three kids now. When I walked in here before, I didn’t have much life to worry about leaving. Now, I have a great life, and a reason to never need the Step-Through again.” He held the key out to Jeff. “Thank you, my friend, but I won’t be coming back again. Tomorrow morning, I’ll call my old job and tell them I quit, and then get back in my private plane and go home.”

“Does she know? Your wife, I mean. Does she know who you really are?”

He smiled, and nodded. “After a while, she wondered how I always managed to know what stocks to pick, what teams to bet on, and so on. I told her I was from the future, and she thought I was joking. She didn’t believe me until I told her when the big earthquake was going to happen. Then, I brought her here, and let her see my younger self. I think sometimes, she still doesn’t completely believe me. Sometimes, I think she would rather believe I’m psychic or a prophet, rather than believe I really stepped through from the future.” With a shrug, he added, “I don’t think it really matters, though. I don’t need the future knowledge anymore.”

“And your Dad?”

“Nothing changed. I didn’t try to warn him, though in talking with him, I learned he already knew all the warning signs he should watch out for. Even knowing all that, he still ignored the symptoms, with a phone within arm’s reach of his chair. I know now, though, that he died knowing his son loved him and appreciated him.”

Jeff took the key and shook his hand. “Will I see you again?”

“Yeah, you’ll see me again. I can’t say whether I’ll see you again, but we’ve gotten together several times in the last 21 years.” He winked. “You don’t really believe my memory is so good, that I remembered all those investments and sports results all by myself, do you? Just remember, when you step through to visit, bring some good information with you.”

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Catrina Bradley said...

I like the way this ended, too! I'm going to go back and read it straight through so I don't have to keep searching my memory for details. :)

Great time-travel tale, Rick.

Sara Harricharan said...

Ah, this is very nicely done. I guess I've missed a few installments and hopefully I'll get a chance to catch up on them. Love the way you explain your time travel, it didn't leave my head spinning at all, LOL. The characters were wonderfully done--I agree, there's definitely plenty here for expansion if you ever decide to do more with it some day. ^_^

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

You have a way of making sci fi easy to follow and fun to read. I enjoyed this, even though I haven't been following the story!