Author : Jonathan K. Harline
Darkness, and then the roar of the Earth being torn into dust.
I wake up sweating and panting every time. I spend the whole first minute catching my breath, heart racing and mind stalled from panic.
At the second minute I look out my window, at the Sun as it appears to swell. The sky takes on a red and orange hue, like at sunset. I can’t help but think the same things again and again. The temperature starts to rise, but it’s nothing unbearable, nothing ominous. Anyone who has bothered to look up probably thinks they’re seeing things. Only I know what’s going on. At two minutes and thirty seconds, I’m running to the loft apartment I rent above my own. It takes me seventeen seconds every time. I’m panting again so I pause and breathe.
No one expected it to happen this soon. I try to think about why. Speculative theories fly through my brain, some old, some new. Sometimes I really think I’m on to something, but at four minutes and thirteen seconds I remind myself it doesn’t matter if I’m going to die.
I sprint to my workstation and open the access panel on the prototype of my Time/Space Adjustment Device. I throw the cube of uranium in, not even stopping to worry about the radiation I’ve absorbed from handling it without gloves. It burns my hand slightly, like a sun burn. I glance out the large floor to ceiling windows in the loft. The sky is pale and hazy, and it looks like the sun has come to pay its third child a visit. I’m exaggerating every time I think that the heat is increasing exponentially as the sun grows.
It’s around five and a half minutes that I get around to throwing the dark matter into its slot on the other side of the access panel. Hundreds of years of work across three generations, and this is all we have. Turn back the clock a handful of minutes – enough to claim a verifiable result, but not enough to do anything with it. Enough to fix one mistake. Never enough to solve the problem of the sun.
The machine hums. It has to warm up. I set the Temporal/Spacial coordinates. I always stop to think.
One last minute to try to figure out how to stop the destruction of the planet. A planet that, without my interference, has already died tens, hundreds, thousands of time.
One last minute spent trying to figure out how to give myself more time. How many of those minutes have I already spent – wasted – trying to figure out what, or who, made the sun explode.
I reach out and shut off the machine.
No turning back now. I’ve already died hundreds of time, and I’ve never seen what happens next.
I look at my watch.
Darkness, and the roar of the Earth being torn into dust.