Author : Beck Dacus

In the middle of filing my taxes, I got a phone call. I hoped it would be some kind of relief from this stress, but it wasn’t to be; it was my wife’s lawyer calling, saying she wanted to meet about the settlement and matters of custody over lunch on Wednesday. I told the man I was working a double shift that day to scrape up the last few dollars for my rent, but he wasn’t budging. Presumably, Annabelle wasn’t either. I wasn’t used to thinking of my soon-to-be ex-wife as a bitch, but I couldn’t help it right then.

I hung up on him while he was in mid-sentence, and I knew Annabelle was going to make me pay for that (probably literally), but I didn’t care at the moment. I got back to the taxes. Then my doorbell rang.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” I said, getting up and going over to turn the knob. Out on my porch was a man in a tuxedo, reaching in his pocket to hand me something. He said, “Welcome to the end of the universe, son.”

I thought he was reaching into his pocket to hand me a pamphlet, and I said, “Sorry, I’m not religious. Maybe you can get someone else to think it’s the rapture.” I tried to close the door, but his hand pushed it back open. Surprised at this guy’s audacity, I looked at what he now held out to me in his hand. It looked like a detonator, and it might as well have been.

“How’s your day been? Are you having some adult troubles?”

That was a weird term for him to use, but it was pretty accurate. Which was also weird. “How’d you know?”

“I did my research, Mr. Dumphein. That’s why I’ve decided to give this to you.” He urged the detonator thing into my hand.

“Just tell me what this is, man.”

“It’s something that will give you what you want. Childhood.”

The look in my eyes told him to go on.

“This button will make the entire universe revert to the way it was twenty-four years ago, when you were eight. Do you remember that, Mr. Dumphein?”

I did. Most of that time, I spent laughing. Watching cartoons I could no longer remember the name of. Sneaking candy from the pantry with my brothers as accomplices. It was just… fun. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

“This will take you back there. It will revert everything in the universe, including this planet, you, and me. Which means in twenty-four years, I will return to make this same offer. And you will give me the same answer. That is why the universe ends today, Mr. Dumphein. Time never goes past this point.”

“Only if I say yes,” I retorted. “And how do I know this works, anyhow? Why should I believe any of this?”

“No harm in it if it’s fake, is there?”

That was a fair point. The thought of being that young again swelled in my mind, blocking out everything else, all other reason. The “detonator” felt good in my hand. Like that candy from the pantry. Like the sun on my face in Milwaukee, in 1992. Like the simple life of a child.

The last sound in the universe was a soft click.


  1. SimonJM

    A replay with no chance of diversion from what had already taken place? I can imagine some wishing to press the button, but that’s an incredibly selfish act. Did you think of the man in the tux as being, perhaps, a touch devilish? 🙂

    • BeckD

      Yes, it is a bit selfish to take everyone’s future away just to relive the moments you enjoy best, but temptation is strong. I’ve been wondering about the suited man’s motivation myself, and I must admit, it would have to involve sinister desires somewhere in there. Or maybe he foresaw a future too horrible to be realized… possibly something to do with a certain president-elect….

  2. cmh8133

    If I could go back and know then what I know now sure.
    Othewise … I don’t want to do most 8 to about 28!

    BUT a clever scheme for a story. The fellow at the door called Mr. Dumphein, “son”.
    I find that very interesting.
    I also like that if it was fake, no loss circumstance

    I agree very tidy story, indeed.

    How about a second story that has him remembering the future more as he gets older. He makes it to the same day and everything is better…what does he do then?

    • cmh8133

      I am replying to myself…this story is sci-fi reincarnation!!

    • BeckD

      Thank you very much. And that’s an interesting idea… an eight year old with the experience of a 32-year-old, stopping at nothing to fix his adult life. Would sound odd out of context, but could be a very profound story if done right.

      And I guess you could call this reincarnation of sorts… he might as well be dead, but he doesn’t continue the timeline in a different life. But reincarnation is as good a word as I can think of for this. Besides “Reversion” of course.

      • BeckD

        Sorry, I meant 24-year-old. Spaced on my math.

        • BeckD

          Wait, crap, no. I was right the first time. Forgot that he’d already been alive eight years.

  3. Jae

    I will never understand the appeal of returning to childhood years…

    That being said, this is a tidy tale.

    • BeckD

      I guess, being sixteen, I don’t know much other than childhood, so I don’t have the expertise. But thanks.

      • Jae

        To write a piece like this as a teenager is impressive; as is the quality of your prose throughout your submissions.

        As for my lack of understanding, it’s more related to a not terribly fun childhood.

        • BeckD

          Thanks again. I considered the idea that some people had worse childhoods than I as the reason for that, and it would make sense; my early childhood had very few hiccups.

    • BeckD

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I enjoyed writing it, and I submit to this website as often as I can. I have some ideas stocked up safely in a list, and will be making more submissions soon.

      • KennyC

        Keep up the great work. You’ve got a bright future in front of you!

        • BeckD

          I’ll do my best. Maybe I can get to that great future faster with a time machine….

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