Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The room is dim as I seal the doors and windows against the polluted mist that descends most nights. I wave the low-lights on as I pass to check on Linda. She’s sleeping peacefully so I wander back to the den, collecting a can of coffee on the way.
Closing the door gently I open the drawer and lift the strange device out once again. Purple lenses twinkle as I spin the counterweight and brace myself.
I shake my head. This has to be good.
“No. I can’t send more people to their death.”
“No. You’ve had twenty years of my feeding you.”
*write or I come to you*
“Do it. Losing this place so you are trapped would be a triumph.”
*write or I take her back*
That stopped me. Linda dying had started this. In my grief I’d bought some very odd, supposedly alien detritus from the local flea markets. Everybody wanted a bit of the archaeological treasures coming in from a universe that only had us in it now.
Three of those bits had fitted together.
When I spun the counterweight for the first time, the voice had said I could have her back. I was one of those who could write the real. What I wrote became an alternate reality somewhere. So the deal was that I wrote of a place where Linda was alive and it would retrieve her for me. Then I could write of anything I liked and it would use those realities to feed itself. When I lost my job it started dropping off valuables from the realities it ate. Life became easy. But over the years, I have started to contemplate my bargain. I have been playing God in the worst way. My devil has to be sent down.
I started to type, my fingers flying across the keyboard as the story and place were so familiar yet the opening gave nothing away. After a page or so I felt the ‘loosening’ in my mind. I typed on, guilt buried under purpose at last.
I smiled and typed on. After a further two pages I felt the vibration and heard a distant predatory wail in my mind as it fell upon that new reality. The counterweight stopped. This was usually where I stopped too, wandering off in self-loathing to drown my guilt in vodka.
Tonight I carried on. I wrote of a world much like this one, where a man with my name had become a genius scientist only to lose his childhood sweetheart to a strange thing that stole her away leaving no trace. He battled years of scepticism until he proved that multiple realities existed and that they were preyed upon. He prepared his world against such an eventuality. Such genius, driven by loss, backed by the resources of a world, would not miss a single opportunity.
That made me pause. Then I smiled as I saw the lenses crumble and the counterweight rust in seconds. I poured myself a drink before a thought struck me. I ran to the bedroom and lunged through the door to confront another me with Linda supine in his arms. He looked at me in shock and then with compassion that I did not deserve. He put Linda back on the bed.
“Look after her.”
With that, he was gone leaving only a faint purple ripple fading in the air.
I cried for hours, Linda hugging me but unaware of the cause: I had written a better me.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows