Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

It’s not like I meant to end the world. I was just scared.

“Mike! Another side of fries for table fifteen!”

He should be shouting for bread and cheese. It’s my fault that he isn’t an innkeeper.

I found it lying in a clearing, limbs turning from purple to grey in the fastest rotting I have ever seen. I didn’t mean to hurt it, but a movement in the undergrowth had to be a deer and we hadn’t eaten properly for weeks. So I shot blind and killed a monster. There was a satchel lying on the ground by it. Sticking out of it was a device that reminded me of a matchlock with extra cogs. So when another ‘demon’ charged into the clearing, as I hadn’t reloaded my rifle, I grabbed the device and ‘shot’ it between its gem-like eyes.

The world seemed to lurch and then tilt. The woodland about me withered to stumps and dust in the blink of an eye. My clothes unravelled and I felt stabbing pains as I drew breath. Around me, the world vanished in a kaleidoscopic tornado that had gaps that showed impossible views: cities that hung suspended over blue seas blew to dust to be replaced by oil rigs. Things that looked like metallic eagles of impossible size twisted to become ugly passenger jets. In my hand, the device shimmered between states, finally settling to look like a tin can with an array of lights on the top. I peered at it and the squiggles on the side resolved into a language I could read: ‘activation without boundary limitation fields may be hazardous to the reality instance surrounding the operator’ and ‘unconstrained use may cause manifestation of temporal resilience effects’.

When the whirling chaos faded, I stood on an expanse of waste ground between two tenements. Before me, a chain link fence sparkled briefly before fading to dull metallic grey. Then a rain of fire scoured my mind. I screamed and toppled to writhe on the ground, clutching my head. Of course, I dropped the device. There were three bass thuds, like a giant hand was knocking upon a vast door. I blacked out.

“Wake up.”

I woke. Crouching next to me was a young man in an expensive suit. He held the can in one hand. Seeing his gem-like eyes shocked me fully awake and then the realisation of new knowledge, the new history in my head, caused tears to cascade down my cheeks.

He nodded: “If you’re lucky, memories of your former instance will pass. If not…” He looked down at himself: “Seems like you remodelled me too.” Looking up, he smiled a wintry smile: “I’ll not lie. You’re a nuisance and you nearly killed me when you erased your timeline. I hope you can make something of yourself to offset the number of people you deleted.”

With that condemnation, he stood up and walked off, shrinking into a distance that meant he vanished before he reached the edge of the waste ground. I rolled over and vomited myself compos mentis.

A year has passed and I’ve adjusted to this terrible world of my own instigation. I’m studying the fundamentals of existence while working two jobs just to stay alive. The memories of hunting through verdant woodland to provide for the family I erased have not faded.

I have given myself ten years to achieve something of worth. If I do not and the memories remain undiminished, I will see if the afterlife from my previous time survives and hope that my family are there.


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