Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I hear the mugger running off as the echoes of the gunshot fade.
Opening my eyes, I’m still standing. There’s a bleeding body at my feet that hadn’t been there when I closed my eyes. He rolls over.
He looks up, tears streaming back into his hair.
A career in trauma care tells me his wound is mortal. I drop to my knees and rest his head on my lap. Fighting back icy shock, my words come out in a rush: “How? Where did you come from? Where did you go?”
The last time I saw him was during our final semester. We were planning a life together, then the science centre blew up and took him with it. In the intervening twenty years, there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t think of him.
His voice is a whisper: “The temporal flow experiment. It worked. But only for things I had a personal connection to. Saw us. You. Two decades ahead, alone. One night, you left your friends and walked down a side road. The mugger attacked, you fought back. He shot you.”
I know what he did, the beautiful, brilliant, stupid man.
He wheezed on: “That moment. This road. Worked out I could save you, but only by removing myself from causality’s reach. Adapted the experimental gear and sent myself here. Now. For you.”
I stroke his forehead and tears fall onto his face: “You idiot. If you hadn’t left, I wouldn’t be here.”
His bloody hand rises to touch my cheek: “Yes, you would. No matter the decision path, you ended up here, dead. If I’d stayed, best option was that we were childless and divorced after I became a drunk. Saw that my life went nowhere, no matter what I did. Decided then and there I would do right by you. I did the thing the flow didn’t show. To make good for once.”
My lost-and-found sweetheart coughs and just like that, he’s dead and gone.
I’m trying to make sense of it all when the shock overwhelms me. I tumble into a darkness that, thanks to a mad love, and with a little luck, I should wake from.