Author : Beck Dacus

I found the button too late.

My mother was killed 36 years before I found it, when I was twelve. Some psychopath piece of shit cornered her at the pharmacy and stabbed her in the stomach, taking away the medication she was getting for my sister’s two-lung pneumonia. Angelina died of that two weeks later. My dad couldn’t handle any of it, and almost gave up on life at that point. Despite the incident, he had no aversion to the corner drugstore, putting himself into an effective coma with over-the-counter anything. Among other things, he failed to help me get into the college, resulting in my rejection. I worked my ass off at car washes and fast food restaurants for my first twenty years out of high school. Ten years before I found it, I got an okay job at an airport ticket counter, but I still couldn’t afford anything better than a crappy shack on the beach that I inherited from my deadbeat dad.

I barely managed to buy a metal detector with my measly salary, but I figured I could use a hobby. I was out on the beach on a Sunday afternoon, holding my headphones to my ears for that distinct beeping noise, when the detector went off. I put the gear down, took out my trowel, and went to town. I pulled up this little button on a big machine that looked like a freakish walkie-talkie, having no idea what sort of contraption it could be. With innocent curiosity, I gave it a click.

The beachgoers started walking backwards. A plane going above me went into full reverse, flying tail-first. Waves jumped off the shore, quietly receding back into the ocean. I jumped in fear, not quite understanding what was happening, and frantically pressed the button again. Once I saw that everything was back to normal, I started to put the pieces together. This button reverses the arrow of time. From everyone else’s perspective, I had just disappeared, rematerializing in the past, wondering what the hell just happened. Luckily, no one had actually seen me, so I was able to make my way home with my newfound contraption.

Once there, I contemplated what to do with this amazing piece of technology. I didn’t care where or who it came from, or what it took to make it. Or why I found it buried in the sand. The only thing that mattered was what I could use it for, and the answer was immediately apparent. I went to the store and bought enough food for the first month, some lights, and a hydroponics bed with some vegetable seeds. I found a way to get into the basement with the stuck door, and entered for the first time. I pressed the button and started setting up as fast as I could. My plan was to steal meat from myself for the next few years (so that’s where it was all going!), and wait until 36 years passed. Then everything would go right. Things would be good again.

Six years later, I’m starting to realize that I won’t live long in a basement with a few vegetables and an ounce of beef stew a week. Even if I had a few more luxuries, I don’t think I’m going to live to 84. But I need to try. I’d rather die going back in time than live in a shithole, wondering what might have been.

Now it’s what might be.