Author : Joseph Lyons

I put my mother in a home a few months ago when her Alzheimer’s became too much for me to deal with. Now here I stood with early-onset, refusing to go the same route.

The doctor nodded. He knew why I’d signed up. My job was simple. Travel forward, wait for a cure and for them to figure out how to send someone back, then return.

“This thing gonna get me where I need to go?”

“You’re in a giant metal nutshell, you won’t technically be going anywhere. If it helps, the entire facility could burn down, have the power shut off or be bombed to hell. You would still step out of there completely whole in five years.”

“Great. If theres a nuclear war I could be the last man on earth.”

“And you still wouldn’t get a date.”

I smiled. He was trying to relax me. I already knew this was going to hurt a lot. Every single molecule broken down in an instant and slowly reformed over five years. Not quite how I had imagined time travel would work and certainly nothing to look forward to.

“See you soon.” He flipped a switch. I had been selected because my disease meant I was highly motivated but also physically capable of enduring the stresses incurred. I clung to my motivation for the three seconds I remained conscious. I couldn’t tell if my bones had been ripped out or the skin had slumped off. In those three seconds I’d been skinned, de-boned and flash fried alive. I did not want to experience it again.

I fuzzily regained consciousness. Dr Blake stared in through the porthole. He grinned, nodded and walked away.

“Hey.” I staggered to bang on the door. “You got something for me?”

“Not yet Karl. But we can send you further. See you in ten years.”

It was probably a kindness I didn’t have time to catch my breath. Like ripping off a band-aid on two, when you promised to count to three.

The pain came and went and apparently so did ten years. Dr Blake was still there, greying now.

“The good news is we have the cure. Bad news is we can’t send you back yet. See you in twenty.”

This time I did brace, not that it helped.

Instantly awake I fell through the door. Dr Blake stood tall, and with a full head of hair. Maybe they’d found the cure for baldness too.

“Are we done?”

“Yes Karl.” He handed me a USB drive as I was helped to a wheelchair. He pushed me down a few corridors to a similar room and set up with a virtually identical pod.

“This one going to send me back?”

“It is.” He wheeled me close and helped me in. The door shut noiselessly behind me.

“Wait, won’t I fall apart? When I came forward the chamber held me together. Isn’t this the same?”

“It is.”

“Well how will I stay together if the past isn’t ready for me?”

“Ask me when you get there.” He flipped a switch. Lots of pain before I came round just the same.

Dr Blake opened the door and stepped in. I’d dropped to my knees exhausted. He took the flash drive and stepped out.

“Gentlemen, we now hold the cure for every disease the world over for the next thirty five years.” Cheers erupted.

“Doctor. What should I do with the patient?”

“Send him back fifty years. No-one will ever know he existed.”

The door closed and the pain set in.