Eternal Escape

Author: James Hornby

In all my days on Gulliver’s Rest, I never believed that the War would reach us. From the window, I see the sky is pitted with scars from the wreckage of an Artari Sunskipper, ripped from history in a series of blinding flashes. I came to this planet to escape from the violence. Now I realise that maybe there was nowhere I could have gone to hide.
I pull Meren and Egar close, kissing their heads, trying desperately to assure them that everything is okay, even if I know it isn’t. They’re my only family; I have to keep them safe. Meren asks me why the War has come to our world. I say nothing, for I have no answers for her, only worries.
There was no time to pack. Even if we tried, the contents of our bags could empty or reproduce due to the twisting and shaping of the timelines around us. On reflection, I doubt we’d even realise if they had. Instead, I take their hands and run from the homestead, out into the chaos beyond the threshold.
Outside is ghostly quiet. I keep thinking I hear someone screaming, yet almost the instant I do my mind moves onto other things, the moment forgotten. I wonder if I’m forgetting because the people who scream no longer exist. Regardless, we must press on if we are to survive this.
I tell the kids that we have to make it to the hill. It’s not far, just a few minutes from where we live. Inside is a bunker, containing a time capsule I stole from the Enemy’s homeworld long ago. The time machine is our way out of here. It’s the only way we can ever be safe now.
I catch glimpses of foot soldiers, slipping in and out of higher dimensions, fighting their battle on every plane of reality. I grasp Meren’s hand tighter, keeping her close. She’s my only child; I have to keep her safe.
We reach the hill and make our way into the bunker, chanting incantations to open the seals that allow our entry. Inside the room is dark, save for a single light under which the time capsule is stood. There it has been for thousands of years, or just a few minutes, for that is how this creation exists.
Tara protests, she is scared of the machine. I reassure her, there is no time for emotion, not now we’re so close. She’s my only child; I have to keep her safe.
The time capsule is warm to the touch, and hums when it feels my presence. I fumble in my pocket for the key, sliding it into the lock with ease. I push against the door and stumble inside. The lights on the console flicker the moment my feet hit the floor. The place is dusty, yet holds that pleasant smell in the air like you get from a freshly printed magazine.
I waste no time and set the craft in motion. I have to get away from here, as far away from the War as possible. Sometimes I forget why I’m running, but I know that it is what I must do. I don’t know where I’m going, somewhere nice, I think. Perhaps it was time I settled down, start a family with someone.
After all, I’ve never had a family before.

6 Comments

  1. Jae

    Fine concept, well told.

    Would have benefited from another editing pass, though.

  2. Adam Gerencser

    Ouch. Short, sharp shock – thanks for messing with our minds there, intertemporal conflict remains fertile ground for such speculation.

  3. Emma Brown

    So loved this. Especially that last sentence.

  4. Hari Navarro

    I loved how you tapered the narrators recollections all the way down to the very last sentence. Really well done.

  5. djl

    Nice flash. Reminded me of Frankenstein Unbound! Keep it up!

  6. Thomas Desrochers

    I didn’t even realize the kids’ names were changing until reading backwards after he narrowed down to one kid. You got me. After watching close family go through dementia and brain cancer, I have trouble with the concept of reality having changed without understanding that it’s changed. It’s just so fundamentally wrong, but without the context of what was before it’ll seem completely normal.

    You handled it really well here. Great job.

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