The Perfect Moment, Part 1

Basement Stairs

Jenkins checked his watch. He had arrived right on schedule. Having already figured out the details there was nothing left to do except wait for the conflict. He looked around the basement. It was as run-down and cramped as he remembered. Science equipment and papers were scattered around under bright fluorescent lighting. The air stagnant with the lack of sunlight and too much detergent.

He looked over the wooden shelves that lined the wall. Boxes of assorted electronics and chemistry flasks. An ornament caught his eye. A blue glass mobius strip. It had been many years since he had seen it. He ran his finger over the smooth surface, appreciating the beauty of the thing. Everything was beginning to feel more immediate now he knew how close the end was.

Remembering his purpose for being here, he felt anxiety creep in to the back of his mind. He had no idea what consequences his actions would have, but he had no choice, this was the last option left to him. He had been so careful but it had just not been enough. There had been too many variables beyond his control.

He limped over to the cluttered desk, his wound from the incursion last year still pained him. The device was there, just as he remembered. Suspended atop a tripod, the small sphere emitted a faint hum. Intricate circuitry was visible through gaps in the outer metal shell. A cruder version of the same thing he now carried in his pocket. It occurred to him, not for the first time, how strange something no bigger than the palm of his hand could been the cause of so much misery.

He switched on the computer and entered the password. Browsing through the files he found some old video logs and clicked play. His youthful face appeared on the screen, animatedly rambling about implications and changing the world. Jenkins stopped the video and shook his head. What a naive fool you were, he thought.

The door to the basement swung open and footsteps started down the creaking stairs. Jenkins frowned, checking his watch again. He was early. Had he miscalculated? No matter, he could destroy the research afterwards.

He watched the man walk down the steps carefully balancing a drink, only to drop it in shock when he noticed Jenkins. The cup bounced down the steps and shattered on the cold, stone floor. The crash was followed by a confused silence.

‘Y… you look just like me!’ the man on the stairs eventually stammered.

Jenkins knew they would be near identical, the only difference being the tattered clothing he wore and the extra years he carried on his body. ‘I am you. Or rather I was you. I’m here to stop something terrible happening.’ He rubbed his stubbled chin. Even after rehearsing the moment countless times, he was still tortured with doubt. ‘Look, this is a lot to take in, so sit down and just take a minute. I’ll explain everything.’

(Continued in part 2 here).

© 2015, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Mike Carlino licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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