A Young Time Traveler Goes To War
● A Young Time Traveler Goes To War●
(And the sad song that helped me more clearly visualize an episode in Traveler’s past I had wanted to write for a long time. https://youtu.be/GVW8_lvs_vs )
The time traveler cracked dust between his gritted teeth as he hauled himself across hot, scorched ground. The smoldering wreckage of his crashed fighter fizzled and popped twenty meters behind the jagged trail he left in the terrain as he clawed towards his time machine. He had to ditch his helmet after spilling out of the shattered cockpit of the fighter to avoid suffocating as it was no longer supplying him with breathable air.
This was bad because the air he was now breathing was poisonous as well as radioactive. It singed the back of his throat and burned his eyes.
He could see his time machine through his hazy vision. Almost there. This was good because outside of its temporally indifferent confines and advanced medical capabilities he only had minutes to live.
Far away on the horizon, against a ruined sky, the last of a fleet of giant airships fell into the jagged, decimated remains of a once great city. Burning with blue flames like a rapidly setting alien sun. He shut his eyes as he crawled but the blinding demise of the vessel still hurt as jagged psychedelic splotches crackled painfully like electricity arcing across his optic nerves. He could feel its impact through the ground accompanied by a sound like distant rolling thunder once the noise caught up with it. His eyes would be soaked with tears if the moisture did not instantly evaporat into the hot, toxic atmosphere.
This had been his first attempt to change the history of a world on such a vast scale. When he had first heard of this world and the cataclysmic, strife driven sterilization of its civilization he was so sure he could have changed the outcome of the events that led it to this end. He was so wrong. And now, out billions of souls, he was the only one left alive.
It was the hubris of a young time traveler that had brought him to this moment. The thinking that he was clever enough and could see deeply enough into the boiling pool of cause and effect that was time to prevent such a catastrophe.
Once at the door of his machine he popped a glove off his hand and slapped it with a bare palm. The pock marked mystery metal of its exterior was hot enough to burn his skin quite badly but the door slid open regardless. He hauled himself inside with the last of his strength and sealed it shut before passing out.
On the floor of the small airlock section the now activated time machine assessed his status and began to detoxify his exterior and rid him of radiation. He laid there for a long time before he was strong enough again to stand and strip himself of his tattered flight suit. He then made his way to the drive section and fell into the chair before the banks of screens and controls.
He took one last look at the lifeless, ravaged world outside but there was nothing left that he wanted to see. All that he knew of this world, everyone he cared about, fought with, for and even loved were all gone. Now there was only him.
He thought about going back and trying again. But then thought...why even try? It would only be more difficult the second time around and the outcome could be even worse. He barely survived this attempt.
He shut the screens off and limped into the sleeping quarters. He still needed major medical care. As he lay in the bunk and let the machine begin to tend to him with drugs and technology he came to a critical decision.
If wanted to continue traveling in time he would have to harden his heart, get accustomed to mind bending paradox and abandon normal human attachments and relationships for he would become far removed from any normal human. He would have to reconcile himself to the singularly isolating condition of existing outside of time.
But how could he not? It was so damned fun when he got it right. He clearly had a lot still to learn. The torment of this failed attempt to cheat time had taught him much. When he was well enough to move again he cleaned himself, donned a magnificent suit and once again sat before the controls. He needed a vacation. Time to piece his shattered heart and fractured mind back together.
He selected a more peaceful time deep in the planet’s past until he could figure out a way to take himself and his machine off this doomed world entirely. He could no longer bear the thought of staying here knowing what he knew of its future. The first step, he reckoned, in no longer caring. The time traveler lit a drug laidened cigarette, engaged the machine’s motors and faded away...alone.