The moon was exceptionally bright that night. I remember staring at it, I had never seen anything like it before. It fascinated and terrified me. To simply put it, the moon was huge. It looked epic. As if something major was going to happen. Then, just like that, it happened.
I looked around, life seemed still. I watched slowly as a woman pushing a pram went over a crack. I could see the suspension tensing up as the wheel slowly dropped into the crack. Small stones exploded and spread like shrapnel as a cloud of dust filled the air. I shivered and felt something by my side. I turned right only to see my own reflection. My heart raced, I thought I had seen a ghost. I chuckled slightly and then stopped for I realized my reflection had not smiled back.
There, standing next to me, was me. Only, he looked nothing like me. He was older. Yet, the main difference between us was not in our physical appearance, it was in our attitude. He was slouching, his demeanor was different. He looked fatigued and yet there was a fire in his eyes. “Don’t”, he whispered, as a tear dropped from his eye; and then silence. The man had disappeared.
I stood there for a couple of minutes as time caught up to me. Everything seemed to be moving faster. A million questions buzzed through my head. Who was that? Was that me? Why was he older? Is that my future? Is he my future? Time travel is possible?! It was the last statement that caught my attention. Time travel was possible. Nothing else could explain me seeing my future-self. Now the only question remained was this: Did I invent a time machine? Or was I using someone else’s invention? Either way, it did not matter. Time travel was possible. The solution was out there. It was better that I found it before anyone else.
Thirty years later, I was done. I had finally done it. It took me years to perfect the design but the machine was ready. To the naked eye it looked like a small room, like a closet, or a den. But in reality, the machine probably contained the most complex circuitry I had ever seen. The last thirty years had been difficult, I worked multiple minimum wage jobs by day to support this project. Now, finally, I could get rid of them. It was all worth it in the end. I looked at myself in the mirror, I looked nothing like the person I had seen thirty years ago. I stood proud.
I activated the device, took a deep breath and walked in. I stared at the blank wall, my eyes started playing tricks on me. I could see lines emerging then wobbling, like a snake in tree branches. I felt as though I was being squeezed, as if my whole body was about to explode. There was a ringing in my ears, I felt agony and pain, I collapsed on the ground. I convinced myself it would all be worth it in the end. Then, the pain faded to the background. I saw myself looking at the lady with the pram. I stood up, looked around. Everything looked beautiful, fresh. Full of life and potential.
He turned and looked at me. I examined him, I saw my life in his eyes, I saw a life wasted. I could’ve had a family, I could have lived a normal life but instead I resorted to frozen dinners, sleepless nights and minimum wage jobs. I became shit. Pain seared through my veins as I looked at him. I couldn’t tell what was more painful, physical pain or the thought of leading an unfulfilled life. It wasn’t worth it in the end. I had to stop this. Through the pain I mustered up all my courage and screamed: “Don’t!”
I fell to the ground. I was back in the empty room. I chuckled, this is what my life had become, an empty room. Clutching my chest I walked outside and sat on a chair. I looked out a window, the sun was shining. I could feel the rays on me. I let it’s warmth bask over me. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds. The ringing slowly stopped, the pain faded away, and then there was silence and peace.