This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
only I had opened that letter. If I had,
my friends and family wouldn't be in constant fear and depression due to a hovering threat, and I
wouldn't be unable to help them. If I
had read that letter yesterday, I wouldn't be outside a world I love, tired of
looking in. That letter would have saved
an unspeakable number of lives, if only I hadn't been so thickheaded as to
disregard it as unimportant or junk.
My story is a very long and complicated one. Though it was only a just over day, it felt much longer. If I were to tell this story accurately, I suppose it would start with a hobo and rush hour.
38 hours earlier
I walked quickly down the back alley, trying in vain to block out the freezing autumn chill with the collar of my black trench coat. The breeze nipped at my unprotected fingers, freezing them solid. The sun was setting very quickly, casting eerie shadows over almost everything I saw.
I was going to be late home, having been held up at the university by my friend Andrea, who wanted me to teach her ballet class. My first instinct was, of course, to decline, I wasn't good with little kids and they never seemed to like me. Plus, I was previously engaged in a rather large project with Professor Fornix, and it would require my full attention. Still, Andrea was my friend, so I felt the need to help. Once I had finally agreed, she started to go over everything I would need to know at top speed. All of these instructions held me up, so I ended up missing the bus, not to mention I had to teach a bunch of seven-year-olds right after class the next day. On top of that, it was rush hour when I left, so every single street was swarming with people and cars, which meant the alleys were my only option--it was that or the sewers.
I was about a block away from my house when I heard it, the faint sound of shuffling and muffled words. I peered into the darkness and saw an old man hunched over and shivering.
I got a bit closer and I noticed he was muttering the words, "He sent me back. He sent me back. Why did he do it? Why? Why? Why?" With each 'why' he got a little louder until his voice was practically a yell.
Slowly I turned to walk away, hoping to avoid confrontation of any sort, but I only took a step when the old man's hand shot out and grabbed my wrist.
I whipped my head around, causing my short black hair to temporarily obscure my vision. The old man was face-to-face with me. I could see his thin gray hair, decrepit yellow teeth, the bulging veins in his forehead, and the look of slight insanity in his eyes. The scariest thing by far, was the fact that he looked slightly familiar.
"Are you her?" he whispered. His breath smelled of stale bread and rum. "He said--he said you would be her. He said you would be her, at exactly 7:48 p.m. October 23, 2056," he paused and took a deep breath. "Are you her?"
I slowly shook my head. He narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip on my wrist.
"You are her. He said you would be. You have to be her. Why aren't you? Why aren't you?" He released my wrist and started walking around in circles hitting his head with his fists still muttering under his breath.
A bit disturbed, I gathered myself together and hurried the remaining distance to my house.
The moment I stepped into the house I was overwhelmed with the wonderful smell. It smelled like pumpkin pie, turkey, and cinnamon, all of the things that make autumn my favorite season.
"I'm home!" I called out. Immediately my lifelong best friend, Henry, popped out of the kitchen and turned towards me.
The first thing I noticed about him was that there was flour all over his face. It looked as if the bag exploded all over him. There was probably some in his hair but it was nearly impossible to tell since his hair was so white anyway. For most people, his white hair indicate that he was old, but to him it simply meant that he was 'extra awesome.'
"Why are you late?' he asked in a suspicious tone.
I rolled my eyes. "Relax, I was only held up by Andrea-- she wanted me to teach her ballet class. Plus, last week was only a one time thing, I already told you, you won't have to come bail me out of jail ever again."
"Fine," Henry said. "As long as you are completely certain that I will never get a phone call saying that you tried to hack in to the White House's databases again," Sometimes when Henry got protective like this it was annoying, but now it was merely amusing. There was no way anybody could take him seriously with that much flour on his face.
I held my hands up in mock surrender. "I am certain that I will never try to hack into the White House's databases again." Henry nodded, satisfied. "Now is there anything I can eat? I'm absolutely starving."
"Fine, dinner's already on the table. Just help yourself."
I smiled and made way my over to the dining room. Everything smelled delightful and I was famished.
Henry came wandering in, holding an envelope in his hands. "You got mail." "Mail?" I said confused. "At this time? I didn't even hear the mail truck."
Henry shrugged, "Well, it says 'urgent' on it. Maybe the post office has a new system where they deliver 'urgent' things early."
I snorted, "It's clearly just junk mail, it can wait. Plus if they had a new system they would send out a memo or something."
The rest of the night went as usual and it wasn't until the next day at college that something odd happened again.
"Glory!" Andrea called, while frantically waving me over.
"What?" I asked, hurrying over to join her.
"Professor Fornix is gone. No one knows where he is, apparently he left to get coffee this morning and disappeared. The only thing people have found is a funky looking box with your name on it," Andrea said quickly in a soft voice.
"My name?" I questioned incredulously.
"Yes, yours. Some people think it's the project you've been working on with him. Is it?" She looked at me with wide eyes.
This didn't make any sense. Professor Fornix was missing, and all he left was a box with my name on it? How could he just vanish? People don't just poof for no reason.
"No," I said slowly, "I've barely even started on my project with him yet."
Andrea opened her mouth to respond when a voice rang out over the intercom, "Glory Emir, please report to the Dean's office."
Everybody that heard the announcement looked at me. I felt my face flush. They all probably thought that I had something to do with Fornix's disappearance--if I were, them I probably would to.
I slowly stood up and walked out of the class, all eyes following me. Andrea made to get up and join me as I walked out, but someone stopped her.
Once the door to the class closed, I steeled my nerves and walked down to the Institute of Technology, where the Dean's office was located.
Once I got to the Institute, a bunch of men in dark, official looking suits appeared. One of them grabbed me and said, "You will follow us Ms. Emir. You must remain silent and not speak unless answering a question."
He and the other men began to walk quickly, dragging me with them. " You must understand that this is a very serious matter. Professor Fornix was working on a very specialized project that could put us all in danger." Why was this starting to feel like a bad science-fiction movie? "We believe that it is a transportation device that travels through time."
Unwillingly, I gasped and stopped walking. A time machine. Was that possible? Was this what the professor had wanted me to work on with him? If so, did that mean it wasn't finished? If it wasn't finished, then going through it could have disastrous consequences, such as insanity, or your life being sped up so that you are many years older than you should be. There are many complicated parts to the science of time travel.
In fact, one of the reasons Professor Fornix had wanted to work with me on a project was because of my paper on time travel. He said it was very thought provoking and had excellent ideas that could change the course of humanity. It was pretty high praise for a seven page extra-credit paper.
But that didn't make any sense, the project we were working on had to do with dark matter, not time travel. What was going on?!
The men grabbed got a hold of my arm again and forced me to keep walking while they plowed onward with their speech. "You will have ten minutes alone in the Dean's office with the machine, if you cannot either destroy or deactivate it we will be forced to terminate you and the machine with the only way possible."
The 'only way possible' could only mean one thing--they were going to bomb the building. With. Me. In. It.
Once we reached the Dean's office and they shoved me inside and locked the doors. Immediately, I looked around the room. It was a typical room for a Dean. There were bookshelves, paper, pens, a big chair, two little chairs opposite the huge desk, probably for visitors, and atop the huge desk was something entirely out of place--a time machine.
It was rather small, to be honest, just a box. But you could tell that it was so much more. The whole thing seemed to thrum with energy and excitement. How was I supposed to destroy this?
I didn't help make this so I had no idea how it worked, or how to turn it on for that matter. There was no way for me to take this apart and destroy it that way, it was made entirely of solid metal. Time was running out, and then it occurred to me. I could just stop this from happening. I could write a letter to myself explaining what would happen, and then none of this would ever take place at all. If I read it, I would have known what was going to happen and could have found a way to prevent it.
I quickly hurried to the paper and pens, and scrawled down everything that I would need to know. I signed the letter with a flourish, and that's when I realized that it was useless.
I had already received the letter. Last night, a letter arrived-out of nowhere, and I didn't read it. If I didn't read it then, who is to say I would read it if I sent it now? I was doomed--I am doomed. I was and am going to die in this very room.
Still, I sent the letter. Hoping for the best, I placed it on top of the machine and it disappeared the second I turned around. What if I went through this machine? What would happen? Would I end up insane? If I went back I would survive, but not as myself.
It disappeared and it would never get read by the person who could change all of this. Just last night, I ran into that homeless man, and now that I think about it, there's a good chance that that was Professor Fornix. He must have tried to go back in time and it went horribly wrong. The only problem with that was that the old man said 'he sent me back,' so who is 'he'?. Plus, Fornix should have seen this coming, he would have done something to make sure his genius machine wouldn't be destroyed.
Poor Henry and Andrea, they'll have no idea where I went. Andrea will be expecting me to teach her class and Henry will probably have another fantastic dinner ready and waiting for me.
I gasped and started sobbing, as what was happening finally sank in. I'll never see anyone or anything that I loved again, and in a heartbeat I knew my time was up. I closed my eyes and said goodbye to everything I ever knew. Right before the bombs landed, I open my eyes one last time just to see the darkness descend.
This is a very important letter. Right now both of our lives depend on you reading and understanding this. Professor Fornix has created a time machine. He will go through it and cause massive panic. Nothing will be safe.
This time machine means that people could go back and do awful things. It's true that this could be a good thing to have, but messing with time can never end well. This machine is a threat to the government and they will do everything in their power to destroy it.
Right now I am dying, dead, and about do die all, at the same time, and you are too. This moment and this life, they are fluid, like water over stones. While I die I also live--does that make any sense? If not, it will.
Please, do me a favor and give Henry a hug, tell him you love him and his wonderful cooking, and that you could never ask for a better best friend. Talk with Andrea, tell her how you think that it's awesome that she teaches ballet, and that she is one person I will most certainly miss. Call up Mom and Dad, tell them that you love them, share some warm memories and cry over sad ones. Remember the people you have long forgotten and appreciate them. Please do these things. For me.
I realize that this letter will probably never get read, but this needs to be stated:
I am happy, so happy to have been here in this world.. And I am so happy to have known the people that I know.
Keep this letter Glory, if you ever read it, keep it and remember.
Kasei Bulloch: At the beginning I wasn't very into the story but I kept reading and was more hooked than I was with Battle of the Wills. All of a sudden I had devoured chapter after chapter then the book was over. I am dying for The Compact. Please help a girl out!
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
Deleted User: (A review in progress). I like this. It's sparse, gritty and atmospheric - reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of American detective fiction of the Thirties. I've only read the beginning, but I'll definitely be back. This writer knows their stuff and has done their homework on detective work. T...
Maciej Rybczynski: I got into this book yesterday and could not stop reading. Good to have it finished as there is plenty other pressing matters. :) The flow of action is excellent. The author managed to keep all the boring parts outside of this book. Really enjoyed reading it.
Remini UDA: I would like to firstly admit I do not like the romance genre, it's not something I tend to read and as such I did not complete the whole story and only made it to chapter 15. Whether that affects this review is for you to consider.The Unknown Variant is a very well written book, as a reader I wa...
cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
M. Drewery: I did think I would be reading just another Atlantis archaeological adventure story when I came across this book. However I think it's fresh and very different to other approaches to the same historical mystery. The first chapter drew me in brilliantly. I'm not great at spotting technical writing...
ericaporamoralcine: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...
Jordan Young: *ALERT FOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Where to start? I don't know how to sum up this review, this story was absolutely sensational. Brilliant. Flawless. I loved every single bit of this story, it is truly amazing. I read this story in fifteen hours, it is magnificent. I loved everything about it, the p...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."