This story is by Trey Reed and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Across the way, the black Viper’s engine revved. Its lights illuminated the way ahead of it. Alaster returned the keys to his pocket and paused as he looked at his vehicle. What am I doing? I have nowhere to go. Maybe I should just go back. As he reached for his keys once more, he felt the earth rumble beneath him.
The ground groaned and fissured.
Alaster’s feet wobbled as he gripped a support beam to keep himself upright. He could see the fissure in the asphalt wind its way across the ground, up the walls, and into the ceiling. A great mound of cement and rebar struck the floor inches from where he stood. More of the heavy compounds began raining down around him. Another shock rippled through the earth and Alaster fell clumsily to his knees. He was incapable of forcing his body to stop shaking.
With a trembling hand, he pulled the Torrix from his pocket and wound the innermost of the three circular dials then pushed the center stone inward, locking it in place. The tiny, smooth stone glowed a cool blue. The last things Alaster experienced in that parking garage before the calm nothingness of the Torrix’s blue light enveloped him were the sight of cement crushing the cars around him and their alarms blaring.
“What do you mean “a do-over machine?” Iris asked him with an eyebrow arched.
Alaster looked down and in his hands saw the Torrix. The center stone was raised above the dials, ready for the next travel. I must have turned the dials more than I realized. I wish I didn’t have to rehash this fight with Iris. She didn’t know they already had this argument earlier in the night, but Alaster did. I suppose there is no choice now. Alaster could not read the anger in his wife’s face, but he knew with what he was about to say that it would soon come to the surface. “When I say it’s like a do-over machine, I mean that it’s like a time machine, but not in the conventional sense.”
“And you invented this?”
Alaster replied with a nod.
“How does it work?” Iris asked, still skeptical.
“These three dials rotate around the stone. The outermost dial represents the year, the middle dial is the day and the dial closest to the center is the hour of day. Each notch represents one of whichever dial you turn. Once you turn the dials to when you would like to go back in time, you push in the center stone which closes the electromagnetic loop and the Torrix takes you there, but it can only be used to go back in time. It doesn’t travel into the future.”
Alaster could now plainly see the irritation in Iris’ face. “Have you ever used this “do-over” machine with us?“
Alaster looked down in shame.
Shock took over Iris’ face. “You have! I can’t believe it! How many times have you said or did something you wish you could take back and then did?”
Alaster looked his wife in the eyes. “But it was always used to improve our relationship, make the most of experiences, detour arguments—“
“I will not allow our relationship to be some sort of science experiment that you can just tweak to your liking. I want this… this thing destroyed!”
Alaster could see the argument going the exact direction it went in previously, but he could not help himself. He shook inwardly with rage that his wife did not support such a monumental invention. “I invented time travel! I will not destroy the Torrix because of some silly fight,” Alaster exclaimed.
His wife pointed to the door and with raised voice yelled, “You are no longer welcome in this house if that machine exists!”
Alaster turned and snatched his keys off the end table and left the house in a huff slamming the door behind him. He grumbled his way over to the car. “At least the Torrix helped me make more of a dramatic exit this time,” he mumbled to himself as he ignited the car’s engine remembering the first time they had this fight and how he had searched for his keys for multiple minutes before finally finding them and exiting the house.
Still hot with fury, Alaster flipped his phone open and dialed his lab assistant. The phone rang only once before a soft voice came from the the other end. “Sir?”
“Hello, Everline. I’ve thought about what you said the other day. I would love to take you up on that offer.”
“I would love that.” Everline replied with a giggle.
“Lovely,” Alaster responded is a soft tone of his own, “Meet me at the Pagaentry Hotel. I’m on my way now.”
The drive across town to the hotel was not a particularly long one, but it gave Alaster time to think. Images of Everline’s natural curves and the nakedness of her body filled his mind as he remembered the things which they had done in that hotel room… things which they would do if he continued down this path again. He pushed those thoughts out of his mind with the thought of how much he loved his wife and if this was really worth his marriage.
Everline wants me. I know she does. She wants me. Everline understands me, understands the significance of what I have achieved. Alaster paused as a thought that hadn’t come the first time popped into his head. Or is it only because of my success? Pushing on me with her advances because of my invention. Doubt crept into his mind and mixed itself with the confidence of what he was about to do.
I love Iris. We have been married so many years. She knows me. Alaster shook his head with self-inflicted confusion. Iris just doesn’t understand the magnitude of what I have created. Another new thought filled his mind. Or does she? What if she is the only one who knows the significance of my discovery?
Alaster pulled off the road and let his car run.
If I follow the events I have put in place, I will find myself right back in that hotel parking garage when that earthquake hits. Even just being inside that hotel could be dangerous.
Alaster pulled the Torrix from his pocket and rubbed the smooth center stone in thought. The Torrix saved my life. I would have died if it weren’t for my invention. This has given me a second chance at life, a second chance not to make the same mistake.
Alaster tensed his jaw upon making his decision. He carefully turned the hour dial on the Torrix one notch to the left and pushed the raised center stone inward, closing the connection. The Torrix stone glowed a cool blue. The light suffused the interior of the car until Alaster was completely immersed in it permitting the calm nothingness to take him once more.
“I will not allow our relationship to be some sort of science experiment that you can just tweak to your liking. I want this… this thing destroyed!” Iris screamed.
Alaster looked down at the Torrix and then back to his wife. He held out his hand and waited until she took it. “You are absolutely right. We should not be able to control what happens in life.” Alaster led her to the garage. “I made a horrible mistake today and almost died because of it, but thanks to the Torrix, it has given me a second chance to make things right and avoid that fate. Nevertheless, this power is too much for any one person. We should not be able to control the future.”
Alaster grabbed a hammer from his tool bench and laid the Torrix on the ground. He looked at Iris once more. They nodded to each other, still hand in hand. With a quick strike, Alaster’s beloved Torrix shattered. Against the garage light, the fragments shimmered grey and blue, a wondrous mixture of metal and stone.