Yes, I’m back to writing something again. Book’s done and dusted, just waiting to hand it in, so while I do that I figured I should get back into doing my short stories. Graham Enoch is still on hold, primarily because I lost my train of thought, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he crops up again at some point.
This is NOT Graham Enoch, though. This is new. Catch it after the jump.
(And by the way, for ease of distinction, all non-story text will be written in bold from here on out, cheers)
Those bastard whitecoats lied to me!
‘It won’t hurt,’ they said. ‘Just a little bit of a prickling sensation really, like a static shock. Nothing to worry about.’
Fucking liars. It was nothing like a static shock. What it was, as far as I’m concerned, was like being hooked up to the national grid for half a minute while your head is in a mechanical vice. I suppose I really should have expected that, seeing as that was exactly what they did to me.
The whitecoats had a theory about time travel: everybody is travelling through time by merit of the nature of existence, constantly marching forward. With that being the case it shouldn’t be too hard to turn around and go back a bit. Sure, you would have to march against the current, but a bit of a boost should give you the momentum to push through. This theory had never been tested though, and remained a theory for quite a long time.
Then the regime changed again. It had a habit of doing that quite a lot over the last few years, usually three different regimes a decade. The last one had been particularly damaging to the nation, so the new regime pumped all its funding into the whitecoats, pinning society’s last hope on a pipe dream of travelling back in time and avoiding the last regime. Then I was stupid enough to volunteer.
I’d been sitting around in prison, a rather long sentence stretched out before me, when I saw the plan on the news. I saw it as my last chance at redemption, a one-way suicide mission into the past with no hope of success. I’d be remembered as one of those idiotic heroes rather than a criminal, one of those people who blur the line between courage and idiocy. A step up as far as I was concerned.
Naturally, it took me a while to convince them that I wasn’t just doing this to get out of jail. They ran me through hundreds of tests, most of them designed to find out if I was a lying rat intent on taking advantage of society’s last hope. I wasn’t. The whitecoats seemed a little too certain that I would take a liking to the past and just cast aside my quest the moment I got there, live out a long and happy life while the future rots away. I’m not going to lie, I had considered that, but when it was all said and done I chose to look upon that as my eventual reward upon completion of the mission. When I put this to the whitecoats they seemed to like it.
Eventually, after endless weeks of probing and testing, they gave me the greenlight. That was when they gave me the specifics of the mission and gave me one last chance to backout, something which I’m starting to wish I had taken.
When I volunteered I thought we’d be doing the whole chaos theory business. I thought they’d send me back in time to change one seemingly insignificant thing, bollocking up history from then on and narrowing averting the one regime they were so down on. Oh, how very wrong I was. The whitecoats were going all out on this one, the whole nine yards. They didn’t want any chances that time could knock itself back on track, stick the regime in power anyway but a little delayed, they wanted damn sure it wouldn’t happen. They wanted me to kill the leader of the entire movement.
Now, full disclosure, I’m not averse to killing people. If you went and had a nose through my criminal record you would see that I’ve probably killed more than my fair share, and it seemed even the whitecoats knew this. They couldn’t go giving me the easy option now could they? Turn up, kill the guy, end of. No, that’s not sure enough, not got the right amount of definite about it. They send me back in time to kill the guy when he’s still a kid.
They had some heart, some little kernel of decency telling them that even a convicted murderer might have problems killing a kid. ‘It’s fine,’ they told me. ‘We’re not sending you to kill a baby, just a six year old.’
I’ve not killed as many of them as I have adults, but there’s not really anything different about that sort of business. Well, it is easier, but that’s about it. I accepted. Then they told me the name of the kid, where to find him and all the other pertinent information. One last chance to back out.
I told them that they were starting to piss me off, and that they had better hurry up and get this show on the road. All five of them (for there were only five whitecoats who ever deigned to talk to me from the hundreds working on the project) smiled and waved me into a whitewashed room. A weird metallic claw hung from the ceiling, overly elaborate and clearly designed to sink some of the vast budget they were being given. These whitecoats had so much cash and manpower that It had become playthings to them.
There was a handy mark on the floor beneath the centre of the massive claw, with a helpful legend that read ‘Stand Here’. I was happy to oblige, all too eager to get the hell going. The whitecoats made sure I was standing exactly right, then they bolted out the door like startled rabbits. Ordinarily I’d have been suspicious this, but on that day I was too pumped up to care. Besides, the countdown started before I had much time to mull it over.
I didn’t hear the countdown, the whitecoats had neglected to include speakers in the room’s design, but I could feel it. I could feel it because the massive, great claw that was hanging from the ceiling snapped itself shut around my head and began to pulse. This was the mechanical vice I mentioned earlier, and the pulsing was them hooking it up to the national grid. It takes a bit of time to persuade those who run the power to agree to run the entire world’s power supply to a single point, and that space of time was roughly ten seconds. I counted.
On the stroke of ten I realised quite how much the whitecoats had fucking lied.