I am god.
Not officially, mind you. These things always happen by chance. Anyway, as events went, you could argue that — well, read on and judge for yourself.
I am known to the world as time agent YU2 — retired. Don’t look at me, I don’t make up these IDs. What matters is the retired bit. Retired is official, a kick in the butt was what I really got.
You know us time agents, right ? You’ve met one or two along the way. Traffic wardens, most of us. Making sure you keep on the tourist trail when you’re off to see Vesuvius erupt over Pompeii or watch Lincoln at Gettysburg. “No side stepping please! Don’t tread beyond the red line. Can’t risk changing history!” Pretty boring job, most of the time.
Except every once in a while, things get scary. Time hoppers do exist. Temporal psychopaths that can’t resist jumping into the time streams to alter history. They turn up when you least expect them. Honesty — and the official enquiry — require me to say that I wasn’t paying much attention. In fact I was paying most of my attention to my time agent partner 1QT. Stupid thing to do, we’d been reprimanded before. But hey, as I learned from an ancient song on one of my travels, that’s the power of love.
So here was this guy, a dingy looking type, something of a genetic accident probably, who not only left the beaten track, but jumped straight into the time streams. I was horrified. Imagine what this guy could do! He could hand 25th century technology to some 20th century dictator, prevent the assassination of Julius Caesar, or sink the Santa Maria half way on its journey to the New World. In short: he could send the whole of human history into a tail spin. The nightmare of any time agent. So what would you expect a self respecting time agent to do? Right: I panicked like hell and jumped in right after him. I was close enough to actually tackle him and off we went, tumbling through the nauseating vortex of the time streams like a couple of bickering toddlers.
My aforementioned panic skyrocketed as I realized I hadn’t latched my time hook. Great. No way to get home. We were falling through time in a hurry. Time traffic was getting slow already. The further you fell into the past, the fewer tourists were interested. There was a crowd at the minus 65 million mark, of course, courtesy of the “See the Asteroid !” add by Coca Cola Time Holidays. But after that, things went awfully quiet. And still we fell. Ever faster and ever farther. Without the time hook, I couldn’t begin to guess how far.
I suppose it’s when people have nothing to lose that they become heroic. I had to get the time hopper’s time hook, so he couldn’t finish whatever he was up to. The result would be that we’d both be falling through time forever. A novel way of getting killed. The little bugger never stood a chance. I was taller and younger and stronger. I yanked the time hook away from him after a short struggle, then tried to push him into the void. Which worked. Only, before he disappeared into the vortex, the guy dealt me a blow which destroyed the hook. The dying circuits somehow threw me out of the time streams, into the somewhen world.
I splashed into warm, stinking water and crashed onto a rocky outcrop. I felt how the wet rock tore open the skin of both my hands arms. I banged my head. Blood streamed from my wounds. Before everything went black, I could see I had landed in a shallow sea, dotted with rocks under a twilight sky. It was hot and humid and there was no air to breath. And then the lights went out for what I thought would be the very last time.
1QT saved me. Not one to panic, she put on her tracer and jumped after me, time hook firmly latched. She picked me up and brought me home. All very romantic. Happy ending and fade out to credits. Hold that thought, ’cause internal control was all over me in days. Seems I had breached the Time Code in a dozen or so spots. They would have to let me go. They closed their file and stamped it Top Secret.
“But,“ I protested, “I didn’t change history!”
I hadn’t. They told me I had fallen into time for 3.8 billion years. Further than any time traveler had done before me. Before life began. Their investigation had shown that life had suddenly erupted all over the planet in the million years after my crash, spreading from the general vicinity of my drop point. When I arrived the blood and bacteria from my body dove into the primordial soup and happily swam into their mysterious future.
Internal control said: “You didn’t change history, you started it.”
“My god,“ was all 1QT could mutter when she heard it.
And you could say that. But not officially.
Karel Smolders is from a small town in Belgium (the name of which won’t mean much to anyone outside the area) and has been publishing in Dutch since the nineties, including 7 children’s and YA novels already in print with an 8th coming up early 2018. Most of these are in the science fiction or fantasy genres. Karel has also done some shorter magazine work, including publication in Everyday Fiction — and some older fanzine stuff. Find out more online.