Time Travel Noir

The conclusion to “Last Lines First“/”Random Story Title Generator” is “Subgenre Frankenstein.” Woo! Chuck says 1500 words, but I’m a little heavy at 1,572.Part One
Part Two
The click was barely audible. I thought I was immune to the effects of time distortion or anticipation, but the moments after that click seemed to last forever. Seconds stretched into minutes. The flame enveloped me, the hijacker and the mysterious woman who found it necessary to proclaim her love for me moments before we both died.
As I felt the heat and force exert itself on my body, it occurred to me I hadn’t prevented anyone’s death. I still didn’t know who she was, and I likely caused the deaths of everyone on that plane. For the first time, I had failed.
I kept my eyes closed tightly. I felt my ears pop as I gasped for air. I felt a hand on my shoulder and a worried voice beside me.
“Are you okay man?”
Opening my eyes, I stammered, “Yeah, I must’ve dozed off for a moment.”
“Okay. But if you think you’re gonna hurl, let me know so I can get out of the way.”
I stared at the seat in front of me and my ears popped again. It didn’t dawn on me until I saw the flight attendant walk down the isle – I was on a plane. I took stock of myself. Nothing on my person screamed at me I was a bad guy. It wouldn’t have been noticed by those around me, but I had become quite adept at figuring out who I was and who I was going to hurt. Between being a criminal and that woman, the only other constant seemed to be my death.
I looked around the cabin to see if I could find her. Sure enough, a few rows back, in an aisle seat, there she sat.  For the first time in as long as I could remember, I would have the chance to speak to her. I excused myself from my row mate, who shuffled so I could get out of the narrow seat. I maneuvered around elbows and feet overflowing into the aisle and stopped in front of the row where she sat.
I leaned in to whisper to her and she wrapped her arms around my neck and planted a passionate kiss on my lips.
“Don’t worry,” she said earnestly, “It will all be over soon.”
Flabbergasted, my voice rose as I retorted, “Who the hell are you?”
“Keep your voice down! You’ll scare these people before their final moments.”
I had no repartee of my own, I only watched as her eyes darted to her right towards the passenger beside her. I followed her gaze to the device he was assembling. I realized it was a bomb. For the first time, I had to protect the mysterious woman and a plane load of people. I leaned over her to intervene and she put a hand on my chest.
She smiled and said “I love you.”
My heart skipped a beat, then I grabbed the bomb. The hijacker looked into my eyes and shouted, “Not this time!” and he pressed a button on the bomb.
What have I done?
My eyes seemed to be blinded by the flash of the bomb on the plane.
But, that’s impossible!
I rubbed my eyes, knowing it was in my head. When I opened my eyes I saw a wedding ring on my finger. It’s not as if I’d never traveled into someone who was married, it was just rare. I seemed to be walking down the sidewalk in a neighborhood that was nice and strangely familiar. I passed by a bus stop and my reflection made me stop and stare. Staring back at me was a face I hadn’t seen in years – my own.
It took me a while to come to grip with what I was seeing. I sniffed the air – it was early autumn. Finally looking past the bus stop, I peered at the street sign. I’m only a few blocks from my house. My house. The idea seemed alien to me. I had a healthy amount of skepticism. I had thought I was back on my own world before, only to have it end up badly. Timescape was also a factor – I knew from looking around, it was autumn, but what year? Was my memory even valid? The wedding ring didn’t jive with my memories. The only way to get the answers I sought was to see if my home was where I thought it was. I started jogging the two blocks to where I would hopefully find all my answers.
I seemed to be in pretty good shape, I wasn’t tired during my run home. I thought about the airplane. I really did fail to save anyone. After a compete and total failure, I seemed to be in my own body.
What does it mean?
The device that had been the bane of my existence was nowhere on my person. Had the deaths of all those innocent people somehow broken the device’s hold over me? How was this time different from the last five? The last five hundred? Five thousand? I became convinced my house held all the answers. I increased my pace until the familiar sight of my front yard came into view. My Mustang was in the driveway where it should’ve been. I bounded up the porch steps and stood at my front door.
My hands were shaking as I touched the wood. The single pane of glass reflected my hand and drew my eye towards the wedding ring on my hand. I fumbled in my pockets for keys that I knew would be there. I tried sticking the key into the keyhole, but I kept missing my target. I began to feel light headed and gripped the door frame with my free hand to steady myself. With a deep breath to clear my head I thrust the key forward once again.
There was a satisfying click as my efforts were rewarded. The key fit! My heart was racing as I turned the key and met no resistance. I continued to twist and the doorknob turned as well. The bolt retracted and the door was now open. It swung lazily into the house and I merely stood there staring into my house.
I suppose part of me thought that perhaps this really wasn’t my house. The key could match, but maybe I was in the wrong time. My focus shifted again to the ring on my hand… I didn’t remember having a wife, but everything about the house felt so right.
Worries about how I got here or the fate of the airline passengers melted away – my confidence was rising. It was odd that I had stared down death and all manner of villains, but was having difficulty crossing the threshold to what I knew was my own house. I closed my eyes and steeped forward.
My foot made contact with the hardwood floor with an unceremonious clump. Another step and I was inside. The keys still hung from the doorknob – a lazy breeze jingled them. The largest key on the ring was black and had a blue oval on it. I recognized my car in the driveway as well as the key on the ring. I had to be home. I grabbed them and shoved them into my pocket before closing the door quietly.
I made my way through the house taking in all my possessions. This was definitely my house. Everything was where it was supposed to be. I leaned against the wall and simply marveled at it all. A noise down the hall toward the bedroom snapped me from what I could only describe as waking from a dream. I followed the sound until I stood at a closed door. Reaching out, I paced my hand on it and listened intently.
I heard the sound if a chair scraping across the floor and a voice called out.
“Adam? Is that you?”
My name was Adam. I hadn’t been called that in so long. The sound of my own name was the final confirmation that I was home. But… The voice was female… The wedding ring on my hand… I flung the door open to see the mysterious woman standing by a wooden chair.
Her hand covered her mouth as she took a step back. “Adam! You scared the crap outta me!”
I stared, mouth agape at her. I willed myself to respond, but my body deified my wishes. The mysterious woman was in my house. Wearing my sweat shirt. Standing at my desk using my laptop. I collapsed against the door frame, still unable to speak.
“Adam, what’s wrong?” she appeared genuinely concerned. “I thought today was your first day at the new facility?”
She rushed to my side taking my hand in hers, steadying my shaky legs. My eye was drawn to her own wedding ring – they were a matched set. My legs refused to support my weight as a flood of memories returned at once. She guided me to my knees and we stared into each others eyes.
“Adam, you’re scaring me!”
I regained my composure long enough to say the only thing I could – “Evelyn. I love you and have so much to tell you.”
I drew her into a deep embrace and began to tell her of my adventures in time and dimension. A tale I didn’t fully understand, but I knew we would figure it out together.

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

3 responses to “Time Travel Noir

  • ScrappyDoo

    Very nice! I loved the time-travel confusion and quick action. Time-Travel Noir sounded like a fun mashup and your story nailed it!

  • Rebecca Douglass

    Interesting. I was a bit confused at first, especially about. . . the timeline :D But things got clearer, in a completely opaque way ;)

  • Mark Gardner

    “things got clearer, in a completely opaque way” I like that ;) I split this one into two chapters and wrote another between this and “Random story title generator.” After I find someone to help me with the POV issues, I'm gonna have a nice 5k short story.

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