Its been a few days since I put up any fiction here.
Let’s take care of that, and send you into the weekend with a feeling of… well, you tell me…
The old man sat, drinking his coffee, watching the vicissitudes of life surround him.
He sipped strong hot liquid: black, no sugar. He’d drunk it without milk for a long time now, but couldn’t quite recall why he’d switched. No matter – it was of no real import.
A waft of cigarette smoke enveloped him briefly, and he inhaled, smiling at the brief though intense memory. He missed smoking, but had promised someone long ago that he’d give up, and despite many promises broken over the years since he gave the promise earlier that day, he’d not breached that one.
He drained his cup, and signalled the waitress for another, deliberately smiling at her as he did so, knowing that she’d be dead in a few hours, as would everyone around him.
His exact age when he’d discovered he could time travel was by now a forgotten mystery to him, lost over the years. He had been in his teens, certainly. The day before yesterday? The day before that?
Up to six hours either forwards or backwards. That was the limit of his skill, but it had been a wondrous discovery the first few trips… until he went upstream and discovered… well, he hadn’t hung around to find out what had killed everyone. Instead, he’d hurriedly jumped back, his heart thumping in his chest, his breath catching in his throat.
And then he’d realised that it could have happened at any time after he’d left, so as soon as a further hour had passed for him, he’d leaped back a few hours.
And when that time had passed, he’d leaped back again.
By his reckoning, he’d lived the same three hours almost two hundred thousand times now.
Sixty five years.
And he was tired.
He no longer wished to calculate as he had once been so insistent upon doing how many repeats had been spent in panic, how many had been used up trying to do something. He recollected, barely, trying to warn people. And he knew that fairly recently in his life span, he’d decided that he’d enough of existing, rather than living. He didn’t recall it in detail, but then so many repeats had evaporated into meaningless blurs.
For the past three or four subjective years, he’d spent them on purchasing illegal pharmaceuticals, staring at earlier versions of himself running down the street, and on coffee.
Oh, and pissing. He’d done a lot of pissing. But the last time, he’d decided: enough.
A shadow fell over him, and as he heard the screams starting, he smiled, without regret, but without pleasure either.
So, this was tomorrow…
(c) Lee Barnett, 2011