Short Story – Generations
This week, I found myself writing about time travel. I like time travel because it’s weird. You could spend the entire story just trying to deal with the paradoxes. I find it more interesting to ignore the paradoxes and just tell the story.
The idea for this one started with the first several paragraphs about alternate timelines. I wasn’t totally sure how everything worked. I just kind of allowed that to develop.
More than most of the stories I’ve written lately, this one feels a lot like the prologue to something a great deal longer. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday. But probably not…
As always, please comment with your thoughts, share, or ignore! Whatever works for you!
In the year 2059, a comet struck the Pacific ocean, wiping out almost all coastal cities and killing several million people along with countless fish, aquatic mammals, and other sea life. The resulting atmospheric disruptions resulted in the near extinction of all life on Earth. The remaining human population was driven underground where they would need to survive for at least two hundred years before they could safely return to the surface.
In the year 2032, the International Space Agency was warned about a nearly undetectable comet on an intercept course with Earth. With nearly unlimited resources at their disposal, they developed a spacecraft capable of generating a temporary gravitational field that would divert the comet just enough for it to miss hitting our planet.
In the year 2020, a deadly mutation of the flu virus nicknamed “Legion” killed three out of every five people worldwide.
In the year 2018, researchers discovered both a sample of the mutated virus and a vaccine that could be used to treat it. By 2019, almost the entire world population had been inoculated against the virus and the Legion outbreak never took place.
In the year 2025, then President of the United States Caroline Manchester was assassinated by Harold Grey. Her Vice President proved to an incompetent leader whose violent rhetoric resulted in no fewer than four separate military actions in a two year period that led to no fewer than 3000 dead servicemen and women and six terrorist attacks on American soil.
In the year 2020, acting on an anonymous tip, police arrested Harold Grey for possession of several unregistered firearms and failure to pay taxes for over twenty years. Two years later, he was brutally murdered in his prison cell. President Manchester successfully kept the United States out of direct military confrontation and only one terrorist attack successfully targeted American citizens.
All of these events I described took place. And yet most people don’t remember three of them.
My name is Grayson Finch. I was born in the year 2013. I died in the year 2078. At least that is what you might have read in the obituary section of my local newspaper. You probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Grayson Finch, loving husband and father, died of unknown causes…he spent many years working for the King corporation…he loved his job…preceded in death by his parents and his twin brother Gregory…survived by his husband Dennis and his twin daughters Paris and Penelope.
It tells you nothing. Unless you know what to look for.
Twins run in my family. For generations, one of us has died young and one of us has produced another set of twins.
Gregory died when he was twenty-two. He died in the same sense I did. He disappeared. He slipped out of the time stream and into another one. One from which he couldn’t return.
Lucky for him there was someone who could simultaneously live in both. Someone who could find out about the worst disasters in one time stream and fix them so they would never take place.
The King corporation doesn’t exist as a company. My family learned long ago that the only way any of this works is if you have enough money to solve a problem without anyone being aware who did it or why. If you walk into the space agency and tell them a comet is going to strike the earth in twenty-seven years and you know because your twin brother was there, they ignore you.
If, however, you provide them with the data to find the comet on their own, they will fix the problem.
The King corporation was created to funnel money where it needed to go when it needed to go there. It is financed by a great many wise stock deals, a few shrewd bets, and a lot of compound interest.
My mother was there when Gregory crossed over. She had been “dead” for nearly two years when it happened. He told me later that it took her nearly three months to convince him that what was happening was real. She taught him how to surf the waves of time so he could discover the events that needed to be fixed.
Not every disaster can be fixed. There’s a reason the Titanic still sank and Kennedy was still shot and the White Sox still threw the 1919 World Series.
I don’t know the difference. That isn’t my job. That’s Gregory’s job.
You’re going to ask me how all of this works and I can honestly tell you that I don’t know. I know that it didn’t start in the past. It started int he future.
Thousands of generations from now is when it begins. Twin sisters looking to save the Earth from being burned up by an expanding sun discovered a quantum bridge that would allow them to alert the past to problems that had been solved too late in the present.
My family is the result. Generations of twins who are echoes of the two women who started the process but who will, paradoxically, not be born until almost all of us are dead.
Living in the parallel world is the dangerous part. You have to find out what is going to go wrong without dying. My brother, and most of those who came before him, eventually fell victim to one of events we are trying to prevent.
When that happens, the other twin is pulled over without a connection back to the primary timeline. Then we have to wait until one of our children crosses the boundary.
It is always our children. They don’t even have to be our biological children. My husband and I adopted our girls. I didn’t have to convince him to adopt twins. He wanted to adopt twins. And he didn’t even know why.
I’ve been on the other side for a few years now. I know that one of my daughters will arrive soon and I’ll have a lot of explaining to do. She probably won’t believe me right away. But I’m going to have to convince her quickly.
Because in the year 2085, a massive explosion will destroy a nuclear plant in the southeastern United States and it will render a hundred thousand square miles uninhabitable for centuries.
Unless someone can help the authorities identify the terrorist cell that will place the bomb. Someone who already knows what is going to happen and who will be responsible.
“Dad? What are you doing here? You’re dead!”
“Yes. And no.”
“Is this a dream?”
“It’s a long story, Paris. But we don’t have time for it just at the moment. I need to tell you how to contact your sister.”