TRAGEDY IN TIME
NURUL KAMILAH BINTI MAT KAMIL
Sweat rolled down his temple. I watched him grin triumphantly as he finished off his welding and put in the last rivet onto the body of his creation.
“Eureka!” Demetrius gave a victorious cry. The heat of the moment swept him away with a wave of euphoria washing over his young, adolescent face.
My skeptical mind refused to process the image that my eyes were seeing. There, in the centre of the Foxglove Manor garage stood a man-made marvel – a time machine, or as my extremely intelligent cousin calls it a ‘Chronocraft’.
The pale glow reflecting off the copper and aluminum surface gave it a glossy metallic sheen, which complemented its beautiful craftsmanship: an impeccable masterpiece. Nobody else could have pulled it off other than my child prodigy cousin, Demetrius a mere 15 year-old. I had to admit that his intellect is unmatched but could he have unveiled the secrets of our universe?
“Lysander, have I not accomplished the ultimate genius?” Demetrius’ voice had a subtle tone of pride. “After all those years of research, I can’t believe that I have actually succeeded.”
An eerie smile blossomed upon his lips. There was a sparkle in his grey eyes. Then he asked, “Do you want to try it out?”
The answer that I gave him could potentially turn my life upside down. I was afraid of the consequences of messing with the laws of nature.
“Absolutely!” I unthinkingly blurted.
I studied the Chronocraft carefully. Overall, the machine was cobbled together out of electrical appliances, metal scraps and vehicle parts. The chamber was circular in shape and the floors were padded with red carpeting. There was a console which housed several control panels and LCD monitors. A picture frame in the corner caught my eye. The seashell frame held a picture of Demetrius’ parents, taken during their first date in Edgemont.
“Their first encounter was made during their flight … And so was their last goodbye.” That was how Demetrius always ended his story about his parents.
Demetrius’ image appeared on the LCD screen. “Lysander, are you ready?”
“Mmmmm … Yes, I guess.” I reluctantly replied.
“Good, now listen carefully. All you have to do is just take a peek outside, identify the time and place, then go back inside. Keep in touch with the nano-computer that I strapped onto your wrist. I will be monitoring your voyage from home.”
I hardly had time to think.
All of a sudden, the machine jerked violently as it came to life. Dark clouds and smoke billowed from the floors. I choked. The smoke smelled rancid.
“Lysander, don’t panic. It’s part of the process. Once the smoke recedes, you can get out and look around. For your information, you are no longer at my house.”
“Where am I?”
I gasped in amazement. The moment I exited the doorway, the gentle caress of the morning breeze greeted me. The sweet scent of unpolluted air was refreshing.
I was standing on the very spot the Foxglove Manor was built on Cherrydale Cliff. Down below, the waters crashed against the side of the cliff. It was just a cliff and nothing else but rugged terrain, yet I recognized it by the oak tree which stood by the edge of the cliff in Demetrius’ future backyard.
Courageously, I took a step forward, followed by another and another, until I found myself at the foot of the cliff, on the right side of Pistachio Road. I strode towards the bus-stop where a woman was sitting on the bench.
I took a seat beside her.
She was tall and thin with steel-grey eyes, resembling my cousin’s, Demetrius. She had several bags by her side.
“Good day, miss,” I greeted her.
“Good day to you.”
“Did you read today’s paper?” I asked politely.
“Yes, of course. In fact, I have it right here with me.” The lady handed me the paper. My eyes widened as I saw the date. Had I actually traveled twenty years into the past?
My stomach became a tight knot. I was feeling uneasy.
“My name is Rebecca Rooke,” she introduced herself.
My heart skipped a beat. The woman was actually Demetrius’ mother. Rebecca Rooke was her maiden name. That was indeed a shocking discovery. The nano-computer on my wrist beeped, signaling that Demetrius wanted me to return.
“What was that?” she asked
“Oh, that … er, my alarm … I have to go”
“Please, before you do … could you do me a favor? Could you please escort me to the airport? I really need to get to Edgemont on time, but I have not seen the bus for hours.”
I declined. I did not wish to be stuck in the past.
In a moment of panic, I sprinted back up towards the cliff where the Chronocraft was. But Rebecca had followed and saw the machine.
This was not good. This shouldn’t have happened.
She backed away, fear and confusion taking her steps towards the edge of the cliff.
“Rebecca, don’t panic. Let me explain. I’m your nephew from the future ”
She was trembling. She took a last step backward and slipped. I rushed to rescue her, grabbing her hand, but she felt heavy. I could feel myself sliding off the cliff. Unfortunately, there was nothing else I could hold on to. About 50 feet below were the savage waves crashing against the limestone cliffs.
All of a sudden, I lost my grip and I watched in horror as Rebecca fell to her watery death.
I was silent, lost for words. Had I actually committed murder? I scrambled back into the Chronocraft chamber with a feeling of dread in my heart.
“Demetrius, I’m sorry that I didn’t return earlier, but Demetrius …” I stammered.
There was no response.
It was then that realization hit me. I had altered the past. Not only had I ended Rebecca’s life, but I had also wiped Demetrius out of existence.
Number of words: 997