Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Catching The Past
By william price
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When I read those words my heart skipped a beat. I was a lonely man with a haunting question that revisited me every night.
I often wondered about traveling back in time, but I never considered catching the past. The concept sounded reasonable enough. After some thought, I decided to take the journey to meet the man who could make such a boast.
Dr. Sinclair Livingston was about my age, 35 or so. His black hair was short and trimmed neatly. He was not what I pictured a scientist to look like.
When I asked how it worked, he led me to a large observatory. In the center was the biggest telescope I ever laid eyes on.
“This nuclear-scope,” Dr. Livingston explained, “has a lens that can focus faster than the speed of light.”
I cocked my head to one side trying to grasp hold of what he was saying.
“Say again please.”
Dr. Livingston kindly smiled as he continued.
“Images travel at the speed of light and can journey forever through the universe. This machine can catch up to those images, capture them and project the images on that monitor over there.”
I glanced at the huge silver screen and then back at Dr. Livingston.
“Has it ever worked?”
“Oh yes. I was able to see my father. He and I… ”
The scientist had to stop speaking for a moment to dab his eyes.
My heart began to ache. I had a son I was never able to see. World War V had me stationed on the other side of the world when he was born. A freak car accident occurred on the way home from the hospital. The vehicle my wife, father-in-law and newborn son were traveling in careened off a bridge and plunged into a rain-swollen river over fifty feet below. Only my wife had survived, and then barely a year as the grief of the tragedy robbed her of the will to breathe.
Dr. Livingston broke our moment of silence.
“I can tell by the distant focus of your eyes, you had a similar experience, yes?”
My tears answered his question. The scientist looked me straight in the eyes.
“I have to warn you; catching up to the past cannot change what happened. And then, you just spend millions of dollars to see a face you cannot touch or speak to.”
“I would spend every dollar ever printed in the history of currency to see the face of my boy.”
“It wouldn’t cost that much, but at least $15 million.”
My heart sank.
“Fifteen million dollars?”
“I am afraid so, at the very least.”
My shoulders drooped and I extended my trembling hand to the doctor.
“Thank you, sir, but I haven’t even seen that much money.”
Dr. Livingston grasped my hand and asked me to join him for a cup of coffee.
“What was your son’s name,” he asked as we sat at a table next to the big screen.
“Sebastian, that was my father’s name.”
“Well, if you want to know, Livingston was my wife’s maiden name.”
“Small world isn’t it,” the doctor spoke as he sipped from his steaming mug.
“So, tell me about your father,” I asked.
“Well, my parents separated at a young age. I went to live with my mother and my sister stayed with father.”
As the doctor continued speaking my heart again began to jump. My wife had told me how she’d been separated from her mother and brother. When he mentioned how his father had died in an automobile mishap I could barely contain my emotions.
“Would you care to see the video? I was able to catch the moment my father crashed into the river and see his face smiling as he came to the surface for the final time.”
“Smiling?” I questioned.
“Are you a religious man?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“You will be after this.”
I watched the silver screen come to life. I sat in utter amazement as I witnessed my father-in-law’s face break the surface of the river stretching both hands above his head holding a beautiful baby boy. My child’s face looked so calm as two arms and angelic hands reached down and took hold of my son as my wife’s dad slowly sunk back into the river.
We both sat in tears as I asked my newly found brother-in-law to play it again and again.
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