Breathe In The Light and Say Goodbye.

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This story is now part of ‘Slightly Spooky Stories.’

How does one test such a device?

You couldn’t take it with you, so you were stranded wherever you landed.

The equations all pointed to success, but none of it meant anything unless I could prove it had worked.

The goal was as old as modern man; move forward in time faster than a ticking clock.

The numbers said it wouldn’t work if you tried to go back in time but forward was a distinct possibility.

Logic said that the person doing the jump would not age more than a few seconds, but whatever they brought with them would probably age independently. This meant that a really long jump, say one or two hundred years, might find the ‘jumper’ in tatters at the landing point.

The jump was deceptively simple.

No whirring machinery or blinking lights.

No electrical storms or noxious chemicals.

All that was needed was to switch on the globe, breathe in the light and say goodbye.

At least, that was the theory.

Many great scientific breakthroughs have come about because some brave soul injected themselves with some experimental vaccine or strapped themselves inside some potentially explosive device and flicked a switch. If it worked, they survived and if it didn’t someone else took up the challenge and worked out where they had gone wrong.

I’m good with numbers but I’m no hero, so there was no way I was going to take the first jump.

I needed a volunteer.

I stared at my dog for the longest time, but in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to endanger his life. After all, he had more sense than most of the people I knew.

Up until this point, I had kept my work a closely guarded secret.

There were forces out there that would do drastic things to get hold of a device like mine.

I had to tell someone and because there were few people I could really trust I chose Frankie.

He was one of those rare individuals who knew how to keep his mouth shut. He didn’t care much for money; he just liked to hang out, write music and drink coffee. He didn’t have any family, but he did have friends.

 

One sunny Friday afternoon at the cafe on the corner of my street I told him what I had been working on. There was always the chance that someone would overhear our conversation, but if they did, they would probably think that we were a couple of stoners just making shit up.

The cafe is owned by a hard working couple, and I like them a lot. They seem to be happy to run this little cafe and enjoy their young family. Their expectations of life are small and beautiful.

The cafe, on the other hand, is medium sized and a little bit worn around the edges, but this only adds to its appeal. The walls are cream, and the trim is green.  The counter looks like it came from an old department store.

The glass front looks out of place in a cafe.

I keep expecting to see a selection of ties instead of cakes.

The tables are a mix of whatever was in the second-hand stores at the time they set the place up —- the chairs are similarly random. I turned one of the chairs over one day, and it had a few words chalked on the underside, “Tell Beryl I didn’t mean it.”

I’ve often wondered if the message was delivered.

Over the years, I have frequented many cafes, and it always pissed me off that the owners would build up the business and then ‘flip it’ for a quick profit.

The next owners would do the same, and so it would go.

I know it’s illogical, but it left me feeling betrayed.

 So much so that I stopped remembering cafe owner’s names until they had been around for at least a year; I couldn’t see the point if they were just going to bugger off.

I know I sound a little crazy, but there is something very personal about a place where you sit and dream and write and contemplate your life.

I don’t care who owns my local supermarket, and they probably would not know me from Adam, and that’s fine by me, but a cafe —— that’s something different.

Frankie and I were sitting on the old leather couch that sits in the window.

You can see the traffic going by, but it is far enough away that the sound does not travel.

The hill behind the highway rises steeply, and about halfway up there is a railway line. You can just see the trains gliding through the trees.

I’m not sure why, but I like this view best on a rainy day, and it was raining the day I told Frankie.

I was mildly surprised when he volunteered to take the first experimental jump.

He wasn’t even a slightly amazed that I was working on time travel.

He has known me for a very long time, and he knows that I’m obsessed.

Even so, I was expecting a small look of surprise; but no.

It was as though we had been working on this thing together all along.

At that moment, I was reminded why I love this guy.

So trusting, so full of life, so ready for an adventure.

I wanted to be sure that he understood so I went over it again and explained I’ d not tested the idea on any living creature and that he would be the first, and that I could not guarantee that he would survive.

He just looked at me like I was wasting time; he wanted to get on with it.

So far I had been able to move a few inanimate objects forward in time by waving them in front of the light.

The shorter the ‘wave’, the shorter the time jump.

On one test, I got distracted and the object I was testing has not reappeared, and that was several months ago.

The slightest miscalculation and the time jump could be enormous.

Because of the density of living things, it is necessary to breathe in the light so that the whole person moves evenly through time.

Just waving someone in front of the light would not have the desired effect.

In theory, if you took a deep breath you should move forward further than if you just ‘sipped’ the light. But, because I had only experimented with objects and they don’t breathe, there was no way to accurately predict what was going to happen.

My experiments had been restricted to sending a few items, including a teddy bear, forward by about 36 hours.

Breathing in the light was always going to produce a longer journey.

There was no ‘coming back’.

Whoever made the first jump would just have to wait for the rest of us to catch up in time.

The success of this project was very important to me, but I was struggling to work out a practical application for the invention. I guess that would be a challenge for others to tackle.

Our final task was to set a time for the jump, and my intention was to make its duration as short as possible so that I could find out if it worked. I needed to know if there were any side effects, and on a personal level, I wanted to know what it felt like.

I drove Frankie crazy for a couple of days by telling him over and over again that he had to remember absolutely everything.

He isn’t much of a note taker, but he did promise to try.

There was no sense putting it off any longer, so we set a date.

I’ve always liked Wednesdays, so I picked the 14th as our launch date.

Early afternoon is Frankie’s favourite time of day, so we made it 2 pm.

I bought him lunch at the Kallista Tea Rooms; it seemed only fair.

He had a steak pie, and I had those delicious chips that only the Tea Rooms seem capable of making.

Frankie had a couple of things to do before the launch, and when he arrived at my house, he had two very large suitcases with him.

They were those old fashioned ones with a leather belt tied around them.

They looked to be hefty.

We had talked about him taking a change of clothes, but this seemed like overkill, but I let it go.

I was too excited to argue.

Frankie took a parcel from his coat pocket and laid it on my kitchen table; ‘to be opened when I’m gone.’

Frankie stood in front of the light clutching the suitcases by their worn brown handles.

“Tell me one more time.”

“Simply breathe in the light and say goodbye.”

I hit the switch, and he was gone.

I just stood there.

It all seemed like a bit of an anti-climax.

My dog looked at me, and I was glad I had not sent him.

I hoped Frankie was safe, and with a bit of luck I would find out soon enough.

If my calculations were correct, I only had a few weeks to wait, and a lot of my questions would be answered.

What does one do while waiting for time to pass?

One waits.

I made myself a cup of strong Earl Grey and stared out of the window.

The sun was filtering through the trees the way that it does at this time of year.

I resolved to be at home every day at exactly 2 pm just in case Frankie re-appeared earlier than expected.

Frankie’s parcel was still sitting on my kitchen table as I put my cup in the sink.

The parcel was wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string ——— do people still wrap things in brown paper and tie them with string?

Maybe I should have worked out a way of sending Frankie back to a time when people did such things?

I undid the string and unwrapped the parcel.

I had never seen that many 100 hundred dollar bills all in one place.

The note said that there were 100 thousand dollars in the parcel ———- I wasn’t about to stop and count it ————- the letter concluded by saying that his suitcases contained the better part of three million dollars.

Time stopped for just a moment, and it was then that I decided not to be home at 2 pm ever again.

I was a bit stunned, but the sound of my dog barking at whoever it was at my front door and the flashing blue light strobing through my front windows snapped me out of it.

I could hear someone shouting, but I did not need to know what they were saying.

I grabbed my faithful dog, stuffed the money under my arm, breathed in the light and said goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

The song that was the motivation for this story.

34 thoughts on “Breathe In The Light and Say Goodbye.

  1. Enjoyed the story immensely, was hoping for an interesting ending and got it. The thing I like about your writing is the relaxed pace you seem to get into your story. Shaun Tan wrote a story called ‘The Lost One’ I have the DVD where he tells it. The story has nothing to do with yours but it is the relaxed, slow easy way he comes across and you do the same. I relax, read slowly and thoroughly enjoy that deep visual idea that I am right there seeing it all. I love the way you (for the want of a better way of saying it) leave the story and describe the cafe and what you like and don’t like about it, the description of the suitcases, oh I could go on forever, sorry if I am rambling but I so enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that was amazing. I’m so pleased that you liked it that much.
      Usually a story comes out in one go, with a bit of tweaking etc, but this one kind of grew over three different sessions. The more it grew, the more I liked it. I rewrote a few bits and threw out a couple of sentences but none of that process was painfully, it just seemed to be revealing itself.
      The first time I checked the word count I was surprised. I also worried that it might be getting a bit too long, but then I’d read it through and it seemed about right.
      I do appreciate your detailed comments. The things that you liked were the things that I hoped would be enjoyed.
      Terry

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    • Interestingly [at least it is to me] the photo came after the story. Normally, for me, the image comes first and the story flows from it. In this case I ‘collected’ the image and put it aside, knowing that a story would come some day.
      This story came from the title. I heard/saw it somewhere and wrote it down……. it seemed to me that it would make an excellent story title…….. it did.
      Then I needed an image to go with it but I just could not come up with something that got me excited.
      I sat on the story for several days because I did not have the right image, but eventually I remembered this one.
      I agree that there are many possible stories that could come from this excellent image……….

      Thanks for the comment.
      Terry

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  2. NInja’d! Such a good rhythm to this. I’m an avid sci fi reader, but my favourite parts here were the cafe scenes. So much feeling in so few words. Impressed and envious in equal measures 🙂

    That photo is a cracker too. One of my favourites you’ve posted.

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    • Thank you for the Ninja reference,I appreciate your support. I’m very glad that you liked the cafe bit. I was lucky with that photo…… conclusion —- always keep everything because it will come in handy one day.

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  3. Well done! Great story. I was hoping for a reappearance, and then my thought said, it was instant death. An interesting twist to the story though!

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  4. Thank you for those very kind comments………….. rare company indeed.
    There seems to be a LOT of sci-fi magazines out there that accept submissions, and I’m keen to be published as often as possible but up until that story, and maybe ‘Turn Left’, I have not felt the urge [or had the ability] to write in that genre.
    I love good sci-fi……… I was, and still am, a big fan of The Twilight Zone, but for me those are simply good stories using sci-fi as a shell.
    Stephen King is a fascinating bloke and I do like some of his stuff. I like his no nonsense approach to writing and his obvious skill.
    This is the first time I have written a story from a title. Usually it’s an idea but more often it is an image that suggests a story. But this time it was the title, that I wrote down a while ago and that I don’t remember where it came from. To me it screamed ‘time travel’. I love the idea of time travel and having recently seen ‘About Time’ I guess it was fresh in my mind.
    I must say that I’m very pleased with the way it came out………… is it OK to say that? Are we allowed to be pleased with something we wrote? I never know where the line is with that, and I’m always frightened that I will look at a story that I wrote a year ago and wonder why I was so pleased with it……… which would not be all bad, because it would mean that I had improved, but I would be embarrassed for my past self having been so proud of it….. this conversation is getting to be as complicated as time travel so I’m going to stop writing now and say thank you again for taking the time to comment.
    Terry

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    • First things first–yes, it’s perfectly OK to be pleased when something comes out well because we all know how tricky it can be getting to “right”. Sometimes a story is fully there in your mind before you even start typing, sometimes it’s just the title or the last sentence (very important, those first and last sentences as I know you know), sometimes it’s a total muddle that somehow, through resilience & garden-variety stubbornness, transforms from a chaos of sentences into a dewy-faced series of paragraphs– despite all the editorial surgery. And certainly, whatever your path to completion, it’s always a relief to arrive. So more than okay to say you are happy! Now when do you start the next one? 😉

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