Time Corrupted Co.
By Kenny Moore
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Time doesn’t exist.
These two words and one contraction were printed on the top of a letter, addressed to Mr. L.E. Hughes. The letter was read over and over by the middle-aged man who sat at a dimly lit desk, in a dimly lit room, in a dimly lit house. One tiny candle flickered bravely on the top right hand corner of the desk, lighting as much of the room as it could. It strained so hard, tiny drops of sweat trickled down its long slender body, collecting in a tiny puddle at the base.
"Time doesn’t exist…"L.E. Hughes whispered to the candle. It was an incredible concept. He wasn’t sure if he wanted time to not exist. He rather liked being in the present. The "here and now" seemed to be a bit more real than the thought of the present and perhaps the future actually existing. To L.E. Hughes, the present was a dream that may have never happened, and the future was an idea that could someday exist. The present was the only reality. Yet the Time Corrupted Company had different thoughts. They believed they could merge the present with the
past- and the future for a more exorbitant amount of money. Hughes was a bit interested in the idea of going back to the present.
He read the letter once more. It was more of an advertisement, almost "junk mail". He was very glad he received it.
L.E. Hughes placed the letter back on the table, made a phone call, and before he knew it, an appointment was made for the following day.
"Where would you like to go?" The operator had asked. Hughes didn’t know. He was told to think on it, no one needed an exact time until the actual process of time-travel.
So, Hughes sat on his dark tan leather sofa, and thought on it. The solitary candle still flickered on his desk, casting eerie shadows on the wall. He laughed at them. The room was cold, Hughes shivered as he continued to watch the shadows. He thought lazily about the different memories he could return to. Maybe something he didn’t understand in life, and living it again would make him…get a better grasp on the past.
Hughes sat and thought in the dark until the sun rose. The eight rooms in Hughes’ house slowly lit to reveal emptiness. The living room contained only Hughes. He was alone.
Hunger awoke him from the deep trance his memories had put him in. He moved like a sloth to the refrigerator. The light revealed only a bottle of beer, and an apple. Hughes took the apple in his right hand, and the beer in his left. Sitting back down, trying to resink himself into memories, he took a bite of the apple. From the outside it looked bright red and shiney…yet when he took a bite, it was a bit yellowed and tart. He spit it out, and laughed.
"Damned appearances." He whispered back to his candle, who was competing against the sun for illumination. Throwing the apple into a corner of the room, Hughes took a sip of beer. "Ahhh" he sighed. The beer was as it appeared. No matter what happened in life, you could always trust beer.
Hughes thought through the daybreak, reliving memory upon memory. He thought back upon his youth…He thought of his mother, a raging alcoholic who care little about anything unless it oozed foam when shaken. His father was a workaholic, who worked late hours and long shifts, working on a woman on the side. His only brother…no, he wouldn’t think on his brothe.r That bastard… And that was his family. He thought of the girls throughout his life. Haha, happy memories, he thought sarcastically.
There’d been Gabby who had slept with him, then left him.
There’d been Rosie who had befriended him, loved him, then left him for…his brother-bastard.
There’d been Crystal who had been one of the best friends he’d ever had…and left him high and dry at one of the worst points in his life.
He thought a minute. Were these memories worth living again?
He thought back to those girls he’d loved. He could see their faces so clearly. Happy times and smiles flooded his memory and he wondered idly; why was he still alone? He was a middle-aged man who’s only companion was a cat named Whiskers and a candle which was trying to fight the sun for supremacy.
Then he laughed. He realized in the beginning he didn’t truly think the past could be brought to the present, or vice versa. Then he realized; he’d been doing it all night.
The man wasn’t too tall, rather medium sized, with nothing on his person to make him stand out in anyone’s mind. His brown hair was cut in a rather average way. His shoes were those normal black shoes businessmen wear. His suit was that rather median blue-striped suit with white shirt and black tie.
"Mr. L.E. Hughes?" The man said in a voice that Hughes knew he wouldn’t be able to remember later.
Hughes nodded. The average man led Hughes through a doorway from the waiting room, to a room that looked rather like a modern-mad scientist’s laboratory. There was a table to the right side filled to the brim with papers and calendars. A round pad-like circle on the floor in front of him which looked like something out of Star Trek, and A console that took up most of the wall to the left. The average man ("Mr. Smith, how do you
do?") looked somewhat out of place in the swarm of lab coated men who erupted into the room. They all bustled around, turning this, poking that.
"So, have you thought of where you’d like to go?" Mr. Smith said. "Oh, I’m sorry. I always do that. I meant when." Smith smiled. He looked like a used-car salesman.
Hughes grimaced. He had had trouble with that question. He didn’t know when to go. He told Smith as much.
"Well, I can see where it may be a problem. So- as a first-time customer, we offer a special. You can go a few minutes here and there. Spend a couple smaller whens instead of just one big when. How ‘bout it? Got some ideas now?" He asked.
Hughes nodded. He had a question in his life. This question needed to get answered. Why was he alone? He couldn’t remember the reason. He knew Fate had continually slapped him silly-but it seemed like such a little thing to get over, when faced with living life alone with a cat named Whiskers, and a tiny candle fighting with the sun for supremacy.
Smith smiled an average smile and led Hughes by the hand to the pad-like circle on the floor. Hughes laughed softly, expecting Smith to emit a booming, "Beam me up Scotty".
"Now, don’t be scared. We’re about to visit Limbo. I’ll explain what will happen and what you need to do once we’re successfully there." Smith said with that smile.
Hughes nodded. A man in a white lab coat pressed a few buttons on the console, then turned to the two on the circle-pad. A man in a white lab coat looked up from some paperwork, while a man in a white lab coat wrote something down, then stopped to watch the two. A man in a white lab coat sipped a cola, and winked at a woman in a white lab coat, who watched as Hughes and Smith slowly disappeared into Limbo.
Hughes felt as if we was going to pass out. His eyes got foggy and his body felt light. "It’s normal, it will pass in a second." He heard Smith’s voice say. His vision de-blurred to reveal purple and yellow waves and circle-like patterns cluttering his vision. Somehow he was standing on solid purple-yellow wavey ground, standing in front of Smith who was standing on solid purple-yellow wavey ground.
"Ok. This is Limbo. From here, we can go to anytime in your past- future costs extra. Now, how time travel works is; The world is like a movie. Each piece has happened already. We are merely visiting that cell. You won’t be able to touch or affect anything because it has already happened and is stored. So, try and think of it as a 3-D movie, but get this; you’re the star." Smith laughed. "If it’s all hard to understand, don’t worry, once you’re there, you’ll get it.
Hughes thought he nodded to that, ready to visit his past. "So…what do I do now?" He asked.
"Simply think of the first time you want to visit- and we’ll be there." Smith said dramatically. Hughes thought he shrugged.
All right, here I go.
He thought first of Gabby, and the last moment he’d seen her, that one last fight.
Suddenly he was thrust into a space in time. In front of him was Gabby, in her kitchen with her ex boyfriend.
The old Hughes stopped. He had had a picnic basket with chicken soup. In that time, he had just called her, and asked her to go on a picnic with him. She’d declined, saying she was sick. And so, feeling a bit romantic, decided to bring the picnic to her, only with chicken soup instead of sandwiches.
He had wanted very badly to see her. See; the night before? They had consummated their relationship. They’d done the dirty deed.
The present Hughes was one day after sex, and four months after their first meeting. "Gabby…I…I thought you were sick." Hughes had whispered incredulously.
"I…Oh, Leonard…I’m so sorry." Gabby whined. Tears swam down her cheek. He knew it was all fake- both his old and present self. Such a bitch.
Leonard dropped the basket and walked out of Gabby’s house. Once out the door she stopped him, grabbed his arm, and spun him around.
"Look- I really did feel sick, and then he came over," She said, tilting her head toward her ex, "I never meant for anything…"She stopped. She had always been a terrible liar. "Ok. I was with him for two years. That’s a lot of my life, Leonard. You can’t blame me for going back to him." She protested. But Leonard could. "No, I guess you’re right. I can’t blame you for going back to the man who beat you, the man who treated you like shit, and ruined two years of your life. No. How could I? How selfish of me. Me, who wanted nothing more than to make your life great after what he’s done to you." Leonard stopped, his eyes growing angry. "You were my first, Gabby. And you leave me the day after…"He stopped. With that, he walked to his car, never turning back to face her tear-stained face.
"I-I’m so sorry." She called to the back of his head.
"Wow," said Smith. "I can’t imagine why you would want to relive that!" He said, shocked.
"I need to remember why I am alone. It’s so lonely sometimes, living only with a cat and a candle. I just need to refresh my memory." He said, with a lopsided smile.
"Ok…"Smith said. "Well, whereto next?"
With another violent jerk they were back in the past. The old Hughes, a few years older than the one before, was sitting on a bench in a park. A water fountain in the background spat water into the air. A girl behind Hughes spat water from her eyes in the opposite direction. The old Hughes wouldn’t look at her.
"I can’t believe you two did this to me…"He whispered.
Rosie, the girl behind him, continued crying. "I love you, Lenny…but I love him more."
"He’s my brother…I never thought you’d leave me for my own brother…"Lenny whispered again, his face placid. "My own brother…" "I never meant for it to happen. I called you- and you weren’t home, and he picked up…we started talking, and then after a while we became friends…Lenny, I am so incredibly sorry." She cried. Then she mumbled something under her breath.
"What?" He said, his tone as neutral as his face.
"I…we are getting married." She whispered, only a bit louder.
"Oh." Lenny said. "Good luck."
"I-I’m so sorry." Was the last thing he heard her say.
Smith stared wide-eyed again. "Why in the hell would you want to see these things? You’re one sick bastard." Smith said, eyeing the man next to him. Hughes shrugged.
"To each his own." Hughes whispered.
With a violent push they were back into another memory. Hughes made himself comfortable by leaning against a very frail potted plant. The leaves should have given way underneath him, but they didn’t. They were but a memory of the past, and could not be swayed.
Neither could she. Crystal was at the top of her stairs. They had fought only hours before, words were said, thoughts spoken. Some thoughts are only meant to be said in one’s head, never meant to escape- the thinker, in some cases, may not truly believe these rebel thoughts. The mind likes to entertain morbid thoughts the thinker never truly wants to think.
He had some out loud; in turn, so did she.
"Please, I am sorry! I didn’t mean any of it." He pleaded with her. She wouldn’t budge.
"I don’t know if I can forgive you, Leo. Things won’t ever be the same." She screamed angrily.
In fact, it wasn’t totally his fault. Yes, no one thought the thoughts for Leo, but certain circumstances came into play.
See; Leo just found out his mother had been driving drunk, and ran her car into-ironically enough- the window of a liquor store. She was found dead a half an hour later.
Leo stood at the bottom of the stairs, tears finally streaking his eyes. He was at the lowest point of his life; Rosie and his brother had been married for two days, his mother dies, and he is alone- fighting with the last person that meant anything to him. He pleaded with her. "Please, you have to forgive me!" he begged. He didn’t know what to say, words betrayed him, as did his mind and thoughts. He couldn’t think of anything to say to make things better. Couldn’t think of anything to do.
And so, "I think you should leave." Crystal said.
"I-I’m so sorry." He whispered.
"Wow…"Smith said. "Tell me the truth- why did you come here?" Smith asked, as the memory land around them evaporated back into purple-yellow limbo.
"I just needed to remember why I was alone. I remember now." Smith said, and strangely enough-he smiled.
August 5, 2001