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Mark Mospanyuk Patrick Wolff Dereliction It was pitch dark.

The kind of darkness where you cant see your own hand in front of your face. There was nothing to occupy this void in time and space. No people, no light, no air, no need to breathe. It didnt make much sense to John but then again, none of this really did. He couldn't even remember how long it had been since it all started. Was it a week? A month? It could have been yesterday for all he knew. He had lost all concept of time since the first trip. Since then his awareness of time and space had been contorted and blurred. Nothing seemed real anymore. He remembered it was a Friday in the spring that after years of studying Kip Thornes Wormhole Theories, John had finished constructing a stationary device that was capable of opening a compressed wormhole operating as a window between time periods: the Chronos device. It was a tall machine with similar traits of a tall door. No controls; just an on-and-off switch. John predicted that Chronos worked as a reflex once an individual would step inside. The subject would just think of a time and Chronos would send him there; but there was no assurance of that claim. John activated the machine many times but was too anxious to step in. The activated Chronos sat in his apartment floor as John wondered the possibilities. It was soon after when he received a call from his ex-wife, Pam, reminding him that he had the kids for the weekend. But how could he? He just finished creating a revolutionary device that could change the world. He was far too invested to turn back now. He loved his son and daughter more than anything. His pride for his 10 year old son was unparalleled, and he would do anything for his daddys little girl. But he knew if he continued with the work, it wouldnt matter if he had his kids this weekend; in the end he could have them every weekend: every day. He could fix it. John stood in front of the device with every intention to change his life. He took one step into Chronos and his body shut down: blackness. It felt as if he was moving in supersonic speed but he felt no wind, he had no vision to depict his movement. After a brief moment of extremity, John felt a sudden halt. He opened his eyes, shocked, and noticed he was standing in his apartment. It was empty; his apartment was cleared out of his belongings. The one article that remained in the room was Chronos. It seemed as if John had not yet lived in this voided apartment room in this mysterious time zone; he had traveled back in time. It appeared to be a short shift in time; maybe just a couple of years. John stepped out of the apartment building and knew where he had to go: home. He boarded the subway tracking the 20 mile route to his hometown. As he walked up to the front door, he raised his arm to knock, though casually realized that he lived there; he could just walk in. As he swung the door open, he was stunned to see his two kids run up to hug him. Daddy are you ready?! His son asked excitedly. At first, John wondered what his little boy was talking about; but he remembered that this was the weekend they planned the fishing trip. The trip that never happened. John remembered how

he was caught up in his work and broke his promise to the two people he cherished most. Chronos sent him to a time where he had the chance to redeem himself. The question is are you ready? John answered. Pam stood in the kitchen watching a father loving his children. She donned a smile that John hadnt seen in a long time. John walked to the garage and loaded up the truck with his fishing poles, tackle, and a skiff attached to the back. He walked back into the house and saw his wife standing in the doorway. Are you going to be joining us? John asked his wife with a hearted glance. I would love to but they asked me to come in for a late shift tonight, She answered. Suit yourself. With that, he loaded his kids into the truck and they began their way to the lake. They arrived at the lake about 2 hours later, backed up the skiff into the water and set off to start fishing. John directed the skiff into the southern end of the lake where he knew the best fishing spot was. He pulled up to a small island and dropped the anchor. He told his kids to wait in the boat while he swam to shore to get a scope of the perimeter of the miniature island. Within minutes of searching the island, John heard a shriek coming from his daughter. He sprinted back to the direction of the boat to find her sitting in it alone. He quickly swam to the skiff to see what had happened. Where is Chase?! John asked breathlessly. His daughter pointed to a floating body on the surface of the water. He tried to follow you to the island but he fell in the water, and. She interrupted herself with uncontrollable weeping. John reached into water to grab his son. He threw the lifeless body back into the boat and laid him out on the floor. He extended two fingers to his sons neck and felt no pulse. Panic immediately began to set in as he mindlessly performed CPR. As he went through the motions thoughts flashed into his head: What had he done? How could he let this happen? All he wanted was to fix things with his family, but now he had made it all worse. After a few minutes of compressions John saw that there was no hope left. He knew he had to get back to Chronos. That was the only way to fix this; the only way to save his son. The next few hours were a blur: the ambulance, the tears, the panic. None of it had a phase on John. He only had one thing on his mind: get back to Chronos. He could fix it. He opened the door to what would one day become his apartment, and walked straight to where the Chronos device settled. He turned on the device and stepped inside without thinking twice. He blinked, and opened his eyes to find himself standing in a field of dirt. Chronos had sent him back before the apartment complex was built. John had figured that it would simply send him back to the fishing trip once more, but it seemed to send him to a moment where he could otherwise repair the future. But he didnt know when. John had to figure out what period Chronos had sent him back to, and what the significance of this time was. John looked down at his phone and saw the date: March 24, 2009, his daughters birth date. But it was only 1 oclock; he had about an hour to get to the hospital. He knew he could make it

this time. That is what Chronos had sent him back to fix. John ran down the street to the nearest bus stop. The bus was just pulling in and he rode the route all the way into the city to the general hospital. He knew she was on the third floor so he took the elevator up and asked a nurse where Pam Cooper would be staying. Shell be in room 304, she answered, but youd better hurry. She started having contractions about fifteen minutes ago. He bolted down the hall and burst through the door to find his wife laying on the hospital bed with the doctor at the end of it. He had made it! John was overjoyed that this time he would not miss the birth of his second child. This time he did it right. But then another thought crossed his mind. Honey, wheres Chase? John asked, scared to know the answer. Too tired to speak, Pam just lifted a finger and pointed to a chair in the corner of the room. In it sat his confused four year old son. John was so relieved to see that his little boy was sitting there unharmed and perfectly alive and well. His thought was interrupted, though, by his his wife's screams and the doctors sudden panic. As she delivered the baby girl, Pams monitors began to show drastic changes. Her respiratory rate had plummeted and her heart rate was almost nonexistent; the doctor didnt seem to know why. Before John knew it, there were several more doctors rushing into the room. John took one last glance at his plagued wife before one of the nurses escorted him and Chase out of the room. What had gone wrong? He knew that his wife had made it through the birth without complications the first time. What was so different that such a travesty could occur? But deep down John knew the answer. He knew it was him. Somehow his presence had caused some sort of rupture in time. He was supposed to miss that birth, and changing that now had altered the course of the future. John sat anxiously in the hall outside the room where his wife struggled to hold on to life. Ten minutes had passed before a doctor came out of the room to tell John the news. Your little girl is going to make it, but your wife has passed away due to her complications during labor, the doctor told John, Your daughters just down the hall in the infirmary if you want to see her. Im so sorry Mr. Cooper. But John didnt care. He knew he wasnt going to be staying there. He couldnt let things stay that way. He asked the doctor to watch his son while he took a moment to make a phone call. Instead he exited the building heading back to the bus that would take him to the construction site where Chronos was located. He could fix it. He didnt know where Chronos would send him this time, but he knew that he couldnt stay there. He had to try and make things right again. He powered on the device and stepped inside once more. John felt the familiar rush once again and when he opened his eyes he was in the middle of a grassy field. The apartment complex wasnt even under construction yet. John estimated he had been sent at least 5 years prior to where he had just come from. He looked at his phone and saw that he wasnt far off. It was November 13, 2002, which he immediately recognized as the day of

his first date with his wife. It was 11 o'clock in the morning. The date would be sometime that evening. That meant he had the entire day to find his way back to town and prepare himself for the date. Maybe this was it. Maybe John just needed to restart from the beginning. His future, as well as the future of his wife and children, depended on it. He could still fix it. He was a few miles outside of town, and with nothing built this far out, there would be no bus route in this area. He was going to have to go by foot. After hours of walking, John found a tailor shop only a few blocks away from the diner where the date would be held. He went straight for the bathroom first to clean off his sweat covered face. John enjoyed the cool splash of water on his face for a brief second. A short moment of pleasure, something John felt like he hadnt had for a long time. He looked at himself in the mirror and noticed that he was younger. It was the first time John had a chance to realize that he was actually replacing his former state; but he was wearing his future clothes and his cellphone was still receiving reception in different time periods. John didnt have much time to comprehend the details; he had to get ready for the date. He walked out of the bathroom and began looking for a suit to wear. He found the perfect one: nothing too formal, but impressive enough to catch her eye. He carried the suit with him into the dressing room and it fit perfectly. John released a smile which immediately turned around when he realized he had no money. He hated the idea, but the situation left him with no choice but to steal. John scampered outside of the dressing room then shoved his way outside of the store ignoring the yells of the store owner. John ran down the street, rushed into the diner, and grabbed the nearest open booth. John began to maintain his breath as he ordered a drink while he waited for his future wife to show. John began to flood his mind with questions and predictions. What is he supposed to say? What happens now? Does he have to restart his life all over again? But John knew if he could get this right, he could fix it. It would be worth every second from now on to relive and redirect his entire life. Johns thoughts shut down when the most beautiful woman stepped inside the diner. She wore a red dress and light makeup that caught every mans eye in the diner: but she was only there for one. She glanced around to find the man she was supposed to meet with, then her eyes locked with Johns; she began to walk towards his direction. Hi Pam. Hello John. The two just stared at each other as Pam took a seat. John began to calm down as he remembered what it felt like to be with the one woman he loved. All the memories of the complications and corruption he caused were faded away in her company. They sat there for a moment before engaging in conversation. Everything seemed to be flowing just how John remembered. Only it was even better. This time everything it was going perfectly. The waitress came over to their table and the couple ordered their dinners. As their waitress collected their menus, John glanced towards the door and watched as two police officers were stepping into the diner. John began to think back to what had happened back at the tailor shop. Could they have traced him all the way to the diner that quickly? The answer became apparent as

the two officers began walking over to their table. John began to panic. Sir, youre going to have to come with us. John looked up at the officer who spoke to him. His mind was racing. Whats this all about, John? Pam asked. This man was caught stealing at a tai- The officer was cut short by the blow of Johns shoulder pushing both him and his partner to the ground. Before the two officers could regain their footing, John was already out the door, sprinting down the road. How could this happen again?! John yelled at himself, How could I have possibly screwed this up again?! John made his way towards the Chronos device. He was only about a hundred yards away from the device when heard the and dogs barking and police sirens behind him. When he finally made it to the device, he powered it on but he then stopped. He thought to himself; he didnt know where he would end up once he went back into Chronos. How many times would he have to do this? As the police began to close in on his location, John realized he had to make a decision. He turned back to see one of the canine units only feet away from where he was standing and as he turned back around he had already started stepping back into Chronos. John opened his eyes. He couldnt see anything. It was pitch dark. The kind of darkness where you cant see your own hand in front of your face. There was nothing to occupy this void in time and space. No people, no light, no air, no need to breathe. It didnt make much sense to John. He blinked. That was all it took. When he opened his eyes, there in front of him appeared four windows exposing four worlds. He sees a world he knows very well: alone, divorced, miserable. His loneliness: only filled by the obsession of his work. The world where it all began. He sees a world where he is comforted by the embrace of his family, but only at the hand of tragedy. Here his son was only present in the photos on the wall. He sees a world where his children grow up without a mother. Happiness with the essence of pain and emptiness. He sees a world where he spends his days on the run. Not able to settle down or find happiness with anyone. He sees a woman that moves on; children that were never born. He never changed his fate, he simply created new ones; parallel structures. He sees now that perfection has become impervious. Each life consisted of imperfection and flaws caused by the dereliction of some overlooked detail. Each corrupted life having to exist because of his invention. Now as they all lay out before him, John sees that he has to make a choice. He could only exist in one world. He instinctively knows what has to be done. John closes his eyes and takes a step forward. I can fix it.

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