01 Feb I just realized I’m not a time traveler
I just realized I’m not a time traveler.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know what I was doing, I swear. I’m still trying to comprehend the magnitude of the damage I’ve caused. The sheer amount of lives I’ve destroyed.
To anyone affected by a short, scruffy guy named Axel, I’m sorry.
I just hope that writing it all down can perhaps absolve me… even just a little. I’ll give anything for some forgiveness. I don’t think I deserve it, though. Not after what I’ve done.
I’ll start at the beginning.
I first realized – or rather, thought – I was a time traveler when I was about eleven. My mom had just fallen and broke her neck, and I remember everything coming to a stop. I remember her head twisted around, the sound of the snap echoing endlessly, a muffled “oh” underneath. My “oh”. The oh started to reverse, though. As if someone pressed the rewind button of a VHS tape. And, sure enough, the visual followed the sound. My mom’s tear rolled back up, her neck untangling, her body being pulled up like a marionette back into standing position, back in front of the spill.
“Mom! Stop!” The words erupted from my mouth before I had any time to lasso them back. My mom jumped, stumbling forwards, landing with her temple on stone. The moment paused again, Mom’s mouth agape in a startled “oh”, the counter corner embedded in her skull.
This time, I dove forward and pulled her into a hug. The roast she was holding fell to the floor, joining the grease stain she hadn’t noticed.
“Hon? What’s wrong?”
I guess the fact that her ambivalent and withdrawn preteen son hugging her for the first time in years overrode the shock of a spilled dinner. I started to cry, I probably wept, and the next few weeks all blurred into one continuous smear.
My mom didn’t believe me when I told her about seeing her die right in front of me. She took me to the pediatrician first, who then referred us to a psychologist, who pointed the way to a psychiatrist. I was medicated, thought to have early onset bipolar, in the middle of a mixed episode. I heard words like “manic” and “delusions of grandeur”, but I didn’t care. I was having the time of my life. Sure, the sedatives made me feel fuzzy, and I was still too young to really object to the medications, but it couldn’t get in the way of using my new found super power.
I could rewind time.
Anytime my mom said something condescending, or when my little sister refused to let me have my turn on the game, or even just because I’m bored – I’ll go wild. It felt so good to be able to just slap Eva when she bugged me, or knock the meds out of my mom’s hands. Sometimes, I’d even throw everything not bolted down outside my window. I could always rewind, and just not be a little shit. Everything was fine. I never dealt with consequences.
I was an angelic teen. The perfectly behaved straight-A student, dating the most popular girl in school, in line to be student body president. I knew every word to say, every test answer, everything I needed to coast through life.
I found out I could travel forward in time when I lost my virginity.
I’m not going to bore you with the many failed attempts I made at a fumbling first time, but let’s just say that on about the fourth take, I was euphoric. I closed my eyes from the sight of Lily under me and opened them to the same thing, only she was older. Her eyes had crow’s feet, and I could see gray hair snaking across our pillows.
Where before she was screaming in ecstasy, this Lily was in agony.
“Stop! Baby stop, please!”
Before I could stop the words, my mouth spoke: “You cheating cunt! I’ll fucking kill you!”
Before I could stop the movement, my hands wrapped around her throat. My grip tightened. Her thrashing slowed. I closed my eyes in relief
and opened them in tears, still over Lily, still in the back of the car. “Aw baby, was I that good?” She said, chuckling, wiping at my tears. I broke up with her that night.
I didn’t know if I needed to have sex again, or just reach the same state of pleasure, so I put on some porn and went at it. Nothing, just a mess.
So I asked a friend for something to feel good.
I heated a spoon, lay in bed, and tried to let go. I thought of graduating high school, college, getting my first house. I thought of my future partner, maybe some children, definitely a cat. I was transfixed on the imagery of my eyes aging.
“Baby wake up, you’re lying on my shit.” The voice was scratchy, like they were fighting a head cold. When I opened my eyes, the person looked just as wretched. I almost gagged at her breath. Looking down, we were both naked, track marks as common as stretch. I felt bile rising, and flipped over on the bed to vomit three bean soup back onto the three bean colored carpet.
“Fucking finally.” That voice, Celia, my first college girlfriend. I fucking hate her. “Well?” She said. “Do you want any or not?”
I never went to that party, I never let myself meet Celia. I didn’t even let myself have pain killers. Not after that path I saw.
So maybe you’re getting a bit of a picture of what I’m capable of. I can’t travel forward at will, and however long I travel backwards I must relive everything after the point I stop at. It’s not perfect, but it made for a hell of a good life. I wasn’t always a good person, though. I swear, I didn’t think it would have repercussions, not like this.
There was this one girl, Juno, who denied me at every turn. I tried time and time again to win her over, but she was adamant that she didn’t want to be around me, let alone date me. I wasn’t used to this kind of rebuttal. I was used to getting what I want, after a few tries.
So when she didn’t give me what I wanted, I took it.
I felt so guilty that I couldn’t even finish before rewinding and scuttling off, but I kept dreaming about it. I couldn’t help but think I could have anything, anyone that I wanted.
So I did it again.
So, yeah. I was the time traveling rapist. But it gets worse.
There was a kid in my grade, Paul, who bugged the hell out of me. Something never seemed right with him, and he could make my hair stand on end just by looking at me. I grew to hate that weaselly little creep over the years. That was my state of mind, when I heard that he had eyes on my sister, Eva. And not just his own eyes, but others’ too. He apparently found a tree outside our house that his bony ass could comfortably sit on while he jerked off to my preteen sister changing. He sold the images online. I may be a rapist, but at least I can undo my actions. At least I’m not a fucking pedophile.
I beat him to a pulp. I threw him out windows. I slaughtered him and his entire family. I was furious, and no amount of murder satisfied me. Eventually, I settled on dumping him in the ocean, still writhing under the cement blocks. I covered my tracks.
It wasn’t enough, though.
Suppose the entire world froze, except for you. Every person, every bird, every tree; completely still, still alive. What would you do? Don’t toss any bullshit like “eat all the ice cream” or “steal all the money”, you’d fuck everyone you’ve ever wanted to fuck. You’d kill anyone who ever pissed you off. You’d wreak havoc. You’d be absolutely and utterly free to do what you pleased.
And so I did. My entire adulthood was riddled with mass murder, destruction, making art out of agony. I loved going just long enough to let the newspapers come up with a nickname for my alter-ego, then rewinding to switch up my methods. I was particularly fond of “Mr. Splice”, but “Zodiac Killer” had a nice ring.
But I digress.
You see, I swear I thought I was doing no harm. These people, this timeline, it would all be erased. They would never know the pain I caused, the deaths my hands. They’d just see Axel, just a humble mechanic, taking care of his sick mom.
I thought every time I rewound, so did time. But I’m older now, too weary to go back to my youth and try again. I’m pretty damn tired. And after my heart attack, I saw something I can never forget.
I saw everything. Every thread, every line, every divulging path that I thought was demolished was firm. Real. Devastatingly real.
The aftermath to my musings were tangible, and every time I rewound, the scenes continued. I looked confused, as if I knew I was meant to be somewhere else. I understood. Every single time I reversed my actions, I made a duplicate. My consciousness must have copied. Transferred. Not even aware that it was a clone, carrying the power with it.
So I saw every single one of myself being ravaged by police, avenging parents, fires I started. I saw the funerals of the inhabitants of homes I burned down, ignorant of whoever was in there. I saw myself the father of countless children, with countless battered wives, with countless beatings by fathers. I saw myself covered in the blood of my little sister, her guts ripped open when I tried to play zombie that one time. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face when she entered the room to see me, confused, Eva’s liver still in my mouth. Or the feeling of her beating my face in with her bare hands.
So, I sit here now, old enough to realize that even the slightest change could cause damage not even I can predict. I’ve stopped rewinding. I’ve stopped trying to prevent disasters. I’m just trying to atone. Trying to make up for the wrongs I’ve done. Maybe, somehow, by some great chance of fate, some timelines may converge, and the people I’ve hurt can all read this.
So, to you. If you were ever hurt by a short, scruffy guy named Axel Ponderosa, I’m sorry.
I’m so, so sorry.
I’m not a time traveler. I’m a multidimensional piece of shit. And I’m making sure I never hurt anyone ever again.
Maybe the bullet won’t be fast enough before the rewind kicks in, but maybe it will. I guess we’ll see.