Ouroboros – Chapter 6: Amidst Forgotten Pleas

Of all the unusual dangers she had encountered as a time traveler, she could remember none more unusual, though plenty more dangerous, than the Anomalies: hostile doppelgängers of herself which always seemed to show up out of nowhere when she least expected it. Some looked older than her, or younger, or fatter, or thinner, or taller, or shorter, or different in any of a thousand ways, but they were all unmistakably her. She didn’t know what they were, but she knew that they weren’t clones; they were something far more sinister than that. Their movements created unusual ripples, like bubbles in spacetime; It was as if the universe itself was afraid to touch them. When they died, they would vanish just as suddenly and mysteriously as they appeared. Luckily, they died rather easily; whatever they were, they were just as susceptible to plasma blasts as most living things. She disliked the idea of gooifying someone who looked so similar to her, but she quickly learned that she very much disliked what happened if she hesitated. She’d considered consulting other Chrononauts to ask if they were familiar with these Anomalies, but decided against it. Whatever this was, she made up her mind that this was her battle to fight. Or surrender, if it came to that. But even she had to admit that it was difficult to fight an unknown enemy with unknown motives.

After pondering the matter for what seemed like a few days, (though her guess is really as good as anyone’s) she remembered the day that she turned her Oblivion Ray on herself. Though she had no idea what events led up to her losing her memory, she was certain that they had something to do with these Anomalies. She could remember none of her time travel escapades that could have caused something like this, and that was the only one that she couldn’t remember. Well, that and that one time that she underestimated the strength of the liquors at The Carnival. But it’s impossible to party so hard that the universe itself is out to get you. At least, that’s what she hoped. And once the impossible is eliminated, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. She really hoped that she had quoted that to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after he’d come up with it himself.

The Anomalies themselves were honestly more of an annoyance than a proper threat to her. She had become a rather skilled warrior throughout her adventures, and knew how to keep herself safe, while keeping her enemies very much the opposite. Furthermore, they were completely unarmed, and it goes without saying that it isn’t a good idea to bring fists to a plasma cannon fight. But they were a major annoyance, nonetheless. Seeing a woman melt someone who appears to be her twin sister looks a bit out of place in any time period, especially ones where even a flashlight is enough to provoke accusations of witchcraft. Making sure no one remembered what they saw could be quite a hassle. But they didn’t just attack while she was time traveling. Not even her own home was safe.

“What’s the matter, sugar?” her husband asked. He considered asking if she felt well, but he’d been a husband long enough to know that that was a rookie mistake. He would be implying that she didn’t look good, and you don’t say that about your wife. The thing he thought was his wife only stood there, eyes darting around, looking for the thing that was actually his wife. She called from downstairs. “Did you say something, sweetie?” The woman in front of him didn’t move her mouth. “I didn’t know you were a ventriloquist! Much less such a good one,” he said, uneasily. It was the only explanation he could think of for what he just saw. But he wasn’t quite convinced. Downstairs, she knew something was wrong. She burst through the door to find her worst fears confirmed. She didn’t know whether or not it was a danger to her husband, but she wasn’t about to wait to find out. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “I-I didn’t know you had a twin sister,” he said, quite certain that she didn’t. “Me neither,” she quipped. The Anomaly shrieked with an unearthly sound and lunged at her. She sidestepped, and kicked the Anomaly away to put some room between them. She pulled out her plasma cannon, which she had learned to always keep concealed on her person. She took aim and fired. One shot was all it took. The Anomaly began to singe, burn, and melt, right before her very eyes. But, more worryingly, right before the very eyes of her husband. Shortly after being shot, the Anomaly simply vanished, leaving nothing but a wooshing sound as air rushed to fill in the empty space left behind. Though the monster was gone, his terror remained. “W-What the Hell was that? Who the Hell are you!?” “Your wife,” she said. She knew she would have to erase his memory of this. “Your wife, the time traveler.”

“Why should I trust you? How do I know that my wife isn’t the one you just melted?” he asked. “Is that what you think I sound like?” she asked, gesturing towards the dresser where the Anomaly had disappeared. “I guess not,” he said, “But a time traveler? Are you crazy?” “Crazy in love,” she said. He couldn’t help but chuckle. That was something she’d say. “But also crazy good at time travel,” she added. That was definitely something she’d say. She never was one for modesty, saying it went against her policy of honesty. Then again, so did lying about being a time traveler. “Surely you must have some proof,” he said, “I trust you, honey, but not that much.” “Of course. Here.” She handed him a newspaper that she produced from her pocket. “Check the date.” The next word that came from his mouth confirmed what she already knew: that she had married the right man. “Nice,” he said chuckling softly, “So, why were you carrying around a newspaper printed on 4/20, 2069? You didn’t plan this all out, did you?” “Of course not,” she said, “I got it just now. Popped into the future right after you asked for it. Finding it was something of a chore. As you might imagine, newspapers aren’t super popular in 2069.” “What are you talking about? You haven’t moved an inch,” he said. “Not an inch, but many years. It’s time travel, not space travel, remember?” she said. “Wait, so you’re telling me that you don’t have a time machine? That you can just move through time at will? That’s incredible!” he said. “Well, Man is one of the most incredible machines of all. And, as you well know, Woman is considerably more incredible than that, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise,” she said. But something was still bugging him. Before he could speak up, she answered his question. “You didn’t see me disappear because the eye is like a video camera. It has a frame rate of about 60 frames per second. When I came back, I landed about 1/200th of a second after I left, so I left and came back too quickly for you to perceive.” “Your time travel is that precise? Damn…” he said. “Well, I wasn’t lying when I said that I was crazy good. Not many are that skilled,” she said. “Not many?” he said, “You mean there are other time travelers? Would they know anything about that… thing?” “Huh?” “What do you mean, ‘huh’?” he shouted, “The ‘you’ that you just killed! Whatever the Hell that was!” Oh yeah. She had gotten so caught up in her opportunity to finally confess the secrets she’d been keeping for so long that she’d forgotten what had been, to her, a pretty routine event. “Oh, yeah, I guess. But the Chrononauts and I don’t really see eye-to-eye anymore. Even though that universe-shattering catastrophe I almost kicked off was totally averted,” she said. “I’m serious,” he said, “That thing looked dangerous. I know you’re strong, and you can do almost anything you set your mind too, but you can’t do everything. Not by yourself.” She sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess I should apologize.” A silence hung in the air. She reached into her pocket.

“Hey, I know that asking this question is a terrible idea, since you just made it pretty clear that you could easily murder me and not get caught, but… how old are you?” “Well, that’s a tricky question for a time traveler to answer. I don’t really know,” she lied. “Older than you, though.” He couldn’t help but be weirded out. “Old enough that this relationship is weird?” he asked. “I like to think our age difference is the least weird thing about our relationship,” she teased. He smiled weakly. “So, have you always been a time traveler? Are you actually from the future? The past? Am I just another one of your time traveling escapades?” “No. No, not at all,” she said, hugging him tightly. He was too distraught to notice what she held in her hand. “I became a time traveler before marrying you, but after meeting you. I love you. I promise.” “If you had to choose between me and time travel, which would-” She pulled the trigger. A flash of white light. The sound of breaking, fracturing, shattering. An empty look in his eyes. “I don’t,” she whispered.

For the next chapter in the recommended order, click here

For the next chapter in “chronological” order, click here


Author: havocmantis

I am Havoc Mantis, Skullmaster (like a headmaster but spookier) of The School of Havoc. I am a scholar of mathematics, mysticism, and memes, as well as the intersection of all three.

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