Elliot MarieSeptember 11, 2023Now and ThenFiction

Artwork by Anna Chasnyk, Age 14, Ukraine

A glinting light entered the room as gears began to twist and turn, the power of the sun’s beams causing the rusted iron machine to move and function.

The bronze pieces screeched, clearly not having been used for the past decades. What was I doing here? Dressed like covidians before me, who had existed in the 21st century through periods of great war and disease. Theirs had been an era of confusion that had caused the world to be the way it was today. The world was now full of slums, with old clothes and electronics littered all over; of craters from nuclear explosions or bombs and far, far worse; of the crookedness of humans who could barely be called Homo sapiens anymore. It comforted me as I twirled a strand of my dark hazel hair and tightened the peculiar jacket I wore as I prepared to enter their world, the world of my ancestors, to turn theirs wrongs to right.

A portal opened, one I had been waiting so long for. My mission was simple. To go back a couple of hundred years and stop the mistakes the covidians had made. It sounded almost crazy, thinking it over. Go back a couple of centuries and just stroll in and divert the mistakes made. Was I going insane? I had always wished to see the world as it was before, but now that I was a few seconds away from my lifelong dream, I was doubting myself and thinking of turning back. My sapphire eyes took in all that was inside the temporal whirlpool before me, the dazzling green trees, and even the peculiar grey birds that flew across the ancient covidian city. Now I understood the meaning of the name my parents had given me. Kronos. I stretched out my arm and the temptation to touch the portal was almost irresistible. As I touched it, a ripple effect, like touching water, began. I gasped, shocked; my whole body was being sucked into it. An ear-piercing scream emerged from my mouth. Hyperventilating, I struggled to stay conscious. Now half of my body had been sucked into the ancient covidian world. I watched as my fingers transformed into a weird black liquid substance that was engulfed into the whirlpool. After a few minutes, the other half of my body had been sucked in and I was in the old world.

I watched in dazzling surprise as the portal camouflaged itself into the atmosphere, becoming nearly invisible on the greatest and grandest oak tree I had ever seen. In the future, wood was a commodity only the richest among us had. I felt it and gazed at the mixture of softness and roughness, having never felt anything like it before. Suddenly, I was snapped back to what I was supposed to be doing by a noise, a loud engine that ruined the tranquil air I had been in. It all came back to me then and there. My mission and the steps I needed to take. The first priority was to assassinate a world leader who had caused mass nuclear destruction and unbelievable amounts of death. He was the reason grand cities like London, New York, and Paris no longer stood in the future. The next step was to undo all the horrors of pollution that had been caused. And finally, by far the most complicated step, to make it all seem normal, as if I didn’t come from the future, as if all this was happening by miracle.

I tightened my bag and took out an orb that gleamed with blue lights and a neon flare. When I pressed the button in the center, a gun formed from thin air, a sniper rifle of the future, that had a surprising lightness for a deadly object. Verifying my surroundings, I made sure I was in the right place, where the leader in the past had pressed a big red button, setting off hundreds of dangerous missiles and bombs. As I surveyed, I realized he was a few feet away from me on a platform in the middle of this fantastical green park, about to descend his finger on the button. I readied the rifle, loading it with a bullet. I shot. BANG. Chaos emerged. People screamed, bodyguards shot bullets, tasers came out, and carnage broke loose. I scrambled over to the body I had shot and packed it into a large duffle bag I had prepared. He would be waking up soon, in about 20 minutes. I had only used a tranquilizer bullet. My aim was not to kill but rather to remove power and hide him away. I walked back through the portal, having turned the rifle back into a sphere, the duffle bag in hand. I dropped the duffle bag and took out a pen.

The pen was white and had a golden point to it. I stabbed the man, directly in his vein, with the beautifully made pen and took it out. I added a bandage and went back through the portal, this time into an isolated mountain space, where I found a cozy cabin. Inside, I deposited the man on the bed and dropped a diary on the desk nearby. I had staged the diary to say that he had always lived alone and hated going out and meeting people. He would believe this, as the pen’s ink was filled with memory-draining substances. I had successfully reverted the worst bit of the past back to a suitable peaceful pathway. No more nuclear shenanigans. Then I realized it. Something I had been doubting since the beginning of all of this began. Something I had hoped for my entire life. These choices made in the past that affected the future and made it the miserable place it was, they could be reversed. Kronos, I told myself, you can actually do this. You can save the future and the past, save the lives lost to the dramatic mistakes made. It’s not too late to turn things around. A spark lit in me. One of hope and belief. I would continue my work and change the past.

And I set out to do just that, to write my own story, one of greatness and helpful deeds. If only I knew what I would become with all this newfound power . . .

Elliot Marie is 13 years old and lives in London, UK. Elliot is interested in judo, swimming, climbing, and nature.