If Only

By Max G. Bernard

Smashwords Edition


Copyright 2010 Max G. Bernard, all rights reserved

There never seems to be enough time, I sighed to myself. Another week gone by and there's only an hour or so left before the Thursday night science fiction writer's workshop I signed up for--and I simply haven't had the time to do a story. Never enough time, every day something else that's an "emergency," that just has to be done right now. If only there were time travel...

Suddenly there was a loud pop and there was someone else in the room. And the someone else was me.

Admittedly an older me, but still discernibly me. All the nonsense in the time travel stories I had read about encountering your older self and failing to recognize him was simply not true. I knew me at a glance. He smiled and handed me an envelope. "Special special delivery!" he chortled. "You've been working on this one for a long time. It's a story about a parallel universe in which time travel was never invented and people had to get through life without the guiding intervention of their older selves. Wild idea, isn't it? It wins the Hugo for best short story at the 2014 Worldcon science fiction convention in Chicago!"

I knew right away, almost instinctively, what had happened. This wasn't just my older self--it was an older self from a parallel universe where time travel had been invented. And somehow, someway, something had gone wrong with his time travel device--thrusting him not only back in time, as he planned, to come to the rescue of his younger self without time to develop a story, but also thrust him through probabilities in the continuum in which time travel had never--and would never--be invented, to the dull continuum in which I dwelled.

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