I know, I know what you’re thinking. A Freaking ‘nother one? Actually, this is a novel I’m in the process of writing. It is NOT a light novel-like story like my other ones… this is just pure science fiction; however, now that I think about it… it actually is kind of “another world” novel. It’s about a guy who wakes up 100,000 years in the future. I’ve already written 50-some chapters of this, so putting it up is no problem. I thought maybe getting a few supporters might motivate me to eventually finish it. I already have a book series worked out in my mind, but I haven’t produced a chapter in a year or so, so I’m willing to give anything a try.
The portal shimmered. The blue light from within grew and dimmed in a steady rhythm as if mimicking the old man’s heartbeat. He quickly wiped the sweat as it accumulated in droplets on his brow with a handkerchief. It was hot, much hotter than he had expected. The luminescent blues bouncing off the rocky white terrace gave the impression that it should have been a cool day.
As he pulled his handkerchief away, he noticed a smear of brown from the dirt on his face. He sighed. It was one of his favorites; it was all he had from his mother. Of course, that wasn’t entirely accurate. The original handkerchief had long been destroyed. This was only an approximation of what he remembered of his mother. Perhaps it was one of the only memories he had remaining of her.
As an infant, his mother had named him Nas’ Dera in the crib. He swore he could remember hearing her cry as he was taken away without a chance to glance upon his face. Of course, that was impossible. Even if Nas’ Dera could remember some repressed memory from infancy, it had long since between overwritten with the untold time that followed.
Nas’ Dera was a title more than a name, but it was the only name from which he had ever been known. The name had meant ‘last hope’ in the forgotten tongue of his people, but no one who lived remembered that name except for him. He looked up at the sky and grimaced. There was probably no one alive besides himself at this point.
His face was sunken and resigned, covered by the hood of his once clean robes. A red sash crossed over his chest but it had worn to a dull pinkish color, ripped and torn at various points, seeming to barely hang from his body. He pushed back his hood, taking a deep breath, his blue eyes seeming to absorb the light of the portal. He closed them, and in a flash, he felt a memory of green; of life. There was a time when he remembered life, when he remembered what it was like to be alive. So long, that seemed to be, since he had seen something so simple, so alive, as the color green.
He took another glance around. In front of him sat a small altar made from obsidian rock set within the white terrace. Small shapes and symbols seemed to be written all over the altar, seemingly random in placement. Large spiral columns stood on each of the four corners of the terrace, each one cracked, blistered, and damaged from the ravages of time. On the top of each pillar, a stream of white light shot into the sky, creating a small dome that surrounded the terrace he stood in. The invisible walls shimmered and flexed, giving a strangely drunken appearance to the world outside. The world beyond the dome was dark and indistinguishable. Shapes seemed to move and dance just out of sight within the shadows, but he ignored them. He could not think of what was beyond in that darkness, not now.
A sudden burst of light came from the sky and he instinctively looked up. He knew what he would see. The light was already gone by the time his eyes were able to focus. The dark sky above seemed strangely empty, devoid of the light one would expect during a clear night. Another star had vanished in the night sky. Some would call it the heat death of the universe. However, that wasn’t quite right. If the universe was truly dying from old age, then it would have gradually dimmed to nothingness once luminosity decreased to the point that it was no longer visible from Nas’ Dera’s point of view. This was more like the universe was being eaten.
“What star was that?” he wondered aloud.
It could have been any, really. It was a star that had been destroyed thousands of years ago, if not a million years gone. Why did it take them so long to realize they were disappearing, one at a time? It was too late, now, to do anything about it. The sky did not contain enough stars, appearing empty and hollow. Regrettably, even the ones he could see were long gone. He was happy that it was dark out, that he could not see the star that this planet orbited, the final death cries of a blackened universe.
A light tremor began to shake the ground around him. He braced himself against the shaking. It continued on for a minute or two before subsiding. He did not have very much time. The portal flickered uneasily, drawing his attention back. He was too old for this, too weak. He knew the task at hand would kill him, but there was no one else to do it.
He pressed one of the symbols on the altar, resembling a table with a cross sitting atop it. It emanated a small blue shimmering light and images flickered across the portal. The images were of people’s faces, but no image remained for more than a blink as they jumped from one face to the next. He watched carefully as each face was shown, his eyes darting left to right, looking for the sign.
He began to feel a small ache in the back of his eyes. He realized that he hadn’t blinked in some time, but he could not afford to miss the instance he sought. Sweat began streaming down his face, but he dared not wipe his forehead in the fear of missing that one image. He kept focus, for as long as he had to, he could not afford to miss the opportunity – it would only happen once.
Nas’ Dera had no clue how long he stood there, watching the streaming images of faces… so many faces. His legs ached, his back was sore, and he longed to sit down. He knew, however, that if he rested, that the job would never be finished. This was his last chance. The portal crackled, the steady pulsing fell off rhythm for a second. He grimaced at the momentary loss of concentration. Then he saw it.
“Did I?” he thought for a split second before pressing a second symbol, which caused the image to stop.
He wasn’t sure if it had been what he was looking for. It was so quick and he was still a bit distracted. Once he moved the image backward, he wasn’t sure if he could get the device moving forward again. Was it what he sought? Or was it just a hopeful glimpse? The end of the world, the universe, and all of his plans could be wasted by a maybe.
Nas’ Dera sighed deeply. He was never a gambling man; he liked to have control of his own destiny and the likes of cards or dice seemed set to take destiny on by random. However, it seemed as if there was no choice. He gripped the outside of the symbol in his hand, turning. The lighted symbol seemed to rotate with his hand. He felt a kind of resistance, a weakness in the stability of the device. He held his breath, slowly and deliberately turning the symbol. The symbol stopped with the cross pointing left and he let out a slow breath. Once again touching the symbol ever so slightly, the images began going back one at a time.
The images flicked back much slower. There was a woman with red hair, a man with a unibrow, a young boy with a dog. He could make out each of these people, people dead ages ago. People who lived short lives on a small planet a billion years ago. Who would have ever thought that the whole universe may depend on a man from that little planet?
Nas’ Dera did. He could feel the man’s potential across the ages. His fate on his small little planet would have been incredible. He would have been a man of great importance. He was a man who would have been known for thousands of years on his planet. A man whose potential would have been completely wasted making an imprint on a single planet, when he had the entire universe that needed him. It was a trade. The man could save the planet, or in the right time and right place; he could save the universe.
Nas’ Dera released his finger and the image stopped on the man. He had brownish blonde hair and hazel brown eyes that seemed uneasy. They seemed to know what was happening to them, seemed to feel the old man watching him. A smile caressed his face for the first time since he had entered the crumbling machine. He had finally found him, the man whose fate would change the universe. It was time to redirect him to the time and place where he could rise to his true potential.
The man in his image would never thank Nas’ Dera for what he was about to do to him. He hoped the man could find happiness in his new life, after a fashion, but this new life would be a much harder path for the man. The shaking began again, this time not seeming to end. His time was running out. The smile faded from Nas’ Dera. He had work to do.
Nas’ Dera paused the image. The tremor steadily grew in a long drawn out roar, making it harder and harder for Nas’ Dera to keep his balance. He flicked another symbol on the altar and the image seemed to solidify. It wasn’t as if the image was faded before, but now it somehow seemed more tangible. Nas’ Dera quickly stumbled up to the image. In a swift motion, his hand dived into it. Grabbing the back of Darian’s shirt, he pulled roughly. The image did not move, but then again, it did not have to for the effect to be apparent. Running back to the altar, he flicked the symbol again, and the image continued.
He scanned the man’s life. Using the machine’s unique functions, he scanned the 4th dimension, trailing along this man’s timeline. Just slight edits, Nas’ Dera would need to have a fine touch here. Slowly, and with a deftness that only a man as long lived as Nas’ Dera could possibly possess, he began to make alterations to the man’s life.
He moved objects, and he moved people. He manipulated the man’s timeline, trying to guide him in the direction he needed to go. Nas’ Dera hated doing this. It felt too much like he was pretending to be fate. Nas’ Dera didn’t believe in such a thing as fate. Ironic for a man who was fated to be the ‘last hope’. To be fair, the man resisted relentlessly. No matter how hard the man fell on bad luck, he always seemed to bounce right back.
It felt like a tug of war, a desperate struggle. The man wanted to stay where he was, on a little blue planet, where he would undoubtedly bring about a new age of prosperity. However, for this to work, that planet had to be abandoned. Everything that man ever knew needed to be abandoned as well.
Nas’ Dera winced as he paused the image again. No, this man would never thank him for changing the course of his life, not that the man would ever know it had been changed in this manner. Perhaps he would take comfort in knowing that his planet would survive without him. At least, a remnant of his planet would survive.
This old destiny would no longer be fulfilled. However, time had a funny way of forcing people such as him into greatness. He had a greater destiny awaiting him. Nas’ Dera fell to his knees, exhaustion finally stopping him from his work. He pressed a button and looked into the man’s future. He moved forward years after the man should have been there. There he was, still alive in the time capsule Nas’ Dera had prepared for him.
It would be time for him to wake soon. Nas’ Dera could do nothing else but watch. Meanwhile, another star disappeared from the night’s sky, but no one noticed its passing.