Playing with Time

In a form of immortality, every time you die you are transported to 1 hour before your death to prevent it. Most deaths are easily avoided, but this one is proving quite a challenge…

I was 132 years of age, the richest man in the world, had predicted far in advance almost every horrible event ever to make the news and had saved countless people from horrible and untimely disasters in person, a lone superhero. I’d survived more assassinations than most people count their years to, without a single body guard and in ever more implausible shootouts. And I’d died in at least ten times as many, but the deaths only made me stronger.

And now I was chained to a wall, missing my hands and feet as well as most of my muscle mass. I was old and I had a stroke, right in the middle of an assasination. They sniped my dead man’s switch hidden in my jaw. I don’t know how they figured it out.

I can guess how they figured some of it out. Working out that I go back an hour on death is also easy — tell me something and check if I know it at set times before the fact. Do it stealthily so I don’t know you’re fishing, and everything falls into place. There are enough videos of me online that you could probably solve it yourself.

Working out how I go further is easy: I kill myself. Each death brings me an hour further back. I have an explosive in my brain wired up to sensors in the roof of my mouth. If I don’t flatten my tongue against the roof of my mouth frequently enough, of I hold it against it for too long, the explosive charge triggers and I’m back an hour. It doesn’t even hurt.

Shooting me shouldn’t have stopped the switch. It was designed to survive almost anything. I could build it risky, too eager, since if worst comes to worst I just cycle back with the cyanide in my pocket or a rusty pole if that gets lost. But this time, just this once, it failed.

And now I’m chained to the wall, peering at the bridge of death but unable to go over. A fundamental line in time I cannot cross, for I cannot leave of my own volition. Again hooked up to a dead man’s switch, but not one of my choosing. A remote box, an audio feed and a very large explosive. I have a trigger of my own, but it doesn’t help to use it unless they want me to. All stored in the most guarded terrorist base in the world.

To them, they broke me in twelve minutes and fourteen seconds. To me, it was three months, four days, seven hours, twelve minutes and fourteen seconds. In almost the blink of the eye, I reduced myself to tears. Every option, every cycle, that perhaps I could move the hour backwards just enough seconds to chose another path. And then I gave up, after more thought and self-deliberation than any of they had done in their lives. I gave up, and now I am a weapon.

I relay information back in time for the organization, who are now approaching complete world domination. There’s a cryptographer somewhere amongst them, telling me what to say and how, giving me no room for tricks or measures for deception. They tell me what to say and I say it as far back as they want it said. They don’t trigger in for enough minutes, and I’m back in time. Either I warn them or I’m stuck in a cycle of endless torture.

I would trade it all, everything I ever had, every life I ever saved.

I really wish there was another way. If I could chose the first option life gave me, running the tills at the supermarket, name tag on my jacket and scraping by on minimum wage. I had to be a hero, had to think I’d thought it through. Had to think I had planned, and the plans were on my side.

I regret everything, in every life I ever lived.