A short story by Fabrice Nozier
Date: Sometime in 2002
Late at night in the basement of a university library, freshman students Juliana and Scott were working on their final assignments for the spring semester. Juliana, a Creative Writing major, was finishing up her final short piece for the year; a story about a group of teens who fall inside the subconscious of their friend who suffers of anxiety and depression. Scott, an English major, was supposed to be working on his final essay response to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, but instead spend the night encouraging a worried Juliana that she was more than capable to effectively illustrate her short story. As introverts, the two were glad to have found each other very early on during orientation week. After expressing their love for science fiction and literature, they quickly became great friends. Once afraid to share their ideas with anyone, they spent countless nights elaborating on their own works of fiction that they’d soon hope would be adapted into novels, plays, screenplays, and even movies. Their strong friendship had quickly evolved into a relationship and now, two weeks before the end of their first year in college, they had happily been dating for 8 months.
It was 2 a.m when they finally called it a night. As they packed up their books into their bags, Scott flipped a small twist dangling from his semi-fro back into his hair hoping that Juliana would notice.
Giggling she said, “Can you please just cut that little dread in your hair or un twist it please?”.
“What? Don’t you love it?” Scott laughed back.
“No. No, I’m sorry I really don’t,” smiled Juliana. “You look freaking ridiculous”. After throwing on her backpack, Juliana slowly re-centered Scott’s purple crescent necklace he had gotten for her after their 6-month anniversary. Struggling not to smile too noticeably, he gestured his hands outwards and Juliana’s fingers interlocked with his.
The basement was pitch black but the motion sensor lights had switched on as the two progressed down the hallway.
“Thanks so much Scott,” said Juliana.
“For helping me with my story. I still don’t know how I am going to write it but I feel much better after your help.”
“No problem,” smiled Scott. “It’s my pleasure.”
“What about your essay for Simon’s African Literature Class? I feel really bad that you spent most of the night helping me.”
“Achebe? Please. I’ve read Things Fall Apart hundreds of times. I’ll whip out the essay whenever.”
“So, when will you start it?” Juliana asked worryingly.
Smiling down at Juliana, he waived his hand in the space in front of him and cracked, “close to exactly when I finish the essay.”
“I hate you,” said Juliana and smiled back at Scott as they made their way down the hallway. Up a head, Scott could make out two silhouettes blocking the path to the stairwell. Still locked in the hands of Juliana, he tried to stop but she continued to walk triggering the last set of motion sensor lights.
“Um Jules,” said Scott.
Before she could respond, the last light of the hallway switched on revealing an old Black couple. For Juliana and Scott who were often the sole people of color in the classroom, they knew when something was out of place and this elderly couple was just that. They were more than out of place they were out of time. 70-year-olds one would guess. They didn’t look several decades old nor did they dress it however. Both wore a light brown trench coat lined with large black buttons. Not a wrinkle appeared on their faces yet what gave their age away was the visible painful history seen in their eyes. They each wore their own respective hats, the woman, a red beret and the man a brown fedora. The older woman’s coat was slightly open around the neck and Juliana caught a glimpse of a familiar necklace. The silence was finally broken when Juliana uttered, “No-fucking-way.”
“What?” Scott asked Juliana.
“Still a slow one,” the old woman chuckled. Her husband smiled back at her.
Juliana stayed in place staring in amazement for a reason that Scott still struggled to figure out. Scared and a little frustrated, Scott politely rushed the words, “Well, if you guys could excuse us…”
“Hold on just a second Scott,” said the older man as he stuck out his arm blocking the younger couple.
The words jumbled out of Scott’s mouth, “My name? How d’ya?”
“We’ve come a long way to tell you something,” said the woman. “This is going to be hard to understand but we are – “
Juliana was quick to notice and struggled to contain herself, “You’re us! You’re us! From the future!”. It was as if one of her fiction stories came to life right in front of her.
“Wait, What?!”questioned Scott. “What the fuck d’ya – “
“Scott. Look at her necklace,”said Juliana.
He looked down at the woman’s neck and just as is eyes enlarged in realization the woman said, “We know that a lot of this is not going to be easy to digest right away but we don’t have enough time.”
“Yes. We are you from the future. 2057 to be exact and we’ve travelled all this way to tell you that on May 12th, 2017, about 15 years from now, your son, no our son will be murdered,” finished her husband. For such a serious topic, they older couple spoke in a monotone voice. The seriousness of the future, their past, had barely fazed them but impacted the 2002 versions of themselves who had only been dating for a little over half a year. They younger Juliana and Scott looked at each other baffled that they’d even make it that far together. They were in fact happy that this future was solidified but then immediately saddened after hearing the destiny of their soon to be son.
Scott’s wife reached for her jacket and the younger versions of the couple jumped back worried that it’d be a weapon of some sort. Instead the elderly Juliana pulled out a small orb from her coat pocket that displayed a holographic news headline reading, “5-year-old, Marty Jackson, Murdered by Neighbor”.
Young Juliana and Scott were living in a decade were the cellphone was barely a widespread commodity. Witnessing such futuristic technology would’ve amazed them if their older selves weren’t so urgent. “This is a lot to handle, we know. But we’ve come all this way to teach you a great power.”, said Juliana’s older self.
Shocked at the load of information dropped on them, the younger version of the couple struggled for words.
“Wha…What power?”Juliana asked.
“Well the ability to time travel of course,” assured Scott’s 2057 self. “Now come, we’ve got a lot to teach you.”
Juliana and Scott’s adventure will continue in 2017