The following short story was born in my Aspects of Fiction class, taught by a Professor John Weir of Queens College. The man is brilliant. I very much enjoyed his assignments, even if he usually didn’t go over them. Nothing groundbreaking. Nothing over-complicated. Assignments that were plain simple, engaging, and got me going.
Give me simplicity and freedom, and I, and my classmates, will do the rest.
Time travel was a theme throughout the semester. Kindred by Octavia Butler was the novel we read prior to this assignment.
I had never really placed myself in another time. Here goes…
“Out for a Walk”
I was in my bedroom, writing at my desk, when I was hit with dizziness. The world spun all around me, faster and faster, until it was all a white, bright light. And then, I wasn’t home anymore. I was in the middle of a green forest. In place of silence, birds chirped and leaves above rustled in the wind. Darkness that was outside my window was now day. The chilliness that signaled the coming of winter was now warmth that made me sweat.
Where was I? At first, I thought it was a dream, until I stood up and walked around. A baffling and worrying sight. How was I transported from my bedroom to here? Was I at the park? Did I blackout last night? Was I on drugs? The worst part was that I was still in my underwear.
After walking about five minutes following the sun, I began to feel deathly terrified of my situation.
A gunshot echoed in the distance. It startled me and I turned in its direction. The landscape of the forest didn’t have eccentricities and there were no bushes to hide in, and so I began to walk in the opposite direction of the gunfire. But immediately, a dark man, yards in that direction, could be seen now, coming towards me. The closer he got, the more I was able to discern his appearance. His clothes looked as though he were a miner or a prisoner, and he was ragged and dirty. His overall shine and breathless countenance made it clear that he was running for quite some time now, and he was exhausted. Behind him, I could now make out a white man with a long beard, carrying a shotgun.
I didn’t move, as if I were some celestial object doomed for a collision with another object. And, of course, it did. The black man finally reached me and mumbled aloud. His words couldn’t be understood, but I could tell by his body language that he was begging for my help. His frantic fear no doubt ate away at my composure and I didn’t know what to do.
He hid behind me. The white man, overweight and out of shape, finally reached us, his gun pointed down. I wished the black man kept on running so that I wouldn’t have to exchange with this intimidating human being.
“Who are ya?” The white man inquired.
I didn’t know what was happening. I had to contemplate whether or not this was a dream. Then I had to contemplate whether or not these people were acting and f*cking with me. Let me guess: a slave and a slave owner? F*ck it. I’d best go along with it.
“I was out for a walk when… when your prisoner caught my attention,” I finished, unsure whether or not my words were chosen well.
“You went out for a walk without your clothes?” He asked, smirking, as if I was stupid. At this moment, I believed he wasn’t acting, and I also wanted to punch him in his face, most especially if he was, indeed, a slave owner.
“I was at a camp and I wandered off.”
The black man shivering behind me was pissing himself now. He wasn’t acting neither. I wanted to do the same.
“Yea? Lemme have him and I be out your way.”
I didn’t know what to do. With hesitance and reluctance, I stepped to the side and exposed the poor man to his master. All of a sudden, a psychotic rage revealed itself in the white man’s face. It was inhuman. Evil.
“I told you not to run, you son of a bitch!”
A deafening blast. Blood sprayed along the entire front side of my body. The poor man dropped to the ground, his face smacking the ground. As he laid on the earth, bleeding profusely and gasping, I turned to the white man in shock. His eyes were set on the dying man and he had this most irritating smirk on his face.
And then, he turned to me.
That was when I returned home, almost instantaneous, without the dizzying transition, as if I had just woken up. My feelings returned to believing that it was all a dream. The lights in my bedroom were off and it was dark outside. My heart was pounding and I was fearful that I was having a heart attack.
I turned on the light and was horrified to find the blood still on me.