Time travel. Finally, we had achieved it.
“What happens if I go back in time and kill my grandfather?” I had asked my professor, who I had assisted in theoretical physical research.
The professor took a drag from his cigarette. “What’s wrong with you? Why would you do that?”
Fair point. Still, I had to know; how would a paradox play out in real life?
Which is why I snuck into the lab that night, went backwards in time, and hunted my grandfather for sport.
In my defense, he was an awful man. He was secretly abusive to my mother when she was growing up, but openly abusive to my grandmother.
The world would be better without him, and I would get to see firsthand what happened to a paradox in the real world. Classic win-win.
Everything went dark as soon as the last spurt of blood left his throat. A quick slashed throat was better than he deserved, but I wasn’t cruel. I glanced around, it was pitch black, except for a small light in the distance. Curious, I walked toward it.
A man stood still, holding a lantern. “Ahhh, our newest member,” the man grinned. “You should know, a paradox occurred in time and space, and a relative of yours was killed. This means you will never exist, and—”
“Yeah, I get it.” I replied. “I’m the one that killed him.”
The man’s grin dropped immediately. “You…why would you do that?”
“To see what would happen.” It sounded stupid, especially in this weird void, but it was the truth. “So, uhhh, what happens next?”
“Well, you may have noticed, some part of you still exists, right?” I nodded. “Normally, this happens from collateral damage, so we comfort them until we can recycle them.”
“Recycle?” I asked, my curiosity peaking.
The strange man nodded. “An infant that should have died at birth, or a miscarriage. We go in and edit that, replacing the deceased body with a new soul. Kind of like reincarnation.”
That was…kind of comforting. “So how long before I get recycled?” I had so many questions. Would I remember my old life? Would I still be me? I found I didn’t really care. My life wasn’t valuable to me, I don’t think I would care if it ended and I forgot all about it.
Surprisingly, the man scowled. “You? No. You were the cause of the paradox, we can’t send you back. Anyone else impacted by your paradox will get recycled. You’ll just be left alone.” As he finished, the lantern extinguished, surrounding me with darkness.
“Wait, left alone?” I couldn’t see him, but I felt him fade away. “For how long?”
I never got my answer.
I didn’t really care if my life ended, but now it looks like it’ll just go on forever, in the dark emptiness that is this void.