By  Preston Beatty

“It worked!”

Kartyr couldn’t help but say it as he looked around the trench he was in. He couldn’t quite determine the date, but he was too excited to care. It took all the self control he had to not run and jump around with excitement. All of the effort he had put into his device had paid off. He had done it!

He was right where he wanted to be. In a trench, soldiers with dirt on their faces all packed in around him. Kartyr looked around and saw the barbed wire covered in mud, the weapons stacked everywhere, and the red stain of blood left everywhere. Despite this, the fact that Kartry was standing in trench used in the First World War felt exhilarating. It was night and the trenches were lit only by the moon. Which was odd. Why wouldn’t there be any lanterns or candles? Why was the trench so dark? Kartyr’s awe at his own accomplishment was interrupted by several loud whistles accompanied by roaring yelling from everywhere around him. The soldiers were climbing out of their trenches and running straight toward the enemy.

The sound was deafening. Explosions accompanied with gunshots on all sides and the screams of men created a horrifying symphony of death. The smell of gunpowder mixed with death was stomach turning. But what he saw was even worse — bodies piled everywhere, injured men screaming on the ground. He had to escape. As he reached for his remote to leave the terrifying place, he felt a bullet pierce his left leg.

The pain was like nothing he had ever felt before. Kartyr was left screaming as he curled around his leg, biting down so hard he was worried his teeth would shatter. He lay on the ground bleeding for a few minutes, before calming down enough to think.

He had to escape. He knew he couldn’t run, or move much for that matter. His invention was his only escape. He reached into his pocket and felt the remote. Pulling it out slowly, he struggled to see the device as his hands shook violently and his vision blurred.

Upon activating his creation, he felt a strange tingling sensation as he left the horrible trench and felt himself lying on the street. As soon as he saw someone take notice of him, running over and trying to help, he passed out.

When Kartyr woke up he was in a hospital bed. The light above his head was blinding him as he sat up. At first he didn’t know why he was there. Then he remembered the battlefield and the bullet. Shaken, he felt where he had been shot on his left leg. He could feel a scar, but could move his leg and didn’t feel any pain.

“What kind of trouble does a man have to get into to be shot in this day and age?” said a man in a white lab coat walking into the room.

“I…uh…um…well you see, I…”

“No need for an explanation. But I must admit I am curious. Bullets aren’t very effective tools anymore with the advancement of modern medicine. Especially the one we pulled out of your leg. Look at this old thing.” the doctor said while holding up the worn piece of metal that had entered Kartyr’s leg. There was a noticeable dent on one side of the bullet, and it looked as if the color had faded.

“It’s practically an artifact. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought you got shot in the 20th century.”

Kartyr couldn’t think of a response to what he had just been told. He was staring at the floor with a blank expression on his face. Thoughts were racing through his head. The struggle to comprehend was taking all of his focus and energy.

“No matter. With modern medicine your leg should be fully healed by tonight. You also appeared to sustain some sort of head injury in all this. Maybe you fell as you got shot? In any case, that should have already fully healed, and as such you will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow morning. For now, get some sleep.”

Kartyr laid back down, but didn’t fall asleep. His thoughts kept him awake. His experience getting shot was a message that there was danger in his experiments. Should I continue? He thought to himself. I have to. I need to. I have the opportunity to explore the past, I can’t let that go to waste. I just need to be more careful.

When he was discharged the next day, he went straight back to his lab. He rushed past the large machines and stacks of papers filled with years of research. He walked faster and faster eventually breaking into a run as he neared the device. It was a chamber with tubes and wires running out of it in all directions.

I have to manage those cables, he thought to himself. Well, no time for that now.

He already had his next trip planned out. A farm, in the late 19th century. He was going to pretend to be a reporter from the New York Times, a newspaper he knew was popular at that time from his historical research. I also have to remember the data. Kartyr thought to himself, almost forgetting the pen and notepad on his desk.

Jumping into the chamber, he reached to push the button when he realized he needed to change his clothes. Running to the wardrobe he kept in his lab for such occasions, he threw clothes out all over the floor until he found what he needed. A worn out brown striped shirt and plain brown pants with suspenders. Jumping into the costume, he sprinted back to his machine, jumped inside and slammed his hand on the button, feeling the same tingling sensation from  before as he was sucked out of the chamber.

He landed in a forest. This isn’t right. I was supposed to spawn on the farm not in the woods. He thought to himself. Looking through the woods he couldn’t see the farm or the farmhouse he knew was supposed to be there. He started walking through the woods in an effort to try and find the farm. While moving through the woods he realized he had forgotten to change his shoes in the rush to explore the past. As he looked down at his shoes with distaste, hoping they wouldn’t give him away, he heard a loud bang.

He didn’t feel anything for a few seconds. But after a few seconds he felt a familiar pain. He knew what had happened. He had been shot. Again.

Collapsing onto his side, he let out the loudest scream he had ever experienced. He heard rustling of leaves and the snap of tree branches as he saw a man with a gun running towards him.

“Oh, lord! I thought you was a bear. What were you thinking running through these here hunting woods in all brown? Oh, lord, this is bad. I’ll take you back to my house and my wife and I will try to fix you up. Oh, lord. What’ve I done.”

The man picked Kartyr up and started running with him in his arms through the woods until eventually reaching a field. The man carried Kartyr through the field towards an old two story farmhouse with a large white porch. As they reached the house the man set Kartyr down and ran inside, coming back with a box of medical equipment.

“I ain’t no doctor, and I ain’t got a ton of supplies. But I might still be able to help.”

The man used a small knife to cut the pant leg soaked in blood off of Kartyr’s leg, revealing a bullet wound surrounded in blood.

“Oh no. Oh no no no. This is bad. We gon’ have to amputate,” the man said running back into his house. Kartyr couldn’t think clearly, but knew he had to act quickly if he wanted to avoid having his leg cut off. He pulled the remote out of his right pant pocket and pressed the familiar button. Feeling the same tingling sensation, he was back on the same street he was the last time he had arrived back in his native time period. Unable to hold on any longer, he passed out on the curb.

Kartyr woke up with a blinding light in his face. Once his eyes adjusted he could see that he was in a hospital room. It didn’t look like the same one as the last time he had been shot, but the same doctor was sitting in the corner of the room. Looking over at him, the doctor got up out of his chair.

“So you’re awake again. Good. I have quite a few questions for you, Kartyr. You want to explain to me how you got shot in exactly the same place twice, but with different bullets both of which are from different time periods?”

Kartyr didn’t care about anything the doctor had to say, he was too busy thinking about what his situation ment. What does it all mean? Could it just be a coincidence I got shot in the same place twice? It has to be. There’s no other explanation.

“Excuse me. Sir? Kartyr? Are you able to hear me?” said the doctor now standing and walking towards Kartyr’s bed.

“I..uh… I don’t know.” It was all Kartyr could come up with. He of course couldn’t tell the doctor all of what had happened to him.

“You can’t hear me?”

“No I can hear you fine. I just don’t know how…um…”

“You don’t know? Well I can’t torture you into telling me. Besides I have other patients to attend to. We removed the second bullet while you were unconscious. You are free to leave whenever you like. Careful getting up though.” The doctor left the room while reading off his clipboard, seeming as if he had dropped all suspicion of Kartyr instantaneously.

Upon attempting to get out of his bed Kartyr fell face first on the floor. His legs felt as though they were made of cheese and butter instead of muscle and bones. Kartyr eventually was able to use a chair to pull himself up and walk very slowly out of his hospital room and eventually out of the hospital.

Wasting no time, Kartyr was back in his lab within the hour. He wasn’t rushing to his machine or his notes as he frequently did. Instead he just sat down and thought to himself. What had happened to him was truly strange. There had to be some explanation for it.

Fate. As soon as the word popped into Kartyr’s head he wanted to shove it right back out and never think it again. But he knew it was true. It was all that made sense. His destiny was to get shot in his leg, in the very spot he had been shot twice before.

Now that he had his hypothesis, he had to test it. And unfortunately for Kartyr, he knew there was only one way to do so. Time travel. Again.

He decided to go to World War II. Keeping his device in hand the entire time, Kartyr entered his machine and found himself standing in a courtyard.

“Bystro! Massovoy paniki!” Several Russian soldiers were running with a body towards a fire. Kartyr ignored the soldiers and instead left the courtyard and went onto a street with dozens of soldiers running down it. He followed the soldiers until he reached an intersection with soldiers shooting from behind tanks and shop windows across the street at the enemy troops. The bullet that struck Kartyr hit him in exactly the same place. Kartyr hit the ground and curled up in a ball, screaming from the pain. Pressing the button on his remote still in his hand, Kartyr felt the tingling sensation for what he hoped was the last time as he found himself right outside the hospital.

Upon being rushed inside, Kartyr continued to scream. The pain from the bullet was severe, but the dread from his realization hurt even more. His injuries were a sign that he had to stop time traveling. No matter how careful my plans are I will still be forced to travel back to the present. Kartyr thought. What I am doing is unnatural. No matter what, I can’t go back. Kartyr’s mind quickly turned to another thought. Does this mean fate is conscious? Is it telling me something, or trying to prevent me from seeing something? If fate really is real, can it act? Can fate think?

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