"Time's Reckoning" : 500 word sci-fi

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Cryofax

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Time's Reckoning

He hovered over the infant as it slept in its crib. Looking down upon it, he could see all the things he once was. Innocent. Beautiful. Unconditionally loved. Everything he was before he fell into the grip of evil. Evil that pushed him to kill. To rape. And to find no other means of pleasure as gratifying.

It would take little effort to snuff out this young life. A sleeping baby. A new low for even him he thought. He remembered all the others he had destroyed. The pleasure he felt as their terrified faces pleaded with him to spare their lives. How he would sometimes give them false hope of mercy, only to snatch it away and soak in their terror as a sunbather soaks in the sun’s rays.

Deep inside he knew why he had become a monster. The utter powerlessness he felt in the world. The desire to have control over something. Anything. And so he would. Time and again he would.

But they had picked up his scent, and now the world knew exactly who he was, and what he had done. His family, friends, everyone. They all knew him now for the perverted human filth that he had become. Not that they could bring him to justice. The portal device made it all too easy to escape nearly any situation. The ability to travel freely through time made his work easy, but it also made him careless, which was how they discovered the clues that led to his identity.

He thought of traveling back and trying to remove the clues, or traveling back before any of this and starting anew. But he knew it would be futile. It wouldn’t be long before he would be back doing what he did best, wielding his god-like power over the innocent. Taking everything they held dear and pleasuring himself with its destruction. Wallowing in the shame afterward, yet compelled to repeat it.

So there he stood… The knife’s blade now but inches from the child’s neck. Emotions flowed over him like rain, and the tears welled in his eyes. As the fateful moment arrived the door to the child’s room unexpectedly swung open.

“Dear God!” was the shrill cry of the child’s wild-eyed mother. As he looked at her onrushing form, he choked out three words through his profound sadness…

“I’m sorry, mother…”

Then he was gone. His very existence wiped from the annals of time. He had been killed as an infant by an unknown attacker who was never found. And never killed again.

-----

- Cryo
 

KSeriphyn

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Cryofax said:
Time's Reckoning
Deep inside he knew why he had become a monster. The utter powerlessness he felt in the world. The desire to have control over something. Anything. And so he would. Time and again he would.
My only criticism is to condense this paragraph, or better, omit it. I felt it gave away too much. The lines before this hinted at his reasons.

Other wise, really good story.
 

Themistocles

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The story stands quite well on its own. Even though there is so much more information that you illude to, it doesn't need to delve into this further. very cool!
 

Ash

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I love it. I'm a big fan of short, short science fiction. Even though, as has been mentioned, it's a oft-used theme, this is a neat take on it I can't remember reading before.

My only criticism is that the last paragraph has a lot more exposition than it needs. It explains it too much and that lessens the impact of the reader figuring it out (or at least thinking they've figured it out for itself). Personally I love it when a twist requires me to do the literary equivalent of a double-take.

" Then he was gone. His very existence wiped from the annals of time. He had been killed as an infant by an unknown attacker who was never found. And never killed again."

Could be replaced by something like:

"I'm sorry mother....

<something that implies he killed the child perhaps>

And then he was gone."

Well I guess I don't know how to do it exactly. But for me the "And then he was gone", is the punchline (so to speak) and anything after that is anti-climactic and lessens the impact of the twist.




 

BookStop

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Ah- I gotta disagree with Ash. I like the endiing, some of us are a bit thick at times and wouldn't get as much enjoyment from the story if we didn't fully understand that he was killing himself. ( Not that I'm saying I'm thick at times. I'd have to pretty thick to say something like that.)
 

Cryofax

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. As to the ending, it was a very hard decision for me to decide whether to simply "allude" to it (and end it exactly where Ash mentioned), or to spell it out a little better. In the end I went with Bookstop's approach because I wanted everyone to "get it". Since I wrote it, I obviously knew he is killing himself, but I wondered if it wasn't quite as obvious to a first time reader, thus the extra lines. I also was careful not to explicitely write he in fact is killing himself, just describe the circumstances of his death (which make it pretty obvious nonetheless).

- Cryo
 

carrie221

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I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your story. It was very haunting and that I liked the ending as it is.

Cryofax said:
“I’m sorry, mother…”

Then he was gone. His very existence wiped from the annals of time. He had been killed as an infant by an unknown attacker who was never found. And never killed again.

I think it held the full impact as written. I really enjoyed these lines.
 

jackokent

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Hi Cyrofax

I can't really add anything to the other critiques. Just to say I liked the ending as it was and thought it was a brilliant short story.:)
 

flynx

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This might sound big headed, but I think it's more to do with telegraphy. I got the whole story from the title and the very first line.

I was expecting a twist but only got paradox. (Kills himself and doesn't exist therefor can't kill himself)

I did enjoy the "I'm sorry mother" but then didn't get how he became so altruistic. Maybe I was missing nihilism? Well no, he wouldn't be sorry then.

His reasons for becoming a monster (and simply calling himself monster tells the most of it) are intriguing and I wanted to discover more about this, so that was a good thing in the story and meant you could have left out the descriptions of horror in his victims (which is distasteful to me), but a good attempt on the whole.

I don't know how you wrote this, whether you aimed at 500 words or cut back to 500 but I think it probable that the cutting back route would have let you explore more fully and paradoxically kept the final more tidy.

Just my inexpert opinion. Keep writing.
 

Cryofax

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I appreciate the feeback more than you know. Don't worry about being "big headed". My skin is thick and I am easily able to see the difference between sincere criticism (like yours) and anything mean-spirited (which thankfully I see very little of on this fine forum).

I think you'd be the exception rather than the rule figuring out the the whole "twist" simply with the title and the first line. But I applaud you for your deductive skills. Certainly there is a small hint at it's nature there, but I don't think it's telegraphed by any means.

It was written exactly as I intended (not cut back). There are gaps for you to fill it. I always enjoy this brain massaging. The main thrust of the story is simply that he is a deviant monster, but he KNOWS this. He hates himself for it, but is powerless to resist it. He finally takes the only option he feels can redeem himself completely.

I don't think the full impact of what he is can be accomplished without some of what you found "distasteful". I do understand some would feel the same but heck if we all agreed on everything the world would be incredibly boring :)

Farewell!

- Cryo
 
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