I ran down the hall, black hair flying behind me, my footsteps echoing, the building void of any other life. Just two more corners, I thought as I turned down a new hall. I weaved through the maze like compound, only one thing in mind. Find out what happened in the last 24 hours. Only one problem, the surveillance videos I needed were in what my co-workers called “the restricted section”.
My co-workers had a habit of nicknaming everything in the facility after something from Harry potter, whether it be the cafeteria as the great hall, or the laboratories as potions class. When I joined the team a year ago I learned to just go along with it and was soon nicknamed the hufflepuff. We had fun times, in between our actual work.
Soon I felt as if they were always there for me, while I was at work. Whether it was helping me fix my formulas or give me someone to confide to. I grew to find them as more of a family, than co-workers. A dysfunctional family, but a family. If only I knew where they had gone. 24 hours ago I stepped into our latest breakthrough, a Continuance Mobile Apparatus. Or as it’s most commonly known, a time machine.
Shortly after we completed it, the project manager decided it was time to test it and proposed me as the first test pilot, after a dummy of course. The response to this was immediately unanimous and I found myself honored to be the first human to time travel. I was so happy yet worried, as I usually was about anything new and risky, but I accepted and found myself counting down the days to launch.
When the day had come, I arrived at work a nervous wreck. Being the usual kind people they are, my friends comforted me and gave me many pep talks before I finally slipped on the test suit and stepped into the machine. Everyone had waved goodbye, smiles plastered on their faces, as the door closed, sealing me inside. Someone turned on the machine, from the next room over, as I jittered with excitement. I was going to travel 24 hours into the future. Hypothetically, I would go into what seemed like a five second black zone, before emerging 24 hours in the future, to the cheers of my friends.
Instead, after what seemed like five minutes in bright white reality, I had emerged to a room carpeted in the blaring red of emergency lights. Equipment lay abandoned, chairs and tables wiped clean, humanity erased from the room. My friends were nowhere to be found, and silence filled the space where hoots and calls would and should be. Confused and scared, I searched the room for any hint of what could have happened. At first I came up empty, until I noticed the card abandoned on the floor. I picked it up carefully and smiled at the picture of me and my close friend Jen, under a banner reading: We Did It! I opened it, expecting some kind of congradulations or cat joke. Inside were two very simple words, scrawled in Jen’s recognizable handwriting. I’m sorry.
Tears formed in my eyes as worry enveloped everything else and fear ate any joy I had. I spent the next minute holding back a flood, troubled by her meaning, her words feeling like the last I would ever hear. I took a deep breath, pushing negative thoughts out of my head, and wiped my eyes. I decided to take action and look for answers, the only trouble being I didn’t know where to begin. Then it hit me. The archives would have a backup drive, where the surveillance gets stored immediately after filming.
I bolted upward, convinced it was the best course of action, when I remembered I needed a key to get inside. Crap, I thought as I slumped back onto the ground, thinking of what else to do. Then I recollected the emergency key my manager stashed in the lab. I stood and ran my fingers along the underside of the control panel shivering when I touched gum, before I gripped something cold and metallic. I pulled it out and held the key up to the light. I smiled to myself before I ran into the hall. Once I had left the room I realized all lights in the building were out and the only light I had was coming from the emergency ones. I reached into my pants, in search of my phone when I remembered I gave it to a friend before stepping into the machine. I sighed before walking slowly down the hall, dark corners growing eyes. I shivered before deciding to run the rest of the way.
I shook my head as I turned another corner and stopped, frozen in place, as I now faced a large window, one of the only ones in the building. Usually it viewed the growing city, cars and buses like little ants in the distance, lights twinkling in windows. If you stayed a little after work the sun would start to set behind the city, casting a magical glow over everything. Now I stared in horror at a world bathed in fire, buildings crumbling, lightning striking during an infinite thunder. The world had become an apocalypse, and I, the sweet kitten cuddler, anti violence activist who's never harmed a fly, was going to have to learn to survive.
Well this was just peachy.