Self-Termination :: Short Story

Punishment is not what it used to be.

Jack tapped his fingers on the arm rest. “Are we going yet? I want to get this over with.”

His case-worker looked over some files. “In a minute, this is your fifth visit, right?”

“Isn’t that your job to keep track of my rehabilitation?” Jack looked at him with big innocent eyes behind which he was hiding all the mischief in the world.

Brad sighed. Fifth meeting. He hated those. “Okay, we’re going. You’re in for a treat. Today we’re going all the way back to 2021.” 

“What! Why not the future? The past is soooo boooooring!”

“Sorry Jack. We will go back to 2021, specifically we will go to a cinema, also known as a a movie theater.”

“Yeah right. Such an archaic thing. Where everybody was put in one room at a seat with a sub optimal point of view. And you would get disturbed by the people and their reactions around it. I learned about such things in school. Why would I have to go there?”

“Because it’s where your grandparents met.” Brad was looking intently at Jacks face, to see if any spark of interest would gather somewhere. No such luck.

“Right. As if I care. All that time travelling bullshit. I don’t understand why the judge made this mandatory. I did my time already. I promised never to be a bad boy again. Why punish me with such boring trips into the past?”

“That’s not up to me to decide, Jack. You know that.”

“Yeah. You’re just a paper pusher in an age without paper. You must feel very good about yourself, right. Getting me to see my dead relatives. Oh, so interesting.” Jack kept up his complaining all the way to the time travel machine. If it weren’t for the mandatory mouthpiece, Brad was certain the boyo would continue his whining all the way to the other side.

Some minutes later they found themselves seated in the Los Angeles Landmark Theater.

Jack sank deep in the red plush seats, enjoying the feeling for a moment. “Okay, thanks for bringing me. Now I’ve seen it. Can we go now? It’s beautiful, wow, I’m so amazed this is changing my life. Really, whoever thought about time travel as punishment for criminals must have been a real sadist. I’ve never done such a stupid thing in my life.”

Brad tried not to lose his temper. But this boy was really getting on his nerves. Instead of being silent and maybe see some of the movie that was showing, a classic, the last movie of Tarantino before his death, Jack was making a ruckus.

“Please be quiet. You do know our being here can disturb the time equilibrium. Please adapt to your surrounding. People here try to watch a movie, we could do the same. And your grandparents are sitting right in front of you.”

Jack laughed, but his laughter was fortunately drowned in the laughter from the people around him. On the screen a man was just being beheaded and blood came spurting out of his torso as if he was a fountain.

“Oh cool. My grandparents. And now you’re going to tell me not to change history because my own existence depends on it. What kind of nonsense.”

Brad turned to Jack, even though he knew the next scene was one of the highlights of cinematic history. “Actually that is the truth. You’re not supposed to…”

All of a sudden there was a flash of bright light, short enough for nobody but Brad to notice. The people around him were too much focussed on the movie.

Of course he had exactly missed the scene of Scarlett transforming into a leopard. Jack touched his watch. “Ah well. Can you bring me back, Scotty. Seems like the boy finally finished his sentence.”

After some moments of silence, Scotty checked in. “Alright Brad. What was he in for?”

“I don’t really want to know. Must have been bad to be self-terminated through ignorance like that.”

Story written by @nobyeni specifically for @mctiller’s weekly 24h short story challenge on Steemit. Read more short stories for free on my website, and consider supporting me on Steady

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