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Time travel. Humanity has long imagined what it would be like to be able to create a time machine, what we might see if we could travel into the future, or be transported to the distant past. And what if it were possible to travel into our own, more recent past? Would we be able to change our present, or are we prisoners of predestination? Is fate what we make of it?
In this latest title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies created by award-winning author and series editor Samuel Peralta, fourteen authors confront the question of time travel and its consequences, exploring a landscape where past, present and future all become imaginable destinations.
The Time Travel Chronicles features stories by science fiction grandmaster Robert J. Sawyer, Amazon bestselling author Rysa Walker, plus eleven more of today's top authors in speculative and science fiction.
“We all have our time machines…Those that take us back are memories.”
– H.G. Wells
From the mirrored aparador, my mother selects four enormous albums, settles down on the sofa. On the coffee table she piles them into a precarious ziggurat, and opens the topmost one to the first page.
“This was at our old house on Zafiro,” she says, pointing to an enlarged, monochrome photograph of four sisters and two brothers in front of an iron garden gate, held open by a woman as old as my mother is now. A whisper under seven years old, my mother holds an older sister’s hand as my other aunts and uncles smile in sepia.
She is about turn the page, but she hesitates. I glance at her, and I see her eyes dart first to her own image, then flick down, to her knees.
Her eyes turn inward, and I know that in that moment, she’s no longer there with us, but somewhere else, transported by that photograph.
And so, too, am I.
About a year later, there would be war.
Air raid sirens would signal the approach of the 5th Air Group, supporting ground operations of the 14th Army of Japan’s Southern Expeditionary Army. An amphibious invasion by the Third Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy would breach the coast of the island of Luzon, supported by the aircraft of the 11th Air Fleet.
Fleeing with her family as the bombs fell, my mother would stumble over the concrete-strewn road and lose grip on her older sister’s hand, screaming.
One of my uncles would scoop her up, continue running. Later on, my aunt would press a strip of torn cloth against the blood flowing from a gash on my mother’s leg.
On that photograph from Zafiro Street, her knees are bare and smooth.
Here and now, my mother absently strokes the scar on her leg. She’s silent, and I know she hasn’t returned yet.
Four kilometers away, my father would have been nine years old, living with his family in the older part of the city. During the occupation, they would hide guerrilla units from the Philippine resistance under beds, in closets. Discovered, some of them would pay with bayoneted lives.
Only years later would my mother’s and father’s timelines cross. Only years later, the hesitant courtship of a lady artist by a young anthropologist, the triumphant staging of his first play, a son named after a character in that play…
But now the sirens blared and shadows of planes swarmed like bats against the evening sky.
There are no photographs of that time, not in those albums. If they existed, they might be hidden, sequestered, perhaps, in a secret drawer of that aparador. If they existed, they would show a city devastated, and lives forever changed.
I’ve pieced those shattered lives together from her recounting, from my father’s stories, assembling the prehistory of my existence from that time machine of memory.
My mother sighs, and turns the page. She’s back.
And here, too, am I—back with her from the past, continuing that inexorable journey we all take, day by day, into the future.
Copyright 2015, Samuel Peralta