“Passed Life”: Fear and Danger of a Time Travel Paradox

Time travel is one of my favorite memes. There are many ways to approach how REAL time travel would work. My own thinking has evolved over time, but since most scientists agree that time-travel is impossible (we’ll see how long that consensus holds), who’s to say which theory is more valid than any other. In reality, a good time travel story is really just using the technology as a tool to explore some other deeper meaning – one of the virtues of Speculative Fiction.

“Passed Life” started as a project exploring FATE for a college class on mythology. It was brief (1700 words), but I was in love with the idea, and when I decided (twenty some-odd years later) to become a writer as my mid-life renaissance, my first attempt was a rewrite of this twenty-some-odd-years-old story (hint – I still had the original printout from my brand new Apple IIe.)  The image of the colonial merchant bending over a newspaper machine in the rain is always in my mind.

Here’s the Blurb

Talk about an identity crisis! Ed King thought he had a good handle on who he was – but a family death, adoption, phone calls from the past, and careless time travel can really mess with your sense of self.
Read “Passed Life” and discover why it’s better to leave the past alone.

And Here’s the Excerpt

Lifetime Retirement Community was a two-hour drive away. Ed brought his car to a stop against the white railroad ties at the entrance. An attendant directed him to a porch where he found a small, silver-haired woman dozing in a wicker chair, her glasses a-kilter. His shadow fell across her as he stepped up.

“Ms. Williams?”PassedLifeCover

She stirred, adjusted her glasses, and then as her eyes focused on him she sat bolt upright, her face hardened into a scowl. “What are you doing here!”

“I’m Ed King. You knew my mother?”

She stared at him, then relaxed into her chair. “You look like your father…”

“You knew him?”

“No. Saw him one time, just before he abandoned your mother, with her in the third trimester. That was enough. Never did like him.”

Ed sat in a chair across from her.

“Don’t know why your mother loved him. She’d get so mad at me when I’d call him names.

“’Why do you stand up for him after the way he did you?’ She’d just say he was a good man, and he had his reasons.”

“What were they?”

Her hands tightened on the arms of her chair. “What reason could there be for leaving your intended and your unborn baby?”

“Never came back. Never called. Not after you were born. Not when she became so ill afterward and asked me to help her adopt you out. Never even showed for her funeral!”

“Why did she die?”

She leaned into Ed and squinted hard at him.

“Because he broke that girl’s heart!”

An attendant stepped up onto the porch. “Everything alright, Ms. Williams?”

“She waited for him all through her pregnancy. She gave up on him when she gave you up.”

She looked away toward the woods at the edge of the lawn. “I can’t talk to you any more.”

Ed looked at her, mindful of how the attendant watched him. He rose.

“Sorry, Ms. Williams. Maybe another time?”

The attendant looked off to the south, where clouds were starting to gather. “Looks like a storm’s coming. You might want to leave now, sir. Before things get bad.”

Ed stepped down off the porch, walked around to his car, and felt the first drops as he opened the door and slid behind the wheel. It was raining steadily by the time he hit the highway. Lightning and thunder occasionally broke the monotonous cadence of his wipers.

What kind of man would leave his wife-to-be like that? Without a word? What was he like, if he could leave a woman that far along? Ed didn’t want to know.

He may not care to find out anything else about his father, but his mother was a different matter. She didn’t abandon him. She was dying, and made sure that he was taken care of. He wanted to know more about her, but the way things ended with Ms. Williams, he would have to give her some time before he spoke with her again.

He crossed into Camden in a downpour, grateful that he was almost home. His cell phone rang. He was just passing the office, so he pulled into the lot while he fumbled for the phone.


Static crackled. A man’s voice, faint, “Why did you bother Ms. Williams? You weren’t supposed to…”

“Who is this?”

The rasping was barely discernible over the storm. Maybe it would be quieter inside. Ed jumped out of the car, got the office door unlocked and slipped in, rain-soaked.

“What did you say?”

“You weren’t supposed to see her. What did she tell you?”

Less storm noise, but still a lot of static.

“Who are you?”

A flash and the power went out.

“Never mind that. You should be focused on what you and Steve are doing. Leave — alone.” The connection dropped.

Ed stood there, dripping, in the long dark between the lightning flashes outside. Whoever it was, he had already heard about Ed’s visit. And he knew about Steve, maybe even knew what they were working on. Ed felt weak all over and sick to his stomach.

He heard someone talking in the conference room. Steve must still be at it.

Ed stumbled along the short hallway, weakening as he went. He was hunched over by the time he got the door open. In the faint red glow of the battery-powered readout, Ed saw himself in the chamber, fumbling with the amp, and then that other Ed shifted out.

“Passed Life” is a science fiction short story, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119685

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006UZMAU2 

It’s also included in the collection Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178302

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008GXADRS

“Passed Life” is also included in collection The First Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’. (If you purchase the collection on SMASHWORDS with coupon code RAE50 you’ll receive a 50%-off discount – that’s only $2.50 for eighteen stories – such a deal!):

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/712373

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XR2TQQQ

Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!


or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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