Excerpts

Fractured Fragment Friday: If Only Living the Perfect Life Was a Matter of “Choosing the Right Time”

I love time travel stories, especially the variety of theories on how it could work (if it could work – I’ve heard that the idea is now discredited, and should be moved from science fiction to fantasy. Snobs.) We all have things we regret about our lives, and that we wish we could do over, but there is no do-over in life. Have you ever gone back to a place you used to live after a few years and tried to reconnect with the place and the people? Your relationship isn’t the same as it was, no matter how much you want it to be. You can’t jump in and out of (a place/a time/people’s lives) and recapture what you’ve lost. We all have to live life in sequence; you are not the same person you were before the problem that you now want to avoid. None of us have the option of “Choosing the Right Time.”

Here’s the Blurb

Who hasn’t thought how different their life would be, if only they had made this choice instead of that one? If there was a way to start over – if this one thing over here hadn’t happened? If only…? A young man finds out that there are no simple fixes. You’ll know, too if you read “Choosing the Right Time.”

And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt

There was a small brass plaque to the left of the door, engraved PRESS HERE FOR THE CRUISE OF A LIFETIME. Despite the resolve that he’d built up over the last few days, Bradley paused, his finger suspended in mid-air as he took stock one last time of his options, then his finger connected with the button on the doorframe, and he heard a bell chime inside.

A holographic projection of a head materialized, protruding from the door at Bradley’s eye-level, and causing him to take a step back. An elderly gentleman, with a pencil mustache and marker-black hair plastered to his head was looking at him.ChoosingTheRightTimeCoverPubIt

“Your business, monsieur?”

“I’m a software engineer,” Bradley began.

The head tilted, and the dark, beady eyes rolled upward.

“That may well be,” it said through pursed lips, “but I have no need of software services.”

“But you asked…”

“I wish to know what your business is here. Why have you rung the bell? To what purpose have you impinged upon my day and disturbed my slumber? Come now, out with it!”

“Do we have to discuss it out here?” Bradley asked as he glanced from side to side.

“Ahhh, you feel a need for privacy,” the head said, mimicking Bradley’s examination of the street. “Very well; we will oblige.”

The head nodded, and vanished, then Bradley heard a buzzing as the door popped open a centimeter. He looked around again to be sure no one was watching.

“Oh, do come in,” the voice said from within, “we do not have all day.”

Bradley took one last look around as he plucked up his courage, opened the door, and stepped inside. As soon as he crossed the threshold, he felt the door hit his backside and close with a snick. He was pushed into a room, the walls and floor of which were completely black, so that he felt at once as though he was in a very small space and that it went on forever. In the center, illuminated from somewhere above, was a single, heavy Louis XIV desk with a matching, burgundy upholstered chair on each side. Standing in front of the desk was the dapper, corporeal version of the gentleman whose head had previously addressed Bradley from the door; that head was now perched above a classic starched wing collar with bow tie and dark-grey morning coat.

“We do, however, have all days,” he said, then bowed, his right hand swirling through the air in front of him in a grand flourish. “I am Maurice, your concierge, your travel guide on your journey to – whenever it is.”

“Is it true that I can go anywhere I want?”

“Anywhere, no,” Maurice said, waggling his finger. “Anywhen.”

“Pardon me?”

“Anywhere is a place. Here, we create adventures to anywhen,” Maurice said. “Oh there are still some limits, of course, but you young people have it so much easier, now. In my day, you could hardly go anywhen; it was so regulated, for fear of creating a cataclysmic paradox. It took an act of Congress to do anything, and then there were only official government agencies – none of our modern time-tourism industry would have been allowed to operate. Of course, we know now that there are no paradoxes, just infinite, alternative timelines of infinite, alternative possibilities.”

“So I can go anywhen…”

“Limited mostly by your means,” Maurice said. “You do have means, I assume.”

“Oh, yes; I’ve done quite well…”

“Ah! My manners!” Maurice said, his upraised finger indicated that Bradley should stop speaking, then directed him to one of the chairs with a flourish. “Do have a seat.”

Bradley sat, and Maurice glided swiftly to the other side of the desk.

“Refreshment, yes?”

“No. No thank you.”

“Well, I will indulge, if you don’t mind,” Maurice said, and with a snap of his fingers, he was pouring wine from a pink crystal decanter into a fluted, faceted goblet. “All this talking is thirsty work.”

 “That wasn’t there before,” said Bradley. “How did you..?”

“Really, monsieur,” Maurice said, as he sat, “what is a little parlor trick when we are talking about time travel?”

Maurice set the decanter on the desk and sipped his wine as he looked Bradley over appraisingly.

“So, what variety of excursion would interest you?” Maurice asked, his eyebrows and mustache virtually fluttering with excitement. “Elizabethan intrigue? No?” Maurice’s eyebrows ceased all activity, with the left one raised questioningly, “Surely not the Dark Ages; nothing goes well there.”

“It’s not what I…”

“Certainly not. The pageantry at the height of the Roman Empire? Do not waste your time – I have seen it, and it is not as elegant as the vids make it out to be, believe you me. Perhaps some more intellectual pursuits? Socrates and Plato? René Descartes? Isaac Newton? Albert Einstein? Regis Philbin?”

“I was thinking of something a little closer to home,” Bradley said, “and more personal.”

“Oh, I don’t like the sound of that,” Maurice frowned, and sipped. “Explain.”

“I want to go back three years in my life and explore a different path.”

“That will be more complicated,” Maurice said, “and more expensive.”

“How can three years be more complicated than three thousand?”

 

See how things work out for Bradley this time – read “Choosing the Right Time.”

 

“Choosing the Right Time” is a speculative fiction short story, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/314454?ref=NoTimeToThink  

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Qg55Ix

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/choosing-the-right-time-william-mangieri/1115273600?ean=2940016613482

 

collection3coverIt’s also included in the collection Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/419552?ref=NoTimeToThink   

Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3lnWoqN

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/even-more-things-i-could-get-out-of-my-mind-william-mangieri/1118922541?ean=9781496167934

 

“Choosing the Right Time” is also included in the collection The First Three CollectionFirst3Cover‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’ :

Smashwords (at 50% off): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/712373

Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3rRCAOG

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-first-three-things-i-could-get-out-of-my-mind-william-mangieri/1126012697?ean=9781544927824

 

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

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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:

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