Timothy Wilkie

The September Selected Writer is Timothy Wilkie

Please feel free to email Timothy at: timwilkie09@gmail.com


by Timothy Wilkie

Perhaps, the question
is not of who we are in our minds
but instead where we have wound up to be?

The elderly man got out of the cab and slowly walked up the steps to the hospital. He stopped at the information desk and asked what room Althea Martin was in. When they asked him who he was, he replied. “I’m a relative, a close relative.”

The nurse looked stern.

“What?” he asked.

“Well, it says in her records that she had no living relatives.”

“I’ve been away,” he replied.


Glowing light was all around him as he approached the veil. He could feel the charge and he heard the static sizzle; it was like bacon frying in a pan. He remembered the words of hope and dismay. Minute by minute the silvery sheen changed to gold.

Anna had warned him: “We can get you there but I’m not sure we can get you back. You need to be totally committed to this, because everywhere you go, you will be someplace that you have never been. More importantly, you will be in the body of someone else who has been there before. Remember, I don’t think I can bring you back to this moment in time.”

He nodded.

She continued, “Your DNA will be altered. You will be a hitch hiker aware of everything, but kind of in a bipolar state of mind. Now your family comes from the gulf state region, Baton Rouge I believe?”

“Yeah,” he said. “They were all shrimpers.”

He knew he had to be extremely careful about any personal contact. He couldn’t interact with anyone for at least seventy two hours; that would give the machine a chance to lay down permanent pattern buffers.

Until then, he would be slightly out of phase with that timeline and anything could happen if somehow things screwed up. Like maybe his head would be projected on to a cow while his body ended up attached to a little frog’s head lying in a marsh somewhere covered in ooze. Or perhaps he would become a ghost only detectable by a blur of motion out of the corners of their eyes. He would appear without substance or form to anything living in other words, just wavy lines easily dismissed as a heat mirage or high humidity.

He wasn’t impressed that the last night in his own timeline was spent in his tiny room while Anna briefed him on every possible disaster that might befall the first time traveler.

Doctor Anna Saltzman had always been straight with him. “Time is like a trickle of water down a hillside. Any variation, no matter how slight, may change its final destination, trapping the traveler in a time paradox. We can only bring you back if a paradox does not complicate things. As I said earlier, I might not be able to bring you back at all. You must be committed to this.”

He didn’t care. He had no reason to return to this timeline. The only family he had was his mother and today was her birthday. She was seventy but she had Alzheimer’s and she wouldn’t even know he was gone. It was sad how the disease robbed her of everything precious in her golden years.

For thirty years his mother had made it possible for him to live out his dreams and now that he had a chance to pay her back, she didn’t even know who he was. So now he was headed to the past, before he was born, to see his mother when she was young.

Angels ten thousand guarded the bridge of sighs, No one would know its secrets; it was a bay to the winds of future’s past where no traveler should ever be. Looking back over the dark fields of the years he had traveled. he had found no solace, but something was there; he could feel it. It chased him across the Rainbow Bridge of time and it was still with him.

He could catch fleeting glimpses out of the corners of his eyes: something dark and horrible too ghastly to imagine. Although he could see a white light ahead, he could only see darkness behind him.


He landed.

He dropped his backpack to the ground and loosened the flaps. He dug inside for the ancient newspaper that his mother had stored in her attic for years. In it was the article about his father and those from his unit missing in action in Vietnam.

It was now just a shade before 9:00 AM. Hundreds of geese flew over his head stringing out in a loose V. They flew thousands of feet above him but he could still hear the labored honking. These things were new to him because the only place anyone saw geese ahead in his time period was at the zoo.

Just as he started along a narrow trail through the woods, he was halted by movement in the bushes ahead of him. It was so exciting! This place had wild things.

Suddenly this little white fuzzy thing with long ears burst out of the bush. Of course he knew that it was a rabbit; he had seen one in a book once but he had never seen one in the real life. It was stunningly beautiful and it brought tears to his eyes.

And then darkness it ran out of its eyes, nose, and mouth like thick, black mucus. The darkness was steaming hot and it burned the ground wherever it hit. Plants, grass, and trees shriveled as it oozed over them like an oil spill.

As he looked on in horror the shadow shifted itself to fade with the night and then it seemed to sprout these massive black wings like a huge manta in flight and in an instant it was gone.

It was proof of a time paradox. He needed to be careful until the buffer finished.

He thought about the time period he had left. What had been created to fill the void that had been Mother Nature? Evolution along with the arrogance of man had brought about her demise. Forest and meadows had made way for fruit trees and manicured lawns. Even weeds had been miniaturized to serve man in hundreds of varieties of grass seed. All made of paper and plastic.

He cleared his thoughts, bringing himself back to this new time period. He had to be careful. Concentrate.

He had only taken a few steps beyond where he had spotted the rabbit when in the distance he could hear dogs barking and his forest trail ended in a pile of branches and leaves. It was a dead fall. He had read about one in a story by Stephen King. It had been required in high school.

Stop it, he told himself. The future was not now. Where he was now, his high school experiences did not exist.

He stepped out into an open field and he could see two dogs running wildly through the wet grass. They were running his way and having a great time of it. He thought of the dogs back in his own time which always had to be on chains and their poop had to be scooped into plastic bags which was worse then just leaving the poop to degrade naturally. Little tiny rat-like creatures, but these dogs running free were huge compared to them.

He sighed at his inability to forget the future that no longer existed in this past timeline where he was now.

To his right he could see an old busted down blue pickup and a wood shack with smoke coming out of a metal pipe on the roof that served as a smoke stack. It was what his mother use to call a hunting cabin.

He watched the dogs romp around through the grass but suddenly they stopped and turned their attention on him. The looks on their faces changed to what he could only describe as a hungry predator look.

He realized in an instant that the pattern buffers had worked and he was in the body of maybe a twenty-one or twenty-two year old male. He had no idea without a mirror who he was but the dogs seemed to know him as they came charging at him.

He didn’t know anything about dogs. In his time, you had to be rich to own a dog. He had no idea whether they were in attack mode or romp and play mode, but they scared him to death. There was nowhere to run, just open fields all around him. If he tried to run they would surely run him down and eat him. He had read where they use to run deer down and devour them whole.

As they got closer, sweat popped out on his brow. His head was in panic mode so he squatted down and grabbed a big rock. He cocked his arm back, terrified, not sure what he should do.

All of sudden both dogs took a guarded stance and started barking like crazy. Just then somebody stepped out of the cabin and called the dogs. It was a very pretty young woman with jet black, shoulder-length hair in a pink flowered dress.

“The food is getting cold,” she said. “You’ve been dawdling.”

A part of him—which was more of a reflex—said, “Your fried chicken is great either way, honey! I’ll be right there.”

Suddenly he knew who she was. It was his mother when she was young. A part of him wanted to hug her and never let go, but he wasn’t himself, at least not in a physical sense. So who else would love her so much as to live with her?

He realized he was starting to know things about this time period. He was starting to get a feel for the person he was now supposed to be. The new DNA was establishing itself. Yet he would never lose the person he really was. That was the bi-polar part Anne had referred to, except he felt it was more of a multiple personality.

He recognized the dogs. He turned to them and said, “Cain and Able, who are you barking at?”

As he walked across the field to the cabin his muscles were tense because he was rapidly approaching reality. He had seen inside of an Einstein, Rosenberg Bridge it had brought him here and now he was its bitch forever. He knew he had to follow it to the end because it was the only pathway left open to him.  Anna had been right; he had seen what the dark manta-like creatures could do. It destroyed the old currents of time while he was making new ones.

The minute he met her at the door and she came into his arms, he knew.

She handed him the day’s mail and in the stack was a letter with Uncle Sam picture on it. It said Greeting!

He understood that he was his father, a man he had never met and that his Mother had only one precious week with before he was drafted and then listed as MIA. His mother had raised him alone and never married again. Sometimes he would see her sitting on the edge of her bed looking at a picture of them sitting in the back of an old blue pickup and a hunter’s cabin in the background. The photos had been taken here. When, he didn’t know.

Oh my god! he thought as panic took hold. He couldn’t make love to his mother! That was disgusting and repellant. There was only one thing he could do: he had to leave, go away, and never see her again.

But wait! he thought. If his father didn’t impregnate his mother, he would never have been born. If he just disappeared and waited for Anna to bring him back, she could not because he would never have been be born. He would never exist in the first place.

He was caught in what Anna had called a time paradox. This would surely end the project. If there ever was a project…because he had been one of the founders; he had been the one that had brought Anna into it.

He needed to think about this. He came inside for the chicken. As they ate dinner, he decided there was no other choice but to leave, and he prayed his mother would not choose to live her life alone.

Afterwards, they sat in the porch swing and watched the sunset. She said, “I want to take a picture.”

She set up the tripod and the timer and they climbed into the back of the truck. There was flash and then she put everything away and said, “I'm going to take a shower. Are you coming?”

“Give me a minute,” I lied.

“Kissing me on the cheek she said, “Okay.”

An hour later, as I walked through the fields, I heard the lonely hoot of an owl and thought I feel like a motherless child. I was a motherless child.


As the others slowly drifted away from the grave site. one elderly man approached and dropped a single rose in on the coffin. He stood there and pulled a clean white hankerchief out of his suit coat pocket and wiped his eyes and nose as he said, “I’m sorry you never had children, mom.”

Timothy Wilkie is a writer living on the water front in Kingston NY. He has two grown sons: Justin and Blake, and his Golden Retriever Marley.