Day 173 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character meeting their future self.
Erin: “You must have some words of wisdom to share. Something you wish you wouldn’t have done,” I begged myself to break the time traveling laws.
“Honestly the only advice I would have given myself would be to stop seeking it out. Stop worrying what the answer to that question is. That fear left me with no regrets, no hard times, and that is what I regret the most,” wrinkled me sighed.
“But if I don’t worry we won’t know what happens to you,” I argued.
“We already know what happens when you do, and I’m not worried. Isn’t that saying something?”
Shannon: “Ok, ok you can stop. I believe you. So you’re really are me? How old are you,” I questioned. Though I couldn’t recognize my facial features in her, I felt an immediate comfort in her presence before she even spoke.
“I’m 87,” she flashed her teeth.
I smiled, “We live that long, really? I always had this feeling that I’d die young.”
“You still could,” she corrected me. “Nothing is set in stone.”
“Then why did you come? Did you need to warn me about something,” I felt a little jolt of panic.
“Well I was given the opportunity, and I won’t spoil anything because that wouldn’t be any fun. It could even screw things up, but I do have some advice. It won’t change your future, but it’s something I wish I knew when I was your age. Do you think you’re ready to hear it,” she questioned.
I nodded, even though you can never be ready for advice that changes your world.
“You need to let go of the control you think you have over your life. I know you’re working really hard to make everything perfect, and you want to make every second of your time here fulfilling,” she raised her hands to display the world then looked back at me, “But sweetheart that’s not up to you. Putting all this pressure on yourself and blaming yourself for everything you haven’t done isn’t getting you anywhere. You think you know what you want tomorrow to look like, but you never really know until you get there.” She tapped my forehead gently. “Don’t let your high expectations ruin a perfectly wonderful tomorrow. Everyday is beautiful in its own right. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I nodded, thinking about all the days I had wasted, “I understand.”
Time for your character to met an older version of them self.
The theatre room was dripping with ghostly spider webs, with stained sheets thrown haphazardly over the rows of plush seats and stage equipment. Shuffling slowly down the row, my fingers gently tracing across the ominous fabric as I went, I glanced around nervously at the once-grand surroundings. At my heels, a strange mist lapped like water settling in the lowest floors of a ship, rocking it from side to side as the world around me did. When I felt the cloud drift past, the theatre listed wildly to the right and I clutched at the first available seat for stability, staring down as I did so to stop my head from spinning.
After a little while, which could have been seconds or centuries, I felt my feet steady under me and the room took on a strange, funhouse aesthetic when it didn’t tilt back to normal. Colours shifted slightly across the scale and became brilliantly bright, almost blindingly so; it was as though the sun was shining right through every surface in the cavernous space. Turning slightly to glance behind me, I watched a phantom breeze blow through the curtains lining the numerous entrances throughout the seating are. It spun around the room, lifting the mist up to my waist before it disappeared through a door with a loud thundering and was gone.
I continued forward until the room shifted again, forcing me to grip the chairs again, but this time I wasn’t fast enough and ended up in a sprawled heap beneath one of the sheets, light prickling through the heavy fabric. Sputtering and swearing a blue streak, I threw the cloth away and heaved myself to my feet and got a good look at what the sheets had been hiding. There, sitting in every seat before me, was a skeleton dressed in rotten rags and shreds of skin that fluttered in the light draft.
Stepping backward and stifling a scream, I tore another cloth from the next row and gazed down at a row of fractured skulls. There was a horrifying moment where I nearly fell into the trap of believing the scene before me, before logic prevailed and the world put itself right. Before my eyes, the colours became true again, the room stabilized itself gravity-wise and the roiling mist scurried away through a stage door. As soon as the world stopped spinning, I began to look around at the changes the theatre had gone through in detail. From the pale spider webs to the army of the dead, the place appeared to have aged decades since I’d been in there the other day.
It was a while before I noticed I wasn’t alone. Sitting pristinely in one of the few available seats, near the back with shadow hiding her cloaked face from view, was a figure with glowing opalescent eyes gleaming at me. When I saw them, the breath left my lungs and I took an involuntary half-step backward down the aisle.
We stared at each other, neither of us willing to break the uncomfortable eye contact, until they rose and began pacing slowly down the next aisle. With their hands shrouded in the over-large arms of their cloak and an extra train trailing behind them, their appearance was of an ancient and all-knowing being. But, with a careful turn to pass along in front of the first row, they dropped their arms to their sides and glided with an eerie ghostliness.
Rooted to the spot, I breathed in raggedly and murmured nervously as I exhaled as minutely as physically possible. The figure came right up to where I stood, silently considering my appearance for a terrifying moment; I’d heard of people becoming entranced during nightmares and being stuck in remote corners of their mind while someone else wandered about in complete control of their body, but I couldn’t begin to guess at what the culprit would look like.
When a deep, thundering laugh dripped from their shadowy face, I flinched and willed myself to take a step away from the creature. At the same moment, a gnarled hand reached out of the cloak and gripped my wrist with the strength of ten men, holding me fast in place. The left hand, just as gnarled as the other but wearing a solid stone ring that sparkled in the faux sunlight, moved gradually to push the hood back from a well-aged face. Lines ran deep in the wrinkled face and were pulled tightly around the hollow eye sockets and grinning lips. With a mouth full of crooked, yellow teeth, she smiled jovially at me.
Releasing my arm, she whispered in a voice like a winter wind, “Ah, yes, Sophia, my dear, you have finally arrived. Took you long enough, eh?” she continued, turning her back to me and staggering down the aisle that was quickly taking on worn hardwood flooring as it widened. On either side of us, the first couple of chairs shoved the rest away, lengthening and filling out to encase us in a wide, short shack. Light continued to stream into the space as windows opened up and the ceiling fell in on us; before I could speak, there was a fireplace with a roaring fire and a couple armchairs positioned in front of it. “Come, sit, have some tea,” she croaked, plucking a couple chipped china teacups from a fireside table and pouring boiling water into them.
I did as I was told, letting the old woman rest a pearly cup in my trembling fingers as I moved to perch on the edge of the comfortable armchair like a bird about to take off into the night. Blowing on my boiling tea, which smelled strongly of hibiscus and peppermint, I carefully set it down on the other end table to cool. When the woman saw my neglect of the beverage, she took a long swallow of her own and sighed deeply into the chair.
“You probably don’t have any clue who I am, do ya?” she grumbled, her throat dry and crackling with the effort. In her lap now sat a leather-bound book, which she pet absently, keeping her eyes trained to my expressive features.
Swallowing a lump that had formed in my throat, I answered in a tiny voice, “Well, no, I’m afraid I don’t. People in my dreams don’t often see or interact with me; I tend to drift through them like a ghost,” I explained, peering into the murky depths of the crackling fire to keep myself grounded. If I became too distracted by any one aspect in a dream, it would shatter like so much glass and I wouldn’t get a chance to find out who this strange woman was.
She chuckled to herself lightly and introduced herself, “I am Sophia. I am you.” With that, my gaze flicked to her familiar, watery eyes and the quirky half-smile I’d seen in the mirror more times than I could count. While she appeared unconcerned with my surprise, her voice fell a bit when she explained, “I’ve come to warn you of the events to come and what they could mean for you and your peers, as well as the school and secret societies that fight for rule. There is coming a time when what you, as simple students, do will decide whether you and your friends will live or if you shall perish,” as her last note hung in the air, she motioned towards a window, which showed the theatre full of long-dead students. Coughing into a ratty handkerchief, she hacked and took another swig of the warm tea.
Abandoning my suspicions, I sniffed my own tea and took a tiny sip. Immediately I felt my body warming from my throat out, as though I’d been encased in ice for days; I hadn’t even noticed how frozen my skin was until I could feel the pads of my fingers burning against the hot cup. As life flowed back through me, I spoke up again in a stronger tone, “Does this have something to do with the yellow-eyed students and whatever that group did to them?”
“Yes,” she said shortly, taking her turn to gain strength from the fire, “but that spell is only the beginning of a long and terrible battle that has yet to be waged. It is a conflict borne centuries ago between those who can command the elements, and those who could only wish to touch the surface of our power.” Though I knew she was being biased, I couldn’t understand the side that would drug their own soldiers as being in the right.
Nodding more to myself than my future self, I took a few more gulps of the scalding tea, draining the cup. “Okay, but what are they planning to do? Why are so many people going to die because of it?” I’d put the cup down and was not fidgeting horribly with an invisible thread on my sweater.
“Oh, no, these deaths have begun long ago, but shall continue in the next year, ending with a death so significant it will throw the entire world into shades of envy and conflict.” Watching her eyes for signs of deceit, which I was very good at spotting in my own face, I found none and dropped my gaze. “Not you, dear, never you. But, the apple will bring the whole tree down to get what it wants. There are very few things you can do, but even that will not stop it from happening,” she mused, her eyes rolling dangerously into her head.
After a moment of silent contemplation, I spoke again, very slowly, “So, you’re here to tell me that I can’t stop this wave of death from happening, but our decisions from now on will have an effect on the amount of destruction is caused?” Bleak as it sounded, it seemed like a fair pass to me.
Suddenly the world around us shivered and cracked as though I was about to wake up. But when I squeezed my eyes shut tightly against the darkness and opened them again, I was still in the dream. We were back in the expansive theatre, where the dead lined the seats and spider’s webs trickled from the balconies like chandeliers caught in time. A ways down the aisle was old me, resting her weary arm against a nearby seat and shrugging her cloak from her frail shoulders. Where I had a fine line of tattooed symbols ringing my wrists to help me cope with my ability, the woman’s bare arms were encased in lines of text, sigils I’d never seen before and symbols I knew to be protective. Clearly whatever she, I, went through changed her in ways I couldn’t understand now, and perhaps never would.
Flinging her arms about, she hummed and the sound echoed in the chamber like an entire choir were singing along with her. In a sweeping motion, she ended her chant by screaming the last phrase at the top of her lungs and the sheets that covered the room flew through the air and onto the stage, where they combined in an ugly mountain of stained fabric. Every seat was still filled with the bodies of my peers, unable to be identified in any way, as though they were simply watching a play.
“These, Sophia,” she cried, chuckling as she called me by her own name, “are the deaths that are destined to happen. They have been prophesized since the beginning of the divide between those with abilities and those without.” In the silent room, her voice sounded like thunder rolling in; an impending doom that could not be stopped. “But!” she shouted at the heavens, waving her arms about again. I blinked and the room was almost empty. As far as I could see, no skeletons remained. “These poor souls,” whispering to me across the room, she continued to speak as a single row of heads appeared, “are either already gone, or shall be taken no matter what. The rest could be saved. You could be saved.” With that, she turned to dust and fragments of bone.
I woke up with sweat rolling down my cheeks, the sheets bound tightly around me and Karla standing over my bed with a horrified look in her eyes. “We have to talk to Elsa,” I breathed, moving to leave the relative safety of my covers.
Kate just left for her house after their weekly sleepover. Heather is in her room, choosing a song to sing before she’s called downstairs for lunch. There’s a green and blue light that grows behind her. There’s a yell and young Heather stumbles to hide. She peeks out from under her desk. The green light is gone, but there’s a person on her floor.
The brown and black clad woman stands slowly. She checks herself over, then looks around. “…What…?” She whispers.
She reaches for the closest thing to her, which is the shelf with Heather’s CDs. Heather sees a gray disk on the woman’s back. The mysterious person then turns around to look over the room slowly, but sees Heather under the desk.
The two stare at each other for a solid minute. Then the woman steps forward, moving around the bed so she can crouch next to the desk, “I’m not going to hurt you,” she says softly.
“…Who are you?”
The woman doesn’t answer right away. She seems to not know how to answer. “I’m… My friends call me Loup.”
Heather remembers the shield on her back, “Do you know Captain America?”
“Are you a superhero?”
Loup’s face twitches, but the smile stays there, “Yep. I’m sorry I barged into your room. We’re up against a powerful villain. My allies will sort it out, and I’ll leave.”
Heather still stares at Loup.
“What’s your name?”
“Heather Morse.” She crawls out from the desk and sits on the carpet.
“And… how old are you, Heather?”
The hero’s face relaxes a little. “Is it okay if I stay here for a bit? I should be where the portal opened last.”
“Yeah! Mom’s making lunch. Are you hungry?” Heather says, heading for the door.
“Your parent’s can’t know,” Loup says quickly. Heather looks back at her. “I mean… the less civilians that know, the better.”
“…But are you hungry?” Loup nods. Heather leaves. She manages to get two bowls of food, then goes to her room again. Loup is looking at the pictures on Heather’s desk. “That’s my sister, Katie.”
“But you look nothing alike,” Loup says.
“Well… we aren’t actual sisters,” Heather sits on the bed, “She’s my best friend.” Loup takes one of the bowls and sits at the desk. “Do you like music?”
Loup smiles, “I love music.”
“I do too. Katie does, she wants to be a singer when she’s older.”
Heather frowns, “Mom wants me to. But I just want to sing. It’s personal…”
“I understand,” Loup says, “What’s your favorite songs?”
“Still That Girl… I Hope You Dance… The Cowboy in Me…. Here-” Heather gets up and finds a disc. She places it in the player and starts the music. “Kate and I made discs for each other with our favorite songs on them.” The first song plays and Loup seems to want to tear up.
“Those are some really good songs,” Loup agrees.
“Can…” Heather stops, but Loup looks at her. “Can I hold your shield?” Loup smiles, then takes the shield off her back. Heather takes the edge in her hands. Heather geeks out over the material and how similar it is to Captain America’s. Loup just watches her.
There’s green and blue in the room again. Loup takes the shield back. She looks at Heather, a look of distress and sadness over her features.
“Heather, I can’t hold him back!” Someone yells on the other side.
‘Heather?’ Young Heather looks at the hero. She sees the brown hair tied back. She sees the matching nose, mouth, and blue eyes. Loving music, recognizing the room…
Loup squats in front of where Heather is sitting, star struck. “You are still that girl, Heather. No matter what you go through, you have God on your side. He gave you a strength to overcome anything in life. Trust him, and don’t shut yourself out.”
The two Heathers look at each other. The older one has a fondness, seeing something that she misses dearly.
Both look at the portal, which is starting to close. Older Heather then turns to her past self. She cups her face gently with her gloved hands. She leans forward and places a kiss on her forehead. “You are meant for great things, but don’t forget the simple stuff. Know what you want and go after it.”
Heather matches her eyes with the more innocent face across from her.
Loup then smiles and stands. She takes her shield in her hand, and unstraps a knife from her belt. She runs at the portal. She turns at the last minute and flies through back first, so she can see her younger self one last time.