[This week's Creative Theme over at The Writing Parent]
I think it was Oscar Wilde that said: "To lose one parent is unfortunate, to lose both is careless." It might have been one of the characters in his plays that said it. Or it might have been someone else entirely, and at the moment I'm too tired to find out. He never extended the quote to cover the circumstance of losing all of one's ancestors in a frankly implausible time-travel accident, oddly enough, so careless will be sufficient.
I'm not totally sure how I managed to do it. I was so sure I was right. It all seems so silly now. Too much to drink, too loud a discussion about paradoxes (what is the plural of that word?) in the pub, and one stupid, stupid bet. Rule Number One of the Temporal Driving Code: don't get into your vehicle when drunk, either on beer or testosterone.
Rule Number Two: don't think that your logic and knowledge of physics is better than the universe's. It isn't. The universe has been dealing with the likes of you since before your planet was born. Physics is it's bag, man.
Three: Don't fall in love with your great-grandmother. For a start, it's icky. Secondly, you may interfere with her meeting your great-grandfather. Even worse, you could wind up being your own great-grandfather. Count your fingers - more than the normal amount could mean you've already done this in your future. Dirty boy.
Four: remember that you can never return to the time you left. That's the bad one, the one we didn't work out until later on. Until it was too late.
I used to subscribe to the one, unalterable, time-line idea. That if you went back in time, you couldn't change the things that had already happened, because you had already done that in your time. No matter what you did, when you returned to your time then everything would still be the same. I was so sure I was right. All my experiments seemed to back me up.
So, I did it. I went back. I didn't do the nasty with Great-Granny, but I did enough to prevent her from meeting my great-grandfather. When I returned, to this empty warehouse instead of a bustling physics lab, everything was different. Nobody knows me, my family never existed. Somehow I've managed to return to a separate reality. I just hope that the many-worlds theory is correct, and that my family still exist back in my reality, and that it's just me that's gone missing.