KID. Listen

by Chris Stones
It was just another evening in. I was half way through the frustration
of making all the pieces work when I thought I heard something.

Nah, probably nothing.

I changed the music track and leaned closer to my screen.
Staring at the source code was growing tougher as my moral
eroded further and further. Moments like these really test my metal.
It takes a lot of patience to stare at broken things night after night in hopes
that one day they'll work.

You have to have dedication.

Still, stopping, was a fate worse than death or at least that was how
I've come to think about such things. Time was always against me and
often all I can see is the loss of it.

 

Then, that sound came again.
This time it was more distinct.

With one hand, I pull off my headset and listen.

It was knocking. Someone was knocking on my door.

I rolled my eyes, begrudgingly getting up.
As I stepped to the door I peered through the eye hole and saw no one.
Odd, I thought. I jumped a bit as the knocking returned this time much louder.

Slowly, I turned the knob to find...

A kid.

I yelped as I jumped back throwing the door open in the process.
The kid jumped as well.

We froze there, staring at each other.

Then after a long endless moment my brain began to process life again.
It wasn't just a kid.

It was a younger... me.

It was hard to place the age, but definitely early teens.

"W-Who? ... H-h-how old are you?" I struggled to speak.

"13."

His voice was annoyingly higher pitched. Did I really talk like that?

"I can't believe it." We said in unison.

"I'm old."
"You're me?" I blurted.

"Yeah, that was the idea."

"How the -ell did you get here?"

"It's cold. Can I come in?"

I hadn't noticed the fact that my littler self was shivering. It
was near freezing and by the looks of it he was dressed for a
much warmer climate. My guess was Southern California around
summertime.

"Ehhh, yeah." I said as stepped aside. I stuck my head out to
look around. No, one else around. No sooner had I shut the door
than I heard a resounding, "Wooooowwwwwww!!!!!!"

The kid was darting through my apartment pointing, laughing and
exclaiming wildly.

"Whoa!!! A Green screen! I have a green screen!"
"Whoaaa!!! An oscilloscope scope! I have an oscilloscope!"
"Whooooaa! a robot!? I have robots!"
"Hey kid! Stop running!"
I leapt after in pursuit and caught up with him in my lab.
He had stopped in front of the stacks of monitors
and other electronic parts lining the back wall.

"The Capsela set..." He said as he turned around and looked up at me.
"I still have the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsela">Capsela set.</a>"
"DO you mind telling me how you got here? How 'I' got here!?"
I moved past him to sit down in my office chair.
It put us at eye height and I leaned back feeing dizzy with the current shock
still fresh in my nervous system. What was going on?

"There was this old man." He began slowly, thoughtfully, although you
could tell he wanted to rush the conversation a bit.
"He said he knew me. He offered to show me the future. My-No. Our future."

"And now you're here?"

"Not for long." My little self looked around.

I dropped my head back and shut my eyes. There were many things
wrong with reality at this particular moment. I began to think
I was in a coma though I would prefer a better explanation that
didn't involve me being crazy or comatose in a bed somewhere.

"Hey, did you make that music video?"

"What?"

"The Titan A.E. one, you know!"

"Titan... Oh. No, no. I haven't even-"

"WHAT!?" Little Chris threw his arms up and squeaked some other things
I could only comprehend as a lot of complaining.

"Whoa Whoa," I threw up my hands. "Music videos take a lot of time.
It's not.. I mean I have other things that need-"

"But! But! You have the stuff! You have the camera and everything!"

"Yeah, no. Well, yes. Well-it's complicated."

"Complicated!?! What are you? What happened? Why haven't you..."

I sat up. "KID! Listen."

He jumped a bit as we locked eyes.
I exhaled and held my head in my hands. "It's not that simple. There are
way more factors than simply what-would-be-cool.
It takes a lot of work to turn imagination into reality.
Haven't you noticed how much easier it is to think than to act?"

"But you cannn act! You have money! You have..."

"I have responsibilities. I have.." I waved my hands looking for the words.
And then I said,"Didn't you ever think that maybe your dreams grow with you?"

He scrunched his face, puzzled.

"Listen, I intend to do those things. I haven't forgotten.
But I had to change. Accomplishing things... It's hard work. Lots of hard work.
Doing anything right means making large commitments. And following
through and-"

"That doesn't sound very fun."

"Tshk, tell me about it kid."

He sucks in a breath and exhales forcibly, "Well, that's sad."

Suddenly, there was a beeping sound.

"What the..." Now, what I thought was: Does my place explode? Do I wake up in the hospital bed?
Is that the beeping of the machines with the tubes up my nose?

"I have to go." Little Chris glanced behind him and then turned to look me dead in the eyes.
"I'm counting on you. I'm counting on you to not forget me."

I sat there in silence. Those squeaky words ringing in my ears.
They rang all the way through all the years of struggle and worry
and strife.

My eyes widened as I began to notice him fading.
I stood up and backed away. He just kept staring me down, a look
of mild disappointment on his face.

"Don't let me down." The voice emanated once more from a now
ghostly version of my former self.

I blinked and the next moment my visitor was gone.

I felt as though someone had just walked on my grave.
Those pins and needles ran along my entire body. It was eerie how
quiet the place suddenly was.

I was alone with my own shaken thoughts.

"I won't forget." I said under my breath.



It would be years before I found out the truth.

My hands, now wrinkled and marked with age, rested on an ancient keyboard.
I still preferred to do things the ol' fashion way I suppose.
I leaned back in the worn out leather chair and surveyed the rows of
readouts and projected interfaces along the walls.

I could feel the vibration of the machine through the floor. It
was truly astonishing how vast it was and how far away it was and yet
I could feel it right here in the console.

I turned to look at a fuzzy image of little Chris re-materializing
on the old softball field near Atlee Drive. It was sunny but the picture
quality didn't do a very good job conveying it.

I punched a button to bring up another viewport.

A window opened up in the space a few feet in front of little Chris.

"Good job." I said. "We make a good team, even if we never knew it."

Little Chris smiled weakly.
"We know." He replied. "We know."


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