Contributor: Brent Rankin

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He was standing in front of the door to his apartment. He rapped on the door three times. He knew no one was inside. There was no one outside. There was no one anywhere, anywhere in the world. He was alone.

He had always been intrigued with the paradox of time travel. Paradox. He liked the word. Travel back, say, one hundred and fifty years. Kill your great grandfather. That would be impossible. If he killed his great grandfather, then the proceeding generations would not be born. He wouldn’t be born. There would be no one to kill his great grandfather. Mind bending ideas. If he killed a butterfly in 358 B.C., would the Second World War have happened? What if his timing was off by a few seconds and he returned to the present, two minutes earlier than he’d left it. And he met himself. That, he knew, was utterly impossible.

When there were people on earth, he adjusted the time travel device he’d created and took a deep breath. His thumb was on the red toggle switch that, when tossed, would send him back to sometime before the species of modern man began. A very long time ago.

He flicked the switch.

In the past, the air was putrid. He gagged and spat. Enough. He flicked the switch to return. There was a momentary delay, and then he was back to the present.

He returned and discovered he was the only person on earth. The buildings were there, the roads, the infrastructure. Everything was as before, except there were no people. The world was void of humans. Except for him.

What had he done? He only spat in the past. He almost upchucked. He didn’t touch anything, nor kill anything. He didn’t interact with anything, but still, he changed everything. He was utterly alone.

He went into his apartment. Nothing there had changed. It was just as he left it. Looking out his window, pouring himself a stiff drink, he didn’t see a person anywhere from his eighth floor advantage. God, he thought, what have I done? He went to the sofa and sat.

He took a large gulp from the glass, and then rested it on the arm of his chair. Think. The moment of hesitation just before he returned. Had that caused a riff? Did it cause the annihilation of mankind?

He was the last living person on earth, alone in his living room.
Then, there were three loud raps at the front door .

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I've been around the block a few times more than the ice cream truck. I graduated from college with a degree in English (a long, long time ago) and decided to put it to work.
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