The Paradox Message

by M. W. Anderson

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She is calling out to him from the distant future; but that is a time that is yet to come, a time that doesn't care about the incredibly long spaces between thoughts and actions.  There are still flashes of a cool razor, slick skin, and the warm blood that must come before she can begin to perceive the realness of her own selflessness; there are volumes of pain and self-examination to be endured before she understands the words he spoke to her.

Meanwhile, he struggles with her message, and tries not to let it crush him.  She is only a child now; she cannot know that the hate she has for him has been falsely inspired, or that someday she will be able to grasp the truth that was always just beneath the surface of her life.  But the message does crush him; it is heavy beyond belief, and he cannot withstand the massive load of guilt.  But he must pull himself together and rise to the occasion; she is waiting for him, even though she wishes she could be somewhere else.  He wishes that he could tell her that he loves her, give her enough evidence that there would be no need for the message--but the fact that the message has been received is proof that all efforts will fail.

She frowns and looks away when she sees him.

Alone in bed at night, he weeps for her.  She is his heart, and his Hell.

The aching he feels intensifies each day, growing like a malignant tumor in his mind.  He cannot stand the thought of the future that she cannot escape.  And even though he will have long since passed beyond this realm of being when she sends her message to him, he has been devastated by its horrific irony in the here and now.

Anxiety becomes an all-encompassing mindset; the message squirms in his brain like a two-pound maggot.  He strives for relief, for some sort of way out--and of course he finds it.  The solution is simple: remove himself from her life, and she will have no reason to send the message.  So he takes a long walk, makes his decision, and is never seen or heard from again.

Her childhood is a protected cocoon, but it can't last forever.  Inevitably, she learns of a larger world, and begins to question herself about her origins--and about him.  Within a few years she becomes entangled in the vast web of deception that she was lovingly wrapped in as a child, and begins to doubt everything she thought she understood.  Unknown to her, she has inherited the same mental frailty that defined her uncle’s life.  But she has been lucky; she hasn't begun to hear the voices yet.

Then the letters come in the mail.  They are not really letters at all, but are the torn out pages of a diary.  Each page describes his downward spiral, and the depth of the love that he felt for her.  But the words do not seem to be his description of what happened.  Someone had been watching, making careful observations on paper.  She cannot contain the growing feeling of helplessness, nor can she accept the fact that his decision to disappear was not her fault--some how that doesn't ring true.  The voices begin to speak to her now, and they only confirm her greatest fears.

It never occurs to her to try to discover where the pages came from, or who wrote them.

The voices tell her that she owes him a debt--and she decides that she must pay it.

With tears streaming down her face, she grips the old straight razor that belonged to his grandfather.

She is calling out to him now, calling out to him in the distant past; but that is in a time that is already forgotten, a time that doesn't care about the incredibly long spaces between thoughts and actions.

There are flashes of a cool razor, slick skin, and warm blood.  There have been volumes of pain and self-examination--and now, she understands the words he spoke to her--now she screams her message to him in her dying breath.

The technician, the one who sent the pages, follows through the looping time construct and studies the anomalies, searching for a way to take back the destructive cycle he inadvertently began.  But once set in motion, the paradox seems to be self-contained and unchangeable.

Through space and time the message travels, and the vicious cycle remains unbroken.

She is calling out to him from the distant future....