The Hopeful Wanderer – Future and Past

The damp scent of recent rain hung over a nighttime city as I passed through its back alleys. I splashed through puddles painted royal purple and ocean blue from neon lights advertising a nearby club venue, the vibrant colors running together down the wet asphalt like a river of spilled paint. Music pulsed through the tiled walls nearest me, exploding louder when someone, no more defined than a mere shadow, entered the club through its side door. Once they had gone, only I and one other person walking ahead of me remained.

I whistled an impromptu tune in time to the beat vibrating through the soles of my shoes, meaning to alert the person ahead to my ambivalent presence. At the sound, they paused and turned to look back at me. Their face became illuminated in the honey glow of a wall light. Eyes silver as stars widened in a dark face, the light glinting along choppy strands of moon-pale hair. My breath caught in my throat.

It was my face.

The me ahead of me ran, shoes smacking wet pavement, and swung left down another passage. When I reached the opening and peered down the purple and blue-lit alley, they — or I or whichever — were gone.

I stalked forward, looking behind trash bins and parked scooters, but found no one. After I passed a night club, bass-heavy music bled from within when someone opened and closed the door.

Jaunty whistling started up behind me.

When I looked back, there I stood, expression startled. Like the other me was seeing our duplicity for the first time.

I ran. As I reached the first left turn, intuition niggled at me and I passed it, instead hooking the next right. When no one followed, I grinned, knowing I’d broken the time loop.

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Little Blue Marble‘s anthology of speculative climate fiction and poetry from an international slate of authors mourns and hopes in equal measure for the fate of our world and its ecosystems.

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