The Knife of Time

Submission for Time Travel Flash Fiction Challenge (498 words)


“Damned savages,” snarled Gregory, one white-knuckled hand clutching the arrow in his shoulder as he fled into the undergrowth. The forest was unforgiving, the brambles and thorns piercing his standard issue authentic period garb. The natives pursuing him suffered none of the cuts and scrapes with their superior leathers. In modern, civilized, times this forest would be called “old growth.”

Gregory called it a pain in the ass. Forests should be tame; they were things to enjoy while on a Sunday afternoon stroll. This monster was a far cry from the forests he had grown up around in the twenty-first century.

He crashed through the last of the brambles and into the clearing he and his team had prepared a week ago upon their arrival. Bryon, leaning against the Chronochamber, whittled with his carbon steel knife. Melissa was sitting at the cooking fire, reading on her tablet. Even through the haze of pain caused by the arrow embedded in his torso, Gregory felt a rush of immense relief seeing those instruments of a more civilized world.

Both teammates looked up in surprise as Gregory stumbled into camp.

“Shit,” said Melissa, setting her tablet down, “you scared the hell out of me.”

“There’s an arrow in your shoulder,” stated Bryon needlessly.

Gregory held up his good arm, forestalling further questions, “No time,” he gasped, “They’re not far behind me.”

Melissa’s eyes widened, “You led them here? What the hell were you thinking?”

Typical Melissa, since she had fucked up the reconnaissance in twelfth-century Asia. She needed to prove her inclusion on the team hadn’t been a mistake, which she did by finding flaws in every decision Gregory or Bryon made.

“Trying not to die here,” snapped Gregory, pointing at the arrow. There was little blood around the wound, but it hurt like hell. “Tell me how I fucked up once we’re safe. Start packing. We have maybe five minutes.” There was a mad rush of activity as they cleared the camp.

He bent over to scoop up the cooking kit. They couldn’t leave behind any trace of modern technology for the natives to find. While it was considered impossible to screw up the past, new research from the eggheads indicated that might not be the case. Something about quantum synchronicity affecting all possible futures. Maybe. Who knew? Regardless, their mantra was “leave nothing behind.”

He stumbled as he bent over, his pain overwhelming him. Bryon caught him as he fell.

“Come on,” he helped Gregory into the Chronochamber. “That’s the last of it. I’ll get it. You sit here and let Melissa get that that arrow out; I’m sure it’s a fungal nightmare in there.”

Gregory nodded in exhaustion as he slumped into his seat. Bryon stepped out and returned seconds later, with the cooking kit in hand. Within moments, they all felt the dizzying sensation of the Chronochamber lurching through time.

Gregory sighed and closed his eyes as Bryon’s voice broke the silence, “Has anyone seen my knife?”

~~~ end ~~~


Oni - A science fiction novel by Ron Sparks

Did you know you can buy Ron’s books on Amazon? It’s true, you can!

Oni: Satellite Earth Series Book 1

On a parallel Earth next to ours an implacable enemy lies in wait, plotting the destruction of all humanity. They prepare to invade our world while theirs slowly dies, and only a 24-year-old college dropout knows the horrible truth.

Genre:  Science-Fiction, Young Adult


  • Caleb

    Cool ending. It makes me think about what the implications of this knife might be for the timeline. Maybe the locals get the idea to make weapons out of metal far sooner than they otherwise would, potentially changing the entire course of history. Or maybe the knife just gets buried, and its discovery later proves that time travel must be possible, leading to the invention of the chronochamber in the first place.

    • Ron Sparks

      It was hard to write in 500 words on this one. I’m glad you liked it. When I started the story I had lofty plans to have so much more detail, dialog, and description and before I knew it, 500 words!

      So I pared it down to its essence, and I still like it – but it made me realize that I need to stop thinking in terms of arcs, but rather instead focus on scenes with my Flash Fiction.