Fast Forward

What would you do if you could control your future? What would you do if you could control every single thing that happens your future but once you change the future, you cannot undo it?
Charlie has the 'gift' of controlling her future. But when she realizes her selfishness is hurting everyone around her, she needs to find a way of getting rid of her 'gift' because it's not a 'gift'; it's a curse.


1. Mel

Control. That’s what it’s all about. Everyone is OCD about the future, about controlling it and making it what they want it to be.  In the year 2500 there was a storm; an electrical storm that caused a change. No one is quite sure what happened but no scientist can give any answers. All we know is that there are five billion people on the planet – the population massively decreased since the storm – and out of that five billion, three people can control what happens in their future. And I am one of them. The whole world knows about us but no one knows who we actually are. Even we don’t know the identities of the other two people.  I need to find them though. Too many people have been hurt.

Admittedly I am a complete control freak. I need everything to be perfect and this ‘gift’ helps me do just that. I've had it so long now I can’t imagine life without it but it has its disadvantages: The nightmares. I can only control what happens in my future for example, if I have an exam at school, I can control how well I do which will then impact the rest of my future. I can control what job I get and when I get it. I can control what age I will fall in love – however I don’t want to control who I fall in love with or anything to do with my future husband because then I would feel as if they’re being forced to love me which is something I don’t want even though I could if I wanted to. 
But at night when I sleep, I dream of alternate futures. The things that would have happened if I hadn't meddled with my future, the things that should have been, have to go somewhere, so into my dreams they go. Every time I make my future better, someone else’s changes. Sometimes it’s for the best but more often than not, their future is disrupted. I’m 18 now and in school when I was in year 10 – which is the year I first got the gift – I controlled my grades in my GCSEs. It’s not cheating; it’s just altering the future so that I do well. However because I got an A* instead of a B, someone else had to receive what would have been my grade. That’s how it works. Poor Kelly Hunter didn't get into the university that she wanted to and had been dreaming of because of one bad grade that should have been mine. So that’s my curse. I can see other people’s pasts and futures but I can only alter my own and every time I do, the original future gets locked inside my head, only to dance and pound and haunt me at night when I close my eyes. But it was when my little sister got hurt because of my actions that I decided I need to get rid of my gift.

I was 15 and my sister Mel, was only 8. It was her birthday and I had taken her out for the day. It was probably about thirty degrees out – this being Spring in London; the pollution had grown much worse, trapping in the heat however it didn't seem to be harming us…yet – Mel had been pestering me all day because she thought I had forgotten her birthday; I was taking her to the Marina because she loved to watch the boats and I had planned a special surprise boat ride just for her. I told her that I hadn't forgotten and that we were going to have a birthday lunch at the Marina Bar – being careful not to tell her about the surprise. She was really excited but despite knowing she was having lunch, she insisted we stop for ice cream. This was only because my friend Jimmy ran the ice cream van and she called him Spider Jim because he had a pet tarantula in the back of his van that he would often let her hold it. Jimmy was my best mate, all the girls fancied him but to me he was like a brother. We’d grown up together and he was the nicest guy I know. Plus he always gave us free ice cream. I had designed a special flavor ice cream for Jimmy and he had made it as his birthday present to Mel. It was blue chocolate ice cream with white chocolate star fish and a sugar dolphin on top. We approached the van and Jimmy gave me his award winning grin. 
“Hi Cleo, what’ll it be?” I smiled and pretended to think about it very seriously. My name isn't actually Cleo, it’s Charlie, but because I have light brown skin combined with long jet black hair and thick eyeliner, Jimmy’s pet name for me was Cleo after the Egyptian queen but everyone else called me Charlie. 
“Well jimmy, personally I’m not hungry but I heard you have a special new ice cream on the menu. I think I’ll order that for Mel. After all it is her birthday.” We both looked down at Mel who was peering over the counter at Jimmy’s spider. She looked eagerly up at Jimmy and he bent down so they were eye level. 
“And I forgot your birthday, that means the ice cream is free.” He gave her a wink and she blushed and giggled. For an eight year old, she had the biggest crush on a 16 year old that I had ever seen. He handed her the blue sea themed ice cream cone and wide eyed, she took it carefully out of his hands. She handed it to me and reached over the counter, giving Jimmy a massive hug. It was adorable. She then took the ice cream and just stared at it, almost as if she thought it was too pretty to eat. So I had an idea. 
“Hold it up.” I said as I took my camera out of my satchel. She did so and I took several snaps of it. 
“Now you’ll always have a memory of it.” She seemed happy with this and ate her ice cream. First the dolphin, then the star fish then the ice cream itself. She was a little OCD like me. I gave Jimmy a quick friendly peck on the cheek and thanked him for the ice cream. He tipped his hat at me and I took Mel’s hand and we bustled off to the Marina bar. 
“Charlie, when you kissed Spider Jim, he went bright red.” Mel giggled.
“Well it is thirty degrees outside.”
“He always gets shy when you talk to him. I think he likes you.” I raised my eyebrow and told her she was being silly but I had noticed it. Every time I spoke to him, he would get really shy, unless he was being flirty….but I didn't like him like that…did I? I did get jealous sometimes when girls would swoon over him but I never really saw him in that way…until Mel mentioned it. I shook the thought out of my mind as we saw the busy road and the Marina bar just opposite. Suddenly an image flashed into my mind – that’s what happens to me when something bad is going to happen. A blurry image of a blue car knocking me over as we cross, I’m okay but I have to be rushed to hospital and the birthday plans are cancelled. I couldn't let this happen. Not after all I had gone through to make this happen. So I controlled the future by changing the image in my mind so that the blue car would swerve and not hit me – almost like controlling what happens in a dream. While we were waiting for the light to turn green, I started to daydream. I started thinking about the paper round job interview I had on Monday about how I had failed my last one because I had decided not to use my gift just the once, how I had so much to do for my studies and my GCSEs; I was worried about how many times I would have to use my gift and if something bad happened I couldn't change the past. I didn't know why these thoughts were suddenly appearing in my head but I couldn't stop them. I started panicking and getting tense when Mel tugged on my sleeve. She had this thing where she could always tell when someone's stressed  or upset and would always know just what to say to make them feel better. 
"Yeah sweetie?"
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift. That's why they call it the present." I was shocked at how smart that was.
"Thanks. I needed that."
"You're welcome."
"What film did you get it off?"
"Kung-fu Panda." She said innocently.
"Wow, that's an old film."
"They're the best kind." She said. She was very quiet all of a sudden. I smiled, thinking all the ice cream, which she was still licking, had given her brain freeze or something. The light turned green and I crossed but I hadn't noticed that Mel was late crossing. As she ran to catch me up, the blue car approached. I knew I would be okay though. I watched it swerve just like I had made it do in my mind. What I hadn't planned was it swerving right into Mel. She was much smaller than me so while I would have survived the hit, Mel wouldn't. She was flung across the road. Cars screeched to a halt as I weaved my way through trying to get to her. When I did, all I could do was look over her crumpled body, not moving, hands still tightly clasping the ice cream cone. My whole world was collapsing around me. I couldn't change the past. My selfishness killed Mel. I killed Mel. My gift isn't a gift. It's a curse. That's when I decided it had to go.


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