The Point of No Return

If you had the choice and the opportunity to travel back in time to undo all the misery in your life, would you do it? If this meant the rest of your life changed forever, would you go past the point of no return?

Ayda gets the opportunity to use the only time travelling machine that is actually working. Her whole life, she'd been hoping for this chance, so she could go back to that one day that has scarred her for life. She desperately wants to change her past, but what will happen to her future if she does so? Is she ready to change everything? And what with the boy, the one who could be her past, present and future?

Author's note: I'm first going to upload the prologue of this story, a story that kept appearing in my mind for almost 2 years now, but first I want to make sure this will interest you. Only then I want to put an effort in completing it. I don't have much time since I'm at university, but if you guys like it, I will try my best. So let me know! - Tinne

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1. Prologue: Ayda

"Are you sure?" I ask. I look a little suspiciously to the dark fluid in the cup I'm holding. "I mean, is it going to work?"

"I think I should have found the solution by now," Cuinn mumbles, while he's typing like a maniac on the computer in front of him. "We've been working on this for..."

When Cuinn is really concentrating on something, he doesn't even bother finishing his sentences. I sigh and smell the fluid again, which I probably did a hundredth times already. It still has no scent. I absolutely want to do this experiment, I do... but I still don't fully trust it.

"Where do I have to send you to again?" he asks. He glances over at me through his huge glasses and I can't help but smile. My friend over here is such a weird kid. But it actually suits his personality: he's incredibly smart. The crazy scientist type of guy, that's how you can describe him the best.

"Metlin City, 20th of August 2014," I say, and I try to swallow away the pain that comes with the memory of that day. It's been 6 years already, but it still hurts me every time I think about it.

Cuinn types something on his computer again, then takes the cup from me and puts it back onto his invention. It's a machine that's connected to his computer, and through vibrations information is sent from that machine to the fluid in the cup. Date, time, place, moment of return. Everything you need to travel back in time.

Cuinn has invented the first time travelling machine that could possibly work. It just hasn't done so yet.

I met the guy at Metlin University. That school is divided in many different institutions. I attended Metlin's School of Arts and Cuinn went to the School of Science. I had never seen him, let alone spoke to him, until one day it was announced he was planning on building a time machine. Thinking of my past, I was immediately interested, so I went and offered him to help with his project. It really didn't take us long to become friends. He was my only friend.

When he first showed me the machine, I bursted out in laughter. It just looked so ridiculous. It was so small, you could easily hold it. I guess I had expected some kind of huge device in which you had to stand and wait until it flashed you through time. But Cuinn's invention doesn't work like that at all. No, his machine produces some kind of drink which just makes you disappear and reappear in another time and place.

Theories have proven that it should work, and I believe so, too. I really, really do.

My fiancé on the other hand is less enthusiastic about the idea, but that doesn't stop me.

"I am ready," Cuinn says cheerfully. He pushes his glasses up his nose again and runs his hand through his too long, messy, red hair. He gives me his cute little smile, but that disappears almost immediately. He must have noticed the nervous look on my face.

"Ayda? Are you ready for this?" he asks carefully. "I mean, are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
I nod right away. "Of course, one hundred percent positive!"

"Then why do you look so sad? Is there something you don't understand yet, or something you don't fully agree with?"

"No, it's just... this is the first time that you are actually convinced it's going to work. It just seems so unreal. What if it does work?"

"Then we'll have changed science forever. We'll have changed the world!" he interrupts me enthusiastically.

"You're right," I admit. "But it does scare me a little bit." I'm not really sure if I say this to him or to myself.

"We could always look for someone else to try it?" he suggested.

"No!" I said quickly. "No, Cuinn, I promised you I would help you with this." The gun, which I can feel against my skin underneath my shirt, only confirms my decision. "I'm going back in time."

He nods and the excitement lights up in his eyes again. "Well, bottoms up then. Oh, and don't forget to go to the woods by the end of the day. There will be the portal that gets you back."

I put the cup to my lips, take a deep breath and close my eyes. Then I drink up the fluid all at once. Cuinn gazes at me with his fingers crossed and I lean backwards in my chair, while I wait until something happens, until I feel something, until I slowly disappear.

But nothing happens. And after 10 minutes, I'm still sitting in my chair in Cuinn's lab.

Cuinn takes off his glasses, looking defeated.

"Now I really don't know what else I could do," he sighs. "I was really convinced it would work."

He stands up and goes to the door, ready to leave. He puts out the lights. I stand up quickly, too, and follow him outside.

"What? Cuinn?" I call out, when I catch up with him. "Are you really giving up?"

"Ayda, I've been working on this experiment since I was 18," he says. "I'm 26 now. It's no use. It doesn't work. I have tried everything."

"We can always keep searching for new things, right?" I ask, suddenly feeling desperate. My whole plan is going to fail if this doesn't work. But I am no quitter. I don't give up so easily. I worked hard on this, too. Cuinn was not the only one who put a lot of time in this experiment, I was there with him all the time. I must and will go back in time.

"I just don't know what more there is to search for," Cuinn mumbles. We walk out of the building and I realise it's already deep dark outside. I'm surprised; have we really been busy that long? My watch tells me it's almost midnight. A cold wind blows past us.

"We just continue our work. I'm sure we'll find a solution, sooner or later," I try to convince him, but without success.

Cuinn shrugs and turns his back to me. He starts to walk towards his car. "Whatever you want, but it'll be without me then. I quit." I watch him walk away, his shoulders hanging down, until he gets into his car and drives off.

The wind feels chilly on my bare arms, but I'm not cold yet. I go in the opposite direction, on foot. My house is located only a few blocks away from here. It only takes me 10 minutes to get there. And anyway, I don't have a car myself.

I wander through the dark streets, when this paranoid feeling creeps up on me. I'm constantly looking over my shoulder, thinking someone is following me; a thought I can't seem to let go. My heart begins to beat faster in my chest, and I start to run. As fast as I can. Only when I've reached the front door of my house, my muscles are able to relax again. I throw one last look over shoulder. There's no one there. Of course not.

I go inside and get the gun from under my shirt. Pondering over Cuinn and his experiment, I put it in the top drawer of the cabinet in the hall and as quietly as possible I go to the living room. My fiancé is probably already sleeping, so I don't want to wake him. But surprisingly the lights in the living room are still on. My fiancé is sitting on the sofa with his head in his hands, but when he hears me enter the room, he looks up.

"Where were you?" he asks. He sounds mad. Really mad.

"With Cuinn," I answer carefully. I don't feel like arguing, not right now. I know I would say stupid things if this ends up in a fight.

"Do you know what time it is? Have you got any idea how worried I was?" he says, his voice rising. He gets up from the sofa. "I come home from work and you're not here. There's no note, so I'm clueless about where you might be. You don't answer my texts, nor do you pick up your phone. I. Was. Worried. Sick!"

"Calm down, I was in the laboratory. That's all," I explain.

"So you two are still busy working on that experiment? I thinks it's a very bad idea, Ayda."

"I don't. You know why I want to do this."

"Yeah, I know, but don't you see what this whole thing does to you?" He points at me. "You stay out late, which means you wander through the streets at night all by yourself. You don't sleep anymore. You're getting paranoid. It seems you don't even trust me anymore. And you've got your gun with you all the time."

I want to deny and try to convince him that's not true, but he cuts me off. "Oh, don't lie. I know."

"You just don't understand any of it, do you?!" I snap at him.

"Of course I understand. You just don't want to see it's never going to work," he shouts. "It's just one big illusion. That machine is never going to do anything."

"What do you know about that? Today we were this close to actually travel through time!" I say.

His eyes widen just for a second, then the frown between his eyebrows returns. "And what about the baby? Do you really think this experiment of yours will be completely harmless for it?"

I cross my arms protectively over my belly, as if the little creature inside it would be able to hear the argument and I want to cover its ears. I'm only 3 months pregnant, but you can already see a little bump coming up.

Of course I think about our baby. Cuinn said the fluid would not harm my child, so it's okay, right?

He sighs. "I want you to quit, okay?"

Suddenly, something snaps inside of me. The dam that held back my anger pretty good until now, breaks open and I can't keep in the flow of words coming out of my mouth.

"No, that's not okay!" I yell. "You have no idea how important this is for me. Cuinn and I have been working on this project for a very long time. I told you why I need to do this. I just have to go back in time to undo what's happened!"

Tears of frustration well up in my eyes, but I swallow them down. The frown in his forehead becomes deeper. He looks furious right now, and although I know he's only concerned about my wellbeing, it only increases my own anger.

"I don't recognise you anymore, Ayda! Since when have you become so obsessed with all this? I don't want to come home every night and worry about where you are and whether you're still alive or not!" he shouts at me.

"Oh please, I can look after myself just fine!" I scream in return.

"No, you obviously can't!"

"I really don't need you!"

It's out there before I realise what I've just said. I really don't mean that. I do need him. I love him. But the fact that he doesn't want to understand why I have to do this, the fact that he doesn't believe in me, hurts me.

He breathes heavily and he looks me right in the eye, and I can see how sad, angry and hurt he is.

"Fine," he says. "There are two options. Or you stop with what you're doing and you become the Ayda I want to marry with again." He hesitates a second before he finishes his ultimatum. "Or I'm leaving."

My heart breaks when I hear his words. I can see in his eyes he doesn't want to leave either. But still, he acts like I give him no choice.

I have no idea what to do, so I turn around, get the gun out of the drawer and run out of the house. Behind me I hear him calling my name, but he's too mad at me to come after me. Tears blurry my vision, but I keep running, away from home, away from my fiancé.

Without really realising it, I go inside the Science Building. I'm lucky I know the way to Cuinn's lab as if it were the back of my hand, otherwise I would definitely get lost in this maze of hallways. Before I open the door, I wipe the tears from my face and breathe deeply in and out a couple of times.

 

Okay, so Cuinn said we should know the answer by now. Maybe there is some little mistake somewhere in the system. I can fix that on my own, if I figure out how to locate it. I wipe my nose with the back of my hand, while the computer is starting up. I'm really bad with computers; at home we don't really use the thing and I'm probably the only person on earth who doesn't own a smartphone. That comes with the artiness, I guess. I always preferred pencil and paper over computers.

I wind a lock of blond hair around my finger. I dyed the ends blue. They used to be bright pink, but I thought it made me look too young. And I guess this blue colour suits my eyes better.

One glance at the computer screen tells me I'm probably not going to figure out a lot on my own. This is a complete other language to me. How in the world can Cuinn work with this? The program of the time machine is so complex that I almost decide to just leave it like that and give up the whole plan, but then I spot the word 'characteristics'. It's the only word I understand, so I click on it. A little window pops up, showing more difficult words and codes. In the upper left corner I find something that should have to be about time. I know that, since it says '1 hour', but I have no idea what it could mean. On the right, I find a blank space where I think I have to fill in the place I want to go to. My brain has never worked as hard as it does right now in its whole life, and I still can't figure it out. On the computer screen sticks a post-it with something written on it in Cuinn's unreadable handwriting. If I'm not mistaken, it should be the coordinates of Metlin City. What if I type this in the blank space that says 'destination'? I wish I could read what he wrote down; Cuinn's numbers all look the same to me. Taking the risk, I type in what I assume to be the right coordinates.

Sweat appears on my forehead, and I don't know how that's possible, since it's really not that hot in here. This thing just makes me nervous. I want to wipe away the sweat, but I stop my hand before it reaches my forehead. I look surprised at it. I can...see through the palm of my hand. I can see the screen behind it. I take a look at my other hand, where the same thing is happening. How is this possible? I start to panic. What is happening? I scan the computer screen like crazy, as if the answer is right there somewhere.

And then I remember. 'Time: 1 hour.' I have a look at my watch. It's exactly one hour after I drank up the time machine fluid. And now... I'm starting to disappear.

I burst out in laughter. We did it! It works. Or in any case, it does something. I think Cuinn must have put the timer on one hour when he was so enthusiastic earlier. And now that timer has run out.

Adrenaline rushes through my veins and I would really want to take a run to calm down. I've never been so excited before. In the meantime my arms start to fade as well and I decide it's better for me to sit down and wait until I have fully disappeared. I close my eyes and breathe.

In.

Out.

In and out.

My fiancé's face appears in my thoughts, but I push him away. He said the machine would never work. He said it was all an illusion. Well, it apparently isn't. The time machine does work. After all these years, it finally works!

I have to tell Cuinn. My eyes open again and I want to stand up, but then I notice my legs are already disappearing, too. I'm afraid I won't be able to walk on them, so I stay seated. I will tell him everything when I return.

When I return from the past.

 

The gun, that feels cold against the skin of my back, is the last thing I feel before everything turns black.

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