Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
He may not know it, but my son is in extreme mortal danger. With every passing minute, the odds dwindle that I will ever see him alive again. I should have been a better parent. I had too much faith in him.
We haven’t always been close and we used to fight a lot. I know he secretly resents me for divorcing his addict mother. On the rare occasion when she actually shows up to her weekly visits to see him, he tells me to leave and listens intently to her mad ramblings, as if just to spite me. Despite how many times I have told him that I only do things for him because I love him and want what is best for him, he refuses to consider me as anything more than a roommate who pays for his expenses. He has a short temper and is very rebellious, despite his age.
This brings me to our latest problem, one that could prove fatal for him. You probably all know about time control by now, but for those of you who have not kept up to date on current events, I will describe the recent past through my point of view.
As you may remember, it was just one year ago when the research company Hastol announced its revolutionary breakthrough of time manipulation. I remember laughing at that headline, thinking that it was some ridiculous hoax that some unfortunate news reporter happened to fall for. But, as I saw the footage of the world’s first time traveler in action, I realized that the world would never be the same again.
At that point, time machines were too large for practical use. A machine larger than a house was needed to slow down time for a small lab mouse for less than five minutes. Still, the world watched in awe as the mouse moved at supersonic speeds through a series of mazes. Though many had initially believed that the creature had gained some sort of supernatural ability, the scientists in charge of the public experiment promptly explained that the mouse was not actually moving faster than normal but that, because of the machine towering above it, time had become slower within the maze. What had seemed like minutes to us, was actually almost an hour to the mouse. Scientific communities from across the globe celebrated the historic breakthrough, but Hastol was preparing for a more lucrative future.
Despite the limitations of the early models, I suspected from the start that it would not be long before Hastol had developed a sleeker and more marketable version of the device for public use. Two months after the initial breakthrough, commercials bombarded the world about the new Time Pack. The machine that had once filled several linking research rooms and weighed almost a ton could now fit into a large backpack that almost anyone could carry. Instead of minutes, people could freeze the world around them for hours at a time. Despite a price tag so high that only the most wealthy people could afford one, the Time Pack was a huge commercial success. People began completing projects in hours that would typically take days to finish. Fewer people complained about sleep deprivation and time constrained work schedules. Many people even abandoned their cars, opting to walk everywhere they went as time had become virtually irrelevant to them. As sales increased, newer, lighter, and cheaper versions of the Time Pack were developed. It was not long before millions of units had been sold. With Time Packs, everyone seemed happier. They finally had all the time they could ever want.
However, as it often accompanies great technology, vile minds and evil hands had turned the technology to favor their dark agendas. Police officers were promptly equipped with Time Packs as thieves and serial killers began committing their crimes at speeds that made them virtually invisible to the human eye. Drug lords could create and distribute their substances in the blink of an eye. Forensic scientists became overwhelmed as they were presented with more and more criminal evidence that dated back centuries.
As things got worse, Hastol realized the dangerous power of its devices and began requiring licenses and background checks from its customers, but it was too late. More stories flooded in about high ranking officials being assassinated by ordinary, disgruntled people. There are even rumors that, in less developed countries, people are forced to use time packs to contribute an entire lifetime’s worth of work in a matter of days, leaving entire villages destitute save for an incredible number of elderly people.
The greatest blow to Hastol’s reputation did not become public until recently however. You all have likely heard of Randy Hill. He was a nine year old boy who had received a Time Pack as a birthday gift. By nightfall, Randy had vanished. Over the following few days, the worried parents reported three break-ins: one by a teenager, and two more by adult men. By the third day, Randy’s body was found lying on his bed in advanced stages of decomposition. Forensic evidence suggested that not only was the body over one hundred years old, but that young Randy had died from old age. He had lived his entire life in just three days. His body would have been nothing but dust if the batteries in his Time Pack didn’t run dry.
But you all have likely already heard most of those stories. What you didn’t know is that just last week my son got a Time Pack of his own. He got it from his mother during one of the few visits that she is allowed. That drunk has lost all sense of responsibility for our child and it showed when she used her inheritance to buy my son a brand new Time Pack with no thought as to his well being. He is, or at least he was, eleven years old, so I didn’t confiscate it from him, but I made him promise me that he would treat it with the kind of respect and restraint that he would show a firearm and as long as he promised to only use it to do homework. Unfortunately, but expectedly, over the past few days I have seen him less and less. He would often startle me by walking into one room, only to walk out of a completely different one moments later. I knew he was having fun, but I feared that he might have been using his new toy too much.
My fear was confirmed yesterday. I remember the morning clearly, because as I reached the kitchen to prepare breakfast, I saw my son making pancakes. The first thing I noticed was how different he looked. Have you ever reunited with someone that you haven’t seen in such a long time that it takes you a while to recognize them? That is how I felt when I saw him. He still looked like a kid, but just a little older. I also realized, I had never taught him how to make pancakes.
I sat down and talked with him about what he had been up to the night before. Straining to remember, he recounted that when he had gone to bed, he forgot to turn off his Time Pack. When he woke up, fully rested, he realized that it was still night and that only a few seconds had gone by. He was not tired anymore and figured that he would spend the rest of the night reading his books. As he reached for the off switch on his Time Pack, he realized that, if he just kept it on, he could read an entire library of books and do just about anything else he wanted in just one night. He then told me about how he spent days switching between reading, watching cartoons, eating, and sleeping. After a while, he got bored of the routine and the darkness of the night and finally turned the Time Pack off. The pancakes he had made that morning he had actually learned from a cook book and had perfected as they had been his snack of choice the night before.
I realized then that it had gone too far. I didn’t care about how much he enjoyed stopping time, he had to put an end to his bad habit or risk losing some of his most precious years. I sternly told him that he had to stop and I demanded the Time Pack. However, he refused and, after a short but heated argument, he turned it on and disappeared.
That was yesterday. I have not seen or heard from him since that argument, and I fear he has not turned off his Time Pack in all that time. I now realize what a terrible mistake I have made. I never taught my son about discipline, self-control, self-dependance or the importance of getting an education. I don’t know where he is or how much time has passed for him. I do think that he will come to his senses eventually, but time is running out. Will he be a fifty year old man before I see him again? I can’t believe I am saying this, but I wish that he had just decided to run away months ago, before he ever got his Time Pack. At least then he would have his whole life ahead of him.
If there is anything you know that can help, please let me know. I read online about a rehab program for people who are addicted to time control, but I think it’s too late for that. Call me as soon as possible with any ideas. I can’t think of anything else I can really do. What makes me most nervous is that it’s an exceptionally beautiful day outside. I can imagine someone spending all of eternity out there.