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The Wanderers

“Hey kid, you want this?” Some stranger turned on his heel and looked at me. Kid? Who the hell does he think he’s talking to? 

“What?” An unusually tall guy stared down at me. He looks so…vacant. As if he just woke from a dream. 

“Here,” he says, shoving a small metal box in my hands. 

“Wait, woah. What is this thing? It’s not dangerous, is it?” I looked down, and it was just an ordinary steel box with two small rectangular indents. 

He tilted his head at me and shook it slowly, tousling his messy brown hair. “I don’t know.” I waited for him to continue, but he just looked silent toward the sky. 

“What do you want me to do with this?” I ask incredulously. What is happening? 

The stranger looks at me and then turns and starts walking off. 

“Hey! Wait! Wh-” I step in his direction and throw my hand out to catch his sleeve. His long legs moved quickly, and he turned the corner, disappearing. I looked down at the thing in my hand. It was oddly warm for being made of metal. There was also a thrum of energy emanating from it. 

A small jingle came from behind me. I turned to see my friend exiting the small bookstore. 

“Heya! Thanks for waiting for me, Jib,” his sharp voice reached me, and I smiled back at him. “Wait, what's that in your hand?” 

“Uh-I don’t actually know…Anyway, let’s hurry back. We’ve been gone long enough,” I quickly start heading in the direction of the cabin. 

“Ooh yes, think that your sister finally came? She said she was getting out of classes early,” Caleb mumbled. 

“Dude, stop drooling over my sister. C’mon, she’s so out of your league anyway,” I chuckle, shaking my head at him. He’s been obsessed with her since we were in middle school. I can’t believe his little crush has lasted this long. I think her college classes were actually canceled. She should be there already, but I won’t say anything—poor, hopeless Caleb. 

As soon as we walk through the doors of the vacation cabin, Kayla ensnares her arms around me in a hug. 

“Sis! Get off! Gah!” I struggle to get out of her grasp as Caleb watches on. 

“Oh, my little bro, I’ve missed you so much. I’m so excited about this vacay! Why is your nerd friend here, though?” She whispered loudly in my ear. She releases me a moment later and stares at Caleb as his cheeks redden. 

“Hey,” I lowered my voice at her. “He literally goes with us everywhere. You know that. Ever since his family…he’s part of us.” I look over at him as he busies himself with unloading his books on the counter. 

“Don’t eat all the food this time. Cale! Got it?” Kayla yells over to Caleb as she wanders to her room.

“Ah! I won’t! I swear. Uh-I’ll-” he squirms, trying to assert himself. Idiot.

“Let’s go, Caleb. C’mon, you goof,” I chuckle over at his flustered self and grab some of the books he bought. “Can’t believe you bought so many. Your account was pretty sad looking last I checked.” I waved at him, heading to my room. 

“You said I had 80 kiro’s to spend! This wasn’t all of it, ya know. I still have enough for the vacation,” he sputters. 

The night came slowly, and everyone took their time heading to bed. Caleb lay snoring on the floor beside me as I held the mysterious box in my hands. He was always so quick to fall asleep. Although, it wasn’t always that way. He used to stay awake all night sobbing after the incident. It was nice to see him able just to rest so easily. I continued to fiddle with the box and kept turning it over. I didn’t see any brand name or warnings or anything on it. It was pretty light and small, almost the size of a lime. 

I trace the left indent with my fingertip, and its energy calls for me to do something more. I pressed on it, and a sudden click resounded in the quiet room. Stinging pain spurred to life in my head, and I collapsed forward. The aching dulled, and I slowly opened my eyes. What was that?

I immediately froze, looking at the pouring rain before me. The wind whipped me forward, and I forced myself to stay upright. I sat in a grassy field on the side of the road. A car came darting from around a curve, and it started to slide around the slick asphalt. Another vehicle slowly made its way from the other side. I recognized it immediately. It can’t be. No way. Not possible. The rain came harder, and the car whirled off to the side of the road. It immediately tried to correct itself but went slamming into the oncoming vehicle. The burst of smashing metal rang through my head, forcing me to cover my ears. I looked ahead in horror as a small boy came stumbling out of the wreckage. 

Caleb!? I stood up to run to him, but as soon as I started running, I tripped over something almost immediately. I slammed my head into the dirt, forcing a yelp from me. I look over and see that small box by my foot. Is that why? Did that…send me back? I picked it up and looked down at the little steel box. What is going on? Wailing distracts me, and I look up to see Caleb screaming and waving his hands around. I need to go. I shouldn't be here. I press the indent. Nothing happened. I press it again, and still nothing. I feel the notch on the other side and push that one in—another audible click. 

In the next blink, I’m staring at the ceiling in the cabin once more. I look over quickly and see Caleb snoring, halfway angled underneath my bed. Was I really just there, or did I imagine it all? My stinging forehead told me that it wasn’t a dream after all. Not just that, I was soaked. My pajamas stuck to my skin and chilled my body. 

I grabbed the box again. I was thinking about Caleb and that incident. Are my thoughts connected to it? What exactly does this do? Can it…travel in time? I look at it and try to focus on something else. Will Caleb win that contest he entered? He worked so hard for it. His skills were awe-inspiring. I always treasured our friendship and wished the best for him. However, this contest could change his life, or at least start to. 

I clicked the button and waited. Another sharp pain took my breath away, and I gasped, leaping forward and lowering my head between my hands. I blinked through the pain and looked up. I was sitting in my room, back at the house in town. I looked around and noticed I was entirely alone. I grabbed my phone and looked for any messages, but nothing was revealed. I immediately called Caleb. It rang only twice.

“Heya! Again. What’s up?” Caleb's voice came through the other end of the phone, larger than life, like usual.

“Oh, sorry, I just wanted to continue the discussion..” I mumble out. Is that too weird of a response? How do I ask? I’m sure we already talked about the contest.  

“Oh, you still trying to negotiate part of my winnings? No way, dude. I worked for this, ya know. Who knew you were this greedy!” He shot out. So, he won! Way to go, Caleb! I knew he would. I’m so proud of him. 

“Calm down. I just am so happy for you,” I say, laughing. He snickered and quickly got off the phone for the second time. He was too busy partying it up with his artsy friends. 

Good job, man. I looked around and saw the small box by my foot. I grabbed it and clicked. In another blink, I was again in my room at the cabin. I moved to look at Caleb. Huh? I was still drenched. I got up to change quickly. As I pulled on new pajamas, Caleb stirred and moaned. 

I got down and shook him slightly. 

“Hey, man. Wake up for a second,” I whisper softly. He shifts and blinks slowly at me. 

“What?” He groaned and stretched. 

“You’re going to win the contest,”  I say sternly.

He blinks for a second and then laughs. He turns over and pats my leg. 

“Thanks. Go to bed now, okay?”

I chuckle as I lie down. I have a time machine. There doesn’t seem to be any limits to it either. There’s that slight headache it gives me, but that’s pretty worth it—a time-traveling machine. I wonder who that stranger was…? I almost forgot how I even got this thing. He even said he didn’t know what it was. Maybe, he bought it at some shop and couldn’t figure out how to make it work. 

I turned over, staring at the box. What should I do with it? Where should I go?

I blinked and stretched as I noticed morning had already come. I can’t believe I fell asleep. I wonder if sis is already awake. I wonder what she wants to do today. I threw my feet over the bed and stepped down, nearly slipping on a pile of blankets. Wha? Oh wait, that’s right. Caleb came with me. How’d I forget that? 

I bet he’s probably already downstairs ogling my sister. I glanced back and saw the metal box nestled into my comforter. I put it in my pocket and headed downstairs. 

“Mornin' Jib! Everyone is already at the beach. Hurry up and eat!” Caleb set a plate of eggs on the table for me. He’s such a good guy. He had to learn to cook for himself after his parents died. What if they didn't? Could I maybe…prevent the crash somehow? I stood up immediately. 

“I have to go to the bathroom. Go ahead without me! I’ll catch up!” I say, running back upstairs. 

“Fine, but hurry! And don’t let your eggs go cold!” he yells after me. I slam the bathroom door shut and grab the box. Think hard! That accident! Think! Caleb!

A sharp pain brings me to my knees, and I gasp through it as my landscape changes—the same field. I rush through the rain as that car speeds forward again. I started screaming and waving my arms, running as fast as possible. The other vehicle came into view. No! I don’t have long. I rushed ahead and watched as the other car suddenly wavered. The pouring rain pricked at my face as I neared the roadside. The vehicle with Caleb in it swerved to the side and swiped into the other. They both slammed into each other and spun across the way. I stopped and looked on as they drifted into a treeline, metal scraping and screaming against the cold night. Did they see me? Did I change anything at all? 

Someone emerged from the wreckage…somebody. Who was it? I can’t see through this rain! I continued forward and saw a tall man. Caleb’s father! He coughed and screamed, but he was alive. He quickly grabbed for Caleb, pulling him from the backseat. I did it. I actually did it. 


I smiled as I went downstairs. Caleb. No eggs on the table. I looked around and noticed that his stuff was missing. I changed history. Of course, there would be differences. I called him quickly, and he answered almost instantly. 

“Heya! I keep telling you I don’t have time to discuss the contest entry with you! I’m on vacation, man. My mom’s gonna be pissed if I’m on my phone. Wait, aren’t you supposed to be on your own vacation? We will talk when the break's over. Bye!” Caleb hung up without even allowing me a word in. His mother…they are alive. I did that. I saved his parents.

A note catches my eye, sitting on the table. At the beach, is all it says. That’s fun, I guess. I get ready and head over. 

I see my parents gallivanting in the sand and running around like children. How embarrassing. 

“You took forever!” a voice yells from a distance. Kayla? 

“When did you get here?” I ask, looking at her skipping towards me.

“What kind of joke is that?” she narrows her eyes at me. “C’mon, let’s go swim!” She’s such a child, too. 


It’s been a few weeks since I was handed that cube. Time sure has passed me by. Caleb’s going to find out next month that he won that contest. We aren’t able to spend as much time together as before, but I don’t mind all that much. I sigh as I turn the corner. Wait, did I get too lost in thought? I think I took a wrong turn somewhere. I took a few more turns but couldn’t find the right way. 

“Hey, sis, I got super lost. Do you think you could come to pick me up?” I say over the phone. 

“What? Are you…joking? You know I’m miles and miles away on campus right now,” she worriedly questions. 

“Oh, yeah,” I shake my head, trying to sound sincere. “It was just a joke. I miss messing with you.” She laughs and quickly tells me bye, greeting some classmates before the line goes dead. When did she go back? I don’t remember that. Well, I’ll figure it out. 

I get home hours later than usual. My mother comes running from the other room, reddened face and shaking. 

“What’s wrong?” I barely get the two words out before she collapses in front of me. 

“Your sister…she was-” She doesn't finish and just sobs, shaking her head violently. My father leans against the wall and staggers over the threshold, allowing the frame to hold him up. 

“Jib, your sister. She’s dead. There was an accident on campus. She fell from a railing. She’s gone.” His voice comes out barely audible and trembling. 

My knees buckle, and my entire body overheats. My stomach turns, and a sour flame rips its way from my throat. I turn to the side and heave. My stomach convulsed, and I vomited. Tainted contents of previously chewed-up food soaked in bile splattered against my arms. 

I can fix this! I can fix this! I stand and fall back down immediately, slamming into the stairs. I can fix this! I force my legs beneath me and stand slowly to move myself into a crawling position. I hoist myself up a stair and then another. I get to my room and shut the door. I take the box from the table.


I ended up near the campus. Groups of people were scattered around me, and they passed by, only sending me a few worried looks. I ran around, asking for her whereabouts, but no one knew who she was. I searched, but nothing. Then I hear screams and a commotion. There! I’m too late. I look on as a small framed body is broken and covered in blood, slowly surrounded by terrified onlookers. Kayla! I fall to my knees and feel for the cube. I drag it out of my pocket. 


I ended up on the other side this time. I ran and ran to where she was. Screams. Commotion. Too late. 


Run. Screams. Commotion. Too late. What’s too late again? I should press this, right? 


Run. Run. Run. Run! 

I stop. Why am I running? I look ahead. Someone passes by me that looks almost familiar. Why does the name Caleb come to mind? He was walking in the direction of some building. Should I say hi? No, that’s weird—just a stranger. A few moments later, there was a scream and a huge commotion. I saw some girl lying on the cement, blood pooling from beneath her. She looks familiar too. Interesting. It’s none of my business, though. 

I should figure out where I was going. I had a destination. I needed to go to the bookstore. 

I look around. I’m on a college campus, though. I was probably heading to class. I should hurry. I walk away from the crowd. Something’s in my pocket. I grabbed it. A metal box? I turned it over and saw no words or anything else to tell me what it was. I must’ve accidentally picked it up. How useless. I dropped it on the sidewalk, and a slight clink and a whoosh grabbed my attention. I look down to see a piece of paper protruding from it. 

'User beware: After the first jump, you compromise your memory. As you continue to time jump, you lose connection to all memories made. It is recommended never to use it.'

“What the heck. What a dumb joke,” I mumble, leaving it on the ground. 

I feel like I was heading over here. I was going home, right? Yeah, home. 


“Ah! Ouch!” a girl yelped. “This stupid thing tripped me. Huh? I wonder what this is?”

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