I sit at the kitchen table staring at my pack of cigarettes and a banana; the most important decision I’ll make all day.
I look out the window instead. It is spring, finally. After seven months of being beaten half to death with a cold wet pillow made of darkness, it is spring.
The front door clicks open. M walks into the kitchen.
“You gonna eat that?” he asks. I shake my head, hand him the banana, and light a cigarette.
“Where were you?” I ask.
“The market,” he says, dropping a bag of salt onto the kitchen counter.
“Find anything good?”
He grins. I frown, I know that grin.
He takes a small box out of his pocket and places it on the table. I give it a suspicious look-over. It’s all in Russian. I can only gather a few words.
“Time?” I ask.
“Yeah dude, it’s a frickin’ time machine.”
“Uh-huh,” I get up and start making myself coffee. I’ve given up on tea.
“What’s that other word?”
M shrugs. “I forget. it says zima, hm, ring any bells?”
I briefly try sticking my fingers into the sludge of my hungover mind before giving up, nauseated.
M frowns at it.
“Wanna try it?”
He pulls open the box and removes what looks like a cigarette lighter. It is blue. He rolls it over in his hands.
“The guy said you just push this button,” M says, pointing at it. I sit back down at the table with my coffee. I hold out my hand.
M places it onto my palm. It is lighter than I expected.
“Feeling dangerous?” M asks. I shrug.
“Do you want to ask N what zima means?”
M shrugs and pulls out his phone. “Yeah, I suppose. I’ll text him.”
I place the time machine next to the phone and we both have a cigarette. They become ash before the phone tells us anything.
“Fuck it?” I ask M.
“Yeah, what is the worst that could happen?”
He picks up the time machine, and presses the button. The world flips over twice, I keep my eyes closed. It all stops. I open them. I look at M. He is staring over my shoulder, the look of someone watching the oven get turned on in a cannibal’s house.
I turn. The sky is ink, the ground is powder. It is so cold you can feel the air struggling to survive.
“Oh god,” M groans. I turn. He is looking at his phone. He turns it to me, fearful tears in his eyes. N’s message came through: