The unnamed narrator of this story is about to be sent one month into the future on a test mission. His mission is to wait for someone to open the door, check in with the technician, then press the yellow button to return. He is never to leave the machine. No words are to be exchanged. The less he knows about the future, the better. And he is never to tell what he sees.
He’d only have to keep the secret for a month.
When he arrives, no one opens the door. What’s wrong? Is he early? Did he land in the wrong place?
This has the feel of an old-school hard science fiction tale. It is tightly told. The narrator tells the reader he has been chosen for what must be a dangerous assignment because he can keep his mouth shut. Bravery doesn’t matter, nor is there a hint of sentimentality. He does not write a last letter to his wife and children, assuming he even has a family. He simply shuts up and does as he’s told. In the few instances where he does act outside his explicit orders, it’s because he had no choice.
The narrator also doesn’t weigh ethical dilemmas. He has his orders, and he must follow protocol. Could he change anything if he’d made another choice? It’s impossible to know.
There is something unnerving about a person who consciously gives up all autonomy like this, but it is the type of thing necessary to complete such a mission.
I like this story. It is solid and good.
I could find no bio info on this author. If this is his first published story, good for him! If not, it’d be fun to read more.
The story can be read here.
Author: Sean Soravia
First published: Daily Science Fiction, July 6, 2020