I claw way down a dark tunnel towards a bright light. There is only one thought on my mind, and that is escape and freedom. The walls around me collapse and I scream out in claustrophobic terror as I realise that I am about to die.
Only I am pulled free and into the light. For a moment I dangle upside down in mid air, my foot clamped by something. The world spins around and I see giants. Before I realise it, I am screaming out in terror again as I struggle to remember where I am. A face looms towards me and fills my vision. It terrifies me and I close my eyes.
I am placed into a plastic tub and I slap out against it. Then I see how tiny my hand is and I pause, holding it up to my face. I catch a glimpse of a woman laying on a table, crying. She reaches out towards me and I try to pull myself up, but my body is weak.
Shivering against the cold, I try to snuggle my naked body into the warm rug I appear to be laying on. A giant hand comes in and wraps me up. Terrified, I hide myself in the blanket as I try and work out what has happened. The last thing I remember is darkness and the overwhelming terror of the tunnel. Before that, I have the strangest feeling that I did not exist. Flexing my hands out in front of me, I wonder at the smallness. Exploring my body to check for injuries, I am equally shocked to find that this body is strange as though I exist within a shell.
Before I can investigate further, hands wrap around me and I am lifted up high. A man looks at me with curiosity. “We should use the girl,” he muses out loud, his words hurting my fragile ears. He turns me around, peering closely at me and I feel exposed.
I hear someone say, “Does it matter?”
The man sighs, puts me back into the tub and wraps the blanket around me. “We shall see in twenty years.” He leans in close to me, his bright blue eyes wide with what I assume is excitement. But as I stare helplessly back, I detect cruelty.
I am shocked to know I am a baby and I can only be at one point in my life: birth. But as I struggle to keep awake, I wonder how I know this. While confused, I appear to understand language and I can reason. If this is my birth, then how can I understand the concept of such a thing? It is that mystery that drives me on through my life as I grow up. At first I keep it a secret that I have awareness and intelligence at such an early age. This is easy, because while I am aware, the brain that I inhabit is still developing and I have moments where I lapse into a strange waking dream. Months can pass when I am a baby where I barely think at all.
It is a shock when I find myself standing on my own feet, walking across the cold floor of a white walled room. I am five years old. I look up at the bright lights and see a window where a group gather to observe me. My arms instinctively reach up to them, but there is no joy in their faces. Puzzled, I turn away from them and explore the room. Across from me is a girl of around the same age. She sits on the white floor, clapping her hands together and laughing. Her eyes are on the strangers. I want to call out to her, ask if she is like me, but I think better of it. Whoever these people are, I suspect it best to hide within this shell.
The girl looks at me and grins, locking me with her big blue eyes. Before I am able to approach her, there is a hiss as a door opens. Roughly, I am lifted from the girl and my hand reaches out to her, wanting to protect her.
I am taken to another room and placed within a caged area. Grabbing the bars, I shake them. In those early days, I find it hard to keep awake and I continually fall into long sleeps. But each time I wake from a sleep, I find that I have grown older. I think that I must be sharing this body, that I am an invader to this baby who continues on when I am not present to guide. Each time I awaken, I am with the baby girl.
Now she looks at me, her face matured into a cute looking ten year old. We look at each other for a long time in silence. I glance around and see we are alone. “What’s your name?” I ask.
The girl giggles. “You know who I am.”
Yes, I do know who she is, but I cannot remember. There is something familiar about her, like she is an old friend I have not seen for a long time. Studying her, I pull up a name from the depths. “Eve. You’re my twin sister.”
Eve nods and goes back to colouring. I look down at the piece of paper on my desk and see a blank sheet. The girl and I are connected in a way that goes beyond siblings and I sense a link. My hand picks up a pencil and I scribble on the blank sheet. I look down and see a spiralling tunnel that I have drawn, stretching from one end of the sheet to the other. A word pops into my head.
“What’s a wormhole?” I ask rhetorically.
Then I am grabbed by the hand and pulled away from Eve who cries out for me, her tears falling down her cheeks as she screams out in fear. I want to protect this innocent girl I barely know.
“What do you know about wormholes?” the man asks, his face creased with excitement.
“Nothing!” I blurt out. That is at least true. But I am taken away, down long corridors and into areas that are marked restricted, roughly led by the man who I now recognise from my birth. We pass soldiers who stand to attention. We enter a dimly lit room and I recognise it from where I was born. Now I see it without the terror, I find it strange. It is circular, the ceiling domed over us. There are shining glass tubes that run the entire length and I have the overwhelming urge to flee. But the man holds me tight.
After a few moments, he says, “You recognise where you were born?”
I nod. “You were there.”
The man gives a half smile. “Did you know something very special happens at birth? We are born with a very special thing in the centre of our brains.”
I frown as a memory comes back to me. “You mean we are born with a wormhole at the centre?”
The man nods. “And the wormhole grows with us through our life. Imagine if you could go back down that wormhole to the very beginning? Our room here gives us an anchor to that early wormhole, a way to link back when the brain is ready to fall back down to that very point of birth.”
Anger fills me. “That’s what you plan to do to me, isn’t it?”
The man touches my face with his fingertips, and I fall away from him. “Is that you inside there now? Have you fallen back through time?”
Before I can reveal more, I am running away, down the twisting maze of corridors. Where I am going, I do not know, or care. My mind is spinning with ideas. If I am indeed a traveller from a future ten years away, then why can’t I remember? If I could, then I would be able to manipulate the past to change the very future I have supposedly come from. But that’s just it, I realise: Time will not allow such a thing, so the person I was is forgotten.
They finally catch up with me and I am placed under constant observations. They monitor me, strap me up to wires and bombard me with questions. Days pass as the interrogation continues. Who am I, where do I come from? The repeat the questions and I repeat my answers.
“I don’t remember!”
Finally they give up and I am left alone, curling up into a foetal position on the floor. They must have realised that I am of no significant help in their experiment beyond confirmation that what they were doing has worked to a degree. I am a ten year old boy and in ten years when my brain is considered ready, they will send me back down my wormhole, destroying who I am and what I was. Over the next few days I am visited by various doctors who examine me, write notes and talk amongst themselves.
I overhear someone talk about Eve. “We should continue with the girl instead. We obviously send the boy back the first time around.”
There is a murmur of agreement. “Her DNA is coded into the system, so it should work.”
They leave me alone, but I cry for Eve who I know I shall never see again. What will become of me, I wonder. But a spark ignites within my brain and something causes me to remember who I am and I sit upright and laugh uncontrollably.
“What’s the matter?” A doctor asks.
I look at him through tears of laughter. “I just realised who I am.”
The doctor shrugs and walks away, assuming that he knows the answer already. But he doesn’t. The last laugh is mine, for I am Eve and all they are going to do is repeat what has already happened. And it is for this twin brother of mine that I weep for. He will never have had a chance to live, as I have crossed into his wormhole.