Sins of the Father

by Emmanuel M Arriaga, January 2015

The football sails high into the air as Jason bursts into a sprint, the fit teenager quickly outpacing his best friend Charles. Jumping a few inches off of the ground, Jason spins as he catches the ball and lands on his back.

“Touchdown!” The ecstatic boy cheers.

“I hate football,” Charles says.

He collapses onto his butt, his eyes skyward as he leans back on his palms still catching his breath. Long brown hair sways in the cool breeze as its owner slides onto the ground beside him.

“Aww honey, you did well!” The pretty girl says.

Sympathetically she wraps her arms around him. With an annoyed sigh Jason frowns, the young man quickly hiding his expression as both look over at him.

“Hey Veronica… you ready for graduation tomorrow?” Jason asks.

He moves to sit in front of the two. Veronica tosses him a bottle of water as her face lights up.

“You bet! So glad school is over, now we can focus on important things like planning our wedding!” Veronica says.

She kisses Charles on the lips. Wincing from the sudden action, Jason diverts his eyes.

“I can’t believe you guys are engaged…”

“Why’s that?” Charles asks.

He looks to Jason, the other teenager falling back onto the grass as he stares up into the clear sky.

“I don’t know, just seems… kind of early.”

“Early?” Charles gawks. “Dude we’re graduating school tomorrow, our lives are finally starting! I’ve already got a job lined up working for Mr. Zimmer, he’s taking me on as his apprentice.”

“What do you want to be a carpenter for anyway? Jason asks.

He sits back up, the bottle coming to his lips as he takes a swig of water.

“It’s better than what you have lined up!” Charles counters with a mischievous smile.

“Oh I’ll find a job! And it’ll be ten times better than yours!" Jason says.

He splashes water from his bottle towards Charles. A gasp from the now wet Veronica causes the larger teenager to jump to his feet as a chase ensues, the instigator keeping one step ahead of his friend as they run around the park. Standing a short distance away from the antics of the two boys, a young silver haired teenager watches them in silence. He stood covered by a long black cloak with gold trim, a high collar obscuring his neck. Netsin’s brown eyes linger for a moment on Veronica, her features distant yet familiar. His gaze quickly focuses back on Charles as he watches the young man with intense curiosity, a feeling of awe overwhelming him.

Raising his left arm, he runs his fingers across his sleeve as a futuristic holographic display appears projected in the air. Tapping the shining console, the scene around him fades as another takes its place. Charles rushes into the hospital recovery room as he tries to catch his breath, his eyes scanning the area for signs of his wife. Catching sight of her brown hair, he quickly moves across the room to see her cuddling a small baby in her arms. Collapsing to his knees at her bedside, tears of joy begin to stream down his face as he looks at his son for the first time.

“Charles Netsin Banks Jr,” Veronica whispers in her husband’s ear.

Netsin affords himself a smile as he shares in their experience, his eyes reluctantly going to the display above his arm. Another tap at the screen causes the scene to shift again, this time the familiar park reappearing with Charles junior beside another toddler roughly the same age. Resting a few yards away sat Charles senior and Veronica, both keeping a careful eye on their son. Next to them were the parents of the other toddler, Jason and his hastily married wife Asha. The dulled eyed woman silently watched Jason, his attention completely focused on Charles’ wife.

Netsin taps another key as he appears outside of a small single family home. He watches it silently as he stands in the pouring rain, his body untouched by the water. The sounds of a truck pulling into the driveway catch his attention as he sees Charles senior, much older now, sitting in the driver’s seat. He catches the subtle look of surprise as Charles recognizes Jason’s car in his driveway. Reaching over, Charles picks up a dozen red roses from the passenger seat as he kills the ignition.

Pulling on his hat, Charles rushes to the front door, slowly opening it as he quietly walks inside. Netsin walks behind him, his body phasing through the door as he traces Charles’ steps. Silently making his way up the staircase, Charles catches the faint sounds of his whole world crashing down around him. Racing up the stairs, he barrels through the bedroom door as Veronica screams.

Caught in the act, Jason dismounts Charles’ wife as he tumbles to the floor. Grabbing his clothes, he tries to cover himself as he clumsily stands. Attempting to hide under the covers, Veronica trembles, guilt having its way with her. The roses drop to the floor as Charles stands in complete shock, his body numb.

“He… Hey Buddy… you’re back early.” Jason says.

The words twist like a dagger in the big man’s heart. Slowly, Charles’ mind begins to work again as he looks from his naked best friend to his wife hiding under the covers of his bed.

“How… could you?” Charles utters. The words are filled with pain as the hurt in his voice causes Veronica to whimper. “Get out of my house.” Charles whispers, the words barely audible as Jason closes his eyes. He knew their friendship was over. “I SAID GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” Charles yells.

Fury rises in the large man as Jason quickly rushes past Charles without care for decency. Netsin holds back tears as he watches Charles move to the bed, Veronica nervously shifting away from him as he sits on the ruffled covers, illicit sex still lingering in the air. Resting his head in his hands, Charles begins to weep as his heart shatters. Forcing his body to move, the young man overwhelmed with emotion, Netsin taps a few keys on his display as the scene fades.

Afternoon light pours in through the windows of the same single family home, the house eerily quiet as Netsin watches the front door open. Veronica walks in, bags of groceries in her hands as she kicks the door closed with her foot. Looking up, the woman screams as she drops her bags, the sight of Charles hanging lifeless from the staircase overlook causing her to drop to her knees and sob. Unable to take the sight, Netsin hits another key as the scene shifts to the same park from before. Charles junior, now a teenager, sits straddled atop Jason’s son beating him to a bloody pulp. Onlookers run to pull the boy off as he yells profanities at the other teen.

“Screw you and your whole family! My dad is dead because of you trash!” The boy spits.

The onlookers drag him away, tears streaming down his face. Jason’s son stares up at the sky as blood mixes with his tears in the grass. Emotions building, Netsin wipes away another tear as he tries to keep himself together. Unable to handle any more, Netsin taps a few keys on his display as the scene shifts again, this time his home appearing around him as he steps out of a glowing circle on the floor. Collecting himself, he dismisses the holographic display as he wipes his eyes dry.

“If dad knew you were traveling back in time he’d probably kill you.” Netsin’s sister says.

She stands watching him from the corner of his research lab. She wore a thin blue dress that slicked down to her shins, the material appearing hard yet malleable.

“Well Emi, I guess it’s a good thing he doesn’t know then,” Netsin replies with a smirk.

“There are laws about messing with time you know.”

“All based on outdated physics models and drafted out of fear,” Netsin counters.

“Why are you spying on our ancestors anyway? Aren’t there more interesting things to do with time travel?” Emi asks.

Gulping down a protein shake, Netsin eyes his sister as he quickly processes her words.

“Oh please.” Netsin replies. “Don’t tell me you’ve never been interested in knowing what started this whole ridiculous feud between the two families.”

“Nope, not interested! And you should tell dad about your toy before you blow up time or something,” The pink haired girl counters.

She spins and skips out of his lab. Netsin watches her go, the boy staring off into space for a few minutes as his mind races.

“I can fix all of this…” Netsin whispers to himself.

He turns back to his time travel device, his mind replaying the truth behind one of the longest family feuds in world history. Glancing back towards the exit, his sister’s words still lingering in his mind, Netsin steps back into the glowing circle as he brings up his holographic display. With a few key taps and a smile, he vanishes.