Cyrus Goodman sat in the bar, twisting his wedding ring around his finger. He hadn’t felt this nervous since he’d been 16 and hauling a tarp across his back patio.

It had been a crazy life, but it had been good. He’d met Tracy Goodman, the love of his life, when he was only 15. It was her who’d helped him hide the body.

He glanced over at her and she smiled back reassuringly.

“You good, Trace?”

“Yeah, I’m just worried. What if he don’t show?”

Tracy put down the single glass she’d been cleaning for 30 minutes whilst watching the pub door. A shadow rose up against the doorframe window and the candles of the pub seemed to flicker ominously.

The door creaked open, revealing the silhouette of a man wearing a smart suit, bowler hat, and bow tie. He smiled widely, revealing teeth that had been sharpened to points.

He stepped into the empty bar as the door swung shut behind him. There was a click as the door shut.

“Had a friend who could do that, you know. Move shit with his mind. It’s like a giant magnet in your pocket or something, moving the door hinges. It don’t scare me none.”

“Is that so, Cyrus?” said the man, removing his bowler hat. “I take it you’re the owner of this fine drinking establishment?”

“A’yup,” he replied. “Best pub on TripAdvisor in the area, where you can also find out the names of the owners.”

The man cackled.

“I have to admit, though, those teeth are a bit creepy,” said Tracy.

Cyrus shot her a look and she immediately realised she was speaking out of line. They’d spent the entire week discussing how they weren’t going to make the odd man who’d placed the ad in the paper feel as if he had the jump on them. People like him would take any advantage.

“I suppose they are,” said the man. “But we’re getting off topic. Allow me to introduce myself.”

He produced a thin business card from his wallet and handed it to Cyrus. Cryus took it gingerly, and read the front.

Sotm Deville. (Pronounced SOT-UMM.)

Antiquities and Fine Relic Dealer

“You some kind of weird guy from one of those commie countries with no running water or what have you?” said Tracy, eyeing the card.

Sottum smiled widely. “We don’t actually have running water where I come from. It has a tendency to just…”

Sottum made a whooshing noise and threw his hands in the air.


Cyrus blinked.

“Weird. So have you got the thing?”

Sottum reached into his pocket and took out the perfectly smooth block. It was three inches by three inches and the colour of a solid cloud.

“Yes, indeed, I do.”

“And it’ll do what you say it will do.”

Sottum smiled.

“I say a lot of things,” Sottum replied. “You’ll have to be more specific.”

“Wouldn’t irritate him if I was you,” said Trace. “Cyrus shut the entire pub for you and he’s losing money every second we’re not open.”

Sottum ignored her. “What is your favourite moment, Mr. Cyrus?”

“Meeting Trace,” he replied, instantly. “Glad I did and all.”

“And how did this come to pass?”

“You what?”

Sottum cleared his throat. “How did that happen; how did you meet?”

Cyrus felt a little uncomfortable. He could have sworn that this strange man’s eyes had been blue when he’d entered. Now they were shining a light crimson.

“I was just goin’ outside and then some geezer hit me with a rock. I fucking kicked him in. Then went to get my neighbour and we hid his corpse. Trace turned out to be neighbour. Helped me with it. We’ve been together ever since.”

Cyrus did a double take.

“Why the fuck did you tell him that!?” yelled Tracy.

Cyrus had gone chalk white. “I dunno. He replied. Just sort of…”

“…fell out?” Sottum finished.

Cyrus nodded. “I don’t think I feel too good.”

“Do you have the payment?”

Trace handed the note she’d stuffed down the front of her cotton bra.

Sottum read it with interest. His entire face seemed to flare and contort with anguish as he noticed.

“Yes, very nice try. Very, very nice try, but now you’re irritating me, aren’t you, you little hussy?”

Cyrus reached for the knife attached to his belt. It wasn’t there.


Cyrus reached for the pistol in his back pocket. His hands slapped against an empty pocket.


Cyrus reached across for the glass bottle on the side table. It had vanished.


What the fuck are you, mate?! Cyrus screamed.

Sottum pulled a large ahead of paper seemingly out of nowhere and handed it to Tracy.

“Right fucking hand. Full fucking name. All fucking capitals. Don’t cross your fucking fingers whilst signing.”

Cyrus went to put his hand on Sottum and shrieked as his fingers pressed against the side of the suit. It was as if he’d wrapped his fingers around a lit oven filament.

Tracy signed with shaking hands and handed the contract back. Sottum lobbed the grey cube in the air and headed for the door. Cyrus caught the cube as Sottum reached the door.

“And how the fuck do I operate it?”

Sottum smiled.

“Oh, you’ll figure it out.”


That night, Tracy and Cyrus lay awake on their mattress. Cyrus was washing down his fifth beer as Tracy sat on the sofa, unable to stop a strange cold feeling that had lingered over her body that entire afternoon.

“‘E asn’t got yer soul, Trace,” Cyrus slurred up at her. “You don’t ‘ave one, anyway.”

He laughed at his own joke and drained the last Budweiser of the pack.

Tracy attempted to smile, not letting Cyrus know just how terrified she was.

“S’all made up anyway, religion and that. Just an oily snake salesman, thassall he is, Trace. Oily snakeman.”

He leaned up to kiss her and then noticed something out of the corner of his eye.

The grey cube was flashing blue.

Cyrus, in his drunken stupor, approached the cube. He mouth gawped like a goldfish as he reached towards it. “It’s fuckin’ doin’ it, Trace, the time travel cube!’

Tracy smiled and rose to meet her husband. He threw a backhand at her and she felt the sofa, clutching her reddening face.

“Don’t touch my fuckin’ cube, woman!” he yelled. “It’s mine!”

“But I bought it,” said Tracy, weakly.

Cyrus laughed. The girl was nice, but it wasn’t shit compared to the national lottery. He checked his pocket. The slip with the numbers was still there. He grabbed the cube and immediately vanished, gripping the cube for dear life as he flew through the magnificent wormhole of space and time, laughing maniacally.

Alone in her living room, Tracy Goodman began to cry.


The flight seemed to take forever as he saw vistas and stars and civilisations rise and fall beneath his. Colours and objects seemed to blur past him, but he couldn’t make out anything. Cars, rocks, trees, houses, sun, dogs, lamps, moon, stars, ashtrays, chimneys, children, adults, tables, clocks all seeming to blur past his face every microsecond, seeming to create one giant object which trapped his vision that was both everything and nothing.

And then he felt the cold roof tiles beneath his feet. The feeling of warmth on his face.

He’d arrived.

He looked down from the top of the house and realised with horror where he was. His childhood home.

He cursed the demon that had sent him all this damn way for nothing. The numbers were useless! Wasn’t he supposed to have gone back to his favourite memory? Cyrus was so angry, he didn’t even think as he hurled the rock off of the roof and heard an agitated cry from below.

He looked down from above the roof and saw what he’d done.

A 15-year-old Cyrus Goodman stood below him, scowling. A stream of blood was running from his forehead to his crisp white top.


50-year-old Cyrus was too taken aback by himself to even realise what was happening.

“I’M GONNA FUCK YOU UP FOR THAT!” Cyrus screamed at himself.

“No! Don’t! Please!” begged Old Cyrus as Young Cyrus leapt onto the drainpipe and began to climb.

Old Cyrus watched as his younger self did exactly what he remembered doing and felt something warm leak down his leg as his younger self climbed towards him, snarling as he did so.

He was literally going to kill himself.

Young Cyrus was gaining fast and was almost at the top of the drainpipe when Old Cyrus had an idea. He looked at the drainpipe. It was rusty and old, just as old as all the other parts of his childhood home, and he swung his leg out to kick it.

The drainpipe rattled.

Young Cyrus snarled and climbed faster.

He kicked again and again, his body descending into a panic mode as he kept kicking, until he heard an almighty crack of the drainpipe disconnecting from the wall.

Cyrus heard himself scream, but didn’t see himself fall. He leaned over and saw that he’d fallen, only to be impaled on the spikes at the front of his house. One entire spike had driven straight though his head, which had split like an unripe melon.

He breathed a sigh of relief that the maniac was no longer climbing up to kill him. He never got time to consider what he’d actually done, however, because he popped out of existence a fraction of a second later.


The Darkell Household was all a buzz as Tracy Darkell carried both rucksacks to the car, whilst five-year-old Jamie whined that he couldn’t find his favourite sock.

Mark was already in the car, and as Tracy loaded the last of the luggage, she became aware that she being watched.

A man in a suit was tromping towards her, seeming a little vexed. He held a yellowed strip of paper in his hand.

“Can I help you?”

“This is yours,” Sottum said, angrily. He thrust the bit of paper at her and turned to leave.

“Wait, who are you? I don’t think this is mine.”

“It’s not, but it is,” Sottum replied. “You wrote that, but you no longer exist. I have to give it back to you because I have to be sportsmanlike or temporal reality gets squished like a bug, me included.”

Tracy Darkell briefly wondered how many lunatic asylums were nearby, and looked down at the paper. It wasn’t her name. She’d never been “Goodman,” nor had she ever heard of the name. But it was inevitably her handwriting. Nobody ever bent the top of the “T” or spun the middle part of the “G” like she did.

“How did you get this?” she asked.

“You gave it to me,” Sottum replied. “Only you also didn’t, because I bet on the wrong goddamn horse. Wrong Cyrus got killed. Sometimes happens, don’t worry about it. Just blend the thing up with milk and drink it within the next 46 years, three weeks, two days, seven hours, 42 minutes, and 19 seconds.”

And with that, he stormed off.

“Or don’t,” he yelled back over his shoulder. “I’d actually prefer it if you didn’t!”