The Paradox

By Sam Jiang, age 12
The Paradox I live in New Jersey and I'm 12 years old. I enjoy reading books and practicing my trumpet. I'm the youngest in a family of 5 and moved from Canada to here in 2010.

“Jason suddenly had a wild idea. Maybe he could go back in time to prevent his parents’ death. Jason doubted it, but he would do anything to get his parents back. He would never forget five years ago when he was seven years old and their car crashed and how he was the only survivor…”

Jason woke up to the sounds of families shouting and running. He sat up groggily on a pile of blankets that he had stolen and glanced over to see what everyone was so excited about.

He saw groups of families rushing past, not noticing Jason in the alleyway. While looking at the families, a big poster caught his eye. It said, “Come see time machine at the Invention and Technology Convention.”

Jason suddenly had a wild idea. Maybe he could go back in time to prevent his parents’ death. Jason doubted it, but he would do anything to get his parents back. He would never forget five years ago when he was seven years old and their car crashed and how he was the only survivor… He quickly tried to think about something else. Thinking about their loss wouldn’t bring them back.

He walked over to the poster and checked the address. The convention was taking place at 123 Street St. It wasn’t too far from where he used to live while his parents were alive.  In the five years since their death, he had been living in the alleyway begging for money and food. At times he was very hungry and at other times he was thirsty, but he pulled through. He winced at the memory like it was a knife, but that gave him more determination to bring his parents back.

He ran toward the convention as fast as his legs could carry him. When he arrived he bent over and tried to catch his breath. He walked into the gates of the convention where he was stopped by an admission booth. Since he had no money he tried sneaking around, but there were guards around the convention that would catch him. Then he devised a simple plan that would draw the guard’s attention to something else. He took a match and lit it. After that he threw the match at the greenery around the convention. All the guards went to put out the fire, so he climbed over the fence without being noticed.

While he walked around trying to find the time machine a lot of people were giving him strange looks. They were probably wondering why he was dressed in torn muddy clothing. He ignored them and kept looking. He marveled at the different inventions the people made. He saw hover boots to flying boats. Eventually Jason got lost, so he asked one of the inventors where to find the time machine. The inventor gave him strange looks, but he told Jason the directions.

When he got there he could see the time machine propped up on the stage and the inventor Bob Jones talking about it.

“Okay, so the time machine is a delicate piece of work. It can travel through time, but if you’re not careful it could also tear a hole in fabric of space,” Bob lectured. “And at times you could even create duplicates of yourself.”

Jason ignored the lecture and snuck over to behind the stage (where he could see a bunch of guards trying to put out the fire) and lunged forward towards the time machine.  It looked like a tall metal box with various assorted wires and things Jason couldn’t identify. Bob tried blocking him, but adrenaline boosted him and he ran into the time machine and desperately pushed random colorful buttons.

The machine door closed and he saw a flashing red light appear. He heard Bob pounding on the door and shouting,“Wait! That’s a delicate machine you could destroy the world…”

Then Jason and the machine disappeared. He felt like he’d been put in a washing machine in a blender. He sat down trying to feel less dizzy. When Jason felt better he looked around the time machine.

It was cramped and the size of a phone booth. There was a panel with an assortment of unlabeled buttons and levers. On another side of the wall there was a screen where you could enter the date you would like to go to. Jason decided to look outside the time machine. He saw a forest near a mountain with a cave in it. He also saw various different dinosaurs. He stepped back inside the time machine and tried to get back to the present, but then he realized why he had stolen the time machine, so instead he entered in the date when his parents died on the panel and the machine disappeared.

He appeared at the yard of his old house and saw his parents getting in their car with young Jason following behind them. He hid the time machine and followed them. He suddenly remembered that they were taking young Jason to a hockey game. He used to love hockey when he was little. Jason tried to think of ideas on how to stop him but couldn’t think of any. He thought about popping the tire, but he couldn’t think of anyways to do it. He decided to go back to the garage and find something sharp. He tried getting in, but the door was locked. He tried to remember where his parents kept the spare keys, but he only remembered the keys were hidden somewhere on the yard. Jason paced around the neighborhood trying to think of ways to get in.

He finally decided to just search the entire yard. He first checked in the bushes. He crouched down and crawled around the bushes examining where the key might be. After a long time he went over to the trees and he climbed up to the low branches to maybe find a key resting on one of the branches, but he didn’t find anything. Jason eventually got so frustrated that he kicked a rock only to find the key under the rock. He picked it up and brushed away the dirt. He walked over the door and inserted the key and twisted. The door unlocked with a satisfying click.

He stepped inside cautiously and once he knew no one was home he walked over to the garage and saw multiple items that could be used to pop tires and grabbed a branch cutter. He strolled out the front door, locked it and put it back where it was. Then walked to the time machine (with the branch cutters) and entered the time before they left on the panel and disappeared.

He appeared at the same spot and peeked around the tree to make sure they hadn’t left the house yet and then he went to pop the tires.

Suddenly the garage door opened Jason’s dad stepped outside and yelled, “HEY YOU, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THAT’S MY CAR AND BRANCH CUTTER!!! GET OUT NOW!!!

Jason quickly fled to the end of the streets when another time machine appeared. Bob Jones stepped out of it and glared down at Jason. “Heh heh heh. What do we have here?” he said.

Jason looked for an escape and saw only one, the time machine. He tried diving into the time machine, but Bob blocked the door.

“Not this time,” Bob said. “Now tell me why are you here?”

Jason thought of lying, but decided against it. “I’m here because my parents died and I want to resurrect them.”

Bob’s expression softened and he said, “Nothing you can do about it. It’s best to keep things the way they are.”

Jason thought about what he said and decided if they were alive, reality would change, but for the better or worse. He decided that it would be worth the trouble. He ran towards his parents’ house to his time machine.

He stepped in the time machine and traveled to before Bob came. He walked to the car and let them go, then followed them. He glanced behind him hoping Bob wouldn’t follow him and saw himself talking to Bob. He decided not to waste any time talking with Jason or have the chance of being captured by Bob, so he continued following them. Thankfully there was lots of traffic that slowed them down so Jason could keep up.

Then he walked over to the car and stared at them. He looked at his parents’ distinct yet familiar features. His mom’s brown hair and white smile and his dad’s warm brown eyes seemed to fill him with joy. His mom was stroking young Jason’s hair and laughing.

Jason paused and then said to his parents, “Don’t go, I’m Jason from the future and you’re going to die. I’m here to prevent your deaths.”

Jason’s dad stared at him and said, “Wait. You’re the person who tried popping my tires.”

Before he could finish his sentence the car behind them honked because they had been holding up traffic so they rolled up the window and drove away. Jason watched them as they went in a hurry and crashed into the car in front of them.

Jason sagged his shoulders in defeat realizing that if he hadn’t talked to them they wouldn’t have been in such a hurry and wouldn’t have crashed. He plopped down on the sidewalk and mourned for their loss. He looked over to the crash and found hope. He walked towards the time machine and closed its door. He sat down trying to think of ideas, but all that came to his mind was that he caused their death. Jason decided to go back without a plan, hoping maybe a plan would enter his mind. He set the date on a panel and teleported back in time.

He stepped out of the time machine and saw himself running towards the car. Jason (#2) gave a surprised look, then realized it was him from the future or past.

He sprinted over to Jason #2 and said, “Wait, don’t go. Mom and Dad will die if you do this.”  

Jason #2 gave a skeptical look and reluctantly said, “Okay, what do we do?”

“Just wait here.”

Jason #1 and 2 waited and watched the car go. The car went forward and suddenly a newspaper got caught by the wind and splattered against the windshield. The car flapped its windshield wiper trying to remove the newspaper and crashed forward.

“Well your plan didn’t work,” said Jason #2.

“We’ll have to try something different then.”

“Let’s go back to my time machine and try again.”

Both Jasons squeezed into the tight space and teleported backwards. They stumbled out of the machine and went to stop Jason #2 (of the past).

“Don’t go,” said the future Jasons in harmony. Then a time machine appeared and another Jason #1 went to stop Jason #2 (as shown above), but froze in his tracks. All Jasons looked around in confusion.

One of Jasons said, “Why are there so many Jasons?”

“I don’t know,” replied another Jason.

“Let’s just prevent the death,” said another Jason.

All Jasons agreed and went over to the car.

“So the car crashed because a newspaper flew into the windshield,” explained Jason. “So what we have to do is stop the newspaper.”

The Jasons looked around for the source of the newspaper, but couldn’t find anything. Then one of Jasons spotted a man on a bench nearby throwing the newspaper in the recycling bin. The wind picked it up and it splattered against the car. All four Jasons groaned and went back into their time machines to fix it. They appeared and rushed to four confused-looking Jasons.

“No time to explain, just try to stop any newspapers from going towards the car,” said one Jason.

All eight Jasons went the where the man was sitting and waited for the man to throw the newspaper. When he threw it all eight Jasons rushed forward to stop it. One Jason caught it and triumphantly yelled. The car moved forward without any trouble and made its way to the hockey stadium.

“Okay, so now that we fixed it… which Jason is going to the present?”

All Jasons debated about it, but couldn’t find an answer. One Jason decided on a competition on who can run to the time machine. All Jasons agreed. They lined up and faced the time machine.

“3, 2, 1… GO!”

All Jasons sprinted to the time machine, but since they were all the same person they were evenly matched. They then argued even more who should go. Eventually after lots of arguing one Jason had an absolutely brilliant idea. He said that they should spin a bottle and whoever it points to gets to go. They circled around a bottle and spun it. The bottle slowed until it landed on a Jason. The Jason who got picked cheered in excitement. All other Jasons gave disappointed looks while the one other Jason stepped towards the time machine.

“Wait, I’m the original Jason,” said the original Jason. “I should go back to the present.”

“Then prove it,” replied the Jason that was going to the present.

“Well… I have more memories than all of you.”

“Prove it,” replied the other Jason.

“Every Sunday my dad used to take my to the Baxter Park to play hockey.”

“How do we know you’re not lying?”

“Umm… because… uhh… it’s… true?”

The other Jason rolled his eyes and strutted towards the time machine. Suddenly the original Jason pushed the other Jason and ran into the time machine and quickly returned to the present. Maybe my parents won’t be what I want them to be, thought Jason.

He appeared in the alleyway passing a sign for the convention and sprinted to his house forgetting the time machine. He slowed down at the sight of his house. An image of the house before he changed reality appeared in his mind. There was an old house with broken windows and paint chipped away in some spots. Now the house had clean windows and what looked like new paint.

Through the window he saw his parents making dinner. His mom laughed at something his dad said as she inserted a platter of spaghetti into the oven, Jason’s favorite food. He cried at the sight of them. He wiped away the tears and walked to the house. When he reached the door, it opened, revealing his parents.

“Where were you?” they asked. “And why are your clothes muddy?”

“I was playing hockey with my friends and tripped and fell in the mud,” lied Jason.

“Well, happy to see that you’re back home,” his mom said.

Jason smiled and hugged her. “Happy to see you too.”

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