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Riding on a sled had never been this much fun. For central Siberia, the weather was beautiful. There were no storms brewing as far as Yakov could see with his eyes. He was off to the woods to get the weeks rations of firewood for his family. In the year 1908, in the Tunguska area of Siberia, it was essential to their survival. As the head of the family, he used to make this trip once every week.
The sun was unusually bright on this day, Yakov thought as he raced through the snow with his dogs. He had never seen it like this. There was a lot of light in the sky. He put it off thinking it was the afternoon and the sun was directly overhead. But it was hot too. It was never hot in Siberia. This was a first. As he moved faster and faster on his sled, the heat grew and the light seemed to come ever closer. Yakov was now scared for himself and his dogs. What was this unspeakable horror?
Then it happened.
As his sled moved on and on, Yakov was at once surrounded by white light of intense ferocity. It was blinding. The heat was unbearable. His clothes singed and his leather boots started melting away. There was a fearsome explosion and he was caught right in the middle of it.
It took a while for him to open his eyes. The snow felt cool against his bare skin. He slowly got his bearings and staggered onto his feet. He was naked. His clothes were burnt away into nothingness. But his skin was flawlessly smooth. Nothing was charred anywhere. Maybe the snow protected him from the explosion. Explosion! He just realized what had happened there a while back. He stared around himself. The trees around him seemed dead. They were blackened and their leaves were gone. All the pines and the spruces were bent, some uprooted. They were all dead. There was an enormous opening in the forest where Yakov now stood. He could sense no life around him here. But the explosion, whatever it was, could not have happened a few hours ago. After all, his dogs were missing. Were they dead? How would he go back home? He needed to cover himself up. It was getting cold.
He calculated the direction in which his village lay and started walking back. Upon walking what seemed like a kilometer, his feet were numbed and he could move no further. He stopped in his tracks, shivering. Crawling with all his might, he rested against the remnant of a tree with his back against it. Then he noticed something strange.
There lay, a small distance from him, inside the destroyed forest, a dog. He gathered some remaining energy in him and walked to it. It was dead. There was another a small distance away. Their throats were slit, and they were lying dead in the snow. There was a knife lying there. It was his own. Tears came to his eyes as he grew more and more bewildered. Who or what monster did this horrible deed? But he was cold. He took the knife and started working on the dogs furry skin. It would shelter him against the cold walk back home he had to endure. As he skinned the dogs, he noticed the traces of a small bonfire near where the dogs lay dead. He grew even more befuddled. Someone had apparently camped here the night before. The same person must also be responsible for the death of the dogs. But how did that man get his knife? It was all too muddy a mystery.
“Thank you for your help. I shall try to find who did this to you. But I am very confused.” Yakov said to his dogs after he had peeled off their fur and put it around himself.
Then slowly, grudgingly, he started walking back. The arduous journey home would take about half a day on foot.
It was dark by the time he reached his village. Covered by the dogs' skins, he trudged on to his house. As he approached the little wooden house, he noticed that there were no candles lit in his house. It was dark. Obviously, there was nobody inside.
“Roksana.”, he called out to his wife as he pushed the front door ajar. He called her name again. He called for his teenage son. There was no reply. There was nobody home. He stepped inside and saw, in the light of the moon, the vestiges of a man lying in what seemed like a deep sarcophagus. Full of dread as to what may have happened, he approached on padded feet, more out of fear and apprehension than the want to conceal himself. It was him. Yakov lay in the coffin right before his own eyes. His body was charred and blackened beyond normal recognition. Only his face was properly visible.
Yakov's eyes popped out as he staggered onto a chair in disbelief, as he stared at his own corpse. After remaining there for a while, absorbed in panicky shock and incredulity, he decided to get something to wear. He climbed the stairs to his supposedly erstwhile bedroom and grabbed his work clothes. Then, without looking at his own dead body again, he quickly walked out of his house and decided to go to his sister's. His family must be there.
There were voices that arose from his sister Yelena's house. Sad voices. Confused voices. The words he heard meant nothing to him. They only baffled him more. They thought he had lost his mind, right before he died. But he did not die. He was alive. Someone else lay in that coffin in his house. It could not be him. Yet there was no doubt that it looked like him. The air was rent with confusion. He dared not go inside for fear that his family might attack him, thinking him to be something that he wasn't. The thoughts filled him up and weighed down on him. As he stood outside his sister's door, he grew maddened by what he heard about his last moments in life. He decided that he could keep up with this conversation no longer.
“I thought I saw someone outside the door. I'll be right back.”, said Pasha, Yakov's son as Yakov himself moved away from the door of his sister's into the night.
Yakov traipsed on to sled that was tied up at his sister's shed. He untied it and swiftly, had the dogs speed him off into the cold night. He had to go back to the woods. Something had happened there, although he understood none of it. Something supernatural was occupying the forest, he thought. He had to get to the bottom of it all.
When he neared the place where he had discovered the dogs, he decided to get some rest. He put the dogs on a leash and tied them to a tree. He set up a small fire with some wood and flint he found in the sled. There was a small bottle of vodka as well. It would help keep him warm. More importantly, it would help keep him sane. Or so he thought.
Yakov hadn't eaten anything all day and got too drunk after chugging down half a bottle of vodka. He needed food. The dogs lay there, silent and peaceful. He took his knife out of his pocket and swaying slightly, walked over to the sleeping dogs. The faithful, tired and tied down dogs stood no chance as he bore down upon them.
As they lay dead in the snow, Yakov saw what he had done. The horror of his actions hit him like a wave of a chilling Siberian storm. He took a long swig from the bottle and threw it into the fire.
As the fire crackled louder and an enormous tongue of flame grew from it because of the alcohol, Yakov, full of remorse and madness and fury at what he had just done and the workings of the night, dived into the fire that engorged around him and killed him. Only his face fell in the snow out of the fire's reach.
He had travelled a day into the future. He could not change it. The other day in his other life was just the same.
Thoughts : The idea of wormholes and parallel universes is one that is not understood or even explained. Proposed by many renowned physicists, including Stephen Hawking himself, this may be a way to actually explain time travel and what may happen on an occasion in which time travel may actually be possible.
In 1908, in the Tunguska area of central Siberia, there was an enormous explosion in the forests. Its effect was felt up to almost 600 miles away. It was described as a great flash of light in the sky and searing heat that was felt miles away along with an indescribable force which “shook the ground”. What may have caused that explosion so long ago is still a mystery, open only to speculation.