‘2025’. It was the only thing I was able to read as I stared down at the thick, worn-down book in my hands. My mind flashed back to the image of my father on his deathbed, thin, wrinkly fingers slipping the book into my arms before falling limp onto the soft, white blanket. It had apparently been written by an old ancestor. Legends say our family was born from her remains after past humanity died out. I was surprised a mere pile of papers had lasted such a long period of time.

The mythical English language had vanished 3000 years ago along with the other myths about past humanity, one of them being the existence of books. Well, that’s one myth proven true. Sorrow overcame me as I realised it was also when this book was written. I presumed the symbols on the book was English, my desire to learn it immediately sinking as I remembered it didn’t exist no longer. Technology took up about 90% of the planet now, most of the oceans and forests being run by electricity.

Half of our bodies were made up of steel, mere skin now unable to survive the polluted and damaged atmosphere. The only desired piece of technology that humanity hadn’t been able to reach yet was the so-called time machine. If my father’s past invention truly was a failure, that is. An idea clicked in my brain, the book sliding out of my hands as I sprinted out of the room into my father’s workplace, the assistant robots hovering towards me as I slammed the door shut in their faces. I pushed the red button on the side of the gigantic metal structure, determination powering my excitement.

“Please work” I prayed as I stepped onto the metal platform. Blinding cyan light filled my eyes, static electricity trickling down my metallic arms as dizziness filled my head. My surroundings spun at lightning speed, although I couldn’t see anything due to the burning luminosity. Slowly, my feet lost balance, my entire body plummeting into a pitch-dark void of nothingness.

I awoke to a loud thud, sitting up in shock to see a young child jumping up and down on the soft bed, the wooden frame squeaking at every jump. I glanced to the side, an old-fashioned paper calendar reading July 25th, 2020. I climbed off the bed to avoid being trampled on, groaning as she paused and stared down at me, her eyes flashing with childish excitement. She rambled a bunch of foreign phrases at me, her soft skin sending a shiver down my spine as she dived onto me from the bed.

Her hand retracted slightly from my arm, as if the cold steel surprised her. I shook my head, praying she got the message that I had no idea what she was saying. I turned to look at my surroundings, a wooden bookshelf catching my eye. Hundreds of books inhabited the numerous shelves. I pulled a colourful book with a wide cover off the top shelf, repetitively pointing at it with my forefinger as the little girl looked at me in confusion, her eyes drawn to my steel limbs.

I twisted my face into a confused expression, desperately attempting to convey to her my desire to learn the language written on the book. A furry, brown creature was illustrated on the cover. The girl stared at me for a few seconds before clapping her hands, a bright look shining from her face. She said something briefly before sitting next to me, pointing at the creature on the cover.

“Bear.” She said aloud. I followed along.

Five years had passed and it was already 2025, the year I had been dreading. I still couldn’t believe the myths that I had only wished were true until now were actually real. I had grown quite worryingly attached to the young girl, who was a teenager now. A contagious virus had spread across the entire Earth, sweeping the lands of any life, including the other creatures, like the bear that I had seen on the cover of the first book I ever saw in this era of time. I now understood most words that the girl spoke to me, which were mostly basic ones since she knew I was currently learning.

“The virus is spreading so fast…what if we get infected, Leona?” She whispered, sparkling tears forming under her eyelids. Leona was the name that she had given me, as it was the most commonly used name that she used in most of the books she wrote. Her astounding ability of literacy had made her the only living author currently. Although young, her books always caught everyone’s interest, including mine. Despair overcame me as the thought of her passing away to the virus sank into my mind.

“Leona, I know I’m going to die soon, so I’m going to bury my first book underground, really deep, so that it lasts till the future. This way, I think people in the future will remember me too!” She exclaimed, happiness emitting from her youthful face. “Do you want to come with me?”

I shook my head, staring down at my feet to hide the tears forming under my eyelids. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. She stepped out the door, the image of her silhouette inhabiting my mind until the day the time machine’s power ran out, together with her last breath. If only I’d known that the days with her would be gone so soon.

“I’ve never really told you my name before. It’s Maya Street.” Her last words. I still remembered her raspy but soft, gentle voice as she said it, her cold, thin hands clasped in my own. I cursed myself for not even bringing any of her belongings to remind me of her. I pulled the old, worn-down book from my drawers, tears gushing down my face as I read the words on the bottom of the cover.
“Maya Street”