novus | short story

My name is Novalee Nash, and I was born for one singular purpose: to kill my father.

– NOVUS by jeryn cambrah

I wrote “NOVUS” for a short story contest on Vocal.Media.

For a long time, I had this idea rattling around in my head about a locket, which, when worn, could transport the wearer back in time.

Lo and behold, the prompt for this particular challenge was “a heart-shaped locket”. It was too good to be true.

I immediately set about writing an epic, thoughtful, sci-fi inspired story and tried to command my long-winded self to keep it under 700 words. (Yeah, it was difficult.)

I had only a few days to eke out the story, which was actually intended to be a full-length book. My writing took me in an odd direction; I realized the short story I was writing had actually become a ‘sequel’ (or perhaps a prequel?) of sorts to the novel I’d always wanted to write.

For four days, I furiously wrote whenever I could. When the toddler was asleep. During dinner. While watching rom-coms with my mom. Before bed…and when I should’ve been sleeping.

I’d finally done it. I created the perfectly condensed version of my poignant heart-shaped-locket-travelling-in-time story!

And then my computer ate it.

I saved the document, but somehow it had disappeared by the time I tried to publish it.

I was devastated.

I had to just about start all over, after I found a tip on Google about recovering lost documents. (Pro tip, kids, always save a back-up…lesson learned).

But by then, the deadline had already expired. I missed my chance.

However, Vocal customer service was pretty darn sweet, and I was told to go ahead and upload the story anyway, so it could ride the rush with all the other contest entries.

I didn’t win, obviously, because I missed the deadline, but I’m still pretty proud of my thought-provoking little story, and it’s available for you to read right here:

Part of my inspiration for this story is the old adage people tend to throw around: “if I could go back in time, I’d kill Hitler.”

We often associate time travel with righting wrongs. For some, the first instinct is to start ‘taking out’ bad guys, so they can never grow up to do evil, atrocious things.

But what if it was a child? What if it was your family?

What if you sat across from that little boy or girl and shared a meal? Would you then be so willing to kill?

We often think of destiny for these “evil” people as linear. They’re bound and determined to turn out the bad guys, no matter what.

But we all have the capability to do evil and vile things. It’s just that some of us are better at choosing not to do them.

I believe that there are no bad people, only bad choices.

In NOVUS, I wanted to explore this moral dilemma, and the concept that one is fated to be good or bad, as if we have no control; as if every choice we make in this life doesn’t directly influence and affect all the others.

It is easy to say you’d kill Hitler or any number of history’s ‘bad guys’. But it is a much harder thing to say when the ‘bad guy’ is a small child, full of hope, full of innocence, sitting right in front of you, with all the space and opportunity in the world to become anything.

NOVUS contests that destiny is never linear.

Some scientists visualize space and time as a line; some as a circle; others as a slew of possible shapes, including (and most likely) the abstract.

The lesson in NOVUS is that any of us can become anything, any type of person we want to be. I am not fated to be good or bad, nor are you.

Have a read and let me know what you think. And remember: you can be anything you darn well please.

Read NOVUS on Vocal.Media by clicking here: