Advice for a Man Trapped in the Near-Term Future
Errrrrgk. What happened to me?
Hmm. Let's see. A failure of public schools?
Well yes, obviously. But I was hoping for something a little more specific than that.
I suppose there's the small matter that you're in the future.
According to my advice-dealing instruments, you are communicating to me from some point in the future.
How far in the future?
I can't tell with this rig. This actually isn't very good advice-dealing equipment.
The hell you say.
Relax, I promise I won't steer you wrong this time. Now then. To have sex with your own descendants, you need to-
Who would turn down the chance to become their own great-grandson-in-law?
Nah, I'm just messing with you. That's actually pretty sick. OK then, to murder your own descendants, you'll need to-
Are you sure this is the future? I'm only seeing non-flying cars. And there's a kid on a hoverless hoverboard.
The future isn't magical. There are a lot of reasons we probably won't see hoverboards, even in the future. Gravity, aerodynamics ... physics, basically. The universe abhors a hoverboard.
How did I even get to the future? I don't remember a thing.
Where are you?
I'm walking along a sidewalk and my head hurts. That sounds more like I was hit by a car, doesn't it?
Could you have been hit by a car and then slingshotted around the sun?
Could you have been hit by a car that was carrying a flux capacitor or a sorcerer?
Yes? Seriously, how are you so convinced I'm in the future?
Fine. Let's prove it. Do you see any newspapers?
What the hell is a newspaper?
Right. OK, do you see anything around that might have the date on it?
There's a bus shelter up ahead.
Perfect! Go there and see if there are any ads on it. I bet there's one for something really future-y. Like a laser hat.
The future will be both deadlier and fancier.
There's an ad for a Hobbit movie. See? The present.
Not necessarily. There are still like five or six parts of that left to come out, I think.
Does it say the year?
No. There's a guy here waiting for the bus, though. I'll ask him.
Ask him for his clothes, too.
Are you not naked?
Are you sure? Check.
Yeah. I'm decent.
Man, James Cameron doesn't know anything. OK, let's just ask him the year thing then.
He took off when he saw me checking myself for clothes.
Yeah, that's not a thing most people need to do. Well, the fact they're still making Hobbit movies and using buses tells us you're not that far in the future. In a way that's better.
How is that better?
It will make it easier to adapt. You'll still have diseases to watch out for and a cruddy pre-post-scarcity economy to contend with, but at least you'll understand most of the slang.
Won't staying here change the timeline?
Won't staying here change the timizzle?
That's not how causality works.
Time's Arrow can't do this, for conjugation reasons alone. Time's Arrow can has been done next yesterday this.
Nothing you do in the future will change the past, so there's really nothing to worry about. Sure, you'll piss off people in the future's future, but that's their fault for living there. If they have to come up with complicated diagramming techniques to fill in your family tree, that's their problem.
A dotted line made entirely of exclamation marks.
I wonder then. Could I ... maybe use this to my advantage? Like if I did something here and went home and then I'm like wealthier or taller or something?
You want to jack Cause in the back of the head with a sock full of Effect?
Well, we could try Biffing the future.
Biff from Back to the Future II. He stole a sports almanac and traveled back to the past and used it to bet on sporting events.
What the hell is a sports almanac?
Never mind. OK, how about the stock market? You could generate some ridiculous alpha with stock tips from the future. Although ... do you have any capital to invest?
So no then.
Well, we could try stealing an invention and taking it back and then claiming you invented it.
Do you know how like a basic everyday smartphone works?
Uh ... You touch it?
That's the big problem with stealing something from the future. Even if you could figure out how it worked, it'd be impossible to reverse engineer or recreate it with the technology of the past. Like that guy who tried to make a toaster from scratch and basically made a pile of hot garbage.
So what can I do then?
Honestly? I think we should probably just try to get you back home before you get plasma-syphilis or something.
Wait. Won't I be home?
Oh, you mean your physical home. No, I meant your home-time. Yeah, future-you might be in your future-home. And yes, we probably should avoid him.
Because of paradoxes?
Paradizzles. And no. I'm worried you might try to sleep w- actually, wait! That could work!
I am not sleeping with myself, my future self, and just to be safe, anyone with the same color hair as me, ever.
Not sleeping with you. Speaking with you.
If future-you exists here and penetrated the same time orifice you-you did, that implies he found a way back home. He might know how and be able to explain it to us.
This feels exactly like the kind of situation that ends up with you tricking me into something unsavory.
It does, doesn't it? Nevertheless! Onward! To destiny! Sexy, confusing destiny!
If there's a way out of a time-travel story that doesn't end in ante-post-self-fellatio, I'm not going to write it.
All right. Here's my old home. The spare key's still in the same hiding place. What does that mean?
It means either nothing or that future-you knows you're coming and you're about to find yourself covered in rose petals.
Hello? There's no one home.
Any rose petals?
Nope. Just a pile of junk mail.
Any dates on the junk mail?
Let's see. 2015.
See! Future. Not very far in the future, but still. Look around some more. You're bound to be around here somewhere.
Nope. But there's a huge pile of splinters in the hall. And gears. And a pendulum.
This must have been your time machine.
Can I fix it?
Let me think about this for a second. You said there was a pendulum? What does it taste like?
It was a simple question.
What does the pendulum taste like?
Why would the pendulum's flavor have anything to do with anything?
Old clocks used the regular motion of a pendulum to drive the gear train, which kept time. For a pendulum to be used in a time machine implies that the pendulum was speeding up or slowing down, which is normally impossible in our universe. Ergo, that pendulum may not be from this universe. If it's from a different universe, it will quite likely be made of matter constructed using slightly different universal constants, which will manifest itself in a few ways, possibly by having different chemical properties. And your tongue, believe it or not, is a reasonable tool for measuring this.
That actually sounds pretty plausible.
Thanks. Now taste the fucking pendulum.
It tasted pretty normal.
That's good! There's a chance it could have killed you.
Sorry about that.
No. Not you. It's my parents. And the cops. They're at the front door wondering why I'm licking this pendulum.
Reasonably so, I'd say.
They say I've escaped from the hospital and they're worried about me.
Another savvy decision on the part of your parents. Do they know what happened here?
They're saying I was moving furniture around my house ...
Like an old grandfather clock you'd purchased to be ironic?
That rings a bell.
And while you were moving this clock yourself, you knocked it over onto your head and have since been in a coma for a year?
Yeah. Ouch. Well, that's not really time travel then, is it?
It is. Just a very conventional, everyday sort. It makes you realize how miraculous every passing second is, and how, in a way, we're all time travelers.
I refuse to realize any of that.
Well, at least this explains why you didn't run into future-you. You-you are future-you.
So there was no risk of me having sex with myself at all!
So everything's OK now? Aside from the head injury and horrific amnesia and other long-term brain damizzle?
Oh shit! They're strapping me to a gurney! They think I'm crazy!
Because they caught you breaking out of a hospital, breaking into your own home, and sucking your own clock?
What? Oh, fuck you.
Congratulations! You are now no longer trapped in the future! You are trapped in (your) present! Should you desire any further guidance, please consult our guide, "So You've Just Been Subjected to the Worst Pun of All Time."