“I need to know!”
“You don’t. We don’t!”
I could see the fear in Kristen’s eyes, but I couldn’t get emotional, it could excite my brainwaves. As Kristen leant over my bed, I reached up and held the side of her face with both hands, and pulled her nose onto mine. I spoke softly so only she could hear.
“I’m going to be fine. It’s safe, and I do need to know.” I felt Kristen’s cheeks form a smile within my hands, and then we kissed.
“It’s a perfectly safe procedure,” said Dr. Chase, simultaneously demonstrated his excellent hearing, and ability to ruin a moment. “An induced coma is a standard procedure. It will only be for a short period, but is necessary to ensure there are no brainwave fluctuations during the projection.”
Kristen pulled away from me, and I let her go. “It’s not just whether it’s safe, it’s everything.” Kristen only spoke to me and wouldn’t even look at the doctor, pretending he didn’t exist. If he butted into her conversation again, I feared he’d be struck round the head with the bed pan.
“They’ve done tests and experiments that have proven the information brought back by the projection is accurate. I need to know if I’ll win.” I saw defeat in her eyes, as she knew she wouldn’t dissuade me. “I won’t go into politics unless I can be president, it’s the ‘W’ or nothing!” Then I addressed the doctor, “This type of information is guaranteed right Dr. Chase?”
The thought of a bed pan flying across the room didn’t form a smile on my face, but showed as a spike on the monitor, which suddenly made me conscious of all the monitoring equipment I was plugged into. I was also conscious of how I must have looked to Kristen, and that spike of guilt also showed on the monitor.
“That’s correct, the technology is anchored by DNA, and although this has limitations, information about the future of the person being projected is one-hundred percent guaranteed by the ‘Hindsight Corporation’.”
I knew Kristen could have retorted with a long list of counterarguments she had read, claiming that the ‘experience’ of the projection was no more than implanted memories, but she just looked at me and smiled instead. She was able to interpret the second spike on the monitor better than the doctor.
“But now I must ask you to leave the room Mrs. Edwards so we can stabilise your husband’s brainwaves before projection. Once he’s under you can return.” Before waiting for agreement the doctor begun strapping me down to the bed; he’d told me this was for my safety as returning was often disorientating.
Kristen blew me a kiss then left.
“Now remember Mr. Edwards you’ll only have ten minutes in 2080, so…” I looked at the monitor and my brainwaves were stable, “don’t dawdle, and head straight to the Information Centre.” Then I was gone.
Don’t dawdle, and head straight to the Information Centre.
I opened my eyes, and the ceiling was different from the one above me when I had closed them. It took me a few seconds to remember where I was, and when I was. Or is that where I will have been?
I could hear a repeated message being played through the over-head speakers directing me to the information centre, but the words were distorted. Everything I heard had to fight against the sound of air passing around me, and through me; like I had my head out of a car window speeding down the motorway.
I slowly sat up, then swung my feet over the edge of the bed. As I sat there I saw row upon row of beds. The room I was in was much larger than the one I left; the time travel business must be booming! All around me there were partly transparent figures, rising from their beds and rushing in the same direction, like ghosts commuting to their place of haunting. For every twenty ghosts there was one person, flesh and bone under their lab coat, and ignoring this river of spirits.
I rose from the bed and tested my feet. Despite their lack of mass, they worked perfectly. I made my way downstream with my fellow spirits, but then a noise stopped me in my tracks. My bed whirred like an electric motor at full speed, then suddenly a blinding flash. When my eyes refocused, there was a new body on the bed, which calmly rose, ignored me, and walked away with purpose. It hadn’t dawdled, and I followed closely behind.
When we got to the Information Centre my guiding spirit went to the nearest green pod, and an invisible door opened, and then closed after she entered. The pod turned red once the doors were closed.
As a projection you won’t have mass, but our facilities are fully automated and sensors will detect your presence, and the information screens are voice activated.
I found another green pod and entered. As soon as the doors closed behind me, a timer appeared above the bright screen, and a ten-minute countdown began. The pod was soundproof, and inside there was no seat. I was about to have the most epic egosurfing session on the net!
“Bailey Edwards – search”
The words appeared on the screen as I spoke them, and a list of related articles appeared instantly on the screen as soon as I said ‘search’. It was the fastest computer I’d ever used. Or was it so fast because the information was pulled from my own mind, like instantaneously thinking of a memory. I welcomed the distraction of this thought, as the title of the first article scared me, but I was on the clock and it was already approaching nine-minutes.
All search results will be numbered to facilitate faster voice commands.
“Open article one.”
The article expanded, and the title ‘Presidential Candidate still missing’ grew even larger. I speed read the article, absorbing the information I needed, and periodically saying ‘page down’. I chose to visit 2080 because I would be sixty years old by then, and hopeful I would’ve reached my political goal; the article confirmed I run for president in 2064…and was still missing in 2080.
Fear consumed me, and I couldn’t think until I heard the timer beep, as it reached five-minutes – as it had done for every minute milestone.
“Why did Bailey Edwards lose the presidential race – search.”
“Open article one.”
I read even faster now, only looking away from the text to glance at the countdown, then straight back to the text. Each interval between ‘page down’ grew shorter and shorter. The article confirmed that my political campaign had been derailed by a smear campaign. I’d lost the support of the electorate because a boy who still wets the bed into his teens isn’t presidential material. They’d found that little gem from hacking my mum’s account she’d used when seeking advice on a mothers forum. They’d gone as far back as the videos my dad had posted on social media of my first steps, as it ‘didn’t show the sure footedness needed for steady government’. They had everything. They had GIFs of my ill-advised dance moves at drunken birthdays. But my personal favourite was the memes they made of me before I had my lazy eye corrected.
“Who beat Bailey Edwards to become president – search.”
This search brought back fewer results, and then I remembered why.
The closer the connection you have to the subject of your search, the more information the projection will generate, and the greater the probability it will be accurate.
I’d run against him to be president, I was confident that connection would be enough for my needs.
“Open article one.”
The man’s name was Chester Woodward, and he was folksy type; like a cowboy minus the six-shooter and hat. He’d lived a rural life, and hadn’t had an online presence until his marketing team had created one for him. He was a likeable man without enough dirt to smear him with; he’d won by default.
I looked up and the countdown was now less than two-minutes. There was only one question left to answer.
“Where is Bailey Edwards now – sss-.”
My lips were moving but there was no longer a voice to my thoughts. The text on the screen taunted me on how close I’d gotten. I looked at the countdown and I still had over ninety seconds. I had dawdled. I had just enough time to look down at my hands disappearing before the wind blowing in my ears stopped.
“His brainwaves are back to normal. Here’s regaining consciousness.”
“Where am I!? I can’t move! Where am I!?”
“You’re safe now Bailey. You’re in the bed.” I recognised that voice – I opened my eyes and Kristen’s concerned look had already begun to calm me.
“I need to find me,” I told Kristen. “They don’t know where I am.”
“You are back in 2040 Mr. Edwards, that version of you doesn’t exist yet.”
My mind focused on that ‘yet’, and it cut through the confusion to a point of clarity. To an action.
“Kristen!” Her look of concern intensified as she recognised determination in my eyes. “Where’s my phone, I’ve got a lot of stuff I need to delete!”