“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!”
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I know everyone else who commented here said practically the same thing, but I love the way you dealt with the time travel thing. Having him hooked up to all those machines instead of entering one... I never thought time travel would be something monitored by medics, but it makes sense. I laughed when you said his wife interpreted the guilt-spike better than the doctor did. Having all those other time travellers was a nice touch. One problem I've always had with time travel ever being a possibility in any timeline is that people would have c...
Hey Regina, glad to hear you liked the story! :) Yeah I developed the time travel mechanism by removing all the elements I don't like about time travel I've seen in other books/films lol I wanted to add limitations so the inventor wouldn't be all powerful. With the italics - the explanation would have no doubt been explained before he jumped, so I thought it would be the best way to get the plot motoring as early as possible, and then provide that information by having him remember what he'd already been told Re commas - it's something...
I've often theorised that time travel doesn't actually have to exist to exist. You just have to have somebody come back from the future, after it's been invented, and teach the people of the past how to use it based on how it works in the future, creating an endless time loop. I think the person I've seen deal best with time travel would be Dianna Wynne Jones, in "A Tale of Time City". She's got her characters in a city that's sort of removed from the timeline of history, which fluctuates somewhat, and it's the job of some of her character...
For takes on time travel I like "Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch, and the "Impossible Times" trilogy by Mark Lawrence; both take a multiverse approach which has the timeline split with the decisions we make. That's why I wanted my time travel to be based on probability - makes it more plausible, but also means the original timeline isnt changed by the projection into the future, but what you learn can alter your future as it hasn't happened yet. A lot of stories combat the issue of going back and sharing the technology by having it outlawed ...
This was a nice take on time travel - I like how it was only his mind not his physical self. Great story! I like how it tied into politics as well, what with the elections coming up. Keep writing! P.S. Could you please check out my stories? Thanks! ~Adrienne
Thanks Adrienne, really appreciate you taking the time to read my story and leave a comment. Of course I'll take a look at yours now. I'd be interested to hear what you think of my latest story "I should've took the stairs". I tried to make the time travel as plausible as possible, and not so the inventor would be all powerful. And yeah, the timing of the presidential election was very convenient lol
Sure! I'll check that out ASAP.
Thanks for the feedback, I just left a comment on "drip, drip" (great title by the way, and I really liked how you used it in the story too, as it could have easily been overused but you didn't fall into that trap)
Thanks! Mind checking out my latest story, too? I reviewed your latest as well.
No problem, I've just left a comment. I think I preferred the latest one just because I'm a fan of dystopias so much. It reminded me of Hunger games but without the hunger, great job with both stories! :)
I like the wya you envisioned time travel. Very creative. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!
Thanks for reading Cara, and I appreciate the kind words. I tried to come up with a time travel mechanism that doesn't run the risk of endless branched timelines, to make it more plausible. I'm thinking of using the same mechanism in other stories, so hopefully you saw that premise here first!
avoiding endless timelines... that's pretty smart :)
Ha yeah that's what I thought! I also wanted to limit the power/scope of the time travel too so the inventor didn't become king/queen of the world!! ...probably over thought it for a 1500 word story tbh lol
nah, it's fine as long as you're happy with it.
Exactly! I’m definitely happy with it :)
The way you used time travel is great! I liked the universe, how there was an information center where to find plenty of articles! Great work and keep writing😊
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and leave feedback, really appreciate it :) Yeah I tried to limit the time travel so it wouldn't make the invested ruler of the world, but also minimise any issues with parallel time lines too. I've got an idea for this week's prompt that I'm going to use the Hindsight Corporation in, but it's not a sequel so will have to explain the process again...hopefully it won't be too my explanation rather than action :S
You're welcome and I'll make sure to check it out! I'm sure it'll be great :)
Hey Andrew, great story! I love the way you conceptualised time travel, taking the psyche to the future rather than the physical self, it brought focus to his task since he was 'saved' from interacting with other characters of the future. It's a great piece and it keeps the reader engaged. In terms of suggestions, I'd have to agree with Paula on those few 'awkward' sentences, otherwise, keep writing!
Thanks for reading my story and the feedback, glad to hear you enjoyed it! That's a great point; I chose that methodology for time travel as I thought it was the most plausible I could think of, and as an extension to probability to make it credible, but it did also streamline his time in the future in terms of the writing process too.
Interesting. There were a few awkward sentences for me. "I chose to visit 2080 because I'd be sixty" is very long. "I welcomed the distraction of this thought..." is another one I thought was awkward. But I like the idea that he could project into the future. But...his disappearance. did he disappear because he erased all his online presence? Hmm
Hey Paula, thanks for the feedback and reading. Since submitting the story I've re-read it and found a few issues that I annoyingly can't correct online. I am keeping an updated version so thanks, I'll add those to the latest version...with the distraction line, I knew what I wanted to get across to the reader but with the deadline counting down (ironically) I was struggling to say it in a subtle way :S With the disappearance, I tried to set the person up as a win at all costs type, so the shame and the loss made them turn to a life in is...
you're welcome. As to his disappearance I was thinking very ironically...our online personas take on a life of their own kind of thing. Perhaps a theme for another story. :)
That's a cool idea; the 'fix' to the problem actually made it worse! Might have to steal that idea if I do revisit it, thanks :) That's why I like leaving elements of the story unspecified, almost makes the story interactive lol
Wow... I love this! I like how you set up the scene with the wife and doctor and Bailey being worried about what the spikes on the monitors were revealing. It's both dramatic and funny and captures some of the absurdity of our current social media obsessed society (not to mention the circus of our modern elections). I thought the descriptions of remote viewing were interesting and well done. My favorite parts were how the innocent millones of growing up were used against him, though. I laughed out loud at the part about his first step...
Thanks Katina, blown away by the feedback! :) I had actually already started a story with another prompt, then saw a celeb posting pics of their new born baby's socks...then thought they'll have no privacy, what will they think in the future! Then the rest fell into place and I really like how it ended up. It's great to know that you picked up on all the little things I added too. I've been struggling to add humour, so it's something I've been forcing myself to add, so reeeally glad it hit home. After rewriting and rewording it's hard to...