The day the inevitable happened was, surprisingly, warm and sunny. I’d always pictured it as forebodingly dark with a torrential downpour of historical—nay, biblical—proportions. Since I knew it was of course coming at some point, I suppose it was comforting to think of it as somehow dramatic or noteworthy. But this was just another day, and quite a lovely one at that. Go figure.
The feeling started to come on during my morning shave, took form in the shower, and slapped me upside the head over breakfast. As I said, I always knew it was in the offing, but even when you know something is looming it can still reach out and grab you with a jolt of unpredictability, like the old jack-in-the-box toy where you’d turn the lever knowing the obvious result and yet still get a mild start when that damned thing popped out. For many people, the abstract notion of “the apocalypse” is probably a bit like this, something that feels inevitable but is viewed amorphously—until the moment when it all goes down before your eyes. I guess having a general idea and seeing the real thing are two very different processes. Continue Reading
The phenomenon only lasted long enough to get a short message through, but unpacking the implications of the response will take far longer. The science of radiometry behind the capacity to send information across space—and thus, by definition, through time—isn’t what I want to focus on here; as a scientist, there will be many opportunities to try and replicate the process and publish on the results. As a human being, however, and as a parent with a liberal sensibility that includes concern for the future, I am mostly preoccupied with the reply. My query is as follows, and below is what I received back:
To whomever receives this transmission: I am a scientist living in the year 2017 and have found a way to open a “pinhole” through time by which to send a message. I know this may sound unbelievable, but I’m hoping that anyone capable of receiving it in your time would have sufficient knowledge to understand. I can only offer as proof the internal logic of my message to you, which is one of deep concern. Our world is beset by violence and conflict, and our environment is rapidly destabilizing. Our political systems grow more venal each day, and the culture is plagued by shallow media and poor education. I know this sounds grim, but I am hoping that from your vantage point in the future, things look better. If you receive this, please use the same wavelength to send a reply—promptly, as the portal will soon close… Continue Reading
The sign blinked insistently, making Fredd really anxious. Not that he needed any help — the whole stupid affair had him on serious edge already anyway. But that damn sign, over and over again: “Please insert 20 cents to continue the session.” Without this, the gate would close and the drones would arrive. He had surfaced just long enough to access the net, thinking that he could send a message to the nearby cell, but now he was a dollar short (actually just a pair of dimes) and a day late. Who would’ve thought that things could get so bad that some loose change would make all the difference? Frantically, Fredd fumbled in his pants, realizing in this moment that his very life hung in the balance…
Ever since the rise of the Fascinistas, Lupita had been in hiding — well almost, seeing as there wasn’t really anywhere to hide from the pervasive grid, at least on anything more than a short-term basis. As it became clear that politics was literally a popularity contest, barely an inch removed from celebrity culture and the world of infotainment, all bets were off in terms of even the pretense of stability and integrity. If there was a particular dog to wag, or a specific candidate even worth imputing Manchurianess to, she would have done so. But this was bigger than that, she thought, as she jumped from the emergency terrace down into the half-filled dumpster, heart pounding out a staccato rhythm… Continue Reading
The pumps were working day and night, emitting a low (and not unpleasant) humming sound and the faint stench of rotting flesh. Since the discovery three years ago of the first large deposit, thousands were attracted here by the promise of steady work and maybe even a chance to become wealthy fast. For those of us living here already, the change has been difficult to absorb, but there are benefits too.
I run a small shop that sells basic provisions to the line workers. Even with my family helping, we can barely keep up with the demand—it’s all hands on deck all day long, unpacking shipments, stocking shelves, ringing up sales. Before the rush, we had a sleepy little store that served our needs and those of the community—a few hundred folks in all. Since the surveyors found the vein, we’re a major outpost. Continue Reading
“Pass the salt.”
“I said, pass the salt. I can’t eat this crap without it.”
“SO picky. How did you even make it through the Upheaval?”
“Very funny. You know that I carried your sorry carcass out of the gates of hell and into this even worse version of a world.”
“Tsk. You’d think one would be more grateful to have survived the apocalypse and all.”
“Yeah, it’s a friggin’ joy to be here with you, with nothin’ to do but banter all day, eatin’ this miserable muck they pass off as food.” Continue Reading