WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
A (W.T2.F.) Sunday Series
–Short Story Time–
A Sci-fi Special
Andy’s eyes are locked onto the soft pages of an old sci-fi book. He finds the smell of its old yellowed pages and the creases along the spine just as intoxicating as the story that’s transported him far far away.
His dark eyes scan the text and his hands dutifully turn page after page. The chapters fly by, and before he knows it, he’s turned the last page. After a second, he closes the book and stares at the back. It’s black with crisscrossed white creases as the seems of paper struggle to cling to life after many reads.
When Andy looks up, it’s with confusion that he observes his surroundings. It’s as if the car has barely moved, but he remembers the car moving, and at a steady speed too.
“SIM,” he asks his car AI, “what’s the delay?”
“There is no delay. We are set to arrive on time, with a total trip time of 20 minutes,” says SIM.
Andy accesses the time display on his SpecTechles. The SIM is right. He looks down to the novel in his hand and flips through the few hundred pages, reading lines here and there. No, reading the book had not been a dream. He remembers each page.
Strange, he thinks. He puts the book down as his autocar rolls into the headquarters of Memory Inc. It’s time for another memory upload.
“Welcome Andy,” greats his host. Andy nods and follows her through the grand entrance. Still on edge from the unusual happenings on the way here, Andy notes the building looks even more ominous now. The dark walls with it’s swirling black faces seem to twist, linger, and twist. Andy feels each movement deep in his belly.
“Are you okay today Sir?” asks the receptionist with that deep mild voice of his.
“I’m fine,” says Andy, doing his best to shrug off whatever this was. His host gestures for him to follow along and they set off the usual way with the same slow even gait that adds even more to Andy’s irritation.
After a final gesture and the hint of a grin, Andy’s host leaves him in silence. Andy sits and swivels in the chair, tapping his fingers on the metallic armrests. When the blue lights up, Andy knows it’s time to plug in. He tries to concentrate on the memories he wants to prioritize. These ones will have stronger replays if there’s a time he ever decides to do a recall.
The implant behind Andy’s ear buzzes softly as he connects the neurolace to the memory bank link. He hums quietly to the same soothing tone of the machine. Then, it’s over. The blue light blinks and dies.
Head still tingling, Andy opens the door and nods to the waiting host. They walk back to the front and Andy exits with a sign of relief. This time, he doesn’t look back.
— a few days later —
Andy’s sitting at his home office, feeling pretty chuffed at all the work he’s finished. The sun has yet to disappear over the horizon, still glowing warmly on the sunset’s canvas.
Rich blues, oranges, pinks, purples and even greens blend across the sky. It’s an exceptionally beautiful evening. It’s been some time since Andy has taken the time to watch the sunset. He pushes back from his desk, walks outside to his yard and simply lays on the tidy lawn with hands under head.
He watches the sun. And watches, and watches. It’s still there. He closes his eyes, even takes a brief nap, opens them, and the sun is still setting. Andy’s feet rock back and forth now. He looks ahead, then stands. What time is it?
No, that’s not possible. Only two minutes have ticked by.
With a flurry Andy rushes back in to his desk and scans all the work he’s completed. It’s all done. Everything he had planned for this week. He’s completed the report, fixed bugs, even created a new set of code for his company’s program. Members would be more than satisfied with this unexpected release. But just how could he have completed all of this, today?
With a deep breath, Andy considers the past few days. It’s not the first time he’s noticed this unusual passing of time. He has a few theories. First, he consults the time once again, then walks around the block. He does this three times at a steady pace, noting the time of each lap. The first is 17 minutes, the second is a whopping two minutes, and the third time his passes home, his timer tells him 9 minutes have passed.
The other theory is that he’s gone nuts, but he’s not willing to accept either at this time. There are a few tests to try out.
— the next day—
Heads raise as Andy makes an unusual appearance at his company’s HQ. He receives several warm welcomes as he walks through the glowing entrance and into the pristine foyer.
“Hey Andy! Andy!”
It’s Bill, the man in charge when Andy’s not around, which is most of the time.
“Hey Bill, long time no see,” says Andy.
“Yeah what a surprise!” says Bill, who’s always way too excited to see Andy, but Andy doesn’t mind. Bill gets things done, and does an excellent job of it too.
“Just stopping in to put a few theories to the test,” says Andy.
“Anything I can help you with?” says Bill.
Andy eyes pull left as he thinks, then, “Yes actually,” he says. Bill’s cartoon face makes one of those big smiles and his chest even swells an inch. Andy pretends not to notice, but Bill’s animated motions are utterly obvious.
By lunch-time, Andy is satisfied that he has enough data to go on.
“That’s everything?” asks Bill. Andy nods and dismisses the boisterous character with relief. Everyone seems to love him, but enough is enough for Andy.
Now, it’s data time. Andy hits enter and his code runs. In seconds the data rolls out and the stats jump neatly into charts and diagrams on the holo display.
Hmmmmm. Andy’s eyebrows crease and he sits back in his chair. Then, he opens a new holowindow and runs another data search.
When his fingers stop their typing, Andy’s frozen in place. So he isn’t nuts, or at least he isn’t the only nutter that’s cracking through time zones. A search of all employees and of the millions and millions of clients, fans, anyone who’s used his company’s services, reveals 129 exhibits with abnormalities in the correlation between time and output.
One exhibit, he notes, is in the building.
“Sarah, can you run through these for me?” asks Andy.
Sarah jumps right into the holodocs Andy’s passed to her.
“I’ll be here on this holostation for a while if you’re not using it?” he asks. Sarah shakes her head, so he stations himself at the holopod, making sure to keep Sarah in view.
The file is long, but it’s only minutes before she stops to look at Andy nervously. He shifts his gaze before she notices, and he reviews the holologs of her holoscreen. Yes, every page was viewed, and more than once. She’d read it all. Satisfied that there was no visual abnormalities to this time bug, Andy exits the holostation.
Sarah has turned and put the holodocs aside. She’s gripping the edge of her desk. He waits a few more minutes before walking over again to check in. She quickly turns back to the holodocs.
“First impressions?” he asks.
Her eyes dart back and forth. “I’ll need more time on this, I’d like to give you a detailed summary. Do you mind?” she asks.
“Not at all,” he says, and exits. He repeats this and a few other similar tests numerous times over the next week.
— recall –
It’s been a tough month for the Memory Market. Andy listens to the news;
“…and today there’s been another neurolace recall… management hints the cause of these unusual experiences of time delusion is a faulty update that modified the connectors during access to the memory portals … it’s not certain that the removal of the lace will correct what has now been dubbed the as the clock stopper. It remains a mystery what exactly is this phenomena in the perception of time….
“.. Another breaking story reports the success of direct internet access in connection with the latest neurolace release. Gone are the days of jeopardy as direct access from mind to web has been accomplished for the first time in human history… the New Neuro Co. expects to offer this latest update to the market early next month, significantly dropping the price for first time customers in the neuro market….”
Typical, thinks Andy, and he shuts the radio off.
A (W.T2.F.) Series