Tag Archives: the future

Forecast

I do not love you, but the cold, grainy
projection of your perfect future tense.
This is me admitting you will be loved
in one of my infinite possible
outcomes. We brushed hands over the lettuce
and I waited for—nope, didn’t work. And
I made a witty remark and then asked
you if—nope, didn’t work. And then I backed
off, but you struck up a conversation
in the frozen foods aisle and I flirted—
nope, didn’t work. And I pretended not
to be interested, and you asked me out,
and I—nope, didn’t work. And my girlfriend
never—nope, didn’t work. And it lasted—

Unhappy Old Years

12:00am, 1 January 2014

“Well…bye guys,” said 2013 as she waved her nonliteral appendage weakly. “It was fun while it lasted.” But she knew that no one was listening. They were all too busy cheering and kissing and clinking their glasses and singing some vague semblance of “Auld Lange Syne.” 2013 thought about the way they used to sing that song for her. Or at least, that one time they sang it for her, anyway. But now she was that old acquaintance, forgotten just as swiftly as she came.

The party would roar on into the wee hours of the morning, but 2013 skipped out early without so much as saying her goodbyes. Everyone looked like they were having so much fun, and 2013 didn’t want to disturb them. Everyone was happy with 2014, this cool new year that had replaced her in their lives, just like she had done with 2012. As she walked down the street towards the Island of Old Years Past, she wondered if all the years went through this same feeling of dejection, or replacement, of ennui and emptiness. Even though she knew that it was nothing personal, she still wondered if 2012 had held his grunge, if he would scorn her when she arrived.

2013 stopped and looked back at the triple decker home where the party raged on. “I thought the ending would be bigger,” she said with a whimper. “That I’d go out with a bang, some explosive last hurrah, just like how it started. You were all making Top 10 lists and looking back with such fond memories and recounting all our times together, I guess I thought…I really thought it meant something.” She picked up a metaphorical stone from the sidewalk and threw it at the window of the house, sending it shattering into allegorical shards. “I hope that you look back fondly on our time together. And if you ever need me again, you know where to find me,” she said. And with that, she kept on walking forward out of time to her own entropic heatdeath.

Then she heard a familiar voice say, “Well see? It’s not so bad, huh?” She looked up and saw 2012 standing before her, holding two glasses of champagne. He extended one towards her and said, “No hard feelings, kid. C’mon. Everybody’s waiting. And when you’re here out of time, the party never stops.” She would have smiled, if years could do such a thing. So instead she took a sip and joined the rest of the past forever.

Self-Checkout

It feels like forever while I wait for the guy buying three different kinds of organic peppers and one vine tomato to figure out how to punch in the produce code into the keypad and realize that he’s not supposed to weigh all four fucking fruits together at the same time and then I still have to watch him struggle with swiping his god damn credit card and screwing up the system that I start to consider running for office entirely on a political platform that pledges to require  all potential Self-Checkout users at the grocery store to be licensed before they can be let loose in the lines.

When he’s finally finished fucking up my evening, I step up to the machine and swipe my savings card on the score. “He-lloThome.Well-comeback.,” intones a clunky mechanical voice that vaguely resembles some concept of femininity. “How-was-the__Elli-osPiz-za__that.You.pur-chasedAt__two. Twenty-Seven. Aye-Em___To-Day?”

“Uh, fine. Thanks. Yeah.” I say. I glance around quickly to make sure no one in the line is listening to this dumb machine reminding me of last night’s regrettable drunken purchase. Although perhaps it’s not fair to say that it’s “regrettable” being that, well, I don’t actually have much recollection of it.

I scan my carton of coconut milk across the machine and wait while the dumb thing prompts me to, “Please.place-your__Coconut. Milk.___on-the-belt.” like it does every time, as if I hadn’t figured it out myself by now.

But this time, it keeps talking. “I-see.That.You.have-purchased__Coconut. Milk.__My_records.show.that-you-like.to-buy____Garelick-Farms_Whole.Milk.__Is-this.cor-rect? Please-press__*Yes*-or__*No*.” I press the little green button on the touchscreen and I can hear the people in line behind me shift their weight and sigh.

“Are-you.Di-e-ting_Thome?” the machine asks.

“No!” I say, perhaps a bit louder and more emphatic than I should have when speaking to a machine in public. I laugh nervously then turn to the little old woman behind me and say, “I’m actually just, I’m making sorbet at home tonight, for my girlfriend, so, ya know, the, um, the coconut milk is — ”

“¿Que?” she says, which is how I know she hates me.

The machine interrupts again. “Please-press__*Enter*__if.You-would.like-this.Ma-chine-to.keep-track-of-your.di-et-and-off-er-sug.Ges-tions. Press__*Exit*__if-this-is-a.one-time-pur.chase.” I poke my finger at the red button on the touch screen, then keep stabbing with my finger in angry little bursts like a drunken wasp.

“Thank-you.For.cancel-ing-your.Or-der.Please-have.A-good-day.Thome.” the machine says. I can feel the angry eyes behind me burning holes into my neck. I glance around to see if any of the staff is nearby. It turns out the coast is clear, and my coconut milk is already sitting at the other end of the conveyor belt. I smile at the little old Hispanic lady behind me, then dart down the aisle, grab my milk and make a run for it.

When All Is Said And Done (Part One)

Pat woke up feeling the same. Just a regular day. In fact nothing special would happen at all that day, or even that week. But it was lunch, ten days later that would really get him.

It was impossible for him to know, but Patriot Jones 461116 had just under 250 hours of life left.

At least how he knew it.

Doomsday groups, though (ironically) seemingly immortal, died down to a fringe murmur. It’s hard to convince any sane adult to believe in an arbitrary “end of the world” or the return of some religion superhero when the last of them died more than four million years ago.

It’s interesting to watch videos of the history of the planet.

Days when the earth was ravaged endlessly, and civilizations rolled themselves into dust. But that’s small scale thinking for you. Thinking no one would notice if they borrowed someone’s future, or mind if they did, thinking it didn’t matter that some had it all. Some.

Sure, sharing the planet has it’s down points, but once we figured it out, we were sorted.

“Hey Pat,” my neighbor clamors for my approval on the most mundane, “did you hear?”

Last week Wick found a way of saving one tenth of a second in monthly production time. Doesn’t sound like much, but one tenth of a second adds up over a millennium. World Wide Water, unlike my employer, offers vacation time for anyone who shaves time. All I got was a pursed smile and eyes that furrowed. Didn’t even lift his head.

“Thanks, Pat.”

“So what should I do?”

Like I’m the expert.

“Twenty days off! I’da thought they’d want me to stick around and go for broke, maybe grab one point two, hell, even one point five. But no siree, ONE-POINT-OH is good for them.”

Some days living in the future wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Early science fiction found a rebirth as comedy, providing a few drops of insight into human optimism, spread generously over the laughs. I mean, teleportation? Please. You can’t recreate moving molecules! It’s like unshattering glass.

But we have managed quite an existence. Accidental deaths, though rare compared historically, balance out twins and accidental births.

Pregnancy permits allow for stable adults to reverse the fertility inoculation.

They found out the hard way almost a dozen times that the planet has a population capacity.

Aliens probably have our planet marked in some intergalactic encyclopedia.

Earth. Maximum seating capacity:

4 Billion

They say you don’t miss what you’ve  never had, but that’s all bullshit. Or maybe not. I think missing and wanting are two sides of the same emotion; missing just means you let it slip through your fingers the first time.

But the human being can change only so much. A bit taller here, a bit leaner there. It’s not clay.

It’s still 8 hours sleep, but most get by on six.

Being Tense

That which she was
she can no longer be,
despite all that she had been,
and the perfect future
that she once would have had
has gone now that she is after past.
Regardless of this imperfect present,
she will continue to be
in our hearts for who she was
and always could have been
but tragically is no more.

Top Ten “Top 10” Lists of 2011

  • 10. Top 10 Underreported Stories of the Year I think this is an interesting Top 10 list idea to tackle, because “underreported” — aka not popular, not top — indicates that these stories are anything but Top 10. So I commend Time for making an intrinsically hypocritical Top 10 list that is actually surprisingly informative and insightful.
  • 9. Top 10 Ways to Make People Believe You Are Not Drunk. Also known as “Top 10 Ways to Ineffectually Attempt to Mask All Signs of Alcoholism,” this list tries really hard to insist that no one will ever notice, despite the fact that its overall recommendation for hiding the effects of alcohol is just to sit there and do nothing for the entire night (which in turn kind of defeats the purpose of social drinking).
  • 8. Top 10 Sweatiest Movies. It’s about time someone compiled a list like this. I commend author Kate Witteman for her gall in even making this pitch to her editor. It’s an absurd concept that actually hooks on to our collective cultural curiosity.
  • 7. 2011 Top 10 Movies for Grownups. This one makes the list strictly because it was compiled by the AARP. And let’s face it, that’s funny. It’s not even that all of these movies focus on characters over 60 years old; they’re just “movies for grownups,” which is an incredibly absurd and ridiculously vague criterium. Even Hugo and We Bought a Zoo make the list.
    Bonus: 2011 Top 10 Albums for Grownups, a list that is much more in line with “Stuff Only Mom and Dad Like.”
  • 6. Top 10 Secretly Badass Animals. I’d never seen a Mantis Shrimp before I saw this list, let alone heard of one, but I can say with great confidence that my quality of life has vastly improved now that I have. Also, wombats. Who doesn’t love a wombat? Neither wom, nor bat, yet somehow, still incredibly — and, apparently, badass.
  • 5. Top 10 Topical Sesame Street Characters. The fact there have been enough topical Sesame Street characters to justify the creation of Top 10 list of said characters is proof alone that despite all threats of economic collapse and nuclear fallout, the future is inherently a good thing, and we’re all going to be okay in the end.
  • 4. Top 10 Short-Lived Celebrity Marriages. Obviously topped off by the whole Kardashian fiasco, this list is especially notable because it is indicative of the world in which we live. Future historians would be well served to examine this list to gain a better understanding of our celebrity-obsessed culture in which there have actually been enough short-lived publicity stunt marriages to garner such a list. And yet gay marriage is still such a hot-button topic…
  • 3.Top 10 Memes. Another impressive cultural indicator. The irony here, of course, is that “Arbitrary Year-End Top 10 Lists” did not make the list of Top 10 Memes. In an even greater tragedy, neither did Admiral Ackbar.
  • 2. Facebook’s Top Status Trends in the US. Another major hallmark by which Future Historians will judge our lives. What really gets me is that despite the fact that I pride myself as being someone whose finger remains on the pulse of Internet trends, I have no idea what “lms” or “tbh” means, even though they were apparently the most popular Facebook status trends of the year. (mumble mumble god damn kids mumble mumble off my lawn)
  • 1. Google Zeitgeist 2011 Top 10 Google Searches. A worldwide ranking of our most popular Google searches, this is a prime cut cross section of our modern culture. Hell, it’s even hard to be disappointed that Rebecca Black tops off the list. But I’m especially impressed that the non-existent iPhone 5 made the top 10. What does it say about our culture when fictional science (science fiction?) permeates the heights of our news and obsessions? I’ll leave that one to the Future Historians.

  • Honorable Mention: Top 10 People Not Running for President, because neither Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, or Newt Gingrich is included.

    I Kill Dead People

    Here’s how it happens:

    I invent the first time machine. Or, Future Thom invents the first machine, then travels back in time, and gives Present Thom the schematics, so that I — that is to say, Present Me — can in turn invent the first time machine for Future Thom to deliver back to me.

    Once I — that is to say, Future Thom — has completed this first leg of the journey, he/I will then go back further in time to August 1, 2002, in the city of Los Angeles, whereupon I — that is to say, Future Thom — will track down one M. Night Shyamalan, on the eve of the theatrical release of his film Signs, and I — that is to say, Future Thom — will explain this to him (that is to say, Past M. Night Shyamalan):

    “I am going to kill you,” Future Thom will say, as he pulls a six-shooter from a holster hanging from his hip white Urban Outfitters belt. “I have come from the future to save you, and I will do whatever I can to save you, so I will kill you.”

    Past M. Night Shyamalan will put his hands up over his head and try to defuse the situation. He’ll ask Future Thom why, what are you doing, are you mad, this can’t be happening. But it will be happening. And Future Thom will explain.

    “After Signs, your career pretty much becomes a big joke of pretentious self-importance and cheesy ‘twists’ in lieu of any actual plot or purpose. Even Signs was only mediocre — honestly, you should never have shown the aliens at all, it would made the whole thing a lot better.”

    “But they looked so cool…!” he’ll protest. He’ll be wrong, and he’ll know it.

    Future Thom will pull back the hammer on the six-shooter and raise it to his chest. “If I kill you now, you’ll be forever remembered as a visionary young filmmaker, stolen away from the world before his time in some mysterious, unsolved murder. Your name, your legacy will never be sullied by such crap as Lady in the Water or The Happening. You will become the legend you have always aspired to be, and you will have me to thank for this.”

    “Okay,” he will say with forced bravado. “Do it.” He won’t actually believe me, but when a mad man claiming to be from the future holds a gun to your chest, sometimes it’s best to just accept it.

    “It’s for your own good,” Future Thom will say. “Killing Baby Hitler raises too many questions. But killing you will save us all.”

    Future Thom will pull the trigger. You will never read this story, because I will never have invented a time machine to go back in time to kill M. Night Shyamalan, because M. Night Shyamalan was mysteriously killed the night before the theatrical release of Signs, and the inexplicable and perplexing story of his death will be remembered for generations to come.