Ask this guy what time it is and he’ll tell you how to smash a watch . . .

Chronolog - Day 6

by Bret Funk © 2004

It took nearly a week, but I have finally adjusted to this Earth, so different from our own. The light was the worst part. So bright. And the people. There are so many of them, and they all look the same. When I walk through their cities I sometimes tremble, for I cannot tell which are enemies and which friends.

Before I begin, allow me one brief moment to describe this world to you. Clouds come in waves, and often the sun can be seen shining in the middle of a blue sky. The rains are refreshing, neither so toxic they kill nor so acidic they burn. It's warmer than our summers here, though barely spring. Animals and plants run wild. The other day I saw a flock of birds. An entire flock! It's just like the stories.

And the people, they're everywhere! They walk unafraid through the streets. They brave the outside world without a second thought. In some respects, it's almost a paradise.

Do not misunderstand. This is not an idyllic world by any means. Technologically they are far behind us, but what they've already accomplished concerns me greatly. I have seen gangs, crimes, and violence; though nothing like in our world. These humans are primitive, almost savage in some respects. Observing them, it is sometimes difficult to believe we are the same. Yet I can see the roots of our terrors--the blood gangs, reavers, and other horrors of our world--among these people.

No obvious course of action has presented itself. Tomorrow I will begin to conduct my research in earnest.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 13

Things are worse than I originally thought. Nuclear weapons. Genetic engineering. Deforestation. Ozone depletion. Global warming. All the things which shaped our future have their beginnings here. In all fairness, I must give them credit for eliminating global warming, though I'm not quite sure they'd appreciate the irony of their solution.

I have yet to formulate an acceptable plan of action. I stay up late at night conducting my research, but with every new discovery I grow more cautious, less eager to act. My first impulse was to tell the truth, announcing it to anyone who would listen. It would have been difficult to convince them I was not insane, but I know enough. I could have done it.

But would it have helped? Probably not. They'd have learned all they could from me, stolen what few bits of our technology I have, then made the same mistakes. Or worse ones.

I cannot allow that.

I must come up with a new strategy.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 17

I avoid people as much as possible. They are all angry and suspicious. I'm not sure at whom, though sometimes I fear I am the target of their enmity. When I remember how much worse it will become, when I remember the nightmares we have endured, I nearly laugh out loud at my childish terror.

I find myself afraid to talk. It's too easy for them to see how different I am, too easy for me to slip and say something I shouldn't. Many think I'm foreign. But some...Some of them stare at me as if they know the truth. Ten years at the Academy, earning degrees in Temporal Causality and Population Mechanics, did not prepare me for the reality of my situation.

I tried the tachyon receiver today. It was the first time I used any of the technology from our world. The mere thought of it falling into the hands of these...people. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I'd rather be overcautious than risk an even darker future.

The receiver works. I could see flashes of the future, much like I remembered it. So far, my presence has had little effect on the timeline. I also received your suggestions. If only I could get messages back to you. Your ideas, which must seem so logical in our time, would be ineffective in this place. We are not the same as they. Our motivations are not theirs. Even if they believed my tale, they would not be moved to protect us. We are left to fend for ourselves, and I find myself our only hope.

I will continue my observations.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 19

It continues to amaze me how precious these gemstones--worthless in our world--are to these humans. Simple stones! I could establish myself well in this world with what I have broought, should such an inclination appeal to me.

Their priorities are perverse. As I learn more of this world, I am forced to wonder how we ever evolved from these people. Each day they throw away enough food to feed our entire world; flush gallons of clean water into their sewers. And still some go hungry! They have a million different species of plants, and even more animals, but they ignore them all. Unless there's some need to destroy a habitat. Then a few protest. But almost always the 'good of the people' prevails, and nature is destroyed.

They have no idea what is good for the people.

I find it impossible to converse with these barbarians. I do not try often, but it's impossible to develop a plan without having an understanding of their society. Yet each discussion becomes an argument, and more than once I have stopped myself on the verge of divulging the truth.

Such a mistake could be disastrous for us all.

****End Chronolog*******

Chronolog - Day 23

It occurred to me today that you would never receive these messages. At least, the people I remember would never receive them. In a universe of infinite futures, my every action will make a different one the most probable. Every step I take, every conversation I have, every meal I eat--though insignificant in this place, this time--could create drastic changes between our future and the new one.

Though I look into the tachyon viewer and see a future almost identical to the one I remember, I do not doubt that there are differences I would notice, if ever I were there in person again. You may look the same, have the same name, the same parents, the same friends. But somehow, someway, you would be different.

It might be subtle. Almost undetectable.

Of course, it could be profound. You may be a different person entirely, or not exist at all.

Or maybe it's me who doesn't exist anymore.

The concept is called Unidirectional Temporal Amplification. I've been familiar with the theory for years. I never understood the magnitude of it until now.

It is late, and I must try to sleep.

*****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 35

I have finally decided on a course of action. Your recent messages via the tachyon viewer revealed the names of several people considered responsible for our future. Most are important in this world--Heads of State, leaders of industry, commanders in the military. Only a few are unknown to me.

Under normal circumstances it would be difficult to reach any of them. I could do it though. My technology gives me an advantage. Even still, I would be hard-pressed to engage any of them without being seen. Besides, eliminating one or two would likely accomplish little.

That is not to say the future wouldn't change. If my every step can change what will happen, if every flower I pick or insect I crush sends ripples down the timeline, then certainly something more drastic would have an effect as well. Convincing one of these men of the truth would have a profound effect. A single assassination would have an even greater one.

Unidirectional Temporal Amplification aside, though, I do not feel taking action on any one of these people would have the desired effect. Certainly, it would change the future. But significantly? And in the way we want?

Luckily, these are not normal circumstances. A summit will be held in the weeks ahead to address this world's current cause du jour. The threat of terrorism consumes these foolish humans. Imagining what they will suffer even a single century from now, I find it hard to control my laughter. At the death of mere thousands they run like rabbits, bemoaning a world in which all must live in fear.

They mourn thousands, when billions of deaths can be laid at their feet. And fear? They have no idea what real fear is. Many of the men on your list will be at that summit, discussing their fears for the future. I will be at the summit as well. I will tell them what I know. My future...our future...will make their worst nightmares seem like fairy tales.

*****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 41

The day of the summit draws near. I have little to report, save that my preparations continue unabated. Sleep has eluded me for many days. Sometimes I feel like the walking dead, and chuckle when I realize the current concept is so far different from our own. From the truth.

I maintain as little contact with these humans as possible. My goal is to change our future, but I still wish to minimize my impact on this world.

That is untrue. I wish to direct my impact upon this world.

I am very lonely. I expected to miss all of you. I never expected to miss our world.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 48

My plan succeeded. Using our technology, I made my way into the chamber where the summit would be conducted. I prepared the room, then returned to hiding. I tried to nap, but once again sleep eluded me. Never has a night passed so slowly. It seemed an eternity before they began to arrive. I waited until every member of the summit was present; until every seat was filled. Then I hit the switch and the doors locked, magnetically sealing.

I appeared as if from nowhere, to the amazement of all. I flaunted our technology, disdained the humans for their inadequacies, and tried to remember everything else I had learned watching their cinema and televison.

They were amused at first. Then enraged. They thought I was a joke, but I taught them otherwise. They thought I was crazy, but I showed them they were the insane ones. They thought I was lying, but I told them the truth.

For hours I told the history of the future. I outlined every major event, every catastrophe--natural or otherwise--which had shaped our future. They listened, first in disbelief, then in rapt awe. They didn't want to believe. I understood, even sympathized with them. Given the choice, I wouldn't have wanted to believe either. But I was convincing. My knowledge was too complete, our technology too far advanced, my impassioned pleas too sincere.

I showed them the tachyon viewer. They saw for themselves scenes from our future and the messages you were sending to me. They didn't want to believe. But in the end, I think they did. They have requested some time alone to discuss the implications of my words. I await their decision eagerly.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 48

I've lost my mind.

That is untrue. I have found my mind, but I did lose it.

As I sat in the hall, waiting to hear the verdict of these men whose lives started our decline, desperate to begin healing our world, the implications of my action occurred to me.

These men covet power. They seek to control the world. And I have just given them the key.

The seeds have been sown. Blinded by pride, ignorant of the consequences, these 'people' will lead humanity into hell.

Even if they didn't take me alive, even if they couldn't force more information from me, I've already done the damage. They know their future, and though, by Sakamoto's Second Law of Temporal Mechanics, their mere knowledge guarantees it will never be the future, I still cannot shake the feeling that the new future will be even worse than the one I left behind.

The tachyon viewer has gone strangely dark. I don't know what it means. Has the timeline been so warped by my actions that time itself does not yet know what happens?

Too theoretical. What else could it mean?

Is there no future Earth for me to view? If not, then where are the stars?

Is there no universe?

I still have a chance to take back my action. The doorway to our destruction has been opened, but maybe there's still time enough for me to shut it. Hopefully, this time the future will improve.

****End Chronolog****

Chronolog - Day 49

The explosion was magnificent.

I tried to save as many as I could, but all those attending the summit had to die. I waited until their rescuers had almost cut through the wall, then I detonated the explosives. I destroyed the building.

Thousands died, true, and I regret their deaths. But it could easily have been tens of thousands. And what of the billions to come? The billions who might be saved because of my actions here today?

I offered what aid I could, freeing as many people as possible from the rubble. When I could detect no more life signs, I returned home.

For the first night since this mission began I slept soundly. I awoke this morning ready to face a new future. I have yet to look at the tachyon viewer. I wanted to share this moment--our moment of triumph--with you, the friends who I will never see again. The friends who probably no longer exist.

What's this? The viewer's still dark! How . . .

Dear God, the viewer was off . . .

This future I see, it's like nothing we'd ever imagined. It makes our world look like a paradise. Did I solve our problem, then make it worse? Or is this future better than the first I created yesterday? Either way, it's unacceptable. I thought my mission was over.

Maybe it never will be.

****End Chronolog****

A real “Back to the Future” kinda story—but a future our hero doesn’t want to go back to. Narrative tales like this one are hard to pull off with conviction and I think Mr. Funk did a fine job. How about you?

x x x

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