The forest swallowed sound, spreading a rolling hush. Walking through the trees was like marching through an abandoned future.
When a car coughed up the trail, the hikers heard it coming for miles. The driver slowed beside them, asked how they’d ended up in this strange in between place.
“I’m from the village up the way,” the driver said in heavily accented English.
“We’re going past it, I think. Do you know A—?”
The driver nodded. “I’ll get you to my village.”
There was little more to lose, so the hikers got in the car. The doors and windows of the vehicle shut out the trees. The clock, the gas gauge, the radio – the ordinary flow of time returned, even with nothing but static coming from the speakers.
The driver passed the village and continued on to the hikers’ destination.
“Thank you,” one of the hikers said. “You didn’t have to…”
“What is good for you, is good for me,” the driver said with a shrug.
A giant wheel rolled down a hillside.
It would have gained speed, but a lone rock stood in its way. It was only a pebble, but a larger stone came to stand beside it. A tree joined to shade the bold rocks. A river cut across to water the tree. A mountain rose to feed the river.
The wheel should have gained speed, but it reached the rock and it stopped.
I took a long break to get through a con and move. Things are still chaos, but I gotta force myself to get back to my routine, so here we go.
“Don’t be grandiose,” the technician said.
“I plan to be perfectly selfish,” I said.
“Good,” the woman in the lab coat said. Seriously, though, lab coast? We’ve had time tech for long enough that they don’t need to make it seem mysterious by sticking with the lab coats. What mess are they preventing? Will spare minutes splatter on them?
“…stick to something simple,” she was saying. “You get five minutes so keep it direct. Your past self will probably remember it as a weird dream.”
I tried to focus through the directions. Easier said than done. How many times can you be told not to kill your own grandfather?
Finally, though, I stepped into my childhood bedroom and woke the self sleeping in the bed.
“Listen up, kid,” I said. “I’ve only got five minutes…”
This is not a story. It’ll sound that way; you won’t believe me for a second. You’ll ask questions, you’ll wonder, you’ll poke and prod. Don’t worry. I’ve heard it all before. I’ve answered every question – yes, that one too.
But first and foremost, this is not a story.
Let me begin.
So many hands made the rock light, laughable. But two by two the hands fell away. The rock became heavier. The hands holding it up shook with effort. They weren’t sure for how long they’d be enough.
You know, I’m sure alien invaders really did arrive on earth a few months ago, but, to be completely honest, they aren’t really the problem. The real problem was House Resolution 861, the Earthling Sovereignty and Greatness Act of 2084.
I’m still not sure what tax cuts had to do with “earthling sovereignty,” but in any case, the space invaders won.