I was on the verge of breakthrough with my time travel experiments when my future self appeared to me, urging me to reconsider. The shock was so great that the idea, which had seemed so monumental just moments before I appeared to myself in the past, that is the present, from the future, that is the other present – the idea was driven completely from my mind. I slapped my palms against my skull, in an attempt to force the revelation back up the pipe before it trickled away completely.
“Don’t bother,” I told myself, sipping a mysterious daiquiri–a future daiquiri?– “Time travel is impossible anyway.” I had apparently taken advantage of the intervening years to cultivate a weedy little strip of a goatee, what I had heard referred to as a “soul patch.” This made it difficult to take myself seriously.
“Pardon me,” I ventured, stroking the smooth spot on my chin in a gesture of past-superiority, “but I had actually just arrived at a fairly decent working model. You see, the trick is leaving time, that is t, as a variable, but also as a constant. You just don’t solve for time, and it ceases to be a hindrance. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you this. It’s–”
“Nope,” I replied, a little too smugly for my own tastes. “It’s just not albedo.”
“It’s not albedo. Doable. Sorry. A well-documented effect of the neural chronic displacement: the subject will sometimes speak unwittingly in anagrams.”
“Oh, alright then. I thought it was some stupid future slang.”
“Redoubt.” I did a little waggling thing with my eyebrows, which I noticed were considerably bushier than my own, though I’ve never bothered with plucking or weeding. They were also arctic blonde, unlike my current ones, and actually resembled a llama pelt to a startling degree, both in consistency and in odor.
I experienced an upheaval in the region of my spleen. I would like to describe it as a sharp pain, since that is the sensation normally associated with spleen issues, but it was really lingering and nothing like pain. It was more of a harrowing of the invisible organs.
When I saw me clutching at the area below my lower left rib cage, where the spleen is known to reside, I nodded with irritating gravitas. “I suppose you could have predicted this would happen?” I shouted at myself. I nodded again, like a real bastard–incidentally, I am a real bastard, wedlock-free child of a feckless roustabout and a really quite penitent Sister of the Church–but I have never acted like one. I was beginning to like myself less and less. “So what, is this one of the unpleasant, possibly moribund side effects of time travel?” I asked.
I shook my farcical head, which, I now noticed through bleared vision, was, though identical to my present physiognomy–minus the stupid ursine patches of shag, like some caveman display of testosterone–swollen to about 113% of its usual size. It was tethered to my shoulders like an unshorn zeppelin. “I told you,” I explained sanctimoniously, “time travel is impossible. This is probably an adverse reaction to the cytotoxins in my futuristic daiquiri.”
“But I haven’t been drinking the daiquiri,” I pointed out.
“Yes I have.” It was difficult to argue with this.
“Okay,” I tried again, switching tactics. My left side, which felt as though it had been pierced with a lance or a poleaxe, was leaking some sort of lime-green mucus, apparently directly through the pores. This didn’t seem promising; it was really a disgustingly unnatural shade of green. “So I have been drinking the daiquiri. But I haven’t been drinking it. Personally. So why am I being effected, and not myself, when I’m the one who’s actually been drinking it?”
I’ll admit that I could probably have worded this better; still, it was somewhat discouraging to see how long it took me to work it out, susurrating the entire time, my lips wriggling wordlessly like fat maggots. After several excruciating minutes, my stupid gibbous face settled into an easy grin. “Well, it’s all pretty right forward sat, isn’t it? Impels, I mean. Not a problem. See, I’m in the past, aren’t I?” I shrugged noncommittally. “Well, it follows that anything I do in the past will affect my past self, right? And since I’m from the future, nothing bad can possibly happen to me in the past, right? Or else I wouldn’t survive to make it to the future. So I’m immune, obviously.”
I pretended to pick lint off my argyle sweater. It was a feeble feint, since the foul-smelling green stain, which was actually starting to turn orange as it dried, had rendered any such minute cultivations superfluous. It was amazing, what a hamfist I was when it came to temporal matters. I think looking down at my sweater upset my equilibrium, because when I looked up again, I was on the ground. From this vantage, I could now appreciate the pretentious future cleats that I was wearing. They buckled directly to my pants, except the buckles weren’t real buckles, just Velcro made to look like buckles. I watched as I pulled a future-spanner from my future-vest, which wasn’t argyle at all but was decorated with dizzying swirls of mauve and taupe, and two little spigots above the nipples. As I observed myself from the floor, I began to attack the radiator with my future-spanner, which looked suspiciously like a normal spanner wrapped in aluminum foil.
“What are you doing?” I asked from my supine position.
“Destroying your time machine, once and for all.”
I didn’t bother to correct my mistake.