FICTION: Chapter 10B


Do you know you talk in your sleep? You get angry in your sleep, too. Yelling at people, waving your fingers at people, telling them off. Mum tells me I used to do that. You don’t look peaceful, lying there. You look coiled, ready to strike, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. Makes me wonder if I looked like that.

I’ve been reading your notebook. Sorry. I know it’s kind of not cool, doing that, but it’s pretty much my notebook, too, 38 years give or take. I wrote in this book a long time ago. My handwriting has gone to shit since then. Yours is so much neater than mine is now. I hardly have any handwriting ability left to speak of. I can barely even print. Just writing this is making my hand hurt.

You neither trust nor even like me much. You fear me. You call me Future Bastard. God! I’d forgotten that! Such hostility! You’d be just as happy if I left you alone. You see yourself as something like one of those indigenous cultures that meet an advanced invading European cultures and get wiped out in the process. That the very fact of my appearing here in your reality is inherently abusive and deleterious to you, that nothing good can come of it.

Well, geez. You think I didn’t consider those things before embarking on this project? You also think I didnt’ remember it happening to me–and how it turned out over the long term? Because that’s the thing. This is only about day 2 for you. It’s 38 years for me. It’s still playing out. I’m getting visits from someone way off in MY future, dude! I have no idea what HE wants!

But consider this:

You’re very sick. You can see it plainly in your writing. You’re suffering from major clinical depression. It’s severe. You should be in hospital. You should be on medication. You should be in treatment. I’ve left you and your dad notes about asking your doctor for lithium carbonate, the drug that will help you both. I’ve also suggested that you both ask for referrals to a psychiatrist. Why you haven’t done this already I don’t know, but from memory it most likely just fell through the cracks of everything else going on in the household. Even this is likely to fall on deaf ears. Everyone’s so worried about Dad’s predicament, the lack of money, poor Zonk, the business with the dead man, trying to sell the house, the sheer logistics of running the family out of a motel room. It’s impossible.

But this treatment is what you and your dad need. It’s not expensive. I very nearly brought you some, on the sly, but you know how mums are at finding things they are not supposed to find, and how would you explain it? Go and see your GP, and try and get a referral. The reason your life feels so dreadful, the reason you just sit there like a rock while everything flows around you, is because you’re sick. You are extremely sick. Remember this. Getting treatment changed my life. It’ll change yours.

Why am I doing this? Am I just playing with your life? Am I just interfering, because I can, because I’m a bastard from the future with a time machine, and literally time on my hands? No. I’m doing this because I care about you. I care about you and your family. You are me. Your family is my family. I’m reaching back to gather you in close around the warmth of the fire, to share a little of what we have. We love you, Robbie. You and your family are in the worst trouble in the world. Let us help you.

As for us: who are we? Who am I? What is our world like, the world of the future? It’s 2017. Imagine there was a restaurant, and on placards outside it promised that it had a lunchtime special offering, “The Future”. You and I both would be in there like a shot, right? And we’d be ordering the lunchtime special. Only once it arrived we’d take one sad, horrified look and send it back. Not because it was undercooked or overcooked, but because it was just wrong, terribly wrong. Not what we wanted at all.

The world of 2017 is like a temple in India where it’s overrun by monkeys who climb all over it, and screech and throw shit at one another, all to the horrified delight of tourists.

The world of 2017 is the RMS Titanic. She’s struck the iceberg at high speed, and is now going down by the head. They’re launching lifeboats, and sending radio messages to nearby ships. It’s very cold and getting colder. There’s music. It’s weird. And the lights are going out.

The planet’s atmosphere and ocean are heating to the point that it is likely impossible to bring them back under control. The people who understand this are outnumbered by people who are paid to make sure that no effective action is taken, so that the fossil fuel industry’s power is maintained.

The world’s politics is that temple in India. Nazism, under various guises, is coming back. We have the Internet, coffee and wifi. But we also have anxiety and depression and no full-time, permanent jobs. We have economic inequality. We have billionaires. Newspapers are nearly dead. Mobile phones do everything.

You have to get the iPhone back from Detective Lockley, kid. That was important. I understand why you did that, but dude, no. You need it.

Our world is shit and getting shittier, no question. But at the scale of individual people, there are some very nice parts. You’d like them. We’d like to see you. Think about it.

“Future Bastard” 🙂 (I love that, must use it)