320 - Anachronesia


Preparations are complete and you can't help but pat yourself on the back. Your team of commissioned scientists and engineers, slaving for over two years for a mere pittance in salary and the promise of scientific credit. have perfected the telephone-booth time machine. You sigh in self-assured satisfaction as you gaze upon your creation; you know what really made this miracle of technological innovation possible was your money and influence.

All that is left now is to make the journey.  Your employees assure you it would be quite unusual for a man of obvious means to emerge from a public phone booth, so, much to your chagrin, you don the apparel of the poor. You remove your fine, tailored suit and finely polished black leather boots, replacing your bespoke raiment with an ill-fitting cotton shirt and tweed vest and plain brown oxfords.

You take your place in the plain red booth  and instruct your underlings to send you a hundred years into the future, then close the door. You hear a series of beeps and whirs as the machinery of the device does its work. A large bang sounds from outside of the booth and the lights inside blow their fuses, leaving you in total darkness.

After a few moments of profuse sweating, you gather your courage and step out of the time machine a full century ahead of when you entered.

You breathe in the air deeply. Though it is conspicuously absent of the thick soot of your time, it contains a sharp, acrid smell you can't quite place. Strange automobiles rush in packs along a giant roadway in front of you, and throngs of colorfully dressed folk traverse the sidewalk, gently pushing their way past you.

"Ah," you say aloud with a reserved grin. "The year two-thousand and sixteen"

"You ain't fuckin' lyin', bro," a passing man tells you casually. You shrug and continue to take in your surroundings.

From behind you, you hear a raspy, gruff voice. You turn to see a horror you'd never have imagined. Behind the window of a storefront, a strange orange man trapped in a tiny box shouts angrily at you.

You rush to the the man, hoping to render aid. "My gods, man! How did you end up in this predicament? How can I get you out of there?"

"Fucking drumftards," scoffs a passing woman with bright pink hair.

"Good heavens, woman!" you cry. "Can't you see this man needs our help?"

The young lady raises her middle finger toward you. You're not sure if you're supposed to take meaning from the gesture, but you assume from her snarling expression she's not complimenting you on your finely-waxed moustache. She walks away and you return your attention to the man trapped in the box.

The orange man smiles smugly. "We're gonna build a wall," he tells you.

"What?" you ask, recoiling slightly at the absurd notion. "How will that help in any way?"

A man younger than you take note of you and shakes his head. "Fucking hipsters, don't you have a craft beer to post on instagram or some shit?"

"The man! He's trapped!" you scream at anyone that will listen.

"Don't worry, an older woman says, approaching and clasping your hand gently. Her soft smile and kind eyes put you at ease. "Someone will kill him before he can hurt us too much."

No. This cannot be right. Every one is ignoring the crazy man in the box or calling you names. No one wants to help. This cannot be the future.

You run back to the phone booth and slam the door closed. You throw the return switch, activating once again the odd series of clicks and whirs that will take you home.

You burst forth from the booth in the year 1916 in a mad sweat, screaming about the man in the box. You grab a nearby canister of kerosene and pour it over the booth.

The time machine burns the bright green of a copper-rich fire.

"We will never speak of this again," you instruct your employees. "You may return home now. We may all return home now."