Author Topic: Future tense


Future tense
« on: December 31, 2099 »

Too early for Morlocks, and I don't think the Omega Point is around the corner.

So what does 2099 look like? you ask. Bike-wise, standard format is still two wheels despite the wheel tax introduced in 2076 (a few more unicycles, nothing to get excited about). Most are made of compressed soylent green, rides about the same as carbon fibre.

The usual gripes are still being griped. Sorry I can't report any progress on the SMIDSY front either, though nobody is actually blind anymore thanks to medical advances and lots of DNA swiped from frogs. We also cured cancer. Unfortunately something else bad took its place. Don't want to be a downer, so we'll skip that, but frogs are also involved.

The Tour de France has been won by the same guy the past twelve times. The president of France, as it happens. He keeps beating all the other presidents, prime ministers and monarchs. Did I mention that it's now only open to heads of state? I forget the reason for that. Whoever comes in last has to speak Pig Latin for a year. The future is very weird.

An actual helmet war was fought in 2050. It was a draw.

More when I get time and stop hopping.


Embrasser une grenouille
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2050 »
Ah, the helmet war. Where to begin? It started with a kiss.

President Bonaparte of France is on a goodwill tour of Louisiana trying to assure its citizens that nothing much will change after his country's recent reacquisition of their territory, the sale having been approved by the US Congress to pay some bills which had been piling up. An avid cyclist, the president is doored by a BMW and hits his helmetless head. The driver attempts CPR, using a bit too much tongue. When Bonaparte regains consciousness he is only able to speak in unsuccessful palindromes.

Humiliated on the world stage, France relinquishes all noncontiguous claims, leaving Louisianians free to draw up their own constitution and laws. Grateful for their independence and mindful of its origins, they choose to make helmets illegal by overwhelming plurality.

Meanwhile the USA, never a stickler for contiguousness, has attempted to fill the hole left in its fabric by finally admitting England as a state (Wales and Scotland aren't invited), mad King George having agreed to join the club because the flags were the same colour anyway.

Cultures clash when the Brits, unconstrained by laws requiring protective headgear, meet as fellow citizens the Yanks, whose pesky 'land of the free' baggage has long since been left behind at the carousel of highfalutin ideals. It doesn't matter that few Americans actually ride bikes these days except on Strava. A little paranoid that history appears to be rhyming, they become spooked. Louisiana effectively says "Boo!" by ewe: its legislature has voted to put an ironic ruminant on their flag to emphasise its freewheeling ways and, it is feared by its wary neighbour, incite revolution.

Though England is miles away, Louisiana clearly isn't. What if it turns into another Cuba? Totally alien ways, too close for comfort? Castro, who's still hanging in there,* seems to be laughing at them. Nobody likes being laughed at. Wars have been fought over less. (Recall the Wales 'police action' in 2039 which started over a bit too much sniggering about sheep. And nobody cares for a repeat of the ultimately pointless Haggis Troubles.)

The helmet war is more or less declared at the bitter end of the spring bank holiday weekend, America's Memorial Day, when cyclists traditionally club together for protection and mating displays. As the US is already fighting several dozen other wars at the time, this one is not a top priority. It isn't even always clear who's fighting whom. Casualty lists don't make the nightly news. Battles occasionally surface on YouTube, at times with odd choices of musical overlay. Presently it is decided that the opposing sides really are too entrenched, and a truce is called.

At the signing of the peace treaty President Bonaparte remarks "Able was I, ere I kissed Helga." It's a bittersweet moment.

* Which I guess dates this, huh?


« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2011 »

Hi, I'm Skylock, the lock of the future, and I'm awesome! (Perhaps you've met my cousin Johnny Cab – people say we sound alike.)

As predicted, my feature set is a killer. In addition to built-in Wi-Fi, keyless unlocking with proximity detection, an accelerometer which notifies medical personnel if you crash, and eco-friendly solar power, I take a proactive approach to evildoers messing with your precious.

I can't divulge trade secrets. Let's just say that a popular crime drama gave my inventors the idea, which fortunately wasn't copyrighted.

My powers don't stop there. In the event of SMIDSY, I can trigger a dystopian future.

Hopefully it won't come to that.

One thing I don't do is open bottles; it stopped being cool after the revelation a couple of years ago that putting openers on all those things was just another NSA scheme.

I also pack and ship myself from the Amazon warehouse... speaking of dystopias.


Judgment Day
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014 »
Skylock didn't prove up to the task, so even as this is being posted, a judge/jury/executioner has been sent to apprehend a bike thief.

They ride the bubble express back to the future to be dealt with in an environmentally friendly way. Their ultimate fate is up to the Terminator, who doesn't always live up to his or her name, depending on mood. Some thieves are merely put to work winding atomic clocks, which is tedious in the extreme. Others are set loose in a wild game park and allowed to see if they can start a new life with the meerkats, which are the chief wildlife left in the future and which have evolved into a cross between meerkats, penguins and housecats with a very bad temper thanks to an experiment which went awry in 2156.

The most popular sentence for known repeat offenders is to be turned into tasty and versatile soylent green: a particularly fitting end.


« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2101 »

The riderless bike craze, which unless you've been living under a rock (there's no shame in it; many do since the Paleo craze went ever more Paleo) kicked off shortly after driverless cars became the norm in the mid 21st century, claims another victim: the president of France. After coming in last in the 2100 Tour de France in a surprising upset which not only wounded French pride but sent her peoples collectively on a tailspin of self-loathing and doubt quite out of character, Nicolas Sarkozy (a mere coincidence; many children are named this in the future) holes up in the Élysée Palace. Still wishing to maintain some sense of onbowed dignity befitting his former station in public esteem, however, he sends his riderless bike out to prowl the arrondissements, accompanied by the riderless bikes of his security escort.

It blows a red in the Place de la Bastille and knocks a man, Nicolas Sarkozy, off his feet. Sarkozy the pedestrian is unharmed but incensed, and along with his companion shakes his fist at the bike, which turns around and promptly runs him down again. At this point a small crowd has gathered who reconise the bike and start throwing rocks at it while the escort bikes scatter in alarm. The crowd eventually brings it down and cheer their symbolic victory over the man who brought them all so low. This insult is enough to pull Sarkozy the president out of his self-made prison in pursuit of the "foul foule" as he calls them. He storms the Bastille.

Carla Bruni (the same; she had her head set aside in 2030 with instructions to have it reattached to a volunteer in the early 22nd century. There were no volunteers, so the head is carried around in its own stylish valise) berates Sarkozy the president for letting his bike attack Sarkozy her lover. This altercation attracts the crowd, primed for further action. They naturally take the side of Bruni and Sarkozy, backing Sarkozy into a corner. At this point the escort bikes come back on the scene, having considered the possible judgment of history. They begin a rearguard action brutal enough to incite a full-blown riot. At the centre of the storm, Sarkozy the president, finally realising his peril and attempting to throw oil on the waters, instead further churns them by shouting "eWay areay allay enchmanFray!" This is of course Pig Latin as per the terms which require Tour de France losers to speak it for a year. His year isn't up and Sarkozy considers himself to be an honourable man.

As no red blooded Frenchman will tolerate a mangling of his mother tongue, this seals Sarkozy's fate, even as Bruni and Sarkozy flee the malee in search of a better life. Sarkozy goes down, his final words, "anceFray, armwayéeway, tayêetay day’armwayéeway, osJayéinephay." Historians still debate their meaning; linguists, their translation.


Future tense
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2088 »
Scientists at CERN, having finally discovered the elusive Godwin Particle, convert the Large Hadron Collider to a velodrome. The vacuum helps competitors achieve very high speeds, or would do if they didn't keep passing out to be cleared by the janitor. Betting is discouraged, but everybody does it on the sly anyway; it's fun to see who can hold their breath the longest. Very little peer reviewed science is conducted in this atmosphere. Eventually this folly is quashed and the sweet air of reason allowed to circulate. The Collider is turned into a bowling alley, the Swiss being notoriously keen on the sport.


Future tense
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2104 »
The hopping is getting to be a problem. There’s no order to it. People keep bumping into each other in mid-air. The infrastructure has been slow to be adapted to the new human condition: “Let Darwin take care of it,” say the wags, some of whom literally wag now thanks to DNA pills you can take to cure the common cold. There always seems to be a trade-off.

Finally President Trump says "Enoughyay! atWhay areyay eway oppinghay orfay?" (a tweet which will win the Nobel Prize for literature). It's been a bad year for the Americans, who also took no medals home from the Olympics as they were disqualified for not being genetically modified, now a precondition for all serious athletes. Mathletes too.

We're now modified to instantly 'get' all pop culture references

An aide reminds him of the miraculous cure for blindness, which mollifies him until he flips over onto his shell and can't get back up, one of the more common side effects of the anti-aging medication he's been taking since his third and subsequent terms in the previous century, the 22nd Amendment having been repealed specifically for his benefit because he is beloved of the people. The Secret Service set him aright again.

Tired of losing to the Frogs – in 2102 the French officially embraced their nickname – Trump, having reversed a compaign pledge to never enter a bike race and still bruised by his loss to Frog Presidential head Bruni (the job fell to her after Sarkozy continued on the run), plans a grand reinauguration of the Tour de Trump: winner to be given the nuclear launch codes for the day, losers to be beheaded, their heads added to the collection on the White House Traitor's Gate.

Clinton was cloned specifically for the heads. There's something vulgar to be said about this, but only the court jester goes there

Protesters keep hopping over the gate to a certain demise, to be cleaned up by the groundskeeper.

Also Secretary of the Interior


Welcome to the 20th
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 1970 »
The mission to stop Muzak, the precursor to streaming entertainment – specifically Netflix – didn’t go as planned. Shall I start at the beginning? Or perhaps the end, which feeds in an endless loop to the beginning.

It begins/ends/begins with the dystopian future, which we all know awaits us as a species.

The Director has become aware of the early 21st century documentary Travelers. This is a problem. If the public at large learns that these attempts to alter the future aren't in fact fiction, non-fans of the show will surely try to intervene, if only as fodder for their Facebook friends, thus endangering the mission. Which is: no more dystopia. Capeesh?

Approximately a century before Travelers finds an audience eager to see if the gang can get out of their latest scrape, George O. Squier [pronounced Square, so you can say it right in your head] is/was hard at work on “a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines which was the technical basis for what later became Muzak, a technology streaming continuous music to commercial customers without the use of radio.” Wikipedia is very useful to the Director, who is rewriting it all the time.

History records that Square (it’s just easier to type, my finger keeps hitting the 'e' first)

no relation

successfully entertained Staten Islanders by transmitting music over electrical wires on January 1st, 1920. Actually history doesn't record it, or if it does I can’t find it, and anyway the date can’t be trusted due to constant interference with the past by the Faction, so we’re going with it. [Note that the Unix epoch won't begin for another 50 years, which is why this post is misdated.]

The song Square chose for this demonstration of his inventive genius was Al Jolson’s You Ain’t heard Nothing Yet, a snappy welcome to the roaring twenties. It would be such a hit that he'd easily coast into his patent, paving the way for his future commercial successes.

The plan is/was to substitute the phenomenally popular ragtime singer’s ditty with one of Queen Victoria’s favourite dirges, of which there were thousands to choose from, so thoroughly disenchanting the listening audience that Square’s personal stock would fall low enough as to never recover. Muzak would die an early death; Netflix would, in theory, never have a chance to be born, the creative partnership with Showtime therefore unable to yield the forbidden fruit that is Travelers.

The first hurdle to be overcome was transferring the consciousness of an operative to a time before smart phones, GPS, and social media – a premise necessary to establish an exact time/place of death for the host body and provide a dossier of information sufficient to allow for a successful transition. Initial attempts relying on educated guesswork saw the Director adopting a hit and miss approach which actually caused The Great Depression, an oopsy everyone is forbidden to mention at risk of a Very Grumpy Director, which often leads to petulant mind wipes.

Eventually success was achieved by possessing a stockbroker about to leap to his death, despondent over his failure to invest in the relatively recent invention of the fortune cookie. (Future history is full of such ironies.) The stockbroker, a vain and flamboyant man, had hired a skywriter to say his goodbyes to the world; this was captured on daguerreotype by a photographer who was really into retro. The not-exactly-decisive moment, along with very yellowing newspaper clippings from dystopia's voluminous morgue, was apparently enough for the Director to go on, being the Director and all.

Long story slightly shorter, using his business connections the stockbroker was able to insinuate himself into Square’s affairs and hire a Victorian DJ from Radio 2 to inaugurate this early version of Muzak with the dirge. Surprise surprise, dirges would actually be quite popular in the immediate postwar period. “Paint it Black” proved a hit with the Staten Islanders, and history remained unchanged except that The Rolling Stones would later cover the song to the consternation of mental health care professionals.


The heart of Travelers is arguably Marcy, supposedly played by MacKenzie Porter. Born in 1990 and raised on a cattle and bison ranch near Medicine Hat in Canada, “MacKenzie” began studying piano, violin and voice at age four, according to disinformation planted by the Director in a stopgap measure to erode confidence in the documentary’s verisimilitude until a permanent solution can be achieved, ie, no TV show to begin with.

though that would mean one less bike on a wall for bike-on-a-wall-spotters

In reality Marcy is of course played by Marcy, traveler #3569, clearly breaking Protocol 2 along with the rest of the cast. This never would have happened if the Director wasn’t such a cheapskate; actors in successful shows have a much better standard of living than hospital X-ray technicians. And did you think FBI agents inhabit interiors out of Architectural Digest? Please. The occasional handout by historian/sure-thing gambler Philip doesn’t cut it.

has a thing for interior designers

As Operation Squier failed in its objective, the new mission is to deter “MacKenzie” from being seduced by the limelight by bigging up the attractions of bison, therefore ripping the heart out of Travelers and rendering it DOA. Not only does this not work, it helps elect Donald Trump, which is still affecting the future in unforeseen ways except for the fact that it remains a dystopia. Here’s how:

Bison aren’t as attractive to a young girl as, say, horseys. Thus it falls to traveler #1931, aka fellow Canadian William Shatner, to make the Director’s vision so.

Through his agent, Shatner obtains an early draft of The Horse Whisperer, due to be published soon. He tries to convince the author to change it to The Bison Whisperer, offering standard Hollywood blandishments such as a co-producer credit on Star Trek Generations, hoping to sway MacKenzie in the direction of animal husbandry when she gets old enough to appreciate the acclaimed film (in which he naturally would star in place of Redford, exponentially increasing its appeal). The mission suffers a setback when the author demurs.

”I see people in medicine hats”

A messenger then informs Shatner to buy up most of Medicine Hat, like Kim Basinger put a small Georgia town in her shopping basket and Bruce Willis would pump that Die Hard cash into Haley Hailey. Surely his star power would make The Gas City shine bright enough to dazzle an impressionable young mind otherwise given to thoughts of wanderlust.

The scheme attracts investor interest from south of the border, which Shatner welcomes, being leery of draining his own coffers to convince MacKenzie (who remember, doesn’t even exist – the grand plan can get very weird that way) to stay. Unfortunately for businessmen, trade and investment between the two countries is still thwarted by red tape. The clamour of frustrated investors becomes such that it is heard in Washington DC, helping to push the free trade movement into its great victory: Nafta. American agribusiness moves in on the family ranch, making MacKenzie's father an offer he can't refuse, and it's goodbye Medicine Hat anyway.

Trump of course will go on to create such a negative buzz over free trade in the 2016 elections that he'll be propelled into the White House. QED.


Welcome back to the 20th
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017 »

As season two ends, their cover is blown. Now the world knows the future really can come back to haunt you. What’s next for our tortured band of mind hitchhikers?

Grant becomes his own FBI informant for his ‘Traveler cell’, a nifty way to collect another paycheck. His estranged wife Kat fulfils her maternal instincts by adopting.

Trevor continues to dispense wisdom to anyone who’ll listen.

Carly finds work as an anger management counsellor.

Philip counts cards in Vegas with his faithful turtle sidekick, occasionally placing her in the pot. In his spare time he mentally archives the entirety of the porn available on the internet, purely for research purposes.

Marcy moves to Medicine Hat. David follows her like a lost dog, despite himself.

The Director requests another reboot to clear out the cobwebs.

Star Trek Generations gets 47% on the tomatometer.

You can be a traveler too:

IMPORTANT: Only do it if you’re not just sure, but you’re sure you’re sure. This isn’t a USS Callister situation whereby the original you carries on. Arrangements have been made for Parcelforce to collect your body.

Note that you don’t get to choose your host, else everybody would want to be somebody like Tom Petty (who sadly wasn’t available). Despite this sensible policy, there’s a surprising queue for The Donald.


Rhyming history
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2019 »
History doesn’t repeat, they say, it rhymes 
If so, I have a question for these times:     
When you return, what scheme do you have in mind?       
Will it be limerick, or villanelle?     
(That’s ABA, with concluding ABAA –       
I’ve never heard of that one before today)     
Or will you just stick with sturdy ABAB?     
I’m not even bothered with meter, as you can see.     
When you decide, if you would be so kind       
As to get back to me,   
yours sincerely,