This came to me. It’s too short for Smashwords, so I thought I’d share it here. I hope you enjoy it, though I predict that Trump supporters will not approve.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “It looks like… I don’t know.”
“We’re recording, right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Get all of it,” Melissa Stone’s supervisor, Becky Hargreaves, said. “This is unprecedented.”
“Yes, OK,” said Melissa.
She drummed her fingers on the desktop. The experiment they were running was generating far more output than expected, this closed timelike curve was just spouting data, and that was unusual.
The stream of numbers sputtered, came to a stop. That in itself was not unusual- closed timelike curves generated in Melissa’s temporal physics lab eventually stopped producing data. What was unusual was the volume generated this time around. The experiment had been run a dozen times before, and always with the same volume of data. Why, this time, was there at least ten times as much?
Melissa remembered some science fiction movies she had watched as a child. She kept drumming her fingers on the desktop, looking at the stream of numbers.
“Let’s try something,” she said, and started typing. She had spent time working as a video editor prior to starting graduate school. It was just a guess, but-
She decided to convert the data she had gathered into a two dimensional image format, updated every second or so, and try converting data which didn’t seem to fit into a standard onscreen rectangle into audio format. There were a lot of different ways to do this and Melissa spent a long time tinkering, optimizing the scripts she wrote to do this, until she was satisfied with the result. It was jerky, and low-resolution, full of glitches, but this is what she saw:
A human face, smeared with dirt, loomed onscreen. The face was too close to the screen to be detectable as male or female, and the voice belonging to the face was distorted.
“To the human race,” it said. “This is a message from your future.”
The face grimaced, jerkily
“I only have a moment,” it said, earnestly. “I can’t explain , but I am the last physicist left in the United States after the great Purge of 2050. I have an urgent message for you, sent back to what we believe is a few weeks before the first turning point.”
Something like an explosion in the distance, and the video washed out for a second.
“The first turning point in history is November 8, 2016, in the United States of America. Donald Trump is elected, and while he is only President for fifty days this puts into motion a chain of events which starts World War Three, and plunges the world into chaos.”
The face frowned, wiped its brow.
“Our message, the message of my dead colleagues and myself,” said the face, “is simple- you must change history. You must not allow Donald Trump to be elected. If you can change this event in history, you will literally save the planet. The amount of devastation wreaked as a result of worldwide chaos is uncountable- you must, you must believe me.”
Hands gripped the camera that the face was speaking into.
“My name is Doctor Melissa Stone,” it said, “and I’m the last remaining US physicist- I am trying this experiment in hopes that our experimental wormhole can take this message back in time- I remember it working, maybe it will work-“
Melissa watched as her future self looked over its shoulder at the door splintering in the background.
Future Melissa gripped the camera.
“People of 2016: you MUST NOT vote for Donald Trump,” she said, before the image was jolted into oblivion.
Melissa looked at her computer’s date and time. It read 4 am, October 31, 2016.
She watched the video again, this time carefully examining the face. It could be her, perhaps- a few age lines, a bit heavier, kind of distorted from the video… but how?
In the morning, she showed her supervisor. Becky watched the video and snorted.
“Is this a joke?” she said.
Melissa shook her head.
“Well, no one will believe us,” said Becky, and made a cutting gesture across her throat. “You can’t put this on YouTube. The University’s reputation is at stake here.”
Melissa grimaced, looking remarkably in ways like her future self in the choppy video.
“But the future,” she said, realizing as she said it that it was extremely likely that nothing she, or Becky, did would change- this video had such poor production values it could have been produced anywhere, and no one would believe her when she claimed it wasn’t a hoax.
“Bury it,” suggested Becky, and Melissa bit her lip.
“All right,” she said, and, after backing up the raw data on one of the lab’s immense hard drives, she deleted the formatted video.
Becky watched as she did so.
“You didn’t keep any copies?” Becky asked, and Melissa shook her head.
“We do the experiment again,” said Becky. “And we don’t tell anybody.”
Melissa agreed, but inwardly, decided- maybe she can’t show the video, maybe her future self would never be watched on YouTube, but there was a way she could be heard.
Melissa opened up her word processor, and started to type.
The future, she thought to herself as she typed, the future of America and the world could hang in the balance.
A few minutes later she had uploaded her short story to Smashwords.
“It’s fiction,” she said to the empty lab. “It’s only fiction… because he won’t be elected.”
Or will he?
Votes matter. Your vote may literally change the future. Vote.