Author : Ryon Moody
A knock at the door caused Gerald to drop the book he was perusing. Carefully keeping out of sight of the large bay windows that fronted the house, he looked through the peep hole. A thin, older man in a disheveled herringbone sport-coat was standing there with a bundle of books under one arm, smiling kindly.
“Good morning, can I help you?” Gerald said as he opened the door, though it came out as “Good mornaaaaHAHaaaAHHurgg!” as the old man shoved a stun gun into his neck.
He felt as if he had only been out momentarily, and a quick glance at the Armstrong unit’s HUD embedded in his iris confirmed it. Thank god that wasn’t damaged, he thought. Gerald made to stand up, but found he’d been tightly bound to his sturdy kitchen chair.
A quick look around the studio found the old man sitting opposite him in a threadbare sweater, the old sport coat now draped over the back of the other half of the set. He was sipping on the tea Gerald had prepared earlier.
“Who are you, an anti-transference activist?” Gerald said.
“They sound like a rough bunch,” the old man said in amusement.
“Well, if you’re not, why else would you tie me up? Rather roughly I might add.”
“In the current time, young men still learn to tie knots in the Boy Scouts,” the old man said, then added with a wistful face “though fewer do these days than in my time as a boy.”
Gerald didn’t notice the man’s pained expression for his had gained a bit of pallor. Current time. The worst thing that could happen to a transference subject, exposure. “Who are you?” he asked, this time with as fierce a stare as he could manage.
“Nobody in particular. I teach Quantum Mechanics at the local college.” He took another sip. “This is quite excellent, did you bring it with you?”
“No, that’s not possible,” Gerald replied, realizing this man wasn’t going to be fooled by fast talking. “Do you work for the continental government? How did you find me?”
“No, no, I’ve been searching on my own for quite some time now.”
“Now, now, don’t be so vain. I developed a method several years ago for spotting people like you.”
“Appearance, mannerisms, language structure. Good work on the latter, your English is nearly perfect.”
“Thanks,” Gerald said offhand. “Well, what do you want to know? Just so you know, you can’t travel like I can, the device is biologically implanted.”
“That makes sense,” the man said, setting his now-empty cup on the table. “However, I simply need next week’s Powerball numbers.”
Gerald stared at him for a moment. “Lottery numbers.” The man nodded. “I know the history of the next thousand years, and you want lottery numbers.”
“I won’t keep all the winnings, just enough to get by,” the old man said, getting to his feet, then added with another wrinkly smile, “comfortably of course.”
“Oh, of course,” Gerald said as he rolled his eyes.
“Scout’s honor,” the man said, holding up his right hand.
“Yes, really. Out of curiosity, what is the name of the device?”
“Uh, the Armstrong Unit. It’s named for the foundation that developed it a few hundred years ago, or, from now.”
“Care to guess my last name?” the man said with a smile.