Author : Matt Matlo
Jeremy Davenport awoke in an apple orchard outside Somerville, Massachusetts, sometime in June, 12,459 A.D.. Back in the 2200’s, some genius invented the temportation machine. They used it to see into the future, and then, before anyone asked if they should, people were jumping into the machine, making that Great Leap Ahead, a million years ahead, maybe five million. A few hundred in a bank account would turn into billions upon arrival in the capital planet-city of the great galactic empire, full of humans, or trans-humans, even some semi- and post-humans. The future was their oyster.
Space travel opened up thirty thousand years from now with FTL technology. Sixty thousand later, we meet the first sentient aliens. Another hundred thousand, humans were part alien themselves and spread out across the galaxy. A million years ahead, and the cities of earth unmoored themselves and floated in the skies, just as people rewrote their DNA to grow wings, and took to the skies themselves. These images tempted us all to Leap Ahead.
Jeremy was all alone, no friends or family. Nothing but a few hundred in a bank account. Pick it up a few thousand years from now, bloated to millions of future-dollars, and he could live like a king in that super-tech wonderland.
“Look,” he said to the professor who finally interviewed him, “I just need a new start. Maybe just ten thousand years ahead?”
“Colonization of the solar system, cities on Mars, Europa, Ganymede! The asteroid belt lit up like a toroidal Christmas tree. We’ve seen it, and you’re going to love it. Just sign here, and do hurry. We’re ever-so busy this time of year.”
Busy didn’t come close. Every minute of every day, they lined up, sometimes carrying a suitcase, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs, to step through that iridescent portal.
“Why doesn’t anyone come back, you know, to visit or something?” Jeremy asked.
“Oh, good question,” the scientist answered, “We’ve seen through the time-window that backwards time-travel is invented three point five million years from now, but all the futures we observe are such that this is in fact the least interesting era in human history. Why come here when you can grow gills to see the undersea city of New Lemuria, just a million and half years from now?”
He cursed the scientist, wishing he remembered his name as he toured the ruins of Boston. The North End skyscrapers still stood, but empty, their solar windows gathering power for no one but him. He ate fruit off the trees growing in Government Center, in the hottest days wearing nothing but shoes. Finally he went back to the temportation center. With a little percussive encouragement, the machine started up and showed him the Earth flashing through a million years of future, none of it human. When they looked ahead for him, Earth still had nine billion people, but now, as he cranked the dial as far to zero as he could, it showed him no one else alive on the planet. They wanted the future so badly, no one stayed behind to build it.
He decided to stay, not that there was anywhere else to go. Maybe someone else would take the trip to 12,459 A.D., hopefully a woman, but anyone would do. This broken and empty world was no prize, but at the very least he wouldn’t be alone anymore.