Author : B. H. Isaac
My surroundings changed in an instant. The neglected display room and my parked martini glass disappeared, replaced by a frozen landscape with glacial winds tearing at my loosened tux. Fear gave me the momentary strength to free myself from the cacophonous machine and its mechanized tentacles. All remaining delight at the success of this derelict and inebriated attempt to dial the prehistoric glacial epoch faded at the sight of wind-blasted remnants of a lost age. Sections of crumbling walls mixed with prodigious beams and the wreckage of some sort of metal craft which jutted from the ice at random angles. I strained to see beyond 100 meters through an omnipresent mist. There was light, but no sun.
A pair of cloaked shapes seized me. They moved me to a sheltered cavern with an entrance obscured behind the remains of a herculean sign, all its color and iconography blasted beyond recognition.
An assemblage of tattered refugees in clothes similar to mine waited inside, huddling about a warm and faintly glowing device covered with odd levers and back-lit keys. The people appeared to be from different lands and cultures, but all seemed possessed of a distinctly modern aspect. They peered at me with a strange mixture of suspicion and incredulity. I did not understand this reception until thrust before the bed of a dying man who was wrapped in furs and surrounded by throngs of doleful acolytes. I gazed through the murk in horror as my eyes adjusted to the dimness. Though the man appeared quite advanced in years, I recognized him immediately.
He was an older version of me.
The age shriveled man coughed severely, then mustered his remaining strength to hand me a charred note displaying a sequence of curious numbers: 2013011723591347.42301-20.28854. His trembling voice struggled to form words. I understood two: “Be ready.”
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