Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Season six of Starfleet Academy had just started on the television. Pizza boxes were stacked high around him. The lights were out. Underwear and dirty clothes lay strewn about the place.
Jim’s laziness was catching up with him. He was growing fatter by the month. His uncle had gotten him work as a janitor in the science wing of the university but he wasn’t liking it. It was only part-time but it was hard on his back and the boss kept disrespecting him.
He reached forward to turn up the volume on the remote control when a flash of light erupted in the front of the television and a large figure stood blocking his view of the show.
He pushed back from the television, scraping the floor with couch. The effort left him wheezing.
“Jim, don’t freak out. I only have a few minutes to talk to you.” The figure fumbled around the boxes and clothes and turned on a desk lamp.
Jim looked up into the face of the intruder and froze. It was him but a few years older. Still grossly overweight and unkempt but with less hair and more grey.
“Jim, I’m you. I’m still the janitor in the science department. They’ve invented time travel. I’m one of the only people that has a key to the place after hours. The whole team has gone out to celebrate and I’m here alone. I’ll probably get fired for doing this but here.”
He handed over a few pieces of paper with some numbers on them.
“These are lottery numbers. Use them wisely and don’t get greedy. Keep the janitor job and don’t spend like a crazy person.”
As he spoke, he grew several gold rings out of his fingers and a gold tooth appeared in his mouth. A diamond stud sprouted out of his ear. Modest but expensive.
“Also, do some pushups and hit the gym. Even a little regular exercise will do the trick. My heart is ready to burst and I’ve been told that I only have a year to live before I need a transplant. Luckily I can afford it so that’s not too worrying but please do that.”
As older Jim spoke, fat melted off of him. He didn’t grow buff but he did look decidedly trimmer. The missing hair didn’t look so bad. There was confidence and a healthy glow to his eyes. His posture improved and he seemed less panicked.
“And Jim, please go back to school. We both have a natural aptitude for math. It’s how I could figure out how to use the controls here. Imagine what we could accomplish if we really applied ourselves! Jesus, if you’d have studied then maybe I wouldn’t have ended up just being a goddamn janitor.”
The older Jim’s stained jumpsuit whispered away in fragments and was replaced by a lab coat and clipboard.
“My colleagues will be back soon. We can’t use the time machine for personal use so I’ll no doubt face disciplinary action if I’m caught. One more thing. Ask Janine out. While my work is fulfilling, I regret not having kids and she was the one.”
There was a pause while an expression shuddered across older Jim’s face.
“Okay I have to go. I need to get home and tuck the kids in and tell my wife the good news. Remember what I’ve said.”
There was another flash of light and he disappeared.
Jim sat staring at the empty space where the older version of him had stood. He slowly put down the remote control, looked around, and started cleaning up his apartment.
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