Author : George R. Shirer

I met myself in a coffee bar the other day.

He was older, but looked pretty good.

“We should talk,” he said, then ordered us a couple of coffees.

People were giving us strange looks, but the other me didn’t seem to care. He sipped his drink and grinned at me.

“You’re taking this really well,” he said. “You have no idea how many of my younger selves freak out when I show up.”

He reached into his coat and slid a rectangular, black handheld device across the table to me.

“Take that.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“A time machine,” he said. “It’s pretty basic. Type in a date you want to go to and hit the big red button and you’re off.”

“Really?” I picked up the time machine and looked at it. “Where did you get it?”

“Another me, from further up the line.”

“Wait.” I frowned. “You said you’d met younger versions of yourself, but this is the first time I remember meeting you.”

“That’s because this is the first time we’ve met.”

“But. . . .”

“When you time travel,” said the older me, “you don’t move straight up and down your timeline. You can’t. Every time you time travel you fracture reality, cause the universe to schism in two, creating an alternate universe that you inhabit.”

I thought about that for a minute.

“So, you’re not my future self.”

“I’m an alternate future version of you,” he said.

I looked at the time machine.

“Why are you giving me this? Do you have another?”

“No,” he said. “I’m just ready to settle down.”

“What? Why?”

He looked sad. “Because every time you time travel, you create a new universe. You can never go home again, never retrace your steps, never visit the same people. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great for a while. You can see some amazing things, but, after a while, you get lonely. You want to settle down. That’s what happened to my predecessor. That’s why I’m talking to you.”

“You want to settle down here?”

“I want to take over your life,” he said. “While you go off and have adventures. Save Lincoln. Kill Hitler. Vice versa. Whatever. Take my advice though and avoid Shakespear. That guy was a jerk.”


The other me smiled. “Go find out for yourself.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I said, and pulled out my own time machine.

The other me stared for a second then grinned. “I suppose this was inevitable.”

“Yes,” I said.

“What happened to the us from this time-point?”

“He got held up at work,” I said.

“Thank God,” said the other me.

I handed him his time machine.

“I didn’t really want to settle down,” he said, “but. . . .”

“I know. You were lonely.”

“But not any longer,” he said.

“No. We can synch our machines up. My predecessor showed me how.”

My other self smiled and stood. He held out his hand. “Shall we?”

We left, arm in arm, and haven’t been lonely since.


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