Author: David K Scholes
I didn’t recognize any of the positions in the job search booth.
Terra-forming Engineer, Change Field Manipulator, Short Tele-Shunt Engineer, Long Distance Teleportation Engineer, Unified Mind Sustainer, Alternate Reality Coordinator, Extra-Dimensional Tour Guide.
Though I could take a guess at what they might involve.
Whatever happened to the ubiquitous Business Analysts, Project Managers, and Executive Assistants. Not to mention Associate Professors, University Lecturers, and Research Fellows which were perhaps more in my line.
I hadn’t come that far up time – had I? Not more than the contracted period?
They had selected me on the basis of my Ph.D. in mathematics from the Australian National University. Not to mention my responses to some of the weirdest tests imaginable.
I was expecting a more formal reception and a little more guidance when I got here. Something more than the lone, barely civil, little bot ushering me into the job search booth.
“Take your time,” it said almost insolently. “Choose from any of these positions that interest you and that you appear qualified for. Once you have a job we can see about settling you in.”
I made my first selection and that’s when I got the treatment. The full treatment.
A bewildering battery of mind probe tests followed by a considerable array of virtual reality job scenarios. Somewhere among this I vaguely recalled an actual old fashioned face to face job interview with several distinctly non-human entities. I think my holograph went to them rather than the other way round. Though I really wasn’t quite sure.
Nothing down time, not even the weird tests I was subjected to down there, had prepared me for this and not surprisingly I failed miserably at my first up time job application. None of the potential employers up here wanting Time Travel Inconsistencies Mathematicians were interested in what I had to offer. It occurred to me that I might have been aiming too high.
The bot wanted me to press on with other job selections in the booth but the rigor of the job selection process together with my up time travel had resulted in brain fade.
A took a break in a very small transparent cubicle offered to me. After a heavily concentrated micro-sleep and some kind of mind nourishment I awoke refreshed and ready to continue. I became conscious of the many other job applicants that were around. Some of them resting, as I had, in the transparent cubicles.
I re-entered a job selection booth, not knowing if it was the same one, as there were so many of them.
I pressed on with my job selections: though with no better results. Failing for each position that I applied for. I began to wonder what I was doing here. Did these employers up time really want any of us down time savages?
I started to look for jobs that didn’t sound so grand. Maybe an up time equivalent of a laborer or cleaner.
Then I got a job. A position for an Efficient Debris Disposal Mathematician. It sounded like a grand title for a garbage disposer.
Going back down time wasn’t an option. The actuarial present value (discounted back to my time) of 50% of my contracted future earnings had already been paid to (and long since spent) by my family.
I realized these up time people knew what they were doing.
We down timers were never going to get the good jobs up here – just those they didn’t want to do themselves.
The up time employers were just going through the motions.
Your story reminds me of ‘The End of Eternity’ by Asimov. Really like the idea of time travelling to find a job, though it doesn’t seem that lucrative 🙁
Very clever, David and very much enjoyed. I’m such a sucker for time travel 🙂
Delightful story and what a nice twist at the end. Classic.