“Hi, my name is Anthony Warner with the Save Humanity Fund, and I’m here with a message of hope.” From behind a bombed out building, a handsome young man walked through a sea of miserable people. “Every day we see time travelers returning from the future with messages of anguish and despair. How did humanity get like this? We don’t know yet, but what we do know is that you can do something to help stop it.”
Emotional music began to play in the background.
“For just three dollars a month you could save humanity.” The music was growing to a climax as faces of impoverished people looked into the camera. “Without your donation a child will die every six minutes in the future. A child like Lisa.”
A blue eyed little girl stared into the camera. Suddenly, Anthony Warner reappeared, walked behind her and placed his arm on her frail shoulder. “With your donation Lisa doesn’t ever have to know hunger again. Remember, it’s never too late to change the future.”
“Dad, turn the channel! I don’t want to watch this while I eat!” Throwing her fork down the daughter looked at her mother. “Mom, tell him to change it!”
“Honey, it’s a little disturbing to watch this while we eat.”
“Uh-huh,” the father said as he changed the channel and continued eating his meatloaf.
“Tonight on Nova, how will the human race learn to cope with knowing the future.” A picture of a clock was shown spinning wildly out of control. A bearded man, sitting in front of a black board with complex equations spoke, “Carl Sagan said, ‘If we could travel into the past, it’s mind-boggling what would be possible. For one thing, history would become an experimental science…’ We are officially living in that era now.”
Another scientist, this one using grand hand gestures to make her point, was shown. “Think about it, with all the shifting paradoxes you could park your Mercedes at the grocery store and when you come back have it be a Ford Windstar. The possibilities are endless.”
“Already legislation is being heavily debated in Congress-”
The father turned the channel in boredom.
“Tonight,” a TV anchorman began, “we begin with a story of tragedy here in our own community. The victim, a twelve-year-old girl seriously injured as she left her school in neighboring Madison County. The suspect, a forty-seven year old claiming to be from the future.
Fortunately, we have footage of the incident. A brave News Center 11 citizen reporter happened to catch the whole thing on their cell phone. A warning however, the images you’re about to see are disturbing.”
“George?” The mother asked as she laid her fork down and stared at her husband.
“Hey, Chantel look over here!” The image on the TV bounced back and forth as a girl outside a school waved.
“Oh my God!” the girl suddenly said. “He’s got a gun!”
Zipping around the image came back into focus. An older man teetered into the frame and held up a gun.
“Hey, Miss President!” He slurred. “Or shoul’ I say, lil’ Lily Johnson.” A tiny little brunette turned away from her friends and looked at the man. Even with the grainy picture one could see the terror on her face when she saw the weapon. “My son die for you stupid war! Now I’m goin’ to pay the favor back. Who knows…maybe I’ll save em.”
Pulling the trigger a shot was heard. The little girl fell to the ground, her head hitting the pavement. At that point the cell phone was dropped and all one could hear was the screaming of children.
“The man gave himself up willingly,” the anchor said as his face returned to the screen. “Law enforcement is working with the Department of Time-Line Security to see if the man should be extradited to his own time for trial.”
“Turn it George,” the mother insisted. “The local news is nothing but doom and gloom.”
Flipping the channel, the husband settled on another commercial.
“Our law offices are dedicated to getting you the best deal available. Ninety-nine percent of our cases never go to trial, that’s because we take the time to not only research the specifics of your case, but also the future rulings. With our access to time traveling technology we can gage what the outcome will be-”
The father turned the television again. “I hate lawyer commercials,” he complained.
“A bunch of ambulance chasers if you ask me,” the mother commented.
“Hey watch it,” their son said. “Some of us have dreams of going to law school.”
“Pssh,” the father said as he waved the remote. He changed the channel again. “I can’t believe I have an aspiring lawyer for a son. Honey, if we’d had a daughter we wouldn’t have this problem.”
“Are you tired of not having enough money?” the TV blared. On the screen a young man turned out his pockets and frowned. “Sick of seeing everyone else get ahead while you struggle?” The image switched to a young woman pouring over bills in frustration. “Wish you could finally hit it big in the lottery?” Both the young man and woman nodded in agreement. “Now you can!” As the voice shouted money began to appear and surround the two actors. “We all know time travel can be expensive, but with seven easy installments of twenty-nine ninety-nine we’ll send one of our experts to the future and find the numbers for your fortune!”
Basking in the light of the television the family ate their meatloaf. One moment there was a family of three, the next a family of four, the next only a childless widow. Finally, the image settled back on a mother, father, and daughter watching a commercial.
Money continued to pile up around the man and woman on television. In happiness only possible on TV they gave each other a high five. Facing the screen both announced with glee, “The future never looked so bright!”