Fiction | Milo
The following short story was inspired by out podcast episode on time travel. I like the idea of making this into a series, but it's not something I'm looking to force. We shall just have to see what happens...I'm sure there's a bad joke in there "travelling to the future" but whatever.
A Brief History of Mallett Mail (MM)
- In the year 2020 advances in our understanding of inertial frame dragging led to the funding of a variety of experiments into the possibility of delineating time, or “time travel”, inspired by Ronald Mallett’s paper Weak Gravitational Field of the Electromagnetic Radiation in a Ring Laser.
- Following a number of successful experiments, the US military began investigating the martial uses of Mallett’s theories. This led to the creation of Mallett Mail (MM), a programme capable of receiving coded messages from a sender located in the future. Its interface was similar to any basic email software, albeit lacking in the ability to send messages.
- The first MM transmission was received on Sunday 29th January 2033, and it contained instructions on how to create the necessary software required to send messages.
- MM’s were repurposed for mass production and commercial use in the year 2067.
- This eradicated linear conceptions of time as we know it, and our current strict adherence to mathematically proper 'years' returned to the hazy, pragmatic timekeeping of medieval times. In this way, what would have been the year 2068 was instead known as Year 1 after the Year 2068 or Y1 > 68. It was also necessary for two new days of the week to be created; “Thisday” refers to the current and accepted chronology of one’s life, whereas “Thatday” refers to one’s assumed history before MM communications “splintered” their timeline.
- Therefore identifying the "actual" year that you were in was a task left to bankers, philosophers and mathematicians. For everybody else “Thisday”, or “Thatday” sufficed.
Roger Love had two problems that should be easy to solve were it not for his misplaced sense of masculinity, and so as problems they remained. His first problem was his promiscuous nature and easy, guiltless guile that made one night stands a night club away. His second problem was his disdain for sexual protection, whether that of the physical kind or the medicinal kind. A pill had long since been developed that rendered men temporarily infertile, and yet Roger wasn’t a fan. In his words they “took the bang out of the firework”.
Now Roger Love carried on with his laisser-faire approach to casual sex long past the point of social acceptability, and with his stated disinterest in responsible sex, ended up with a bevy of illegitimate children. The first two were tough enough to handle, but then a series of twins made him rethink his current lifestyle. It wasn’t long before Roger started to wonder how many children he had fathered across the capital, across the country and on his very many trips abroad. In a sudden moment of awkward shame, he realised the extent of his crimes when he discovered in the middle of an interview that the candidate who sat before him was his own daughter. Her twin was waiting for her in the car outside. He decided that employing his own children was a weird sort of surrogacy for parenthood, and was much like, in his own words, “eating fish without chips” and so enough was enough. He was finally going to behave like a responsible adult, get on the phone and send an MM imploring himself to swallow the damn pill instead. In his fevered discomfort he was quite hasty in his MM, and ignored the most common FAQ’s regarding life and death. It was after all common knowledge that MM’s merely splintered your history, and instead of having a single experience of events you had double. If he’d had the courage to form a relationship with his youngest son, he would have informed him that MM’s led to second chances that were like “lives” in a video game. On the one hand whilst your most recent play through becomes the “official” one, you would still remember every failure up to that point and every failure would still be built into your overall score at the end of the game.
Roger sent himself a message imploring himself to use protection during the sexual encounters that he had known to yield children. He considered the wording a number of times before deciding that he, being himself, would get it and so sent it without too much duress. The successful arrival of the MM resulted in the customary moment of “remembering” what had now constituted the last two decades of his life. Thatday became Thisday, and his many illegitimate children were no more, at least they were no more to his conscious self. Every so often he would have a vague sense of déjà vu when entering a place he hadn’t realised he’d entered or could recite the theme songs of children’s shows he never knew he had watched.
Another two decades had passed and Roger’s mindless hedonism caught up to him, and he found himself at death’s door at the unfortunate age of 94 when most men lived until 120. His last days were spent in a care home, watching with dry, itchy eyes the coming and goings of families visiting his neighbours. With night came the ever potent visions of his children who had never come to be, and through the echo of his genes he could see the life that they had lived without his conscious self. He saw his eventual reconnection with them; he saw him holding with bashful excitement a grandchild who could have been his own son. He saw in the bathroom mirror his children visiting him in this very same care home, and he saw his life extend for a further five years in an emotional state resembling a placid, meek sort of contentment. But alas these times did not belong to his conscious self. When it soon became clear that no one was coming to visit, and when he was the most senior of senior citizens in the ward he applied for a “peaceful injection” as was his legal right with the passing of the Euthanasia Act.
The old man’s hand quivered with age as he eased himself into the seat that sat across from the physician and the therapist. The latter asked him to confirm his reasons for his decision, and he replied that living without loved one’s was akin to “drinking punch with no alcohol”. The former then told him that he could live for a few years yet with the right healthcare plan, and that he could always try sending another MM. The therapist informed him that too many people stopped sending MM’s out of a sense of futility that was often proved false. Roger laughed at this because he had not been one of those people, he had sent numerous messages as his health declined, messages that had fallen on a younger Rogers death ears. A younger Roger who had fallen deeper into his lascivious ways once he had learned to embrace the pill and so couldn’t care less about these so called projections of loneliness. The two sighed, aware that he had made his decision and asked if any arrangements needed to be made for his imminent passing. He replied: “death with too much planning, is like sex with protection. I’d rather be surprised and let the pieces fall where they may, than feel the cold calculation of a life so weighed.”
In this way a morally wayward Roger died a now pensive yet still morally wayward Roger; his dying visions of the things he was yet to do, rather than the things he had Thisday done.