by Michael Bloor
(first published in Free Flash Fiction 26/11/22)
My walk took me into the old quarry by the east bank of the Allanwater, a pleasant, sheltered place on a windy autumn day – my usual stopping place to eat my lunch (on this occasion, a small pork pie and a banana). I was absorbed in my own thoughts, unwrapping the pork pie, when I sensed the presence of another person. I looked up and was astonished to see myself, a few feet away, wearing a worried expression and a spacesuit.
I dropped the pork pie.
The Other Me shook his head and waved his hands. ‘Jeez, what a waste! I’d give worlds for a pork pie. Okay, listen: we may not have much time. I’m you, from the future, from March 30th, 2030.’
‘Yeah, yeah, you won that competition prize – a trip on the Inaugural Virgin Starship Voyage to the Alpha Centauri system.’
‘Sure, you dope. You won the prize for your breakfast cereal slogan: “Wake Up to a Bowl Full of Sun.” And now, you don’t remember? Oh yeah, hang on, that’s not til 2029. OK, just listen good. You’re going to win a prize, right? The prize is a trip on the starship. Now, believe me, the trip is a real roller-coaster. Right now we’re stuck in this black hole, a vortex, a spiral of nothingness. Well, a helix of nothingness, to be exact. OK, did you know that in a really huge vortex, there’s a time loop? Mm. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to travel back in time to warn me. I mean to warn you, the earlier me. ‘
‘Yep. You’re up to speed now? Frankly, I’m taking a bit of a risk for us: time travel needs to be carefully calibrated, both for period and location. Did you know that the South American Giant Ground Sloth weighed four tons and only became extinct ten thousand years ago? Meeting that’d certainly be reason enough to drop a pork pie.
Anyway, I’m here to warn me – to warn us – about Relief Captain Louise Lolly. She’s two-timing me – us – with that Vinny Visconti, the Communications Officer – the smooth-talking creep. The best thing would be if we gave Louise the go-by altogether. I’ve a sort-of a feeling that Anna, the Polish space cadet, might be quite interested in us, given a bit of encouragement. So… Hey, if you’re not going to eat that banana, may I…? Oops, starting to fade, I think we’re about to emerge from the spiral, I mean the helix. Thanks for the ba…’
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