Thursday, August 03, 2006

Postcards from a Post Human

The emails from the future began on a Friday.

Being in a hurry to grab a happy hour beer ($2 Shiner - beat that!), I noticed only in passing that someone had made it past my spam filter with an odd subject line - "Don't Open Till Saturday (merry xmas)." I didn't actually read it until the next day, well past noon and a very late breakfast taco.

Still a tad drowsy, but at least better hydrated and no longer with that stabbing ice pick pain behind my right eye, I wandered by my computer and remembered the email. What a great way to procrastinate, said my subconscious, so I sat down and logged in.
I know you're receiving this email, since it already happened. That is, I'm pretty sure you are, since I remember reading it so many years ago. It's important that you read my emails over the next few weeks, since it's up to you to kick-off this kick-ass post-human world in which I now live. If I remember correctly (too bad my augs aren't retroactive), you are a bit hungover when you're first reading this, but the thing that really stands out in my memory is that I'm supposed to tell you that the phone is going to ring in about 30 seconds. Answer it - it's important.

That's all for now. You'll understand better when you read the rest of the emails, but don't do it yet - just answer the phone.
Oooookay. That was weird, I thought. I saw that there were two more emails after this one, and I was about to click on the next one to see what the hell the punchline was supposed to be, when the phone rang.

At first I was a bit freaked, a tingling shudder running through my body. But then I laughed - life is absurd that way, with little coincidences occuring just often enough that you start to think that maybe life is a little more magic than it really is. You know how it goes - you start thinking about a song, then turn on the radio and there is that song playing. You think about a friend, and they call.

I bemusedly walked over to the phone, remembering the last time that happened. I had been thinking of Pam, wondering if I should call her, when the phone rang. It was of course Pam.

I picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Mike?" I knew that voice. It was Pam. I felt that tingle again, that pending sense of anticipation that something is about to happen.

"That was weird. I was just thinking about you," I started.

"Oh My God! That's just what he said you would say!!" Pam exclaimed.

"What? Who? Say what?" I know, I wasn't making much sense. But neither was this situation.

"Listen, are you home? Can I come over?" Pam said, a sense of urgency in her voice. "I need to show you something."

I looked down. I was still in my underwear from last night, hadn't taken a shower, and still smelled like cigarettes, beers, and bars. "Sure. Give me a half hour first, though - I need to take a shower."

"Whatever. I'm coming over right now." She hung up.

I figured it would take her at least ten minutes to get here, even if she walked out the door right now, which I don't think I'd ever seen Pam manage before (having to pick out just the right shoes, check her hair, and find her purse before even thinking of being seen in public). I started to get up and hit the shower, when I remembered the email.

I sat back down and reread it. Hmph. Very weird. I figured any one of my drinking buddies from last night could have sent it, knowing we were going out, knowing I'd be hung over. They all know I love sci-fi tropes.

But whoever sent it somehow knew about the phone call, Pam wasn't out with us last night. I suppose she could have known I was out, but even if she was trying to fuck with me, how the heck did she time the phone call to coincide with the prediction in the email so closely?

Ah, how about a return receipt on the email? She could see when I opened it, then could time the call pretty closely to the time I would finish reading it. Good trick. I smiled. Pam was my friend because she was always coming up with ways to keep life interesting. I'd have to give her a pat on the back for the effort, but I thought she might be a little disappointed to see how fast I figured it out.

Wait. There were two more emails from the same address. Now interested to see where the off-season April Fool's joke was heading, I clicked on the next one in line.
Ok, you should be done with the phone call from Pam. And no, it wasn't - isn't? - her sending these emails. (English syntax doesn't handle time anomalies well at all, does it?)

Pam is going to come over and tell you a story about the email she got. Yes, that was from me too. I'd tell you what was in it, but you'll find out soon enough.

Look, this isn't one of your friends fucking with you. (Well, I suppose you could interpret it that way, but you'd be missing the point). Trust me. Well, ok, you don't have to trust me, just go along with me for a bit - consider it an adventure. It'll make a great story for your blog. (I know - I have a record of it still.)

Here is what you need to know.

I'm going to tell you some things over the next few weeks. If you follow up on them like you did before, then you're going to end up living through some very interesting and exciting adventures. And by the time you get where I am now, you'll be very glad you did.

When you're done hearing what Pam has to say, read the next email I sent. You won't have time right now - she's going to ring the doorbell any second.
Oh crap - Pam.

I looked down at my watch. Crap, she could be here any minute, and I still haven't taken a shower or gotten dressed. I started to get up, then paused. If I click on the email now, then this asshole - who I surmised is supposed to be me talking from the future - would be wrong, wouldn't he?

I started to sit back down and click, when I heard the door open and Pam shouting out "Mike? Hello? Where are you?"

Shit - I needed some pants. I jumped up and grabbed my jeans from last night and threw them on, buttoning them just as Pam walked into my bedroom. "Oh, there you are." She sniffed, then wrinkled her nose. "I thought you were going to take a shower."

"I was. You got here too fast."

"How long does it take to walk 10 feet and turn on a shower?" She put her hands on her hips. "I don't want to hear you giving me a hard time anymore about taking forever to get ready."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." My head was starting to hurt again. "What was so important you had to rush over here?"

"Why? Don't you like to see me? Am I keeping you from all the important things you were getting accomplished this morning?" Pam liked discursive sarcastic banter. Said it kept conversations more interesting if they took three left turns instead of one right turn getting to the same place.

"Please." I put up my hand. "No harranging till I can get rid of this headache."

"Ha! Serves you right. You're the one who just had to be Mr. Funny last night with your inebriated email." She gave a little snort. "You techies. Can't you just drunk dial like everyone else?"

Email. I remembered why Pam said she had to come over. "Email?"

"This." She pulled a folded sheet of paper out of her purse and handed it to me. I opened it up.
Sorry about the obscure return address - hope this makes it past your spam filters.

You're not going to believe this. In fact, you'll think it's some sort of joke. And in a way it is, but not in the way you think.

Here's the thing. I'm going to make some predictions. You're going to see that they come true. Then you're going to drive over to Mike's house as soon as you can and get him to explain it all to you. He's the only one who can help you figure out what is going on.

Here's the first prediction. You normally have coffee and toast for breakfast. But this morning, for some reason, you decided to have cereal instead. While you were eating the cereal, you were watching the news and saw that the American winner of the Tour de France had failed his second (or "B") test.

Here's the next prediction. You're going to look up and see your cat licking the milk from your cereal.

Now call Mike. Right now. Tell him you're coming right over. Don't worry - he'll be expecting your call - in fact, he's thinking about you right now.

And don't forget to print out this email and take it with you.
I looked up at Pam. "Did all this happen?"

She looked solemn and nodded. "Exactly like the email said. At first I thought it was some joke, but that bit about the cat...when I saw Spot licking my cereal bowl I about had a cow." Spot was her cat. "But then I knew it had to be a trick. You wrote it, right? Do you have me under surveillance or something?" She sounded half mad, half scared.

I shook my head. "You need to see something."

I turned to go read the third email.

(to be continued)

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