Chapter 1: A Visit from the Future
The theme song from Raiders of the Lost Ark was blaring through the imagination of the portly soon to be ninth grader, as he deftly carved his way through the underbrush and towards the creek below, easily evading the imaginary guard towers obviously there to keep watch over the prized treasure he was going to steal.
In reality, the portly young boy was following the well used walking path toward the creek at the city park at the bottom of the street. With each step, he nearly fell since he was barely able to keep from tripping since he was woefully out of shape and not highly coordinated like most kids that age who are turning into adults.
But he continued on and in his mind ... the New York Ballet Company could take notes on how he could effortlessly transcend gravity and several other unimportant laws of physics.
Reaching the end of the well worn but obscured by overgrowth path to the local swimming hole, Tim Murphy’s bag was holding a towel, clean t-shirt and a small lunch and bottle of water. He put it on the side of a rock that featured a flat smooth top, perfect for using as a seat. Subconsciously, he changed his mind. He picked up his bag and hid it by wedging it under a fallen tree, behind the rock.
When sitting back up he remembered an incident several years earlier when some bullies had grabbed his bag and thrown it into the trees. That memory had been safely tucked away, but that little subconscious motion to hide his bag forced the bad memory to the forefront. With a sharp exhale and a cathartic raspberry to no one in particular, Tim decided he was not going to let this bad memory ruin his chance for a fun day.
The boy looked around and saw no one. Not unusual since it was a couple of hours before lunch, and most people who hung out at the park, did so in the late afternoon to early evening. Tim knew he had a couple of prime hours to himself and the possibility of being interrupted was remote. So without further delay, he began his latest quest he had concocted last night before going to bed.
The two men dressed in business suits were visiting the professor’s office, not usually out of the ordinary but these two men had that definitive ‘military’ look about them. The suits were off the rack, and were a little loose fitting. There was a strong side bulge evident under each man’s left arm. At least one was also wearing an ankle holster, visible when they both took an offered seat on the other side of the professor’s desk.
“Well gentlemen, what can I do for you today? Do I need to have a lawyer present?” the professor asked with a slight giggle.
A chuckle was returned as a suit responded,”Not unless you did something meriting the attention of the local authorities.
“No Professor, we need you to retrieve the famed Golden Monkey and return it to the King of Qatar.”
“Why ask me for it? I don’t have it.”
“We know that Professor but the man who does have it is a known acquaintance of yours, he calls himself the Baron.”
The diminutive 8th grader was now deep into miming a two way conversation being both the professor and the two military looking gentleman in the professor’s make believe office.
“Okay, you got my attention, I have had dealings with that ass in the past and I’m not exactly on his Christmas card list. In fact, the last time I saw him I was sliding down a zip line running away from some of his thugs. Why should I go kicking a hornet’s nest for you?” the professor asked.
“The King of Qatar wants the Golden Monkey, and that is his price for allowing the military to go forward with its plan to build a much needed U.S. Air Force Base on the King’s land. With a strong U.S. Military presence there, his kingdom is perfectly situated to help stop any full scale wars from erupting in the Middle East. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a spot to protect the billions of dollars of oil production!”
The chunky 8th grader with the vivid imagination spoke to no one in particular.
Now standing on the same rock he was once sitting on, he crouched over the crevasse, and judged it to be justifiably difficult for mere mortals to jump across. But not too difficult for the world’s foremost archaeologist/adventurer/Professor/Casanova/international man of ... well what ever you need.
With a deep breath and a small shuffle to gather his feet under him for the large jump, he pushed with all his might and cleared the Grand Canyon-like chasm with ease. In reality, the space between the boulders was less than a half of a foot wide but the next bolder was another half foot taller so a bit of a jump was necessary. It is akin to skipping two steps at once. Mind you, with Tim’s weight and lack of any real athletic prowess, the jump was difficult enough for him to help stroke his ego.
About an hour later and after successfully liberating the virginities of several of the Baron’s harem of Amazon-like assassins and rescuing the president’s daughter who while on Spring Break from college who had also been kidnapped and had been held prisoner by The Baron: he retrieved the Golden Monkey from the Barons’ Atlantis-like underwater lair.
Tim was taking a much needed break and was air drying himself while reclining on the flattened rock, while taking swigs of his water and munching on an apple. He was trying to decide on whether to go home and watch TV or to hang out there a while longer and risk running into older kids.
The day was beautifully warm with low humidity and not a cloud in the sky. He decided it was worth the risk of a sound embarrassment from the older kids ... whose main duty in life was to try to out-cruel each other, and bully the local youngsters ... to stay outdoors for at least another hour and away from the TV. He knew he should probably workout more, hell workout any, or at least try to get himself acclimated to the heat of a south Texas summer without wasting the day indoors in front of a fan or air conditioner.
In the fall, he would be going to high school, Theodore Roosevelt High School to be exact. On a last second whim, while picking his classes for freshman year he decided to try out for football. He always loved the game. Well watching it at least. His one problem was he’d never played the game, before. Never wore a helmet before and it would probably be needed at some point. He could not run very far, or very fast. He had no illusions about being the next Emmitt Smith. But he figured with work, maybe he could become an offensive lineman. One of the nameless few who push the trenches and fight for that much need inch of territory. The idea of becoming a somewhat decent high school football player was almost a romantic notion. More of a fantasy, really.
“So let’s figure out what needs to be done to get me into shape to at least get started in football. I guess I’ll have to start running a little everyday just to get myself used to the idea.” he muttered to himself. “How about walking first and running a little while out walking? That would kill two birds with one stone.”
“Well at least the government will be able to help secure the region with the new base the King will allow to be built in his country,” an awfully familiar voice coming from the well worn path said.
Tim sat up and turned in fright since he had not heard anyone trampling over any dead leaves or twigs or moving any low-laying branches. However, he did see a man about five-eight and well over three hundred pounds in what appeared to be some kind of security guard uniform. After a continued glance, four hundred pounds would not be out of the realm of possibilities. Tim dropped his nearly finished apple core jumped up to the higher rock.
For some reason, he pulled his bag ... which now held only a towel and clean t-shirt ... tightly to his chest and asked “Who are you? I didn’t hear anyone come down the path to the creek.” Tim leaned his head to the side, like a dog trying to figure something out and said, “You look kinda familiar.”
“Well, you are gonna think I’m crazy but try to imagine yourself in about thirty-five years or so, and you’ll know who I am,” the rather obese man said.
He gave what was intended to be a bow but with the girth around his waist it was a full body nod at best.
With his face scrunched in an obvious look of confusion, Tim looked over the man again and immediately thought, Yeah, he’s crazy alright. But he did have to admit, the resemblance was uncanny, almost enough to make him look like an older brother or even his father.
“So you are saying you are me? What are you, from the future or something?”
Tim’s face didn’t change as he said. “Bullshit.”
“I shit you not.” While still looking at the chubby kid clutching a beat up backpack to his chest, the large man sat down on the flattened rock and whistled an appreciative observation of the swimming hole that ten minutes earlier was the secret entrance to the Barons’ underwater lair.
“Last time I saw this place, it was cordoned off as the police were fishing out the body of some dead homeless guy who had been stabbed by another homeless guy.
“This place changes dramatically when the neighborhood goes through a revitalization and they turn this entire greenbelt from I-410 down to Ft. Sam (Houston), into a new city park. They build ugly cement benches and picnic tables and turn this little swimming hole into a holding tank for a waterfall feature to fill into the larger, easier to reach artificial swimming spot they dig deeper into the creek just beyond those boulders over there,” the older man gestured toward a group of large boulders that formed the southern wall of the small pond.
“Personally, I think one of the home owners actually greased some palms with the planning commission and got the place turned into some kind of quasi-city park to try and raise property values. Problem was Salado Creek has historically always been one of the first places to overflow its banks with heavy rain. Hell I think about ten to fifteen years from now, the rainfall was so intense it actually worked its way up over the banks, up the hill and starts to ooze itself down the street.
“No way!” Tim said while looking up the tall hill toward his family home he had just climbed down to get to the small swimming hole along Salado Creek.
“Yes way. But fortunately, the rains stopped. I’m pretty sure that if they had continued for a couple more hours, the house would have flooded.”
A somber “Shit,” came from the youngster.
“But don’t worry, the water receded before any troubles came. But a few years after the greenway is declared a city park with biking and hiking trails, swimming pools and playgrounds for the kids, a strong flood comes to the city and the creek overflows its banks and works its way up the hill about halfway but the water is still plenty high enough to erase the biking and hiking trails, destroying the intricate work the city put into making a creek flow into an artificial swimming pool and of course all the playground equipment.
“But I didn’t realize I would really miss seeing this place ... the ... naturalness. I guess is the best way to phrase it. It is soooo quiet here. I miss that,” the man then looks down to the water and lightly tossed a small rock into the pond. He looked back at Tim and said. “Look Tim, I AM you. And I can prove it. Come here.” He then waved Tim to come on over. The man stood up off the flat stone and walked back to the path.
Something inside told him he could trust this man, so Tim got off the rocks and joined him back on the worn path. Now looking at each other and with an unbelievably quick move, the man grabbed Tim’s left hand and with a small blade, he cut a small X into his back of his hand no bigger than a quarter and then let him go. Tim of course pulled his arm back and immediately grabbed his hand to put pressure on the cut. Luckily, it was not very deep.
“What the fuck!” Tim screamed at the large man and took several steps back.
Tim’s anger quickly began to boil over. But when he looked over at the man to make sure he wasn’t going to try anything like that again. The man was holding his left hand toward Tim with the back of the hand showing. Tim noticed a line scar of a small quarter-sized X appear to ‘cut’ into the top of his hand at the exact spot Tim was now cuddling, and trying to not notice the pain. The only reason he noticed it, was because the hair on the back of the man’s hand was thick. The only place on his hand without any hair was the quarter-sized X scar he had just watched form. There was no blood coming off the man’s hand, just a newly-formed scar that looked like it had been there for years. But young Tim’s hand was indeed bleeding. The old man handed him a swath of gauze to wrap around the wound.
“Do you have any water left in the bottle? Go ahead and pour it on your cut, that stuff is a lot cleaner than the creek water, that’s for sure.”
Tim began to clean the wound and it stopped bleeding then gently wrapped the gauze around his hand. The whole time Tim was rolling the gauze over the cut and tying it off to stay on, he was thinking the same thing over and over until he just could not help.
He blurted out, “How in the hell did you do that? That’s impossible! How huge you are to move that fuckin’ fast!”
Tim was still standing several steps away from the man and his brain was desperately trying to figure out just how did he pull off that little trick.
“Think about it, Tim ... I just cut you and you saw the scar form on my hand in the exact same place. That means it is a cut you’ll have for the rest of your life. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m gonna take it as a good sign since the main reason a scar like this would form from a simple cut like that means you at least listened to me and did not treat the arm with anything other than the water and the gauze.
“Now ... let’s start this again and I promise not to cut you anymore, okay?”
“Like I could stop you much, anyways ... how did you move so fast?”
“Don’t worry we’ll cover that in a bit. Now why don’t you have a seat up on the higher rock there so we can talk and I can sit on the lower one because as you can tell I got a lot more weight that you,” the older Murphy smiled and patted his stomach and fake waddled over to the path like a Weeble-Wobble doll. Young Tim noted he made the normal noise someone would make while walking on the path with it’s many dead leaves and twigs covering its path.
The older man removed a brown messenger bag and gathered up the shoulder strap to hold it as well as the handles rather than slinging the strap over his shoulder. Sitting on the lower rock, he opened the messenger bag and pulled out a large 9x12 manila envelope, with a string and button closure and the front of it is clearly labeled: “Tim Murphy”.
Tapping the envelope he puts a serious tone to his voice rather than the jovial one he had used up till then.
“In here, I have several different envelopes with a letter for you to read. It is probably best for you to read them as labeled rather than trying to read them all at once. Ah, who am I kidding? You’ll probably read them all at once, but, no worries. Just make sure you put them back in their correct place, later, for safe keeping,” he said, with the jovial tone returning.
“I had a lot of time on my hands and I thought to myself, ‘Self, how could I change my life and make myself the best I could be with just a little bit of help.’ So I spent some time going through ideas like the stock market, gambling, lotto numbers ... you know, things like that.”
The younger Tim nodded in understanding because his mind quickly enough placed himself in the same situation and tried to imagine what he would do. That lottery suggestion actually seemed like the easiest to do.
“I know what you are thinking, ‘The lottery would be the easiest to do, ‘ but like I said I’ve had some time to think about this and I got really honest with myself. I realized throughout my entire life ... I coasted. I only tried hard for one thing in my life and that was earning my black belt in American Kenpo. Oh by the way, that is what made it possible for me to cut you without you even being able to try to stop me.
“So knowing myself as I do, I didn’t want to just hand myself the future on a silver platter, I thought up a way to make myself earn it. Oh, I’ll give you some help. I want to get myself the best possible future but I don’t want you to have the major decision in your daily routine to be whether or not you will order Dominos or Pizza Hut.”
Young Tim nodded and could understand the reasoning behind the choice. The older man was silent and young Tim realized this. He looked up to see the older man was staring at him.
“I see you can understand my reasoning for the decision ... I told you I knew who you were because I know me,” young Tim decided this guy was legit ... he was an older Tim. He should probably listen to what he has to say.
“Now, let’s get started shall we. Let me explain a little about our life that I lived, up until about six years ago. We graduated from school with a wonderful; eighty-five out of a hundred. Wonderfully ordinary. Extravagantly plain. Undeniably benign.
“Okay, I get it. I don’t try very hard, my grades are only enough to get by and not cause trouble.”
“Exactly. That’s one of the first things we are gonna change. But first our story. And cue the dissolve of the movie of our life.”
They both giggled. Interestingly enough the same abrupt nose snort and dimples appeared on both of them.
“We went to college but did not do well, and also did not finish since we weren’t really trying anyway. Dad got us a job working as a security guard at the National Guard armory on nights. Perfect for studying, even though we didn’t. But we did get access to the armory’s wifi signal and also gained access to a top level clearance to encrypt our tracks so no one knew we were using it. Of course, we didn’t know we had that kind of access, we just thought it was a password to get onto the wifi and surf for the boring everyday things one would look up on the web.
“I did find something kinda interesting ... and started reading. I came to find out it was a secret operating budget for some kind of secret lab, but it was located underneath the armory. It had two entrances. One was from some building in Fort Sam, where the intelligence guys could make their way there, without looking too different. They just entered a crappy little office in the basement of one of the buildings on Fort Sam and followed a secret passageway using electric golf carts underground and underneath the newly built Brooke Army Medical Center and to the lab under the old armory. That same evening is when I also found out I had pretty high access via the armory’s wifi network and could get into any of the systems if I could find the connection. The second door in the armory was an emergency entrance/exit. That’s why I never saw anyone I didn’t know, coming in or going out of the armory. They always used the two mile long tunnel from the intelligence office in Ft. Sam.”
Young Tim was dumbfounded and completely entranced with the story so far and wondered if the lab was there now or if it was built later, or if this guy was lying through his teeth.
I began reading the weekly progress reports the research staff underground were filing. They were extremely excited about their current project,” the older Tim stalled and noticed younger Tim was leaning slightly forward enthralled with the story. “They were actually working on time travel and they were worried about the repercussions of what they were doing.”
Suddenly the older Tim clapped his hands together and grunted out a strong, “Damn!”
The younger Tim started at the sudden outburst and said. “What the hell, man! You almost gave me a heart attack!”
A small smile formed on the face of the older gentleman and was followed by a quick apology.
“Sorry ‘bout that, I totally forgot to tell you something and I just remembered it,” he said gesturing hands down trying to calm both parties down.
“I forgot to tell you about some of the things the future invented to make things easier. One of them is the health pill. A bunch of researchers in about twenty-five years or so, develop a way to cure a bunch of diseases like AIDS, cancer, diabetes and bunch of other stuff, all with one pill. Time travel and some of its problems related to those I could grasp and sort of understand but medicine and genetics go waaaay over my head. Well they discovered they could beef up the body’s natural defenses by an order of magnitude against sickness and disease and get the body to fight off the problems areas. Fixing it all was as simple as using a single capsule. Actually there are several thousand nanites ... or microscopic robots ... programmed to fix damaged and problem cells. These nanites can also be programmed, basically, to fix whatever ails ya.”
“That’s amazing,” young Tim said with a wipe of his brow. Then he asked, “ But wouldn’t government or big drug companies whose business model is to work on the symptoms, rather than treat the problem be kinda pissed off that they are gonna lose money.”
“Yeah, that was the problem because big pharma is big business and didn’t want to cure that stuff. For a few years they were successful in stopping its introduction to the population.” older Tim answered. “But these researchers were idealists and scientists not businessmen. Eventually one of them used the pill on an aging father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Within a few days it worked and he was completely cured. The researchers knew if the government or the businessmen who owned the government discovered they successfully treated someone without permission it would not be good for them.
“Exactly. So they decided to go public and tell everyone a cure was available. Everywhere at once so the knowledge would not be lost. Not the instructions to creating and programming the nanites mind you but the fact that it would work. The story took off like a rocket, and the researchers were reprimanded for releasing the information under the disguise it was not yet properly tested. That story dissolved quickly once they were unable to answer why there wasn’t more testing being performed. But the businessmen fought back the way they do, and got their pals in the government to declare the researchers enemies of the state for disclosing national secrets. Needless to say it only enhanced their message. Since their formulas and results were published on the internet and anyone could see it, there was really no need to punish them ... but they did.”
“I can see that for sure. But jeez they must have been stupid, wouldn’t they know the government and big business would probably start plan B and find a way to make money off of the discovery?” the younger Tim asked. “I mean, well, shit! With that kind of delivery unit, you could change all kinds of cosmetic things. All you would need to do is the proper programming of the nanites and you can cure baldness or make yourself be skinny with just one pill.”
And with a sly smile, the older Tim said, “Exactly. That is how big business fought back. They eventually won because creating and programming the nanites is a very difficult and expensive thing to do. A treatment would be very expensive and that was music to their ears. So, anyways, I was given one because of my job. They really wanted me to keep it, but my job was a bit unusual.”
“Wait a sec, you said you were just a security guard at the armory, how come you rated one of these pills,” the younger Tim asked like he found a flaw in the story.
“This is where I found out I was looking into things I wasn’t allowed to be lookin’ at so they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Basically, the office guard downstairs was getting ready to retire and they needed a new recruit to take over the overnight guard position. He was watching me in the Captain’s office ... that’s where I found the wifi codes which were actually secret government facility access codes. Good thing I didn’t see anything so bad they didn’t deem it necessary to end me. I had seen a couple of spreadsheets detailing construction upgrades, and cost overruns, that needed to be shared within the military community.”
The older Tim noticed the glassy-eyed confusion painted on the face of his younger self.
With a smile he clarified, “Basically the spreadsheets were proof that the Army and Navy Medical units in the area were spending way too much on everyday stuff like ordering and paying for several thousand crates of tongue depressors and receiving only one crate or like a hundred bucks for a roll of toilet paper to pay for some new toy the scientists downstairs wanted for whatever reasons.”
“Okay, so why did you get the pill?”
“The security guard is the last line of defense to keep unauthorized people out of the lab area. We are experts in close quarters combat, and also well versed in handguns. Guards are allowed to shoot first and ask questions later. The night guard is the only person other than the main scientists allowed downstairs after the door closes usually around six o’clock unless they are working on something else. Then they have two guards.
Well, the guard had been watching me and planted a fake letter authorizing the killing of the captain who’s wifi passwords I had been using to get access to all these top secret happenings. The killing was authorized for the next day, unless some other reason could be found for the internet usage after he went home for the day. Now, imagine that I never met the man before, but on his desk were pictures of his wife and kids and they looked like the typical loving family. I could not let the man be killed for something I did. So, after about an hour of trying to decide what to do, I made the choice to show the downstairs people I was the one using the wifi after hours. If they needed to kill someone, then they could kill me.”
“Actually, that sounds like exactly what I would have done as well. I would not have been able to live with myself if I knew something I did caused the destruction of an entire family,” young Tim solemnly said.
“Me too. So I decided to go ahead and find the entrance. Wasn’t that difficult actually, they put it in a janitors closet behind a wall of shelving for toilet paper and cleansers and whatever. The key was trying to figure out how the door opened. Did you ever see the movie ‘Real Genius’ wait a sec what the hell am I thinkin’ of course you have.”
The well-timed dual snort came from both Tims. They looked at each other, smiled and the older version continued with his story.
“Yeah, so I confirmed the back wall of the closet was likely hollow. I closed the door to the closet, and then I pushed on the wall. It slid in, and back, away from the wall. I was able to scoot my big ass into the wall. I followed a small tunnel, and heard what sounded like a basketball game on either a radio or TV. I turned a corner and sitting behind this desk was this older fat guy, in a guard uniform.
He said ‘Mr. Murphy, please have a seat.’
I, of course, had a shit-fit ‘cause not only was he looking right at me, but he knew my name and he was obviously expecting me!
The older Tim giggled obviously reliving the incident.
“So that’s when he told me how he had been watching me for the past couple of months. He’d also had several different intelligence departments go over my history with a fine toothed comb. He decided to offer me a job since they had planted some false info for me before, but they liked the fact I did not act on any of the information I had seen. In fact, I did not react until something directly involved me.”
“So then what happened,” the younger Tim asked?
“Well he told me about what they did there underneath the hospital and armory. There were several other underground research facilities throughout the country. After we spent the entire night touring the base and talking to some of the people who were working, even after hours, about what they did. Stupid ass me didn’t realize until after I went home that if I didn’t take the job right then and there, I probably would have been killed soon thereafter to make sure I did not say anything about what I had seen.”
The large man shifted on the rock and looked up at the younger version of himself, “And that is one of the main reasons I decided to do this. Not only for me to keep my sanity, but to keep us from making stupid ass mistake after stupid ass mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the way my life turned out but with day after day and night after night of understanding just how the world actually works and always remembering the obvious times I could have done so much more than what I did with my life ... it is kind of depressing.”
He lightly tossed another small rock into the pond and watched the corresponding waves ripple across the still surface of the water.
“So I am here to give myself another chance at life. A chance to not just vegetate and not cause waves but to have a life I know we could have had if I didn’t waste the chances I did have. So, again, in this envelope are a series of letters corresponding to a generalized time in your life when you can make changes that can shift you to becoming something. Rather than being just a passenger, you can drive. Now I ask that you don’t read these out of sequence, You can read them since we are going into new territories here, but I don’t have like specific dates of when something will happen to you. Rather I have general ideas of when a thing MIGHT happen to you like this,”
The older Tim then pulled out several of the envelopes and each had a handwritten title on the front where the address would normally go. They read ‘summer before 9th grade, ‘ ‘first week in 9th grade, ‘ ‘summer of 10th grade, ‘ and so on.
“Now, don’t read these until you get home, and don’t let anyone else read them, ever. You don’t want anyone to ask too many questions. Like I told you earlier, I don’t have anything specific to tell you, all I can give you is generic information about what is probably the best way to live our life. I have faith that you will do the right thing.”
He returned the smaller envelopes to the large manila envelope. Then he reached into the large manila envelope once again and retrieved a small box. It looked about the size of those breath strips that you place on your tongue, and let dissolve, to help with bad breath. He opened the top lid, and inside there were two pills.
The older Tim used that serious tone again, and said, “Now these are very important. I was able to have these programmed to help you to be all we can be. I know the intelligence is there but we need to focus it, and we also need to make sure we are in a good enough physical condition that we can do what we decide on the path you take. Don’t take it immediately. There are instructions in the first envelope to tell you what will happen once you take the pill. You only need to take one then the nanites will begin their work and the changes in you will take hold and start you on a better path. Don’t lose the other one because it is a reserve just in case you need another update if something in the programming goes wrong. The nanites will inform you if the program update is necessary. Keep it safe.”
He closed the pillbox lid and placed the box back in the manila envelope, then resealed it by tying the string around the small cardboard buttons, securing the contents.
He then hopped off the flattened edge he was sitting on, put the large manila envelope on the rock he’d vacated and walked a few steps back to where he first appeared.
“Okay, I have done what I have been working on for the last few years. I am anxious to see how we turn out,” he said while wringing his hand like a bad guy in some low grade 1950s movie.
He got that serious tone in his voice again and looked up at the younger version of himself.
“Now don’t think I want you to go and work all hard to do whatever you can to make as much money as you can because that is not what is all important in life. Yes, money is important, but don’t forget to have a little fun! I wish you well on your journey through life.”
The very large man dressed like a high end ‘mall cop’ reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like some sort of small remote control. After a final look at the small pond, he clicked the remote and winked at the younger version of himself. With small hiccup of light around him ... he disappeared.
Edited by TeNderLoin