Future Faux Pas

time travel short stories

Short Story

David exited his car and shut the door. He grabbed his briefcase, hit the lock button, and began to climb the stairs to his apartment. As he was nearing the top, his vision started to get spotty and he felt like he was going to fall. He dropped the briefcase and sat on the stairs, holding his head between his knees.

The dizzy spell passed so suddenly that David wondered if he had imagined it. He figured that it must’ve been his new medication and finished walking up the stairs. When he got to the door, he noticed something was off. His door, which was normally white with a peephole, was now purple with a gold trim.

His neighbor’s door had changed as well. It was almost the same as his, except instead of purple it was orange. David thought that their landlord probably ordered the doors to be repainted while he was gone. He unlocked the door and went into autopilot, hanging his coat up and tossing his briefcase on the couch. But instead of hanging up, the coat fell to the floor. The bang from his briefcase doing the same thing shook David out of his trance.

Snapping his head up, the fallen briefcase and coat became the least of his problems — just like his door, his whole apartment looked completely different. Where his couch used to be was a chair that appeared to be levitating. What he assumed to be his TV was a projection that seemed to come out of nowhere.

David stumbled toward his now levitating couch and sat down. It immediately adjusted so he was comfortable, which was much appreciated in his state. His eyes got bigger and bigger as he looked around the apartment, trying to make sense of what was happening. Was he hallucinating?

It suddenly occurred to David that maybe it wasn’t just his apartment that had changed. He cautiously looked out one of the windows and fell back onto the couch. The whole landscape was completely different; instead of their usual grey, buildings were painted to be neon. The city almost looked like Vegas. David could’ve sworn that he even saw a few cars up in the air.

Then there was a knock on the door. David didn’t want to answer it, afraid of who it could possibly be. Maybe it was his neighbor who had heard his groans, coming to tell him to shut up. He rolled off of the couch, adjusted his tie, and opened the door.

On the other side was a younger man, looking to be maybe in his early ’20s. He was dressed casually, like what a young adult would wear in David’s time.

“Can I help you?”

The other man stuck out his hand.

“My name’s Rick, and I can explain everything.”

Rick pushed his way past David and sat on the couch. He pushed a button on the coffee table and a hologram of different drinks popped up. He poked what looked like a black coffee and sat back. Looking back at David, he laughed.

“You’re probably wondering what the hell is going on, aren’t you?”

David wasn’t sure if he trusted Rick.

“Uh, yeah, kind of. Am I hallucinating?”

A steaming cup of black coffee appeared where the hologram was before, and Rick reached forward to grab it.

“I’m not a figment of your imagination, I promise.”

He took a large sip and then set the cup back down on the table.

“I’m just gonna put it all out there. Ready? You’re in the future.”

David walked toward what he hoped was a chair and carefully sat down.

“I might’ve guessed that. But why? How?”

Rick’s face started to turn red and he scratched the back of his neck.

“This is all kind of my fault” Rick said.

“How is it your fault if I’ve never seen you in my life!”

Rick looked David up and down.

“What year are you from? 2010?”

“Close,” replied David. “2018.”

“I’m from 2025. I work as an assistant in a lab that finally figured out time travel. I’ve been using it without his permission for a while now…”

“So, like, illegally?”

Rick grinned.

“It’s only illegal if you get caught. The government doesn’t know about it yet.”

David still had tons of questions, but he wanted to ask them back in his own time.

“So what the hell do I have to do with any of this?”

Rick’s smile faltered.

“I’ve found a small glitch. Sometimes, if you get too close to someone while you’re passing through time, you can mess up that person’s timeline, too. When I use this,” he pointed to a band around his arm. “I have to be completely alone.”

“Wait, why were you near my apartment?” asked David.

“We’re neighbors in the future! I was running late for a meeting in this era, but once I realized that I accidentally brought you, I pushed it back.”

“Oh. Thanks, I guess.” There was an awkward silence.

David looked up again.

“When I meet you in the future, will you remember this?”

Rick stood up and offered David his hand.

“You’re just gonna have to figure that out on your own. Now lets get you back to 2018.”

They walked to an empty field just down the street. Rick had explained that it was usually where he did most of his traveling. He punched a few numbers into a band on his arm and put his hand on David’s shoulder. There was a bright light and all of the colorful buildings disappeared. David felt kind of nauseous again, but just like last time, it passed quickly.

When he could finally see again, he went to tell Rick thank you, but he wasn’t there.

“Rick?” called David. There weren’t any noises except for a few cars passing on the road. The grey buildings had returned.

“What the hell, I had more questions!”

more by CASSIE GAMMIE

read the next installmentFuture Faux Pas — Part II

photograph by Gabriel Izgi

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