20:48 Thursday 5th February 2578, Ethan
I had rifled through the envelope, but found no answers. It contained several pages of familiar writing, although the contents seemed to be a trivial pursuit on the man who accompanied me. I remained silent on the way to my new supposed home – a flat situated on the seventy-eighth floor of the tower block. Upon entering the flat the need for an answer had overwhelmed me.
‘Caleb, was it?’ I asked, looking around slightly overwhelmed by my surroundings.
He nodded in acknowledgement.
‘Who wrote all this?’ I asked flashing the pages I had taken from the envelope.
‘You don’t recognise the writing?’ he asked rather plainly, ‘you did. You even insisted it had to be on paper, and heaven only knows where you sourced that from.’
‘I did,’ I uttered perplexed, despite having half-expected the answer. There were so many questions flooding my mind, ‘why would I want to write down random facts about you? No offence. Your mother’s name, the age you lost your virginity? Why are these bits of information important to me?’
‘I only wish I knew, but they’re how you got my trust all that time ago,’ Caleb answered while studying me carefully. ‘Now is that really the most important question you have?’ he asked with a teasing tone, reminiscent of a game show host.
I wrote the note. I didn’t remember writing it.
‘When did I write it?’ I asked earnestly after a brief pause.
‘You did assure me you would eventually ask the right question. It was in my past, three days ago to be precise, but it’s still in your future.’
How did that sentence make any sense? As I opened my mouth to ask the question that was forming in my mind, I was cut short.
‘Next message I was asked to pass on. Memorise the pages and make sure you write the contents down verbatim. When the time comes you will need to give them to me. Otherwise, everything could go awry. You need to sharpen up your look before anyone becomes suspicious.’
I followed Caleb into the dressing room where he presented me with ‘the Image’, which appeared to be a meretricious white jumpsuit. He instructed me to put it on and left the room. Memorise the pages containing random facts from his life story, was this guy for real or did he just have an ego complex? His riddled speech was fast becoming an annoyance. I put on the weightless jumpsuit and looking down I much preferred the rags that I had just been stripped of. In the next blink my surroundings had changed and I was momentarily looking through the eyes of another walking unfamiliar territory next to an old friend.
‘Matt, I feel like we’re being watched,’ I felt myself saying.
‘It’s probably nothing. We executed the plan hitch free, come on we should get back to the hotel’ answered the young man.
As I continued to walk I found myself leaving my own bedroom where Caleb met me.
‘You’re not planning on going anywhere like that? Why have you not selected the Visual?’ he asked appearing reasonably amused.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll remind you how to use your invention,’ he sarcastically replied.
Caleb proceeded to change the Visual of the Image, asking me which attire I would like. The Visual changed from a suit, to swimming trunks and finally settled on jeans a dark green T-shirt. He then began to show me round my apparent home. We entered the lounge, which seemed fairly minimalistic housing only two large sofas and a small black tile on the far wall.
‘It’s a moderately sized five bed-roomed house-style flat…..’ Caleb began. Instantly I could feel my brain switching off to his monotone speech, ‘it’s tailored to your taste, having a library….’
The mundane commentary continued for what seemed like hours. Although it intermittently became literally animated as the lustrous black tile at the far end of the lounge unfolded into a three-dimensional television screen taking up half the room. Enthralled I entered the scene in the box, which instantly paused. There was an irresistible aromatic smell of caramelised onions, fried chicken and melted cheese – I had evidently just interrupted a commercial advertising a large deep pan chicken pizza. Doubting the reality of this fictional scene I took a slice from in front of the cute blonde who had no doubt been advocating the pizza. The pizza was very real, and tasted even better than it smelt.
‘You have been billed’ said the blonde turning toward me and preceded to list the numerous qualities of the pizza that were all exceptionally accurate if what I was eating was to be believed.
‘Ethan, exhibit some self control. They bill you an extortionate amount, that’s why they don’t tell you the price! Seriously it’s so easy and much cheaper to get that exact product with the Victuals,’ Caleb said interrupting my chat with the statuesque model.
Within the following minutes Caleb had torn me away from the remaining pizza and we continued to drudge through the monotonous tour. Having long since stopped listening I was happily distracted by the small matt black tiles that resided in every room seemingly possessing an almost telepathic quality once activated through touch. They were quite fascinating. Forgetting myself I began to examine one closely and neglected to notice Caleb studying me.
‘This is all new to you?’ Caleb asked, for the first time asking a question that he appeared not to know the answer to.
‘Which year have you just come from?’ he bluntly asked.
‘It was just a nursing home – you know what those places are like,’ I joked, evading the question and led the way out of the library into the next room. There was a granite surface decorating each wall surrounding a central small island that was also hosting a granite surface top. Caleb thankfully dropped the interrogation, and reverted to explaining the various gadgets of the house.
He eventually left. It had been an arduous evening and my lost soul was once again beaten down by uncertainty. This place, this world felt so foreign. Upon entering the bedroom the beckoning envelope lay innocently on the bed and caught my eye. There was no escaping it; I would have to learn the pages. I lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling of the four-poster to see a smaller version of the black tile that adorned the lounge. Sitting up a little I began flicking through the pages trying to accurately learn the sizable amount of seemingly useless information.