By Isaac Marion






I do nothing with my life.

I just want to establish that right from the beginning. I'm 34 years old and I'd say the most exciting thing I've ever done was ride a Stanwood County Fair roller coaster when I was 12, and I puked at the end of that. Yes I've had sex, but only with ugly women. And I was pretty drunk both times, so I puked at the end of that too. I never went to college and I have no job, but I don't live with my parents. My parents threw me out last year for being pathetic. So, I am not cool enough to live with my parents. I live with my grandparents. I don't know what point I'm trying to make here, except that the dull expanse of my life so far had not prepared me for the shock of meeting myself from the future.

This actually happened. I'm not joking, and I'm not even drunk while I'm writing this. The last story I wrote, about me being abducted by tentacled aliens who turned out to be devout Mormons, that was fake. I made that all up and wrote it while I was drunk, but this story now, this is all real I swear to God. Now you might be wondering: if I write all these cool science fiction stories about aliens and such, how can I say I do nothing with my life? Well let me assure you, all I do with these stories is post them on the internet, on obscure message boards where they get erased after 8 days. Believe me, if I was actually doing something with my life, I would tell you, and the ghost of me from the future would not have been as pissed as he was. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he was a ghost. It's weird, I'll get to that in a second.

So the night it happened I was sitting in the living room of my grandparents' house where I live, watching some kind of reality show about people having sex with animals or people marrying celebrities or something. My grandparents were watching TV in their bedroom, because the living room is kindof my domain now. (I said "house", but my grandparents live in a one-bedroom apartment. So the "living room" is actually where I "live". It's a little awkward sometimes because I masturbate a lot.) They were in there watching some pale, washed-out BBC sitcom on really high volume because they're both deaf, and I was curled up in my smelly sleeping-bag bed on the couch when it happened.

There was a flash of light, then the space in front of the TV warped and twisted in on itself like that one screen-saver from Windows 95, then another flash of light and a deafening thunderclap. I can't believe my grandparents didn't hear that thunderclap. In retrospect, I really wish they had, because I'd be in a much better place right now. But we'll get to that later. Right now, behold: Future Me.

Crackles of electricity snaked around the living room, and when my temporarily blinded eyes readjusted to the darkness, there was a man standing in front of the TV who looked a lot like myself.

Hello, Derrick, he said. (I'm putting what he said in italics because there was kindof a weird, otherworldly sound to his voice, like it was coming through some long, metallic hallway. Quotation marks imply way too much room ambiance.)

"Um, hello?" I replied. I don't know how I managed to inject attitude into my voice at that point, because I was in total shock.

Derrick, the apparition said. In case you couldn't tell by the fact that I look exactly like you, I'm you from the future. I'm the ghost of you from the future.

I looked him over, and it did seem to add up. He was my height, a short-looking 5'4", he had my bleary brown eyes, and he was bald and pockmarked where I was balding and pimpled. (Yes, I have zits at 34, I'm that kind of guy.) I noticed he looked somewhat ephemeral, bluish and flickering, like the holograms in Star Wars.

"How come you're all transparent like that?" I asked when I recovered my breath. "Are you a hologram or something?"

No, fuckhead, didn't you hear what I just said? I'm the ghost of you from the future. What part of "ghost" didn't you understand? Was it the "gh" or the "ost"?

I was a little startled by that. I stammered a bit. "Um, ok, so…you're me, Derrick Platt, from the future…and you're also...the ghost of me? From the future?"

There, that wasn't so fucking hard was it?

I looked around the room, which was dark except for the pale light of the TV. My grandparents were still happily reclining in their bedroom. I looked back at the apparition. "Ok, so, I get that you're me from the future. But why are you a ghost?"

Because I fucking died, Einstein! Why the fuck do you think I'm a ghost? You think I had a goddamn operation?

"Ok, ok," I said, holding out my hands. "Settle down, jeez."

The apparition looked around the room, at the TV and at my sleeping bag bed and shook his head with a deep sigh. God you're pathetic, man. Are Nana and Papa watching BBC?

"Yeah, I think so. So hey, um…ghost guy…from the future, um—"

Ghost guy from the future? he cut me off. That's what you're gonna call this shit? You goddamn simpleton. Just call me Future Me.

" how did you travel back in time, Future You?"

Future Me, fuckwit! Not Future You! And don't even start playing that game with me, that "Who's On First" kinda shit—the words that will come out of your mouth when you reference me are as follows: Future….Me. Got it?

"Got it, Future Me."

Well get the mayor on the phone, this calls for a parade!

God, Future Me was a jerk. But I held my tongue. "So Future Me, how did you travel back in time if you're dead? I didn't know ghosts could time travel."

Future Me rolled his eyes and sighed as if this were the dumbest question he'd ever heard. I died in the time machine, dumbshit. I built the world's first time machine, ok? And it fucking worked cause here I am, right? But I guess it just killed me in the process, cause here I am, right? Live and fucking learn!

"So you just now died, right before you showed up here? You didn't even seem surprised."

No, dipshit, my Casper ass has been floating in time-travel hyperspace or whatever the fuck for like eight fucking days! I've had plenty of fucking time to think shit over!

I leaned my head back a little as the volume of his cursing increased and ectoplasmic spittle flew from his lips. "Future Me, I've got to ask, how come you swear so much now? I mean I'm you, right? And I hardly swear at all."

Oh Mr. Goddamn Fucking Proper English over here! How the fuck should I know why I swear more now? I don't recall anybody ever giving me shit for it back in my time so I guess I'm just in a bad fucking mood at the moment! Gee, maybe it's cause I just fucking died!  

"Ok…fair enough..."

Listen, ass mongrel, I don't have time to sit here and shoot the shit with you so how about you just shut your fucking mouth and listen to your goddamn elder.

I held out my hands in a peacemaking gesture. "Ok, all right, so...what is it you're here for, Future Me?"

Well fucktoast, this is probably gonna be pretty tough for your shriveled little brain to grasp, but I'll do my fucking best. The reason I set my time machine for this time and place is because I was going to come back here and tell you how to build the time machine. That way you'd be rich and famous now instead of twenty years from now, and you'd finally be able to get off your pasty, bed-sore-covered ass and do something other than eat Nana and Papa's Eggos and jerk off in your sleeping bag. You fucking shit stain. God.

He spat on the floor and shook his head, overcome.

But of course now, now that I'm showing up here as a goddamn ghost, after eight fucking boring-as-hell days in time travel hyperspace, well, obviously we don't want to build that machine anymore. So now I guess I'm here to tell you not to build it. So, don't build it. Got it, shit ears? No matter how exciting the prospect is and no matter how plausible those ideas are that hit you all of a sudden a few years from now, don't go building any fucking time machines, ok?

I shrugged. "Ok. No problem. It's a big relief, really. Building a time machine's got to be a of a lot of work, right?"

No shit, Shitlock. It took me like ten years. So consider yourself fucking lucky, cause thanks to my foresight and good planning, not only will you never have to get off your dimply pimply ass and make something of your time, you'll also never have to have your molecules torn apart by quantum death rays or whatever the fuck happened to me. Look at you. God you're pathetic.

"Ok. Well…cool. Thanks. So…now that I'm not going to build the time machine, shouldn't you be…not dead anymore?"

I don't fucking know how this shit works! That's what I was hoping, but who the fuck knows, maybe I'll just be part of an alternate timeline or some such bullfuck.

We looked at each other and didn't say anything. I looked at him. I scratched my head. He looked at me. He flickered.

"So," I said finally. "Don't you have, like…some kind of advice for me, or like…lessons from the future?"

Yeah I've got advice. Stop being such a piece of goat shit.

"Got it. Will do. And lessons?"

Don't date Erika Treatly. Don't date Cindy Flemming. For the love of God don't marry Kerri Ryan. Don't date Jemma McCalf. Don't date Sadie, whatever her last name was. Don't have sex with Monique, she has the clap. Don't have sex with Estelle, she's terrible in bed. Don't have sex with Jill, she's just…weird.

"Wow, Future Me," I said, raising my eyebrows, "you've been with a lot of women! I've only been with two. When do I become such a player?"

You looking forward to it, spaghetti dick? You all excited? Well don't get too aroused, cause you're such a fucking loser you're not getting laid again for two years and when you do eventually become a "player" you're not even gonna enjoy it. It's all bullshit. Everything is fucking bullshit. Why do you think I built a goddamn time machine?"

"Um…didn't you say you did it to get rich and famous?"

That's not why I did it, that's why I wanted you to do it, to try and kick-start your useless fucking existence, but now we're gonna have to think of another plan for that, douche king. I built the machine to escape. To start over. God. I can't believe I'm fucking dead!

We stared at each other in silence again. "So…now what?"

Future Me looked at his flickering hands, then looked around the room, then at me, then back at his hands, then fixed me with a deadly glare, his eyes slowly narrowing.

"What? What's that look for?"

Well, ass camp, look at me. I'm still here. And I'm still a ghost. So all of this is starting to make me think that maybe, just maybe, you're gonna ignore everything I've just told you, and you're just gonna go ahead and build that fucking time machine. What do you think?

I threw up my hands like he was pointing a gun at me. "Hey, come on now. Future Me. I'm not gonna build the time machine. Why would I build the time machine?"

Because you're a fuckwit, ass jockey, we've been over this! You'll do it cause you don't listen, cause your ears are jammed full of shithead putty and you don't know your dick from a stick in the ground! Believe me, I know you, I used to be you!

"Future Me, Listen…"

Goddammit, what am I gonna do with you? You're gonna build that machine, so I'm gonna stay dead! You goddamn fucking idiot, man, what am I gonna do with you?

"Just settle down, ok? I'm not gonna build the machine."

 Future Me was not looking at me anymore, he was pacing around the room and scratching his bald head, tugging at his chin frantically. I don't have much fucking option do I? I gotta stop you from building that machine or I'm fucked!  

"I'm not gonna build the machine!"

Fuck it, man, you don't give me much choice, there's only one way to guarantee it with an ass giblet like you. This is for being such a goddamn barrel of donkey shit!

And with that, Future Me charged at me and shoved me through the window. I fell a good five stories and landed on the concrete, perfectly on my head. My skull and my ass probably just about changed places. It only hurt for about a quarter second.

When I woke up, I was standing in a field near the apartment, watching ambulance lights and police swarm in the parking lot. I looked down at my hands, and saw that I was now a bluish flickering hologram. Like in Star Wars. Future Me was standing next to me, also flickering, and looking a little sheepish.

I guess I didn't really think that one through, he said.

I looked at him and sighed. Nope.

Sorry about that.

Well…I'm definitely not going to build that time machine now.

He shrugged. That's true. You're definitely not.

Yeah. But you're kinda still dead.

Hm. Yeah.

But not because of the time machine.


As a matter of fact, that time machine probably worked just fine, didn't it? Perfectly safe.

He stared at the ambulances. His face went blank, and then somehow even more pale. Ohhhh, he said quietly.

I nodded. There was a long pause. I sighed again. You fucking asshole.