A strange thing happened today, in that my right eyebrow disappeared. It must have happened overnight. I didn’t initially even notice it. I don’t usually pay attention to such things; my grooming usually concentrates on my immaculate hair and impeccable suit. The face tends to take care of itself, you see. A dab of moisturiser, a quick wash, that’s about it. Now, ties on the other hand require far more care. Sometimes I choose a full neck tie, other times a bow tie. The colour and fabric, the precision of the knot – these are all important things, nuances which declare my image far more than a mere facial feature. Maybe it’s about status; I am not sure. It’s not uncommon for me to spend ten or fifteen minutes scrupulously adjusting the knot, neatly positioning it directly between the collars. It was only when I arrived at work that the issue was brought to my attention. (more…)
Do you live with regret? Do you struggle to understand why you are how you are and what choices led you to be the way you are? Those of us haunted by the past may have a desire to go back and revisit our decisions; an opportunity perhaps to change our fate, or that of those around us. Or perhaps a chance to jump ahead, to see where our choices will lead us. For Harvey Belfort that exact opportunity was granted. On Tuesday December 23, 2014 he invented a time machine. Having boldly climbed in and travelled one day into the future, he found himself horrified by what he saw. The world had become an unfamiliar catastrophe, and he yearned for answers as to why things had become the way they were. He had then travelled back to the past of Monday December 22, 2014 in search of answers as to how things ever got so bad. It turned out the past was as alien and horrendous as the future. It seemed like things never changed. The past and the future were a mutually reinforcing cycle, a carousel of repetitive events; one with no escape. Harvey wanted off this carousel. And so he had been left with no other choice. He returned in defeat to what had always been his least favourite time: the present. (more…)
We all wonder about the possibilities of the future. Will it be filled with fantastical gadgetry or will we become slaves to our technology? Will we be liberated or dominated by an Orwellian state? Will there be peace or war? Moreover, what kind of people will we be? What choices will we made – and if we could see our future selves, would we want to go back and choose differently?
Harvey Belfort had always despised living in the present, desperately yearning to skip ahead to better days in the hope of answering such questions. On Tuesday 23 December, 2014, Harvey got his wish. Having invented a time machine, Harvey boldly abandoned the present, leaping into the future of Wednesday 24 December, 2014. What he found however was a dystopian nightmare: his mother had aged; there was war in the Middle East; his daily bus pass had expired. What cruel twists of fate had convoluted the future so? How and when did things get so off track as to create such a miserable outcome?
There was only one way to find out.. Harvey had frantically decided to go once again into his time machine. In visiting the past, he might understand the paths humanity had walked, the decisions it had made, the choices which led to a bleak future of despair – he might even be able to prevent it. And so he back he went, as he got in his machine and headed to the past: Monday 22 December, 2014. (more…)
The Present – 23 December 2014, Tuesday
Harvey Belfort had never been satisfied living in the present. Some people advocate for living in the moment, some romantically remember the past, and some look with anticipation to the future. All Harvey knew was that he didn’t want to be when he was. The present was a prison, unable to explore the path which had led him there and unable to see the possibilities ahead.
At the same time, Harvey was a thoroughly unambitious man. His actions were consistently half-hearted. He would take a sip of tea and then let the cup go cold. He would watch a few minutes of a movie and then turn it off. In fact, he had only fallen into working at Fermilab because he had tumbled into studying physics because he had collapsed into high school mathematics. His lack of ambition was so potent that at 47 Harvey was the oldest “junior” lab assistant in the world, still muddling his way through a twenty-year PhD program. His superiors felt so sorry for Harvey that they actually took the unusual step of assigning two senior lab assistants to work under him, another world first.
In 2013 news had broken that a neutrino receiver at CERN had discovered faster-than-light particles. Although a review of that research had revealed it to be the result of a loose cable, Fermilab had no real use for Harvey and so they assigned him the fruitless task of conducting a review of the review of the initial research. Given that Fermilab’s particle accelerator had been shut down a few years prior, it was an even more futile exercise, and so Harvey had approached the task with the same contemptuous attitude he approached everything occurring in the present. But this day was to be a little different. (more…)
I was 17 years old when my best friend committed suicide. Having grown up with him for close to a decade, one night – seemingly out of the blue – he lay down on the train tracks, and suddenly he was gone. This week, Robin Williams also took his own life. Though his public profile, energetic comedy and dramatic performances were legendary and inimitable, sadly there is nothing unique about his actions. In 2011 (the most recent year of which statistics are available) 39,518 people in the United States ended their own lives. While Robin Williams has left behind an incredible legacy, each and every one of these other victims leave their own profound impact on their family and friends. Many others will write far more eloquently on the loss of Mr. Williams, so I will simply talk about my experience with the subject. Inside of the statistics, this is a story about just one of these losses. (more…)
The prequel to this story is here.
The following is based on a document buried near the site of present day Jerusalem. At a first glance it appears to be a rustic account of a loan application interview. At a second glance, it retains that appearance.
The clock slowly ticked on the wall of the Galilee Savings and Loan. Jesus sat nervously in the bank, shuffling a binder of papers in his hand. He watched as one of the consultants finished with his client who stood up and walked away with a sad look on his face. The consultant looked at Jesus blankly and then opened his mouth and… closed it again. He then leaned back in his chair and looked at the ticking clock, raising one eyebrow. After three minutes he pulled open his drawer and retrieved a pen; he placed the pen neatly on the table and spent a few moments arranging it to be perfectly parallel between his computer screen and a Manila folder lying on the desk in front of him. He got it in perfect alignment and then reopened the draw and placed the pen back inside. Again he looked at Jesus. (more…)
“Miss, please,” one of the nurses said, “you have to let the staff do their work.”
“I need to stay!” Jackie screamed. Tears welling up in her eyes as she clamoured to kneel next to the gurney. She took her husband’s hand. “Come on, Johnny. You can make it, baby, I believe in you!”
Medical personnel whooshed around her, the beeping of monitors and respirators in the background providing a metronome ominously ticking away each endless second. The emergency room was packed with poor sons-of-bitches suffering all manner of injuries; broken legs, alcohol poisoning, you name it. (more…)