Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Tom Prentice, author of “Bouncer,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
Time travel has always been my favourite science fiction conceit. But if it were possible, wouldn’t history be sick with time travellers? Not just the re-writers of fate, but the tourists, too. Here to find out what real meat tastes like, what car fumes smell like.
Why don’t visitors from the future show up left, right, and centre to share in history as it unfolds?
Do you remember that time Stephen Hawking held a party for time travellers? He only advertised it after the fact, meaning that those who attended could only be visitors from the future; or had hacked his emails. In the end, no one showed up, thus conclusively proving that time travel would never be possible and that Hawking’s passwords were airtight.
But, of course, the stunt proved nothing. It’s a covert affair, meddling with the destiny of every person on earth. A time traveller would be far too smart to give themselves away for champagne and canapés.
But we also haven’t found the same faces littering news footage of historical events; or claiming multiple consecutive lottery wins; or making a string of oddly prescient bets. So where are they?
Where for art thou, time tourists?
Let’s say, for the sake of story, that time travel is the real deal. If it were so, as soon as governments and big business worked out that temporal interference presented a potential risk to their investments, they would conspire to find a fix. They might have to, as a matter of course, regularly take out policies with a shady organisation to protect their sensitive agendas from those that would retroactively undo their hard work, just like they might have to take out liability insurance for a team-building trip.
An operative of such an organisation—a Bouncer, if you will—would have to be truly committed—infallible, even—otherwise they could be tempted to prevent the odd assassination or environmental catastrophe. It would have to be a sacred calling.
So I wrote about a zealot who, following the dictates of his order, routinely tracks down such meddlers and does away with them.
After all, what right does a time traveller have to wipe out all your achievements, just because they got a bum deal?
Maybe that was Hawking’s plan all along.
Tom Prentice is a writer and English language teacher currently living in Dublin, Ireland.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.