Angus Cervantes’s story “Bad News from the Future” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 17 March 2017.
This story’s creation was surprisingly literal. First it nearly happened, and then I thought about it happening, and wrote it down.
I took a corner cavalierly and barely missed a significant car accident. I was horrified by how close I’d come to the most terrible consequences. I knew I’d never be careless again while driving my children, and how lucky I was that I learned that lesson without actual harm.
What if I wasn’t lucky? I would have learned the same lesson, at a much higher cost. I would want desperately to teach the lesson to my earlier self. Maybe I’d even be motivated enough to build a time machine just to teach the lesson. Parents have some pretty extraordinary motivation sometimes.
But if I did go back in time, I would expect my past self to follow every instruction exactly. Yet if my future self appeared to me today, I’d be highly suspicious. Who’s this know-it-all from the future? How does he know what my best choices are? Are they even choices, if there’s really one best one? (Thanks Jack “Pak” Brennan) And from that confusion came the basic structure of this story.
A final note: in “Bad News from the Future”, the main character doesn’t “have any agency”, as they say today. That’s not just bad writing; it’s a comment on the nature of time travel and information. Also because he’s trapped physically, mentally, and chronologically. Also, it’s sometimes what a parent feels like.
Also, I should drive more carefully.
Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.