In the quiet of the basement, Garvin readied his machine. It was round and flat, shelled in hard plastic, with a thin wide gap like the mouth of a clam. High up on the wall, half open skylights let drizzle through to wet the basement floor. On the old steel work-bench his calculations sat, twinkling on heaps of unlined paper. It was finished.
As he slipped into a figure-hugging silken body sock, Garvin Erasmus wondered at the future. He’d picked a hundred years ahead, enough time he hoped for profound, but comprehensible change. A dizzying melody of maybes ran through his head. Would America, perhaps the world, have fallen under the jack boot of Christian fascism; handmaidens waiting on feudal patriarchs and gays stoned in the streets, in a grimly literalist theocracy?
Perhaps nuclear attacks or a pandemic will have reduced the world to barbarism, he thought darkly. There were of course countless predicted futures. In preparation for the trip he’d read them all, from Alvin Toffler to Ray Kurzweil.
The singularity too was possible, a rapture of the geeks. Man empowered by the titanic potential of superhuman AI, to transform the world around him. Clouds of nanobots constructing real objects in concrete software. That, or a grey all consuming goo. A part of Garvin expected to emerge in space, the earth consumed for fuel by her departing children.
Or maybe nothing major, he thought, slipping on his plastic helm – maybe just skinnier cellphones, bigger flat screen TV’s and a Katrina every Summer eating up another coastal city.
He’d know soon enough, and there’d be no coming back – he couldn’t risk returning with a killer virus, or an alien machine intent on changing history.
‘Sarah Conna?’, he said allowed, and laughed.
Moving to the back of the machine, he hooked a foot thick power cord into place. It needed juice, more than could be drawn from just this section of the grid, and over months he’d slung dark cables through the cities sewerage system, and back up through the house. From here he could draw on the gigawatts necessary to tear a hole in space-time. Eat your heart out Doc brown, he thought, and laughed again. With a last long look at his home built lab and the 21st century, he slipped into the machines downy innards, and switched it on.
McCluskey followed his partner into the taped off crime scene, meditatively chewing on a chicken drumstick. Before them, the forensic team had been all over the place, marking out objects of interest with hundreds of tiny flags. Trivers shook his head.
‘Some scene,’ McCluskey agreed.
‘You know, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions,’ he said, inspecting some of the strange instrumentation picked out in the hot halogen lamps the crime scene boys had installed to lighten up the place. ‘But it looks like this guy was hot stuff.’
‘Funny,’ said Trivers, ‘Real funny’.Before them, the melted clamshell lay where the fire department had peeled it open, a crispy candy peep in the shape of a man, baked into its centre.
‘Who found him?’ McCluskey asked, still gnawing on his KFC.
‘The mother’, Trivers replied sadly. After all these years, it still got to him.
‘Figures’, said McCluskey, leaning in for a closer look. ‘Creep probably planned it that way. Does she know?’
Trivers shook his head.
‘I guess she figures… Well, she knew he was up to something down here, all these years, tinkering, just not…’
‘Autoerotic,’ McCluskey finished for him, tossing the chicken bone off to contaminate some corner of the crime scene.
Before the two detectives Gavin Erasmus lay, wrapped in what resembled nothing so much as a wrinkled, man sized, electric vagina. A future stranger than he could have predicted.