Sunday, September 25, 2011

Future Perfect

I have seen the future.

I’ve been there. I know what happens next. And you, well, you’ll see it too, sooner or later, only you’ll see it coming from the other direction, and it might not seem as cool by then.

SPOILER ALERT: I am about to tell you what happens next. Do not read on if you do not want to know.

You have not seen the future – or, not yet, anyway – because you stay too busy. Too damn busy, what with the mortgage and high stress job and the ladder-climbing on your way to that corner office and gold watch and forced early retirement. Plus the what-not, of course. There is always a lot of the what-not.

But I have seen the future because I don’t have any of that. I sit behind the cash register in an underground snack shop for eight hours a day. The thing is, the customers only come in about two hours a day. This leaves me with... Let me see… Carry the one… six hours a day in which I can take the steps necessary to visit the future.

Visiting the future, it’s simple and it goes like this: I mainline black metal music.

That’s all there is to it. Just that. I sit there, in my underground snack shop, propped up on my little stool, and I mainline black metal music. Rig it right up. I have this shunt in my arm all of the time these days – See? – it’s a little port for frequent flying. When the foot traffic begins to dip down, I plug an audio line in and off I go.

So I have seen the future. Yeah, I have been there, to the future, and the future went like this:

Not long from just now, when the world population reached 8 billion, they discovered a cure for AIDS. Well, not “they” so much as “he”. “He” in this case being some doctor in Norway who, truth be told, was not even looking for a cure for AIDS at the time. But he found a cure for AIDS just the same.

And it was so simple, and it was so very obvious, really, that we were surprised no one had thought of it before. But no one else had thought of it before, no, this Norwegian guy thought of it. And so we all went out into the streets and we celebrated, for a great plague had been wiped out at last.

No more AIDS!

And future us, we took Norwegian Doctor Guy up on our shoulders and we gave him a Nobel Prize and TIME named him “Person of the Year.” And we felt very proud of ourselves as a race because this AIDS thing had been eating at us for some time.

The population of Africa hit 3 billion almost overnight.

And when the world population reached 15 billion, they found a way to fix the nagging water problem. It turned out to be one little microbe released into the oceans and within a year there was no more typhoid, no more diphtheria anywhere anytime ever again. No more kiddies with bulbous tummies on your late night t.v. No more Sally Struthers or adopt-an-Ethiopian-for-Jesus ads. None of it.

No, two graduate kids from M.I.T., stoned out of their gourds and playing around with a computer program one night, and next thing they knew, BOOM! There’s this microbe and who would have ever guessed?

And it was so simple, and it was so very obvious, really, that we were surprised no one had thought of it before.

The kids who thought of it, we gave them piles of awards. Mountains. You wouldn’t have believed it. Or rather, you won’t believe it, when the time comes around. And the folks in south Asia, they named whole cities – growing cities of now typhoid-less citizens that were springing up all over – after these M.I.T. brats.

We were so happy and proud of ourselves because one of the Big Bad Wolves of the world had been taken down for good and this clean-freshwater-for-everyone thing had been eating at us for some time.

Then the population of the Indian subcontinent alone, well, the population hit 6 billion almost overnight.

And when the world population reached 30 billion, a first grade science teacher in Brazil found a cure for cancer. Weirdest thing…. Well, you’ll see. There was this whole story behind it, but I do not have time for that now. Take my word. Suffice it to say, he was a Brazilian first grade science teacher and he found the cure for cancer.

Cancer, you gotta understand… Well, it had been getting worse and worse since the population explosion. There were more of us and we were living longer and closer together in these cities that were, well... But the cure was so simple, and it was so obvious, really, that we were surprised no one had thought of it before.

And President Bieber and a 145-year old great-great-great grandmother from Botswana presented the teacher with his Nobel Prize and the story certainly made some headlines, as I recall. It was a pretty big story.

I mean, cancer! The Big “C”. It had been eating at us for some time. We oughta be proud of ourselves as a race, right?

And the world population reached 45 billion almost overnight.

In Mexico City (population 500 million), they built tenement houses 40 stories high, covering 45 whole square miles. They cleared out Costa Rica for wheat crops. And rioting in Indonesia killed 25,000 one afternoon, and then some fundamentalist Mormons nuked Paris.

And when the world population reached 60 billion, they found a cure for old age. There was this trigger, you see. This mitochondria trigger thing. And if the trigger never triggers, then the old never olds.

It was so… simple.

It was this guy in Wichita figured it out.

And then they went on the news – went on the screen and they said, “No more old age!” – and maybe we shoulda been happy at that. But the people of Wichita (population 25 million) did not seem too happy, and the people of Wichita, they formed a kind of mob. They formed a kind of mob and the mob proceeded to the home of this guy who had managed to cure old age.

I was there, too.

The Wichita mob broke open the man’s front door. We grabbed him. But we did not put him up on our shoulders like we’d done with the guy who cured AIDS.

Instead, we tore him into little pieces. We stomped up and down on the pieces. We torched his house. We destroyed all of his important his scientific papers and all of his work and all of his what-not.

And when we were done killing him and when we were done destroying his things, we were very proud of ourselves as a race for what we had done.

This 60 billion people thing had been eating away at us for some time.

But this, this was so perfect, and then – “Oh, I’m sorry, Sir. I did not see you walk into the store. I was just… you know, listening to some music.

“Just the Coke? That’ll be a dollar-fifty even. You have a nice day!”


  1. Fuck me.....

    Your alternate-histories - future-factuals and counterfactuals are far, far scarier than mine.


    I talk about Balkanizing America, and catstrophic collapses of populations.

    You talk about things which make my stuff look like the 1950's, all over again.

    Along with plenty of what-not...


  2. I must have missed the part where they cured the food problem. Something having to do with Monsanto genetically altering humans to produce chlorophyll as I recall. You had to pay them $100 a year for life, but you never got hungry. Yep. Once you got that and the water problem fixed, sky's the limit as far as population is concerned.

    And as an added benefit, when the next species replaced us as masters of the planet, they had one hell of an oil supply to tap into just under their feet.

  3. This was interesting. Did they find the cure for old age before or after I died?

  4. So that old saying is true -- Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. You paint both a wonderful and an extremely scary future!

  5. @KatyDid If things go the way they have been, it will be with a smile on my face.

  6. [Let's try this a second time...]

    @Will: Thanks.
    But it’s because you start from a place where you don’t have antipathy for mankind.
    I’ve just been reading too much J.G. Ballard…

    @Dio: Yeah, that’s kind of what got me thinking to begin with…
    A conservative/anti-philanthropy-type guy was talking a while back about how “If we solved the AIDS thing in Africa, we’d just have billions more starving people.”
    Food is kind of the crux of the whole thing. In “Ishmael,” Daniel Quinn says anytime a civilization cannot grow its own food, it’s grown too big and isn’t sustainable.
    That might be right. The answer to the food issue might ONLY be smaller pops.

    @Cal: You don’t really want to know how you’re going to die, do you? I’ll just say this: Remember to always look up, especially when walking past piano factories…

  7. @Ted: And this is one is probably no more far-fetched than last week's, in which I had it rain in Houston.
    Now THAT was science fiction...

    @Cal: Would you be smiling because you're happy to die, or smiling because the end of your life is going well?

  8. wait wait wait, eight hours a day, and somehow your math involves carrying a one?

  9. I hear ya, if it's not the what-not's, then it's that what-is'. Always somethin' eatin' at us.

  10. Katy, its interesting that you still shyed away from the one thing that the future is going to revolve around more than anything else, namely: The fact that the children of the world will literally take over their own porn industry, it will all be run by 10 year-old porn entrepreneurs, there will be no adult involvement in the business at all Katy, the entire indusry will be run by children who`ll all be millionaires by the time they`re 11 or 12 years old ! ! !. Its odd why there are so many people in the world who are in denial about that one aspect of what the future is going to revolve wholly and exclusively around, just like all those idiots 100 years ago who were still in denial about electricity (think about it Katy, think about it), the time of sexual repression is about to come to an end Katy and what an incredible brave new world we will have when it does, a world that revolves around the truth as opposed to lies and hypocrisy.

  11. @Cal-el: I suppose it’s good to appreciate good days while they’re happening.
    Usually, I just recognize that something WAS a good day in retrospect.
    It’s like Kurt Vonnegut used to say: be able to say out loud, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’”

    @BadDog: Oh, I see. Old guy, huh?
    You’re using that old-fashioned math.
    But c’mon – I just told you the future and you’re critiquing my math?
    Unappreciative lot, y’all are…

    @JerseyDave: The what-is is usually ignored in favor of the what-was and the what-might-be.
    I wanted to make those words plural just now, but I’m not feeling brave enough this morning…

    @Anonymous: Hey, buddy, which one of us visited the future, anyway?
    I’ll have you know that in 2017, the porn industry starts to mostly involve kangaroos. I don’t want to go into it, and it’s something I never quite understood, entirely.
    You straight people are pervs…

  12. Just think what further marvels you might have witnessed if not for that pesky customer. And the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut had his day made by your remembering his quote. Thanks for dropping by my blog and visiting, Roland

  13. @Roland: It was starting to get a little ugly out there in the future.
    On the other hand... water! I am going to be able to drink water from puddles in the street!

  14. Kangaroo's ! ! !, Katy, enough of your frivolous, irrelevant nonsense. Lets get back to the facts shall we. Within 20 or 30 years words and phrases like: "pervs", "perverts", "pedophile", "pedo", "child molester", "sexual deviant", "child sexual abuse", and "rapist" will have no meaning or resonance in our society what-so-ever, they will just be hideous out-moded verbal anachronisms from a horrifying by-gone era of loathsome sexual repression. In the future Katy it will literally be compulsory to have sex with your children to prepare them for the completely sex-based world that they will be growing up into ! ! !.

  15. @Anonymous: I have approved more of your comments under the multitude of names that you use than i ever should have.
    I have even ignored the fact that you made - and I rejected - lewd comments about my children.
    But clearly, the line has to be drawn somewhere.
    NONE of your comments under any name - whether or not they are in and of themselves objectionable - will be published. Plus, I'd sort of like your address so I can come kick your ass...
    Have a nice day.

  16. holyfuckme...I'm going to stop taking my vitamins..what's the use.

  17. So the Aliens never came then ?

    I was so hoping for space travel.

  18. @JerseyDave: I don’t know what that means, man.

    @YELLOWDOG GRANNY: As it turns out, Vitamin A is the only thing that protects people from the Bovine Flu Outbreak of 2014. But I’ve said too much…

    @dirtycowgirl: There were some scientists recently who think they managed to make something go faster than the speed of light – and not through a medium. So space travel might be unnecessary!
    Besides, most of the aliens I’ve seen in my studies – Saturday afternoon SciFi television – generally don’t take you across space and time for free. There are strings attached. Like you’re dinner or something…

  19. Dunno Katy, I miss my brother and host of other people. I would still like to see a cure to AIDS.... oh I WILL see a cure.

    We don't have a food problem. The world produces more than enough food to feed the population. We have a political problem getting the food to the places it is needed most. North Dallas does not need another Whole Foods. Sudan, they would probably like some organic brown rice

  20. @Brent: Hi! There was a story a few weeks back about a guy who was "cured" of AIDS after a blood transfusion.
    Yeah, I don't know how long this thing is going to take. But the fact is, if you were to contract HIV right now - at your age - it likely would NOT lower your life expectancy all that much.
    I know people who have been positive for 30 years.
    It's just the 3rd world where it's wiping populations off the map...

  21. Billennium was the inspiration for this, I assume?

  22. @Bill the Butcher: "Billennium" and "The Concentration City," I think.
    "Billennium" doesn't seem all that farfetched in the arera I live in, actually. Everything here is being torn down for these townhouses that are about 15 feet across but 4 stories tall. They're like a plague.
    But yeah... dystopia stuff.

  23. This is true Katy, medicine has progressed to where it is not the automatic death sentence it was when my brother was infected. Still not something I want to test.

    Any idea how I am going to do at work next week?

  24. @Brent: I will just say that if they ask you at work to reach into a box without looking, don't do it!
    I need to find a way to work HIV/AIDS into one of my blogs... I know way too much about it and it makes people uncomfortable, which is normally automatic grist for my mill. But the social/medical story of the virus in the U.S. is one of the more interesting stories of the last half century...

  25. @KatyDid Every time I see a post by Anonymous, no matter which name is chosen by the individual, I get an image in my head of where a red hot poker should go.

  26. Katy you should work HIV/AIDS into one of your blogs. I know much more now than I did when the big epidemic started. Funny, it is just information. I really don't attach much emotion to it.

    By the way, thanks for the warning, a big box arrived at work today. I did not volunteer to open it. I will be on my toes next week as well.

  27. @Cal-el: E very blogger I know of who a) knows what he’s doing, and b) cares about his comments eliminates the Anonymous element entirely.
    But I sort of like the anarchy of the thing, you know?
    I can weed out the stray b.s. that looks to ruin it for everyone.
    I’m just that versatile. Plus, as you say, I have the red hot poker…

    @Brent: There’s always the little matter of how to make it funny/scary/entertaining.
    Oddly enough, I don’t think the people I know who live with it would have any trouble having a good laugh at it.
    It’s everyone else that gets freaked out.
    Which I guess means that – unlike being gay – having HIV/AIDS is still edgy.

  28. I've been to the future too. President Bieber is a stand up dude. Just sayin.

  29. It would make me happy if Anonymous was not present in your future.

  30. @A Lunatic Pope: Sure, he was born in Canada, but, I mean, First Lady Selena Gomez?
    Plus, his understanding of the Bill of Rights is surprisingly sophisticated!

    @Mr. Grumpy: Ha! Yeah, I didn't have the heart to tell him what is going to happen to him in 2013...

  31. Plenty of room on the moooooooooooooooon.

  32. OK, I think I finally managed to figure out how to "follow" you and hopefully leave a comment.

    I'm a friend of Will's and Bill's and have enjoyed their writing very much.

    Your story is so wonderful that I can't get it out of my mind. You have such a wicked sense of humor, Katy!! I've been reading some of your other blogs, and they are great, too.

  33. @Christy: Thank you and welcome!
    I always love having Will and Bill's friends around because I know they don't mind my longer blogs, haha...
    I start creeping above 2 pages and the number of folks who stick with me trails off, normally. But both Will and Bill manage to keep readers with them for lengthy blogs...


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