A Future Imperfect by Garry Grierson

I will walk into a new world, and it will change me. There will be so many things to learn, glimpsed at things. I will do it. I will. Soon, I will do it soon.

There it will shine, covered in a cacophony of light. My lives work, a molecularly engineered miracle of biomechanical engineering, it will be my doorway.
Although very real it will only half exist in this reality. The other half of its existence will be somewhere else, over the rainbow, at the end of the yellow brick road.

Any minute now I’ll step into the machine, and everything will be the same until I return. Then I will be different. Then the world, the universe will be different.

We have already achieved so much over the long millennia. Our ancient ancestors learned what it is to open their minds to the past, and to the future, and look into the torrent of time.
We began to glimpse the myriad of other possibilities of existence. Places that lay beyond and between our own thin realities. We will spread our reach throughout the universe, but still the infinite exploration will beckon us.

People will always glimpsed it through the ages, a telepathic conversation that flows into the higher reaches of consciousness, a glance into the past, or a future that drifts sideways. A longing, a knowing that more is out there, that more will be revealed if only we will just extent our reach that immeasurable distance further.

These possibilities have remained closed to us, the last vestige of the unknown.
We will have mapped the stars and learned all that is learnable. All we have left is the unlearn-able, and I will go there.

Will I talk to whatever intelligence may exist there? Will I learn what it is to be like them? It will be because of this knowledge that I will come back looking so sad? I will wonder if it will hurt.

I am destined to be the first human to enter a higher realm, many have seen it, and I have seen it. I will bring back knowledge that will let us build miracles. I will open up bridges that allow others to cross into the unknown, building on my achievements. We will become truly omnipotent, but only if I go. If I go they are going to call me a visionary, a radical and a genius. I live on; sainted in the living history of tomorrow, if I step into the machine. We have learned much as a species, almost everything. Almost omnipotent, and if I didn’t step into the doorway this would have been our epitaph.

The final calibrations will be ready soon.

Like the past the future will have a shape. It takes us a long time to learn that shape could be moulded. I have the tools to mould the future and I have the knowledge of the past to guide me.

We have seen the other future, the future that will happen if I didn’t go. Reality is fickle. We won’t suffer if I don’t go. We will have a long and glorious future; lords of our domain.
We would remain the largest fish in the pond, still unable to jump the thin wall into the ocean, unable to grow and change into other forms, yet safe from the sharks.

My legs will falter when I attempt to board the machine, although I will try anyway. This will be the final turning point of the future history.

I shall take the first step soon. When the time is right my leg will move forward.

At the last second I will look back for inspiration, back into the ancient past where a small hairy creature will first become self-aware. The creature will look lonely. It will be excluded by its pears. The event will radiate through the timelines, and it will fuel the machine.

Time will slip forward, to an early human. A man will sits hunched over an early machine He is going to stare into his viewing device and see what others will have missed for millennia. He is going to be the first to glimpse the time stream. His primitive brain will barely able to grasp what he sees. But he will be the first, and he will power the gears of the machine.

I will go to join these luminaries, although I will not go blindly into the light.

If I do not go my experiment would never be repeated. Nobody will ever have the vital spark of insight.

When I come back I am changed. A grate weight will rest with me for the rest of my life. My personal burden will somehow be at odds with the great and glorious future my sacrifice foretells for humanity.

The sweat will start to soak my collar. For the first time in my long life I will do something that I can’t see unfolding. The other side will be an empty book, my stomach will churn. My breathing will change to short sharp bursts. My legs will work again as I knew they would.
My steps will be tentative, each one steady and measured.
I am going to stop before the machine.
The blue shimmering surface is going to loom above me. It will pulsate and shimmer with energy.

In just one more step, just one more leap of faith all things will change. I will ponder that I worked all my life for this moment. Yet I shall falter, the unforeseen thoughts will crowd through my head.

I shall be afraid to explore the unknown.

What shall I say in my defence? What shall possibly justify me stopping the magnificent further development of our species?

I shall be only human, yet I will close my eyes and I will jump. No, that would be to kind a thing. I will fall from the tree of evolution, into the savannah of the gods…

Find out more about Gerry on his blog or website.


  1. Hello, Alain, and thanks for putting this up.

    This was a bit of an experiment with me trying to get familiar with using future-tense, hey don’t laugh. I think I’ve almost pulled it of in parts!
    It will be interesting to see what reviews it gets… if any.

    It was part of a series of three short stories, one written in past tense and set in the distant past, one using present tense, set in the present, and this.

    I would say this isn’t the strongest in the series, but I still liked it.
    Honest opinions are always welcome.

  2. Experimenting with tenses is a really interesting concept. Great way to push the short form limits. I like that.

    What confused me about this story were your lines like this:

    "My legs will falter when I attempt to board the machine, although I will try anyway."

    The thing that kept coming to my mind was "how the heck does he know what's going to happen?" I kind of got that this machine would take him to a higher awareness. In which case, he would be able to predict the future. But he hasn't stepped in the machine YET.

  3. Hello Allan,

    The concept was that he could 'see' his own future up to the point he went into the machine... and what would happen afterwards both if he didn't, and if he did. But he couldn't see what would happen to him after he goes through the machine's portal.

    E.r, does that make sense?

  4. Logistically, I still don't get how he could see what would happen up until he got into the portal. The strong impression was that he was a "normal" human before and this machine would take him to the next level. But in his normal state he wouldn't have been able to predict these things.

  5. Hmm, the premise with this one was that he could see his ‘normal’ future, but couldn’t see what would happen to him on the other side of the ‘portal’ or doorway.

    I had a few cracks at making the language sound right in this. I know it’s still very far from perfect though!


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