When the human species ends in a fiery (or watery) apocalypse, you probably won’t be there. Hopefully not. But what if you could be, in your own luxury Time Cruiser, just for a weekend…
Here’s a short story about just that.
They’re leafing through the brochures when I bustle forward. She’s a sweet looking girl with a receding chin and pink capri pants; he’s got glasses and a Hawaiian shirt.
“What can I do you for?”
They look at each other, give that secret smile. Young, probably just moved in together.
“Well,” says the girl, “we were thinking about one of your weekend packages to The Future? I mean, if it’s not too expensive…”
“The Future? It’s very popular these days with younger people,” I exclaim enthusiastically, waving them over to my desk. “Come and sit down and I’ll walk you through what we’ve got. I’ll start with the budget package. So, our Ten Years Ahead trip gets you a lovely little hotel in Florida just before the Change. Tour of Miami, dinner at a famous Keys restaurant, then you get to watch the ocean roll in, and you’re whisked away just before it all goes underwater for ever. For a small extra cost, you can snorkel in the Lost City, as we like to call it.
The girl glances at her boyfriend, who says, “Is it safe?”
“Perfectly safe. It hasn’t happened yet, and you’re not really there. Everyone who’s been has loved the experience – in fact a lot of people book in afterwards to see Melbourne go under the waves a year later, they can’t get enough. Anyway, if you’re able to spend a little more, you can purchase our Half Centennial package, that’s also very much in demand. With the Half Centennial, you’ll be transported via luxury time machine to the sun-soaked resorts of Finland. You’ll get to rub shoulders with the rich and famous – well, they’re pretty much the only people left alive at this point, which is great, isn’t it, because you don’t really want to spend your holiday in some flood-ridden mosquito-infested country with people drowning all over the place! One of my clients actually got to meet Justin Bieber, well, to pass through him, anyway. He was in his seventies, of course, but she told me, the boy’s still got it.” I chuckle knowingly.
The boyfriend scratches his neck. “Not a fan of Bieber, I’ve got to say.” Fair enough, I wouldn’t want my girlfriend meeting a bunch of time-limited heart-throbs either, if I had his body. “What else is there?”
“Well,” I lower my voice and smile sympathetically. “There is the Demi-Millennium, but I’m afraid it’s a little pricey…”
Glasses looks wary. “Uh huh?” But I can tell that I’ve piqued the girl’s interest.
“Ok,” I go on. “So, the Five Hundred Year isn’t for everyone, it’s really for our more discerning, thoughtful travellers, if you know what I mean. A bit of an elite experience.”
“Really?” The girl is all ears.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, in five hundred years the human race will have been extinct for, hang on a sec…exactly four hundred and two years and seven months. The Demi-Millennium package allows you to experience the serenity, the magnificent purity and solitude, of Mother Earth as she was always meant to be, finally free of people. It includes a Champagne Time Flight over the lush jungles of North America, a luxury cruise through the Sunken Isles of Britain – they say the blue whale herds are amazing – and three days’ glamping under the stars in the Great Australian Desert. Which is…funnily enough…pretty much where we are now, folks. Isn’t it awe-inspiring to think that this entire country will one day be a massive, beautiful bowl of absolutely nothing! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience….but as I said, it is a little expensive. Now, here’s a price list – which destination captures your fancy? Hard to choose, isn’t it…”
The girl’s eyes are bright and eager. “Can we afford the Demi-Millennium, Trav? I could take out some of my super…”
“You might as well.” I laugh cheerily. “At your age, you won’t live to use it.”
Travis gets up, pulling at his girlfriend’s hand. “Ah…you know what, we’ll think about it and get back to you.”
“That’s fine,” I say, shepherding them towards the glass doors. “Time travel doesn’t come cheap, does it? Of course, you can always just go the backpacker version – just wait around, and Time will come to you. Ten Years right here in Sydney will see some lovely fireworks, well, not so much fireworks as fires, but it’ll be spectacular, so they say. For the Half Centennial you can always go to Alice Springs, I hear that’s where the Apocalypse Festival is being held, just before the end. Some great bands booked, if they make the distance. The demi-millennium – well, I’m afraid you’ll miss that, but like I said, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Then again, you’ll both still be here in a manner of speaking…”
The girl stops; the receding jaw sets hard. There is a touch of desperation in her tone. “We’ll take it. The Demi-Millennium, we’ll take it.”
They always do.
Image is from the film, These Final Hours. Not the greatest film, but awesome end scene!