Eleven-year-old Martin had nothing to do on
his day off from school. So he sat alone in his room, doodling in his
diary and watching talk shows, since it was too early for cartoons. The
particular topic today was "What would you say if you could go back and
tell your fifteen-year-old self one thing?"
Every forty and fifty-year old confessed some regret or mistake. Half of
them broke down in tears. One balding, grizzled man even looked like
"I wish I knew my future," Martin said to himself. He wrote down If I
read this in the future and someone's invented a time machine, I'll be
alone on June 22nd, he looked at the clock, 1:45 PM.
A man with a receding hairline appeared at the foot of his bed, wearing
a green-collared shirt and black pants. His arrival was accompanied by a
loud whirring noise coming from a black box on his arm. The man had a
bigger nose and a saggy face, but Martin knew he was looking at his
"Oh my god, it worked. It worked," the man said as he adjusted his box.
"Jesus," Martin said. "Are you...?"
"I'm you, yes. From the future. You must have just written..." Older
Martin pointed to the diary.
"...From a time machine?"
"Yes. I don't have much time. I took a lot of risks to get here."
Martin managed to nod, mouth hanging open.
Older Martin said, "Okay, first thing, ask out Michelle. She really digs
you. No matter how scared or shy you are. If you don't, you'll regret
"College. Freshman year. She lives in Sutherland Dorm. Second, invest in
Giga-Write this down!" Older Martin barked.
Young Martin started writing furiously.
"Invest in Gigawire, YorkMark, and Torama."
"Those are companies?"
"Yes, and don't bother buying those collectible comic books. They're
worth nothing. And Mom throws them out when you go to college anyway."
"What college do I go to?" Young Martin asked.
"Cantrell. And that's another thing. You've got to get your grades up.
In tenth grade, study really hard. I mean it. Maybe you could've gone to
a better school if you hadn't gotten angsty and goofed off."
As Martin scribbled, he realized this man, who he would become, wasn't
He continued, "And quit hanging out with those friends by the stairwell
all the time. They're losers. They'll just get you into trouble."
Another man appeared in the room next to older Martin. He wore a shiny
blue jumpsuit and looked identical, but with more hair and freckles.
"Good," he said, "I'm not too late." He was holding a black device in
front of him like bike handlebars.
"Who are you?" Older Martin said.
"I'm you. Well, I'm the you that you become," he pointed at young
Martin, "After you're done with your speech. Your temporal bubble must
be protecting you from disappearing. Listen," he addressed young Martin,
"That thing with Michelle. Don't do it. Or, if you do, wear condoms."
"Condoms?" Green-suited older Martin said, aghast.
"I swear to god, she's crazy. It won't be worth it. And pull your money
out of the stock market before the 'Jefferson-Pershing' incident."
Young Martin started writing again at breakneck speed. "What's that?" he
"You'll know it when it comes. Also, while I'm at it, don't buy a Honda
Gaia. They're terrible."
"Is that a car?" young Martin asked.
"Sort of," blue-suited Martin-of-the-future said.
Now a man wearing a light periwinkle suit, partially ripped at one
sleeve, stood before him. He took his glass helmet off. "Did you just
tell him about Michelle?"
Blue-suited Martin nodded, jaw gaping.
"Okay, I don't know how bad she is, but she can't be as bad as Amber."
"Amber?" young Martin and blue-suited Martin said at the same time.
A Martin wearing a futuristic visor and tight clothes said, "Amber? Try
"Fred?" All the Martins chorused.
Green-suited Martin said, "I hope that's a nickname."
The older Martins started talking at once, asking questions and
demanding to know what had happened that necessitated so many return
trips. Young Martin couldn't understand what they were saying.
A Martin in a pink and gray dress said, "Listen, ignore all these guys.
"What's with your clothes?" young Martin said, his tongue out in
"It's the fashion. Something's going to happen on November 26, 2017. And
you can stop it. I've already got a plan for you. Write this down."
A Martin wearing a tight-fitting white one-piece with rings floating
above his head said, "Dude, your plan sucks. You can't-"
A Martin wearing all black with his hair slicked back said, "Kill them
all. Kill everyone in the world. None of them deserve to live."
A man appeared with a gray cat's head and yellow eyes. A white orb
floated between his hands like he was holding it.
"Oh my god," young Martin said, "What-"
"Yes, this is me. There is much to explain. All of the preceding has
"Você precisa de compreender. Se você conserva o líder da claque, você
excepto o mundo." said the recently arrived Martin with dark skin and a
black box around his neck.
"What did he say?" one of the future Martins said.
Now the room was full of Martins, arguing and bickering with each other,
pointing fingers, yelling like a U.N. debate. Young Martin covered his
His eye caught the line in his notebook with the date and time. He tore
the page out, ripped it up, and threw it away.
All the Martins looked up, startled. In a single bright light, they
blinked out of existence.
Martin held his breath. Thirty seconds passed, but nothing happened.
When he was sure the quiet had returned, he got up, turned off the TV,
and got a soda.
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