Wacky Wednesday: (More) Fun with Time Travel

Previously, in our Wacky Wednesday hi-jinks: You’ve rented a time machine and attempted to profit by investing money and coming back two hundred years later to spend the profits.  The plan worked; your measly one thousand dollars had become more than 4.8 BILLION dollars; unfortunately, inflation has taken such a toll that this amount is about the cost of a used hovercar.  (“The Pinto Mark XIII, now with non-exploding hoverpods!”)  It takes several Reagans (one million dollar notes, so named for the late twentieth century president on their front; whether this is an honor or an insult, you don’t yet know) just to buy a cup of coffee.  Realizing your error, you run back towards your DeLorean shaped time machine, only to find it being towed away…

You wave and shout to get the tow truck men to stop, but they give you a dismissive shrug, make a few comments about ‘work is work’, and continue to haul away your only way to get home.  Eventually, your shouts and curses, (and the tears welling up in your eyes) convince the driver of the hover tow truck thing to give you a lift back to the rental place.

As you climb into the cab of the hovering tow truck, you wonder why everything in the future seems to be hovering.  After that, you wonder what you should do from here.  You don’t have much more money (adjusted for inflation) than you had back in early twenty-first century, but you’re in the FUTURE!  You could go on adventures on the moon or join a Star Fleet crew, visit strange solar systems, and sleep with green women (or men; far be it from me to judge you).

As thoughts of space flight and glorious science fiction adventures dance through your head, you look out the window to get a better view of this strange, new world.  You’re greeted by a bunch of billboards (floating, of course; you wonder if there was a law passed in the twenty second century that absolutely everything had to float or what).  After adjusting your eyes to the garishly designed billboards, you manage to make out some of the things being advertised.

The first sign you make out seems a bit odd; non-artificial strawberries on sale, 500 grams for 200 Reagans.  You’re still getting used to this whole future currency, and the metric system always gave you trouble (and you don’t even want to guess what the whole ‘non-artificial’ comment means), but it sounds as if a carton of strawberries is selling for the 2010 equivalent of two hundred dollars.  They certainly sound rather precious.

A few more billboards continue to erode your confidence that this is not the fantastic future for which you were hoping.  An assortment of ‘food pills’, living tubes with huge monthly rents, and ads for ‘One of the Last Remaining Forests’ make the future seem less utopia and more distopia.  It isn’t until you see the billboard for ‘Soylent Green’ that you finally decide you’re much better off back in the past.  You’re not sure if it’s some kind of twenty-third century joke or truth in advertising run amok, but you sure as hell don’t want to find out.

Now that you’ve decided to go back, you try to figure out how you can still profit off of time travel.  Clearly, depending on interest alone isn’t going to be enough to make you rich with no effort, so you may as well as see if there’s any way to make a Reagan or two off of your next time machine rental.

Unfortunately, most of the easiest ideas that pop into your mind just won’t work.  Trying to set up your own time travel travel agency would require a lot of work; getting the needed permits from the Time Police alone could take hours.  Ditto for exchanging products across time; while selling strawberries (and other natural products) in the future sounds like a great way to make money, you can’t imagine nobody else would try it if it was allowed.

Your mind briefly goes toward the idea of gambling.  While most forms of gambling disappeared shortly after time machines began being used commercially (the one casino that remained open was the site of the famous ‘Trump Debacle’; nearly one billion dollars won by ‘gamblers’ armed with future knowledge in the course of one day, leading to lawsuits for decades), there’s still the chance of passing information about future events to yourself before they went mainstream.  It’s just a matter of getting by those Time Police.  But come on, they can’t be everywhere (or everywhen) right?

You finally settle on your plan as you pull into the time machine rental place; travel back in time, pull your money out of the investment that got overtaken by inflation, pass it to another version of yourself along with some hints about future sporting events, and then distract the Time Police elsewhere.  Maybe you can try to kill Hitler; that always gets their attention.

You settle on your plan, and go up to the debit machine to pull out your money, to find that your account balance is empty.  Thinking it must be some horrible mistake, you vow to stay in the future just long enough to complain to your broker, when the full amount reappears in the account.  Still confused, but rather happy, you go to pull the money out again, when once again, it disappears without a trace.

Bewildered, you wonder just what’s wrong with the machine for a moment before it hits you; there’s nothing wrong with the machine, there’s a flaw in your plan: if you take the money out in the past, it won’t be available for you to use now in the future.  The only way you can have the money now is if you don’t travel back to take it out.  Frak!

How can you get around this paradox?  Will you be stuck in the future forever?   Does Roger like asking rhetorical questions as a way to wrap up these articles?  (Answer: Heck Yes)  Stay tuned next week (or the week after if I get busy again) for the next exciting chapter!

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