My name is David and I am a time traveller. I have been listening to recordings of your old show ever since I arrived in this time period. I stumbled across them during my review of present day pop culture. I was so glad to hear that you were coming back with a new show so naturally I had to tune in.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear you last week asking for time travellers to call in and then again Monday night. I was tempted to call in but frankly I was afraid I might say the wrong thing and get myself into trouble with my employers.
I am approximately two years into a five-year posting with the Canadian government. I work for the Ministry of Temporal Affairs as a personnel director for our permanent station in the present day. My duties primarily revolve around processing persons from my home time period in and out through our station as we maintain the only set of “Doors” in the Greater Toronto Area. My secondary function is to keep track of any future tech that is brought back, is being carried and used by field officers.
You must have a million questions so I will try and cover a bunch of stuff because I probably won’t be able to communicate with you again after this. Don’t worry I’m not going to be killed or anything like that (Ha-Ha). I am breaking some rules by writing you and revealing some things but I’ll probably just get a minor reprimand from my superiors and told not to do it again.
Where and when am I from?
I am a Canadian living and working in Toronto, Ontario both now and in the future. I can’t reveal the exact year I am from because there are some very strict rules about that. I am from between 400 and 500 years in the future. Here’s a tip for you when talking to somebody claiming to be a time traveller: If they give you the exact year they are from, they probably aren’t a real time traveller. The Temporal Accords governing time travel are very clear about not revealing specific information like that and doing so would result in serious consequences for that person.
Why am I here?
When time travel was invented it wasn’t regulated in any way and some big mistakes were made. Things were changed but apparently some smart, capable people were able to fix what went wrong. To this day time travel technology is tightly controlled and classified at the highest levels. It is treated much the same way nuclear technology is treated in the present day. Everybody knows it exists but only a select few have access to it. There are no time travel tours into the past by regular civilians. All of the governments of the world agreed for mutual protection to establish rules and create agencies dedicated to keeping the timeline intact and unchanged. Because of the problems caused by the first unknown time travellers there are still ripples and anomalies and we have to try and smooth things out whenever we can. When you experience the feeling of “deja-vu” that is a minor ripple in the time stream passing through your vicinity. Each nation is responsible for it’s own particular corner of the timeline and we work in co-operation with each other to fix any problems that pop up. Sometime in the mid 20th century my government established permanent stations in the past disguised as small companies to act as cover for our activities. This was done so we could have a base of operations that could expand and have offices in other cities without arousing suspicions. The company is a real functioning business with normal employees who have absolutely no idea about what we are really doing. All of the key employees are time travellers like myself but we do need to have some “locals” to keep things running smoothly and blend in. What type of business are we running? Sorry I can’t tell you that. What I can tell you is that it is a very boring, uninteresting company that few people have ever heard of or are curious about which is the way we like it. This is a standard operating procedure for all temporal agencies and the companies established are never large ones that you would have ever heard of.
What is the future like?
Simply put, the future is paradise. I grew up in a peaceful world that hasn’t experienced war for well over a century. The last armed human conflict was off world between colonists on Mars and even that wasn’t a big one. The air and water are as clean as they have ever been in human history. The rain forests that had been decimated in your century have been replenished in mine and vast areas of desert have been reclaimed and converted into lush garden regions.
We have free healthcare, free education, and free clean energy. Most people in urban centers use public transit to get around. There are still cars but most of them are not personally owned. Instead they are communal. If you need a car you just go to a depot and pick one up and return it when you are finished with it. The only people who regularly still own personal cars are ones who live in rural areas where public transit isn’t as readily available. Bicycles are another very common mode of transportation both in rural and urban areas.
We have a digital economy so there is no cash at all. All transactions are carried out online. We still have stores but they are mainly for food, specialty items like books (yes we still have printed books in the future), antiques, recreational equipment and clothing just name a few. There are no large retail chains like Wal-Mart or other department stores because we favour small local retailers over big box stores. Daily life is very much centered on the family and our immediate community. Just about anything a person could want or need can usually be found within walking distance of their home.
We have entertainment just like the 21st century with a few differences. We have television but it is all what you would call “on demand”. You watch whatever you want, whenever and wherever you want. Live broadcasts are typically reserved for news programs or sporting events. Movies are still made but they tend to be smaller in scale and focus more on character development. When there is violence it tends to be much less graphic than it is now and it’ll be essential to the story. Live theatre is a much more popular form of entertainment in my time than it is in yours. Music is as popular in my time as it ever was. We have pop music with singing stars and teenagers scream at those concerts just like they do today. Some things will never change. You will be glad to hear that radio or rather live audio programming is still very much around in my era. It is almost exclusively talk based format and like all other information accessed in my time is via the Internet.
We have evolved socially so that we no longer pursue material wealth as a goal unto itself. Everyone is more concerned with quality of life and living life to the fullest. The work week is only about 20-25 hours long for most people and the standard of living is high and consistent everywhere. There are no more lower-middle-upper class lifestyles. As a result crime is almost non-existent. In fact there are very few full time police officers in urban areas. Where I am from most cities have integrated their police, fire and ambulance services into one emergency reaction agency. They tailor their response based on the nature of the emergency.
Because of gradual social changes over the centuries we have adopted lifestyles that might be considered alternative by early 21st century standards. Modern health care and advanced medical science has extended the average human lifespan to approximately 180 years of age. Cloned and artificial organs/prosthetics and advanced therapies help people maintain a high quality of life even at advanced ages of 100+ years. Current medical research into stem cell therapies is on the right track and will make real positive differences in the future. At the ripe old age of 40 I am barely more than a teenager and I look like I’m in my mid-twenties. The healthy diet and exercise regimens we have adopted as a whole society have contributed to the quality of life we enjoy in the future.
Mental illness, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and strokes are virtually unheard of in my world. Smoking and recreational drugs have not been a problem for centuries. We still drink alcohol but the gradual evolution of social attitudes over the centuries along with methods for neutralizing its effects have all but ended its abuse.
Over the centuries we have gradually eliminated processed foods and animal products from our diets. Most of what we eat is organic and grown locally in hydroponic farms year round. All major cities have their own farms with a wide variety of crops to maximize quality and freshness that might be compromised by transporting produce over long distances. We do eat “meat” but it isn’t from live animals raised for human consumption. We grow cruelty-free cloned meat in protein factories that looks and tastes exactly like the real thing. At least that is what I have been told. I can’t quite bring myself to eat meat sold in supermarkets or restaurants in this era. The idea of eating something that was once a living, breathing creature still makes me nauseous even though I’ve been here long enough to develop a tolerance. Some of my colleagues however have no such aversion and routinely enjoy steaks, poultry, hamburgers and other varieties of meats, seafood and eggs. Real cheese is also very popular and I have been able to enjoy that part of the local diet. In the future cheese and other dairy products are also made with milk from cloned sources but I can confirm that there is no discernable difference from the “real” thing.
Religion is not a part of everyday life for most people all over the world or in the off-world colonies. There are still some people who practice the major religions but fundamentalism is a thing of the past. My family, like many, still celebrates Christmas but it is not a religious experience for us at all. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are still around but most people who practice any religion only do so in private. Just like the present day, people are permitted to exercise whatever religion they choose but in my time most opt for no religion at all. All parties also respect whatever one chooses to believe.
We do have global military of sorts. They are not like what exists now and their primary function is space exploration and humanitarian missions. I have seen Star Trek and the fictional Starfleet organization depicted in that program is actually very similar to what the United Earth Naval Service is in my era. In fact more than a few details from Star Trek seem to parallel what exists in my time so it makes me wonder if the writers had contact with time travellers from my century and borrowed some ideas for his TV show.
Aliens. I know you are wondering about this one. Disclosure as you call it never actually happened. The US government never held a press conference and admitted that there are extra-terrestrial visitors and that some of their ships have crashed and been recovered. The facts revolving around Roswell and other similar incidents remain a mystery to this day. The reality of life outside our planet was gradually introduced to the public in small steps. It began with the discovery of microbial life on Mars and also more complex aquatic creatures in the oceans of Europa.
As civilian space explorers working for private companies started visiting the moon and Mars, ruins of a very ancient space faring civilization were made public. You can let your friend Richard C. Hoagland know that he was right all along. Not much is known about who the Ancient Ones were, only that the ruins on the moon and Mars were definitely from the same civilization, they looked a lot like us and they were wiped out by a nuclear war. Archeologists have been trying for centuries to figure out their language but they haven’t had any luck yet. Ruins from this same civilization have been found all throughout the solar system so this corner of space was definitely home to the Ancient Ones.
This brings us to First Contact. When Earth first developed FTL drives we spent time exploring our solar system and we naturally started bumping into other beings out there. It became impossible for governments to deny their existence so they didn’t even try. Aliens tended to stay away from us and avoided direct contact. It seems that through limited communication it was revealed that they have a policy of not interacting directly with young space-faring cultures like ours. Apparently we are still a little too wild for their tastes but once we have a chance to mature we will be more openly engaged. Earth ships have instructions to not attempt to contact alien vessels except in emergencies. We don’t know much about them except that many of the ones we’ve seen are humanoid in shape with a head, torso, two arms and two legs. It is apparently a common form for sentient species all over the galaxy but we don’t know why. It could be that we all have common ancestry or were genetically engineered to be the same. Maybe it’s just the most efficient form that evolution has developed for intelligent beings.
What is my life like in the 21st Century?
Except for my job, my life is actually pretty normal by any standard. With the exception of some management personnel most of us live among the locals. I have an apartment, I ride a bicycle to get around when the weather is nice and I like to be active in the community. I have local friends. I go to the gym; the movies and I belong to a social group for vegetarians. We have regular outings where we go to restaurants, amusement parks, concerts or other fun places. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter and food bank on my days off. The only thing I don’t do is engage in romantic relationships with locals. That is strictly forbidden for obvious reasons.
What does the future hold for the world?
Well I can’t get too specific for reasons I’m sure you can understand. However I can tell you that while things get a little bumpy in the coming years we make it through just fine.
There were no nuclear wars or other extinction level events. Some of that is luck and sometimes it was because some very smart people were able to prevent bad things from happening.
There is a world governing body called the United Earth Democracy. While nations are allowed to pass their own laws and elect local governments, all nations must abide by the Constitution of Human Rights and Laws of Conduct that are in effect worldwide. Now when nations have disagreements instead of resorting to violent conflict they take it to the World Supreme Court and the matter is decided through reasoned discussion, debate, diplomacy and compromise. All nations abide by the rulings of the World Court and if they don’t sanctions will be levied. There hasn’t been a need to do that for quite some time. Not in my lifetime anyhow.
The United States of America is intact and prosperous. It also has more than 50 states when I’m from. Canada is pretty much the same but we have a much larger population spread out in areas that weather modification technology has made habitable for humans.
The rest of the world has also survived intact. China is still a country but they are a true democracy. The same goes for Russia. Korea is no longer a divided country in my time. In fact most nations that exist now still survive in the future. The only real noticeable difference to world maps I am aware of is the United African Federation, which encompasses most of the central African continent. Egypt, Libya, Morocco and South Africa all still exist as independent countries although their borders have changed over the years.
The Middle East is a war zone today but rest assured someday all of its people will live side by side in peace. Terraforming and agricultural science was put to good use reclaiming desert regions and turning it into lush, arable land. Much of the strife in that region stemmed from not having enough arable land to go around. That coupled with more moderate attitudes regarding religion eventually led to the cessation of all hostilities in the Middle East. Israel, Persia, Egypt, the Arabian Collective and the other nations in that area all exist in harmony to this day and have for centuries.
Human population sits at around 22 billion people. About 15 billion live on Earth and another 7 billion live on the off world colonies. We have started to explore other star systems and have discovered a couple of primitive civilizations but we were asked not to interfere with them by the other alien races. We only settle planets where there are no indigenous peoples. Those colonies are permitted to determine their own fate but are bound by the same Constitution of Human Rights and Laws of Conduct that the nations of Earth abide by.
How do I travel back and forth in time?
I am not a physicist or temporal engineer so I don’t know how the science works. Not in a specific way anyhow. What I have been told in a very basic way is that we are able to punch a hole in space-time and use that opening to go back and forth. I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that but I think the techs I asked were just dumbing it down for me. We call the mechanism for time travelling a “Door” and that is what it literally is. It looks like an ordinary doorway with an airlock and one side is the present time and on the other side is another time period. Going through it is like walking from one room into another. It is that simple for us. No lightning storms, DeLoreans or blue phone boxes, just a simple doorway. We have several of these “Doors” located all over the country in every major city and the main one is in a hidden sub-basement of our company building. We also have portable units that can be set up in the field in case of emergencies. I am told we haven’t needed to use one of those for years.
What kind of preparation did I have to undergo before coming back to the 21st Century?
My position is an administrative one so I didn’t need much in the way of special work training beyond what I went to school for. I have a degree in Human Resources Administration, I like working with people, which is very close to what I do for the MTA. I did have to study up on current events and pop culture to know what was going on here. I was shocked at how much time is devoted to celebrity gossip. That kind of journalism does not exist in my time and I’m happy about that.
I also had to go through language training. We still speak English in the future but the grammar, slang and accent is quite different from what it is in the 21stcentury. If we didn’t get that training then we would sound like English was a second language and we’d not be able understand much of what is being said by the locals. All of us also receive basic training on how to operate the Door and all future tech including weapons. Since I am responsible for tracking all of that equipment in this era it was essential for me to achieve a greater degree of proficiency with all of it so I can make sure it is working properly when I sign it out to field officers.
I had to go to the doctor and get inoculated against a whole bunch of diseases that are extinct in the future but are still around today. I also had to be checked out to make sure I didn’t take anything back with me from my time. It simply wouldn’t do for me to transport a new strain of the flu back to the 21stcentury and wipe out half the population with a virus that shouldn’t exist yet.
We also had to go through training so that we don’t accidentally reveal ourselves to the locals and what to do if it does happen. I had to learn how to drive 21st century cars. I had to learn how current smartphones and computers work because they are quite different in my time. I had to learn how to use cash to buy things because I had never done so until I came here. A whole bunch of things you take for granted had to be taught to me like a child. All so I didn’t look like an idiot when I interacted with the locals.
Finally we are given a comprehensive cover identity for use in this time period. I am provided with completely authentic documents and IDs that would pass any inspection. The intelligence section hacks into various government and civilian databases and inserts our information wherever it is required. They can even enter offices to place actual physical records into filing cabinets. The intelligence section can even provide people to act as personal references if necessary. I have current birth records, school transcripts and driving and insurance records. Medical, employment, financial and tax histories too. If I were to apply for a top-secret government job I would pass all background checks with flying colours.
That’s about all I can think of for now. I doubt I will contact you again because I am anticipating an awkward meeting with my manager if they find out I sent it. There is enough information in this email for them to identify me even if nobody else could. On the off chance I do contact you again I will provide you with a secret code word so you know it is I and not an imposter. The word: ————
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