You’re about to hit the usual 24-hour time-jump button on your time-travel remote when you notice another button. It’s blue, instead of the usual red.
“Hmmm … maybe I’d get more emails if I pressed that?” you wonder aloud.
Your finger moves towards it.
Over from the corner of my lab, I look up from my laptop, and see you.
My eyes go wide in horror.
I start running across the room, and dive toward you.
“DON’T PRESS THAT—”
Just as my hand clasps your arm, you press it.
Suddenly the lab disappears and we both start tumbling.
“You complete IDIOT!” I scream, as we fall through the space-time continuum. “That was the 10,000,000 year button! I should never have entrusted you with this thing …”
We fall as multicoloured streaks whip past us. Before our eyes, worlds flourish, then in an instant, wither and die before our eyes. Stars are born, grow old, and go supernova. The light gets brighter and brighter and then—
Suddenly we both hit the ground.
You look around. There’s no sign of the lab. Just … a dim, hazy mist. And beyond it, the outline of some forest.
But it’s not any forest you’re familiar with.
The trees (if you can call them trees) look … wrong somehow.
Almost … alien.
“Where are we?” you ask.
“Where we were a moment ago — the lab. Except right now, we’re ten million years in the future,” I snarl. “And I’m stuck here with a total idiot!”
You look down sadly.
I start pacing, counting my steps. Then I stop … and start digging in the ground for a minute.
“Aha! It’s still here!”
I find a metallic box and hoist it out of the ground.
“What’s that?” you ask, wandering over.
“A time capsule,” I explain. “Buried in a very specific location … in the event of something like … this.”
I wrestle open the latch, open the box, and breathe a sigh of relief. My time-proof lining has worked. Inside is a bunch of weapons, electronics, tools, and computer parts.
I pull out a pistol and throw it to you. “Here … take this.”
You catch the gun. “Why do I need this?”
Suddenly you freeze.
From the distance we both hear a horrific shrieking noise … as if from some giant, demented creature.
“Because,” I say quietly, “in our time, this island was inhabited by some … unpleasant creatures. I’d hate to know what kind of things flourish here now.”
I start assembling the computer pieces I pulled out of the box.
“I’m going to try reversing this stupid mistake you’ve just caused,” I say. “Normally, the time-travel remotes are only meant to go one way, so I have no idea how long this will take. Keep watch and make yourself useful.”
You stand up and start pacing around, a few feet away from me.
In the distance, more things moan.
You shiver a little.
And then you remember all those sales page links I’d been sending you.
Where were those again?
You decide to read some of those to kill your boredom.
While you *cough* read those sales pages.
(*cough* hint hint *cough*)
… okay, some time passes while you read, yada yada. Back to the story.
My voice snaps you out of your sales-page reading.
You stuff your phone back in your pocket and walk over to me. I’m wearing a welding mask, trying to join two electronic components together.
I flip up the mask and wipe my brow. “I’m nearly done here. I think this will be able to bring us back. Did you spot anything dangerous?”
You stare at me blankly.
My eyes narrow suspiciously.
“You were watching out for danger, right?”
You shuffle your feet.
“Well … I kind of got distracted by your awesome sales pages, and I might have been reading those … but it was only for a couple of minutes …”
Suddenly there’s a noise in the alien ‘forest’, only a few dozen feet away from us.
We both freeze.
You turn to look at me … and see me staring at you furiously.
“What … have … you … done?” I hiss.
A low growl echoes out from just beyond the edge of our vision.
I start furiously fiddling with some wires. “I’m just a minute away from finishing this thing … so close …”
The time-machine whirrs to life.
“Yes!” I say, looking up. “It’s connected to our time! Just put your palm on this panel and we’ll travel back—”
I’m cut off by the most bloodcurdling shriek you’ve ever heard …
… as one of the ‘things’ stalking us from the shadows comes flying out and lands on my time machine, crushing it to pieces.
I stagger back, reeling.
For the first time, you see the monster clearly.
And … it’s horrible.
It’s like some mutant gorilla. But it stands twelve feet tall, easily. On its head are eyes facing every direction. It has four giant fangs poking up from its lower lip. Three arms come out of its scaly black torso. Sharp, quivering spines protrude from its back.
You want to throw up, cry and faint all at the same time.
The creature turns to face you, and sizes you up for a moment.
Then, it takes a step towards you …
Opens its mouth …
And lunges at your—
The creature’s head explodes in a disgusting green spray.
Behind it, you see me with a giant, smoking shotgun which I’ve pulled out of my time capsule.
“Darned if I’ll ever let MY email copywriting island be ruled by some friggin’ monkey — even if it’s eons in the future!”
Then I turn to you, and scream:
We take off running as the other giant-gorilla-monsters start giving chase.
I fire shots as we run, but there are just too many of them. Each time I knock one down, two more seem to take its place.
“Crap … I don’t have that much ammo!” I curse.
BLAM! BLAM … *click*
My Compendium shotgun runs out of shells. I toss it away in disgust, and keep running.
As you look behind you at the horde closing in on you, you realise something:
You are going to die.
There’s no way you’re outrunning these things.
You’re going to die, ten million years in the future, long after everyone else has forgotten about you.
It’s a sad thought.
Then you decide … you won’t die on the run.
So in a last act of
valour folly, you turn around to face the giant beast coming at you head-on.
When you see it again — its dozens of eyes, four fangs, three arms, scales, and spines — you wish you hadn’t.
And just as the monster is about to devour you …
You promptly faint.
Your next sensation after dying …
… is an intense agony.
It’s pitch black, so you can’t see anything …
But the pain feels like you’re being electrocuted …
And worse, you can’t move your body.
“AAAAAAAGHH!” you scream.
Is this what death is like?
And then —
And … a light turns on.
And … you’re not dead.
You’re strapped to a chair.
It’s that chair.
The same one you first woke up in in these emails.
Which means …
The door bursts open and I step in, looking mad as anything.
Your mouth gapes like a fish.
“Daniel? But … how …”
“Shut up or I’ll shock you again!” I scream. “Your antics with the blue button nearly got us killed ten million years in the future! And we’d have been goners — if he hadn’t realised what was going on, and jumped to the future to save us …”
I jerk my head to the side … where Tom Burns stands, scowling at you.
(You are racking up quite a life-debt to that man, you know.)
Tom turns to me.
“You need to stop giving those time-travel remotes out like candy to every idiot that joins your list,” he scolds. “We do this all the time!”
And perhaps I do.
But we’re nearly at the end of this crazy time-travelling sequence … so what does it matter.
Anyway, enough chit-chat.
Because if you check your inbox, you will find an email from me with the subject line:
“The Airport Incident”
Hang on …
Isn’t that the name of the email that has been teased in almost every email so far in this Parallel Welcome Sequence?
Why, yes. Yes it is.
Well, you know what to do …