The beat of the future

I have to say the kid was good-looking. He looked goofy, sure, in his bleached jeans and a yellow ski jacket, and he looked a little confused, absolutely, but most of all he looked real nice. I had forgotten how good the kid looked, it’d been ages since I had last seen him. Well, decades, and three decades to be exact.

I recognized him right away. He just appeared in front of me as I was riding my bike to the mall the other day.

“Hey, kid,” I said. “Wait up.”


He looked at me, and he didn’t say anything. Maybe he thought it was weird that a stranger was talking to him. I remembered what it was like, people didn’t used to talk to each other like that even when they did, decades before “likes” and RTs.

Now, I had been expecting the kid, so I was wearing my old clothes – well, the one pair of jeans I still managed to fit inside – because I was sure my low-riding jeans might have been too much for him. Anyway, I pushed my iPhone a little further down in my back pocket as I approached the kid. No need to scare him with the devices. There’d be time to check my Facebook likes afterwards.

“Kid, you look happy, has something special happened?” I asked him.

“Um, sir, do I know you?”

“Call me … Biff,” I said.

“Biff? That’s funny, I just saw a movie in which one of the characters was a guy called Biff. He was a bit of a jerk, though, no offense sir,” he said.

“Interesting. Did you see it on Netflix or…?”

I said that just to tease him.

“Netwhat? No, I was just in a movie theatre, my Dad gave me this ticket to a sneak preview because, well, his store sells JVC video cameras and stereo and I guess it was a promo thing so I went. It was a fantastic picture,” he said.

“I know. I’ve seen it. It is.”

“Yeah, it was called Back to … wait, you know? How could you know, what are you a stalker? Back off man, I’m a scientist,” he said. I recognized the line, it’s what Dr. Peter Venkman says in “Ghostbusters.”

“No, no, not a stalker. This may be a little difficult to explain, but … you’re in the future. This is October 21, 2015. And if my calculations are correct, you have come here from good old December 1985. You’re on your way to a hockey game, and you should actually be running by now, because the game started fifteen minutes ago,” I said.

“And you skipped out of the movie theatre, and then turned the skip into a jog, and then into a few good sprints across town, and then … suddenly you met me, right?”

The kid didn’t say anything.

“You’re in high school, you ride a green Peugeot bike, your favorite hockey player is Wayne Gretzky, and right now, you’re playing Bryan Adams’s “Reckless” in your JVC walkman, but you’re thinking about checking with Mika if he’s got any of that Huey Lewis who played the song in the movie. Am I right?”

“Uh… yes.”

“Your favorite Canadian football team is the Saskatchewan Roughriders, although you’ve never seen them, or any CFL team, play, just because Terry has their hat. You also like the Phantom, and the MAD magazine.”

“OK,” he said, and took a deep breath. “Let’s just say that you’re not a sick old man, and that I am in the future. How did I get here? Who are you? What’s this place? Where’s your flying car… Biff?”

“You got here from the park, because while you were skipping to the hockey rink, you fell inside a time wrinkle, and ended up here. Of course, I had made sure the wrinkle would be there. Me? Fine, my name’s not Biff. It’s … Marty. And I was just like you. I don’t have a flying car, but I do have a flexifuel Volvo. And this place, this is Sollentuna in Sweden. The time wrinkle always sends you to a connected place,” I told him.

He was quiet for a while and it seemed to me he was trying to make up his mind whether to run and hide or just run. But he stayed.

“You’re me, Marty? Then your name’s not Marty, is it?”

“Yes. I am you. No, it’s not.”

“You don’t look half bad,” he said.

“Thanks. You look good, too.”

“So, does Wayne Gretzky really retire in 1999? Will I ever play in the NHL? How did I do in my math test? What will I be? Will I be handsome, will I be rich?”

I took a deep breath, because this was the moment I had been waiting for. Everything I had done in the last thirty decades was so I could get my old self into the future.

Que sera, sera, kid. Whatever will be, will be,” I said, “I just wanted to see you so I could tell you that you’ll be fine. You’ll be in and out of hockey, you’ll fall in and out of love, you’ll get jobs and you’ll lose jobs, but you’re going to be alright. Just look at me. What’s not to like?”

The kid looked at me and he smiled.

“Well, you do look good. And you are driving a flexifuel Volvo, so there’s that. What’s flexifuel anyway?” he said after a pause.

“It’s got something to do with ethanol, don’t ask me too many questions, you’re not supposed to know!”

“So I’ll be fine?”

“You’ll be fine. Just wanted to let you know that. Life gets a little easier that way. But now I’ve said it, so it’s time to get you back to good old 1985, safe and sound,” I said and – gently – gave him a judo chop in the neck, before pushing him inside the time wrinkle.

“And Gretzky really does retire in 1999,” I whispered.

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