The man seemed to misplace his name. All of a sudden he couldn’t remember it. He remembered his situation just fine. He was currently traveling through time, strolling through it really, and observing the effect. The time tunnel was a pleasant light show, though his mind had difficulty following it, what with the quantum confusion and all.
He remembered what he was doing before the time tunnel, just ten minutes ago, if minutes still existed. He was very devoted to his idea. He’d spent years getting everything arranged, though those years looked like nothing more than plastic bags over his shoulder now. Time travel had eluded everyone else, but his idea was fresh.
All the others had focused on complex machinery and physics degrees that took lifetimes to earn. He, on the other hand, the man whose name time had swept away like his years, focused on the poetic side of reality. He interviewed the oldest grandfather clocks he could find, patiently listening to every tick and every tock, even the tocks that voiced somewhat outdated social opinions. Eventually he learned their language, and that all clocks were asking for company, so he gave them company every way he could.
He collected clocks from around the world, with the only required trait being their continued ticking and tocking. They were assembled together, from all ages and periods of craftsmanship, in his living room. He lined the walls until there wasn’t enough room between them for a garden snake to slither. Then he kept his mouth glued shut. He let the ticks and the tocks speak to each other, sharing their stories from across expertly recorded time.
After a while the clocks, and the man, realized something. They now had enough information to see time’s whole picture. They could see its tunnels like an ant farm. The man saw one leading directly to the future. He was egged towards it by the peer pressure of the clocks.
“Go on,” they ticked. “Aren’t you curious?” they tocked. “If I had legs I would certainly go.”
He took the first step into it and his old world was gone, along with his name. Perhaps it had been taken because he simply didn’t exist that far in the future. Or maybe he’d been scrubbed from the records. If so, he hoped there was at least some mention of his efforts, of his incredible clock congress.
After an amount of time he could not possibly comprehend, he found the end of the tunnel. The clocks were right about one thing; it certainly was curious. He was in the middle of a forest that would’ve been dense if it weren’t under construction. Half the pine trees lacked their tops. A pair of little red feathery wings flapped by, unattached to a body or beak. He stood there, observing dumbly, as his toes flexed against the partially-completed grass and the insufficient morning dew on them.
“Oh cheese wheels! Somebody’s here! Somebody’s early!” a tiny voice squeaked. The man looked down to see a sort of gnome, dressed in funny clothing, like a jester’s overweight child popping out of his tunic, shouting and waving his hands. He had a square of soil under one arm, with little holes underneath it. The man thought it looked just like his EZ Clip play blocks he built with when he was a child.
More gnomes crawled out of the holey woodwork. Some wore green, some red, some purple, some black, but they all wore the same startled and worried expressions. They dropped the tiny pieces of the world they held and ran around screaming for help.
“Maybe I can help!?” the man shouted to calm their hysterical shrieking.
“Help!” one of them squeaked. “You’re the problem! You’re early! Nobody is supposed to be in the future until the future. We haven’t finished building it yet!”
“You build the future?”
“Of course you giant moron! Where do you think the future comes from?”
“What are those blocks? Is that really what everything is made out of?”
“These are expectations. You, in the past, think them up, and then we take the best ones and make the future. Uhhh-doooooy!” The man strolled over to the nearest gnome, careful to avoid the holes in reality, and snatched the block from his grubby pink hands.
“Well I’m here,” he said, happy to annoy them. The calm clocks were much better company. “You should’ve had it ready for me.”
“It’s your fault you smelly cheese crumb!” the gnome exclaimed. “Our expectations arrived late! You were supposed to expect the future here! You were too busy hanging out with dumb old clocks to expect things properly.”
The man did not agree with the gnome’s assessment of the situation. He had his own assessment. He’d always been a master with those EZ Clip toy blocks. He’d built incredible cities and breathtaking castles that actually tended to take breath away if you stepped on one of their rogue pieces.
He’d unraveled time. Surely he could build the future better than these gnomes. It was child’s play.
“I’ll help you out,” he offered. Suddenly his name didn’t seem so important. He was now the instruction booklet for the builders of the future. “Take that one over there. You, in the yellow, put that one there…. oh this’ll be a fun future. Everyone stick to your instructions!” One gnome wandered around in panic. He couldn’t find the right piece. The others always hogged them.
“Who has the green expectations?” he yipped. An argument broke out: a genuine ankle-high riot. Perhaps it would take a little longer than he thought.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by dark_lord3 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!