I left this world back in 2023, and I said at the time, rather tongue-in-cheek, that I’d like to return in 100 years and see what my country and the rest of the world would look like then. In 2023, the United States was in turmoil, stopping just short of complete chaos, but certainly not far from it. There was a group in Congress calling themselves the “Freedom Caucus” who stood for everything BUT freedom. The right-wing Republican Party had strayed so far from any sense of humanitarian values that I believed they were on a collision course. Guns were more plentiful than people and violence was always right around the next corner. And around the globe, troubles were brewing. An arrogant Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin had invaded Ukraine and was trying to expand Russian territory in hopes of building an empire. Democracies ‘round the globe were being challenged. Climate change, coupled with massive deforestation was a significant threat to the environment that few were taking seriously. And so naturally I wondered what the next century would bring.
It is now, as I have just learned, 102 years later, the year is 2125. One minute I was living happily within my wolf pack, and then I found myself here, on a street corner in a city I almost, but not quite recognize, scratching my head and wondering WTF happened. Well, might as well make the most of it, take a look around, and see what the world has turned into in my absence. The first thing I notice is that there are no trees, no flowers, nothing I would define as nature at all. And very few people …
I find a wallet in my pocket with $215 in it … enough for some breakfast, at any rate. Now to find a coffee shop … a Starbucks or something. Let me just ask this lady wearing a mask and waiting for her bus …
Me: Excuse me, ma’am?
She: Don’t you dare come near me … I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it!
(Okay, one question is answered … the gun culture is still alive and well in the U.S.)
Me: No worries, ma’am … I was just wondering if you could tell me where the nearest Starbucks is?
She: Starbucks??? I have no idea what you’re asking.
(Another question answered … Starbucks didn’t survive into the 22nd century)
Me: Where is the nearest restaurant where I might get a bit of breakfast?
She: Two blocks down and on the left, there’s a Trump diner.
Me: Is there any other restaurant in the vicinity? I’m not a fan of anything with the name “Trump”.
She: Where are you from, anyway? Outer space?
Me: I’m from out west, ma’am, and I haven’t been on the East Coast for over 100 … er … for several years.
She (slowly backing away and reaching into her coat pocket): Go! I’ll buzz for the police … you’re that escaped lunatic they’ve been talking about on the news, aren’t you??? That’s why you look like you belong in a pack of wild animals!
Well, that certainly went well. I moseyed on my way before she had a chance to sic the police on me, but already I was getting some answers about the state of affairs here. I needed coffee, food, and a newspaper in that order! I started walking, and eventually came upon a little café that serves sandwiches and hot coffee, so I ordered an egg & cheese sandwich and a large coffee. The tab came to $14. Another question answered.
I found a day-old newspaper on one of the empty tables and snatched it up to peruse while munching on my sandwich. The headline read:
President John White to Meet with Congress Regarding Debt Ceiling
Some things never change. Reading on …
Russian Troops Near French Border
WHOA!!! Last I knew, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was still fighting to take Ukraine! Reading on, it appears that what were once Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Austria, Germany and Italy are now all a part of the ‘Russian Union’. No … this can’t be right!
I look around the small café … there are only three other patrons, all wearing masks that they pull down to take a bite of food or a sip of their drink. Finished with my tasteless sandwich and weak coffee, I leave a $1 tip and exit the café. I notice there are few people on what was once a bustling street. I also notice they are all wearing masks, walking in a strange way, almost as if they are afraid … of what? Has there been another pandemic like the one we had back in 2020?
There is a strange scent to the air, rather like dirty laundry. I see a man who looks friendly enough, so I approach … with caution.
Me: Sir? Excuse me, but I’m from … er, out of town … and I was wondering if you might be able to help me …
Him: What do you want? I have a gun and I will use it.
Me: No no … I mean no harm, but I’m a bit lost and wondered if you could tell me how to get to the nearest library?
Him: What? Library? There are no libraries here! The last one closed when I was a child. What do you want it for?
(Knowing it will sound weird if I tell him I want to see what has happened in the world over the past century, I try to think of a reasonable answer, but this is a new world to me …)
Me: I just hoped to find a new book to read, that’s all.
Him: Book??? (He laughs maniacally) What, are you from the 21st century? (more laughter) Books are illegal … I think you should move on now … get away from me before you get us both arrested!
I resume my walk down the street, take a right at the next corner, and suddenly I hear a booming electronic voice booming from all directions, echoes bouncing off the buildings …
ATTENTION! Curfew is in one hour! Anybody caught outside after 6:00 will be arrested on sight! I repeat, curfew is in one hour! GO HOME!
Oh how I wish I could go home, back to my pack where life was simple and relatively safe.
(To be continued … maybe)