Campbell travels in time to make his perfect man fall in love with him â€“ but has he got the right man?
Campbell's offered a chance to travel back in time. He's going to make his one true love, Devon, fall in love with him at a Christmas Party in 2015. It's been a rough decade between 2015 and 2025. There's been a bloody revolution and Campbell wants nothing more than the security of Devon. Yet, when he gets back to 2015, nothing is what Campbell remembered. Devon, in fact, is a jerk.
Akhil, the scientist who sent Campbell back in time is /much/ nicer. As Campbell begins to find his footing in time and space, Akhil, who is funny, smart, and sexy, starts to fall in love with Campbell. Can Campbell find true love /and/ stop the revolution?
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
I was born in 1995. So if you had told me, a child of Nintendo and X-Box 360 and Windows XP, that there would be time travel by 2025, I would have scoffed at you. Really though, that’s the government for you. They tax you for things you don’t want to pay for, and don’t fix the streets, and pick up your trash, badly, once a week. But every so often, something bursts forth from government that is pretty sweet, like the interstate highway system and the internet, and now time travel. I work for the government, so I may be a little biased, but I get that they can be bone-headed. At the same time, however, they can also do some big, unexpected projects.
Rumor has it in my corner of government, that the scientists had been working on time travel in some underfunded closet for about fifteen years, but it wasn’t until right now that it was ready for testing. I was going to be one of the first people taking out the new shiny toy for a whirl. It seems that my boss owed someone else a lot of money, so when the chips were called in, my boss’s staff was going to be the guinea pigs for the time travel tests.
Yes, I did feel rather put upon. They could assure me all they wanted that the rabbits and monkeys which were the first test subjects came out fine, but how do they know? If a monkey came upon unspeakable terror in the time-machine’s chamber, who would know? It’s not like the monkey could tell you. Still, as my boss grimly eyed all of us in Room XRT—we normally dealt with corporate taxation—my coworkers and I sensed that we weren’t getting out of this one any time soon.
I won’t complain and say the scientists didn’t train us or tell us the rules. They did. They were mean and shouted a lot, but they did tell us. We corporate types weren’t as swift on the uptake as the scientist-lot had hoped for though. Jacob, a fellow worker bee, often muttered under his breath about how he’d like to see them determine appropriate executive compensation and taxation for a corporation in Tier 3, but the rest of us were too busy staring at the white-board and taking notes to pay much attention to him.
The Rules of Time Travel (as I understand them):
This isn’t Quantum Leap, Idiot
So, in attempt to explain time travel on the first day, our trainers showed us an old TV show, Quantum Leap. It had a character who leaped in and out of other people’s bodies, righting wrongs. I’m not sure what the scientists meant us to take from it, but it wasn’t what we did take from it. The whole thing was very confusing. From the show, we thought it meant we would be time traveling into other people’s bodies, fixing things.
Once Dr. Kapadia understood our misunderstanding, somewhere in Day Three of training, he muttered “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Why couldn’t we have stuck to the monkeys? They were smarter,” to himself and began pounding his head on his desk. Dr. Kapadia is a big guy, probably about 6’2”, and solidly muscled, so the pounding was impressive. His black eyes, which were never friendly, were now about ready to shoot daggers at us.
Once he stopped talking to himself, and it took a while, he said, “Look, idiots, no one’s jumping into anyone else’s bodies. That’s a privacy violation, and you lot would all screw up everyone’s lives, not fix them. There will be no hologram smoking a cigar to help you. You’re on your own.”
The point of showing us the episodes? No idea. None at all. Dr. Kapadia just stared at us bleakly when we asked him. However, Rule #1 seems to be: This isn’t Quantum Leap, Idiot.
When Dr. Kapadia says you can’t fix anything, he means it.
Now, when a normal person thinks of the good time travel could do, that normal person probably thinks of shooting Hitler back in 1933, or removing the batteries in the cars the 9/11 terrorists drove to the airport that morning, or feeding Stalin some stroganoff to choke on or something. When Lucy, the bravest of us, suggested those things in response to Dr. Riesler’s question about what we thought we would be doing, Dr. Riesler took a sip of her coffee and started staring out the window. She’s a slight brunette with tired eyes, and she gazed at the landscape for about five minutes before she spoke. It was a loaded silence, let me put it that way. Chris in the back had begun folding some origami to entertain himself while she zoned on us.
Dr. Riesler finally snapped back to herself and crunched up Chris’s origami crane and threw it in the trash. Dr. Kapadia took over at this point, patting her shoulder to soothe her, just as Chris started to complain loudly about the crane. “Look, you almost broke Sarah. Look at her. You all are not getting it at all. World War II, 9/11, the plague centuries, the fall of Rome — they’re all no-fly zones. You’re test subjects. You’re not going to shoot Hitler. We don’t know what kind of world that would be. What if that meant a nuclear holocaust in 1962? Who the fuck knows? LeRoy, the test monkey, might, but you all don’t. We don’t. None of you are going anywhere where there is anything of importance going on. You are going to the backwaters of history, and you will like it.” Rule #2: You can’t fix anything important.
I don’t think we will.
Except you might fix things, who knows?
On Day Five they gave us a history test. From the dark laughter that Dr. Riesler broke into while grading the papers, we don’t know much about history. Dr. Kapadia glanced over her shoulder and grimaced. “Jesus, people, America was not founded in 1492. Honestly. Did you even try? You all didn’t even try, did you?”
Dr. Riesler thudded her head to the desk. Dr. Kapadia continued, “We were going to send you as observers to some really cool places in history. You could have had the chance to watch Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa. True, it would have been from a distance because we couldn’t have trusted you not to accidentally trip Da Vinci and break his painting hand, but you would have still been observers. Now, we’re going to have to treat you like Bobo the bunny.”
Lucy raised her hand. “Bobo the bunny?”
“Yes, Bobo the bunny, and might I remind you that he’s an actual rabbit? No one expected him to be smart.” He sneered at us.
“So what did you do to Bobo, Dr. Kapadia?” Lucy continued meekly in the face of his anger.
“We mapped him onto himself back in his past. He relived some fascinating times eating grass that he’d already eaten. What that means, you doofuses, is that you won’t get to be an observer to something you didn’t already live. Your consciousness will be mapped over a past version of yourself. You’ll be seeing a version of your life that you’ve already lived. You’ll be eating the same dope-y grass that you already ate. What fun will that be?”
I raised my hand.
“What, Campbell?” Dr. Kapadia snapped.
“Dr. Kapadia, what if we change our lives? We’re all older than when we’d be mapped over. What if we made different choices?”
Dr. Kapadia and Dr. Riesler looked at each other and seemed to communicate wordlessly. Dr. Kapadia finally shrugged and turned to us. “Your lives aren’t important to the grand scheme of humanity. We’ve checked that. Screw with your pasts at will, people.”
And with that, our training was over, and we were handed a ten-page questionnaire asking us all sorts of things. Most of the questions didn’t make much sense: What allergies did we have? What foods did we like? Did we prefer rain or snow? Cats or dogs? Country music or rock? Pastel colors or the color black? Did our feet itch when we drank tea? Did our hair get curly in humidity? The questions didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to them.
Only the allergies question and the question as to when we wanted to be mapped made any sense. I had known from the day that Gene dropped a pile of paperwork on my desk and said, “I lost a shit-load in a poker game. I can’t pay it, so you and everyone else in this god-forsaken office are time traveling by the end of the month,” where I wanted to go back to.
I wanted to go back ten years, back to 2015. I would have been twenty back then, working in the bowels of a mailroom for a major corporation that did something with something. Sorry I can’t be more specific about the product of the company, but I doubt that my bosses or their bosses, or the bosses above those bosses, could have told you what they made or did either. From my perspective, a lot of paperwork was shuffled around to a lot of different desks and a lot of the workers seemed to spend time in meetings where nothing was ever decided or done.
It was an easy job. However, it was not a surprise that, in the populist uprising of 2018, the company’s leaders were executed, with their heads displayed in the lobby for several weeks. Lots of stuff happened in 2018 and 2019, and that company wasn’t immune, by any means. Especially since they neither produced nor distributed anything useful, as far as I could tell, just made money doing who knows what.
I do owe the uprising for my job now though, where I assess companies for their usefulness to society and pay executives for the amount of work that they actually do, versus the niceness of their suits and the lies they tell to the share-holders.
Anyway, I digress. I want to go back to 2015. I had had a chance with a cute guy, Devon, at the staff Christmas party that year—there had been sweet words and a little bit of snuggling—but I wasted it by enjoying the free alcohol a little bit too much. A lot too much. There were stains that remained in the carpet, despite the cleaners’ best attempts. I’ve always regretted it. Not the stains, but I think I missed my chance at love. When 2018 happened, well, it was a good, blessed time, a time when the workers seized back power to themselves and reshaped government into a more compassionate framework—yes, Dr. Kapadia too, probably. But, while we all fucked like Bobo the bunny back then, it was all revolutionary hunger burning through us. It didn’t mean anything, and I’d be hard-pressed to remember any of their names to go along with their bodies.
Then came the rebuilding of society. I mean, killing or imprisoning almost every executive was emotionally satisfying for those of us down in the mailrooms of corporate America, don’t get me wrong, but it did leave a power vacuum. So there was a lot of time spent on ensuring that the new people who were going to lead were better than who had led before, and all of the minutiae of that meant the revolution sex was over. I didn’t have a lot to actually do with the minutiae; I was hardly a high-level player in the uprising. Still, I watched a lot of CNN those years, and it took me away from Grindr.
This means that I have been mostly celibate since 2020. Sure, I’ll meet a guy over drinks and take him back to the apartment, but you know what? I’m thirty, and I want a relationship. I want a man to love, a person to belong to and for him to belong to me. I want to talk about work and life and the bad TV that we’re watching together. I want really good sex, and married sex, and the sex that you have when you’re getting over the flu, and I want all that sex to be with the same person. I deserve that.
Devon was my last real chance for that. I wanted someone to cling to during the revolution and the rebuilding and the last few boring years, where I had spent more time thinking about the living room’s rug colors than I had thought about the rightness of the world. I wanted to be solid with someone.
I wanted to kiss Devon under the mistletoe on Christmas Eve 2015, and I wanted him to be my partner through all the craziness of the last ten years. And I was going to make that happen. Rule #3: I am not important to history, and I can make all the freaking changes I want. Woo-hoo!
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