Saturday, January 11, 2014

Date Is In Past

This is a short story I came up with after one too many customers at work gave me a delivery date for 2013.

Date is in Past

Sandra awakened to the dulcet sounds of someone pounding on her door. Not the best way to start a Saturday, she thought to herself as she struggled into consciousness. She had no idea who could possibly want to bother her this early on the weekend, and her imagination went to all sorts of bad places before a chipper voice behind the door announced, “Package for Ms. Drescoe!”

“A package,” Sandra moaned. “I didn't order anything.” She certain didn't order anything to be delivered on a Saturday, nor would she unless, say, a life was a stake. A life she happened to be fond of. Still, she reasoned, deliveryfolks are paid not to look mortified at a grown woman wearing pajamas and bunny slippers, so she might as well get it over with.

“Tachyon Shipping!” the eager young man, who clearly somehow missed out on the memo that people should be sleeping at this hour, said as she opened the door. “Here you are, ma'am!”

Sandra took the package and peered at it suspiciously. “Tachyon shipping?” she said. “I never heard of you.”

“Nor would you, ma'am,” the deliveryman said. “We haven't been created yet.”

“I'm sorry, what?” Sandra asked. She was tired, but not that tired. “That doesn't make any sense. How could you deliver a package if your company doesn't exist?”

“Doesn't exist YET, ma'am,” he clarified. “We are around when you placed this order. In fact, we were the only company able to place your order on the requested date.” At this, he handed Sandra the order sheet.

After looking it over, Sandra recognized her signature, but the dates seemed odd. “Delivery date: January 11th, 2014. Order placed, January 7, 2015. Huh?”

“That's correct, ma'am. About a year from now, you will place this order to deliver to your past self. Or your present self, as you understand it,” he explained. “Don't worry, a lot of our customers are confused about this, what with them not having placed their orders yet.”

“But why ...” Sandra began, before it dawned on her. Oh, of course. Her future self (she was still way too tired to question that statement,) must have meant to place it for January 11th, 2015. Sandra did this all the time. Every time a new year came along, it would take her at least a month before she remembered to fix that on dates. “Come on, surely you must have thought it was a typo.”

The deliveryman shook his head. “Ma'am, we don't ask questions, we just deliver the orders,” he said.

Sandra gave up on arguing. Reason should never be applied on the weekend before noon, anyway. She opened the package to reveal a copy of a movie. One that wouldn't come out for another ten months.

Now, Sandra's mind got coffeed up. “Do you realize the possibilities I could do with this?” she asked herself. “I could send myself winning lottery numbers, stock tips, anything. Or at least bootleg a copy of this movie before it even comes out.”

The deliveryman took a few cautious steps back. “I wouldn't recommend it, ma'am,” he insisted. “Profit-based time travel is made illegal in 2085, and the time regulators have been given retroactive authority. Besides, most people find it difficult to pay the delivery fees and still come out ahead.”

“What delivery fees?” Sandra asked, but he just held up a bill. One with more zeroes than Sandra had ever seen in life. To be paid upon delivery. Not even seeing her (she assumed) new favorite movie a year in advance would be worth that. She tossed the package back at the deliveryman, slammed the door shut, and immediately made two new years resolutions. First, she would be much more careful when ordering packages from now on. Secondly, she would somehow find a way to punch her future self in the face.

Meanwhile, the deliveryman sighed. Yet another deadbeat. Eh, well. They always paid eventually, or at least their great to the nth power descendents did, though by then, inflation made the bill little more than pocket change. But that would be a problem for the billing department. He had to worry about his next delivery.

“Let's see, deliver to Mr. Chester Jenkins, or his closest previous of kin, January 11th, 15.” 15? Maybe the customer just shortened the date, but as an employee of Tachyon Shipping, he couldn't take that chance. Great. The ancient Romans made for the most demanding customers. And they were really lousy tippers.

1 comment:

  1. I like the twist at the end. Makes it much more humorous than the story I wrote eons ago that also used a [very small] back-in-time motion. I called it "October the 31st is too early" as an homage to Fred Hoyle's classic scifi novel "October the First Is Too Early," although even at the time, I don't think many people caught the reference.