This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 859 words.
Two minutes after Emily had walked through the blue light, a woman appeared in the portal and walked into the room. She looked to be about thirty years old, full figured, and very attractive. Her clothing was a long dress, in a shiny bronze-coloured material. Roger took some steps back, and she raised her hand.
“Don’t be afraid, sir. It is just me, but at a different time in my life. If you want proof I can name some of my classmates at your school, or recite my last homework essay. I just wanted to show you what I have told you is true. This is me at a stage of my life that you might recognise as being forty years old, but in my world that is only a fraction of my life expectancy. I would be considered young, almost childish by your standards. Let’s go into the living room, and I will tell you more”.
There was no sign of Yamada, and the older version of Emily sat down next to him on the sofa.
“I will go through some of the basics for you, and I am sure you will be able to picture my time. There are no parents as you know them. Babies are born in laboratories using eggs and sperm taken from suitable candidates. There are no birth defects, no hereditary diseases, and there is strict control of genetics and gender. Every racial type is preserved, and only so many of the babies are allowed to grow to full term in each cycle. The resources are limited, and must be preserved. Over-population would be disastrous. The babies not integrated into the population are used to provide stem cells to prolong the lives of those that are, and those who go full term are cared for in special nurseries, tended by robotic nursing staff. The population of Earth is strictly controlled by mutual agreement. Just enough to continue our research, and to allow us to progress into our uncertain future”.
Roger was rubbing his head in his hands, and Emily paused to let him recover his wits.
“Because there are no animals, we exist on a vegetarian diet, supplemented by nutritional aids. There is no crime or violence, so no police are required. There are no wars, so no armies are necessary. It is a life of contemplation, almost monastic in practice. There is no marriage, no sex between genders, so no jealousy, no frustration, and anger is almost unknown. One thing that makes it difficult for us when we travel is having to endure spitefulness, bad temper, anger, and occasionally violence. None of us have experienced any of this where we come from. It can be a terrible shock. In fact, it has caused many travellers to return after a few days, never wanting to go back in time again”.
He wanted to know why they travelled back in time at all, when they already knew what had happened. She grinned.
“Why do people in this time want to go on holiday to foreign countries, when they can see what they are like on television? Why do people travel to Paris to see The Mona Lisa, when they can see a picture of it in a magazine? Why visit a zoo to see a lion when so many films and TV shows have already showed you what they look like? It is curiosty, and a desire to experience the difference. We live in individual units, just large enough for our needs. We rarely meet other people, as we can communicate electronically. There is no desire to travel within our own time, as every underground city complex is identical, and the surface of the planet is too dangerous to go out onto. So we seek our gratification and life experience by travelling back in time. That is one of the main reasons that our elders spent so long developing the structure to make it possible. And when you can spend a year watching the Norman invasion of England, and return home when only a few moments have passed, who would not want to be able to do that?”
He wanted to know how they financed their world of the future. She thought about that before answering.
“There is no fiscal structure. The machinery is self-perpetuating, and maintained by robotic droids that can exist on the surface. Food and clothing is made and issued by different automatons as and when needed. There is no alcohol, no tobacco, no fashion industry, and no charge for accommodation or electricity to run our lives. Once personal possessions and wealth were pointless, greed ceased to exist. When there is nothing to steal, crime does not exist. Our lives are simply lived in the pursuit of knowledge, with the idea that humans will never make the same mistakes they are making now. And one day, there might be hope of some kind of return to culture and innovation. But as things stand, nobody in my time feels the need for change”.
She stood up. “I am going to return to my eleven year old self now, I won’t be gone long”.