This is a short story I wrote a while ago…and I was working today on powerpoint, and I couldn’t help but think someone went back in time and fucked it up.
——————————- Ketchup Packages ————————————————-
“I’m thinking of getting one of those time machines…You know those time machines they’re selling now? I’ve heard things about them. I can’t tell if they work.”
“Don’t get a time machine.”
“Why? I hear they work. It would be pretty cool to go back in time. I don’t know. How could they work? It just seems like a gimmick. It’s a lot of money for something that might not work.”
“They work. Just don’t bother with it. Don’t fuckin’ get one. It’s a waste of money.”
“They work? What about all those people saying it’s a scam? How do you know?”
The man sighed and shrugged, he had wanted to avoid the story.
“I had one. It takes you back alright. Just, it’s not what you think.”
“What do you mean?”
“All these people that say it doesn’t work are idiots. They thought you could like walk around and talk to people.”
“No, fuck, you can’t do shit unless you spend a lot of time there, in the past or whatever.”
“Well what’s it like? Why do you say it isn’t worth the money? I mean, holy shit, you’re in the past!”
“Listen, it’s not like that exactly. Who knows what the fuck is going on when you go in that thing. The science isn’t there yet. But I can say that you go into the past or something like it, because when you come out, things are different.”
“Like what? What is different?”
“Okay, look at this.”
He held up a packet of ketchup. They are at a diner, eating hamburgers.
“What about it?”
“See, you think this is the way it has always been.”
The other man chuckles.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“This is exactly what I’m talking about.”
“What? You’re not making any sense.”
“This!” he shakes the ketchup in the air.
“What about it? It’s a fucking ketchup packet. So what?”
“Exactly, look how shitty it is.”
“It does the trick.”
“It’s shit. It’s shit, and I hate it.”
“Calm down man, it’s just ketchup. Who cares?”
“Look, they used to be better. They were always shitty, but this…This is fucking awful.”
“What, so you went back in time and made ketchup packages worse? Are you kidding me? Fuck, you’re so full of shit.”
The man was serious, and drew a long breath ending in another sigh.
“I’m going to tell you what I did. I got one of those machines, and poked around. I tried to change something, but it doesn’t really make sense at first.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Look, just listen. You get into that machine, and it takes you to the past. You don’t physically go, I don’t think. But you can move a…a like game screen, like playing a video game, it’s weird. I don’t know. That’s why everyone thinks they are fake. But listen. I played around with it for a while, and I figured out how to use it.”
“So you don’t go to the past?”
“No, well I think you can look at it, and you can change things once you figure it out. I bet they set it up like that on purpose, to keep people from fucking things up. But look, nobody would know, because the changes happen, and everybody thinks it’s just the way it has been, because it is, in a way, after you change something.”
“They set it up so that you can look but not touch, sort of thing?”
“Yeah…but I figured out that touching bit.”
“I bet you did.”
“Shut up. I’m serious. You don’t touch things, you fuck around with some code and you change the scope of influence on the machine. So like, just by observing, you change things.”
A pause. The other man is confused and thinks it is all bullshit.
“Look, I went in that machine, and looked. Usually that’s all you can do, but the picture is shit, so I played around with it to get a better picture. But when you do that, and you watch people, they act differently.”
“Wait, why do they need a machine then? Why not just a screen?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think it would work, I mean, you sense things too when you’re in the machine. It’s like the matrix. Uh, but not really. I guess. That’s probably, too, why people don’t think it works. You don’t get to walk around and shit, you don’t use your body. It’s like you can’t go back with much, just some shit that already exists in the past. Like, that’s also why people can’t go back to the dinosaur times.”
“I don’t follow. What is it?”
“The machine connects to things that are man made, that have some sort of property that allows a connection. So, the more recent the history, the more places and stuff you can connect to, just because we know how to hook up to stuff that is man made, there is a signature or something. Also, there isn’t much of a database for you to look at different places and times and such that you can go to. You have to sort of figure out from the manual what works.”
“Yeah, anyway, I tried to change it a bit. I found out where ketchup packages were made. Something about the first couple of factories made them pretty good places to connect with.”
“So what did you do exactly?”
“I just kind of tried to see better, and then…I like came back and all the ketchup packages were this shit.”
“So what did you actually do?”
“I don’t fucking know, but these piss me off so much that I stopped.”
The other man laughed.
“What the fuck? You’re full of shit.”
“I’m not lying to you. I just quit. I don’t think you can do much with that machine, and probably you can just make things worse. So fuck it.”
“So that’s it?”
“Yeah, fuck it.”