Nature Futures 2

Nature Futures 2 by Colin Sullivan Read Free Book Online

Book: Nature Futures 2 by Colin Sullivan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Colin Sullivan
the far past. Good thing he couldn’t see the city rubble, too. Or realize this was how I made my living.
    His mouth twisted in surprise. “You do? I thought I might be the first to come here. To this time.”
    I gave him a raised eyebrow. “No. There was another last week.”
    â€œReally? The professor said the other experiments failed. They couldn’t prove they’d been into the future at all.”
    They always want to talk, though they’d learn more with their mouths closed.
    He rattled on, “I have to take something back, to show I was here. Something —”
    â€œHow about this?” I pulled out a slim metal cylinder. “Apply it to your neck five times a day and it extracts cancer precursors. In your era, that will extend your average lifetime by several years.”
    His eyebrows shot up. “Wow! Sure —” He reached for it but I snatched it back.
    â€œWhat do I get in exchange?” I said mildly.
    That startled him. “What? I don’t have anything you could use…” He searched his pockets in the old fashioned wide-label jacket. “How about money?” A fistful of bills.
    â€œI’m not a collector, and those are worthless now, inflated away in value.”
    The time jaunter blinked. “Look, this is one of the first attempts to jump forward and back. I don’t have —”
    â€œI know, we’ve seen jaunters from your era already. Enough to set up a barter system. That’s why I had this cancer-canceller.”
    Confusion swarmed in his face. “Lady, I’m just a guinea pig here. A volunteer. They didn’t give me —”
    I pointed. “Your watch is a pleasant anachronism, I’ll take that.” I gave him the usual ceramic smile.
    He sighed with relief. “Great —” But I kept the cylinder away from him.
    â€œThat’s an opener offer, not the whole deal.” A broader smile.
    He glanced around, distracted by my outfit. I always wore it when the chron-senser networks said there was a jaunt about to happen. Their old dress styles were classic, so they weren’t prepared for my peekaboo leggings, augmented breasts and perfectly symmetric face. The lipstick was outrageous for our time, but fit right into the twenty-first century kink.
    He raised a flat ceramic thing and it whirred. Taking pictures, like the rest. They still hadn’t learned, whenever this guy came from.
    â€œYour pictures won’t develop,” I told him with a seemingly sympathetic smile.
    â€œHuh? They gave me this —”
    â€œYou’ve heard of time paradoxes, yes? Space-time resolves those nicely. You can’t take back knowledge that alters the past. All that gets erased automatically, a kind of information cleansing. Very convenient physics.”
    Startled, he glanced at his compact camera. “So … it’ll be blank?”
    â€œYes,” I said crisply. My left eye told me the chron-senser network was picking up an approaching closure. I leaned over and kissed him on the mouth. “Thanks! It’s such a thrill to meet someone from the ancient times.”
    That shook him even more. Best to keep them off balance.
    â€œSo how do I get that cancer thing?” he said, eyes squinting with a canny cast.
    â€œLet me have your clothes,” I shot back.
    â€œWhat? You want me … naked?”
    â€œI can use them as antiques. That cancer stick is pretty expensive, so I’m giving you a good deal.”
    He nodded and started shucking off his coat, pants, shoes, wallet, coins, cash, set of keys. Reached for his shorts —
    â€œNever mind the underwear.”
    â€œOh.” He handed me the bundle and I gave him the cancer stick. “Hey, thanks. I’ll be back. We just wanted to see if —”
    Pop . He vanished. The cancer stick rattled on the ground. It was just a prop, of course. Cancer was even worse now.
    They never caught

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