© 2020, Michael William Clark. All rights reserved.

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From last time

Jayson finally kept quiet and served Louis coffee at the table. Sipping himself awake over a large, steaming cup, Louis reflected on his recently perfected time-travel ability, wondering where it might take him and what he might become.

And the latest installment!

Catching glimpses of other times and places is one thing; uncontrolled trips are harrowing; but traveling fully embodied and empowered is a scientific, spiritual, and historical breakthrough! 

So went Louis’ thoughts as the coffee knocked the cobwebs out of his brain. 

A little later and fully awake, Louis left for work and assumed his outdoor persona as he touched the lock with his index finger. He could, of course, just speak to the door. Voice-facial recognition was sophisticated enough to discern frauds from valid users. But he preferred the old fashioned way of using fingerprint recognition.

It was quieter.

A new aroma wafted through the hall. Something like Indian curry mixed with bubble gum. His neighbor was a professional chef. Every day Louis was forced to inhale her latest creation.

Louis realized he couldn’t talk about his time trip with his colleagues at the museum. Thrilled as he was, he’d have to content himself with scholarly discussions about ancient bones and relics. But that was okay. He liked his job. For the past five years, he’d been the curator of the Royal Ontario Museum. It paid the bills.

But like most other government institutions the ROM was plagued with corruption. The “system,” as it was euphemistically called, extended its tainted tendrils into everywhere and just about everyone.

If Louis spoke of his journey to even his most trusted colleagues, chances are his confidences would be betrayed before long. Louis’ rule of thumb was: If you tell one person, you’ve told everyone. So trust no-one but yourself.

Considering he worked in a museum, his need for secrecy was ironic. He now knew more about the Neolithic period than all the archaeologists in existence could ever learn from their tedious excavations and fossil tracings. But the narrow-mindedness and moral depravity of some of his academic contemporaries demanded his silence.

In the 23rd century even scholarly activity – once a noble pursuit – had succumbed to the blind, maniacal quest for worldly power and acquisition. No-one cared about advancing knowledge too much. The deepest concern of the 23rd century academic was to build up a grand reputation. Morality scarcely existed. The unofficial, dual motto of the 23rd century academic was:

Will it hurt me?

Will it help me?

And with brazenly criminal scholars, a burning question continually flamed through their demented minds: “Will I get caught?” and the sometimes related, “Will my partner find out?” “Will I have to kill them too?”

Such were the guiding principles of those warped savants involved in interplanetary prostitution, human trafficking, drug running, illegal arms sales, terrorism and complex money laundering operations.

Sadly, this was the way of the world in the 23rd century. Or rather, the way of the worlds. For the moon and Mars were significantly colonized.

With all this unfortunate wisdom under his belt, Louis had made his underground commute and entered the Museum, its sleek sides spanning upward beyond his line of sight.

He recalled the words of T. S. Eliot.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang, but with a whimper

Louis mused that “The Hollow Men” might have been a prophecy and not just a poem as he walked through his office door.

© 2020, Michael William Clark. All rights reserved.

Did you miss part of the story? Find it here!