Foresight – a Flash Forward Fiction Story

by on November 11th, 2010
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They often called it the New Lottery, where hitting the jackpot could guarantee you millions. Decades ago poor saps had frequented convenience stores for their lotto fix, forking over cash to scratch those state-supplied tickets. They hoped, varying between curious boredom and painful desperation, that their coin or fingernail would reveal that they had won money. People at home could flip on the television and watch reality shows about the men and women who had won the jackpot and then lost everything. Hope turned to anxiety turned to bankruptcy.

Then NASA and the October Corporation discovered how to read manipulations between space and time and could see the future. It was the biggest news story for three months straight, crowding out the death of an ex-President, a Pope, and three growing wars on two continents. Computers crunched petabytes of data as satellites could peer through black holes and stream broadcasts from our future selves.

So much data, so little time. The whole Internet of the future could be seen, if you had enough time. What secrets could be learned? Maybe you could find out something about your future that could help you today, turning you into a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or maybe it was the information from a multiverse, a parallel universe, and you could actually change your future? It mattered not – people would pay through the nose to assauge their curiosity.

But you had to pay big, and there were no guarantees. Like the lottery. Or insurance. Wealthy people played the New Lottery, paying under-the-table for corporate data-crunchers at October Corp. to hack into their NASA partner’s computers and search for information.

Rumors flowed that billionaires had gotten their secrets this way, seeing news headlines from forty years out about their CEO banquet luncheons to celebrate new inventions. Politicians dumped mistresses after seeing scandals played out on CNN and MSNBC and Fox News from years ahead. Militaries dropped drones and doubled up on boots on the ground when they saw how drones could be hacked and returned to sender, only then delivering their deadly payloads.

Presidents, captains of industry, celebrities, and old money got in on the New Lottery despite the fact that it was against the law to do so. The Black Hole FNC7114 Digital Stream Information Protection Act, passed by the 119th Congress, made it illegal to access the streaming news from the future. But the stakes were too big. NASA and October Corp. were bribed hundreds of times over, by everyone.

Thirteen members of the 119th Congress were later arrested for violating the Act, as were a dozen NASA administrators and six sub-vice-presidents of the October Corporation. Arrests piled up nationwide, then worldwide. A tell-all book by a President’s ex-wife insisted that the man in the Oval Office had played the New Lottery several times, doubling down to the tune of some $40 million payments from his billionaire father’s trust funds.

Despite these allegations, he won re-election easily when he defeated the Islamic Republic of Iran in a near-bloodless war, his generals and admirals seeming to know exactly where every Revolutionary Guard position was during the first days of surgical strikes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jimmy Smits had a rough life. He was a low-paid police detective in a west Texas city that had somehow turned into Las Vegas of the southwest. The New Lottery had done it, he knew. There had been so much oil money when NASA announced to the world their amazing discovery that any number of oil barons must’ve played the game. Plenty of rumors flowed throughout the police station, but there was no motivation to investigate. It was, after all, federal jurisdiction.

Smits’ heart pounded in the break room, though it seemed irrational to be worked up. Surely the man in Interrogation Room C was lying. Spinning yarns. Telling tall tales. Offering up false information to try to throw the detectives.

The man, intoxicated on any number of illegal substances, was handcuffed to the steel desk as he alternated between ranting and sobbing about the wife he had murdered at the Hilton hotel downtown. The fellow had no ID, but was dressed in expensive, fashionable clothes and appeared to be in his early forties. Handsome features, rather pale, the fat likely kept off by an all-inclusive gym membership.

When detectives Barnes and Noble left Interrogation Room C to get some files and additional paperwork, Smits had been left alone with the suspect. The man, suddenly more lucid, smiled up at the scowling detective and said “I’ve got something you want.”

“Really? Why don’t you tell me?”

The man wheezed, said he worked for October Corporation, then said two unmistakable words. “Login and password,” he said, before beginning to sob once more about the dead wife, whose name was apparently Ashley.

Moments later, the man passed out. He was on his way to the hospital now, under police guard, and might die of an overdose within the hour. Smits could not forget his words, so his heart pounded with temptation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jimmy Smits sat alone at his computer, staring at a screen that featured the October Corporation homepage.

Login:

Password:

Did he dare?


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