Department of Bad Trips

“Refrigerator Time Machine”

by Sarah M, Blood

 

Hugh opened the door to his time machine and felt the cold air.  It was a hot day, and he enjoyed lingering in the cool blast.  He knew, of course, that this was wasteful.  In fact, it had always been wasteful, even before time machines.

 

Now, of course, the technology was widespread.  You could get the discount model at Super Buy for ninety-nine dollars.  He pictured the Super Buy ad layout, red, white, and blue holiday sale, standard time machine refrigeration unit, ninety-nine dollars, in small print, with rebate.  An ice maker, however, that would run extra.  All modern refrigerators were also time machines, but only the top models made ice.

 

Of course, with the advent of the refrigerator time machine there were new concerns.  Expiration dates, although robbed of their threat, became crucially important.  Hugh tugged at his beard, remembering the time that the milk date had been smudged off the carton.  He had spent all afternoon, adjusting the time, sniffing the milk, adjusting again.  By the time it was un-soured he had lost his appetite for milk and cookies.  A less determined person would have considered that quart of milk to be lost.  Lost in time.

 

If a pre-time travel individual were to stand where Hugh stood they would undoubtedly ask, “Refrigerator time machine?  Why, why a refrigerator?” shaking their heads and bemoaning the stupidity of future generations.

 

For Hugh, however, as for all other citizens of the present, there was a much more pressing and relevant question to ask, which was, “What’s for dinner?”

 

While technology had changed significantly, the changes to food were much more subtle.  His eyes were drawn to a bag of red, ridged stalks.  Celery was now red to match the logo for the celery farming company.  This made it look like overgrown rhubarb, but it tasted the same as always, like nothing, nice crunch though.

 

Tiny moisture drops were accumulating on the plastic bag full of celery, and it looked moldy.  Oh well, thought Hugh.  That was easy enough to fix.

 

He adjusted his glasses and looked at the large analog dial on the front of the machine.  It seemed strange that the dial wasn’t digital, but there was a growing nostalgia for all things analog.  Gripping the dial in his right hand, he rotated backwards until the arrow pointed to two days ago.  Then, he opened the door.  The condensation was gone, and the celery looked farm fresh, red and crunchy.

 

Using a paper towel and a single knife, he spread peanut butter onto the celery.  Then he looked at his sink and sighed.  Forty knives had collected, each of them covered in decaying peanut butter.  Then he looked away.  Looking away was the easiest solution.  Then he realized what he really needed, what he wished he could have.  Hugh sighed scraping peanut butter off his teeth with his tongue.  He closed his eyes and thought to himself, If only I had a dishwasher.

 

 

“My Digital Reality”

by Eric Suhem

 

Day 1

I love gadgets. That is, anything high-tech, cutting-edge. I keep up on all the latest developments in Silicon Valley. My blog is state-of-the-art, monitoring the newest innovations on the technological frontier. Needless to say, I am plugged in 24×7!

 

I work at a company called DigiGrab, and we are one of the leaders in the field. I am testing a new digital camera, as part of a beta program for one of our vendors. I take pictures with this new camera, and the cool thing is, whatever I take a picture of disappears, replaced only by the digital photo in my camera! If I delete that photo, it’s like the subject never existed!

 

Day 2

I took the digital camera to the art museum. Unfortunately, there were some other people in the gallery. It seems that they wanted to just look at the art, to linger over it. They were in my way, preventing me from getting a clear shot. Eventually, I managed to weave my way through, and I got some direct lines at the paintings. Indeed, as soon as I clicked the shutter button, the paintings disappeared, replaced only by the image in my camera. I was excited about the beta program results we’d be reporting to the upper-level management at DigiGrab!

 

I had been patient, but the people continued to get in my way. I had told myself I wouldn’t do this, but couldn’t resist taking the picture of a particularly loud, obstructive man. As with the paintings, he quickly disappeared. I took pictures of others: that languorous woman in a hat, the hyperactive child with a popsicle, the badgering senior citizen in a wheelchair, the lemur that had wandered into the museum and was now clawing at my leg. They all vanished, reappearing only in the view screen of my digital camera. I reviewed their images, and, finding them disagreeable, deleted them to my camera’s trash bin.

 

I left the museum and walked down the street, taking pictures of some of the exciting new gadgets and electronics in the store windows. When I got home, I snapped a shot of my fruit bowl, which soon disappeared into the camera. My curiosity got the best of me, and I had my wife take a picture of me in front of my house. The camera executed flawlessly, causing me and my house to disappear, replaced only by a digital photo and an empty dirt lot, where the house used to be. My wife’s smartphone rang. She picked up the phone and read my text message: “I’m surrounded by the subjects of my digital photos: great paintings, the people from the museum who had annoyed me at first but now have become good friends, the lemur chewing on my leg, the electronic gadgets, the pears from my fruit bowl. I like it better here in the digital universe.” And indeed I do.

 

Day 3

Inevitably, the batteries of the digital camera started to run down. My wife elected not to recharge them. She viewed my image one more time on the camera view screen, but the power flickered, and I slow..ly….wen…t……..a….wa…y…………

 

Day 4

Now I’m in the middle of nothing. Not even a cold, dark speck of dust. Just desolation, a void, an extinguishing spark of zero. Blankness rises from the east, disintegration appears from the west. The winds blow emptiness right and left. I set up a little stand in the midst of nothingness, just to be here. The stand has nothing to offer, nothing to sell. It is desolate, in the middle of null. A cloud drifts up to my stand, and I ask it if it has any batteries.

 

“No, but I like your minimalist aesthetic,” says the cloud, before vanishing back into the nothingness.

 

I stare out into the barren emptiness, and feel pleased. This is the way I like it. Nothing has happened yet. It’s all new, free, clear, except for the lemur chewing on my leg, it is always there. My identity is a blank slate that I can redefine. I await a new technology.

 

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