Kevin was having a bad day. It was March 2023 and he’d just failed another exam at the university in London where his father was forcing him to study finance.
Kevin didn’t want to go to university, he didn’t want to study finance and he didn’t want to work at his father’s bank one day. He didn’t want to work anywhere, and why should he? His family was rich and that meant he was rich too.
He stopped at the notice board to see where the next party was. He needed to go to a party and forget all about the exam, and his father. But another notice got his attention. It said, “Trip of a lifetime, all expenses paid!” and had a phone number.
“Trip of a lifetime,” thought Kevin. “That’s exactly what I need.” He called the number and an old man answered and introduced himself as Professor Smith. He asked Kevin a series of questions, about his life, his interests, his ambitions. “To have a good time,” Kevin answered, honestly.
“Great,” said Professor Smith, “you sound like the perfect candidate.” He gave Kevin an address and told him to come.
The address was for an abandoned warehouse near the university. Kevin hesitated for a moment and then went inside, where Professor Smith was waiting. Beside him were two glass pods.
“I hope this isn’t some type of scam,” said Kevin.
“I assure you it’s perfectly legit,” said Professor Smith. “I promised you the trip of a lifetime and that’s what I'm offering you.”
“A trip to where?” asked Kevin, still sceptical.
“Back in time,” said the professor, and invited Kevin to enter one of the glass pods.
Kevin laughed. “You expect me to believe this is some sort of… time machine?”
“That’s exactly what it is. Now, I am obliged to inform you it’s a one-way trip. No coming back. If you agree to it, I’ll send you back just a few years, to the early 1980s.”
“That’s a more than a few years,” said Kevin, who was born in 2005. “That’s a lifetime.”
“You’re young, so yes. But you don’t want to go back too far, do you, to a world without electricity or automobiles? Think about it…”
And Kevin did think about it, not entirely believing Professor Smith but still considering the prospect of what he was offering and what it would mean for him: no more exams, no father, no pressure. He’d be a time-traveller, a man from the future. He’d practically be a god!
“OK, let’s do it,” said Kevin. “If you can...”
A moment later, Kevin felt a jolt, and then the professor and the other pod were gone, and he was alone in the same warehouse, which was now full of cargo.
“What the…?” Kevin went outside, where everything looked the same, but different. The first thing he noticed were the old-fashioned cars, and then he noticed the old-fashioned clothes people were wearing, not just old-fashioned but from the 1980s. The professor had been telling the truth. He was back in the 1980s, and now instead of a failing student, he was a time-traveller!
The first thing he did was ask people for directions to the offices of the BBC. Fortunately he could walk to — because he didn’t have any money, only credit cards from his time. There, he introduced himself as a time-traveller from 2023, but everyone ignored him.
“Prove it, then,” said one of them.
Kevin told them about future events and people, but they just laughed some more and told him to leave.
And this is how Kevin’s life continued, in poverty and misery, as he tried to convince everyone he was a time-traveller. But how could he prove it?
He had presumed he could recreate films and songs from the future, but discovered he couldn’t replicate the works of art he knew. He couldn't write a film script, and although he could write down the song lyrics he remembered, he couldn’t sing or write music or play an instrument — so nobody took him seriously as a songwriter.
He didn’t know how to invent the technology that would soon change the world. And nobody listened when he predicted world events, except once, when the MI6 investigated him after he did a YouTube video accurately predicting a terrorist attack.
He tried contacting his family but when he went to his childhood home, his parents called the police. He even met himself once, and realized what a horrible child he was.
And then finally the day he’d been waiting for came. It was March 2023 and Kevin, now an old man, was back in the warehouse with Professor Smith, who was sitting in the remaining pod and didn’t look surprised to see him.
Kevin intended to murder Professor Smith for destroying his life, so after telling him everything he’d endured, he held up a gun to shoot him.
Professor Smith smiled. “I understand your frustration,” he said. “But we needed to know what would happen if we sent back an idiot who could have minimal influence on the future, if it was true that by changing one thing, we change everything; or that, if a time-traveller encounters their younger self, they initiate some sort of time-space crisis. Now we have the answers we need, and we thank you for your contribution to time-travel. I’m returning to the future, goodbye.”
Kevin shot his gun but the bullet bounced off the pod, and then the pod, and Professor Smith, were gone.