Two Steps Back

October 13, 2007

I spent a year in training being told that under no circumstances should I do anything that might significantly affect the future.

I followed those instructions for about three days.

It actually could have been shorter but it took me a while to figure out how I could change the thing despite overshooting our target by 235 days. Since it involved breaking and entering and hacking I won’t be writing the details here. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. Their own plan of using foreknowledge of the stock market and sports results to make money could affect history in unknown ways too. In fact, just being here taking up an apartment that could otherwise house somebody else can change their life. And since what I did only possibly affected Tom, I don’t see the big deal.

Which reminds me, I’m still not used to people calling me Shaun. Obviously I can’t use my real name, but it’s going to take some time before I assume that people saying Shaun are talking to me instead of someone else.

February 15, 2008

So I managed to not warn everybody in my neighborhood about the stock market peaking in October. Go me. I can’t imagine what I’d have done if we had tried to send me back two decades instead of one. Could I have survived 2000 without going to Florida to teach elderly people how to vote? Or warn people not to go to the World Trade Center the year after? At least there aren’t too many critical events over the next decade, except for the disastrous 2016 election. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that president again for almost another nine years.

At least I can get a smartphone these days. Sure, it’s a first generation iPhone, but at least I don’t have to deal with a flip phone with no internet access (or a landline *shudder*). I could have brought a more advanced phone with me, but what’s the point of brining an LTE phone if LTE networks won’t be up for another couple of years?

December 16, 2008

It’s amazing how effective one small change can make. Tom’s junior year is certainly more productive than mine was. History club, working on student theater productions, two different girlfriends in three months… it’s astounding what you can do when you aren’t sitting in your room alone trying to recover from yet another agonizing day. Mind you, his friend counts on Facebook are still low (and he can’t seem to keep a girlfriend for more than three weeks), but not running away from every opportunity means it’s higher than mine was. But looking at somebody’s Facebook page (helped by knowing what password they’re using) only gives what somebody wants to present to the world, so I have no idea if this is actually making him any happier than I was.

I’m quite content with how things are going now for me though. By spreading out my gambling on several different sites, and by picking enough losers not to get banished but not enough to give me a loss, I have enough income that I don’t need to work. That gives me a lot of free time. Even today I think to myself “I should catch up something” before remembering that that particular something doesn’t come out for another four or so years. But Netflix has a streaming library now, and it’s still full of things I want to watch and will get better as time goes on. I also have enough money for DVD sets and albums (either digital or, heh, CDs), which I obviously didn’t have when I was living in a run-down apartment on a minimum wage job. There are many things that are available to buy, and for everything else there’s torrents.

November 1, 2009

It appears that Tom has decided to apply to a rather prestigious liberal arts college. Moreover, he says he’s applying to be a history major. I’m assuming his parents have assured him that they’ll help pay for that school and the inevitable graduate studies needed to make him employable. But I suppose it’s better than struggling to complete a degree that’s marketable but you aren’t any good in and drop out of college in frustration. This is all assuming that he gets in to that college, since I was rejected by a school with slightly less selectivity and I believe he has similar SAT scores and grades (for the first two years of high school anyway).

He’s finally managed to find a girlfriend that will put up for him for more than three weeks, as he’s been going out with his current one for eight months now. If I remember correctly, she ended up going to a top college several states away. I kind of hope their relationship isn’t close enough for her to decide to give up that opportunity to be closer to Tom.

But hey, for now it’s nice that one of us has companionship. I’m still wary of forming a long-term relationship because that would be a major change in another person’s timeline. It could prevent somebody from being born because their mother was dating me instead of meeting their father. Then again, every relationship you form causes a potential person not to be born anyway. I guess I still haven’t accepted the fact that this is a new timeline and everyone that I knew is in an alternate timeline… or dead.

December 4, 2010

Surprisingly, Tom isn’t doing any extracurriculars for freshman year of college. I guess it’s because he doesn’t realize that the ones in high school were the main reason he got into the college in the first place, because apparently extracirriculars are magic for college applications (and, I assume, for just-out-of-college resumes). Maybe he’ll get a job next semester or next year. Judging from the pictures he’s posting he’s having a very fun time there as a single man with few responsibilities, so maybe he’ll choose to do nothing.

I have abandoned my previous aversion to starting relationships. I’m not seeing anyone right now, as I just broke up with someone two weeks ago.  I have a small group of friends I go out with sometimes; I don’t go out as much as Tom, but I have an active life. My finances are still stable, despite getting banned from half of the nation’s gambling institutions, since I can make money on the stock market now. Quite a lot, as it turns out. Despite having no family, or old friends, I’m much more satisfied than I was back in 2018.

May 7, 2011

Tom died in a car accident this afternoon. And no, I am not currently dissolving into the ether, that isn’t how time travel (apparently) works. I’m still not sure where he was going, but in any event it was somewhere I didn’t go that time today. It’s going to be hell explaining this when I have to report back in seven years.

I’m going to have to defend my decision to change the course of Tom’s life. It I hadn’t intervened, he would likely be alive. But I know what his life in those years would have been like. Not wanting to leave your own bed, not wanting to meet new (or old) people, and constantly feeling dead inside. For all I know, he was feeling those things anyway, since I couldn’t get inside his head and so many seemingly happy people have hidden demons. Maybe he even caused the car accident, consciously or unconsciously. But despite any potential problems, he was able to fight through it and lead a full life. Not me. I ran away from friends, potential partners, college, and many other opportunities. It resulted in me living in a terrible apartment making very little money with a terrible job, which was still an improvement over living in my parent’s basement. And I ran nearly eleven years into the past through a device that could have easily killed me to get away from that.

So, do I regret doing it? No, although his (or, really, our) parents might disagree. It was better to give him a chance at several years of living a good life than a waste of a decade. I don’t have to wonder if my life would have been different if I changed that one thing, I know it would. It also taught me that I can do things I didn’t think I could, because I watched myself do them. And if Tom had the ability have a life with fulfilling relationships and achievement, then so do I.