I remembered I had the first 5 chapters of this story complete, and after seeing all the comments from my other story, I thought I would post this one as well to give myself a buffer to my other story, so it doesn’t feel like it’s getting stale. So, enjoy!
The Accidental Time Traveler
The year is 2051. Humanity was ravaged by war, famine and the utter destruction of the planet Earth. Whoever was left were forced to live in underground cities, as the surface was no longer inhabitable. All human life, as little as there was, were now living in the subway stations, in makeshift hovels, cut off from the radioactive world outside. Air, water and food, once thought to be sustainable resources, were now bought and traded and fought over due to unsustainability. The planet’s mean age was now a mere 26 years of age. Most adults were sent to participate in the war either against their will or for the good of the planet. Displaced children were forced to live in large group homes in squalor conditions. That is where I ended up.
My name is Katrina. I had a normal life once. But that is hard to remember now. I was three years old when the war started, and my parents were forced into active duty. My father was an esteemed fighter pilot, my mother was an aeronautical engineer who was considered the top genius in her field. They were both taken from me. I bounced around to various relatives, before they too were recruited into the war, and I was forced to move again. Eventually, I ran out of relatives to be sent to and ended up at the facility at which I currently reside. Most of the other kids call it an orphanage, but I call it Hell.
I don’t remember what the sun feels like. I haven’t been to the surface in a long time. Although, that is what most people say nowadays. Going to the surface is considered suicide. It is for thrill seekers or those with a death wish. Or those forced into military duty. The surface is so contaminated by radioactivity that you need a special suit just to go. The ozone is so polluted that it is practically nonexistent. There is no protection from the ultraviolent rays of the sun, and most people do not have a tolerance for it nowadays, having been underground for so long. Most cities consisted of about a hundred or so children, and maybe a handful more of adults. And most cities were in the subway systems of large cities, with makeshift warehouses made of old sheet metal. There were some stores, but they were mostly just what people had already in the subway system and most of them were closed or out of business. Most people just sold their wares to passersby, or traded for food or water as currency was mostly defunct. The government would ration supplies in their weekly food dump, as we all called it, and you tried to just get what you could on those days it happened, and you hoped it would last a week.
I try to keep to myself. I am not much of a people person. It’s not that I don’t like them, I am just not very good at making friends. Most of the other kids have been here about as long as I have, after their parents and other relatives over the age of 21 were forced into military duty. Pretty much everyone over that age was gone, whether it be in military facilities or dead due to war. The oldest person I knew was just 20 years old, and she oversaw the orphanage, and I say in charge loosely because we hardly ever saw her or her husband, who was only 19 years old himself. I think they were just lucky because their parents owned a warehouse that became theirs when the war started, and their parents were vaporized into dust after the first of the bombs dropped on cities across the country. They were pretty much just looking to collect the government subsidy, which pretty much just consisted of guaranteed extra food and water, which they mostly horded to themselves instead of giving it to the kids as they were supposed to, that owning a home for children provided, and they just filled the basement of the warehouse with some rickety cots and installed rusty ceiling fans.
There was only one room which housed all 30 of the children who lived in our orphanage. We weren’t allowed anywhere else, especially not in the owner’s offices, but after breaking in a couple times hoping to find food or water, we found that there were just files on children kept there. Paperwork was about the only thing the owners did correctly, because without documentation on the children who lived in the orphanage, they couldn’t get paid. Food and clean water were so scarce we were only promised one meal a day, the rest we had to find on our own. Most children sold things, mostly stolen from other children, to pay for food or water. Myself, I wrote poetry that I sold to beatniks and those people who still thought themselves fashionable. Most adults were too young to realize I just copied it out of books I found at an abandoned bookstore, which I kept under my cot at the orphanage, and I just passed it off as my own original work. A kid must eat, and people were such a gullible breed now that I just chalked it up to necessity over right and wrong.
I had been on my own for so long that I forgot what it was like to have parents. I turned 14 yesterday, and I threw myself a little mental party because birthdays were not really celebrated anymore. Plus, I didn’t have any friends to share the fact that I was older with. Most of the other kids at the orphanage were just mean, or kept to themselves as well. And I was a bit of a social pariah, being older than most of the other children by almost two years, and well, because I had a little issue at night. You see, I was taken from my parents so young that I was still in diapers at night, and I wet the bed. And when I finally ended up at the orphanage, and when even diapers became a luxury we at the orphanage could not afford, I was just left without. But I still had my issues, and no adult to help me through them. So, I just kept doing it, every night, and I still do. Most other kids stopped when they were 8 or 9, so there were a few kids who shared my issue, but none as old as I was. So, I was teased, a lot. Most kids called me big baby and pee stain and yellow sheets. Some kids just looked at me with disgust. We only had laundry done once a week, and extra sheets were not something we had the luxury of, so my cot smelled awful, but most of the orphanage smelled musty and damp so it was not something were not used to. I was able to find a supply of towels and some garbage bags, so each night I would make myself a make-shift diaper, and that kept my bed mostly dry, but then I had to beg the owners of the orphanage to wash them and they were not always nice enough to do so. So, I would end up wearing the same pee soaked towels to bed every night.
I tried doing some research to figure out why I was still having these problems at night, but I was really limited as to what I could find. I found an old medical journal at the abandoned bookstore, but it only suggested limiting fluids at night, but we were already so limited on the fluids were currently received that you never turned it down when offered. So, I didn’t really know what to do. I was okay during the day, I had my share of accidents growing up and except for a few close calls, had only wet my pants when I was awake like twice this past year. But, I don’t even know if that is a low number, because I don’t really have any basis for what is normal. And I mostly stayed at the orphanage, only wandering when I was too hungry or thirsty to think, or to sell my poetry, or scavenge the old abandoned bookstore once or twice a week. We really weren’t allowed to leave much, as we had to wear gas masks if we were too close to the surface, and those were in short supply of working order as well. So, it was either stay in the warehouse, wander to pick clean the few stores that were not already devoid of items, or try to sell plagiarized works of poetry to those I met in the subway tunnels and corridors. And there was a bit of a safety issue as well, as I was ganged up on a few times and beaten for the little I had by some of the few older people in the darker tunnels of the subway, so I tried not to go so far nowadays.
So, I just stayed in my cot, or found a corner to sit in, as I was currently, when my cot was too wet or dirty to sit in, and I copied old poetry onto recycled toilet paper with a broken pencil, as kids would yell at me from across the room, telling me I smelled bad and to clean up my peed in sheets. But I guess life could be worse.
“Who am I kidding? This sucks,” I mumbled under my breath as I put down my old poetry book, and pulled my knees into my chest. I put my head down into my knees and sniffled a bit, feeling depressed enough to want to cry, but dehydrated enough to not want to risk it. And I sat there a while, mostly feeling sorry for myself, and trying to block out the other children who were still yelling at me from across the room, trying to look cool in their little cliques they formed. I heard the old metal door to the warehouse open and everyone got quiet suddenly. I looked up to see the owner lady walking my way, and she had an envelope in her hand. She stopped midway through the throng of cots and emaciated children, looked down at the envelope and back up with a sneer, and sighed before she finally spoke, like this whole ordeal was a chore and she could be doing a million better things with her life.
“Katrina, do we have a Katrina here? Any of you brats named Katrina?” she looked around for an answer as she read the name on the envelope.
“You mean old piss pants who wears the garbage bag diaper? She is over in the corner crying like a baby!” One of the other girls said as she pointed at me, which got a snicker from most of the other children. Even the owner lady smiled, as she walked over to me and tossed the envelope at my feet.
“This came for you,” she said as she quickly turned to walk away.
“From where?” I asked as I found my voice, but the owner lady kept walking.
“Do I look like a mailman? Gawd! Read it and find out!” The owner lady yelled as she practically raced out of the room, like she had somewhere so important to be that it could not wait any longer.
A crowd of children was starting to make its way towards me, as I looked down at the tattered letter on the floor at my feet. One of them spoke.
“Are you gonna open it?” one said.
“Yeah, what does it say? Who sent you a letter?” another chimed in.
“It’s probably her subscription to the bedwetter’s newsletter!” another joked, and some laughed along.
Even I had to admit, that was funny.
I examined the envelope. There was no return address, and it just had my name written on it.
I opened the envelope and unfolded the tattered paper inside. It was and old ad out of a magazine. It showed a smiling child, and two adults, one male and one female, who I surmised to be the child’s parents, and they were looking over the child as she read a book.
In the corner, a small note was written, and it simply said,
Don’t give up hope, Kitty! 12 AM.
“It’s just garbage. Let’s go, leave little miss pee pants with her trash!” One of the older kids exclaimed, and the rest followed as he walked away, some sighing and others just echoing his sentiment.
I put the note back in the envelope and crumpled it all up into a ball and threw it across the room.
Once again, I was sitting there, head in my knees, sobbing and wishing I could find a better life.
I kept thinking about the letter, and how it said not to give up hope. It occurred to me that the only people who knew me by Kitty were my parents. Could it have been a note from them? Were they alive somehow? Was the note trying to tell me something?
I didn’t know, but the only clue seemed to be the picture of the girl with the book and her parents. And suddenly it hit me. Maybe I was supposed to meet my parents at the bookstore at midnight?
It couldn’t hurt to try, although I was beyond hope or the slight wish that this could all be true. I had a feeling this was all an elaborate ruse to get me alone at night, so I decided, if I was going to go through with this I would need protection. And not that kind of protection. So, I got a piece of old pipe that I kept to ward off would be robbers, and my notebook, and I crawled into my cot, waiting for midnight.
I got up a couple hours before midnight, as it would take me some time to traverse the subway tunnels at night, in the dark, as most lights were turned low by midnight to save energy. I snuck out of the orphanage with my pipe, notebook and an old flashlight I had traded for a couple days prior and still had enough juice to light up my path. I was using it to write in my notebook at night, but I figured this was a loftier goal.
I made my way through the tunnels in abject blackness, trying not to trip over anything, or step on anyone who might have taken up residence there for the night. This was harder than it seemed, as there were quite a few older children who were not assigned to orphanages or had just outgrown them, that found the tunnels to be a wise choice to bunk down in at night. And traversing these tunnels at night was different than in the day, so I found myself a little turned around at first, but I finally got my bearings and headed for the bookstore. The tunnels were damper and darker at night, and smelled even more foul than I remembered, but perhaps it was just my imagination.
I tripped and fell a couple times and stepped in many a puddle that I could only imagine was a mix of human and animal excrement. This place was so gross! And by the time I reached the bookstore I was dirty and smelled awful, but I was used to being in that state, I guess.
I stepped inside and shone my light on the rows and columns of shelves that were either knocked over or picked clean. You couldn’t even really call it a bookstore anymore, as it was nearly devoid of all books. Most were taken for reading, or in my case plagiarism, or used as a cheap source of fire material. Some were sold or traded, or just horded in other areas where the masses could not reach them. The store was destroyed, many shelve also taken from the bookcases to make fire, as they were made of wood. But some still stood, and I made my way down each aisle, until I heard a voice say,
“I’m back here!”
I followed the voice and came upon a figure in the darkness, he was crouched down in a corner, and when he stood, he towered over me.
I stepped back in shock and awe of his long white beard and tattered coat. He had to be at least fifty years old, the oldest person I had ever met, and just as I was about to turn tail and run, he said,
“Please don’t be frightened, Kitty! I have news of your parents!”
And that was when I dropped my flashlight, fell to my knees, then fell face first into the floor under me, and passed out.
I dreamed of when I was younger. I dreamed of my parents and although I could not make out their faces, I knew them to be just that. I dreamed of my mother brushing my hair, my father making dinner, and both my parents tucking me in at night. And then I dreamed of the day they left me. I dreamed of all the horrible people I was forced to reside with, until I had no one at all, and I was all alone. I was scared, and cold and wet, and I was all alone.
But then I felt a cold splash of water on my face, and I came to slowly, to see the old tattered face of the man who said he knew my parents.
“Thank goodness, your awake! I thought I lost you for a minute there! You had a little accident though.”
The man said as he helped me sit up. I was still on the floor of the bookstore, and he was right, was drenched from the waist down.
I stood up and wiped the water from my face and ignoring my wet clothes, I said,
And I started to walk away.
“Aren’t you even the least bit curious as to why I asked you here? Or if I can help you find your parents? Where are you going?” The old man asked as he attempted to keep pace as I trudged through the store to the exit.
I stopped abruptly and turned to face him.
“You, you just stop it! Right now! I know what you are up to! You lure me here with false hope and news of my parents, and now that you see I am a bit weak natured when it comes to this kind of story, you hope to take me away to live with you until my parents return, and all the while I must make you happy, is that it? Or my parents might not make it back! Is that your plan? Well, I have heard it all before, you sick bastard!” I started to storm off again as I screamed, but the old man caught up to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me into an embrace.
“No, child! Never! I wouldn’t dream of hurting you! I really do know of your parents! And you might just be the last hope mankind has! Please, just hear me out, I promise I won’t make you do anything! Just listen to my story, and then, if you don’t believe my actions are just, you can go. But I beg of you, please let me say what I need to say!”
The old man smelled of musk and urine, or maybe that was just me, but his embrace calmed me. It was almost like I had hugged him before, and I felt myself start to cry.
“Oh, child. Its okay, you have been through so much haven’t you? Please come with me over to the table back here, have a seat and let me tell you what you need to hear.”
The old man ushered me to the plastic table and I pulled out a plastic bench and sat across from him. These were most likely still here because they were of no use to burn, or someone just hadn’t thought of taking them yet, I thought, as I sat down. Once seated the old man, rummaged in his coat pocket and produced a picture. He handed it to me as he spoke.
“That is the last picture I have of you and your parents. It has been a long time since I saw you together for the last time, but after your parents left with me to fight the war we have been so bad at winning, I thought now might be a good time to put our final act into motion, before the war and the world as we know it end.”
I took the picture and studied it as he spoke. There was my dad and my mom huddled over a little baby, that was me. It was so clear to me now, it was me. There was no mistaking my mother’s eyes and long black hair, my father’s crooked smile and the scar above his temple. I could remember all so vividly, and I had to stop to wipe the tears from my eyes.
“Where did you get this picture? Who are you?” I said through a cracked dry voice that was nothing more than a whisper.
The old man smiled, a slightly crooked smile himself, and said,
“Why, Kitty, don’t you remember me? I took the picture. I am your grandfather!”
I was awestruck. My mouth hung agape as I studied the old man across from me in the dying light of my flashlight, which we had set on the table to illuminate the room. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t make sense. How could my grandfather be alive after all this time? He was the one who took my parents to war. He was a general in the army. It was all his fault I was all alone in the first place, and he was going to know how I felt!
“You, are my grandfather? That’s your story, huh? Well, you should know, I hate you with every fiber of my being. You took my parents from me! You, you started this damn war! It’s all your fault I am all alone, living in filth and squalor, with no friends or family! It’s all your damn fault!” I screamed in a raspy whisper, as my mouth had gone dry.
The old man handed me a flask and motioned for me to drink. To my dismay, it was but only water. But I still drank it like it was the last water on Earth, as it very well might be, for all I knew. As I drank the old man explained,
“I understand you might feel that way. I kind of agree with you, as a matter of fact. I did take your parents to war. I was the one who had them abandon you, I was the one who lost track of you as the draft was implemented, taking you from every foster home you had known, but I am also the one who has spent the last couple of years scouring the planet searching for you, at your parent’s behest. But I am also going to have to be the bearer of bad news it seems. You see, during the last battle, I lost your parents as well.”
The old man’s eyes welled up as he spoke. I shuddered and asked the question I had been dreading hearing the answer to my entire life.
“Are my parents’ dead?” I asked as my lips quivered.
“Well, that I am not so sure of. I lost them, but I did not see them die, nor hear of their passing. No one can confirm it. All I have is your parents’ final instructions to me. In their absence, I am supposed to take you to our old laboratory, and I am supposed to find the rest of the answers there. I do not know anything else, and in my old age, I seem to have lost myself. I am not what I used to be, whether it be radiation poisoning or just my advanced age, all I know is I have to take you there, and that once we arrive, everything will become clear, and that you are the only hope to save the world!”
The old man was shaking with every word he spoke, with such conviction. It was as if he truly believed, I, the 14-year-old bedwetter, with no discernible talents, and poor people skills, could make a difference in the war? I started to laugh. Which made the old man question my giddiness.
“I am sorry, did you put something in this water? Cause I can’t believe I am hearing this bullshit! You tell me my parents left something or some directions in their old lab, in some secret location, that holds the answer to ending the war and saving the world as we know it, and that I am supposed to follow you, so I can uncover this secret, and somehow save all of humanity? Dude, you have read way too many of these books! Such a fantastical notion! You must really be off your rocker, old man!”
I continued to laugh as the old man’s face wrinkled in anger. He quickly grabbed my hand fiercely and squeezed until it hurt me.
“Ow, hey! Watch it old man!” I screamed as his grip grew tighter.
“No, you watch it! I did not come all this was, search all these years to be put out by some prepubescent little shit! Now, you will come with me and we will figure out what your parents left for you, so you can save the damn world! Understood?” The old man nearly drooled as he spat out the last word.
“Ok, if it means that much to you, I guess I could tag along. But no funny business and let go of my damn hand!” I yelled as he finally released his grip.
“For the last time, I am your grandfather, I have no want for you sexually or otherwise. You are starting to wear that joke thin.” The old man reprimanded me for my aloofness.
“Sorry, it’s a coping mechanism, I guess. One that I may have acquired due to my lack of parents!” I said and crossed my arms to my chest, feeling as if I had won that round.
Suddenly, from somewhere in the bookstore, I heard some papers shuffle, and some voices whisper, and the old man got a look on his face like he had seen a ghost.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me up off my chair and started to lead me to the back of the store, towards the emergency exit.
“Hurry, we must flee! I can’t believe they found us so quickly.” The old man said as he breathed hard with every hurried step, and we made our way out the exit and back into the tunnels, with our pursuers on our heels.
I had left the flashlight on the table and was now being dragged through the dark by almost a complete stranger, my wet pants chafing my inner thighs with every step. I could only hope the old man knew where he was going, as I was surely no longer aware of where we might be. We ran for hours, turning this way and that, going down ladders into deeper parts of the subway station, all the while being chased by some unknown enemy. Eventually, I didn’t hear our pursuers anymore, and the old man told me that we had reached our destination.
“You are telling me my parents were this close the whole time, and not once did they ever come to get me?” I stood shocked as the old man opened the door with special key he fished from his pocket.
“Dear, I tried to explain earlier that I had lost you through the foster system and have been searching for you for years, were you not listening? I thought you were several states away, how was I to know you had made your way to our neck of the subway stations? Now, be quiet, or they will hear you!” The old man admonished as he pulled me through the door into the lab.
“Who will hear me? Who is chasing us? And why should I believe anything you have said so far? Oh my god!” I was trying to get a straight answer as the door closed behind me and the lights illuminated the lab.
It was beautiful. The whole room was filled with technology I had never seen or even dreamed of. It was like I had walked into another world. There were computer screens adorning the walls, keys and switches under them. There was what looked to be an entire chemistry set, with beakers, flasks and tubing I did not recognize but looked to contain some important liquids. There were rows upon rows of bookshelves containing more books than that of the bookstore we had just left, when it was at its prime. And there were stacks upon stacks of paper and notebooks, possibly containing what was the last of my parents’ research. There was also what looked to a capsule of some sort, and a panel next to it. I was just astounded as I made my way around the room.
The old man let me study things for a while as he typed away at a computer and opened a video file, which was playing on the large screen on the wall. My father appeared, and I was suddenly entranced by his visage, only slightly hearing what he had to say when he spoke my name,
“Katrina, this will be our final message to you. We hope upon hope that it finds you well, and maybe someday we will see each other again if this works. You see Katrina, over the years, your mother and I have concluded that this war may never end, and the world as we knew it is so beyond repair that it may just be lost. But if our years of research have taught us anything, its that maybe we were not meant to fix everything. Maybe that just might be up to you. To finish our final project, we need someone who is not as stuck in their ways as we are as adults, someone with fresh ideas, and someone small enough to fit in the capsule. Katrina, we had planned to tell you this in person someday, but it seems that your mother and I have made a breakthrough. We may have finally broken the code to time travel, and we need you to take this mission to figure out where we went wrong and hopefully fix the world that we have ruined. All you need to do is place your hand on the panel next to the capsule, and get it, the rest will take care of itself. Please, Kitty! You seem to be our last and only hope!”
And the screen went blank. I fought back tears, and I looked at the old man, and he looked back at me, and that was when we heard the door to the lab explode.
“Hurry, put your hand to the panel before it’s too late!” The old man yelled as he pulled a gun from his jacket and started to shoot through the smoke and rubble that was the door to the lab. I stood there, frozen, as a bullet whizzed past my ear and broke me out of my funk, I quickly raced to the capsule and slapped my hand down on the panel as men in suits started to come though what was left of the door. The old man kept firing until he was hit y one of the men in suits firing back and fell to the floor in a heap.
“Hurry, Katrina! Ahhhhhhhhhccckkkk.” The old man yelled as he fell.
The panel glowed under my hand and the capsule opened. I quickly climbed in and the door shut back on me as belts strapped me in almost instantaneously. The capsule started to light up and I heard,
Launch sequence activated.
I stared out the window of the capsule and saw the men in suits put another bullet into my grandfather, before a mask came over my face and air was forced into my lungs. I could feel myself losing consciousness as the capsule turned upright and I felt myself propelled upwards through a tunnel and eventually out into the world, at the speed of what I could only imagine was a rocket. Soon I was propelled faster and faster until I was flung into the deep darkness of space, and right before I felt myself pass out, I was engulfed in the pit of blackness.
I lost track of time, and where I was, and by the time I came to, it felt as if my lungs would collapse. I couldn’t breathe! I quickly tore the mask from my face and tried to peer through the glass on the front of the capsule, but it was hopelessly cracked like a thousand spider webs. The door was slightly ajar, so I pushed it open and smoke came through that made me cough in surprise. I must have crash landed, I surmised, and as I stepped out of the capsule, I couldn’t find my footing and I fell, hitting branches on the way down before finally hitting the ground with a thud.
“Oh, must have landed in a tree!” I exclaimed as I came to once again. All this head trauma was probably causing the hallucination I was currently having. I felt dizzy as I sat up, and felt the dirt and leaves beneath me, breathed in the air around me, and didn’t feel as if I were dying of exposure.
“This can’t be real.” I said aloud to myself as I investigated the trees and above me was my capsule, hopelessly destroyed. That gave me some semblance of real life, and I decided I would have to find shelter. So, I got up, marked the tree I was under to give me some idea of where I was should I need to find it again, and made my way through the forest.
Soon it started to rain, and I was a little worried at first, as I thought it might be acidic, but eventually the water pouring over me felt nice, and I even opened my mouth to drink some and it wasn’t at all tainted to my surprise. I walked through the downpour and eventually came to a cliff. About 30 feet below I could make out what looked to be a makeshift house with smoke coming from a makeshift chimney, all seemingly made of wood and tree branches. But I figured, what else did I have going for me, and I grabbed what I thought was a sturdy vine to lower myself down the cliff. But it was not sturdy, at all, and I slipped, and it snapped under my weight causing me to fall to the ground below. I tried to grab some branches to slow my fall, but I ended up on the ground in a thud, hitting my head hard. I was in and out of consciousness, as I saw a figure approach me, and drag me along the forest floor.
I must have been out for a while, for as I woke, I was in a bed of leaves and twigs, and there was what I could only describe as a man robot looking at me intently. I rose sharply and screamed, not only in terror, but because my head was pounding. The man robot rose up and started speaking gibberish, and I could only shout,
“What do you want? I can’t understand you! Speak English?”
And the robot stopped babbling incoherently and said, to my surprise, “English?”
I felt a sense of relief, as the man robot started blinking and humming and finally asked,
“There, is that better, love?”
I giggled uncontrollably. He was speaking English, with and English accent. I laid back down, and sighed, only broken from my daze by a familiar sensation and the robot saying,
“I think you may be leaking, mum.”
I quickly rose from the bed, and tried to pat myself dry, to no avail. I could now see the room for everything it was. It was a small hovel, with a single bed of leaves and twigs, a small cast iron stove, no windows and a single door. The stove had a pipe leading out of the roof, which is where the smoke was pouring out of, and the whole home, if you could call it that, seemed to be made of mud, with some twigs and leaves thrown in for good measure.
“Where am I?” I asked dreamily, still unsure if I was here.
“This is my home, crumpet. I found you out in the woods, you had taken quite a blow to the old noggin after that fall, you did. I didn’t think you would make it. I am glad you are okay.” The man robot, which now looked like more of a child robot upon further inspection, said.
He clanked and squeaked as he moved, more robot than human, and fetched a kettle off the stove, as it whistled steam out of its spigot.
“Would you like some tea, my dear? Its not the Queen’s best, but it’ll do in a pinch. I haven’t seen your kind in a long time. Most people now have evolved past the need for a one-way digestive system, or they are all dead, unfortunately. You would stick out like a sore thumb leaking as you are.”
I patted my thoroughly soaked pants and did a double take.
“You mean to tell me I am in some kind of nutty world where people don’t pee or poop? I must have hit my head harder than I thought. Ok, Mr. Roboto, tell me this, just how far have I traveled from earth, and is there any way to get me home?” I laughed hysterically, but the robot man just stood there studying me.
“Oh well, no you seem sound as a pound, love. I took care of your injuries. You do have a slight bump on your noggin, but that shouldn’t be impairing your cognitive abilities by too much, I wager. And this is Earth, my name is not Mr. Roboto, its Unit K-45-M, but you can just call me Ken, and it’s the year 9651. Now…” Ken continued, but I only heard the last part. I started to get dizzy, so I sat on the bed. I twig broke under me and slashed my arm. Blood slowly trickled down my arm as I held it up to the light of the fire given off by the stove.
It was suddenly clear to me that I was not dreaming, and that I had traveled 7600 years into the future.
Ken continued to explain this new world to me well into the night. He also explained how he had come to be living in the middle of a forest.
“You see, I, myself, am an out of date piece of machinery, and I was due to be destroyed. I escaped the warehouse I was being held and made my way out into this forest. They call my kind animatronic androids, we are part human, part machine, only more machine than human, so we are not seen as actual humanoids. So, we are treated as disposable, and when we become out of date, we are sent to be scrapped to become part of the new generation. It is a weird way of recycling, to say the least. Most humans are no longer mostly human themselves, as the Gandris, an alien lifeform, came and inhabited earth in the early 3000s. They mated with what humanity was left, and after some experimenting, they started calling themselves Humgans, and the Gandris have a two-way digestive system, but everything that goes in is used, there is no waste. So, to find an original human with all original parts is well, astounding. I would love to study you in depth.” Ken said as he creeped closer to me, and it felt like he was peering into my soul.
“Really? Quit it. I am no lab rat. So, humanity lasted almost 1000 years after the great war? I thought the world would end in 100 years the way it was headed.” I motioned for Ken to continue.
“Well, yes and no. You see, humanity had been underground for so long, and the radioactivity had become so overwhelming, that most humans either changed drastically to survive, or were exposed to radioactivity so overwhelming that they mutated. Humanity, as you know it, was gone in that 100 years for sure, what remained was more of what you would probably describe as a mole people, who survived off excrement and were basically all blind by the time the Gandris arrived. However, the Gandris were not picky, and they bedded those mutant humans well. More recessive genes were passed on other than the new ones that were gained for survival’s sake, and thus we have a humanoid alien lifeform. It really is all quite interesting. However, if you were to join the ranks of the Humgans, we would have to find a way to hide the fact that you have a one-way digestive system.” Ken continued, pondering this possible outcome.
“Who says I want to join them? Maybe I could just stay here with you?” I suggested.
“No, that wouldn’t work, love. I don’t eat or sleep, I only made the tea for your benefit, and that was only after asking my computer brain what comforts humanity had used in your time. No, we can figure out a way to disguise your incontinence, and make you look more like a lesser evolved Humgan, and you can try to either live your life amongst them or find a way to travel back to your time by gaining the knowledge you need to venture back through time. Let us go venture to the replicator and see what we can make!” Ken enthused as he grabbed my hand and led me outside.
I hobbled behind, being dragged by this large clunky machine man, out to a shed he had set up in the back. Inside, there was a machine, with a screen and a keyboard, and a large tank. Inside the tank there were electrodes and mechanical hands. Ken hit a few buttons, and spoke into the microphone,
“Current Humgan clothing replicate, size 14 please. This will replicate some current clothing that will help you blend in with the current Humgans on this planet.” Ken explained.
I watched as the machine whirred and hummed and sparked and created clothing out of thin air! It was like a purple jumpsuit with a zipper down the front. After it came out of the replicator, Ken handed it to me.
“Now to figure out something to deal with that pesky digestive system of yours. After perusing the history of your planet, I came across a prototype that may be of some use to you. It is a wearable device that contains and eliminates waste, and it is completely computer controlled. I think it was called the Disposable incontinence aid prototype emachine routing simulator, or DIAPERS for short. It was quite the technological breakthrough in its day.” Ken said as he typed the words into the replicator.
“What? Diapers, like the kind babies wore? Cause I don’t need those, they are a hassle, the changing, the spares you must lug around, the threat of diaper rash. No, thank you, sir. There must be another way.” I pleaded with Ken to find another solution.
“No, it’s not like that at all. You see the device I am suggesting is completely autonomous. It never needs to be changed, as it recycles waste that is output. It has a mini computer built in to the landing zone, and it snaps in on both sides and adjusts to fit whomever is wearing it. When waste is made, it uses advanced technology to evaporate said waste into a scent given off most agree is like that of a pine forest. It is quite pleasing to the senses. Here, watch this video file that comes with the replicator recipe.” Ken posited as he pointed to the screen.
I watched as a man came on the screen, and next to him a white diaper with a black stripe that lights up on front came onto the screen. I couldn’t hear anything, so I asked Ken to turn on the sound and he hit some buttons and I heard the speaking resume,
“This product is revolutionary in design and function. I came to this design through abstract thinking. Although present in medical and historical texts for millennia, urinary incontinence remains a somewhat taboo topic, with both affected individuals and remedies for the condition, such as adult diapers, subject to ridicule, embarrassment, status loss, discrimination, and even exile. Reinforcing this discriminatory behavior, the adult diaper, a spur from the baby diaper invention, tracks a parallel path to incontinence. With diapers and adult incontinence rooted in a misunderstood cross-pollination with infant incontinence, individuals must struggle against known stereotypes and stigmas liable to label them as incompetent, impotent, or unclean. The stigma of incontinence is thus aligned with the diaper, reinforcing social ignorance and discriminating structural environments. Establishments of structural discrimination, such as medical providers and architectural policy, are instrumental in perpetuating the stigma of urinary incontinence through their unimpeachable status and concomitant power. Product, social structure, power systems and architecture are inevitably linked in the case of systemic disenfranchisement. In my studies, the adult diaper is seen as one key to crippling such mechanisms and inspiring new direction and greater dignity within incontinent populations. Synthesizing qualitative and quantitative research on product history, product function, market trends, user needs, and product testing, a case is made for a reusable incontinence garment, at first hybridized with disposable technology and later envisioned to connect with emerging trends in wearable technology, urine collection and agricultural systems. Enabling such synapses between seemingly disparate parts, argues that dignity may be engendered in populations upon establishing multidimensional strategies within product research and design, with the intent of transcending personal and cultural bias. Basically, an adult diaper that not only transcends our current technological achievement but is able to meld with technology to overcome the current taboo of wearing and using diapers as an adult. And this is what the DIAPERS system achieves. Wearing this device is like that of a normal diaper, one unfolds it, and lays prostrate on top of it, bringing the front screen up between the legs, and connecting the tabs into said screen area. The device will adjust to fit any size, after running basic diagnostics to gather the wearer’s body type. The DIAPERS system also undergoes many updates to its CPU to adjust for current lifestyles, and it contains settings for different user wants and needs. But the most basic aspect of this device is to ensure comfort and wear ability, without ever having to remove the device, with extra precautionary measures built in to ensure skin health. It is a fully capable, WIFI integrated device, that can and will make regular toileting obsolete.”
I was in awe. I didn’t really recognize all the language used, but I understood the gist of it.
“Well I guess I can give it a shot. Replicate it for me, Ken.” I commanded my new mechanical friend, and he replicated the DIAPERS system for me. The replicator spit out the garment, and Ken handed it to me.
It felt like a normal diaper, with what looked like a computer screen adorning the front. It felt like a diaper too, only more softer and thicker. Ken and I took the jumpsuit and diaper back to his home and I started taking off my clothes.
“I’ll be outside, if you need me.” Ken said, and I could almost see him blush slightly as I disrobed, and he went out the door.
I was soon naked as a jaybird in the cabin and used the dry part of my shirt to clean myself up. Once I felt sufficiently dry, I laid the diaper on the floor and sat on it, pulling the front with the computer screen up between my legs, and snapping the closures into the screen. It was then that the diaper came to life!
“DIAPERS system activating. Running diagnostic 824.78, adjusting to fit. Fit achieved. Running software update, no update found. Releasing rehydration solution, skin rehydrated. Please activate user mode. No user mode implemented. Adjusting to user mode 663.715, user mode complete incontinence mode achieved. DIAPERS system is now locked. Removal of device is no longer permitted. Access to device is restricted. Implementing sub routine, cushion mode. DIAPERS system is now locked.”
I felt the device lock around my waist and adjust to fit. At first, it wasn’t the worst feeling in the world, until the device started updating. I tried giving commands, but I didn’t know how to use it. I was yelling at it as it released a slimy liquid on my private area, and what felt like micro scrubbers cleaned me vigorously. Then the diaper started to expand, first to twice its normal size soon reaching what felt like five times its normal size. It felt like I had a pillow between my legs and I couldn’t even poke a finger into the outside and feel what was underneath. I stood up and it instantly felt like I was wearing a balloon around my waist. A balloon filled with cotton. I grabbed the jumpsuit and pulled it on, and was able to zip up the front, but I was constantly aware of the size of the device I was wearing. I needed help.
I went to get Ken outside, and with one look at me he started to laugh out loud.
“Oh my, what happened? Did you already use the device? It looks awfully big!” Ken snorted.
“All I did was put it on, and it started changing modes and locking and then it got so big! Can you fix it?” I pleaded.
“Let me look,” Ken said as he unzipped my jumpsuit, and touched the front panel computer screen on the DIAPERS system. The device started to speak.
“Normal mode initiated. System decreasing size. System is still locked. Removal of device is not permitted.”
Ken kept pushing buttons, but it kept saying removal was not permitted.
“Well, I can’t get it off you, but at least its back to normal size.” Ken said as he stopped pressing buttons.
He was right, the diaper had shrunk. I still felt like I was wearing a diaper, but at least it didn’t feel like a pillow between my legs or a balloon around my bottom.
“I guess I will just have to figure it out as I go.” I sighed and zipped up mu jumpsuit. It almost felt like I was younger and wearing a pair of footie pajamas and a diaper. I half expected a button back door to the jumpsuit, but alas, all I had was the front zipper.
“We will venture into town in the morning, you can use the bed I made you, I will be outside keeping watch, as I do most nights. Remember, I don’t need sleep.” Ken explained as he left the room.
“Goodnight, Ken. Thanks,” I shouted after him as the door closed behind him.
I lay down on the bed of twig and branches, thinking I could at least replicate myself a pillow and blanket, but as I thought of getting up, I just closed my eyes for a moment and was soon fast asleep.