Don’t you wish you would never make a wrong decision? With FuturePreviewTM, you never do – because you always know what the future brings.
Daryl owned a FuturePreviewTM, and he used it every day. Just the basic version, not one of those new models that displayed all the numbers: percentage of happiness gained, expected income, stress level, number of hours of sleep per night.
Daryl’s FuturePreviewTM showed him just a short clip of life one year from now. Every day, mostly at noon, when he had worked a few hours and still had more hours to look forward to, he thought about quitting his dead-end job.
Everyone used FuturePreviewTM, but there were few people who actually moved on and made a profit from it. Of course, Daryl had heard stories of the ones who did, who followed FuturePreviewTM and found their dream job, the perfect place to live, their one true love.
On TV, he could see celebrities smiling into the cameras, telling the audience how FuturePreviewTM guided them on their path to greatness and made them what they were today – but personally, Daryl didn’t know any celebrities, and he didn’t know any of the other people who had made it.
Today, the wish for change hit Daryl harder than usual. He knew he wanted something different, but what could he really do? If he thought about quitting, the FuturePreviewTM showed him the same picture as always [himself a year later, still searching for something new, restless and unhappy, slowly spiraling down into poverty]—and what else was there?
He could move to another country [a short flash of a house in a grey city, surrounded by people speaking a foreign language and following foreign customs], he could leave his girlfriend [himself sitting in a small room, alone and bitter, surrounded by empty cardboard boxes] or he could commit suicide [just nothingness and white noise looped forever], but none of the paths he previewed would lead to a better life.
As Daryl walked home in the evening, with darkness already descending on the streets, he made a detour through the park. Branches and leaves formed a tunnel between the trees that led Daryl to a fountain, its water shimmering softly in the lantern light.
A man emerged from behind the trees: “Give me your money!” He approached Daryl, knife in hand, and Daryl instinctively activated his FuturePreviewTM.
What if he ran? [A glimpse not of his future a year later, just of himself a few moments from now, a knife in his back, bleeding out in the grass of the park] What if he fought? [A mirror image of the previous vision, a knife sticking out his chest] What if he complied and gave up all his money? [Another knife nonetheless, and a strong feeling of failure]
Paralyzed inside his own body, Daryl watched as the robber strode towards him in slow motion and the preview visions played again and again. If there was no option without the knife, wouldn’t it be better to do nothing at all?
Until now, he had never realized that the FuturePreviewTM only showed the outcome of new decisions—what if staying at his job would lead to an even worse future, what if it was the best of all possible alternatives?
Daryl was determined to do nothing, but then, the man with the knife reached him. Time accelerated back to normal, and Daryl’s muscles moved without thought, made his fist swing and hit, sending the robber to the ground.
There was no knife inside him! Daryl was completely surprised, and it took him a few seconds to start running, fleeing along the paths until he saw the edge of the park. The street stretched out like it had always done, full of lights and traffic, but Daryl now saw its lie.
It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. Daryl was deep in his thoughts and ignored a car slowing down and people getting out right next to him, drunken and laughing. If FuturePreviewTM was fallible, then …
Too late, Daryl realized that the car had no license plate, and that its passengers walked a bit too straight for partygoers. He felt a sharp sting, then growing pain as a knife pierced deep into his chest, just as he had seen it. The last thing he heard was a murmur of almost robotic voices, cold and professional while they discussed his death.
“Someone better get the robber as well. No witnesses, no traces, you know the drill. The future is always perfect.”
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