Welcome back, Barry, from 2103

Compiling those Readers' Choice Awards really knocked me out.

Readers, let me draw your attention to our 2103 Readers’ Choice Awards (see enclosed supplement). What’s that you say? I have the date wrong in the banner headline? Not so.

That’s what my bosses said to me. “What you meant to say,” they informed me through gritted teeth, “was ‘Welcome to the 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards.'” Dear reader, I said the same to them as I say to you. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred per cent.”

“It’s still 2013,” my bosses informed me, like they should know.

“Then how do you explain my flying car in the parking lot?” I riposted.

What happened was this. I had been working away on the Readers’ Choice supplement for days. The ballots kept pouring in. I kept counting and tabulating until my eyes were crossing in my head. I dozed off, head down on my desk …

I awoke much, much later, feeling a stiffness in my bones like I’d never experienced. I was alone in the office, except for some blue collar type across the room, installing what seemed to be some manner of cabinet. “Excuse me,” I said. “Where is everybody?”

He gave a mighty start. “You!” he shouted. “You’re awake! You’re awake!”

“Eh?” I said.

“I can’t believe I’m the first to say ‘good morning’ to you,” he continued. “You fell asleep over the Readers’ Choice Awards supplement, and never woke up. Ninety years, and here you are.”

“Why didn’t anyone wake me up?” I demanded.

“It looked like you needed the sleep,” he said. “People have been saying that for 90 years, every time they passed close to you (which happened less and less frequently).

“By the way,” he said. “We’re under standing orders that if we ever see you awake, to point out the rest of the Readers’ Choice Awards ballots still need tabulating. Too bad you didn’t finish before you took your little kip. They’re through there.” He pointed at a door. “There are about seven million to count, as I understand.”

“If no one was going to wake me up to finish the supplement, why didn’t they stop printing the ballots?”

“Don’t ask me. I’m just the IT guy in charge of teleportation. Hence this new teleportation machine.” He pointed at the cabinet he was tinkering with.

“I thought newspapers were supposed to have gone extinct long ago,” I said.

“You thought wrong,” he said. “Anyway, they were — they are — waiting for you to finish the supplement before making the newspaper completely on-line, converting the press to a newly fashionable diesel-powered calliope and retiring the fleet of flying trucks.”

“Flying cars! We have those these days?” I asked in wonderment.

“Oh yes, just a device you attach to the drive train of your vehicle,” he said. “They function in the same manner as four-wheel-drive. They’re small little devices, but expensive. There’s lots of theft problems, thieves ripping them out from under people’s cars.”

“Seven million ballots,” I said. “Say, have time machines been invented yet?”

“Oh yes,” my interlocutor said. “Home Hardware has a sale on them right now, in fact.”

“What, Home Hardware’s still around?” I marvelled.

“Oh, most businesses have thrived,” he said. “Apparently, after the provincial election of 2013, all economic problems were solved.”

“Say, who won that election?” I asked.

“I don’t even know. I dropped out of school in Grade 3, to make all that good money in the high tech industries.”

“I see,” I said. “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” I dashed out of the Townsman office to go get my time machine, but first I ripped the flying car device out from under the IT guy’s car. Let him travel back in time and confront me. I’ll just deny it.

So to make a long story short, dear reader, to me it really is 2103. I just couldn’t face counting the rest of those ballots. Who can blame me?

Barry Coulter is the once and future editor of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. For rides in his flying car, email barry@dailytownsman.com