Chapter 2 - 79 TTE
Not knowing what to do, I did the instinctive thing: I took out my badge and put my hands in the air, "Same side!"
The other cops arrested the shooter and a man in a jacket with the letters T.P.A. (everyone else had bulletproof vests labelled 'POLICE') removed something from the shooter's wrist. The man with the T.P.A. jacket approached me. "Hello James, good to see you again."
I looked at the man, trying to remember who he was, but failing to. "Um, have we met?"
"Well, I've already met you, but this would be the first time that you've met me."
I stared at him with a bemused expression on my face and said, "What?"
"I am Agent Matthew Lam, from the Time Patrol Agency." He held up his badge. On the shield was an armless clock. Surrounding the clock at the top were the words: TIME PATROL AGENCY. Around the clock at the bottom in smaller lettering was: Patrolling Eternity.
Agent Lam continued, "What you just went through was a time portal. You have time travelled into your future."
"The Time Patrol Agency? Time travel?" I shook my head in disbelief. "What is this, some kind of a joke?"
"I assure you, this isn't a joke."
"So, you're saying that I actually time travelled?"
I stood there, silently, for a while, trying to take the news in. Agent Lam waited patiently for me.
Finally, I managed to ask, "Okay, so when am I?"
"Well, what year are you from? And the era?"
"2015, and, er... the Common Era?"
"Well, it's 79 TTE, Time Travel Era. We made a new calendar with Year 1 being the year when time travel was invented. We're about...," Agent Lam paused for a second to calculate the numbers in his head, "... two hundred and ninety years after your time, give or take a few years."
I stopped breathing for a little bit, trying to digest this new information.
Seeing my shock, Agent Lam gestured to one of the hovering cars, "Look, let's get you to the local agency office, and we can talk more on the way."
I followed him to the hovering car and he opened the door for me, "This is my car. Did you guys have cars back then?"
I chuckled nervously, "Yeah, but they didn't fly."
Agent Lam raised an eyebrow, "Really? How did they get around then?"
"Um, they had wheels?"
"Hm, now that you mention it, I think I remember hearing something like that on a documentary on TV once."
"Glad to hear that you guys still have TV," I said.
We got into the car, and I noticed that there wasn't a steering wheel. With bated breath, I waited as Agent Lam pressed some buttons on the panel between us. After pressing the 'Confirm' button, Agent Lam leaned back, turned on some music, and the car started moving on its own.
I held on tight as the car found its way to the street and neatly inserted itself into the traffic. Traffic that was made up of four lanes horizontally... and three lanes vertically! We floating above a lane below us and gliding along with a lane over our heads!
It was a few more moments before I could finally ask, "So, cars drive themselves now?"
"What?" Agent Lam stared at my nervous face for a moment, "Oh, they didn't do that back then?"
"Well, they do now."
"Oh," I said, marvelling at this technology, "How does the car know where to go? How does it know where the other cars are? How does it know where the pedestrians are?"
"Well, all the cars are hooked up to a network. There's a program that tracks the cars and it guides them to where they need to go. It takes care of everything."
"So nobody drives in the future?"
"Well, the average person doesn't even know how to, but certain people, like the cops or the paramedics, are trained to drive in emergency situations. There is an emergency override that we can use if we need to. It's actually illegal to drive unless if it's an emergency. If we do have to drive, it's recommended that we drive above all the traffic. We would still be hooked into the network, so the program would still be able to guide traffic out of our way in those cases."
I gestured at the panel, "So how does it work?"
"You just type in the location, or you can search for it, and it'll take you to anywhere in the world."
"Anywhere in the world? Even in another country?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Well, you know, different countries, different rules. Having to travel over the seas for some. And maybe some countries don't have the network?"
"Oh, these cars can travel over the seas just fine. As for different rules, the different governments of the past united to become one world government a long time ago. So with that, it was quite easy to have the network be available all over the globe."
"Wow," was all that I could say as I digested what Agent Lam just told me. The world united under one government? Flying, self-driving cars? What a future.