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In the Cards   By:

In the Cards by Alan Cogan

First Page:

In the Cards


Illustrated by EMSH

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction June 1956. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


[Sidenote: It is one thing to safeguard the future ... and something else entirely to see someone you love cry in terror two years from now!]

The first thing I did when I bought my Grundy Projector was take a trip to about two years ahead and see what was going to happen to me. Everyone was doing it around that time; students were taking short trips into the future to learn whether or not they would pass their exams, married couples were looking ahead to see how many kids they were going to have, businessmen were going into the future to size up their prospects.

I took the trip because I was getting married and I couldn't resist the temptation of finding out how things would work out with my fiancee Marge and myself. Not that I had any doubts about Marge, but the Grundy Projectors were guaranteed harmless and there's no point in taking chances with a serious step like marriage.

Everybody was looking ahead then. Within a week after the Grundy Projectors were introduced, you could walk past homes every evening and see people with those shimmering bird cages around them. Their bodies were there, but heaven knows when their minds were months and often even years ahead of time.

I knew exactly when to go on my first time trip. I even knew where: I'd already put a down payment on a home in the new dome housing area where Marge and I would be living after the wedding. Knowing where to go on a time trip is important. On this one, for instance, I hadn't been assigned an address yet and there were all sorts of changes in the place buildings and streets where there had only been empty lots and sections marked off by string and I just had to hunt until I came to our home.

You can imagine how much more difficult finding my future self would be if I hadn't known the exact location. That's about the only major drawback to making time trips and I don't see how it can be overcome. Directories would be one answer, but how would you go about putting them together if your crews can't ask questions or touch filing cards or even open future visiphone books?

Eventually, after setting the dial around the two year mark, which is about the maximum limit on most models, I found myself in my future home in the dome housing area. I was watching myself as I would be and Marge as she would be. Only I didn't like what I saw.

We were fighting and screaming at each other. You could tell at a glance that we hated each other. And after only two years!

I was completely stunned as I watched that scene. Future Marge looked furious; she had the kind of look I never even suspected she could get on her face. But I think I was more enraged at my future self than at her. At the time, I was seriously in love with Marge although it seemed evident it wasn't going to last and I loathed myself for acting that way toward her. And after all those rash promises I had been making, too!

I was really a tangled mess of emotions as I watched our future selves battling it out.

I became conscious of not being alone as I watched. It didn't take long to discover that it was Marge who had come to join me. I should have expected her she must have been just as curious about her marriage as I was and, like myself, would naturally take her Projector to the two year limit. Of course we couldn't hold hands the way we would have if our bodies had been there, but then we probably wouldn't have held them long. We were both pretty embarrassed by what we saw.

The cause of the fight was very obscure, and though we saw and heard everything perfectly, we still didn't really understand... Continue reading book >>

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