“Expert says model shows no leaks for 1,000 years” NewsGazette Headline, August 17, 2012

I woke up in my red Adirondack chair down by the Sangamon River one afternoon last week. I guess I’d fallen asleep, but I felt good; refreshed, like I’d been asleep for years.

I looked around and everything just looked different: the trees looked different, better than ever. I looked down and the Sangamon was flowing crystal clear, filled with aquatic plants. I could see a wonderful array of fish like I was looking into an aquarium.

My little spot along the Sangamon River was, in short, more beautiful than ever; in fact, more beautiful than I could ever remember. In fact, the trees were different, completely different. And the more I looked, the more I realized they were kind of similar, but they weren’t even the same trees!

That’s when I noticed two guys standing there that I’d never seen before.

“Hi Scott, ‘name’s Hal. We’re awfully glad to see you here” the first guy said. Then the second guy added to the first guy “Really, Hal, I just can’t believe it worked so well. He looks to be fine!” then he added “I’m Dave, by the way”

 “I’m fine” I assured them. “Just fine, and the place looks great, but different; really, really different.”

“Well, that’s because things are a bit different, to you, at least.” said Hal.  “You see, Scott, we just transmogrified you forward 1,000 years.” Dave added.

“1,000 YEARS! How? What the heck am I doing here? Why? What are you doing here? Why are you here? Can I get back!?” I exclaimed.  “We certainly hope so, that’s the whole point” explained Hal. I was still confused: “You hope so? What’s the point?”

“It’s about the planet, Scott. As you can see, things are generally pretty good here in 3012. You couldn’t see it then, but you guys already had most all of what you needed to solve a lot of our planet’s problems.”

“We did? A lot of us thought sure we were about to destroy it. What about global warming? I thought for sure we were on the verge of wiping out the planet”

“Ha ha that’s funny,” Dave chuckled, “That’s a really quaint attitude, Scott. That problem just went away.”  Hal went on to explain. “Yeah once the carbon based fuel industry had to charge full market value for its products without the rest of us paying their costs for environmental destruction it was over.”

“The end of fossil fuels. They were just way too expensive. A simple market-based solution” Dave added. Puzzled, all I could say was, rhetorically, “The end?”

 “Anyway, the transmogrification seems to have worked, so here’s why we brought you here. We’re not concerned with energy anymore. Now water is much more precious, and our entire water supply has been contaminated.”

“I thought you guys solved all the problems and are living happily ever after.”

“Not quite. It seems you left this one little problem for us. The decisions your people made back a thousand years ago have now realized their full consequences, and the Mahomet Aquifer is poisoned with the PCBs that, for some reason, you guys dumped right on top of it.”

“But I didn’t do it, and besides, and they promised their liner would last a thousand years, and we took them at their word! They said it would last!”

“Right” said Hal “And now it’s 3012, and it failed, just like they promised. And guess what, Scott, we’re still here!” “As you can plainly see” added Dave.

Hal went on, “Did you guys think otherwise? Did you think we wouldn’t survive? It’s like you didn’t even care about us as long as you could kick your troubles down the road.”

“Well, a few of us cared,” I went on, “but most of us had more important things to do. We had football games to watch, Reality TV to keep up with, presidential elections where lots of us had tremendous difficulty making an actual decision…

Dave turned to Hal and said “Boy, it’s really beginning to sound like they didn’t care about us now.”

But Hal went on: “Anyway, we need you to go back and tell them about us. Tell them that their own progeny will still be here and thriving in a thousand years. Can you just remind them of that? A thousand years is not as far off as they might think.”

“Me? But what can I do?”  I asked.

“Well, our historical research tells us that 1,000 years ago, you were writing a highly influential column for one of the major newsweeklies of your day called the Mahomet Citizen.” Dave explained.

“Um, you guys may want to do some more fact-checking there…” I interjected. But then Hal quickly turned to Dave, “Shhh Quiet! That happened after 2012, stupid. You know we can’t reveal the future!” Then turning to me, he said calmly, “Anyway, it’s time to send you back. We just want you to do your part. That’s all”

Then Hal picked up a small hand held device “What’s that?” I asked. “The new IPad 627. We just downloaded this nifty new transmogrification app.”

“You mean you sent me across 1000 years with an IPad app!?”

Hal stared down intently at his device, explaining “This one has the latest thought activated screen. Hold on a sec…”


I woke up sitting in front of my ten year old Dell laptop with the next Notes from the River column on deadline. And now as the fog in my head clears away, I’m here left wondering:  what, exactly, can I do?

Appeared as "Notes from the River" Mahomet Citizen, November 15, 2012, by Scott Hays

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