Saturday, November 17, 2007

"FuTube" - - Short story by Warren Ellis

Today Warren Ellis sent this short story to everyone on his email list:


"Happy birthday to me oh fuck I want to die," Dave muttered to himself as he unlocked his flat door. 22, and the first day at the job he'd always wanted hadn't gone so well. If you're working at the Breakthrough Physics Institute, he told himself, you ought to be able to operate a coffee maker without setting anything or anyone on fire.

He was afraid to check email until he was good and drunk, in case they'd fired him during his walk home. Nothing there but a mail from YouTube, telling him he'd been sent a new video. He clicked through automatically, ran the video, and sat there looking at himself. "Happy Birthday!" he said to himself. "I'm drunk too!"

Dave peered at the screen. "I look like shit," he said.

The drunk in the video said, "That's because I'm thirty-seven, you bastard. I'm thirty-seven, I'm drunk, and I've cracked back-barrier QT!"

"How did you know I said that? This isn't live cam."

"I know you said I looked like shit because I said it, you drunken fuck. Listen. I am sending this from fifteen years in your future. Fifteen years of working on time travel -- the work you started today after you set the coffeemaker alight. I'm telling them in the morning. But I wanted to prove it first. See, when I send this back in time, into the upload software on YouTube, it'll turn up in their archive straight away up here, and I'll know it worked. So, listen, what do I want you to know... I can't give you stock tips or anything... yes! You're not too drunk to call Paula! Call Paula! Yes, I know she dumped you, but it turned out she just wanted to do some weird stuff in bed and you kept dropping your bottle. If you call her up now and say, I'm sorry, I'm an idiot, do anything you want with me, you'll probably stay with her forever. Go on! Call her now! And in fifteen years you'll invent a way to move information back and forward in time and be happy!"

Dave sat there for ten minutes. And then called Paula.

When he got home three days later, covered in red marks and stupidly happy, he went to watch the video again. But it was missing from his archive, as if it'd never been sent.