“We have to find your future self,” said Ivy. “He’s bound to know how to fix the time machine, right?”
“Of course! Then we can go back to the past,” said Adao, who was beginning to feel like they were not only trapped in the future, but in a cheesy 80’s movie as well. They entered the nearby store, which was definitely not Walmart. Everything was sleek and shiny, glowing with lights and moving screens. Adao looked around, amazed by the technology. There was not a single human in the shop.
“Robots!” he said, the realization hitting him. The shop was entirely run by human-sized robots – some of which looked exactly like the prototype he’d been working on back in 2015. Could these be the future generations of his own inventions? “Wow!” he breathed.
“Maybe they can help us find the future you,” said Ivy. She marched up to one of the robots. “Excuse me. Do you have a computer we can use?”
“What kind of computer?” asked the robot in a smooth female voice that sounded a lot like Siri.
Ivy shrugged. “A desktop? A laptop?” The robot did not seem to know what she was talking about. Finally, Adao pulled out his cell phone and was able to do a search. The only familiar name in the online directory was Virginia Zackowski. He saved her address, then the two of them set off to track her down. They took the strangest light rail train ever to the outskirts of town, where Virginia’s neighborhood lay nestled in the hills.
“I feel like we’ve gone back in time,” said Adao, looking around at the run-down and very non-futuristic house.
Ivy hushed him as the door opened, and a much older and more haggard-looking Virginia stepped out. She frowned at the two of them, narrowing her watery, red eyes. “Do I know you?” She blinked a few times, then took a step back. “Ivy Malik?”
“Yes, it’s me,” said Ivy. “But listen – Adao and I have just traveled here from the past. We’re trying to get back home.”
Ivy’s tired face cracked into a grin. “That explains why you both look so young! Come in, come in!”
Adao and Ivy exchanged glances. Leave it to Virginia not to even question something as bizarre as time travel. They entered her home, which was just as shabby inside as out. Virginia was talking five miles a minute. She lit up a cigarette and began to tell them the entire tragic story of her life since high school. She had tried to make it as a singer, and even learned to play guitar for tips. But when money had run tight, she had resorted to…less favorable arts. She burst into loud, gulping sobs, her thick makeup streaking her face.
While Ivy consoled Virginia, Adao excused himself and went to search for a bathroom.
Instead, he found himself in Virginia’s bedroom. What he found was shocking. Next to Virginia’s bed was a huge stash of drugs and used needles. He sent Ivy a quick text. “I think that Virginia forgot that users are losers. She’s a total pothead!”
Ivy tried to confront Virginia about it. “Look, maybe there’s someplace we can take you to get help,” she offered.
Virginia’s face twisted with anger. “Oh, so now you think you’re better than me?” Her voice slurred, and Adao realized that she was probably high or drunk even now. “Look, I told you where Mr. Grayson Bigshot lives. So why don’t the two of you get the fuck outta my house?” She waved her arms around wildly, lost her balance, and fell to the floor. Adao and Ivy hurried for the door, leaving their old friend lying in a sobbing heap on her dirty floor.