Future Earnings by David Macfie
“I’m a physicist – an old one. I don’t have much of a pension even though I’ve made money and paid a lot of tax. I’m just not that good with money, so I’ve lost a lot as well. I’m an avid reader of fantasy stories and about discoveries in my subject. I’ve been known, sometimes but not often because I prefer books, also to watch a movie or two.”
“’You’ve become a bit of a babbler, as well,’ I hear you say. ‘Why are you telling me all this?’”
“Well, the facts are, I’ve read stories like the time machine by HG Wells. I’ve watched movies, in which geriatric old men decide to go out in style by robbing a bank. I’ve followed the amazing things physicists and engineers have achieved over the years. And, there are fantasy stories, where people are banished to the Pleistocene era of our past or go to the future in a modified car. Then, of course, I need more money for financial security during the years I’ve got left.”
“Did I leave anything out? Oh yes, I nearly forgot. In an effort to earn some cash, I’ve learnt a lot about technologies like the internet. I’ve built websites and learnt how to hack into things like emails to plant viruses and stuff like that. Funny that the most cash I ever earned with this was by hacking into an Investment Company’s database to find out how much my client’s parents were worth – it was a significant fortune. He never met me or told me his name and my fees were delivered to my house, in cash, in a padded cardboard box labelled, ‘Children’s Toys’. He liked this little joke. I thought the whole thing was suspicious, but I needed the money. It got even more suspicious, when I read in the newspaper that an old couple had been killed in a terrible motor accident. I couldn’t make any tangible connections between the couple and my client, but it seemed like too much of a coincidence.”
“But I digress. You’re right. I do babble, particularly when I’m talking to myself. The point is, all these things have been rattling about in my mind for some considerable time. Gradually, they started to organize themselves into a pattern – physics achievements, plus time travel, plus needing money, plus old guys robbing banks, plus hacking into databases. So now I’ve got a plan.”
“Do you get it? – You don’t? I’m surprised. I thought it was obvious. Oh, well, I suppose I’ve been thinking about it for longer than you have. I suppose I should explain. This plan of mine is really simple.”
“But, on second thoughts, why should I spoil the surprise by telling you about it? Why don’t you come with me?”
“Where, you ask? Haven’t you been listening? To the future of course. About twenty years into the future to be precise. I should be dead in real life by then, you see.”
“What do you mean that’s impossible? Haven’t I just been telling you about physics achievements? I don’t just sit on my butt and stare into space, you know. I’m telling you I’ve built my own time machine and tested it, and all that stuff. It works perfectly. Now are you coming or not?”
“Of course it’s risky, but I’m going to this same place so that takes away one difficulty. The time part is the easiest so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“I know everything may be changed by then, but this is a small town that hasn’t changed much in the last century, so I guess there won’t be a lot that’s different. Just come with me, get into the machine and we can go. I’ll explain as we go through the plan.”
“Right it’s twenty eighteen, October third, so I’m going to set the target as the same time, day and month in 2038. See? Now I press this button and we’re off.”
The sensation was of floating. The machine didn’t shake or wobble. In fact it didn’t feel like it was moving at all. The only indication of travel was a date dial going up a year at a time. It stopped at 2038.
“You don’t think we’ve moved at all do you? And when I let you out and we’re in the same room, you’ll be sure we haven’t moved. But then you must look out the window.”
“What did I tell you? It’s not quite the same outside, is it? OK, come with me, I have to open a bank account. Why, you ask? You’ll see. Come on!”
The walk was short and the bank was the same as had occupied that location in 2018, but it had been renovated since then…
There was a short delay with the ID documents, but although old they were still valid. Then a deposit had to be paid in to open the account.
“I have another account here. Can I transfer the deposit from there? Yes? Good. Give me the form to fill in.”
That done the deposit was transferred and the account was opened. Then a check card was handed over and the business was complete.
“Am I right that I can use the new account and card immediately? Yes? Good. I’m expecting some deposits soon.”
They rushed back to the house, only stopping to buy some cold drinks…
“Why are you asking how did I know the house would still be there and the same as before and how did I know about that old account? I said I had a plan. That old account is mine from 2018 and the house is mine. My will is extremely precise in the details of what my family must do with both, when I die. What am I going to do now? Didn’t you hear the part about geriatric men robbing banks? Just sit down and drink your cold drink while I set up my equipment. It’s all in the time machine.”
In no time the laptop was on the table and plugged into the power socket, which also hadn’t been allowed to change.
“OK. Now I’m going to sign on to the internet. I left strict instructions that all changes that I needed to know about would be emailed to me. And that my family had to keep all my stuff up to date and paid for until the end of next year. So be quiet, I need to concentrate.”
The room went still as the old physicist read through his emails and experimented with the changes detailed in them. Finally, he sat back and spoke, in a satisfied voice.
“I’m ready… How can you ask me, ‘ready for what?’ Ready for the geriatric man to rob a bank, of course. You really didn’t keep up all that well, did you?”
For the next hour and a half, the old physicist was quiet and concentrating fiercely. Finally he was interrupted by another question.
“What am I doing? Nothing, I just finished. What did I do? Goodness, I thought you’d have got it by now. I’ve been accessing the corporate accounts of a list of banks and businesses that I brought with me. Eighty five percent of my list are still operating and still have the same bank accounts. I’ve hacked forty five companies and transferred thirty thousand dollars from each to my new account. That’s one point three five million dollars. And, before you ask, I’ve covered my tracks. Nobody will be able to track where the withdrawals went, nor how they were achieved. I have also hacked the bank where the new account is and cleared all the deposits ‘for immediate availability’. That means I can spend the money tomorrow. The hardest part of my plan starts now. Shall we have dinner first? I brought food.”
The meal, with a bottle of good red wine, was delicious. Towards the end came the obvious question.
“Took you long enough,” cracked out the stinging reply. “I thought you’d be more curious. The hardest part is converting this future money into something I can use in 2018. The money in the new account doesn’t exist then so I can’t just withdraw it and take it home. I have to convert it into goods I can sell once we’ve travelled back. Obviously, I’ll pay using the card the bank provided. Yes of course it must be small enough to fit in the time machine. I had to figure it out before we left. It was always going to be the crux of the plan. Once it’s sold, I’m in the clear because the robbery will only happen once I’m dead. Foolproof, isn’t it?”
“What am I going to buy, you ask? You’ll see tomorrow.”
The journey home was uneventful and the selling process netted just over one and a half million dollars.
“You see? I told you people would always buy toys that do things that aren’t yet available in 2018.”