'Horatio Alger' (short story)

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Mon, 2018-02-12 01:40

Stefan Hickson was freshening up at the health spa and about to leave. He had just showered and dressed, and felt great. Hickson very much believed in self-improvement.

"Namaste, Stef!"

Hickson looked around in quiet shock. The young gentleman stood in tranquility about twenty feet from him. He was no longer alone, late at night, in his gym. He checked out the stranger a moment.

"Hello there," he replied. There was a pause. "Who are you?"

The situation was certainly odd. Hickson had been relaxing and, because it was so late at night, he seemed to have the ritzy spa all to himself. But no longer. The stylish and healthy-looking newcomer had evidently appeared out of thin air, opposite from the door out.

"How did you get in here?" The phenomenon was inexplicable to him.

But the unknown young gentleman didn't look threatening. In fact, his appearance –- in clothes, posture, and facial expression -- was about as reassuring and comforting as it was possible to be.

The newcomer also seemed to be almost surreally cheerful. And filled with delicious anticipation. Hickson decided to play it completely cool.

"Did you have a good work-out?" said the youth brightly, but in a slight accent.

It had been wonderful, actually. But Hickson had zero interest in discussing it. He looked at the strangely familiar face in a subdued, inquiring manner.

"Please tell me who you are," he said in his best calm, friendly voice.

The stranger smiled luminously.

"I'm you."

There was dead silence. The two men eyed each other closely.

"I see."

There was more silence. Neither moved or took their eyes off the other.

"Well, what do you want?"

"To help."


"Yes." The stranger's smile grew. It was rather disconcerting.

"That's very nice. How did you get in here?"

There was another pause. Both men looked serene. But only one really was so.

"I materialized thru an extremely powerful transport device." He indicated a large, fuzzy, oval shape off to the side. It was wavery and indistinct. It was also of a color and texture Stefan Hickson had never seen before. He walked over to it, examined it closely, learned next to nothing, and looked back at the stranger. Hickson decided to stay silent.

The unknown man was preternaturally calm. His seductive smile remained, as Hickson's irritation grew. The older man's silent immobility neither offended, nor disturbed, nor threw off the stranger's game, one iota.

After a pause the visitor said, "All you have to do is walk thru that portal. You'll be taken to a far better future. And you'll gain virtual immortality. The society, culture, health, wealth, pleasure, satisfaction, and transcendent joy is also far better there. So too the education and virtue of the people you'll find there. It's almost Utopia!"

Hickson tried to play it cool. He thought over everything that was said to him while mostly keeping his face carefully neutral.

Reluctantly, Hickson had to admit to himself that the odd person before him did look pretty much like the spit 'n' image of a much younger version of his truly. A much healthier and happier version too. And even one of considerably superior knowledge, goodness, confidence, and spiritual domination.

Ultimately, Stefan Hickson couldn't have been more impressed. Even the stranger's quirky attire –- a comfortable, protective, unitary garment, with hidden pockets, of deep and sparkly purple -– was seductive and amazing.

"Come with you? Thru that alleged time and space portal?"

"Exactly." His cheer was iron-clad. Indeed, it was catching.

"Sure. No problem."

Stefan Hickson had a million questions. He decided to ask none of them. Despite the sheer freakishness of the situation, he really had not the slightest doubt of what to do. Indeed, he had a touch of fear that the exotic stranger, and his magical exit from hell, might vanish if he hesitated too long.

So thru the portal he went. His younger doppleganger instantly followed.

After virtually no sensation, other than intellectual shock on the part of
Hickson, the two friends immediately found themselves in a singularly luxurious and even awe-inspiring room.

He looked at his alternate Self –- and could almost guess what was coming.

"All you have to do -– your only true job -– to effectuate this magnificent personal ascent is do what I just did twenty-two years from now," said youthful Stefan Hickson.

He grinned. "You can't lose."

The portal flickered brighter. The supposedly younger version of himself gave a dazzling smile of triumph...and then disappeared back thru the portal. Off to his time, perhaps.

Hickson was amazed and acutely disappointed. But before he had a chance to worry he heard a soft sound and turned around. Before him was perhaps one of the top five prettiest and sexiest girls he had ever seen.

"Welcome to 2178!" she intoned musically, with a perfectly charming smile and sumptuous body-language.

"But we call it 2778 A.R. -- After Reason."


"Let me orient you to our world! And now yours. You're from 2020, no?"

"2620, yes. I'm Stefan. What's your name?"

"I'm Tamara. Please don't worry. There's virtually nothing to fear here. And your orientation is entirely paid for. In fact, you're rich. Your benefactor saw to that."

"Did he? Awfully nice of him. He must like me." Stefan grinned.

"Well, you'd expect that. He's another version of you, isn't he?"

"So it would seem."

"Alright, then! Walk this way, please." She expertly swung her hips and lightly jiggled her top. The girl's allure was irresistable. Not that Hickson was in any way resisting.

Into a room with three others he went. All were young, attractive, and vibrant with health, virtue, pleasure, and rationality. With surprising rapidity, they filled him in on his new place and time. They gave him clothes, money, and up-to-date tech. They told him where to find his bank, and some good hotels, restaurants,

clubs, stores, schools, and "funzones". And they gave him a specially-prepared guide book for further reference.

The Welcoming Committee, as Hickson thought of them, also told him what medical clinic to go to in a few days to regain his youth and achieve immortality. Meanwhile, they had him remove his clothes, stand on something spongy, and "irradiated" him for a few minutes from some unknown source. That alone made him feel five years younger and decathalon-like healthier.


Stefan Hickson did everything he was told –- for perhaps the first time in his life -– and passionately resolved to "do his job" 22 years later. It is important, he was told several times, "not to disturb or break his time line". Hickson didn't want to trip himself up.

By the time he settled down for the night – with a gorgeous companion somehow at his side -– Hickson realized he needed to get a new job here in 2178. Make that 2778 A.R. As always, he had a desperate desire to be productive.

But no rush. The job search could wait until the morning. Now was the time for triumph, wonder, celebration, and pleasure. Hickson indulged himself completely. This included a marvelous drug he didn't even know existed.

What a great future he had in store!