By Bill Fountain
In the year 10209, humans have access to a product that will show them their future in its entirety. It is observed through an augmented reality machine that gives a precise layout of every event that will happen in the future of its observer up until their death. It is common knowledge that once the devices are used to view future events, the knowledge of the events has the capacity to change the future tremendously. Once you see your future, you have a 1% chance of actually living that future. In short, these devices are mainly used by people who are personally struggling, and want a stern wake up call. Due to its exponential ability to change future outcomes, the product has never been recorded to have ever prevented any sort of tragedy.
A man was fired from his job and purchased the device after going several months drinking away his days in hopeless isolation. Through the future-telling device, he learned his organic future consisted of him winning the lottery and making enough money to become one of the top ten richest people on the planet. The mere knowledge of this fact had skewed his inevitable real life path, as the man proceeded to spend the rest of his life buying lottery tickets. Without viewing his future, he would have had a natural impulse to buy a lottery ticket at a random future date. His new path of desperately seeking a winning lottery ticket proved fallible, and the man died alone, drunk and penniless.
Thom was in a similar situation as the man, only he knew that his own poor decisions had landed him in the circumstances he was currently facing. He was employed full-time with a software company, when he decided one day that he hated his job and wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He quit his job and began writing incessantly, publishing manuscript after manuscript to web corporations. After a full year of having not made any money from his venture, he began doubting himself. Thom wanted to know with certainty whether or not he was going to become a published author one day.
He purchased the future-telling device, and proceeded to put on the avatar suit and special contact lenses. He sat back in his desk chair, and activated the machine. Thom's future begins playing before his eyes at a tremendous rate, and he has the option of slowing down or skipping any events. The full process usually takes about two hours, and the person will see their entire future until when and how they will die.
What he learns is that he is extremely vigilant with his dreams of becoming a writer, and continues to try to be the best there ever was. He spends eighty hours a week in isolation, taking drugs and hacking away at novels and screenplays. His family begins to grow concerned with Thom, as his life appears to be heading nowhere. He hasn't even earned a single penny from his writings. When Thom is forty-two years old, he commits suicide by hanging, experiencing a similar demise as the infamous lottery dreamer.
Thom removes the gear as he wakes up in the real world, absolutely shocked by what he had just experienced. After discussing the matters his therapist, he decides to quit the writing dream and get himself a job again. He struggles to find work at software companies, and goes through an existential crisis where he doesn't understand his value to society. He curses his existence, and begins isolating just as he did in his vision, only this time he wasn't even writing anything.
Eventually Thom becomes bored with his lifestyle. His parents agreed to pay his rent while he pursues writing full time, but it appears he isn't using his time to do anything productive. He is smoking marijuana and drinking alone in his one bedroom apartment on a daily basis. Thom wants to give up, but he learns that even though he hated to try new things, doing nothing was too boring and was making him hate himself.
He gets a job working at the Walmart of the future, putting aside his ego and taking whatever opportunity he can to do something with his days. He reads a lot about the importance of adopting responsibilities, and at first it sounded counter-intuitive to him. If he can't even manage his own life, why on Earth would he want to put himself in charge of more things? He couldn't deny that the people who were preaching this message had something he wanted, so he figured he had nothing to lose to just add responsibility into his life.
After six months of working at that shopping center, Thom finds a lot of frustrating things about his co-workers and the overall expectations of the job. He didn't want to just quit, but he had an overwhelming urge to share his annoyances with his job with somebody- anybody. It seemed everyone there didn't feel the way he did, so whenever he tried venting with people he thought he liked, it turned out he felt like the crazy one. He decides to write a novel about a character living through this job based on the antics he sees every day.
Unlike his previous writing strategy, he was now more structured in the way he divvied out his time. With his newly adopted responsibilities, he only had certain hours on the weekend to write, and he used that time wisely. He thoroughly enjoyed writing the novel, and even though he didn't plan on making it a comedy, he couldn't help but make himself laugh as he was typing out the draft.
After spending a full two years working at the "Walmart" and writing his book on the side, he finally completes a manuscript he is fully satisfied with. He sends it in to fifteen publishing companies, and is offered a prestigious book deal by one of them. His book becomes a best-seller, and even with Thom's new money, he still works part-time. He does not want to grow complacent with his achievements, and begin slacking off. Thom understands the crucial significance of having responsibilities, and knows his life can go off the deep end when he's left to his own devices.
He continues to adopt more responsibilities, actively live life, and one day meets a woman at one of his jobs. She was someone who didn't even know about his success, and the spark and chemistry he felt with her was undeniable. They end up dating and becoming husband and wife, starting their own family for the world.
Thom burns the future-telling device, never wanting to jeopardize his organic future ever again. In his first pathway, Thom studied the art of writing obsessively, and tried desperately to simulate what he thought a good writer was. In his second pathway, he started going outside and experiencing things, and was given natural material he could write about that people could relate to and wanted more of.
Thom's parents handed him things all his life, but he wasn't able to achieve serenity and success until he started to work for things. He becomes a strong father, husband and writer; a true value to himself and all of the people around him.