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Pills of Temporal Vision

Doctor Dan Hillburg, one of the top scientists at Vega Prime’s main research and testing facility, gathered a dozen of his fellow scientists into his lab to present his team’s latest prototype. He stood next to a table, on top of which was a silver plate with a cloche on top. The other scientists stood in a semicircle around him.

Dan straightened his posture and began to speak. “Good day, gentleman. Science marches onward and we are the vanguards of that progress. Every year we are developing new technologies that advance humanity and grant us more power over the material world. Any student of mythology will tell you of the farseers who have the ability to peer into the past and future. For the longest time it was regarded as fable and superstition, but we have just created something that will give us that power.”

He lifted up the cloche. “I bring you the pills of temporal vision.”

The scientists leaned forward to get a better look. There were two pills in the center of the plate, one purple and the other orange.

Dan continued. “Imagine it. We can look back into the past and see how historical events really happened. We can peer into the future and behold the marvels that await us. The possibilities are infinite. So who would like to try it first?”

The scientists stood in awkward silence. They remembered Hillburg’s failed experiments.

“Does no one want to see through time?” he asked.

The scientists remained silent.

“Very well,” he said, a hint of irritation in his voice, “I’ll go find a test subject.”

After an hour of asking around, he was unable to find a willing subject. With growing frustration, he went out the backdoor and found a hairy homeless man digging through the dumpster. Used needles, broken beakers, and dirty plastic containers littered the ground next to it.

“Hey buddy,” the man said with a strung-out voice, “you got any spare food?”

“Sure,” Dan replied. “Just come inside.”

“You’re not plannin’ any weird sex stuff, are you?”

“No, we just want you to participate in a science experiment.”

“It won’t involve any weird sex stuff, right?”

“No, it involves taking pills.”

“You’re not plannin’ to drug me and do weird sex stuff, right?”

Dan let out an exasperated sigh. “No, these pills will let you see through time.”

“I’m down for some psychedelics.” The man got out of the dumpster and they went inside and made their way to the lab where the scientists were still standing around. They were repulsed by the vagrant’s foul odor, which was like a combination of bodily waste and decomposing garbage.

“So homeless-”

“My name’s Jeff.”

Dan immediately corrected himself. “So Jeff, are you ready for the experiment?”

Jeff shrugged. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Take this pill.” Dan handed him the purple pill. “Within a few minutes, you should see a vision of the past.”

Jeff brought it up to his eye and examined it. “This reminds me of ecstasy. Have you ever done ecstasy?”

Dan looked at his wrist as if he were staring at a watch. Some scientists awkwardly adjusted their postures. Others were covering their noses with their shirts.

Jeff shrugged again. “Well, here goes nothin’.” He swallowed the pill and waited.

Five minutes passed. Aside from the occasional cough, the room was silent. The homeless man scratched his rear and sniffed his hand, then turned to Dan. “Hey scientist man, are you sure this pill works? I’m not feelin’ anything.”

At that moment, Jeff’s vision melted into a black void with faint white spots far off in the distance. He quickly realized he was floating in space. He turned and saw enormous gas clouds coming closer together, swirling, churning, falling ever inward, until they ignited in a bright flash of light. A white star was born. He looked down and saw vast clouds of dust clumping together, first forming pebbles, then rocks, then boulders. The larger they grew, the more violent their collisions became. They eventually coalesced into a rocky sphere. This world was barren for hundreds of millions of years, but to Jeff, it felt like only a few seconds. Then time slowed and a spacecraft landed on the surface. With its many marvelous machines, it turned the dull gray rock green and blue. Within just a few hundred years, humanity had spread across its surface and built sprawling cities.

Jeff’s vision began to swirl like many colors of paint going down the drain. Next thing he knew, he was back in the lab. He looked around with wide eyes of amazement. “Whoa. That was the best trip I’ve ever had.” He described to Dan what he had seen to the best of his abilities.

“You just described the history of Vega,” the head scientist said. “Now let’s see what the future holds for us.”

Jeff grabbed the orange pill and swallowed it. After five minutes, his vision went black. Then he saw fire. He looked around and recognized the area as the Graveyard of Dreams. All the buildings were burnt-out husks. The sky was burning red and the streets were flooded with blood. Holding position in the atmosphere was a vast fleet of black and red spacecraft that looked like terrifying mockeries of what humanity had produced. Marching past him were thousands upon thousands of men with goatlike heads armed with all manner of weaponry, from simple clubs to chainguns. Following them was a long column of black tanks with glowing red metal eyes. Behind them was a colossal army of humanoid beings clad in black armor of every conceivable design. Some were simple, some were covered in ornate decorations, others were covered in spikes. Even more bizarre and grotesque creatures followed. Some had spindly white bodies covered in eyes, others looked like chaotic collections of geometric shapes covered in glowing sigils.

Something tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and standing before him was a being that filled him with dread: a tall, gaunt man with purplish-gray skin dressed in black and gold robes that were embroidered with strange symbols. He had an effeminate face, glowing purple eyes, and long white hair. Atop his head sat a large golden horned crown with burning red symbols inscribed onto its surface. The man’s thin lips twisted into a sinister smile as he lifted up his arm and directed his palm towards him. Purple flames and electricity swirled around his wrist before launching forward. And then blackness.

Jeff let out terrified screams and began violently convulsing on the floor as if he were having a seizure. Several of the scientists grabbed his limbs and calmed him down.

“What’s wrong?” Dan asked. “What did you see?”

Jeff sprung to his feet, his face pale, his eyes wide with fear, his hands shaking uncontrollably near his head. “Demons! Demons, death, destruction! Fire in the sky! Blood in the streets! The forces of Hell will burn Vega and kill us all!”

“Demons? What are you talking about?”

With panic still in his voice, Jeff described the horrors he had seen. The other scientists gave him dismissive looks.

“Preposterous,” one of them said. “Demons do not exist.”

The homeless man pleaded with them to take him seriously, but they were having none of it.

“Get this madman out of here,” said another.

As they approached him, Jeff snapped and ran out of the facility while repeatedly screaming, “The demons are coming!”

The scientists looked at Hillburg with contempt before walking out of the room. One of them muttered, “Demons. What nonsense.”

Dan lowered his head, knowing this was another in a long line of failures that made him look like a fool. He was about to walk out of the lab, but he stopped in the middle of the doorway, for his mind was plagued with unsettling thoughts. Was the homeless man telling the truth? Would Vega be destroyed by demons in the future? The morbid curiosity was overwhelming. He had to find out for himself.

A week later, a female lab assistant entered Hillburg’s office only to discover that he was gone. This was a surprise to her because he would always call the office if he was unable to come in due to illness or some other unfortunate circumstance. She found a note on his desk. It read:

“If you are reading this, then I am already gone. I created another pill of temporal vision under everyone’s noses. I should have listened to that homeless man because when I took it, I saw the same visions he did: the infernal skies, the blood-choked streets, the endless demonic hordes, and that one tall demon with the purple eyes. When I think about him, my entire body trembles with fear. For all my life, I thought there was no such thing as the supernatural. How wrong I was. I don’t expect anyone to believe me, so I’m getting out of here. Don’t bother looking for me. My only goal now is to beg God for forgiveness.”


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