I have a lot of ideas for
stories. Like, if I wrote a novel’s
worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through
them all. I will admit that some of the ideas
probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make
something of them. I’ll just never get a
chance to. So, I give them to the world. If you can make something of these, go right
ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m
giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.
I don’t really have a
title for this idea. It’s an idea I had just
in early January. I was still playing
with it when I went, “Oh, if I make the main character black that could … mean
I probably shouldn’t be writing this idea.” As a white guy I know some things
about racism in the US over the past century, but I haven’t lived it which is
probably necessary for this story to really hit home. Also, if any of the plot points I’ve come up
with dealing with racism are factually wrong, it’s just my ignorance.
I don’t have any names
figured out, so just for simplicity I’ll call the characters Grandfather,
Father, Son, and Brother. Son being the
main character born in the summer of 1941 somewhere in the deep South. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Grandfather starts pressuring Father to join the military. His reasoning is if the white folk see black
folk fighting for the country, that will surely weaken racism. At the time Grandfather is in his early
forties, and would join himself but he has a limp or something. At first Father doesn’t want to because it’s
war, but also he has a wife and six month old to take care of. But he eventually does volunteer. And nine months after he ships out, Brother
Now, as a black man
fighting in World War II, the clichéd – and tad racist – idea would be to make Father
a Tuskegee Airman. But in this story, he
spends most of the war doing the logistically vital job of unloading ships in
Italy. I’m not sure where black units
served, but that seems likely.
As the war in Europe is
winding down, or maybe just after it finishes, Father receives word that his
wife has died. She was hit by a car,
which didn’t stop. And while she was
only a block or so from a hospital, it was a White’s Only hospital. She bled to death while a Good Samaritan was
trying to get her to a black hospital on the other side of town. And when Father returns home, he finds his
service made no impact on the racism he faces.
So he becomes rather bitter and disillusioned with everything.
backstory. The main story starts in 1958
when Son is seventeen. In 1957, Russia
launched Sputnik, and the space race was on. Son is optimistic for this new age, maybe
even fantasizing of going off to fight Space Nazis. Some of this is from his Grandfather, who
still holds out hope we can all live together.
Father is still bitter, and has possibly become an alcoholic.
One day, Son is walking
down the street, when there is a bright flash, some pain, and he ends up in
this blasted area with odd equipment scattered everywhere. There are a couple of people there, and at
first they talk to him in an unknown language, but then they switch to this
terrible Shakespearean style of English.
The story, Son eventually
figures out, is that about 500 years from now, these aliens attack Earth with a
sucker punch that kills most people and forces the survivors to flee. And for the next 500 years, the survivors
fight a losing guerrilla war against these aliens. Along the way, they come across the remains
of several other alien races the bad aliens have exterminated. One of them was working on a time machine
that they had about 90% complete. The humans
gather everything and spend a few decades finishing it.
They sneak back to the
wastes of Earth, and set up the machine.
Their plan is to send someone a thousand or so years into the past with knowledge
of advanced technology. They’d start spreading
this out to jump start our technology, so hopefully we’d be better able to
defend ourselves when the aliens show up.
They sent the test subject back, but unfortunately, it was just where
Son was and he got sucked into the future and the system overloaded and the
time machine blew up.
So Son gets to live his fantasy
of fighting space Nazis, which he quickly learns isn’t great. And even with some benefits – he has new
genes he can … inject into the somewhat shallow gene pool – he does want to
return home. He also learns that the
person they sent back was a black man, which probably didn’t go over well. And he has to explain why. After five centuries of progress, then an
attack which destroyed or made the survivors leave behind 99.9999% of
historical records, and then five more centuries of bleak survival, the people
in the future have absolutely no idea what life was like in the Twentieth
Century. One of the few things that
survived is Shakespeare, which is what they figure people in the past talked
like. To them, the concept of racism is so
bizarre they figure Son must be pranking them.
It takes a few years to
gather the parts and remake the time machine.
In that time Son teaches them the technology of his time, so they give
him some things that would probably be developed in a few decades. Unfortunately, since the first machine was
destroyed, they don’t have the precise numbers, but they think they can get him
back to roughly the right time.
Son is sent back, and
ends up on the side of the road about now.
A case could be made that he showed up around the time George Floyd was murdered,
but I leave that to anyone who writes this story. It might be raining, or just about to, when a
truck driven by a white guy pulls over and asks where Son is going. As a 1950’s black kid, Son replies, “I’m just
heading to the library, Sir.” But then he’s surprised when the man tells him to
hop in and he’ll give him a ride. Now
the driver, seeing a young man who calls people Sir, figures Son must have been
in the military. He asks where he
served, and Son just muddles through saying he helped unload ships. And the man thanks him for his service.
Son tries to hide his
confusion when the man drops him off at what – in the 1950’s – was the white
library. But he sees white and black
people going in, so he goes in. This is
where he meets Girlfriend. Her story is
that she works at the library part time while she goes to college. The reason she is there is because you need
someone to believe that he traveled from the past to the future and back to now
to explain to him how the internet works or who Obama is, without just writing
him off as a crazy person. At first she
thinks he is a crazy guy, but then he shows her the technology he brought back,
which I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it’s a different way of doing
something we already have.
Anyway, once Girlfriend
is convinced of Son’s story, she helps him find out about his family. Grandfather and Father are both dead, but
Brother is still alive in a retirement home.
They go to visit him, and learn what happened when Son left. That same day, this weird black guy tried
talking to some white woman about some random technology, which caused an
incident and the man ended up being lynched.
His family figured Son somehow got caught up in it all and was lost in a
And that’s all I
have. This idea just started as someone
from the 1950’s seeing the bleak future, and then ending up in this time. I wasn’t sure what else to do with it, but
then when I thought about making the main character black, it opened up a lot
of possibilities. We can see 1950’s
racism, a world where – through time and tragedy – racism has been forgotten,
and the racism of today. For example, I
left open the race of Girlfriend. Maybe
she’s third generation Hispanic still being accused of being in the country
illegally, or maybe she’s Korean and some accuse her of releasing Covid. There is the potential for a lot of meat to
this story. Hopefully, somebody writes