Slattery opened his mailbox. Inside was a letter from the Precrime Division. He rushed inside his apartment and opened the envelope with trembling fingers. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Slattery,
The Precrime Division has determined that you are about to commit a crime. Because you have not yet committed this crime, you will not be arrested and imprisoned.
We assume that being notified that we know you are either planning or will impulsively commit a crime in the near future — and that you will be the obvious suspect should this crime occur — will be sufficient to deter you from committing the crime.
If for some insane reason you still commit this crime, we feel PreCrime is still an awesome idea since we’ll already know who probably did it, so we’re still better off than if we didn’t have PreCrime in the first place. Plus, the mere existence of PreCrime has prevented 90% of serious crimes from occurring, thus saving countless lives.
So don’t commit the crime.
The Precrime Division
Slattery tore up the letter and threw it into the trashcan where it was efficiently consumed by nano-trash-bots. “Well shit,” he said, “I guess I won’t commit this crime, and also my civil rights haven’t been violated as they would have been if this were some bullshit libertarian dystopic nightmare fantasy!”
Flaherty had just murdered his wife for her insurance money. Panicking, he fled the scene, barely stopping even to dump the kitchen knife into a dumpster on the way back to the downtown apartment he shared with his mistress, Bette (pronounced “Bett-y,” not “Bet,” by the way).
Having successfully pushed it to the limit, Paul Engemann wasn’t sure where to go from there. He had successfully traversed the razor’s edge, crashed the gates like a bat out of hell…how many men could say the same? Could boast of having not only reached the limit, but taken it a step further than anyone in his right mind would dare? That was something to be proud of, something he could keep with him for the rest of his life.
Wallace Burwick, 34, Caucasian male, entered a Safeway supermarket looking for two cans of garbanzo beans and a gallon jug of drinking water. As he entered the “Canned Vegetables” aisle, he saw a middle-aged woman with poufy dark hair (indeterminate ethnicity) at the beans section, standing directly in front of the chickpeas.
Bunnies and fawns grazed peacefully in a verdant meadow. Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light! A hole appeared in mid-air, and a man stepped through. He brushed himself off as the hole sizzled to a close behind him, leaving only a faint whiff of ozone.
Slattery checked to make sure his satchel was still securely tightened. Inside were a thousand crisp dollar bills. It was the last of what had been an enormous fortune, nearly all of which had been spent researching and developing a working time machine. With this remaining thousand, though, he’d build a fortune that would dwarf even his former riches!
Slattery stood on the roof of the burning building and raised his fist as he shouted to the night sky…”FREEDOM! FREEDOM FROM TYRANNY!”
On the street below, a crowd had gathered. A lone voice wafted up from the throng: “Why? What’s your beef?” The voice belonged to a shortish bespectacled man named Nelson O’Malley, who worked as an accountant in one of the top firms in their futuristic utopian society, but who had thus far failed to find a suitable mate, and so lived alone in a plasteel habitat tower with three cats and a sizable collection of holographic hermaphrodite porn.
Slattery burst into the Temporal Control Room and aimed his ion pistol at a spot just between the eyebrows of the Time Lord. “Sic semper tyrannis!” Slattery screamed as his finger tensed on the trigger.
“Wait!” the Time Lord cried, his hands raised in alarm. “Why are you doing this?”
John Waite sat at the table in his dressing room, wiping sweat from his face with a cool, damp washcloth. In the distance, he could still hear the screams of his fans out in the arena. Another successful stop on his American tour. Another five thousand teenaged girls clutching his album to their chests as they drifted off to sleep tonight.
Steve Perry walked into the darkened bedroom. Sue-Lynn was already asleep, her long blonde hair splayed across both of their pillows. He knelt beside her and leaned in to plant a soft kiss on the back of her neck. Sue-Lynn moaned softly and rolled over. She opened her eyes and smiled. Wordlessly, she lifted herself up from the bed and kissed Steve, her lips dry but soft against Steve’s own.