Disquieting Postcards I’ve Recently Received from My Future Self

aliens in switzerland


Recognize the handwriting? Yeah, it’s me. More precisely, it’s you, circa fifteen years from now. Good news — you’ve finally lost that twenty pounds! Too bad you had to amputate your right leg to do it. At least it means our BMI is low enough to keep us out of the local “Fat Reduction Centre.” The less said about those, the better. I hope you like the card. This is a picture of our home town after the alien invasion. Cool, eh?


— P.S. Don’t sweat the aliens. They’re good for us.

* * *


You again. Okay, first things first. If I know me, you’re having your doubts about how legit these postcards are. You’ve probably even noticed that the postmark is today (your time). Here’s how it works: Some day soon you (previous me) will invent time travel. It’s limited to flat objects no bigger than a postcard and no more chemically complex than a postcard. Actually, it’s limited to postcards, but you’ve invented it. (Will invent it, rather.) Way to go. Oh, and there are still some overheating problems, so I can only send one postcard each day.

Or it’s a hoax. Ha ha.

Now, there’s something you need to remember for tomorrow — don’t have dinner with Susie from accounting. I know you’ve been looking forward to it, but just trust me. Crap, I’m running out of room. Promise me. Whatever you do, don’t go out with Susie. And especially don’t sleep with her. Really.


— P.S. Seriously. BTW, this is a pic of the Ruins of Manhattan.

* * *

Dear Asshole:

You still went out with her, didn’t you? I can tell because I (you) still have Susiecular Herpes. Yes, I know you’ve never heard of it. That’s because in about five years you’ll be first person ever diagnosed with it. When that happens, you’ll be sorry you didn’t listen to me. Okay, let’s try something simple. You probably still don’t believe I’m future you. Here is a prediction that will convince you: Next week, you are going to narrowly escape death. Don’t freak out. Don’t worry about it. You escape it. I’ll write again after that’s happened, and then we might be able to make some progress.


— P.S. This is a picture of Our Glorious Leader. Yes, that’s an accordion. All the aliens play them.

* * *


Listen, I know you’re an ornery bastard, but what’s the point in sending these notes if you insist on manhandling the timeline? By spending the entire week in your apartment, you’ve seriously messed things up. For starters, you didn’t get the promotion you had coming. Which means no trip to the Mayan Riviera this (that) winter. Which means you never meet our wife. And before you ask, the reason I can still remember her is because I’m writing these postcards from within a Grubenstorbian Bubble. I can see with infuriating clarity the repercussions of your actions (or in this case, milquetoast inaction). If you are going to be a complete dick-wad about it, I’m going to stop sending these notes altogether. You know, it’s almost like you’re trying to sabotage your future. (Which pisses me off for obvious reasons.) I loved Sheila! She was very understanding about the Susiecular Herpes, even when the virus mutated and turned our boy Chad into Balzrog the Destroyer. Crap, I’m almost out of space again.


— P.S. This is a picture of the on-ice celebration when the Leafs won the Stanley Cup for the first time in more than sixty years. But you’ll never get to see it now, you bastard. Who could have guessed your vacation in Mexico was so critical to the timeline?

* * *


Hey, more good news. I’ve used all the null-time I’ve had in the Grubenstorbian Bubble to invent an adaptive energy field that will act as a perfect prosthetic for my missing leg. It looks as though I’m hobbling around on thin air; freaky, but who cares? I think this is the last note that I’m going to send. The Bubble is almost out of entropy, and I’d like to get this prosthetic to market as soon as I can. Just promise me you won’t bet against the Leafs, okay? And in case you do finally believe me, for God’s sake, don’t try to track down Susie or Sheila, or act on anything else I’ve told you okay? This whole thing was just one big bad idea.


— P.S. This is a picture of the first Transnormative Human. Freaky, no? Get used to it. They’ve survived your non-trip to Mexico.

* * *

Dear Early-Twenty-First-Century Wanker,

Okay, you win. I guess it really is impossible to improve yourself through time travel. Once again, you’ve screwed me over. The minute I left the Bubble, I was arrested by the Fat Police for Transtemporal Violation of the Fat Laws. Look, remember when I said “The less said about the Fat Reduction Camps the better”? What that didn’t mean was: “It would sure be a great idea for you to write a short story about FRCs and send it off to some shitty science fiction e-zine.” I would have noticed and warned you if it hadn’t taken years for the issue to reach print. I don’t know who to curse (more), you or the glacial pace of the publishing industry. It hardly matters, they’ve got me now. Still, even Our Glorious Leader can’t take away my new invention. And I may just survive the Slorg Diet. At any rate, I won’t be able to send any more notes from where I’m going, so I just have one more thing to say: Play these every week: 3-15-27-29-44-46

In time,


— P.S. Wish you were here.

The End


Not into time travel? Read some of my long fiction before your future self returns to warn you about them!

Originally published by AE – The Canadian Review of Science Fiction in their first issue, October 2010, and it was one of the Million Writers Notable Stories of 2010. Alltop once married its own great-great grandparents. Postcard image by Franco Brambilla.

Cindy and The Ravens

cindy feeds the ravensWhen the talking ravens had appeared, introducing themselves as Hugin and Munin, naturally everyone had been astonished. They could speak English, several Scandinavian languages, and a tongue not heard in a thousand years, though a few scholars recognized it as Old Norse.

And it was kind of cute that the awkward and strange little girl, Cindy Doin, liked to feed them in the graveyard. They would have long conversations together, chatting about all sorts of nonsense … how she should tie her bow? How to keep her socks from falling down? How soon it would be until the giants appeared so they could get Ragnarok started.

When Cindy started carrying around a javelin, the townsfolk were worried, but she still seemed harmless, so they let her be. Even when she started riding around on the eight-legged horse, people were willing to accept her eccentricities. But the two giant wolves? Outrageous.

Not to mention the statuesque blonds flitting around with spears, broadswords, and shields, wearing nothing but tight-fitting gossamer robes.

Actually, it was just some of the lady-folk who objected to that.

Worried about Ragnarok? Read some of my long fiction before the World Serpent awakes!

Alltop is more poetic than Bragi, which is too bad because it’s a humor site.


Graffito of a cartoon vampire looking at garlic

Vampire fiction was my education. It was all I was allowed to sink my teeth into when I was young.

And when I was just a little boy, I loved it.  My mom introduced me to the vampire Lestat, and all his cronies, and I caught the hunger for bloodsucking then. We read Stephen King’s book, Salem’s Lot.  We went back to the original, by Bram Stoker. And read other Victoriana.

But then something bad happened, at least for me and all the others who once found a thrill in the vampire myth – the vampires became the heroes of the stories. They became the ideal. And then they got sparkly.

It was at that point that I lost all interest. Mom found other things to occupy our time, and we moved on. Sure we were annoyed by the proliferation of teenie-bopper nosferatu, but we took it in stride.

And then humanity discovered that vampires were real.

People disappeared every year. Everybody knew that. The authorities assumed the people who disappeared were runaways, or homeless, or had nobody looking out for them, so they just kind of fell off the radar.

But then in 2021 the first conscious AI came online, and the fellow who invented it had lost a sister under similar circumstances.  He instructed iT (short for intelligent Technology) to look for clues to her fate, and you know what iT found?  Lots of people “disappeared” because the vampires were eating them, and then disposing of their bodies.

It was horrible.  No doubt about it, but at the same time, it seemed like a pretty minor problem, given all our other issues – massive climate change, population migration, genocide. But at this point, we’d had TruBlood, Twilight, a host of other similar stories, and  a generation of women had fallen in love with the idea of sparkly, sexy vampires. They sought out the hidden nests of the undead. Most never returned, and those that did make it home again usually ate all of their former family.

It was clear that something had to be done.  Once and for all, many of us decided, we must eradicate the menace of vampires from the Earth.  This rag-tag assemblage of people were probably the last group that you’d expect to tackle such dangerous quest – we were nerds, geeks, obsessive fanboys.  But we were able to convince a few geneticists and nanotechnologists to work on technologies that could turn these evil bloodsuckers into productive members of society.  And they did it!

All we had to do to turn a vampire back into a quasi-human was an injection of the nanotech in the heart.

iT helped us figure out the vectors — where did the vampires live during the day, and what did they do at night?

So we had a solution, and we had the information on how to find them, but there was still that pesky problem of delivering one injection into an extremely pissed-off vampire. Hardly the most promising of theraputic settings.

And that’s when we stepped up. Those of us who had once loved the vampire myth, but could no longer take the insipid literature of the new, sexy version of vampire.  We looked at the problem and said, “We will do this terrible job.”

The called us Nosfaradudes.

While the vampires had practical invulnerability to regular weapons, superhuman strength, speed and senses, we had science. We were outfitted with full-body, full-spectrum light emitting suits.  It was tight to the skin, but you couldn’t really tell because of the full-spectrum nodules covering every inch of it.  Even a starving vampire would find it impossible to approach, because daylight would shine from us like miniature, rotund suns.

Many of the Nosfardudes were in it for the adventure. The violence. For me, it was all aesthetics. I needed to make the vampires pay, and not only for the pain they’d physically inflicted on generations of human beings.

For all those sparkly vampires, I would have my revenge.

The End

Enjoy this short satire? How ’bout some in book form?


Alltop has humor that doesn’t suck. Great photo by Ross Harmes. Originally published June, 2013.

How I Spent the Ice Age

Mountains, snow, and glacier -- Chile

The new arms weren’t as much fun as I hoped they’d be, but they were sure useful during the crisis.

As you know I’m not really into the bodmod community, but I’d always thought it would be cool to be able to swing from tree to tree, the way we saw the Reclaimed Gibbons do in the preserve, when we were in high school. Yeah, the one down in Souwesto, near the ruins of Toronto, remember? That was a great trip.

I got the new arms a few weeks before it started. They weren’t actual Gibbon arms, of course, but a beautiful bit of work by a friend of mine, who dabbles in bio-enhancement. She mostly works with nano, but I keep telling her she has a real flare for the genetic arts too, so she did a combination. The plan was to spend my vacation swinging with my simian friends in Souwesto. Tree swinging that is.

Of course I got the hair on them; I’m not totally fake!

My musculature had just finished healing — even with the latest developments, flesh bodies adapt slowly to nano — but I don’t need to tell you that do I? Duh. I sometimes forget that we’re all real time now, even you guys on Big Red.

Anyway, the worst happened. Multiple eruptions, right when we were at our peek seeding of the atmosphere. Temps dropped. The snow started falling. Piling up. And bam. Ice age.

In miniature, anyway. Of course, it couldn’t last, but the damage. Wiped out my Gibbon buddies in Souwesto. And nearly got all of us here in Nunavut too.

But these babies were awesome. You know how much easier it is to ski and snowshoe if your arms can provide half the power? The hair was useful too — an extra layer for warmth. And I’ve been told they’re awesome in zero-G, so I think I’ll keep them until after I visit you.

Though I’m sure it still won’t be as weird as your green skin, man. That I have to see with my own eyes.

Enjoy this? There’s more like it in my longer works.

Alltop swings with the yuks. Photo by Stuck in Customs.