This morning I was sitting eating my bagel in my cafe in the middle of town, when a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked me the time. I turned around. He was sitting at the next table with his back to mine. He was shorter than me - but then, most people are - and about sixty years old. Gaunt, thick white hair, dressed like a university professor, and he checked his wristwatch as I told him the time according to mine.

"And what date?" he asked, pressing a button on his watch.

"The twentieth," I replied.

"Of December?" he asked.


"What year?"

"Uh... Two thousand and two. AD," I added as an afterthought. At that point I noticed the nineteen-year-old youth sitting at the seat opposite him, obviously listening to this conversation. He was skinny, with spiked blond hair and a leather jacket.

"Thank you, young man, you've been a great help," said the professor. He turned away and resumed his conversation. I turned back to my bagel and continued to eat, but I couldn't help listening in.

"Accursed boy."

"Oh, come on. Like you're any better than me at mental arithmetic. It was a mistake anybody could've made."

"Well, if you'd finished the software quickly enough we wouldn't have had to do it all by hand in the first place. I only brought enough fuel for the trip here and back, we'll have to go home, stock up and make another expedition."

"Oh, man... That's bad. I guess we'd best not stick around any longer than necessary, then."

"Agreed. Let's get out of here."

They left a few minutes later, discussing something or other about Bond movies. I feel a little weirded out by this for some reason, and I don't know why.

Update: see December 20, 2003