I met a man from the future at one of Ray Bradbury’s talks.
Around 10 years ago Ray would give classes on writing in San Diego once or twice a year. These turned out to be Ray reminiscing about being a writer, not so much about the craft. Not that I minded.
Sitting next to me was this elfin little old man. I noticed him because he was so obviously happy to be there: fidgeting, and winking at me, and nodding along at everything Ray said. As though he’d heard it before, the way a fan would show their familiarity with a much-loved symphony piece, say, by conducting with their fingers along with the performance.
Ray started into a story and the little man caught my eye, grinned, and whispered, “Oh, thees. You’ll love thees one.” He had an odd accent, like a Monty Python caricature of a French accent.
After the talk, there was a question & answer session. The little man eventually was called on, and he looked at Ray and asked, “Tell me, Meester Bradbouree, do you believe een…time travel?”
“No. It’s impossible.”
I was surprised how flatly dismissive Ray was. He sounded almost irritated with the question. This puzzled me.
The little man grinned widely. “Oh, you theenk so?” And tapped his temple.
Later, we lined up for autographs. Predictably, the little man is right in front of me. We get to Ray, and the elf gives Ray a pen to sign with. When Ray takes it, it flares to life like a lightsaber, glowing hot blue. Ray held it up, curious, inspecting it. “Oh, you like eet! It is my gift to you!”
As I walked to my car, I didn’t see how the little man left. Probably because I didn’t look up.