I met a man from the future at one of Ray Bradbury’s talks.
Around ten 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 writing. Not that I minded!
Sitting next to me was this elfin little man with silver hair but the restless energy of a child. He was dressed all in silver, like a jumpsuit. I first noticed him because he was so obviously happy to be there: fidgeting, bouncing in his chair, winking at me when he caught my eye, rubbing his hands together in expectation.
As Ray lectured, the little man kept catching my attention as he was nodding in agreement or chuckling to himself at everything said. Like the buddy who echoes the lines of a movie under his breath to show how well he knows it, or conducts a symphony with his fingers.
At one point Ray launched into a story and the little man leaned over to me, grinning, and whispered like a conspirator, “Oh, thees. You will love thees one!” He had an odd, slurred accent, like a Monty Python caricature of French.
Later, everyone lined up for book signings and autographs. The little man was right in front of me, bouncing on his toes and taking notes on some cards.
We arrived in front of Ray, and the little man said, “I have nozzing for you to zign, Ray Bradbouree, but I have a question for you: Do you believe in time travel?”
“No. It’s impossible.” I was surprised at Ray’s impatient, flatly dismissive tone. Well, maybe he gets asked that a lot. But should a science-fiction writer say something is impossible?
“Oh, you theenk so?” The elf’s smile grew and he slowly shook his silver head, indulging Bradbury’s opinion. Then he handed Ray his pen. At a touch it flared to life like a lightsaber, a hot blue spark, and Ray exclaimed with wonder and inspected it curiously.
“Well, zis is for you anyway. I brought it wiz me.” And the little man fairly skipped away.
As I walked to my car later, I didn’t see how the elf left. Probably because I didn’t look up.