....while most of the flotsam and jetsam that wash ashore for us here at Pearl River Flow is from the Past, it is not unheard of for things to arrive from more ambiguous timelines....
IN THE YEAR 2014!
Though the fears of men might be turned from thing to thing, in the ancient days of the future past, in that neon-and-chrome future of the movie (and year) 2001 - in that decade, one truth held sway over the hearts and minds of men.
That which they feared most would certainly never harm them.
This truth was first postulated by an ancient human philosopher, the infamous FPJerome, who called it "Jerome's first law." To wit: "The less important information is, the more likely it is to be transmitted."
This was certainly true of old Earth human culture, and at a glance might be taken as a harmless potshot - not all information can be important, and frivolity might be frequently sought in the trying times of that distant past, the late 1990s and early "aughts."
However, in that benighted future, this held true of even life-or-death threats. The amplification of useless information left people terrified of vaccines against deadly diseases, and fearful of viruses they would never catch. They cowered in pants-shitting terror because bearded men had guns half a world away, while being entirely uncertain and uncaring in the face of extinction.
Certainly, men were excoriated for horrible reasons, and wretched truths let slide. But in the distant future, in that year two thousand and fourteen, ONE MAN realized that there was a foe far more expensive and dangerous than any terrorist.
ONE MAN. Goode McRatatoskr. Interstellar squirrel hunter. This day he was waiting on a hoverskip transport in the swamps of the Planet Thetan. Long after everyone left Earth in 2001, it had been discovered that, unlike the planet of mankind's birth, most other planets in the Milky Way had only one defining ecosystem. There were swamp planets, ocean planets, desert planets, lava planets, sure - but too see them all combined into one functional whole was the work of nothing but High Fantasy.
McRatatoskr rode the roiling repulsors into a roaring wakeless summer sunset. He really wished that the hovercraft would leave a glinting wake, but the hunting of mankind's greatest remaining foe could brook no such breach of the squirrel-stealth protocol McRatatoskr had himself developed in his decades spent hunting the wiley Sciuridae, the species of which he had dubbed "the scurrying plague."
His guns were at the ready. The season was open. The limit was reasonable - for reasonable men. McRatatoskr was no such man. He was driven. Driven by the reported death of a family, from some guy, ranting in a storeroom. Squirrels had killed a family. Someone's family. By throwing themselves into the electricity. Like squirrels do.
McRatatoskr knew his all too well. Sure, on Ancient Earth people ate squirrels. But here - here he'd heard the opposite. He'd have to either kill more than eight squirrels or stop listening to random ranting people at the store where he bought all his squirrel hunting gear.
The gear. His high tech hope against the scurrying menace. A man unarmed would face little chance of defeating the bucktoothed terrorists. But McRatatorskr was as armed as the Planet Texas, and as prepared and aggressive as Planet Roosevelt. No squirrel would escape him this day.
"Not this day." He muttered to the robo-driver, who was actually just a guy wearing some foil to fool people into treating him like a human being.
He looked to the scent-cancelling vapor-trans. Ran a calloused trigger finger over the wick-strips of his squirrel-pheromone biobait grenades. Set the adjustable stubble on his Iron Jaw to 5 o'clock, even though it was hardly dawn.
But the jewel in his Squirrel-Murder arsenal was the rifle he called "The Squirrel Sweeper." The high-tech Nitro Piston would propel a 926.6 milligrams of fine alloy at 335 meters per second, and there was no squirrel that could survive an accurate shot from his wrath.
"It's 2014." He told the gun. "The year these squirrels learn to fear man, instead of the other way around."