Summer, 2026. July to be precise. And the height of the tourist period. People in odd fashions with unfamiliar accents frequented the streets, excitingly hurrying from one object to the next. Many of them struggled with a currency that was unfamiliar to them, having never encountered in their lifetimes our numeral system of ones, hundreds, and God forbid, decimals! This put many off visiting.
Ten years previously, the majority of Britain had been unfrequented by tourists as even Brits would travel places hotter, louder, more exciting and usually cheaper than the attractions in their home country. The ability to experience a new culture, or just sandier beaches. However, people flocked in their hundreds to experience Britain’s rich and vast history, and who knew where they came from.
Time tourism they called it.
A multimillionaire industry that had taken off several years after the discovery and invention of time travel had been let into the public eye. It had been a grand spectacle seeing the contraption they told us was a time machine disappear into thin air, racking in figures larger than that of the broadcast of the lunar landing in 1959. Naturally, the ability to time travel had been kept a secret by the government for at least a decade before that. At first only the most affluent and most important had been able to travel, but soon the likes of GenerationJet, RyanYear and BritishTimeways (as they were all now known) cottoned on, offering budget manipulation of the time vortex for everyone.
Of course, holiday makers were banned from travelling forward in time, lest they find out something they shouldn’t. But everyone knew the scientists and the politicians had been to the future, or at least been informed, and knew what was coming next. There was a thriving black-market business, however, of underground and unsafe contraptions, makeshift time machines to travel people into the future for a cut-throat fee (often quite literally). Many never returned. This information was well known, but as far as the government went it was just another way to clean the streets and get rid of problem causers, who cared where they ended up?
Locals of 2026 were strictly prohibited from conversing with foreigners beyond the likes of their own times, and any enquiries beyond small-talk and “What’s the weather like in 3153?” were not permitted. Rigorous checks were carried out in the underground buildings into which time tourists arrived, these structures somewhat resembled the combination of an airport and a subway and having no windows they prevented potential time terrorists from viewing any of the outside time-zone until these checks had been carried out. These checks ensured no disruption of the time continuum that could be caused by tourists bringing in foodstuffs, weapons, or any other objects from beyond the time they were travelling to. There were rumours that the holidaymakers were bugged on arrival to prevent any unpermitted conversation with locals.
The only way locals could gage any idea of their future existence was by the look of the visitors, who naturally would receive plenty of stares. Locals, such as hotel or restaurant owners, whose entire livelihood depended on their mingling with the tourists, often placed bets upon those frequenting their premises, estimating from which time period they came based on their attire, accent, and etiquette and exchanging those round metal coins tourists thought so strange as they did.