France Runs Out Of Time

Mark Starlin
9 min readJun 10


Andriyko Podilnyk

France’s feet crunched in the gravel as he poked his head inside the open boxcar door. It was empty. A whistle pierced the clear blue sky as a cloud of steam rose from the engine’s smokestack. It was decision time. He could hop in and escape, putting his past — the future — behind him. Or he could try to get back to his original time and clear his name. France jumped inside and pulled the door closed.

France Terrington was not of this time. He was a media influencer consultant in 2103. Media was the means to power and wealth, and those who controlled the media controlled the wealth and power. Much like the political systems of the previous centuries and kingdoms before that. Media influencers were essentially celebrities. And like celebrities, they were worshipped by the masses. But to retain their popularity, influencers needed consultants.

France was the best when it came to reading the pulse of the media world, and he commanded a salary befitting his skill. He also earned intense envy and hatred from other consultants.

As France sat against the boxcar wall, he thought about how everything had fallen apart. The morning feed ignited with the news that his star client, Harford Swan, was planning to double access fees to his media. It was a lie, but the damage was done. Swan’s popularity plummeted, and hundreds of thousands unsubscribed.

The perpetrator of the fake news manipulated things to make it appear that France had convinced Swan to raise fees. France immediately called Harford and assured him he had nothing to do with the story. But Swan was livid.

“You have two hours to fix this, or you’re a dead man,” Swan threatened. It was no idle threat. Swan had the moral compass of a hungry crocodile.

France undertook a campaign to rebuke the story, but whoever had devised the scheme was meticulous. Every effort he made was thwarted. After an hour, France knew he was out of options. Except one. He would have to disappear. Which was nearly impossible. But France had one card left up his sleeve. His brother, Jules.

France and Jules were twins. Their father was a musician, and their mother was a scientist. France had inherited his father’s artistic tendencies and put them to work in his consulting…