It was late at night. Usually, I was staring at a computer screen, trying to be productive. Productivity was useful. It was gold, and used for to buy a good life. Not a great life. I didn't think that was in the cards. But a good life might be there, somewhere. But that didn't matter. What was the point of a good life if I didn't have someone to share it with? Why work so hard for no purpose? I had a few friends. Not many, but they were worth their weight in silver. But they were married now. Married people had married lives. They fought, and both parties tended to call me and vent about it. So I didn't tell them about the late nights staring at the ceiling, or wandering the streets at night, looking for something to do. Someone to talk to. Like tonight. It was a cold night. Nights like this seemed to happen more and more. But if I sat in my apartment, it all seemed to close in on me. So I put on my leather shoes, two hundred dollar coat and black skull cap and left the front door to the world outside. The streets were quiet tonight. The pavement was damp, but not enough to soak through my shoes. I was two blocks down the road from my apartment. The streets were still empty. But it was four in the morning, so that was usual. The bars were closed. Everyone was home. Down the street was a man smoking a cigarette. His jacket was just like mine, slick and black. The pockets were a little frayed, and there was a hole in the left breast that was sowed in. “ Hey soldier.” He said. I smiled. I hadn't been called soldier for a long time. I walked up to him and was going to ask if I knew him. Then he stepped into the light. The lines on his face were my lines. The blue in his eyes was as deep as mine. The sadness was there. The scar on the left cheek from the knife fight in Sadr City was a little bit more faded than mine, but I couldn't miss it. There was gray in his hair, but it was still at military length. Just like mine. “ I bet you have a lot of questions.” The older man said. “ Because you're here?” I asked him, feeling the smoke from his cigarette in my fingertips. “ No, because you're here.” He said, puffing on his cigarette. “ There isn't much of a reason for you to get out of bed, is there?” He offered me a cigarette. I took it, and accepted his lighter. After the smoke went into my lungs, I felt like myself again. “No...no, there isn't. I have pretty much everything I want...but I can't figure out what to do. Hell of a thing to bitch about, huh?” I asked, laughing. He laughed with me, a laughter in stereo. My brain wanted to retreat, to run, to fight him. It didn't make any sense. But I couldn't walk away. Where else was I going to go?“ Well, I have your golden ticket. There’s a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in. which sounds silly, since I’m a time traveler.” “ Or I’m having a stroke sitting on my couch.” I said, taking a deep drag of my cigarette. “ How old are you?” “ Forty eight.” He said. I just turned twenty eight. Good to know I had at least twenty years ahead of me. He pulled out a watch. It was scratched and worn, with fake gold chipping off. It was a large white face with digital numbers. “ Put this on. I have to get you started. There's a date/time group that can send you to anytime, down to the second. Just set the watch and hit the power button.” I accepted it and put it on my left wrist. “ What type of batteries do I need?” He laughed, that same strange echo of my own. It was a deeper laugh, twinged with regret. “ It wont run out of power for a hundred years.” He said, taking the last puff from the white Marlboro. “ I see...” I replied, looking intently at the face of the watch. “ Look, I know this is a bit much, but it only gets stranger from here. You haven't even started yet.” He said. “ Have you finished it all yet?” I asked. He shook his head. “ No. I've met the older ones. We don't finish for a long time, and when we do...its messy.” He shook his head and turned to walk away. “ Wait...” I said, not sure what to ask. But this moment would be the time to do it. “ You've watched enough TV to know I can't answer specific questions.” He told me, turning to face me. I'd probably only get one vague question before he left. “ I know, I know. But wherever you are...are you happy?” I asked. He licked his dry, chapped lips, fumbling for a cigarette. After he stuck another one in his mouth, it was lit moments later. “ I'm here. That's more than most. I get through, and that’s enough.” He said, taking a deep drag. “ What about the older ones? Does it get any better for you?” I wondered. Maybe I was having a stroke, and this was the last dream before I died. But honestly, I didn't care. He took a drag and blew the smoke out, not inhaling. After he coughed a little, he said,“ You're going to see more amazing creations in your life than any other human. The lives you save outweigh the people you lose, or at least that’s what you tell yourself. But you don't settle down. There's no house with a fence and kids. Well, no human kids anyway. It doesn't get any easier, just stranger. The choices you make will change the world, starting with the choice to put on that watch. But there is a choice in it. If you do, then it's a hell of a ride. You'll see the end of time. But it ends in fire. I've seen what happens if you don't. There is a family waiting for you, if you throw that watch and go back to your apartment. Its five years from now, and that place has a baby and a wife in it. There's a good life at the end of the street.” “So here's where you make your choice. I wouldn't blame you if you did throw that watch down and walk away. I couldn't do it, and neither could any of the others. But maybe this time it'll be different. Maybe you'll make the smarter choice. Maybe you'll pick the boring life. Part of me hopes you do. Part of me can't wait for you to meet Vanessa.” He said, smiling. “ Who's Vanessa?” I asked, as he set his watch. “ A hell of a ride. Good luck, Bill.” He said, pushing the power button and vanishing into the air.