Hello! Hello! Hello! Is anybodythere? Hello? Helloooooooo--
Hello! Who's there? Where are you?
I am the Ghost of the Recent Past. And that is where you are now.
The Recent Past? What is that, exactly?
Hey, we don't like that word here!
Why don't you like the word exactly? And where are you?
I'm everywhere around you. And as for the word "exactly", it doesn't really apply here.
Because nobody can say where this place begins or ends, or how far it extends.
Hmmm. May I sit down? Does this vending machine work?
Go ahead. And yes, it does.
OK....but, hey, hot coffee! I never know what to expect in this place. Newspapers become blurry when I try to read them, after the first few pages. Clocks jump back and forward when you're not looking at them. And everything is....
Pale? Faint? Plastic-looking?
I don't know how to describe it. Like a school during the summer holidays, maybe.
Ah, I know what you mean. People also say, "Like toys that children have left on the floor", "Like the kitchen the morning after a party", "Like an abandoned movie set"--
I get it.
Well, that is simply the atmosphere of the Recent Past. The Distant Past is filled with a golden glow, and the Medium Past is misty like a sauna. But the Recent Past is just... solid.
And where is everybody?
People don't come here much. Why would they? It has no sentimental value yet, and it has little practical relevance anymore. It's not the present, and it's barely the past.
I've seen a few people, at the end of a corridor, or framed in a window, but...
When you go to meet them, they're gone.
Well, people don't linger in The Recent Past. At least, most people don't. You've already outstayed eighty-three per cent of visitors.
Is that right? Well, I've always been a bit of an oddball.
So I guessed.
Hey, look, a promo for Lord of the Rings on this wrapper!
When is the last time you watched the Lord of the Rings movies?
I was going to watch one the other day except I thought...
Yes! I watched them over and over back when they came out. I watched the first few scenes the other day and I thought...well, I don't need to revisit these for a few more years.
That's this place all over, my friend. Nothing is fresh here. Everything is played out.
But surely some people still watch those movies?
Then those people wouldn't encounter them here. I told you, this place has no definite boundaries. It's different for everybody.
Right. The coffee tastes fine, though.
Well, coffee is coffee, isn't it?
That's true. But if I was a foodie and I wanted the latest foodie craze, I'd be out of luck..?
Now you're getting the hang of it.
I like it here, though.
Aha! I thought so. And why do you like it?
It's kind of peaceful.
Why do you say that?
Well, it has neither the stress of the present moment, nor the...
Oh, I don't know. The hype of the past. The battle for history. The raw emotions.
Indeed! These are the fallow years, my friend. This is the sleep of time, the dormant period of memory.
You're a bit of a Rod Serling type, aren't you?
It makes the job more fun.
Hey, look over there! That looks like my friend Jim.
It is your friend Jim. At least, it's Jim. But is he your friend...?
I don't know. We've drifted apart in the last few years. I'm never sure whether to get back in touch with him, or...
Let him drift away for good?
Yes. I suppose this place is full of people in that category.
It is. But you can ignore them if you want. You know, I get the impression you're going to be a regular visitor here.