There were a lot of things going through Steve's mind on May 6th, 2007, at precisely 2:12 P.M. There were the average things, like the state of the stock market, what his wife might cook for dinner, and the directions to the restaurant he was going to eat in. But, more important matters had taken their place. Like, why was this burned, raving man clinging to Steve's shirt? Why is he babbling on about some future nonsense? And, more importantly, what'd he just do to Steve's car?
All very important questions. Steve decided he wanted them answered now. He decided the man, who was dressed in an all white space suit, with a black, cracked visor and pink boots would be the best person to ask.
"What the heck are you doing?" Steve shoved the man off, then swore as his palms burned. It turned out that people covered in blazing hot, red armour could have a bit of a sassy temperature to them.
"Please… the future is dying… you are… the only one…"
Steve looked at his hands quizzically, quietly guesstimating if he could sue this man's estate. "Get on with it, what're you doing on my car!?"
"In future times… twenty years… the cacti. They rise. With pointy arms, pointy legs, and pointed… points, they devastate our lands. Their pointy straws, they… they sucked up all the water."
The man began to weep.
"They fuckin' drank it all! It's all gone! We live under the surface, dying in agony, as the dry monsters lumber across a desert fuckin' Earth!"
Steven began to worry that the man was creating a scene. Already, passers-by were taking photos, no doubt to be used on their Tumbles and Tweeties later. So, he decided to do the logical thing. Hoisting him up by the non-metallic portions of his ruined body, he tossed him in the remain of his passenger side, climbed in, and drove.
"By… twenty eighty… even the dehydrated water supplies… they were gone… it was all gone…"
Steve frowned. "So, what? What do you want me to do about it?"
From behind his back, the man pulled a massive, almost comically large sword. "This is… Mourtzouphlos. He is your only hope. When the time comes, and god willing, you've trained enough, only you will be able to stop them."
Steve's ears only heard blah, blah, and blah. His attention was focused on that gorgeous sword. In this distracted state, Steven ran two red lights as he gazed and pondered. "And how can I be certain that you're from the future, and not just a batty homeless man?"
Before he cold answer, the man began to emit a terrible croak. It was as if every frog in Louisiana decided to try singing industrial bluegrass on their deathbeds. Thrashing in the seat, he nearly caused Steve to hit another pedestrian, before finally dissolving into a final burst of white dust.
Steven knew what he had to do.
Two weeks later, Steve was sitting in the office of his esteemed and corpulent boss, Mister Jeblomee. Usually, this meant boredom, anxiety, or some fun combination thereof. But, this time would be different. Steve knew it. Why?
Because only one of them had a magic sword in his pocket.
"Look, Mister Jeblomee, you know what I'm capable of. Nobody else in the office has been able to cope with the new account except for me."
Mister Jeblomee snuffled a bit, the fat on his cheeks jostling like a tiny housewife was beating it with a rolling pin. "Well, there've been complaints of uh… pricks…"
Steve tossed his head up in the most condescending way he knew how. "They're the pricks. They can't take the heat, so they shouldn't move up to the Kitchen. Promote me, Mister Jablomee, it's the only rational choice."
"Oh, uh, Jeblomee. Sorry, sir."
"Accepted. Here's some, uh, paperwork for you to fill out, if you're certain about this…"
Steve grinned as he watched the furniture being loaded into his new penthouse. To think… all of this just because some dick from the future decided to give him a magic sword. He patted the leather case which, these days, never seemed to leave his side.
The wealth of Steve had grown, in the past month. Next month, it would be Christmas, and Steve would be able to get anybody in his family anything they desired. No more, would Steve be their bitch boy! No! Steve would be a bitch MAN!
Steve realized he needed a better metaphor.
But he could think of one later. For now, he had a very sharp collection to unload. It was on the cutting edge of hobbies, and had really sliced right to his field of interest. Blades from every corner of the tri-state area, all under his roof.
A soft candlelight spread flickers over the dining room, where the hungry guests of Steve milled around, chewing on appetizers and taking in the atmosphere. Elsewhere in the loft, his coworkers sat around the fireplace, discussing scotch, stocks, and sex, not necessarily in that order.
Placed above the mantelpiece, was a glowing pink blade, with "FUCK CACTI" written on the hilt. The leather grip was pristine, and its eerie sheen cast its spellbinding presence across the room. Ironically, Steve had placed several cacti on the mantle with it. He had a little collection going.
Howard, the loudmouth of the group, looked up and beheld its glory. "Oh, Steve, what's this? I don't think I've seen it before…"
Steve, who had just refilled his glass, grinned. "Ah, yes! My prized piece, a sword from the future?"
"From the future? How do you figure?"
"Trust me, Howie, I went through a lot of trouble to procure this little beast, and it was well worth the cost. Come, take a walk with me, and I'll tell you the whole story…"
Steve grimaced at his stubble, his seething veins popping with hate for their itchy defiance of his will. He'd amassed all the power and riches a man could ask for, literal years of hard work and cheating with the magical sword in his trousers, he'd taken over his corporation, and driven it to the apex of the financial world. But none of that was important, because it was past. Success had happened. Now, he had stubble. This was worse than a cactus prick…
Instantly, with a puff of cotton-candy scented smoke, the blade appeared in his hand. The cool leather grip strapped itself to his fingers, and he began cutting away into the minute slivers of thin rebellion against the glory of his smoothed chin. They fell in rows, just like rivals, enemies, problems in life. Mourtzouphlos could do anything… and so could Steve.
Steve smiled. Smooth as a baby's bottom.
Steve smiled as his grand-kids filed up to the table. This mansion hadn't been cheap, but it had been worth it. Now, the whole family got to remember that it was his wealth and power which gave them affluence. Whatever fortunes they had amassed were quickly destroyed by the magical might of his blade. It had taught him so many things, so many wonderful things, that he couldn't bear to let them go a moment without him sharing.
His sword room stretched over a mile in length, with almost every type of sharp thing imaginable. Every room had its own cactus, and the study had the most magnificent one of all, a purple one imported from Ezekilavania. Persian carpets lined every room, with red carpet in the lavatory… Steve banished the thought. It was the dinner table, after all.
"Mary, do you want to say grace?"
Steve chuckled as the woman jumped a mile in the air, just from her name passing his lips. "Y-yes cousin, sure…"
As she prayed, Steve drew Mourtzouphlos from his little pouch beneath the table. Every adult braced, and the kids grinned. They all knew what was coming next.
With a great heft, the blade impacted the turkey, blasting it into correct portions for each plate. Some, having learned from past years, blocked it with their plates, and were served. Others took it like champs, confused champs with faces full of turkey. The kids all smiled and laughed.
Steve laughed too.
Scotch, Steve decided, was the best thing to drink on a cold winter's night. Here it was, he thought, me and you, and it's twenty twenty two. Happy new year!
His celebrations, however, were interrupted. Inside the fireplace, a purple crackle began to emerge. The fine Persian carpet lit up like something very flammable, and the crackling of thunder was the cause for much alarm. Most of it in Steve.
He knew this scent.
From the fireplace, emerged a man, taller than the first he had seen so many years ago, but also not burnt to a crisp.
"STEVE!" it bellowed. "YOU ARE HEREBY CHARGED WITH IMPROPER USE OF A PROPHETIC ITEM!"
"YOUR DESTINY HAS BEEN SUSPENDED UNTIL FUTURE NOTICE. PLEASE TURN IN YOUR PROPHETIC ITEM LICENSE, AND REPORT TO YOUR LOCAL ALCHEMIST'S OFFICE."
Before Steve could squeak out a protest, Mourtzouphlos abandoned him, fleeing to the arms of a stranger. The stranger in question vanished in a burst of cotton candy smoke, leaving only a shattered oak floor and a broken glass of whisky to remember his name.
Steve's first thought was where an alchemists' office might be.
Where did the cactus go?