June 20, 2023
Christian Saunders
Canguro English
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[00:00:05] Pioneers of The Continuum. 

[00:00:07] A story for English learners. 

[00:00:09] Episode seven, "Utopia", starring Christian Saunders from Canguro English. 

[00:00:16] You can find the interactive transcript, subtitles and vocabulary for this episode for free at leonardoenglish.com 

[00:00:25] My name is Julian and I’m an optimist, I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy.

[00:00:37] My entire life, I’ve had this conversation with people: Will the future be a “utopia” - a perfect world where people live in peace and harmony, or a “dystopia” - a broken, destroyed world where humans live in misery.

[00:00:56] I was firmly on the side of “utopia”, but my fellow team members weren’t.

[00:01:02] You see, we had been testing out our time machine, making short one-hour trips. Out of the seven of us, six had already gone - I was to be the last.

[00:01:14] But, whereas they all travelled to either the near or distant past, I would be travelling one hundred years into the FUTURE.

[00:01:24] Jacob imagined that I would arrive in a world ravaged by nuclear war. Ellie thought that I would arrive in a world destroyed by pollution. Winston told me to expect a totalitarian government that forced people to work and live as slaves to the rich.

[00:01:42] And me? 

[00:01:43] I imagined that I would be welcomed as a hero! Our time travel research was top-secret for now, but in 100 years, people would look back and see us as the Einsteins or Teslas of our age. 

[00:01:58] After all, one of the main reasons we have all been recording our experiences of our trips to the past is for posterity, as historical records, to allow you to listen to exactly what happened.

[00:02:13] And speaking of the future and the past, our present situation was becoming somewhat more tenuous, and there were serious faces on the morning of my trip.

[00:02:25] Marcie was projecting a story from the news onto a nearby wall. “Check this out,” she said, reading the headline. “Government to impose severe penalties on unauthorised quantum research.”

[00:02:39] “And they mention our company, QETT Industries, by name!”

[00:02:45] Jacob spoke up, “The government is not as powerful as it used to be. If they decide to investigate us, we can threaten to move our company back to the Pacific Islands or join the Silicon Valley Conglomerate where we’ll be outside of government control.”

[00:03:03] Winston narrowed his eyes. “Okay, but…”

[00:03:07] “Guys, guys…” I raised my hand to quieten them. Was it just my imagination or had the team been acting weird recently, since we started the time journeys?

[00:03:19] “Guys, come on. I’m bursting to get going. Can you press the button already?” I pleaded.

[00:03:26] Jacob looked at me, “Are you sure you don’t want a radiation suit?”

[00:03:31] “I’ll be FINE,” I insisted.

[00:03:34] Winston was fiddling with the controls. “That’s strange,” he said. “I can only get one QE point.”

[00:03:41] “What, in the year 2139?” I asked.

[00:03:45] “No,” he explained, “I can only find one quantum entanglement point in the entire future. It’s roughly 500 years from now and it’s… right here in this exact spot.”

[00:04:00] I considered his words. 500 years into the future was a long time. And it was odd that the only QE point was right here. Our research had suggested there were an infinite number of quantum entanglement points in the future.

[00:04:18] “ Let’s do it,” I said. “I’ll do it. Let’s go.”

[00:04:23] Gabriel looked doubtful. “But Julian… you don’t know… I mean, humans might be extinct, the Earth could be destroyed, you might die within seconds of arriving…”

[00:04:36] I waved off his concerns. A pioneer has to take some risks, and with the authorities getting jumpy, I didn’t want to delay. “Send me through.”

[00:04:46] Winston looked reluctant, but he pressed the button and…

[00:04:52] I found myself… in a strange room.

[00:05:02] The floor was white, the walls were white and the ceiling was white. The only thing in the room was a man sitting on a chair. He looked like he was waiting for me.

[00:05:14] He wore a white suit with white trousers and he had no expression on his face. He had black hair, combed back away from his face and slicked down.

[00:05:25] Looking around, I noticed something strange. The walls and the floor were smooth and… seemingly without texture. What kind of materials did they have here in the future?

[00:05:38] I looked at the man, waiting for him to speak, but he said nothing. He was observing me.

[00:05:45] “I’m Julian,” I said. “I travelled here from the year 2039… in a parallel timeline. Using quantum entanglement through time. QETT, we call it.”

[00:05:57] “We know,” said the man after a short pause.

[00:06:01] We? He was the only one here as far as I could see. This was not the hero’s welcome I had been expecting. On the other hand, the world hadn’t been ravaged by a nuclear war. I began to relax. Anyway, I could leave anytime if things got too weird.

[00:06:21] “What do you mean ‘we’? What is this place?” I asked. “Who are you?” I added.

[00:06:28] “We,” he said, “are the Collective, and we have been waiting for you.”

[00:06:33] “The Collective?” I asked. “But I only see one of you!”

[00:06:37] The strange man moved his hand, as if signalling to someone.

[00:06:42] Instantly, our surroundings changed. Instead of a small room, I was in a large room. Three other people were standing around, observing me. Had they been there this entire time? They were all… plain looking… exactly like the man, who still hadn’t told me his name. And they were all dressed in white with black hair.

[00:07:10] The people held electronic devices and there was some kind of computer bank behind them. Only the floor was the same as before, plain white.

[00:07:22] “How did you do that? What happened?” I asked.

[00:07:26] “Simple,” replied the man. “I removed the first layer of the simulation.”

[00:07:31] Shocked, I looked around the room. What I saw before was a simulation… but how…? I needed more information.

[00:07:41] I asked, “What kind of simulation? I mean… I’m not wearing goggles…”

[00:07:46] The man replied, “We can beam a simulation directly to your mind. Remember, compared to ours, your world is, how can I put it, primitive”

[00:07:59] “And this is real?” I asked. “ What I can see right now…is this reality?”

[00:08:06] The man looked as if answering these questions was tedious.

[00:08:10] “Mostly. But part of what you see is still a simulation. It’s how we choose to live, in our time period.”

[00:08:18] I looked around the room. What was real and what wasn’t? I noticed there was no door - that must be part of the simulation!

[00:08:27] But something else was bothering me. These people were not friendly, not at all. I hadn’t seen one smile or greeting from any of them. Had common courtesy gone extinct?

[00:08:41] I tried a different approach.

[00:08:43] “In my timeline…, I mean, where I come from, it’s customary to tell people your name when you meet them. I’ve told you my name… Julian. Now, I would feel more… comfortable… if you told me yours.”

[00:08:58] “Fine,” said the man. “I am CHX-23095.”

[00:09:04] He motioned to the others. “This is CHX-23096, CHX-23097 and AAA-00239.”

[00:09:17] “You’re robots,” I gasped.

[00:09:20] I looked at the “people”. 

[00:09:22] Earlier I had noticed that they looked somewhat the same. Now I realised that they looked almost exactly the same. Robots had taken over! Or had they?

[00:09:36] “Where are the humans?” I demanded, trying to control the anger and anxiety in my voice.

[00:09:42] The man replied, “We ARE the humans, but, yes, we have been ‘upgraded’ with robotic systems, collective information processing, AI. Put simply, we’ve evolved.”

[00:09:56] The man continued. “AAA-00239 has a legacy name, Andrew. He was born only a few years after 2039, your time.”

[00:10:08] “You’re 500 hundred years old?” I gasped, shocked.

[00:10:12] “495 to be precise,” said Andrew.

[00:10:17] My head was swimming with thoughts. The technology here was amazing, beyond belief. They controlled reality, they lived for 500 years. But at what cost? They claimed to have evolved, but evolved into what? They looked and behaved more like machines than people. And they seemed to have no emotions.

[00:10:41] A utopia? I think not.

[00:10:44] “So, what now?” I asked. “I’d like to… learn more about your world.”

[00:10:51] Andrew stepped forward. “We’re going to ask you some questions and then perform some tests on you. If you cooperate, you may depart for your own time in a few days.”

[00:11:04] As I was trying to digest what he was saying, coloured lines appeared around my body, moving down the contours. As this happened, a screen on the wall displayed my height, weight, age and other data. 

[00:11:18] Wait… how did it know my age?

[00:11:22] “A few days?” I asked. “You must know that I can leave anytime using the chronotrigger. And I can…”

[00:11:30] I stopped, searching my pockets. Where was it? Where was the chronotrigger? 

[00:11:36] CHX-23… whatever his name was, was holding it up. How did he get it? More technological tricks!

[00:11:46] “Looking for this?” he asked. “And we’ve disabled your safety mechanism. You’ll stay here for as long as we want you to stay here.”

[00:11:55] I gulped. This was taking a dark turn. What should I do? Should I cooperate? I considered my next move.

[00:12:04] Meanwhile, Andrew began questioning me. “Did the United States still exist in your timeline when you left?”

[00:12:12] “Yes,” I replied.

[00:12:14] “Who was the president?”

[00:12:16] “President Elon Musk,” I replied.

[00:12:19] This seemed simple enough. He just wanted to note the similarities and differences between his timeline and mine.

[00:12:27] “Was the quantumnet operational?” he asked.

[00:12:30] “The quantum what?” I said.

[00:12:33] He pushed a button on his device, his face showing no expression.

[00:12:39] “Show me any implants you have,” he continued.

[00:12:42] I activated the touchscreen on my arm and a panel slid back. Before I could stop him, another of the men stepped forward, grabbed my arm and inserted a cable.

[00:12:53] “Hey, watch it!” I exclaimed. “Don’t be so rough. What’s wrong with you people?”

[00:12:58] But I knew what was wrong with them. They weren’t people at all. They were cold, emotionless machines pretending to be human. 

[00:13:07] Then I saw my chance. The first man still had my chronotrigger in his hand. I couldn’t stay here. This could be my only chance to escape before they might do all kinds of tests on me. It was too much; I had to get out. 

[00:13:23] I pulled the cable from my arm, lurched forward and snatched the chronotrigger out of his hand. 

[00:13:29] Then, I ran blindly towards the nearest wall, searching for a hidden door. To my surprise, one appeared! I burst through it and emerged into a corridor.

[00:13:40] It was a long, white corridor with no doors in it. Another simulation! I ran down it anyway, reaching the end, to find no hidden door… just a screen.

[00:13:54] The screen read: 

[00:13:56] Collective Facility 2002-X1. 

[00:14:00] Our mission: to prevent or disrupt all time travel activity in historical timelines.

[00:14:06] As I heard the sound of running behind me, I realised I would be caught in a few seconds 

[00:14:12] There was nothing else to do. I pressed the chronotrigger… and prayed. 

[00:14:19] I was back in the lab, back in my own time, surrounded by my team, people that at least I knew were actual humans, my flesh and blood!

[00:14:31] “The good news,” I told them, “is that the world still exists 500 years from now! The bad news…”

[00:14:39] I paused. Something wasn’t right.

[00:14:42] Ellie’s purple and green hair was gone. It was back to its natural brown colour. Winston had a sort of Hitler-like moustache, instead of being clean shaven.

[00:14:55] And Jacob wasn’t there at all. Standing in his place was a man who I had never seen before.

[00:15:02] Oh my God! This wasn’t my timeline!

[00:15:06] They were all staring at me with odd expressions on their faces. They seemed… confused about something.

[00:15:15] Winston spoke up. “Jerome, we need to talk. We really need to talk.”

[00:15:21] “ It’s Julian,” I said with a sinking feeling. “My name’s not Jerome, it’s Julian.”

[00:15:29] Pioneers of The Continuum was a Leonardo English production. 

[00:15:37] The story was written by Emile Dodds and me, Alastair Budge. 

[00:15:43] Julian was played by Christian Saunders from Canguro English. 

[00:15:48] Make sure to subscribe and follow the podcast to get the next episode straight into your favourite podcast app. 

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