A Note to the Reader: “How to Act Now Before Your Total Abnilisation” is a work of cosmic pseudepigraphy by American fabulist Matt Muller, significant for its experimental style and its reputation as one of the most difficult works of metafictional advertisement in the American language. Its first draft written in Chengdu, China over a period of 3 hours, and first published online minutes later, just 24 hours before it would be made to disappear from Chinese cyberspace. The entire work is written in a falsely eloquent language, consisting of a mélange of standard American and neologistic jargon, which many critics believe attempts to recreate a simulacrum of expertise and anachronistic experience. Owing to the work’s expansive linguistic experiments, neurolinguistic style, literary allusions, and its abandonment of the conventions of narrative mode, “How to Act Now Before Your Total Abnilisation” remains largely unread by the general public.
Greetings, Readers of the Year 2012,
Will you find it in your heart to help me, a forlorn chronic castaway, alone in the wrong century? I was traveling from the past via prochronotaxis when all of a sudden I stopped in midstream and I found myself trapped here in a kingdom now called China.
That was over one year ago: Just enough time for me to learn the current lingua franca known as the American tongue, and launch a modest career to make ends meet. And then, just as I was beginning to feel habituated to this time-space, my best friend, my only friend, and my servant, the sentient chronic argos, HCE Bountiful Harvest, withered away from lack of sunlight, even its exoskeletal hull biodegraded, and its corpse rendered into food for crops.
After doing some research on your so-called “Internet”, I found out your administration had forbidden time travel. Unfortunately, more and more of us are popping up out of past hoping to find a better tomorrow, and then bring it back to our home time. Maybe you have seen us. We are the grizzled old campaigners drowning our grief into galleons of whiskey, fruitlessly searching amidst the indigenous population for love.
Our arrival is the true reason behind your world’s population growth, now as of this word reaching 7, 418, 642, 074 people. But did you know this figure has increased by 0.250 % since reading the last sentence? That’s because I — and others like me — keep crash-landing here from the past. Soon, too soon, my dear Readers, we will all be squished against the Great Wall of Space-Time the same way you see your beloved countrymen squeezed against the windows of public transport during the Hours of the Ant and the Bee.
To worsen our situation (and yours), prochronotaxis by definition, only goes one way. So the truth is that all this woe – the woe of myself and my brethren — is perpetuated by our own ignorance. We were promised on good Authority that we would have retrochronotaxis in the future; we will, but not now.
Instead my fellow chronic argonauts are all crash-landing here in the year 2011. And there is no way to get a message back to my home time, warning others that the time-pipe is clogged. We shall just keep coming, and coming, and overpopulating this moment of space-time with no way back. This may even lead to us taking your job, or even to collective suicide of your people.
If this warning is too difficult to comprehend, let me transmit this vision clearly:
Consider this tin can of tuna.
See! There it is, enveloped since antiquity by night, the tin can afloat with a silver sheen reflecting starlight. Normally, the Universe is a cylinder that stretches either way ad infinutum. But recently, in defiance of the Laws of Physics the River of Time has been dammed. In essence someone or something has canned a minute cross-section of the cylinder. This is why it appears to any outside observer that a new tuna fish – and the occasional dolphin — spontaneously generates from within the can. After sometime, all the tuna mashes together, so much so, that even the original builders of the dam will become paralyzed, unable to even pull the RELEASE lever. After some more time there is so many fish compressed into one tin can, that they pulverize each other and merge into an oily paste.
It is a very unpleasant business. In due time the top and bottom of the can bulges outward until finally, something truly novel in the story of the Multiverse happens, which we cannot fully understand until it might happen. But it suffices to say, we wouldn’t live to find out. Indeed, we will have never even have existed.
And so I must return to the past and warn my people that the River of Time has been dammed in the Future (i.e. Now).
Fortunately for the Multiverse, I have found you. Only you can help, for you alone have had the courage, logic, and imagination to persist in reading my plea for aid, at least until your government censors this information.
But first, here is some need-to-know information I remember from the Encyclopedia Multiversalis (don’t quote me on this):
In the Far Flung Future, there is a highly advanced civilization called the Celestial Empire of the Brightest Center of the Multiverse, whose God-Emperor is called, Tang the Terrible (although never to his face). Within that civilization, there is a secret society of time-traveling Panders (Homo ailuropoda), a race of peace-loving anthropomorphic Panda monks. They will have invented the Gate Maker, a device capable of temporarily opening a portal through the Great Time-Space Wall. They use this device regularly to research the glorious history of their civilization, and confirm the fluctuating facts about its demographics, ancient borders, and genetic purity. They also use the device to collect fresh Giant Panda DNA, Little Red Books of wise aphorisms and poetry, and even powerful artifacts (e.g. death rays, arks, crystal skulls, etc.).
Now in order to petition the God-Emperor for aid, you must submit a request with a CE-4634.215 Form, also known as the “Request for Grant of Aid and Succor” form (“CLICK HERE” TO RECEIVE YOUR GRANT KIT).
Once you have received and signed the required forms, you must build a Time Capsule to send it into the Far Flung Future. Soon the God-Emperor’s Pander monks will eventually unearth it. Once they confirm that our plight is genuine and endangers their civilization’s very existence, they will send us the secret code to open the portal so that we can go back from whence I came.
Unfortunately, building such a time capsule requires many precious materials, some of which have yet to be discovered or invented.
This is why we must batten down and trudge onwards. While others would be too faint of heart to continue, or perhaps fall prey to the Enemy, you alone will be the Chosen One, The Reader of Readers. And so must kneel, and pledge fealty to the cosmic order by submitting your credit card and credit card number for me to memorize temporarily. Then I will be able to purchase the required “Time Capsule Kit”, and hire a team of scientists and engineers for its construction. Soon we will be on our merry way, and you –who still have the heart — will have saved humanity from certain doom.
Presently, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, as soon as I escape this particular time-space the memory of your credit card number will instantly be erased from my mind.
I knew you would wonder about that. This will happen because I will go farther back in time than whence I came, so as to warn everybody about the impending doom. I will even publish my quatrains so the entire public domain will have access to my foreknowledge. Then I will have prevented myself from ever coming to your space-time, thus it will be as if you have never even have given me your credit card. In essence, you will be the hero of the Multiverse for free.
For some Readers this may not sit well. After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. However, your heroic service has already been subsidized, or will have been, by the Yeoman Farmers of the Celestial Empire in the Far Flung Future.
And if you are still indecisive, then perhaps it is because you are feeling or have felt dizzy, headaches, blurry vision, and maybe even a little shortness of breath. If so then that is probably because you have Sick Space-Time Syndrome. It is actually a common side effect prevalent amongst the elite few who have made it this far in the text, and have a rare power to read between the lines. There is only one thing you can do to treat this disorder: A daily dose of Persistence. (“CLICK HERE” TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE TRIAL PRESCRIPTION). But for the time being you must soldier on. Stop being selfish! You must believe in yourself. As we all do.
Now that you have found it in your heart, please donate your credit card. Save our Multiverse. Save us (All major credit cards accepted). The rest of the story is in your hands. Will you, dear Reader, heed the call of adventure? Or will you, like so many before you, discard this message and go about a very ordinary and dull life of routine and quiet desperation?
Ad astra per alas chronos,
Chronic Argonaut 1st Class, LTJG Baudolino, PhD, Captain, HCE Bountiful Harvest
p.s. Be sure to send me your billing address so that once I get back to the past, I will bury your reward where you can easily find it.
p.p.s. What’s that you say, you can’t email me your credit card? You can just email your abstract idea of a credit card? You fool! Did you know, that back in my time every home in Hollow Earth is connected via pneumatic tubes, thus commerce, file-sharing, even the poisoning of rivals, and extramarital-romantic affairs is facilitated? Honestly, I have no idea how your people have managed to bring such a brilliant and sophisticated individual as yourself into the Multiverse. This must be Fate!
p.p.p. of all scripts: You can’t, or you won’t? Big difference. Are you prepared to live with the shame of bringing about the destruction of the human race?
Before you say yes, think about your children.
Then, before you say yes, take a walk around your city. Look at the children. And before you say yes, go to your nearest Giant Panda suppository center.
Look at the adorable, cuddly, precious Giant Pandas your administration saved from the brink of extinction, and enshrined with a highly advanced life-support system.
Remember: Only you can prevent Giant Pandas from certain doom.
You have passed the final test. Now you are truly ready. Spread the word.
Honestly your servant, now, forever after and forever before.
Libera te tutemet ex inferis,
CAFC LTJG, Baudolino, PhD, CPT HCE Bountiful Harvest
 Khitai is name of this region during my time when it had been located on Central-Vertebral Scute IV of the Carapace of the Cosmic Turtle, which would later become known as Cathay, and the rest, so they say, is history.
 Mostly due to the paradoxical fact his Imperial Eunuch Guard have been selectively bred in such a way that the relevant organs for speech and procreation will have become vestigial.
 This device looks like your typical palm-sized North American Union GI ray-gun.
 This boggles the mind, but I have been told on good authority that these Little Red Books seem to be a precious resource in the Far Flung Future; and they are disappearing from China (the Multiiverse’s richest deposit) as fast as they can be printed. What do you think historians will call this historical event? (See End Note 1.2 for the answer).
 My People and I, but not you – not unless you have already sworn a vow of chastity, have a well-proven record of chasteness and a history of social rejection and are willing to have the relevant organs surgically removed. In which case, we will welcome you to come back to our time as a Celebrated Historical Hero from the Future.
 Alas, for this time and space! Perhaps in another tin can I would have asked you take control of a fief and pledge your battleaxe; or in another, given you command of a time-ship of your own. But we are can only work with what our time and space has allotted us. Oh, and for the record: My people do not use plastic cards as currency; we use something much more practical: baby unicorn horns. You can wear them on a chain around your neck. It’s very convenient!
 Now you know one of my race’s secret abilities. My people have a rather limited range of telepathy, which allows me to convey all my thoughts to you, but only some of your thought and feelings are conveyed to me. For instance, some Presentlings I have been communicating with during this mind-melding, have felt a persistent sensation of annoyance. That is because they are the coldest, the most logical, and longest eared of your kind. As we all know, you know who they are. Seek these witches and warlocks out, and shame them into submission. If that doesn’t work they should be tied, tried, and thrown into the River. If they float, then they have proven their guilt, and if they sneak away to the River’s muddy bottom, find and open the secret trapdoor to hell, then they they are the most dangerous, for they are the ones who cleverly influenced your administration to dam the River of Time in the first place.
 Once again, I know what you are thinking. By now it has crossed your mind that all this violates certain fundamental time-travelling paradoxes. Stephen Hawking said the absence of time travelling tourist agencies proves that time traveling is impossible. But did you know that Hitler believed the same thing? Besides, just because something has yet to be observed first hand does not mean it doesn’t exist. How Hawking could be so blind to reality proves the fact that the more specialized and knowledgeable you become the more narrow-minded and myopic – unlike you, dear Reader.
 Consequently these Yeoman Farmers will all claim to have at least 0.25 % genetic lineage from you, the famous savior of their race and empire.