Ladies and gentlemen! I know my arrival is alarming, but before you do anything please hear me out: in exactly a week's time, an invasive species of mushroom previously unknown to science is going to sprout in a field, forty miles from this mall. This mushroom grows rapidly and uncontrollably, and produces toxic spores capable of killing 70% of the world within a year's time unless we prevent it from spreading to begin with!

How do I know this, and why am I naked below the waist? I'm from the future, and my time machine can't transport pants.

I see your confusion and I understand this is a lot to take in—it sounds crazy to hear myself say it. But these spores are deadly; a single breath is all it takes. And once the spores settle into your body there's no cure, just a terrible, unremitting fever coupled with neurological damage until it culminates in total and utter paralysis. I've lost family, friends, to this awful, awful disease–

Oh. You're hung up on the “no pants” thing. Uh, look, time travel is an imprecise science. In the future, the majority of the world lives in underground bunkers away from the poisoned air, and we don't have the luxury of working out all the defects with transtemporal technology. We needed to take action—that is to say, we will take action—now, which is of course in the past.

And if someone could just hand me a sweatshirt or jacket to tie around my waist, we can get back to warning the world about the impending outbreak!

Okay, yes, if you must know these are Reebok trainers on my feet. My time machine has no problem sending these particular shoes back, and that's why Reebok remains one of the leading brands of the 23rd century and the official outfitter of our bunker cities. If the future hadn't been ravaged by this fungal plague, I assure you that we would figure out why certain garments, like jean vests, can be sent back in time while others, like cargo pants, cannot.

Fair question: there are a number of leading theories, but scientists believe that the issue may have something to do with the shape of human legs. Experiments with sending clothed horses back in time have proven promising, insofar as the horses' legs and pants return to the future intact.

But please, everyone, if we could focus—it feels like you're more hung up on the physics of time travel than the imminent decimation of the world's population!

Ugh, clearly I'm not going to get through to any of you until I've answered your inane sartorial questions! Fine. Socks: perfectly okay to wear, provided they stay below your ankles. Dresses: yes, but they get cut off past the upper thigh. Kneepads are no good. Boxers absolutely cannot be transported to an earlier era on your lower torso. Briefs can, I just don't like how they feel.

What? No! Don't call mall security! They're totally unequipped to deal with this situation! What do you mean, “Kids can't see me like this?” I'm sorry that I'm the bearer of bad news here, but hiding the truth from them doesn't help anyone!

Hold on, hold on—are you suggesting I've time-traveled to this mall, berries out, for fun? As if I didn't have anything better to do than expose myself in a food court from the 21st century and subject myself to your stares, even though limited resources and cramped living quarters in the future have caused me to no longer possess the concept of shame? I'm trying to save you, you dummies! Get your hands off me! We've already spent too much time dallying here when we should be alerting the authorities and cordoning off the fungi's epicenter from the public!


The time for action is now! Follow this trousered stallion—our future depends on it!