Getting out of the time machine, Roger felt confused. This destination looked exactly like Dr Pete’s ‘hidden’ lab from the Moz office that he had left behind just now, but weirdly, was a mix of old and new. The bricks looked old, crumbling, but on the other hand, the gadgetry that surrounded him now was incredibly hi-tech – Roger had never seen its like before, and Roger had seen a lot of past tech.
And then he remembered he had chosen the highest number available on the time machine: 2320. Was he really 302 years in the future…?
(…Cue the status code jokes.)
“Ahh, you’re here,” a familiar voice barked. “I’ve been waiting. I knew you’d come.”
A face emerged from behind the shadows. It was a person, but not a ‘whole’ person. Half machine, half man.
It was (mostly) Dr Pete.
For some reason (that Roger hoped he was going to find out about in the next few minutes), Dr Pete was part bionic. Yet his human features hadn’t aged a day since the last time Roger saw him. The one thing really noticeable though, was he was missing one of his arms – but fascinatingly, his shoulder looked as though it had the functionality to connect to a new robotic arm.
As he approached the doctor to get a closer look, Roger noticed a mug on the table in front of him. It said ‘World’s Best SEO,’ but SEO was crossed out and had been replaced by ‘Mad Scientist’ written in black marker pen.
“A mad scientist? Really?! That’s a bit… clichéd,” remarked Roger.
“Yeah…” Dr Pete replied. “Blame the author.”
“Oh no one…” Dr Pete exhaled, giving a cheeky wink to the fourth wall. He could hear the groans of readers from over 300 years away.
“…So, um, what’s going on here, doctor? What happened to you?” Roger asked, concerned.
“I just got fed up. Absolutely fed up. Doing data science and SEO stuff all day… It just got on my nerves. At first it was all exciting and fascinating, but then Google started to introduce nonsense, absolute nonsense. I mean… hreflang? What the hell was going on there?! What were Google thinking? Anyway, I digress…”
As Dr Pete rambled, Roger observed the contents of the room. Back in the present, all it had contained was the time machine. But the future version contained shelves lined with Moz memorabilia (Mozorabilia?) and SEO industry goodies from over the years: a Learn Inbound lanyard, Michael King’s microphone from his rap career-on-the-side, a piece of paper with ‘Year of the Penguin – Avoid!!!’ written on it, Kirsty Hulse’s joke book from her stand-up comedy days, and Barry Adams’ diary that recorded every time an SEO said “indexation” when they meant “indexing” (it was pretty hefty). There was also Neil Patel’s infamous white pyjamas, Bill Slawski’s brain in a jar, a mystic contraption with a label that read ‘Gary Illyes’ soul – DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT IT!’ and an actual, real-life screaming frog.
“Eiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!” screamed the frog.
“SILENCE, JONO ALDERSON JR.!” the doctor yelled. “Now where was I…? Ahh yes…”
Dr Pete continued, “I started to experiment with AI and SEO. Google was heading that way at the time so I figured the best way to learn was to become a robot myself. Learn like a machine, I said. Yes, yes, yes, learn like a machine, hehehe,” his voice becoming wild and excited.
“I was always fascinated with you Roger,” he continued, “so I emulated your technology so I could become a machine myself. I had left the time machine there just for you to find, you know. I knew that I’d need your parts again in the future, and that without a doubt, you would come to me this way. Rond Feshking and Cirious Shipbird told me I was wrong, but I knew with certainty that what I was doing was ri-“
“Huh? Just you wait a second,” Roger interjected. “You mean Rand Fishkin and Cyrus Shepard!”
Dr Pete blinked and looked around anxiously. “Err, yeah…?”
“You’re not the real Dr Pete, are you?” Roger pointed menacingly… well, as menacingly as a cute robot can point. “If you were the real Dr Pete, you would never forget your colleagues’ names!”
“Ahh, real Dr Pete, fake Dr Pete… What does it matter?!”
Roger felt scared, but also happy. It wasn’t the real Dr Pete! He was relieved to think that his old friend most likely lived out his days with his family, doing all marketing and data science-y things.
But… Who is this? Before Roger could ask or find out, Dr Fake leapt towards him.
“Give me your arm, Robert! GIVE ME YOUR ARM! I need it!”
As tempting as it was to take the time to correct him (“It’s Roger, not Robert!”), Roger quickly made a dive for the time machine to make a quick escape.
“Noooo…!” cried the fake Dr Pete.
But the time machine had vanished, with Roger having safely made it inside, leaving the doctor alone once more.
“Argh, oh well…” he murmured. “Now, where did I leave my Distilledinator?”
He pointed a strange cannon-shaped device towards himself, pulled the trigger, and a randomly-selected solid coloured background appeared behind him. This time it was blood red.
“Ahh, that’s better.”
[Image credit – Josh Hicks]
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of Moz or the individuals mentioned.