"This is a picture taken in the fall of 2035 during my training. It shows my instructor beaming a handheld laser outside the vehicle during operation. The beam is being bent by the gravitational field produced outside the vehicle by the distortion unit. The beam is visible through smoke that is coming from his cigar."

What follows is the greatest, and weirdest, thing I saw on the internet during a six month period near the beginning of this decade, when I was hanging out feeling sorry for myself after taking too many drugs.

I quit my college, my job, and London, and returned to my mum’s to recover from the winning combo of too many pills and too much weed.  It had been making me to think everyone was trying to murder me on the bus, provoking frantic scrubbing of my hands after touching anyone, and being pretty sure my friends at college were trying to turn me gay.

I went home to get my head straight but instead spent 6 months developing an almost exact reverse sleeping pattern (bed at 11am, waking up at 7) and using dial up internet to explore the worst places that the internet in 2003 had to offer.

I spent a lot of time on some really pretty interesting websites and forums on my night time trawls through the darker recesses of the world wide web back then. I had two really good online friends (pre Myspace) - one was a Canadian girl who I dreamt of visiting and falling in love with one day who claimed to be preparing to run away to join Interpol (the band, not the international police service), and a black metal fan from Dorset who sent me a cd of house music he made on a freeware music program. These two misfits were my only friends for six months.  I had my curtains closed and my door shut, did I mention this was over the summer months too? I was in a bad way.

I got pretty into the usual stuff that flooded the internet before proper social networking, I joined a bunch of music forums, opened a live journal that I never updated and I got really, really into fringe websites that dealt with conspiracies of every possible kind. I don’t think these habits were very good for my recovery, particularly when I started relying on ‘alternative’ news sources more than normal ones, and pretty much reached a David Icke level of retarded ideas about the world.

I had a few favourite conspiracy theories.  I liked this one called the Philadelphia Experiment, which  was about this naval experiment to do with invisibility and time travel that made a ship disappear and reappear hundreds of miles away with all the sailors fused to the decks. I really liked anything to do with cryptozoology too, one of the best was the Mothman, because it ran alongside cars.

The best and most thorough conspiracy thing I ever saw online though, wasn’t actually a conspiracy at all, it was a guy called John Titor who appeared on a bunch of time travel forums in 2000/2001, claiming to be from the year 2036 - a drastically changed future in which the United States had broken into five smaller regions, the environment and infrastructure had been devastated by a nuclear attack, and most other world powers had been destroyed.

He claimed he had been sent back to get a particular computer from the 70s that had a special component that no other computer had, to solve something to do with the digital clock running out of time or something. It’s basically the plot to Terminator but slightly less dramatic and not in a film.

This obviously could have been total bullshit but the thing that really drags you in are the photos and blueprints he ended up supplying to the skeptical nerds on these forums. I love them so much because they are one of two things, and those two things are:

1. Someone is the biggest psycho of all time, and has spent literally years drawing up blueprints for a time machine that, according to science people who look at it, may actually work, then building a mock up of it just to do an internet hoax. Which is an amazing feat.

2. John Titor is an actual time traveler from an alternate future that we may or may not be on course for, depending on how you feel about dimensional theories and that, and therefore proves loads of things that people thought were impossible/only in the realms of science fiction.

These days I’m inclined to believe the first one, but when I was upstairs in my room at 6 in the morning, my brain fried from lack of sleep, and I’d been through ten billion white supremacist websites (out of morbid interest, not sympathy) and a load of pages on mind control techniques, all this stuff was pretty much gospel. I read his descriptions of the future with the most interest-  it was mainly about nuclear war and when it was going to down, but also the aftermath of it all.  By the time I was done with John Titor I was practically stockpiling tinned goods.

There’s so much stuff on this guy on the internet and a lot of people think it’s real, but an Italian TV program investigated the story . The private detective hired to investigate the whole thing found that there were no registry traces, even far in the past, of any John Titor or Titor family. Also, the John Titor Foundation had no office and its address is a rented post box; no tapes, recordings, or evidence of Titor were found and only a guy called Larry Haber (an advocate and owner of the commercial rights about all concerns involving John Titor) confirmed his existence. Lynch’s conclusion is that John Titor may be John Rick Haber, a computer expert who is Larry Haber’s brother. Disappointing.