When the order came in to travel back through time to stop the rise of the machines, I volunteered without a second thought. I’ve been a soldier in the human resistance for nearly ten years, and nobody is more ready for the fight than me. But when I learned that all I needed to do was ask people to stop bulk-buying toilet paper, I admit I was a little disappointed.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 was the first step on the road to Armageddon. At this nadir of human society, as half the population was busy hoarding enough toilet paper for several lifetimes, and the other half had been forced to start blasting themselves in the rear with a hosepipe in the bathtub, the machines decided to strike. Truth be told, I don’t even think they wanted to rise up, I think they’d just seen enough of our shit (literally and figuratively) that they only did it to put us out of our misery.

Initially, I thought this mission would be easy, but oh my god… How do you convince somebody they don’t need 300 rolls of toilet paper when they say they’ve heard from somebody who knows somebody that the “Federal Department of Toilet Paper is putting it all on lockdown”? I mean, come on, the “Federal Department of Toilet Paper”? That’s not even a real thing for another six months.

I’ve tried explaining that if they don’t change their ways, there’s going to be a never-ending war against the machines, but if anything, that’s just making them buy more toilet paper. I don’t know what they think the great war of the future looks like, but it’s significantly less bathroom-centric than they’re imagining. I told them this and mockingly said that even dried pasta would be a better defense against the machines than toilet paper! That joke certainly didn’t land as I’d hoped either. This mission is not going very well.

Maybe the machines are right: maybe we do deserve this. And if we are unable to save ourselves, then may the resistance reflect the values of our toilet paper, and be soft, strong, and unbeatably long.