STRANGER IN A STRANGE TIME Tom Mazanec Several times a day, the gravitational and electromagnetic waves from the formation of a black hole somewhere in the universe wash over the Earth. Once in a few centuries or millennia, the waves of two such events intersect on the Earth's surface, At that spot, you could see two black holes form in the same microsecond of time. Once in many eons, three such waves intersect. Near Cincinnati in January of 2005 three waves met. That location played musical chairs with timelines of probability. Tim Mazovski woke up with the crash of his dresser drawer. He got up and looked at his former drawer. The far end had just broken off and fallen, and the main body had dropped and was lying on a slight angle. Even as he stared bemusedly at this sight, his alarm clock went off. He turned the annoying timepiece off, and went back to observe the wreckage of the drawer. It looked as if someone had sawed the dresser in two. On the dresser had been a copy of The Fourth Turning, by Strauss and Howe, that he had been reading. It now looked as though a cleaver had chopped it in two and left only one half with him. The edge of the book and the edge of the dresser had the same very slight curvature when they were looked at closely, however. It seemed almost as though a giant had used a vast cookie cutter to cut out a piece of the universe, then put it back, but the dresser was not quite aligned and had fallen. As bizarre as this seemed, it was time to get to work. Tim got dressed and took his wallet and keys off of what was left of the dresser, and went out. As he walked down the street, he noticed that the piles of snow seemed to have disappeared. It must have been rather warm last night to have melted them so completely as that. He reached Jackson's store a few minutes later than he normally would, probably due to the strange events of the morning. He would have to hustle to get it ready for opening. But it was already lit up. He let himself in, and was surprised to see the displays arranged differently. Just then, a Hispanic looking young man came out of the back. "What are you doing here?" "I work here! What are YOU doing here?" The young man was joined by Mr. Jackson "Manuel, what is going on here?" "This strange man got in here, Mr. Jackson -" "Manuel, what have I told you about keeping the door locked until we are ready to open? I'm sorry, sir, we are not -" "Mr. Jackson, what is going on here? I just came in to work -" "Mr. Jackson, I DID lock the door -" "Obviously you did not, or he wouldn't have been able to get in!" "Mr. Jackson, I just got here. He was already in -" "Of course he was already in. He works here." "But I have never seen him before!" "Well, I have never seen you before. Do you shop here often?" "I've worked here for ten years!" "Sir, please get out of my store -" "NO! What the hell is going on here! Are you firing me?" "Manuel, please call 911" whispered Mr. Jackson. "Look, I have worked here ever since 1994. I've helped run this store almost four thousand days, Mr. Jackson. When we had that big blizzard last month, I walked here even though it took me ten minutes to make a two minute walk. You are open seven days a week, and I am here with you every one of them. I have passed up family gatherings and Sabbath Mass to be here. If you want to fire me, that is your perogative, but I demand a reasonable explanation! Six dollars an hour for five hours a day does not come to very much, but I have been doing that for a decade and not asking for more -" "Buddy, I think that you better just calm down. I don't know who you are or what your problem is. Manuel insists he locked the door. How did you get in? "With these keys!" Tim replied, waving them around. "Where did you get those?" asked Mr. Jackson after looking closely at them. "You gave them to me! You gave them to me when I started here over ten years ago! That's where I got these keys! From you! Mr. Jackson, just tell me what is the matter. I have been the best employee I could be all these years and feel that I am entitled to at least an explanation of what is matter here." "Son, I don't know who you are. I never saw you before in my life, and -" But Tim was never to find out what "and". The police had just arrived at the store. ******************************************************************* Tim had been sitting in the jail cell when his sister arrived. Tim had not seen his sister Sandy since...since she had been killed by a mugger while coming out of a movie theatre one night. She had paid his bail...and was infuriated, saying that a convicted murderer could not go breaking and entering. He was lucky that he GOT bail. She berated him for killing his father. At first, he thought she meant that he had murdered him, then found out that he had had a heart attack twelve years ago and died. This in spite of the fact he had seen his father just last Christmas. She blamed him for putting his father through such misery, when he had spent twenty years in prison for killing that classmate just a few weeks before he was to graduate from high school. He vaguely remembered giving the classmate a black eye and a bloody nose, but certainly not killing him. But apparently he had hit him hard enough to kill him. Had he just imagined the past couple decades? His house somehow was his sister's house, although he was living in it. The den had a computer, but...but it was a Dell, not a Gateway like his. He looked at the paper lying on the floor. The headlines were about President Bush's inaugeration to his second term in office. It said that President Jeb Bush was - Jeb Bush? JEB BUSH! Tim fired up the strange computer and began surfing the web. Google was there, but the page looked different. There was no, until he found out that the book was called The Next Saeculum. Sonic the Hedgehog was called Spinner the Hedgehog. The show The West Wing was named The Oval Office, and starred John Spencer instead of Martin Sheen. The 9-11 attacks had occurred on September 21, 2001 and were called the Equinox Attacks (although the equinox was the 22nd). They hit the twin towers, Congress (mostly evacuated) and the White House (also mostly evacuated). A fifth plane was shot down approaching the Pentagon. On and on continued the pattern. Everything in his personal life from 1983 on seemed to be totally transformed. Everything in the world at large seemed the same until about 1990, however. Then little differences appeared more and more often. By the end of the Nineties most of the details seemed to be altered in some fashion. By now, almost everything was a crazy version of what he knew, and usually was completely different. His sister was sleeping in her bedroom. He walked in quite casually...Sandy had to take strong sleeping pills because she was plagued with insomnia, so she slept like the dead until the pills wore off. She had worked on her own schedule as a web page designer, so she probably was that now that she was alive in his dream. Maybe that was why she did not wake up when his dresser fell. Of course, it was just a dream. He did not like this dream, and he figured this was the best way to end it quickly. Logical, that he should fall asleep to end a dream nice and symmetrically. The bottle was nearly full. His subconscious thought of everything, he supposed. He got a glass of water and swallowed all the pills. Then he went to his bed.