STRANGER IN A STRANGE TIME
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
www.fourthturning.com, 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.
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME