What Happened at 7:49 on a Morning Not Long Ago

By Andrew Looney

A man left his house at exactly 7:49 AM, just as he did every morning. He drove down the highway in his green VW beetle towards the place that he worked. At 7:58 his car smashed into a ten ton truck and nothing was left of the car but scrap metal. No trace of the body was ever found.

This is because at the exact instant that the two cars met, he was teleported through space and time to a strange and distant planet where the sky is red in the day and filled with three moons and a galaxy at night.

He took stock of his situation. He was sitting in a small cafe on the shore of the sea. His gray three piece suit had been replaced by an outfit of loose clothing, split in color down the middle, the left side being black, the other white. His pockets contained three small golden coins, a triangular piece of yellow plastic and a package of breath mints. On the table before him was a container full of a warm chocolate fluid, and across the table from him was a beautiful woman with long black hair wearing a flowing gown with a green floral print.

Other colorful people wearing colorful costumes were seated at tables near them, and sounds from inside the building could faintly be heard; strange music, and the electronic rumble of video games.

Suddenly he realized that the woman was speaking to him. He tried to act as if he had been listening.

After awhile, it began to get dark. The moons came out, and the woman suggested that they go to her apartment. He agreed, and they strolled off through the city. At her flat they sat for awhile on a large couch and watched a form of television. The Emperor of the Universe was making a speech. The man did not hear very much of it.

The next morning he looked around for the girl, but he couldn't find her. He wondered what her name was. Suddenly the door burst open, and four Imperial Secret Policemen pointed laser rifles at him. They took him to the dungeon.

He sat in the dungeon and looked at the gray stone walls. His leg was connected to the wall by a length of rusty iron chain. There were bones in the corner. After a long time, the heavy wooden door opened and a burly troll-like alien guard unlocked him. He was taken across town to the spaceport, and given a seat on a starliner bound for the Orion Nebula. He wondered why. He was hungry, but since he was in tourist class all he got to eat was a plateful of soggy blue squares. They tasted awful.

He looked out of the window, but could not figure out which star it was that he had just come from, nor which one he was headed towards. He looked at some of the other passengers, and then an explosion rocked the ship. He looked out of the window again. Enemy starcruisers were firing plasma weapons at the starliner. In the instant that the ship was blasted into tiny bits of space rubble, the man was teleported back through space and time to a planet where the sky is blue and there is only one moon.

He took stock of his situation. He was standing on a mountaintop near some old stone ruins. He was naked. On the ground near him was a rusty sword, a pair of blue jeans, and a gray sweatshirt with chains embroidered on the front. In the pockets of the jeans were six dollars and thirty seven cents in change, a cigarette lighter, and a package of breath mints. He got dressed and started hiking down from the mountain.

It was autumn. The leaves were falling, and it was windy and slightly chilly. He hiked through pine trees and big meadows. The path was very steep. That night he sat before a small campfire in a clearing near a stream, and slept under the stars.

The next morning it was foggy and overcast. He hiked down to the city in the valley. Late that night he walked around the empty streets and looked up at the tall empty buildings. He walked past an iron grate in the pavement from which white mist was rising. The street lights cast long shadows. It began to thunderstorm, so he went into an all night doughnut shop and ate three chocolate doughnuts. The only other customers were two guys wearing matching outfits of brightly colored material. One of them wore a strange mechanical device on his wrist. The man felt that he had seen this person somewhere before, but could not recall just where.

When it stopped raining he went back out into the predawn. He heard a train whistle in the distance. A truck drove past and dropped a pile of newspapers on the corner. He got onto a bus that took him to his house.

He sat in his house for several weeks and tried to decide what to do. He repeatedly read his obituary. At last, when winter began to set in, he built a big fire in the fireplace. He sat in a big cozy armchair, in a soft bathrobe, in front of the fire. His cat, Zinc, sat on his lap, his favorite book was at hand, soft music played in the background, and a hot cup of tea was on the table beside him. The wind shook the house, and in the dim light he could see that snow was collecting on the windows. He looked into the flames for a long time, and thought deeply. Then he went to sleep. And then he died.

Two days later the city was destroyed by a 50 megaton nuclear bomb.

This story appears in My Secret World. Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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