Crossed Paths

“Hey, Billy, you want to take this with ya?” He was grisly and ugly, fat and loud. But he was a nice guy, an informant that I could trust.

“Yeah,” I looked at him and he knew what to do with it. He put it in a box. In a bag, in a box. Then he slapped a label on it and laughed, his frame shaking as he handed it to me.

“Jesus, Frankie, you get any fatter, you’re gonna explode,” I looked at him, the greaseball.

“Hey,” Frankie said, raising his shoulders, “You get outta here now, kid.” I loved that guy, Frankie.

I left and let the door slowly close behind me.

The rumble knocked me to the ground.

“Damn it!” he said and crossed his arms. “It’s really cold out there.”

“Yeah, and the girls are wearing skirts!,” she was probably about twice his weight, her hips twice as large as her chest. At least. Gave saddlebags a new meaning.

“So! That’s their problem! Gaww…” Steve pulled on his jacket and stormed out the front door, back to gathering the carts in the snow.

The rumble knocked the carts over, pinning him beneath a train of 17 carts.


“What do you like?” She smiled and let a few strands of hair fall into her face. She was already leaning over and rubbing the inside of his thigh, her head angled down so that her eyes were looking up at him.

“Shut it, bitch” Lenny said, as he grabbed the back of her neck and pushed her head into his lap, looking out behind the car, scanning the area. He took another swig of his beer, resting his bottle on back of the seat..

She bit down on him when the rumble came and knocked the car into the ditch on the side of the road.

“Ain’t got no luck, pa,” Jimmy looked up at his dad, back at his worm.

“You got to set him on there right,” his dad said and went to work re-threading the worm.

Jimmy grabbed a beer.

“You don’t be lettin’ your ma know about that,” Pa pointed at the beer and raised an eyebrow and cocked his head towards the cooler. “Now, she thinks I’m drinkin’ all that.”

Jimmy and Pa began to share a laugh until the rumble came and knocked the boat over, spilling beer and worms and fish guts into the lake.

This gravity machine wasn’t quite worth it, he thought, and he ran his hands through his hair, raising the bottom of his lab coat, revealing his Eagle Scout belt buckle.

It wasn’t working, but he didn’t know exactly what it was. The numbers were right, they were analyzed by the best team.

That bitch never got back to me.

Then they got that award. Those fucking assholes! Taking that award when it was him that had done all the work!

The tenderoni from the bar gave him a bad number.

He slammed his fist on the table. What was going wrong. Wait. If he remembered correctly… that meant… he could just… he had to try.

Furiously writing, he went through six pages before he came up with a reworked number, including five pages that he crumpled and tossed into the basket.

“But this means…” He stared again, this time incredulous not that this didn’t work, but that it didn’t work because of such a small mistake. Error carried forward. Now that he adjusted the math, redid the calculations, he had to try again.

“Raymond!” Derek was always rescuing Raymond from himself. He peeked in the doorway. “Raymond! Let’s go! C’mon, man, that can wait.” Derek was always sweaty, didn’t walk much, and was always pushing for lunch.

That speed dating service was a crock of shit. “Three dates guaranteed, my ass,” he twirled his pencil in his fingers. “Go away, Derek.”

He reached over and flipped the switch. Worthless? Fuck you. I’ll show you. I’ll show all of you.

A light. A flicker. A rumble.


The air clapped as Billy flashed in, steadied himself.

Steve fell three feet and landed on his back, bounced an inch and arched his back, putting his hand on it as he moaned.

Lenny tried to jump back but fell over because his pants were around his knees.

Jimmy splashed in with 10 gallons of water. Billy jumped back and eyed them all suspiciously.

Raymond laughed as he sat, watching them arrive. He spoke first.

“So,” he laughed again and pursed his lips, “So, you’re the miracle team. God fucking damn it.” Raymond shook his head and put his forehead on the table and said, “We’re doomed.”


Author’s notes

I was reading a novella by Robert Wilson about waking up and being one of the last people on earth. Then I was reading the opening chapter from a popular author, Sean Platt, which started off similarly (though Robert Wilson is a MUCH better writer). Both of these reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand, where groups of people arrive in Las Vegas after a mystery bug wipes out most of the earth.

My idea was an experiment gone wrong, rather than the overdone theme of a post-apocalyptic world. Also, I’m very interested in how gravity affects time (time dilation), how people nearer to larger objects experience time differently – for example, satellites around the earth are further from the gravity of the earth, so they don’t experience time as slowly as we do, and we have to keep adjusting the clocks to keep in sync with the terrestrial clocks.

What if someone finally figures out how to control gravity? Can they invent a time machine? Can they create wormholes? And, if so, what would this person do with that machine? Gather a team, of course. But for what? That’s for the reader to imagine in this case!