My friend Zack Keller wrote this while romping through France, after getting stuck in a church because of the rain. I’ve also read another story of his, Canyon in the Clouds, and will also be narrating his first novel, The Success of Suexliegh, each of which is available on Amazon. You can also check out his new collaborative serial, Meet Me At The Falls, that he has co-wrote with John Dusenberry and Ben Tuller, or his own blog, www.zackkeller.com. I’d narrate those, too, but I haven’t gotten permission yet (although that never stopped me before), and narrating a blog is just silly (although that never stopped me before, either).
Marty had been driving for close to three hours before he noticed anything had changed. His attention had been so focused on the large rotunda at Los Angeles International Airport that led to all the terminals’ pick-up and drop-off zones, he hadn’t noticed what else had been going on around him. His girlfriend’s plane had been delayed departing from South Carolina because of a large woman in a wheelchair had gotten stuck at the airplane door, delayed at a stop-over in Houston while they waited for a replacement pilot since the original one had gotten sick, then had to take a detour mid-flight because of some ‘weather anomaly’ heading towards Los Angeles, and then delayed again at the gate for reasons unbeknown to him.
After forty minutes of circling through the airport, Marty had been ready to tell his girlfriend to call him when she was finally outside, and then go to a bar at the Holiday Inn down the street. But she wouldn’t like that. For one, she would insist on driving home since Marty had been known to knock back one or two or five or six drinks without a breath in between; and two, she had explicitly said she didn’t like waiting in the pick-up zone (something about the desperate cigarette smoke of the tar-breaths). So Marty had stayed, not wanting to deal with a pissed off girlfriend after so much driving.
After an hour and twenty minutes, however, Marty had enough. Unfortunately, it was one of those days in Los Angeles. Marty was convinced that Southern California really had only five weather patterns: Perfect Sunshine, Rain, Too Much Sunshine, The Final Earthquake to End California, and Traffic. On this day, the airport has been struck with a mighty trafficstorm and Marty had not been able to maneuver his way to the LAX exit before being put on the return road back to the terminals. Bumpers bumped, horns honked, busses strong-armed onto the road, and pain-in-the-ass pedestrians were crossing wherever they felt like it.
After an hour and forty five minutes, what seemed to be lightning flashed around they airport. This surprised Marty because there was not a single cloud in the sky. He looked out his window to see if some power line had busted, but then had to swerve slightly to miss an elderly couple who were the road 20 feet away from the crosswalk. He stuck his head out the window to apologize and saw the couple looking back at him in disappointment and regret, as if they had wanted to be hit.
After just over two hours, Marty did not care about picking up his girlfriend, nor about trying to exit the airport altogether; now it was about principle. This traffic was a war, a rampage, and it was each man for himself. Many cars would enter this arena, but only one would leave. He intended on being that lone hero, and damned any automobile that dared cross his ire.
So Marty had not noticed when the cars had begun to change. It was nothing any normal person could pick out, because many cars from the early 2000’s all the way back to the 1980’s were still widely used in this day and age, and it was not so unusual to see them on the road. The advertisements on the busses had begun to change as well, from The Dark Knight Rises, to the rerelease of Titanic, to Harry Potter, to Shrek, to the original release of Titanic, and so on. But these advertisements could only be seen on the side of busses, and Marty had not been paying attention.
It wasn’t until Marty had stopped just short of running over a tall, black man in a red disco outfit, who had said, “Watch where you’re going, you fucking honky!” that he clued into his surroundings.
Something was definitely different about the place. It looked older, somehow. No, not older, because everything was clean and looked like it had just been made. No, things looked . . . retro. He started to pull over, but the traffic was still a nightmare, and so he just kept circling.
But after three and a half hours, Marty found that the more he kept going in circles the more dated everything became. The planes flying over head began to get smaller. The styles of clothing he saw at the terminals began to look like stuff out of some Norman Rockwell painting. A newspaper, carried on a gust of wind, flew into his window and onto his face. He pulled it off and glanced at a headline saying ‘EISENHOWER REFERS TO ASIA AS A COMMUNIST DOMINO” before chucking it back out the window.
Traffic had finally started to die down, but Marty was afraid to stop now. While a Prius in his day and age was a normal sight to see, in the 1940’s it would look like some sort of spacecraft. It did look like some sort of space craft, and many people were gawking and eyeing him as he drove through the airport. He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and realized that he was almost as shocking as his car; a hipster-wannabe, with a styled beard, pierced nose, tattoos crawling up his neck, in a tank-top with “My Little Pony” stamped on the front. No, getting out was no longer an option.
Could he turn around? Maybe driving the other direction would send him back to his own time. It was an option, but then he would be driving against traffic, and while he could dodge the few amount of cars on the road now, he was not so sure he could forgo a head on collision once he got closer to his time, and then he’s really be stuck.
He could just stop and start living in the current time. Sure, he would look strange, but he had gotten paid this past Tuesday (or will get paid, once he’s born), and Marty had cashed it all and filled his wallet. That money could go a long way in the current time, and he could just hop on a plane to Asia or some Caribbean Island, where his look might not be so foreign. And with his knowledge of future events, he could probably make a fortune with very little effort. Hell, he might even be able to set up a trust fund for himself, his future self, so that the would-be-he would never have to worry about money after college.
The idea was entertaining, but Marty doubted he could pull it off. Sure he could make some money, but he was finding it hard to come to grips with never having the internet again. WWII, Vietnam? No problem. A life without cute cat pictures and YouTube?
“Not on your life,” Marty said, and sped up.
After four hours, Marty was in the mid-1940’s, and both the car traffic and air traffic had died down. Twenty minutes after that, the airport celebrated its opening. Twenty minutes after that, and there was no airport.
Even though it was over bare dirt, Marty kept driving in circles. He was grateful that he had filled his tank before coming to the airport and that his car was a hybrid. He didn’t know how much longer he could go, and he didn’t want to get stuck, but he felt he had no other choice but to keep going. He just hoped that time was actually cyclular instead of a straight line, and that he would eventually end up where he left off. Sure, it was some shoddy sci-fi plot line from an episode of SG-1, but it’s all Marty had to go on.
He flipped through the case of CDs he kept in his car. He found the soundtrack to Jurassic Park, stuck it in the player, hit the accelerator, and began waiting for the dinosaurs.
Shot at the Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman. Our guide gave us interesting facts, but part of me wish that they would have gotten rid of him and just piped “Little Nemo” music through speakers. I got a tiny turtle, whom I named Billy Ray, and I must admit I fell in love.