written by James Rada, Jr.
A new serial fiction story for your enjoyment
3: Lost in the 50s
Thomas Hamilton couldn’t believe he had simply walked back in time by crossing the Loys Station Covered Bridge. It made no sense. How many times in his life had he driven, jogged, and walked across that bridge? How many times a day did other people cross that bridge? Not to mention that time travel was impossible!
He looked around Main Street in Thurmont and shook his head. This was not the Thurmont he knew. The cars were bulkier. The streets were more crowded with people, and none of the businesses were the same. Mechanicstown Park hadn’t been built yet. The lot had a small garage and gas station on it. When Thomas looked down Water Street, he could see the marquee for the Gem Theater, which he had never seen in his Thurmont.
Thomas took out his smartphone from his armband. It had power, but no signal. He had no money and identification on him because he had been jogging. The only reason he had brought his phone with him was because he had been listening to his running playlist while he exercised.
He noticed the odd looks people gave him. He wondered if it was because of the way he was dressed or the smell of dried sweat on him.
“Excuse me, sir.”
Thomas turned and saw a police officer walking along the sidewalk toward him. He looked like Andy Griffith in his uniform on The Andy Griffith Show, which now that Thomas thought about it, wasn’t even on the air yet.
“I don’t believe I know you,” the officer said. “Do you live in town?”
“No, I live out in Rocky Ridge,” Thomas said.
The officer looked him up and down. Then he sniffed. “You don’t look like a farmer.”
“I am. I’m just making a trip into town for a break.”
“I’m not sure how much the store owners and customers will appreciate you in their shops.” He pinched his nose.
Thomas frowned. “Well, that’s rude.”
“I’m just trying to head off any vagrant complaints the police might get, sir. If that happens, we’d have to ask for identification, and things could get unpleasant. I wouldn’t want to see that happen. After all, you’ve done nothing wrong… yet.”
Thomas nodded. He also didn’t want to have to produce a driver’s license to show who he was. Not only didn’t he have one, but if the police checked the address on his license, they would find someone else living there and expiration date 70 years in the future.
“Thank you, officer. I guess I should have showered and changed before I came. I’ll head home and remember to dress for the occasion next time.”
The police officer nodded. “A good idea, I think.” Then he continued walking down the street.
Thomas headed in the opposite direction. People kept staring at him. They had certainly seen sweaty people, and they wore sweat clothes from time to time, perhaps not outside in public, judging by the crowd he saw, but it wasn’t unheard of. Then he remembered his smartphone. It was in a case attached to his arm so he could run with it. He grabbed it, slid it off his arm, and stuffed it in his pocket. He couldn’t do much about his reflective vest unless he wanted to stuff it in a trash can, which he didn’t want to do.
If Thomas was going to get by until he figured out a way to get home, he needed a change of clothing and money. He might look like a beggar, but that didn’t mean people would feed him.
He turned down an alley because there was no one down there to stare at him. He needed to think, and he couldn’t do that if he felt like every eye in town was watching him. He saw laundry hanging on clotheslines behind the houses that were built along the alleys north of Main Street.
He wasn’t a thief, but desperate times called for desperate measures. He slowed his walk, studying the laundry, trying to guess the sizes as best he could. He didn’t need long johns or socks. He could get by with a pair of pants and a shirt. He would look passable with those, even if he kept wearing his running shoes.
He saw a set of clothes he thought would work. He looked around, opened the back gate, and quickly took them off the line. The pants were still damp, but they would dry. He jogged out of the yard and headed down the alley and crossing the railroad tracks. He ran into a field of corn and changed into his new clothes.
One problem solved.
The next one was more difficult. He started walking to the farms he saw to the north and east of town, asking if they needed any field help in exchange for a meal. Thomas knew farming. He was a farmer, so it was work he knew he could do. He made up a story about his own farm failing and heading to Western Maryland to help his brother with his farm.
He only wished it was true. Things would be so much easier. He could walk to Western Maryland if need be. He couldn’t walk to 2023.
He didn’t find any takers for his services that day. He did manage to snag an apple off a tree while walking away from one farm. It turned out to be his dinner for the day.
He found a place in the woods away from the roads where he bedded down for the night. Once it got dark out, he worried he might twist his ankle in an unseen hole. He ignored the smell of his dirty sweat clothes and wadded them up to use as a pillow.
It was all about the bridge, he decided. The bridge had been a tunnel through time. It had shown him a clear scene on one side while all around had been foggy. He had known something was weird, but how many people traveled over that bridge in a day? Certainly, they all didn’t travel back in time.
Also, did it only work one way? He had gone back in time when he crossed over, but he hadn’t come back to his time when he crossed back. Still, if there was a way to travel back in time, there had to be a way to travel back to his time. He just had to figure it out.
Look for what happens next in our February issue