I saw the kid standing in front of the mine elevator.
He was a dirty miner kid, maybe ten years old, and he was just standing there staring solemnly at me. He wore plain clothes, a coal-dust smudged shirt which was clearly too large for him, simple linen pants, and a miner’s hat with an oil-wicked lamp. That kind of mining cap disappeared from this country around 1915.
He just gravely held my gaze and slowly shook his head.
Seven hours later, an earthquake killed thirty West Virginia miners in a coalmine collapse. My crew didn’t go down there today.
The scrawl on the index card on the end of the mobile filing case reads—“Pittsburgh, 15201 to 15232, 1979 to 1983.”
Each of these cases holds the records of tens of thousands of men. All cross-referenced, sorted by date and location. The filing cases recede into infinity, perspective vanishing point at the limits of vision.
Most file clerks have a nervous breakdown the first time they see this filing system. Is this Satan’s own record keeping, are the earliest entries scratched Sumerian logographs on hardened clay tablets?
No, but that’s close. These belong to the V. A. Hospital.
As I sit and watch in the dark, the moths are fluttering. Into and out of the light from my computer screen they spin. They bang against the LCD screen, attracted to the bright light from a browser page that I left open.
I contemplate for a moment how alike we are. A blank page fascinates me as well. I flit and hover ever closer, waiting for the bug-zapper of inspiration to strike or the crash against the glass that warns me to change directions.
Immolation is my distant fluttering hope, to burn in the bright, hot fire of recognition.
100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:
It’s Collin again. Yes, I still schlep pizzas for Cosmic Stan’s Any Time Any Place Pizza and Catering. (Here, have a menu.) We deliver anywhere in space-time, causation is optional.
The problem with tonight’s invoice is the delivery address, which keeps getting lost. Not like “not on file in the computer” lost. The destination is actually unreliable, never in the same place twice.
Mockingbird Lane is the usual place to start looking. I watch sun and moon flickering while my reality-hopper searches up and down the space-timelines. Whoa, got it—the witch’s hut, strolling slowly along on its chicken legs.
Most of the family is here, actually, going back at least three gen’rations. Emily says when the sun hits ‘em right, you can see smoky shapes in the jars, sometimes little eyes. I ain’t never seen none o’ that stuff, but I believe her cause most all of the girls have the Sight.
Grandma had it too. We don’t have a jar for ‘er. She run orft the day ‘fore grandpa got hit by that truck.
Emily says I should quit yammerin’, and not ride home in yore car tonight.
Dr. Thompkins waved goodbye to Billy at the lab door, and typed the four-digit access code into the Time Machine hatch. It was time to inspect the Pueblo cave walls for changes.
The petroglyphs told the story of an unusual event, in the American southwest of the remote past! Thompkins was excited. He may have finally discovered the earliest cavern artist, when the petroglyphs had first appeared, years earlier than previously believed!
Tap. Tap. Chink.
Camera in hand, Thompkins crept toward the tiny sound. The flash froze the alpha petroglyph artist swinging a hammer at his screwdriver: His son, Billy.