Philly Science Fiction
Excerpt from a Rescue in Time
A sci-fi short story that takes place in Philadelphia Pa.
Lawrence Johnson Sr.
and Lauren A. Johnson
and Lauren A. Johnson
Copyright © 2010 Lawrence Johnson Sr.
and Lauren A. Johnson
and Lauren A. Johnson
A Rescue in Time
Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Christopher was in a very good mood on this warm fall day. Although the sunny, September weather was the furthest thing from Chris’ mind. The tall sandy blonde haired real estate agent smiled as he passed the string of butcher shops, in a street lined with fruit stands filled with shiny apples, oranges, and all sorts of produce on 9th Street in South Philly.
Last night Chris and his buddy Tony went down to Columbus Boulevard to watch the drag races. Tony and Chris decided to place a little wager. Tony sized up the two cars in the next race, he was sure he had a winner. “I bet you two tickets to the Sixers’ Boston game that the green Chevy wins.” said Tony.
Chris shook his head as he walked down the street remembering the look on Tony’s face when the supped up Ford Mustang shot across the finish line first by a full car length. As Chris made his way past the thin crowd of early shoppers he was crossing a street no bigger than an ally when he heard someone calling out to him.
“Yo Chris, over here.” A stocky man with salt and pepper hair and beard motioned for him to come down the deserted little street. It was Kenny, his old nemesis from their childhood days. Kenny was the neighborhood bully but that seemed like a lifetime ago to Chris who was no longer afraid of him.
“What’s up Kenny? I haven’t seen you for a while.” As Chris moved closer he noticed that Kenny looked different, older. He wore a pair of old faded jeans and a blue plaid shirt. The guy he grew up with would have never been caught dead wearing something so common.
Kenny waived for Chris to follow him deeper into the little street that dead ended into a ten foot brick wall. “Come over here Chris, I just wanna talk to you.”
Chris stopped when he saw Kenny’s gray hair. “Hey man, aren’t you supposed to be in Holmesburg? I heard they got you on a double homicide.”
Kenny shook his head, “That’s a long story dude. Look, Tony told me that you were coming down here today. I need a favor from you.”
Chris kept staring at the old man who stood before him, not knowing what to make of Kenny’s appearance he decided to let him talk. When Kenny reached for the brown paper shopping bag on the sidewalk Chris took a step back and waived him off. “Look Kenny, you know I’m not into that shady stuff and besides my wife’s having a baby. I can’t afford to go to jail, especially now.”
Kenny smiled, “Yeah, I know. Look Chris, I know that you’re not going to believe this but I came here from the future, thirty years in the future to be exact.”
Chris laughed in Kenny’s face. “Those drugs finally got to you, huh?”
Kenny ignored the wise crack and continued. “I got a kid, a son. He’s nothing like me, he’s a good kid. His name is Antonino. In a way he sort of reminds me of you. He’s getting married; well at least he was going to before the explosion.” Kenny could see that Chris was not buying his story but that didn’t stop him. “He went to the caterers store on South Street a few days before the weeding. According to the Fire Marshall there was some kind of rupture and the whole place just blew up. They said it was something about a faulty gas line.”
Chris was losing patience, “Look man; I don’t know what the hell you are going on about. Don’t forget,” Chris pointed a finger at Kenny, “I know you. You have always been a prankster. I still remember when we were in the seventh grade and you switched Mr. Harrison’s chocolate candy with a laxative.”
Kenny laughed, “Yeah man that was great.” His expression turned serious again. “That was then, come on Chris, he pointed to his head, look at my grey hair, look at this beard. Look at the wrinkles on my face.” He reached inside the brown paper bag and pulled out a beautiful purple and white crystal the size of a golf ball. “I got this from some guy. That’s how I was able to come back. I need you to go back in time to stop the explosion in the future. I can’t do it now, I tried. It’s a catering shop on South Street. They think I’m crazy.”
Chris shook his head, “They’re not the only ones. Can’t you get somebody else to do this? Kenny shook his head, no, “not in this timeline, you’re the only one I know who’s still speaking to me. Rita won’t even talk to me.”
Chris was about to walk away. He was getting frustrated. “You dress different and act different but you’re still the same. Why do you keep disrespecting your mom by calling her by her first name?” Chris waived his hand, “Forget it. Why don’t you just tell your son before the explosion?”
Kenny pointed to the crystal; “I can only go back thirty years, that’s the way it works.”
Chris waived him off and started to walk away. “This is crazy man; you need to get yourself some help.”
Kenny was desperate, he needed to think fast. He called out to Chris; “your wife is having a girl, her name is Cynthia. Your daughter is marring my son.”
Chris stopped dead in his tracks. Kenny knew that he had his attention. “They are in love,” he yelled down the narrow street. “If you don’t stop this it will break her heart.”
Chris walked back to where Kenny was standing. “You’re a drug dealer, a thief, a con artist, and a liar. A liar who will say anything to get what you want!”
Kenny stared Chris right in the eyes. “So you finally grew a pair. There was a time that I would have whipped your ass for talking to me like that, but you’re right. I was all of those things, but I have changed.”
Kenny reached inside the brown shopping bag and pulled out a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper was smaller and the paper it was printed on felt different. It was turned to the obituary section. He handed the paper to Chris who noticed that it was dated for September 27, 2040. Thirty years from now. After Chris read the article he handed the paper back to Kenny. His mood had turned somber.
In a quiet voice he said, “What do you want me to do?”
Kenny pulled out a change of clothes and a smaller bag with a red rubber band wrapped around it. Inside the bag was $30,000 in old bills and the address of the property Chris was to buy.
“Once you own the property you can make sure that the catering service is never built. Put a parking lot or something on it. I don’t care what you do as long as there are no gas lines running into the building.” Kenny instructed.
A reluctant Chris searched his mind for a better way. If this worked he could be stranded in South Philly in 1980, it was a frightening thought. “Hold it! Why don’t I just wait thirty years and tell them before he goes into the caterers?”
Kenny shook his head, “You won’t be there, in fact you won’t make the wedding either. I can’t tell you why, it might screw up the whole timeline thing.”
Chris accepted the old clothes ducked behind the dumpster and changed into the outfit that would help him to blend in with the others in the past.
“Here whatever you do don’t lose this, it might get cold.” Kenny reached inside the shopping bag and handed Chris a jacket. “In exactly two weeks you will be transported back to this spot but it will be as if you never left.” Chris seemed confused. “Okay Chris, since you can’t go forward in time you will come back here at the same time you left. Nobody will ever know that you were gone, except me. When I squeeze this crystal the portal will open and send you to wherever I am thinking at the time but it has a limited range so you will still be in South Philly.”
Kenny looked around to make sure that they weren’t being watched then squeezed the crystal hard. Suddenly an eight foot high circular portal of blue and white swirling, sparkling lights appeared at the wall. Chris took a deep breath before walking into the light. He noticed a slight smirk on Kenny’s face right before he vanished into the portal.
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