For reasons known only to the WordPress goblins, this post disappeared sometime today. Fortunately, I had it saved as an Open Office document. And so, I repost my answer to M E Kinkaide’s Time Travel Challenge.
Stacie stopped for gas at a station on Route 66, just outside of Vinita, Oklahoma. It was 1964, and the air smelled like November. By reflex Stacie checked herself over—black skirt, white blouse, white knee socks, black shoes—timeless. In a pinch she could wear it at her destination, but she’d planned on changing somewhere on the road.
She opened the glovebox—heavily reinforced and equipped with a thumprint lock that the Ford Motor company never imagined—and sorted through an envelope of bills, selecting a ten with the date of 1958. That would more than cover a tank of gas.
Her car was a 1953 Ford Crestline, the Sunliner hardtop. The exterior was perfect, but a look at the motor would have shocked the attendant who came up to her window—if he had been able to open the hood without triggering the high voltage alarm system.
Stacie handed him the ten and asked for a fill up, waved away his offer to check the oil and water. She never bought oil this far back, she preferred the synthetics. The gasoline would be high octane and heavily leaded, good for long haul driving. The rebuilt flathead V-8 would run on damn near anything that would burn, but it seemed to prefer the older fuel.
The attendant wiped her windows, never noticing the thickness of the glass, or the slight bluish tint. Stacie collected her change and headed across the road to the A&W for some food for the trip. It was almost fifty years to her destination, she’d get hungry on the road.
In the back seat was the reason for her trip, a crate of record albums. Jazz, mostly, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Coltrane, Brubeck, Davis. She’d bought them used, in good condition, but not too perfect. Where she was going she couldn’t sell them as new.
With a couple of bottles of root beer and Papa Burger in wax paper on the seat beside her she pulled onto the Will Rogers Turnpike. She took the ticket the attendant handed her and put it in her purse. She’d ditch it later—by the time she was ready to exit the turnpike her Pikepass would be working.
Once she was up to speed—the Crestline steady as a rock at sixty miles an hour—she relaxed and let the miles roll past.
And with them, the years.
The talent was a function of speed and distance. She was a traveler, but to move through time she had to be moving through space. In her rear view mirror she saw the Glass House restaurant blink and go dark, and a moment later light up again, this time as McDonalds. The other cars on the road were streaks of color, and she ignored them. At this speed an object would have to be stationary for years before it would be solid enough to effect her or the car.
The Will Rogers Turnpike was perfect for traveling. It got pretty rough in the 2150’s but she didn’t like going that far up—Mid-America went to hell fast after the Quake of 2134. From 1957 through the end of the Twenty-First Century it was as solid as she was.
At cruising speed she was able to travel about a year a minute. She should hit the Missouri state line in the early 1990’s. Then she’d have plenty of space between the state line and St. Louis to travel to 2012, her destination year.
She was approaching the Afton exit—outside the car the 1970’s were ending and the 1980’s beginning—when she saw the hitchhiker.
He was standing on the edge of the highway with a cardboard sign. But that was impossible.
The land around the turnpike was in a state of flux—snow to green grass to brown grass back to snow. The sky was flickering like a bad television, day and night strobing too fast for her eyes to separate them. There was no way that a human being could stand still in one spot long enough to be visible.
But there he was. Stacie had only seconds to decide what to do. Stop for him, or spend the rest of her life wondering who he was and how he could be standing on the side of the road, somehow unfixed in time. She pulled the Crestline over and slowed… very carefully, straining her eyes for the flickering streaks that were the other vehicles. She had no idea what would happen if she brought the car into real time occupying the same space as another vehicle, and she never wanted to find out.
He was a young man, twenty or so. He was wearing blue jeans, straight legged, and a black leather jacket. He grinned at her and held up his sign.
Instead of the name of a town, he’d written simply, “1987”.
For the first time since she had discovered her gift Stacie had met another traveler.