Written for Write at the Merge. A story about cultural clashes begins after the image.
Genre: Science Fiction/Humor
The Phone Call
Sam Malook stared at the shimmering air in the arch. Cory’s Time Machine was amazing. That a 17-year old made one from trashed electronics was more amazing.
“I’ll stay here in case of a temporal fluctuation,” said Cory. “I may need to adjust the controls to maintain connection with 1952. Still, it should be easy and quick. Just get the remote camera, turn around and come back.”
“Okay. I can do that,” said Sam. Eyes filled with thoughts of fame and fortune.
“Just in case, there’s a backup plan. Find a phone and dial a certain number, even in 1952. I can pick up the phone signal through the portal. I’ll lock onto to you and bring you back. The number is 555-8884.”
Ten minutes later, Sam stepped through the time machine, and into a cornfield with stalks taller than him. He looked for the remote camera, nothing but corn. After ten minutes of searching and finding nothing, Sam gave up, but now he couldn’t find the time machine. He wandered for hours, unable to see more than a few meters. By sheer luck, he exited the field and found a road. A gas station stood nearby.
At last. Civilization!
Sam walked into the gas station. “Can I help you, son?” said the middle-aged proprietor.
“Yeah, can I borrow your phone?” said Sam, pulling out his cell phone to get the number.
“What’s that?” said the man, pointing at the phone.
“Oh, I wrote the number down here…Oh no.” He tossed the phone down in disgust.
The man picked it up and turned it over. “Don’t see you wrote a number on it.”
“No, the number is in it, but I like an idiot I came here with a low battery.”
“In it? Well, let’s open ‘er up.” He began to tug on the casing.
“No that’s okay,” said Sam, retrieving his phone quickly.
“That yer name, ‘Sam Sung’?”
“Well, my name is Sam, but…”
“Sung’s a funny name for a Mexican.”
“Actually, I’m Lebanese.”
“Sorry, son. I don’t speak Mexican.”
Sam ignored that, and remembered Cory had made him write the number on his hand. “Oh here it is!”
“There you go.” The man placed a strange-looking phone before Sam.
“What’s going on out there, Fred?” said a woman’s voice in the back.
“It’s okay, Marge,” called Fred. “Mexican boy wants to use the phone.”
“Don’t let him steal nuthin’!” called Marge.
Sam began pressing the numbers. “Lift the receiver off first,” noted Fred.
Fred picked up the handset.
“Oh! Okay.” Sam pressed the numbers.
“What’re you doin’?” Fred placed his finger in a hole and spun the dial. “Like this!”
“Oh!” Sam began pressing numbers again.
“Do it for every number, son!”
Eventually, he made the call.
Cory said with a shocked look, “That sounds like Grandpa! Gramps was a tinkerer, and my work is based on his. You know, they said he was crazy because he swore he saw someone disappear into thin air!”
Each week, Write at the Merge offers writing prompts for up to 500 words. Often there are several prompts you may choose from. I liked the prompt that was a quote, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” My story is inspired by this. For any others wishing to join, the challenge runs until Thursday Jan 16. Here’s the page: http://writeonedge.com/2014/01/writing-prompt-week-2/