Main TAG: A Time Travel Story

TAG: A Time Travel Story

0 / 0
How much do you like this book?
What’s the quality of the file?
Download the book for quality assessment
What’s the quality of the downloaded files?
Year:
2016
Publisher:
Walking On Hot Waffles
Language:
english
ISBN:
B01CMOANJE
File:
PDF, 798 KB
Download (pdf, 798 KB)
0 comments
 

To post a review, please sign in or sign up
You can write a book review and share your experiences. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.
1

The OP MC 9: God of Winning

Year:
2021
Language:
english
File:
PDF, 1.14 MB
0 / 0
2

RWBY: Before the Dawn

Year:
2020
Language:
english
File:
EPUB, 768 KB
0 / 0
TAG
A TIME TRAVEL STORY

TAG: A Time Travel Story
By Kenny Casanova
Editor: Marty Carbone
Cover Art: Peter Sefcik
WOHW Publishers
31 Clearview Terrace
Rensselaer, NY 12144
518-506-3305
ken@kennycasanova.com

Tag: A Time Travel Story
Copyright © 2014 by Walking On Hot Waffles Publishers
in conjunction with Kenny Casanova & WOHW.com
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means without written permission from the author.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Although portions of this novel
are derived from real events, each character in it is fictional; a composite
drawing from several individuals and from imagination. No reference to any
living person is intended or should be inferred. Although the author and
publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book
was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby
disclaim any liability to any party for loss, damage, or disruption caused by
errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence,
accident, or any other cause.

KDP ISBN: 978-1-976882-80-7
Printed in the USA.

Table of Contents
CHAPTER ZERO
CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER NINE
CHAPTER TEN
CHAPTER ELEVEN
CHAPTER TWELVE
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
CHAPTER NINETEEN
CHAPTER TWENTY
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER
ZERO
“Man, they gotta sleep sometime,” a voice whispered
somewhere from the left. “Don’t they?”
“Whether they are sleeping or not,” Janos looked at his watch.
“It’s almost time.”
Three surplus supply trucks sat quietly, as a holding place for
the same number of hiding Navy SEALs. The trucks were at a safe
distance away from a steel warehouse, where a number of antiAmerican organizations were having a trea; cherous meeting of the
minds.
The mini-troop waited for this moment; a moment they had
planned on and anticipated for three days.
The American snipers were in place about a football field away
from their first targets. Everything was going as planned.
About three hours ago, they crept up in twilight to their hiding
places; empty cargo trucks that terrorists had already gutted of their
once mystery cargo.
Jim Janos was the American Navy SEAL heading Operation:
Ivan Junior Kill. He hated the idea that the three trucks where they
were hiding were all former American-made military issues. Now,
they were being used by people who hated them.
Janos looked over his notes one last time. The big-framed Navy
SEAL then checked his clip and secured his M-249 light machine.
Finally, he peered out from under the thick tan canopy, at his backup.
The other stowaway SEALs were hiding in the other two trucks
to his left and right. Janos made eye contact and got a “thumbs up”
from Dusty to his left. He shifted slowly to the other side of his hiding
place and got a nod from Jake, on his right.
In the middle of sandy nowhere, the Iraqi radical camp was now
quiet, just as predicted. The sun had set exactly three hours ago and

a minimal security plan was intact. The majority of staff had finally
called it a night.
Deep in the desert compound, door guards were standing post
to a building surrounded by fencing. They had no idea that days of
surveillance were about to pay off for the good guys. The two
disheveled guards were smoking cigarettes at the entrance of large
steel warehouse.
Janos whistled.
Instantly, two sniper shots zipped through the skulls of the
watchmen. Their bodies and their smokes dropped to the sand
below, as Janos ran in the same direction as the bullets. The two
marksmen who made the shots slid out of the back of their trucks.
Dusty and Jake sprinted to meet with their leader.
Janos relieved the corpses of their firearms. He dragged one of
the bodies over to a parked jeep that was off to one side of the
makeshift parking lot. Jake did the same with the other body, stowing
the kill evidence underneath the frame of the vehicle.
It was on.
Dusty and Jake took their places on either side of the door and
slowly cracked it open.
Janos went first. He dropped and snaked the sandy concrete
floor. Among stacks of various boxes, he took cover behind two
wooden supply crates off to the left. His backup mirrored his moves,
following on the opposite side.
In the center of what looked like an airplane hangar doubling as
a weapon storage warehouse, a large plane in repair was on hold.
The aircraft sat in front of some massive garage-like doors. However,
the jet was not a real concern. Beyond the plane was the real action.
Like most terrorist operations, not a whole lot was put into this
meeting. Janos predicted there would be fewer guards assigned to
watch after sundown, but there was even less muscle than he had
predicted.
There were only four guards again, each pair posted on
opposite sides of a long wooden table. They were guarding ten
must-know mercenaries all from the FBI’s Most Wanted list, including
their number one target, Adnan Khalid.

Khalid, the new al-Qaeda acting general, stood in front of a
large white board with plans of destruction scribbled all over it.
Military intelligence had said that another 9/11 was in the works;
another major attack on America. By the looks of the people in
attendance, the informants were correct.
Janos shook his head in disbelief. It was surreal. Their timing
was perfect. Intelligence knew that there was an important meeting
scheduled, but they had no idea when. It was happening right before
his eyes. Janos snapped back into focus.
Sprawled out, bellies to the floor, Janos’ backup team prepared
for their attack.
Dusty gritted his teeth. He picked up his M-249 off the sandy
floor and held the scope of his gun to his eye to plan a shot. His pair
of targets were the two guards to the left. They were both already in
the crosshairs.
Jake nodded and positioned himself to his targets on the right.
Before picking up his gun, he rubbed both of his hands together like
a “doo-doo-eating” horsefly, about to attack a fresh steaming pile.
The freedom haters were everyone who ever had heat with the
US. The evil anti-justice league consisted of the “who’s who” of Iraqi
radicals, jihadists, Ba'ath Party members, a Syrian mafia leader, a
Shi'ite and an Iranian mogul.
For Janos, it was odd to see such a formal meeting of highcaliber names taking place in such a poor setting. “They must be
here to show off their weapons,” he thought.
The people in attendance had been already predicted by
intelligence, but a few unsuspected guests were also in attendance.
Adding to the forces of evil, Khalid introduced a Pakistani leader and
a crazed Russian dignitary who was worth billions.
The new members stood at their seats and shook hands with
Khalid to the applause of the others.
Originally, this secret group had formed an alliance of
convenience to reject the democratization of Iraq; each under their
own motivation and agenda. Now, with Pakistan and a high-rolling
financial backer involved, the radicals finally had the contacts and
the revenue that they needed to get what they wanted.

The three American snipers watching the terrorist tea party
didn’t need to speak about what the meaning of the new members
was. What the new members in attendance really meant was that a
real nuclear bomb threat would soon be a reality.
Dusty whispered to Jake, “Russia and Iraq?”
“That’s one ugly couple,” Jake replied.
“Their babies are going to be even uglier,” Dusty said, tightening
his clip.
Janos motioned to his backup. Jake looked over to Dusty. Dusty
and Jake both nodded at Janos.
Without even saying, “hello,” the three wedding crashers
stormed the party. Jake and Dusty ran straight at their two soldiers
with their weapons in front of them.
Jake took out the left guards and Dusty dropped the right,
opening up the center for Janos.
Janos sprinted straight down the center spraying at the ten
freedom haters in a cloud of steel hail. At least six or seven crimson
heads immediately toppled over on the table. Before Janos could
finish the job, the Zionist-Persian stood and fired a sidearm back,
hitting Dusty in the shoulder.
Janos was distracted for only a moment before he returned the
favor to Persia, and next to Syria. He continued forward, then heard
another scream of agony.
Behind him, two guards took out Jake.
Janos fired one more shot in front of him and dropped to the
floor. He twisted his body and hosed Jake’s killers in vengeance.
Dusty held his shoulder and motioned Janos onward.
Janos turned back at the bloody mess on the table and saw that
his last bullet had made contact. The Pakistani was bent over on the
asphalt floor, right next to the elderly Russian billionaire. All ten
targets were down, except the one who was standing at the start; alQaeda General Adnan Khalid.
Janos quickly scanned the warehouse. With his head turned, he
heard a slam come from somewhere in the opposite corner.
Janos followed the noise in full pursuit.

He moved through the obstacles to a find a secured door in the
metal siding. He held up his gun and pumped the handle full of lead.
The spray of ammunition caused the door to come back swinging.
The head sniper of the special unit entered a cement tube-like
tunnel that led to another structure; the tower behind the warehouse.
He moved without caution. The walls were white and sterile, etched
in naked light bulbs. Janos fired his gun like a madman in front of
him. He stopped at the sound of ricocheting of bullets.
He could hear the echo of Adnan Khalid running for his life, just
around the almost 90-degree angle bend ahead.
Janos moved quickly to catch up. He was all ears. He heard
Khalid stumble and fall.
Moving in on his prey, the American sprinted to the end of the
hall and spun at the turn to the right. His breath was hard and his
footsteps were even harder.
Janos’ SEAL training was brutal. Thirty months of hell and four
years of special assignments all led up to this moment. Janos was
trained to handle pretty much any task be it diving, combat
swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. He
had been pushed to the limit both mentally and physically.
A broken ankle was not going to hold him back from completing
the mission.
Around the bend, a steel staircase led spiraling up the side of a
huge silo. At the furthest point upward, Janos saw the hindquarters
of Adnan Khalid, the number one enemy of the American way.
Janos emptied his clip in the General’s direction, but his injured
foot gave out underneath him. He missed.
He threw the empty gun to his side and cambered hard on his
bad wheel, using the rails to support his weight. The damage he
was doing to his foot didn’t matter. The goal was before him.
At the top of the staircase, Janos pulled a pistol from his
waistband. Holding it ahead with both hands, he parried across the
catwalk from one side of the silo’s mouth to the other, to the control
box suspended to the side of the wall.
The sniper looked back and down for one second. He
swallowed hard. A nuclear weapon wasn’t on the table for the secret

society of democracy-haters. It was already in the silo. A massive
nuclear weapon smiled up at him in its sleep. It was unlike any he
had ever seen before.
Behind the glass window wall, General Adnan Khalid was in full
panic-mode, barking out some threats in another language.
Janos heard the word “bomb.” He fired his gun at the bulletproof
window, to no avail.
The al-Qaeda leader then did the one thing no Navy SEAL ever
wants to see an al-Qaeda do. He bowed his head and closed his
eyes. He began to pray to Allah. From a suicide bomber, that only
meant one thing.
“I hate to interrupt Sunday School. ” Janos fired three shots at
the doorknob. The door popped. Janos swung it open. He stepped
into the fenced-in catwalk box like an outlaw stepping into an old
saloon.
Adnan Khalid frantically fiddled with some controls on a large
panel just under the window.
“Time’s up. It’s all over, big man. No one is going to save you.”
Janos asked. “Are you ready to meet your maker?”
Adnan Khalid shook his head and turned a key on the controls
before him. “We all are.”
Janos lifted his arm and fired once, as Khalid flipped the hatch
on a small box open.
Adnan Khalid took a shot straight in the head, but not before
hitting the red button. Janos stepped back.
The tunnel began to shake.
An alarm sounded with red flashing lights.
Janos backed against the wall, with his palms against the silo,
holding him up. He watched in horror from the box as the catwalk
retracted and the roof opened.
Janos pulled the satellite phone from his shoulder pocket.
“Target down, but… but… weapon launched! Do you read me? Hbomb! Nuke! Nuke!”
The phone failed.
The noise from the rocket became deafening.
A long-range nuclear weapon was set, with its eyes on America.

Ivan Junior was awake.

CHAPTER
ONE
Janos knew it was over.
He watched helplessly as the rocket disappeared above him.
His eyes welled up.
Janos had read the testing records. He knew exactly what his
home was about to undertake. He also knew that there was no
turning back the hands of the clock on an ignited Hydrogen Bomb.
The Navy SEAL held the satellite phone to his face again,
praying for a signal. The phone still would not cooperate. The
reception was being jammed by the radio control panel of a WMD in
front of him.
Attempting to estimate the time of “Doomsday,” Janos tried to
recall details from the H-Bomb film he saw back in Naval School,
some years ago. He remembered in 1961, Russia unleashed the
original H-bomb Ivan.
In the film, an aircraft zipped over Novaya Zemlya, a small
uninhabited island in the Arctic Sea. Everything had seemed
peaceful on the land underneath the plane, until the pilot opened the
hatch and dropped its deadly load.
While the biggest hydrogen bomb ever built took months to
create, it took only one second to destroy all signs of life.
Below the biggest mushroom cloud ever, all life perished. The
trees disappeared. The hills vanished. The snow had completely
melted, as did the rocks. The island became an empty skating rink
twenty miles around Ivan’s point of impact at ground zero.
Ivan was the ultimate Cold War political statement. America’s
1952 test bomb, Ivy Mike, was a destructive 15 megaton model that
made a four-mile-wide mushroom cloud. Ivan’s design, however,
dwarfed our bomb with100 megatons.

Janos slid his back against the hot steel wall behind him. In
survival mode, the G.I. tore a strip of clothing off of Khalid’s dead
body. He began to wrap his broken ankle out of habit. He knew that it
was of no use. Ally radar would soon pick up the threat to American
soil as a blip on their radar. Retaliation would mean certain death.
He shut his eyes and whispered, “Help us, God.” Janos first
thought about his family. He wondered if the bomb would take them,
or if they would fall just outside the scope of the fallout.
His mind drifted on the advancements of technology and what
improvements meant to an H-bomb. Televisions were now bigger
and flatter. Computers are smaller and faster. Cars drove further.
Planes made trips shorter. Cell phones saved people time. Every
invention worked better than its original form thanks to technology
and testing. Janos hoped the hydrogen bomb was one of the
exceptions in advancement.
Janos remembered a college professor explaining that the
actual effectiveness of today’s modern H-bomb could only be
estimated, due to the dangers involved in physical testing. This was
because, after the measurable destruction of the first Ivan, no one
had dared set off another that big, let alone bigger.
No one knew what modern technology has done for the HBomb. No one knew how changing the original Teller-Ulam design
would affect the end-results. No one knew how bad the nuclear
fallout would be if a new, refreshed son of Ivan were to awake.
Janos thought, until right now, the world was lucky not to know.
****
In America, it was a few hours past midnight. The full moon
couldn’t be seen from the trains housing only a handful of city
commuters. One particular car became the unforgiving bed of the
semi-conscious substitute, Nick Jericho.
The substitute teacher from Queens was returning home from
his big bus trip to Canada, where a hockey game went into suddendeath overtime rules. Three beers later, Jericho and his buddies’
team had won. Three hours later, he felt the groggy side-effects of
those last three beers, alone in public transportation.

The comfort of the late night charter bus was missed, on the last
stretch home. His eyes closed. His eyes opened. He shook his body
to stay awake in the stiff fiberglass seats.
As Jericho finally fell asleep, little did he know, the son of Ivan
awoke.
A line of subway cars shot by Jericho’s window in a silver
streak. Underground, in the darkness of the tunnel, Nick Jericho had
no idea that a multi-megaton thermonuclear weapon from
somewhere in of the Middle East was also streaking silver in the sky.
Ivan Junior, a rocket-powered bomb far more efficient and a
hundred times more deadly than Ivan, was headed for the United
States.
Blip, blip.
Advanced American radar detected the threat that ally radar
couldn’t pick up. Three Patriot missiles from different locations
launched and deflected the threat’s course. However, none of the
efforts actually brought the smart bomb down.
The modern improvements to the newer, smarter Ivan bomb
were incredibly advanced from its forefather. Nanotechnology
allowed this weapon to detect and dodge a direct head-on hit and
repair itself while still in the sky.
Many crucial internal repairs were made with success. Ivan then
calculated how far it could fly with the unrepairable damages from
the Patriot’s glancing blow. Then, it actually intelligently
reprogrammed itself.
The damage Ivan sustained would not allow for completion of
the lengthy trip. Therefore, instead of targeting New York City and
spreading ill will to the center of the country as originally planned, a
destination change was recalculated. Ivan decided to rather salvage
its deadly cargo and dump the full load of doomsday on the next best
alternative.
The nuclear bomb redirected to the west coast and hit Los
Angeles.
Even on as far away as the east side of the country, skies
grayed over the starlight. The mushroom cloud that followed the

blast was big enough to be seen from the moon. It expanded
countless miles into the sky and blackened everything beneath it.
The strip of destruction leveled two-thirds of California.
Ionization from the explosion disrupted telephone and radio
communications nationwide. Downed phone lines created a downing
snowball effect to others when those lines became overused.
Millions upon millions had no idea what was going on and, in many
cases, no way to reach the people who did.
As big as the destruction was, Nick Jericho didn’t know that a
massive bullet hole now pierced his side of the planet.
At the center point of impact, the enormous crater was a black
grand canyon. The upturned earth radiated away from the void of
land. It would never again be fertile. It was all melted hard rock.
Without a single trace of life, every recognizable item in Middle
to Southern California and all neighboring states had been swept
clean and blown away.
The son of Ivan indiscriminately wasted any buildings,
structures, landscapes, wildlife and people that stood in its shadow.
Nothing was immune.
The Middle Eastern weapon of mass destruction was so deadly
that its mere presence would indirectly kill its own senders. Upon
radar detection, the United States decided to add to the onslaught
and to the final body count.
The United States decided to the favor and launched back one
of its own.
In a short amount of time, before the unthinkable had hit the
United States, military intelligence got the word. There no time to
stop it, but there was always time for revenge.
Ivy Mike Junior woke up, and he was way more pissed than his
father ever was.
The vengeful retaliation was instantly launched from a remote
point by a livid American military official. He refused to await orders
from his “politically correct” chief-in-command and pushed the button
without authority.
America’s bomb wiped out nearly the entire Middle East at
virtually the same instant we were hit.

With patchy cell phone reception underground at about three in
the morning, the passengers of the G Line to Jamaica, New York
had no idea about the death and destruction happening around the
world.
The substitute teacher yawned. Soon after Jericho adjusted
himself in his hard seat for his last stretch to the Forest Hills & 71st
Avenue, the bombs had hit.
Communication lines almost everywhere were down. News
updates were out there, but they were hit or miss, due to specific
server issues and/or severed transmission feeds to satellites. Among
the few lucky ones who were not in the dark, reports were already
claiming that millions had to be dead.
Within fifteen minutes, the surviving mankind awoke globally to
the news of the bombs hitting opposite sides of the planet, almost
simultaneously.
For the living, there was instant updating news of devastation.
Sketchy estimated tolls of death were grim. Confusion and hysteria
broke out everywhere.
But this shock was not the only worldwide news story.
****
Soon after the news of the bombs went viral, seeminglyunrelated and different horrific accounts started rolling in.
After the exact moment of double impact, strange occurrences
around the globe began to happen; things that defied the law of
physics.
For one, handfuls of people in all parts of the world were
rendered unconscious for no apparent reason. This was odd
because radiation poisoning could not have reached all of the distant
points where this was happening so quickly. There was no scientific
reason why people were rendered comatose, yet hundreds were. …
Then, thousands.
An unusual amount of missing people reports were also being
filed by friends and families, everywhere. The reports were from
many different places, but they were all the same. Witnesses said

they were with the missing victims, but then their companions were
suddenly gone. In some odd cases, victims vanished right before
peoples’ very eyes.
However, people far away from the bombs that hit Los Angeles
and the Middle East were not the only things missing.
Oddly enough, large objects like buildings and landmarks were
also being described as “uprooted,” or “taken.” They weren’t being
reported as destroyed, as it seemed to most that these items had
had also rather literally disappeared into thin air.
Landscapes changed.
A building near the Eifel Tower and a major automobile factory
in Michigan vanished. Lincoln Memorial was gone, as was a portion
of the Great Wall of China. The Bunker Hill Monument of Boston,
The Asakusa Shrine of Tokyo, and an entire Walmart in New Jersey
were all reported among the missing.
Land masses changed.
A section of a large rainforest was bare. Random mountains
disappeared.
Flooding occurred when great rivers and lakes changed in
formation, due to missing soil masses and because some major
dams no longer existed, miles away.
The world was a mess.
****
The son of Ivan and Ivy Mike Junior were far more devastating
than had ever been imagined. However, a bomb destroys objects, it
does not teleport them away. These bombs couldn’t have magically
removed so many things from the earth’s soil, with no signs of
destruction, and so far away from the bombs’ points of impact.
Something else had allowed random objects to seemingly break
the laws of physics.
Within the fifteen minutes after the bombs struck, people
scrambled for explanations. Choppy accounts of last-minute experts
flooded the diminished broadcast signals.

Right-wing religious advocates argued that the disappearances
could be “the rapture,” a biblical end-of-the-world occurrence in
Christianity where God saves only the chosen ones from the
devastation of the end days.
Left-wing New Age atheists argued that the Bible spoke nothing
about God taking Walmarts and waterslides with him. “The missing
stuff was the cause of man.” They argued that the natural balance of
nature was disturbed by nuclear fallout and reports were sideeffects. The strange occurrences were happening because
something messed up our law of physics.
Anti-governmental radicals suggested the occurrences were
from new secret weapons, debuting in a time of World War. They
claimed radiation waves with the power to disintegrate targets were
being projected from different military satellites, as a means of selfdefense against further threats.
Conspiracy theorists said that aliens were attempting to
preserve a sample of our people and our culture from the dangerous
fallout of the hydrogen bombs. Since the aliens are smarter than we
are, they know who and what to take and what to leave behind.
In the chaotic first fifteen minutes and in the distraction of a
world shock from nuclear destruction, no one could offer any credible
scientific reasons behind the ever-growing list of the missing.
Nick Jericho knew none of these theories because he was
sleeping. He also knew none of these theories because he too was
also on the missing list.
Something was now far more important than conspiracy theories
to the sleeping substitute and the dozens of people inside a small
section of the subway.
No one in the world knew where their specific section of tracks
went and more importantly, no one knew where they were.
One and a half miles of train tunnel was missing.

CHAPTER
TWO
Hours before rush hour, there were barely any signs of life from
the supposed “city that never sleeps.”
Nick Jericho’s internal train-stop radar kicked in as the car
slowed down slightly. He sensed his train was about to make a late
night stop at 67th Avenue.
“One more,” he yawned.
Jericho decided that the long ride home from Canada was, after
all this, perhaps not really worth the enjoyment of catching up with
old friends. “I should have just sprung for a hotel, rather than to save
myself some time by riding back, for the next day,” he thought.
A yawn later, the train slowed down again and Jericho began to
pick himself up. Before he made it to the lights approaching, he felt
more tired than even before. His head dropped.
Jericho shook himself and forced his eyes open to keep from
falling asleep. He rubbed his face open to see the next stop, Forest
Hills & 71st Avenue, written in tile on the approaching wall.
Jericho stood up in place. He stretched and leaned on a rail.
He rested his eyes a moment when a strange turbulence
suddenly jarred him to life. He quickly looked at the window. The
sight of a green circle with a “G” in the middle spun around and flew
somewhere behind his head.
Jericho went down hard.
The G Line trembled violently again and a sharp pain sparked
through his shoulder blade.
As one of the bombs touched down somewhere else in the
world, a subway train of New York City derailed.
Portions of the four-track underground passageway collapsed
around the car carrying the substitute teacher. He heard a crunch
and screaming from somewhere else.

His train half-tipped over. It turned to one side and slammed
hard against the tunnel wall. Half of its maglev runners ripped free
and pointed out diagonally. Its underbelly was exposed in a slant.
The one lower side of the train shifted, again. It dropped even
lower and pushed the other side up about six feet off the ground.
Tangled in the supports under the seats, Jericho pulled himself
up to the now slanted horizontal rails. Climbing the supports like
monkey bars, he made it to the lip of the car’s side door exit.
He forced his tired hands between the sliding doors and pried
them open. A chin-up to the outside brought him the sweet familiar
smell of the subway tunnel and something else.
Jericho raised his head further to periscope his predicament.
He was in the third car back. His train had derailed completely
and somehow ended up leaning into the other lane, supported
against the wall.
The tracks in front of him were trashed.
In this stop clearing, there were four lanes; two sets of two
tracks with a dividing wall down the center. The destination ahead
was maybe about a few hundred feet away but in clear sight. The
dividing wall ended at the lights, where it would reveal a full look at
the other two tracks behind the wall.
Jericho looked down. He had been dropped off at Forest Hills &
71st possibly a thousand times before, but never did he see people
exiting out into the tracks.
Below his car was chaos.
Like little ants fleeing from a stomping foot, a handful of midnight
commuters were also climbing, jumping off, and scurrying away from
the cars connected to his.
Jericho crawled against the hot steel side of his train, which now
resembled a slanted roof. He dangled his feet, then dropped and
stumbled away from the derailed train.
He stepped carefully down the empty second track away from
the tunnel wall and moved toward the light. He followed the other
passengers from the G Line, as people from behind pushed passed
him.

As he headed toward the clearing where the dividing wall gave
away in the center, he saw shadows on the other side through portal
openings. He heard even more commotion behind the divider and
rushed over to see a similar setting.
Another train was on its side.
As he wearily moved forward, rogue G Liners ahead defaulted
to the other side’s deck through the central clearing. Jericho watched
the traffic as the other side became congested and wasn’t sure what
the holdup was.
As he approached the center, he could see that both sides of
the stop had cave-ins onto the deck from above. The ceiling
collapses confused the passengers. Many were surveying the area
to determine where the best place was to make their
escapes.
This stop had a number of different exits, but many were down
short halls that were not in clear sight. Only one exit was large and
seemed promising; the Westbound exit on the E Train side. It was
barricaded by a pile of mason bricks and cinderblocks that didn’t
really look like they were from inside the subway.
About ten people ahead of Jericho made their way around the
opening of the dividing wall and into an even worse scene. Jericho
followed to see the fallen E Train, a nasty sight, twisted and buckled
up on itself like fallen dominoes.
Through the spotty darkness, some G Line newcomers climbed
off the tracks to join others who were already trying to unbury an exit
to safety on the E side.
The unfortunate passengers of the E Train were in bad shape
and were not very effective. They were bloody and beat up and
wandered around like zombies. After all, they did not have the comfy
luxury of a concrete wall to break their fall.
In the clearing, confused, tired and angry New Yorkers bumped
into each other in hysteria. Their aim was the same; to unbury the
ceiling collapse and make an exit. However, their fear-fueled
technique was an unorganized disaster.
Jericho moved to the central clearing.

Taking it all in, he saw that one person really stood out from the
rest. A 40-something man wearing a red baseball cap seemed
removed from the scene. This skinny, somewhat-nerdy guy wasn’t at
all worried about leaving the tunnel.
He was rather preoccupied and fiddling with some kind of handheld device.
Jericho watched the mob. It was buzzing swarm of people
weaving in and out throwing bricks and rocks any old place. All but
one person seemed to be engrossed in “Project: Exit.”
Over and over again, the man in the red hat would raise his
podcaster in the air and just hold it there, as if to improve reception.
Then, after not liking the results, he would move a number of feet
away and try again.
Latecomers continued to storm into the clearing from
somewhere down the tunnel. They bumped into Red Hat, but he
would just ignore the interruption and continue his ritual.
After another minute or so of playing Statue of Liberty with his
technology torch, something finally changed.
Holding the thin silver box, the man’s jaw dropped and his face
grew pale. “It was us,” he said in a whispered. Then his voice grew
louder. “The bomb hit us!” He shook his head in terror. “It was a
bomb!”
The mob stopped working.
The group froze, entirely. After the information processed, some
screamed and some cried. Then, even more frantic people flooded
the West exit on the E side.
The explorers and the stumbling injured E liners perambulating
on the G side of the clearing passed Jericho and the red hat.
The immediate goal was even more dire than before and that
was to rush the first plausible exit and get out. Most everyone now
was trying to unbury the biggest obvious exit, E Line Westbound.
After another solid minute of unburying hysteria, a new target
birthed out of nowhere. It seemed to sink in at about the same time
for about a dozen people.
The man with the red hat had satellite reception!
Pig pile.

They jumped him. They grabbed at him. They pulled at his
arms.
The red cap fell off of his head in the commotion, revealing a
secret thinning-hairline. He quickly pulled his baldy-protector back on
with one hand, while protecting his mobile device with the other.
Everyone wanted more information, as it seemed nobody else
had any kind of connection to the outside world.
“Who got hit?!” a burly Gregorian asked, pulling the geeky Red
Hat toward him.
An older woman accidentally kicked the messenger in the shin
as she barreled her way into the middle of the huddle. “Where did it
drop? WHERE DID IT DROP?!” she grabbed Red Hat by the arms
and shook him.
“I… I…” Red Hat was overwhelmed. “It hit us. That’s all I got.”
A tall man pushed some people aside. “Let me see!” He yelled,
grabbing for the mobile device.
A large woman in a blue dress and her hippie-looking friend
pulled him in the opposite direction. “We don’t have service. Please,
we need to make a call!” the women demanded.
Jericho budged into the huddle. “Okay, guys. That’s all his
phone got, before it died.” Jericho acted as a bouncer and helped
the man with the mobile device get some air. “He lost reception, too.
Just like the rest of you.”
“But he said a bomb hit us!”
“And we need to call home!”
In a meek voice, “There was a bomb, but yes, that’s all I got.
Then, like he said, the download stopped.” Red Hat looked over at
Jericho, then at his podcaster, again. “And now, nothing.”
The people in the Red Hat huddle paused, then scattered. He
was of no use to them now.
Most of the huddle broke back to the popular Westbound exit on
the E Line side. The already frenzied conveyer line of brick-movers
became even more fueled by the panic of the extra bodies. The mob
swarmed in and out of each other in hysteria.
Red Hat, of course, had incorrectly speculated that a bomb had
hit New York City. It made total sense, seeing how the trains were

overturned, the ceiling was collapsing and garbage was all over the
place.
However, this mess was the result of something else.
“Thanks, man,” Red Hat said to Jericho.
“No problem.”
“The thing is… you promise not to tell?” Red hat asked. “I
actually do still seem to have a little bit of reception.”
Jericho looked over Red Hat’s shoulder. “Really? Well, from the
looks of that group, I would keep that little bit of information and
anything else you get to yourself. For now, anyway.”
“It’s spotty, but I am getting something, here and there.”
“You saw how that group reacted. You better keep quiet unless
you want that to happen, again.”
The mob was back to work.
Back at the E side, Westbound hands were moving slightly more
efficiently. Progress was being made and that brought hope.
At the top of the rubble pile, the mob could see light coming in
from the Westbound Exit. They moved faster.
While they were working, someone must have mentioned that
Red Hat had a working cell phone. Before they could finish and say,
“but now his reception is no longer working,” heads turned.
“Over there!” someone pointed.
Wave two of the Red Hat huddle formulated.
They eyeballed Jericho and Red Hat by the G side of the
clearing. Red Hat was looking at the mobile device. Only seconds
after the sighting, the huddle swarmed Red Hat, once again.
“We have no reception!” mob defectors yelled.
Hands reached over hands.
Red Hat held his podcaster in tight against his scrawny frame.
“Please let us use your phone!”
“Our cell won’t connect. Please!”
“I need to see where the bomb hit! NOW!” another person
demanded.
The second group of people barraged the red-hatted
messenger. Many didn’t even ask this time. They just tried to take his
device from him to see for themselves.

Red Hat swatted them away like flies. “Give me a second!” Red
Hat’s heart pounded. His reception kicked in, again, a tiny bit.
Excited, Red Hat said too much, “It’s working, just slow! Hold on.”
“What happened out there?!” a man cried.
Jericho shook his head. “I told that bastard not to say anything,”
he thought.
“Hold on!” Trying to actually download the entire news story, the
messenger of bad news took a few steps away from the center of the
pairs of tracks. “Wait! I am working on it! I will tell you as soon as it
downloads!” He held his podcaster up in the air, hoping for better
reception, and just out of another hand’s reach. Tripping over a track,
Red Hat fell.
The huddle scrambled for the podcaster, but Red Hat retrieved
his own fumble.
“Do you have reception?!”
“Yes. Give me a second… There.” He pulled the only connection
to the outside world to his face. The podcaster had nothing yet, but
the hourglass icon was still spinning.
“HE HAS RECEPTION!” one shouted, cupping his hands toward
the mob on the platform.
Jericho shook his head.
More of the mob broke off and moved towards the huddle
around Red Hat.
Jericho had the early foresight to flee from the area. It was just
too many people to try and control. He made his way up to the
solitude of the G side platform.
The man with the red hat was becoming surrounded by more
and more craziness.
Jericho knew he needed to get away from the insanity. He felt
bad for the smaller guy but knew he couldn’t help him.
People continued to harass Red Hat, crying and hoping to get
information about the bomb and their loved ones.
Submerged in a wave of people, Red Hat doggy-paddled
undetected out of the side of the gathering. He sprinted for cover,
deciding to try his luck up by Jericho’s side. Standing on the G

platform he looked down at the rabid group and held his podcaster
high in the air.
“Attention,” he said, still undetected. “Attention! It’s dead! I have
no service!” he announced. He pocketed his podcaster and looked
down at the swimming wave of humanity. “There is nothing to see
here. Now, leave me alone!”
The huddle paused again. Strangely enough, it worked. They
rushed back to the mob to continue unburying the E side exit.
As Red Hat approached, Jericho looked down at his own cell
phone. Although he had practically a full charge, he, too, had no
service.
Red Hat scanned his handheld again and cursed. He took off
his hat and rubbed the beads of sweat from his face.
“I told you.”
“I know. I know,” Red Hat admitted. “I learned my lesson.”
“So,” Jericho asked. “It looked like you got a signal, again. Were
you bluffing?”
Red Hat nodded and led Jericho around the bend of the longabandoned exit hallway. He swiped the touch screen of his
podcaster. He slowly read off the newly downloaded headline,
“Hydrogen Bomb Hits Major U.S. City.” He shook his head in disgust,
watching it scroll again and again, across his screen.
“An H-Bomb hit us?” Jericho asked.
He held out his pod. “Um, yeah.”
“No way.”
“Well, that’s what it looks like. The podcast isn’t complete, and I
lost reception before the story actually loaded, but the headline came
through. It looks like it hit us to me,” the man responded.
“No way. It wasn’t a Hydrogen Bomb.”
The man in the red hat held up his podcaster to Jericho’s face.
Jericho frowned. “Maybe New York was attacked, and created
all this mess, but it was not by a hydrogen. We wouldn’t even be
here. If there was a nuclear bomb attack on America, it must have hit
somewhere else - a different major city.”
“Before the crash, I was listening to a local radio channel online
and then the emergency signal went off, saying it was switching to

an emergency broadcast. When it did, I caught the tail end of a
newscast talking about an attack. They described a mushroom cloud
in detail from satellite shots.”
“Ugh.”
“Then, before I could hear anything about location, the
broadcast went right into static.” He looked back at the device.
“While I was working on trying to get more information, the train
flipped!”
“But we are in the heart of the city. An H-Bomb should have
destroyed everything first and asked questions later. If it were a
nuclear attack on the city, you would have never even heard that
broadcast.”
“I don’t know. I mean, look around, man. What else would cause
this?” Red Hat looked at his phone. He mumbled something else
under his breath, and then he walked quickly and quietly down the G
Line exit hall marked, “Exits: Eastbound/Westbound.”
Jericho looked again at his own phone. He still had no bars.
The two men left the sounds of the E Line mob scene behind.
The G side exit hall was small and noticeably less inviting than the
massive exits on the E Line side.
Before Jericho and Red Hat entered the foyer to next part of the
tunnel-like hallway that bowed down and off to the right, a few G
Liners came running towards them.
“No good! This side only has one exit and it is blocked, too!” one
explorer said. “Plus, the ceiling is caving in. It doesn’t look safe! We
are heading back over to the E side.” The explorers pushed passed
them.
The terror turned the twosome about-face.
Jericho and Red Hat took their words for it. They followed the
running G liners back to the clearing. Red Hat shimmied back down
onto the tracks toward the swamped E Line exit on the other side.
“We are like sheep,” Jericho said. He joined Red Hat who was
preoccupied with his quest for cell phone reception again. “We didn’t
even look for ourselves.”
Jericho followed the herd for only a few more seconds before he
was distracted.

There was a cry for help somewhere passed the clearing, in the
darkness of the tunnel, ahead.

CHAPTER
THREE
Nick Jericho left the mob scene. He stepped cautiously over
fallen bricks and around a collapsed section of tunnel wall. His
shoulder trickled red down his back.
Around the bend that pitched to the left, the light dimmed. The
train stop clearing lights diminished behind him, as did the sound of
a mob of New Yorkers trying to work together to unbury a hole to the
outside world.
The airshaft was hot and steamy. It smelled like a cross
between a welding shop and warm wet salad. A hammering sound
echoed in the distance with another occasional cry for help.
The two pairs of train tracks spread out. They split off into
opposite directions, both in “Y” formations. The divider wall started
up again to divide the two different sets of tracks, until it stopped
abruptly.
The dividing center wall was missing, ripped from the last few
surviving beams.
A few more steps passed the missing wall revealed that there
were not only two trains involved in derailments. There were actually
three. However, things were very different about the third wreckage
ahead.
At this derailment site, debris swallowed the entire far end of
one single train car.
The tunnel itself was distorted and seemed wider now than how
it was originally built, with more space hollowed out of the ends of
both walls. The duct looked pulled and stretched into an open semicircle, filled with rubble and remains.
The hammering sound continued.
Though it was difficult to see, beyond the expanded foreground
were signs of what probably was the total collapse of the tunnel
ahead.

Jericho’s eyes refocused to the center of the garbage pile
housing disaster. Battery-powered emergency lights flooded the
track floor. The final F Train car wasn’t on its side like the others in
the wreckage behind him.
This lone single car was completely upside down.
Bonk. Bonk.
Something else wasn’t right. The accident scene had elements
that looked more like an unfinished oil painting than reality.
Jericho realized that large sections of the outside walls were
sort of missing. In the absence of wall, however, strange dark spacelike spots filled the void of missing tiles.
Jericho moved closer to a shiny reflective void on the left wall.
An overhead blinking bulb exposed a weird oily patch.
The patches were mercury-like in appearance, shiny and thick,
but more black than silver.
They also defied gravity.
The spots looked like puddles sitting flat on the wall’s surface.
They shimmered without dripping.
Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.
Jericho followed the hammering sound down the left wall. This
pathway had obstructions on both its left and right sides, but seemed
clearer than anything else.
The wall blemishes increased in number and intensity with every
step. The mysterious wall puddles lead to the end where they melted
into the darkness.
Before Jericho could really get a real good look at the strange
non-liquid, science class was canceled.
“Help! Somebody?!”
Jericho scaled the limestone blocks on his right to find the voice.
Parting with the path, he ran toward the distress call and fell hard,
scraping the palm of his hand on a large wooden pallet. He hadn’t
chosen the best course to claim the cry’s source. This makeshift
road to the wreckage had way too many obstacles.
Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.
Jericho climbed over an enormous newspaper pile and stepped
up on something to try and visualize a good path.

He saw the overturned belly of the car, but another higher pile of
refuge between them. He decided it would be best to go back to the
path along the outside left wall and hook up around to the wreckage
after he made it to the end.
The left wall’s path was a trench. The long Coliseum-like column
that rested against the wall must have gouged out the scar in the
ground, before slamming up hard to the tiles. Its mere presence
made no sense. It matched nothing in the subway.
Bonk. Bonk. Smash.
The bomb theory started to gain credibility.
Behind the pillar, a large black puddle was eye-level to the hiker.
Jericho reached over the top. The black ripple was only a few feet
away, yet still just beyond his fingertips.
Approaching the end, the puddles took over. There was almost
no wall at all. A few patches of tiles bled in, here and there, but was
soon to be all unfinished black canvas.
The hammering continued.
Jericho tossed a rock up at the black swirl. The puddle
shimmered on impact, but the stone skipped off the surface and
ricocheted down the trench. They all looked and acted like a liquid,
but the wall puddle just hovered there, vertically, without even the
hint of a trickle or drip.
At the very end of the line, he stopped. The wall to his left was
completely black ooze.
The garbage pile in the left corner prevented the explorer from
touching the huge puddle. However, he could confirm that the
darkness behind the collapse was not just a lack of light.
Jericho stepped back in awe.
The ceiling collapse rested in front of a strange black plasma
blockade. The tunnel was sealed, in fact, by something that took the
shape of a giant Omni Theater screen.
The dark shimmering plasma didn’t just hold the ruins of the
subway and pieces of the derailed train.
Sticking out of the mystery backdrop were chunks of junk from
foreign civilizations.

Being on the other side of the piles of limestone, Jericho could
finally see the clearing by the train car.
Remnants of airplanes, Japanese vending machines, branches
from both evergreen and palm trees, and even sea creature
carcasses littered the tracks and contaminated the wall puddles.
There was even a huge pile of snow.
Drawn to an opening in the collapse pile that led to blackness,
Jericho reached out to touch the dark swirly goo. Just before he did,
something scurried across his feet.
“Argh!” he yelled, falling backward over a cigar Indian. “What the
hell was that?!”
Ignoring the spooked substitute, a live penguin ran up a
diagonal steel girder and splashed down into a stone pool decorated
in small Roman statuettes.
While the sight of a chirping penguin wasn’t odd enough, a huge
operating wishing-well was even stranger. It was suspended three
feet off the ground, lodged soundly in the black wall. It just hung
there, pumping fountain water.
Jericho cautiously approached the penguin. He peaked in the
fountain to find that it was completely stocked with small swimming
coy fish.
The hammering started again.
The black oozing wall behind the collapse was bizarre to say the
very least. It was an international junkyard stew. “That must have
been some bomb,” he said, stepping around the pool that held a
happy coy-eating Penguin.
“Who’s there?!”
“Hello?” Jericho moved around a pile of wrapped firewood
bundles.
“Help!!!”
Jericho shouted back. “Hello?”
A crouching girl in a gray-hooded sweatshirt stopped
hammering. “Hello! Oh my God, mister! Hurry! Please help!”
In the center of the mess, the last car of the F Line train, plus
one half of what would have been the second to last, protruded from
the collapse pile. The car was a crumpled mess. It didn’t just fall

over. It had been somehow uprooted from its tracks and slammed
down hard on its back. What was left of its runners was still fastened
down to the tracks, in front of it.
Jericho scanned the masterpiece before him.
“Around here!” At the side of an overturned subway car, the
young college girl was trying to move a huge thin piece of sheet
metal that covered the rear door.
Jericho ran to the voice.
The car rested on its roof in a bed of global garbage. A twelvefoot high section of aluminum-siding poked out of the rubble and
climbed up the height of the car. The arching of the metal sealed the
only available doors shut.
“Are you okay?”
“Hurry up! The inside is collapsing on him!”
“What about the other doors?”
“I’ve tried them all! They are all buried, except for one more, but
the seats already fell on the other side and made it so you can’t get
through there, even if you could open it.”
Jericho grabbed the long metal sheet plate barricading the only
open door and pulled.
Trying to move the sheet by hand was to no avail. It budged only
a few inches and snapped back into place. The sheet metal was
stuck and held fast to the car’s side by the foundation of junk
surrounding the car.
The substitute teacher floundered up a fallen pillar and crawled
onto the raised under-carriage of the train. He felt a pinch in his
shoulder again and ignored the pain.
“Chang,” the girl cried, crouching down to a cracked window.
“Hold on, honey!”
Jericho looked up momentarily. He marveled at the black pool
on the ceiling above him, less than ten feet up. Like the wall goo, it
shimmered and moved, but did not drip. He saw some kind of foreign
money that he couldn’t identify and a blowfish next to a computer
monitor.
After maneuvering his body into a sitting position, he braced
himself between the runner and the bottom side of the train car. He

put both of his feet on the overhanging obstacle and pushed. The
metal moved forward, but immediately sprang back and slapped the
side of the train.
Metal scraping sounds came from the inside.
The girl quickly moved to a better vantage point. “Ahhh! Hurry,
Mister! Hurry!”
Jericho looked around from his crow’s nest. After eyeballing a
tool in the intergalactic junkyard, he shimmied down the fallen pillar
and ran toward the light. “Hold on!”
After some fast footwork and quick unburying, he returned with
a long bamboo shoot. Wedging the stick under a large box-like
structure, he poked into the debris and pulled on the shoot like a
lever.
“Hurry!” she cried again, sucking back a sob.
In a series of pulls, Jericho wiggled whatever it was underneath
that was really holding the sheet metal flush to the side of the car.
The plate slid down and finally lowered to the ground like a
drawbridge. It sounded like artificial thunder.
Jericho wedged open the door again with his fingertips, just
enough for the girl to reach in and pull a scared young Asian boy to
safety.
“Oh, it’s okay!” she said, cradling the boy’s head close to her
face.
Only moments after the save, the rest of the remaining seats
and interior collapsed onto the empty space that had just housed the
five-year-old.
“Are you guys okay?”
“Now we are,” the girl said. “Thanks to you, mister.” Setting
down Chang, she reached up to Jericho and hugged the side of his
body.
“I’m Nick,” he said, stepping over a piece of debris and rubbing
his shoulder. The substitute teacher led the kids away from the
mess, using the bamboo lever as a walking stick. “Where are your
parents?”
“Oh, Chang is not my brother,” she replied, holding onto the
boy’s hand for dear life.

“No?”
“Might as well be though, right Chang?” The group moved back
toward the light. “I have been babysitting for him for, like, almost a
year now.” Penny kicked a large can out of her way. “What was all
that crap doing back there?”
“No idea. Something from up above, I think. A cave-in. It
happened in here, too.”
As they made it to the train stop, Nick Jericho saw that the mob
had only a little work left before completely unburying the Westbound
E Line exit. Instead of joining in on the madness, he climbed up to
his more vacant G-side deck, then reached down and grabbed
Chang from the climbing girl.
“So, where are Chang’s parents?” he asked, offering his hand to
the teenager below.
“His father is a big businessman. They are in China on a trip,”
she said. “I’m Penny, anyhow.”
“Good to meet you. Just not in these circumstances, I guess.”
“Yeah.”
“It’s probably none of my business, but why are you two out this
late at night on a subway, anyhow?”
“Well, you are right. It isn’t your business,” she smiled, “but I will
tell you, anyhow. Umm, Chang woke up and was, like, hungry
because he didn’t eat his dinner, so I figured we could go down a
stop and get him some pizza?”
“At three in the morning?”
“Yeah.”
“Come on! Three A.M.? No pizza is worth going out that late.
And in New York, you don’t need to get on the subway to find pizza.”
“Well?” she said, flustering.
“Well, nothing.”
“Well, there was, like, this one guy who was supposed to be
working at one particular place, tonight.”
Jericho laughed. “That’s more like it.”
The substitute teacher followed a lime green line etched in black
tile to see how bad the G side exit really was. He led the pair down

the exit hall to a series of signs marked “Continental Avenue - East /
West”.
A short fork in the hall opened to two exits before him.
Eastbound was to the left and Westbound was to the right. However,
Westbound’s sign was covered and not really noticeable at first,
because of a partial ceiling collapse in front of it.
“Weird. I heard some of the other passengers say these exits
over here were no good,” Jericho said stepping over a fallen light,
moving toward the Eastbound. “That’s it, guys. Are you ready to go
home?”
“I was born ready.” Penny passed Nick and marched up to the
Eastbound foyer and stopped dead in her tracks.
It seemed as if Eastbound opened up into complete darkness.
“Huh?” Jericho outstretched his hand puzzled, “Let me go first.”
The girl pulled Chang to her side and made way.
Trying to make an exit, Jericho found he couldn’t move, as if
something was blocking his way. He tried again and felt like he was
walking into a solid, yet nothing was there. He knew now why the
people had run from this side. That was just weird.
“We can’t go this way,” Jericho said, trying not to scare his
companions. “It’s closed.”
They turned to the right and rushed to the Westbound. Without
words, Jericho and Penny unburied the short staircase in quick time.
Two piles were created on either sides of the door.
Jericho stepped up the short staircase and kicked a loose water
bottle into the opening. There was depth this time and a bright light
began to glow.
“Alright, guys,” Jericho’s voice said in a confused tone. “You got
Chang, Penny?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay, I think the police are waiting for us up there. Everything is
good. We are finally out of here,” Nick Jericho moved toward the
bright light ahead of them.
Penny squinted into the whiteness. “What’s the deal with all
that?”

“Just procedural. They just put their lights on the exits so we can
find them better, I think,” he bluffed. “They always do that when there
is an accident.”
Jericho reached back and held Penny’s arm, as he stepped
forward toward the blinding light. An even brighter light flashed and
swallowed the group.
The rush. A spinning and tingling sensation flooded their bodies.
It felt as if they were falling, but forward in front of them. When the
flying sensation subsided, they felt light-headed, like standing up too
fast.
Then everything turned black.
A disoriented Nick Jericho looked around in shock and let go of
the hand of the teenaged girl.
Penny was clearly confused and scared. She ran frantically
away with the little boy held tightly in her arms. Feeling like she was
just dumped off into a dream world, she rushed aimlessly into a
crowd of strange people, who did not feel like New Yorkers.
Everyone in the crowd was wielding cotton candy tubes and
popcorn boxes.
“Penny, wait!” the substitute held his hand up to try and grab the
kids’ attention. “Penny!”
Penny was just about out of sight.
Distracted for just a moment, something bumped the substitute’s
injured shoulder blade. He stepped backward and turned to call for
the girl, once again. “I’m over here!”
“Hurry up, then! It’s about to start. Get in!”
Fearing for the customer’s safety, an attendant pushed Jericho
into an open seat of The Scrambler, an amusement park attraction
that spun in a circle, while spinning your seat in the opposite
direction.
Nick Jericho’s safety bar locked into place and the ride started.
He looked for Penny just passed a balloon dart stand, but this time
saw nothing.
The game was underway.

CHAPTER
FOUR
Nick Jericho tried to keep his eyes on the exact place where
Penny had disappeared. However, after walking out of the subway
and into whatever it was he walked into, everything quickly became
a blur of color.
Confusion and jetlag kicked in.
The immediate speed of The Scrambler dizzied his already
dizzy head, until Jericho lost all sense of direction.
A fattening mixture of smells, sounds and sights circled the
spinning substitute.
Greasy sausage and peppers smothered a faint smell of candy
apples. A sideshow megaphone buzzed over the distant squeaky
belting of a creaky roller coaster. Ghost House ghouls screamed
over kids, who were already screaming over cheesy organ music.
Jericho held his face. Then, to make matters even worse, The
Scrambler’s retro rock music kicked in over distorted blown
speakers.
Full speed kicked in. Jericho totally lost the boy and girl, and
almost totally lost his lunch.
The amusement ride continued on mercilessly, lacking any real
amusement. Nausea kicked in. Jericho got the sweats. After that
crazy ride, he found himself on walking through the Westbound exit,
he really wasn’t ready for this.
He held the bar tight. His body pushed up hard against the
outside seat and he stuck to the inside wall for at least three
minutes, before the spinning started to slow down.
“Ugh, finally,” he burped. Just when he thought it was over, the
ride stopped. A loud alarm went off and the spinning started up
again. “Are you kidding me?” He said to the smear of a face that
spun by behind the controls.
Jericho went through the whole ride again… backwards.

When the torture finally ended and the ride came to a squeaky
halt, Jericho was still holding the bar tight. Ironically, he was holding
back his stomach even tighter.
He lifted the bar and passed the malicious attendant at the
controls who laughed. “Good ride, huh?” he smirked.
“Oh, man.”
“Next time, just be more careful. Okay, mister? If I wasn’t paying
attention, just think. You almost got run down.”
“Almost run down?” Jericho stepped out of Scrambler realm with
sea legs and scanned the area for his tunnel mates. No kids.
It didn’t make sense. Aside from a few stands nearby, The
Scrambler was a free-standing attraction in a very open part of the
fair. There were no subway exits in the middle of the field. He could
not see any feasible place where he and the kids could have walked
out of.
Jericho was baffled. Walking out of the “Continental Avenue”
exit from the subway was a regular part of his daily rituals. Whenever
he had time after the school, the substitute teacher would use the
very same Westbound exit to hit the treadmill down the street at
Fitness Palace.
“This is not Continental Ave. It’s a freaking field,” he thought.
There were no cars. There were no buildings. There were no
sidewalks. There was no city. People dressed far more poorly here
than in New York. They didn’t seem to care about any current trends
in the very least.
“And what’s the deal with their hair?”
He doddled down a dirt path toward another patch of rides.
A grinding motor died. Off to the left, a brood of laughing little
monsters bounced out off the bumper cars. “I’ll get you this time!”
one warned, thrusting his hand of vengeance in the air. They ran
down the ramp, around to the other side, and got right back into line.
He remembered running the same circle long ago at The
Schaghticoke Fair.
Jericho remembered the attraction that boasted being, “The
Third Biggest Fair in New York.” Carrying on the family tradition from

his father’s side, Jericho’s family trekked to this Mecca every
summer in an old Open Road “Mobile Home” RV.
Every year, they would sleep in a Burger King parking lot, or a
K-mart, wherever they could find refuge to enjoy at least three or four
days of the carnival life.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he said. As Nick Jericho continued his
search for Penny and Chang, he came across the same exact
House of Mirrors that he had mastered back in his Schaghticoke
vacation days. “Let’s see if I remember how this worked.”
He flipped through his wallet and pulled out a few ones. He
handed the old man in the booth the bills who in turn gave him three
red tickets. Heading to the glass building, Jericho didn’t wait to see
the man stare at one of the bills very strangely, as he made his exit.
“Here you go my young man, now look out!” Reliving his
childhood, the substitute teacher tossed a ticket to the carnie and ran
to the maze.
“Whatever, man.”
Straight out of a scene from Enter The Dragon with Bruce Lee,
Jericho put his search aside and marched up to “The Hall of Mirrors”
in full Kung Fu stance.
A few children were running and laughing when Jericho
sauntered into an opening.
“Heee-ya!” he screeched, doing his best Bruce Lee
impersonation.
Two young teenage boys laughed sympathetically, but were
mostly unimpressed and went back to making faces in mirrors that
magnified their heads.
“Oh, yeah?” Jericho said. “I’ll bet you two tickets I can beat you
both out of here!”
“You are on!”
The race began.
Nick Jericho flew through the maze like a pro. Remembering the
layout of his own House of Mirrors back from many summers past,
he turned right four times, chose the middle of three, and then left to
victory. He raised his hands in conquest and the ticket taker made a
hissing sound and scoffed under his breath.

When the boys finally made it out, Jericho was waiting there
with his arms folded, pretending to look at his watch.
“Wow! How did you do that?”
“Years of practice,” he said.
“Wanna go again? Double or nothing. Bet we’ll beat you this
time,” the other boy said. “This time we start from the very
beginning.”
“Actually, guys, I have to find someone.”
“Ah come on, mister. Are you chicken?”
“No.”
“If you are so fast, then you won’t be late meeting your friend,
right?”
“Okay, one more. I’ll even give you a head start, okay?”
“Cool,” one of the boys replied. They handed the ticket taker
their stubs and officially started the race.
“I used to do this all the time back at my fair,” Jericho said to the
ticket man. “Those guys don’t know. I had that whole place
memorized.”
The attendant reluctantly responded. “Oh yeah? What fair was
that?”
“Schaghticoke. That was like, geesh, twenty-five or thirty years
ago. It’s pretty much the same House of Mirrors, too.”
“Here, then.”
“No, there. Schaghticoke. The Schaghticoke Fair.”
“A long time ago, then. Here, you mean.”
Jericho tilted his head. “No. Not here, there.”
“Where?”
“What is the name of the fair, again?” Jericho asked.
“Schaghticoke.”
“Not mine, here, I mean.”
“That’s where you are, man. Look at your ticket,” the old man
scoffed. “Okay, mister. I have to get back to work. This conversation
seems like a bad Abbott and Costello routine.”
“No. No,” he laughed. “My fair was Schaghticoke. Their Mirror
House is pretty much the same as yours, but theirs was next to the
Ferris wheel.”

“Actually, they are moving our Mirrors over there soon.
Changing a few other things, too, I guess. Has something to do with
power breakers.”
Jericho looked down at the red ticket in his hand. “It can’t be.”
He looked at the ticket, again.
~ The 1980 Schaghticoke Fair. Admit One. ~
His jaw dropped to the ground. The ticket followed.
****
Jericho was sprawled out on a bench by a tree. His head rested
up on the side of a weird water bubbler that was inside a big plastic
statue of a huge frog. It was one of those campy fountains where
you had to stick your whole head in its open mouth, to take a sip.
The search for Penny and Chang was on hold.
A group of running children storming off to the pirate ship lost
one, for a moment, to get a drink from the water frog.
Water splashed and freckled his face.
Jericho was exhausted. He had stopped to think about the ticket
and dozed off, seeing how he hadn’t slept for 30 hours, or maybe
almost thirty years. Immediately, he held the ticket back in front of his
face to read the words over and over again.
“1980?”
Some things actually did seem familiar in the park, but were
totally out of place and not exactly as he remembered it. Then again,
the mirror man did say something about a layout change.
“How could it be?”
All the attractions seemed smaller and cheaper-made, here. But
then again, as an adult, nothing seemed as cool as it was when he
was younger. He wondered if anything of the past could ever live up
to its remembered reputation, after being exposed to the quality of
the time he now lived in.
Jericho thought back to Outerscope, a Saturday Morning PBS
puppet show that he never missed as a kid. At the time, he loved the
cool the story was and how awesome the outer space scenes were.
However, a few years ago, a web search totally ruined his memory of

the program. He saw it all with modern eyes. Clearly visible strings
were used to make the poorly-made puppets hands move, and the
space scenes were just cheap models flying on fishing line. Also, the
sound effects sounded like some drunk guy was making them with
his mouth into a garbage can in the back of his garage.
“It can’t be 1980,” Jericho stood up and stretched. “It’s got to be
a dream,” he thought. That would explain all the weird oil pools and
the force blocking the Eastbound exit back at the subway. Maybe he
just hit his head.
A young boy of about twelve or so ran up to the frog fountain
and took a big gulp from its mouth. Water trickled off of his chin and
down his striped shirt.
“Hey, kid. You ever heard of Outerscope?” Jericho asked.
The boy wiped his chin off with his forearm and smiled. “Yeah,
it’s my favorite!” he said, then ran off to catch up with his friends.
The park was overcast. It didn’t start to rain, but it looked like it
could at any minute. A few vendors and game-stands began to pull
in their items and wares under their hoods.
“Penny!” Jericho barked, thinking he saw her far in the distance
turning behind a hot dog stand.
Dodging a petting zoo line and some kids waiting to get their
faces painted by “Zippy the Clown,” Jericho hooked around the
corner and stopped at a fork in the road.
He slowed down, hunched over and put his hands on his legs.
If it was Penny, she was gone.
Trying to catch his breath, he looked around. Wearing a 1980s
critical lens now, he saw the people more closely than he had before.
He saw the ‘80s jeans, the t-shirts with the ironed on letters, and the
hair down the neck. “1980,” he thought.
Continuing his social analysis, Jericho accidentally looked
passed the crowd and made eye contact with a contest carnie. This
was a total “no-no,” if you wanted to be left alone. He must have
been getting rusty in his old age.
“Hey you, think you are strong? Come one, come all,” a skinny
long-haired teen with a red apron practically yelled in Jericho’s face.
“…to the high striker, Strong Man Game!”

“The Strong Man Game!” He repeated. That brought back some
memories. He remembered that his dad used to love it.
Looking up at the intimidating red measuring stick, he
remembered many sessions watching his father. He remembered his
dad pounding over and over again with a huge hammer, trying to
slap the lever just right and drive the puck to ring the bell at the top.
Jericho reached into his pocket and handed the red apron fifty
cents. Holding the hammer high above his head, he slammed down
on the target. The fat rubber washer rose to the sky.
“Mighty Mighty! The third highest from the top. Not bad,” he
said, rummaging through a cardboard box. “Not the best, but you still
win a prize,” the contest carnie handed him the smallest blue teddy
bear that he ever saw.
“Thanks,” the substitute said, reaching for the bear. Pain struck
again. His shoulder hurt worse than ever. Jericho struggled to put the
mallet down.
“I’ll take that,” a familiar voice said, relieving Jericho of the
hammer. The man gave a few bills to the attendant and started his
pre-striking rituals.
“Back again for another round?” the carnie asked. “Didn’t you
have enough, already?”
Jericho turned, then immediately covered his face from the
startling sight of a young version of his own father.
“You just wait and see, kid.”
His father, a champion woodchopper from the Catskills in his
youth, could hit the bell cold two or three times in a row. The problem
was, he needed to hit it five times in a row in order to win the jumbo
prize; the giant purple Grape Ape.
In all of their trips, he never hit that bell five times, sequentially.
Jericho stepped off stage and watched from a safe distance.
Even though it felt like a dream, he figured it probably would be best
not to make contact, just in case the impossible was a possibility.
The Strong Man Striker junkie pounded for about fifteen
minutes. He would hit four times, then miss one and curse under his
breath.

Nick Jericho was transfixed. He had never really seen his father
in this good shape and it was great to see him again, healthy.
They never really exchanged the words, “I love you,” while he
was growing up. His dad was just too macho, but Jericho knew how
he really felt.
Jericho smiled. He wanted to tell his father, “thank you” for doing
so much with him and to thank him for being a great dad. He never
really had the chance. His dad died suddenly a few years ago from a
heart attack.
Jericho knew better than to speak. If it really was 1980 by some
freak chance, and he did say something, his father would really think
he was a “wack-job.” Jericho was happy to just see him again.
Finally, maybe ten dollars later, his mother pushed a carriage up
to the game lot.
Jericho gazed quickly at the carriage and then ran for cover.
With a better view behind a statue of Woodsy Owl, sure enough, he
saw a much younger version of himself at maybe five, or six years
old.
“Oh! Almost, honey!” His mom encouraged the hammer addict,
for a few minutes, not realizing how long he had already been at it.
His parents were much younger and much more in love at this
point. They kissed and hugged each other more in five minutes than
he ever remembered seeing them do in his whole lifetime.
The new family left the Strong Man Striker without the Grape
Ape award. It seemed okay, though. They were holding hands.
Jericho stalked.
In an internal conflict, he really wanted to just say, “Hello.”
Bouncing back and forth between contact and no contact, he finally
voted against small talk. Years of sci-fi flicks told him that this
interaction in time travel was an even bigger “no-no” than looking at
an annoying contest carnie in the eyes.
The young family moved from stand to stand. The parents held
hands at times, watching their first-born have fun on The Tea Cups.
His sister, conspicuous by her absence, was alive at this point
history. She would have only been about two, and was probably with
his grandmother, he figured.

Getting off of the caterpillar ride, his younger double-stopped for
a moment to pick through the dirt. He held up his unburied treasure.
Jericho moved in for a closer look. Standing by a food booth, he
realized the boy was holding a small plastic peanut with a cartoony
smile.
The mother explained, “Nicky, the peanut is a joke about
President Jimmy Carter.”
Nick Jericho remembered this even today. It was his first
understanding of what a president is, and his earliest real memory of
politics. He heard his mother repeating her political commentary right
before his ears.
“You know how you have to listen to what daddy says in the
house, right? Outside the house, we all have rules to follow, too.
President Jimmy Carter is the one who makes sure we do.”
“Is he a king?”
“No, he is nicer than a king, and we don’t have kings in our
country, sweetie. But, what he says goes.”
Engrossed in the conversation, Jericho didn’t see his father
approaching from behind, drinking beer from a plastic cup.
“What are you doing?”
He turned around. “Cute kid,” he said trying to avoid a
confrontation. “I have to go, now.”
“Not so fast,” his father said, grabbing his arm. “I’ve been
watching you, and I know you’ve been watching us.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he retorted, slowly
taking his father’s hand off of his arm. “Look, I really have to go. I am
trying to find my friend, Penny.”
“Now, wait a second. If you are looking for your friend, then why
are you following us? You have been everywhere we have for over
an hour. What gives?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. Maybe we just have a
lot of common interests and ended up in the same places.”
“A lot of things in common,” he mimicked. “I don’t think so. You
know what I think?”
Jericho turned away.
“I think you are one of those crazies.”

“Hey, I don’t want any problems, alright?” his son from the future
responded.
“You should have thought about that before you started
following my family.”
Not wanting to fight his own father, Jericho turned again and
tried to leave. His father, a man who would never think about laying
one hand on a member of his family, was about to do just that and
he didn’t even know it.
“Look, man, you are the one who is crazy,” Jericho said, walking
away from the potentially bad situation. “I wasn’t following anybody.”
His father pushed his arm.
Jericho turned around quickly and dodged a punch aimed at his
face. Taking another step backward, the two men squared off.
Jericho balled his hand into a fist, then realized what he was doing
and stopped.
“You ready, boy? Go ahead. Throw the first one.”
“No. I’m not fighting you.”
His father looked over at his wife and put his fist down, too.
“Then, get the hell out of here and don’t let me see you following my
family again. You hear me?”
“You seem like a great dad. I would’ve done the same thing.”
Jericho said, trying to kill his father with kindness. He turned again to
walk away. “I hear you loud and clear. I’m out, and I’m sorry if I
scared you guys.”
“Okay. I’m just protective of my family. Thanks, pal, you
understand.” At the same moment, his father patted him on the back.
It wasn’t hard, nor was it aggressive.
Feeling like a blow was thrown at his tender shoulder, the
substitute was thrown off guard. He looked back to make sure he
wasn’t being attacked and tripped on an open root in the ground.
Jericho fell to his mother’s feet, almost landing on the carriage.
“What are you doing?!” his father shouted.
Jericho tried to stand to ward off any attack, but then realized it
was nothing. He just got bumped on the injury. He pulled himself up
with a hand on the side of the carriage.

“What’s going on here, you two?!” his mother asked, about to
remove her son from the mess.
“It’s okay, ma’am. Nothing to worry about,” Nick Jericho smiled
at his double. Wearing white and blue striped pants and an ugly
striped tank top, he couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. “I was
just admiring how cute, that outfit was.”
“Well, thank you,” she said proudly.
Jericho nodded to his father’s angry face. The little boy smirked
a toothless grin. “Bye, little guy,” he said, messing up his younger
double’s hair, playfully.
There was a huge flash of blinding light.
When the luminosity subsided, the oldest Nick Jericho was
gone.
“What the hell was that?” The father asked his wife, unsquinting
his eyes, “Lightning?”
“I don’t think so. A magic trick, maybe. They have a stand that
sells that stuff. You throw some flash powder on the ground or
something, and then run.” Jericho’s mother looked around the empty
walkway. “But where did he run to?”
“Who knows? Good riddance. Had him pegged for a nut from
the very start, following us around like that. Reminded me of your kid
brother.”
“Yeah, he did kind of.”
Jericho’s father took the driving position behind the carriage.
“You ready for the rocket ride again, Nicky?” He made a motor noise,
pushing and running.

CHAPTER
FIVE
A silver streak echoed down the tunnel. In a flash, the substitute
was back on the track.
The G Line slowed down for the impending Forest Hills & 71st
stop ahead.
Nick Jericho opened his eyes. He snapped to, back in the rear
seat of the car. He was stunned and trying to get his bearings. The
car was in perfect condition. It appeared to have never crashed.
“I knew it was a dream,” he yawned under his breath. “Seemed
like forever though.”
Jericho’s stomach rumbled.
He looked out the window and saw the other train pass, behind
a portal in the dividing wall.
With the next stop approaching, Jericho began to gather
himself. He stretched his tired body and felt a nasty soreness in his
left side.
“What the?”
Jericho stood. He hooked an arm around a pole and braced
himself in front of an impromptu mirror. He pulled his black track
jacket up in the window’s reflection and found a bloody bruising
scrape.
Turbulence hit. Losing his footing, the confused Queens
commuter doubled up on the rail. The G Line shook violently.
Jericho fell again, just as he had in his “dream.” However, this
time he knew better what to do. He managed to get his hands out
and to avoid slamming into the lip of the plastic booth.
The car aggressively derailed and tilted. It was all too familiar.
A chin-up later, Jericho climbed easily from practice, but even
more hesitantly than he did last time. He felt as if his dream
predicted all of this.

Below him was the same disaster scene, with the same people
rushing by his car.
Jericho was in déjà vu. He wondered if everything was the
same.
He sprinted up the tracks immediately to the clearing. Four
tracks, two island platforms on either side.
He had seen it a million times before, and he had never seen it.
The long light green tile stripe with its black border spanned the
entire spectrum of the stop. The matching green I-beams alternated
number; three-two, two-three on both sides, save for a section of the
E-side, where a deviation in the pattern made way for a retired
dispatch booth that stopped operations long before Jericho had even
moved to Queens.
It really was a nice looking stop, except for the new ceiling caveins, derailments and destruction.
He shuffled by some vaguely familiar people crossing in the
center. And then he saw it. There was the man with the red hat.
Jericho didn’t wait to hear the headlines. As the crowd took its
familiar formation, Jericho was the only one to run from darkness to
light and rush forward to more darkness.
As his so-called “dream” had predicted, the even bigger mess
was there.
The inverted car and-a-half was heaped in a hodge-podge pile
of international artifacts. The swaying gravity-defying cosmic oil spills
once again peppered the walls.
Jericho, less rushed this time, freed his bamboo cane and
approached an inverted puddle for a better look.
It was like water, and it wasn’t.
It looked like a cream in consistency. This stuff was unlike
anything he had ever seen. Jericho picked up a rusty screwdriver
that sat before him in the garbage.
Gently inserting the point into the black murk, it felt as if he
poked his tool into water. However, after trying to stab free a foreign
tin can from the puddle’s clutches, it was like trying to chop through
rock.

When he stabbed at the surface with a finger rapidly, he also
couldn’t puncture it. When he moved slowly, his finger penetrated the
liquid with ease. And if he continued to push, his arm would go all
the way in.
The only thing this black ooze came close to resembling was
like when he substituted for a chemistry class that had to mix
cornstarch and water together. The handout sheet called it, “a NonNewtonian fluid.” It wasn’t really a solid and it wasn’t really a liquid.
It was a cross between a solid and a liquid.
The odd quality that made this substance even more mysterious
was that it also defied gravity.
Before science class was officially over, Jericho snapped out of
his trance.
“AHHH!!!” The teenage girl stumbled and fell around the car.
She was in the initial stages of panic. Her face was tight and red, but
it changed when she saw Jericho offer a hint of a smile.
“I was just going to look for help,” she said, “and there you were,
again!”
Jericho went straight to work. He prodded the lever in the
refuge, freeing the large metal sheet from its constriction. Together,
they pulled the young Asian boy from the wreckage, far before the
cave-in.
He dusted off Chang. Heading back down the tunnel, they were
a little calmer and collected than in their first meeting.
“I’m confused,” he joked. “Hi, have we met before?”
“Yeah, I’m Penny. And this is Chang. I’m his babysitter,
remember?”
“I’m Nick,” he said, dismissing his dream theory.
“I know. Remember, I told you we were just going out to get
some pizza, and then all this!”
“I have to be honest, I have no idea what is going on.”
The trio made their way over to the G Line platform. Jericho
picked up Chang from off the tracks and sat him up on the platform.
Following the boy to his feet, he then reached down and pulled
Penny up by her hand.

“So, after the exit. What happened? Where did you go?” Jericho
asked.
“We ended up in a carnival somewhere, with a bunch of idiots,
or weirdos, or rednecks. I don’t know. We were afraid, I guess.
Chang started crying and I didn’t know what was going on, so I ran.
Eventually, we just got to playing games, and rode on some of the
rides, then, then everything,” she shrugged her shoulders. “We
ended up back here, again.”
“How did that happen? Did you find the subway exit?”
“No. We didn’t go anywhere really, mister. I had some money so
we went on the hayride wagon. Chang liked it. We rode around a
little. Passed a few animals and then ended up back here.
Everything flipped over again and everything. I don’t get it.”
“Was there a big bright light again?”
“Yeah, it was so random. You saw it too?”
“Yeah.”
“We were just riding on the hay wagon. Then everything got too
bright to see, like when we came through the door. My hair got all
static. Stuff went crazy spinning, then it all went black.”
“Then everything went the same as last time, in the train?”
“Yeah, I don’t get it,” she said. “We were back on the subway,
before the crash. The train went up the huge steep hill, again, almost
straight up in the air. We slid to the very back of the car. Then, the
shaking and that terrible crunching sound in the front. The black goo
spilled all down the outside walls. Then, the whole thing spun
around. The spinning sucks the most.”
“I’ll bet.”
“It was like the rotor ride at the park.”
Jericho looked over to the middle of the tracks. He saw that the
mob had formed again and were frantically moving bricks away from
the E Line Westbound exit. The blockage was immense. Maybe a
little less stressed than the first time, the group still acted crazy. It still
didn’t look inviting.
“Maybe we should keep our private exit a secret to ourselves,”
Penny said, looking at the crazy people across the tracks.

“Good call.” Jericho moved his pack toward the G exit hallway.
They walked down the bow and hooked to the right. The Eastbound,
again, was an open dark hole in the wall on the left.
Penny looked at the ceiling cave-in covering the West and made
her move toward the Eastern exit stairs.
“Eastbound still isn’t open,” Jericho said. “We have to go this
way.”
“Let’s just try the black one this time.”
“We can’t get that way,” Jericho said, trying not to scare his
companions, remembering the weird force-field like sensation he
experienced trying to walk into the darkness the last time he was
here. He tried to dissuade his younger counterparts from even trying
to protect them from being even more frightened. “It’s been closed
for some time. The West exit is our only real option, anyhow.”
They turned to the right and rushed the Westbound. Without
words, Jericho and Penny unburied the exit in good time. A bright
light was glowing at the top of the short staircase leading above.
“Alright guys,” the substitute’s voice said in a confused tone.
“You got Chang, Penny?”
“Yeah.”
“Hey, what’s the deal with the light, anyhow?” Penny asked. “It’s
not the cops like you said.”
Nick Jericho reached for Penny’s arm. “Okay, this time, no
matter what, no running off.”
“Okay.”
Anxious to see if home was on the other side this time, Jericho
stepped through the opening with the children right behind him.

CHAPTER
SIX
The flash of light was blinding.
There was grass and there was dirt, but this time, there was no
smell of corndogs.
Jericho swallowed hard. He opened his eyes and looked up.
Something was flying right at him. Instinctually, he put up his hands
and caught it.
A roaring gasp flooded the patchy bleachers of high school
football fans. Hundreds of homecoming game watchers scowled at
the site of an adult interrupting a play, by intercepting a pass.
Out of nowhere, three football players in white jerseys tackled
the civilian in the black track jacket. Nick Jericho hit the ground hard.
Stepping aside to avoid the pileup, the teenager girl freaked out.
She grabbed the Asian boy and ran. They immediately disappeared
passed the stands of onlookers.
Voices bellowed. No one was happy.
“Where did you come from?!”“You ruined the play!” Another
voice screamed from afar.
Both high school team coaches darted at the fallen substitute
teacher.
Jericho sprung to his feet. Before he could even see who yelled
at him, his shoulder flamed up.
A player had pushed him from behind. Then, another player hit
him from a different direction.
Before Jericho could even think of a believable excuse, two
school security guards grabbed the unlikely receiver. They carried
him off the field in a chorus of boos.
Disoriented, Jericho had no idea what had happened once
again, after stepping through Westbound. He did, however, dismiss
his dream theory. This time, he was escorted off a very real football
field, experiencing some very real pain.

Nothing at all looked familiar, as the setting had at the fair.
The guards marched Jericho up to an unfamiliar door. Though
he moved around quite a bit as a child, this was not one of the
schools he attended.
The red locker room was a beat up place. The old once-white
wall tiles were tanned with age and sweat. Dripping faucets
overpowered the distant echo of fans. A mixed smell of body odor
and mildew filled his lungs.
Jericho was physically propped into a chair. Nothing revealed
any hints of his whereabouts.
“What the hell are we supposed to do with him?” The heavy one
of the two guards asked his thinner, more in-shape partner.
“I don’t know. Call the police?” The thinner guard left his side for
the coach hub to make a phone call. The other loosened the firm
grip of Jericho’s arm.
“Come on, guys. You can let me go,” Jericho said, worried about
being questioned by the police and looking like a crackpot.
“You got yourself into your own mess.”
He imagined that the police wouldn’t buy a story that involved a
train wreck from the future sending him to the past. That kind of story
could get him institutionalized. “I mean, come on, guys. I didn’t hurt
anyone.”
“Where do you get off trying to ruin the kids’ game like that?” the
heavy one asked. “A do-over in the last few minutes of the game?!”
“I’m not sure what they will book you for,” the thin guard said
from the phone, “but that little stunt is going to get you into some
trouble, mister.”
The guard dialed. He talked on the phone for a few minutes with
the police.
Jericho studied the setting to get some idea of where he was.
The locker room was timeless. Pretty much like any other, there
were benches and lockers and showers in the back. There was very
little anything that could really give him any indication of time.
Jericho waited for a good ten minutes listening to the game from
a sliding window above, with the heavy guard by his side. Eventually,

the coaches ruled the do-over and the announcement was made
over the speakers.
The audience was in an uproar.
“Hey, Bob. The police want me to read something to them off of
one of our paperwork. Where are our incident forms?”
“They should have one somewhere near the coach’s desk.”
“I don’t see it.”
“You wait here, mister,” the heavy guard said, as he left
Jericho’s side.
Opportunity knocked.
Jericho stepped over a worn bench. He cracked open a locker
door and fiddled with some papers that he had been eyeballing.
“Pete Waters,” he read. “A few vocab tests… an argumentative
essay…” Jericho froze. “May 22, 1987,” he lipped. “1987?”
A cheer from the outside meant the game was over.
The rent-a-cops continued to talk with the police on the phone,
occasionally peering through the coach’s office window to make sure
Jericho was still with them.
From the hall, Jericho heard the celebration of the winning team.
“We are the champions, my friend!”
“And we beat them in their own backyard!” one student laughed.
“Tamarac Bengals!” Someone shouted and everyone howled.
The red team stormed back into the visitor’s locker room, victorious.
A wave of familiarity hit. Nick Jericho was shocked to see
Boomer, Mike Hebert and Izzy, and a few other players whose
names he couldn’t remember.
Jericho watched a teenager being congratulated for making the
winning score at an away game.
He remembered it well.
It wasn’t the winning point of a tie-breaker. It wasn’t the very last
minute of the game. The other team was behind the whole time and
no one scored in the last quarter.
None-the-less, a younger Nick Jericho was finally grabbing
some of the winning credit and loving it. He was becoming accepted.
As a junior, Jericho played football for half a season, after
moving to a small town in Upstate, NY. The rural team was short

players, so the coaches welcomed him with open arms. He wasn’t
overly athletic and didn’t have any great skills at the game, but he
filled an open spot. He was a body. Jericho didn’t care. It was more
of a social move to get noticed.
Being the new kid sucked no matter where you were. Everyone
immediately knew your name, especially in the small schools, but
you didn’t know anyone. Yeah. They knew your name, but in typical
teenager fashion, they wouldn’t acknowledge it.
Life was pretty much the cold shoulder for the new kid unless
you did something big.
This was the moment they let the new kid in.
The Bengals began chanting and singing. The guards shut their
door momentarily so that they could hear better on what kind of case
they had, if any.
Opportunity knocked again.
In the merriment, Jericho put a towel over his head and headed
for the exit. As he walked by the coaching hub unnoticed, he
positioned himself directly in path with his double.
Just beyond the party, an open door symbolized an escape into
a world of the unknown. As his younger twin removed his shoulder
pads, Jericho made his last few steps toward freedom.
“Good job, kid,” he said.
“Thanks, mister,” his double replied turning to put his gear on
the floor.
Jericho patted his double on the back and immediately saw the
flash of light.

CHAPTER
SEVEN
A giant gasp for air followed a bright blast of energy.
Jericho jumped. He was back in the confines of the familiar G
Line subway car. All was the same again except for one thing. This
time, he noticed something different in the front.
“What in the hell was that?!”
A heavy black woman that Jericho had never seen before
turned back, “That’s what I’m still saying.”
“That wasn’t a dream, right?”
“Hell no.”
“So you’ve been here before, too?” he asked, getting up and
making his way to the front of the car.
“Yep. Three times.”
“I never noticed you.”
“Oh, I have seen you here before,” she said. “You even helped
me out one time. Remember?”
“Actually, no,” he said puzzled.
“The other two times, I just wiggled through the car connector
doors in the front and jumped out of car two. I dropped right to my
safety, praise the Lord!” She placed her hand on her heart.
“And then you went out an exit and ended up somewhere else?”
“Exactly. Child, I know it doesn’t make sense, but I saw my Aunt
Louise there, too. God rest her soul.”
He said with his eyes opened wide, “What’s causing all this?”
“Wish I knew. The question is not what, child. It’s who. I think
we’re dealing with something straight from the devil, himself,” she
said. “And if I am right, he is about to do it all again.”
The car quivered, as it began the first steps of the derailment
dance.
“Yeah. I think you are right. Hold on!”

Jericho steadied himself. He hooked an arm around a pole,
again, but this time added more support by posting his leg out on the
wall in front of him.
The car swayed before it was peeled up from its secured
position on the tracks. After the tilt, the loud crash jarred the
passengers in car three, but neither was badly roughed up.
The heavy black woman disappeared forward into the next car
in front of them. Jericho watched her through the window. Using one
of the walls as a ramp, the woman shimmied up to an open door and
wiggled out to the outside.
Jericho opted for his chin-up prying method in his own car.
As he exited he looked over to see his car-mate praying under
her breath. She was dragging her bottom like a dog with worms,
careful not to accidentally slide off from the slant.
At the top again, they both witnessed the craziness of the G
Liners bailing and scrambling below.
“Hold on ma’am,” he said shouting across to the other car.
Jericho slid down the tilt to the base of the car and turned his
body around. He hung for a moment then dropped to the open
ground. He followed the single open track where his train was
supposed to be up to the next car.
The substitute raised his hands to the woman, who was
positioning herself to dangle her body out toward the wall divider.
“I’m here,” he said up to the three-hundred plus pound Baptist.
“Then you best step out the way,” she said shaking her head like
a funky diva. “I don’t know what kind of skinny white girls you’ve
handled before, but if this old woman drops on you, you gonna be
dead meat.”
“No really, I got you.”
“You ain’t got nothing. Get out the way!” she said raising her
voice.
Nick Jericho complied and she stretched out her body and
dropped. She landing on her feet, at first, then fell back onto her
large backside.
“Are you okay, ma’am?”
“Try having six kids. That fall was nothing.”

Helping her to her feet, Jericho once again saw the sea of
bodies flowing toward the train-stop clearing ahead. As they passed
the G Line and stepped out of the darkness, Jericho bumped into
passengers in a heated argument.
“Listen! It is common knowledge that a bomb caused all this,” a
disheveled man with long unruly brown hair argued. “So everyone
above must be dead.”
Red Hat shrugged. “That knowledge is wrong, at least, in part.
New York is totally fine up there. An H-bomb did hit, but not New
York. It hit California.”
“California?”
“Yes. And we fired back and leveled them,” Red Hat slapped his
hand for dramatic effect. “But the thing is, even the biggest bomb
hitting California wouldn’t cause an impact down here. It’s too far
away.”
“How do you know it was California and not New York?
Everybody says it hit us,” the hairy man asked.
“I saw the future. I’m telling you. The east coast is safe. The city
is fine, but part of the subway disappeared and we are in it.
California is leveled.”
The other E Liner rolled his eyes. “And then they sent a third
bomb to New York.”
“Doubt me if you like, but I saw the future. After all this,” Red Hat
pointed around the clearing. “We weren’t hit in New York, but our
part of the tunnel is completely gone there. Not leveled, but missing
altogether. The rest of the city is fine. They shut down the whole
damn thing because a number of lines were nothing but dirt. No
tracks. No bricks. No nothing!” Red Hat exclaimed.
Doubting Thomas said, “Look around. You must have old news.
Then, after California was hit, a different one hit New York and now
everybody above is dead. How else can you explain this mess down
here?”
“You are not listening!” a frustrated Red Hat said.
Jericho was confused but rushed through his rehearsed steps
anyway to the darkness ahead.

The heavy black woman followed. “Where are you going? There
aren’t no exits up here.”
“No, but a chunk of the F line train is.”
“Another train?” The woman turned around the little bend and
her mouth was agape. She stared at the end of the line. She didn’t
move.
Jericho kicked over some kind of caveman statue from some
museum and dug. It took about twenty or thirty seconds before he
freed his bamboo lever.
“Penny?!” he shouted in a shortened echo. “Is everything
alright?!”
“Yeah!” she said from the other side of the car.
“It’s me, Nick,” Jericho bounced over the obstacle course. He
prodded in the debris and freed the sheet metal in record time.
Penny smiled over at the new face of the approaching Baptist
choral leader and reached in to free the Asian boy.
Chang got to his feet and immediately tugged at Jericho’s pant
leg.
“Hey, Chang.”
Chang pointed. The live penguin in the corner ran up a steel
girder and belly-flopped into the Roman statue wishing well. It came
up with a wriggling fish in its beak, swallowed it whole, and dove
back down to find another one.
“That is his breakfast,” Penny said to the young boy
Chang wrinkled his nose in disgust and said something in
Chinese.
The foursome laughed at the odd sight. They climbed out of the
black ooze junkyard toward the light. The large black woman
stopped for a moment to look at an oil patch. “What in God’s world is
this stuff?”
“No idea. Some kind of weird non-liquid,” Jericho began his
demonstration. “If you try and jam into your fist in it fast, it hardens
up like a solid and you can’t.” Jericho punched the puddle. The
surface rippled but did not give way. “But if you move slowly…”
Jericho eased his hand in. It slid up to his wrist, like butter.

“It has a bunch of stuff poking out of it from all over the world.
It’s weird, right?” Penny asked.
“The whole thing is,” the woman agreed.
As the group made it to the clearing in the middle of the tracks,
Jericho turned to his new car-mate. “Anyhow, I’m Nick Jericho.”
“I am pleased to meet you. I’m Elizabeth, from Nick’s car. You
can call me Betty.”
“I’m Penny, and this is Chang.”
“Hello, ya’ll.”
“I just don’t understand why I didn’t see you before. I mean, I’m
pretty sure you weren’t there. Penny and Chang have been here the
other times. So has that guy over there with the red hat,” he said,
motioning.
Red Hat held his podcaster over his head looking for reception.
He strategically moved around the tracks.
“I was here the other times. You probably just didn’t notice me
with all that was going on,” she said, struggling to pull her weight up
to the G Line deck. “Do you remember anyone from the last train you
were on, say, last week?”
“No. I see your point.” Jericho moved toward the G Line exits.
“But then again, I didn’t relive any rides over and over again.”
Betty said, “We can’t get out this way. There is nothing there.”
“Not east, anyhow.” Jericho pulled down a board or two and
revealed the partially covered Westbound sign.
“I had no idea. This isn’t my regular stop,” the woman said.
“Why didn’t ya’ll tell the people about this exit on the other side?
Wouldn’t this be a faster clean up?”
“It’s too small an area to get the whole mob through.”
“Say no more. Your secret is safe with me,” Betty said. “That
group is impatient and crazy!”
They made quick work of the Westbound rubble pile. A light
soon cracked out at the top. Once the Westbound exit was passable,
Betty pushed by Jericho and immediately disappeared into the light.
“Someone was in a hurry,” he joked. Before the other three
could follow, Jericho turned to the F line survivors and knelt down.

“Okay, guys. This time I want you to go ahead, first. I will be right
behind you. I need to watch what happens on this side.”
Nervously, Penny nodded. She picked up Chang and stepped
toward the light. Before submerging herself, she turned around.
Jericho nodded, back.
Closing her eyes tightly, the girl sidestepped into the portal.
Upon contact with the membrane of light, a sizzling sound
hissed like dropping cold meat on a hot grill. The already bright
illumination became whiter and whiter, until it became totally blinding.
Penny’s body was a dark silhouette frozen in place. The shadow
disintegrated slowly, breaking down into small dissolving chunks,
until it was totally gone. It was as if her shadow m