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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass


The air is still reverberating with George's questions about the incomprehensible paradoxes the SSG precipitates. For a long moment Aaron, Barbara, and I just stare at each other with bewildered looks on our faces. Then simultaneously, Aaron and Barbara burst out laughing.

The air is still reverberating with George's questions.

The air is still reverberating with George's questions.

"Good one, George." Aaron is clapping his hands. "Respect to you, sir. I especially liked your misuse of Time's Arrow to commit suicide by killing your grandma before you were born. Very nice!"

Barbara chimes in. "Yeah, hey George, instead of killing granny, why not check tomorrow's stock prices or winning lottery numbers? Don't you think generating a little extra income makes for a happier ending?"

George has remained stoically expressionless to this point, but now he grins broadly, and I finally realize he has been making a joke! I am the last one in on the joke!

See, the four of us, the sunlit conference room, the half-eaten chicken sandwich, guacamole, and omelets—it's all so normal, so rational, so comfortable. Because reality is working as expected all around us. And thus we believe we are sane. Hey everybody, we are sane!

But here's the joke: This normal, rational, comfortable place is merely a minutely-thin slice of an immense super-reality! And the four of us gathered here know it is! We have journeyed to a realm where the rules don't apply, and the utterly impossible is downright commonplace! Gosh, where we've been sanity is entirely optional!

We continue to talk and laugh as we finish eating. Through the windows, I can see the late afternoon sun sinking to the horizon. I am completely at peace as I reflect back on this long, amazing day.

Another question occurs to me. "Hey Aaron, how did you know about my student Daniel this morning? How did you know when to send your text message?"

"So Andrew, that is quite an interesting story actually." He pauses for a moment. "You know we call it the Fun House because our experiences in there are almost always uplifting and very positive—right guys?" Barbara and George nod in agreement. "And we encounter all sorts of interesting people from the past, present, and I don't know—maybe even the future—during these wonderful adventures; but generally speaking, they aren't people who are using the Fun House themselves. That is, they exist in that segment of reality only."

Barbara breaks in. "So they aren't aware we are able to hop around from dimension to dimension, see? They are just living their lives as seems normal to them within that particular reality." I nod that I understand.

Aaron resumes. "So that all changed about seven months ago, back in March. I was using the SSG as usual that morning. I was with a group sailing a beautiful ocean aboard a two-mast schooner—fellow sailors laughing, crisp wind in our faces, sunlight dancing across the waves—very pleasant indeed!

Sailing a beautiful ocean aboard a two-mast schooner.

Sailing a beautiful ocean aboard a two-mast schooner.

"Then the sky started to grow dark and the wind picked up, like there was a storm approaching. And while we were reefing the sails, suddenly these weird-looking rat things started dropping out of the sky and falling into the ocean all around us.

"I had no idea what was going on or what might happen next, but my companions got really scared when they saw the rats. They began shouting at each other and pointing over the sides of the ship at the water.

"This crazy vortex started spinning in the water off the port side. It got bigger and bigger and soon was under the ship, and then of course, the ship was inside the vortex, and began whirling around faster and faster, sinking deeper inside.

"The sailors were totally panicked by then. They were weeping and praying fervently. They kept muttering about the dark sky, which was almost black now. 'The darkness! The darkness!' they cried again and again."

Aaron pauses dramatically. "And then it got weird." We all burst into laughter. When our laughter begins to die down, he continues. "Because just then I look to my right, and you, Andrew—you—are standing there with a big stupid grin on your face.

"You say, 'Hey Aaron, do you know who I am?' and I say, 'Yeah, Andrew, you're the guy that rescued me from stinking freshman chemistry in college! Are you here to rescue me again, I hope?' Then you say, 'Yes, but when you return to the SSG, I need a very specific favor, okay?' And then I say, 'Well, I don't know. Let me think about it for a second. Hmm. Well okay, I guess so.' And you say, 'I need you to send me a text message this upcoming November 10th at precisely 10:11 am. That's 11/10 at 10:11—got it?'"


(Images courtesy of and Pixabay user skeeze at

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