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Terse Tales: When Opportunity Calls

Theme: The call came at midnight


The phone was ringing. I reached a hand toward the buzzing, glowing thing and sat up, trying to clear the sleep from my voice. 

“Hello?” It didn’t work, and my words came out with the familiar fuzzy, just-woken quality. 

“Mike? It’s Chris.” Chris. I checked the caller ID on the screen. New guy from work. Nice enough, but not the sort I would take middle of night phone calls from. 

“Uh-huh,” I added to the conversation, dropping all pretense. If you called this late–early–then you knew the person had been sleeping. 

“I figured it out. I was having this dream, and it just all–Boom!” 

“Figured what out?” 

“The time travel project, of course” 

“Time travel?” 

Chris laughed. “Why else do you think I’d be waking you up? We both know what a grump you are.” 

He was clearly drunk. Or high. Probably both, I reasoned. 

“Listen, Chris, I think you need to get back to sleep. We’ve got work tomorrow, and we can talk then.” I figured he would instead be sleeping off whatever this was, but did not say as much. I just wanted to go back to sleep myself. 

“Work? Mike, what are you–” he stopped midsentence. 

“It’s Wednesday morning, bud. Sleep it off.” 

“No, it’s not. We don’t–” 

He paused, there was an intake of breath on the line. Part excitement, part shock. 

“What’s the date, Mike?” 

“Now? It’s February 10.” I said after checking the phone screen. 

“February 10…” he trailed off, waiting for me. 

I sighed and ran a hand across my face. The smart thing to do was hang up. “2021,” I said instead. 

“Oh.” In his voice was surprise, confusion. “Oh,” he said again. This time somber and shocked. “I have to get back,” were his final words before the call disconnected. 

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