It was the worst electrical storm in 50 years, knocking out electricity and communications over a 200-mile region overnight.
Fifteen-year-old Shane had spent the evening huddled with his family around the fireplace, enjoying the warmth and light it gave. But at ten o’clock his parents suggested everyone go to bed, and so Shane took a flashlight and padded barefoot up the stairs to his bedroom, which had been converted from an attic several years ago.
He had just gotten into bed and turned out the flashlight when the door opened and someone else stepped into the room. At first Shane thought it was one of his parents coming to check on him, but the visitor didn’t say anything, just sat down on the other side of the bed.
Shane thought that it might be a burglar, and because he was afraid of being shot, he kept quiet.
The visitor, in pajamas, removed a wristwatch and then got in under the covers on the other side of the bed from where Shane was.
Shane jumped out of bed, grabbed his flashlight and a bat, and prepared himself for a fight.
The visitor likewise jumped out of bed and went into a karate stance. From the light of the flashlight, Shane saw that he appeared to be in his late twenties. There was something strangely familiar about the man’s face.
“What are you doing here?” the visitor asked.
“Look, this is my bedroom. What are you doing here?”
“You must be mistaken. This is my bedroom.”
“Look, all the houses on this block look alike. You must be in the wrong one.”
“4216 Cedar Street,” the visitor said.
Shane was puzzled. That was his address too.
“What’s your name?” the visitor asked.
“Don’t play games with me,” the stranger said.
“What do you mean?” Shane asked.
“I’m Shane Logan,” the stranger said.
“You can’t be,” Shane said.
“Why can’t I?”
“Because there’s only one Shane Logan that lives at 4216 Cedar Street.”
“I don’t live here now. I just came to visit for the night. My business brings me out here a few times a year. I always stay the night so I can visit with my parents.”
“This doesn’t make sense,” Shane said.
“I can’t see your face very well,” the stranger said. “Shine the flashlight on your face.”
Shane did as the man asked.
“I can’t believe it,” the visitor said.
“You can’t believe what?”
“It’s not that bad, is it?”
“What year is it?”
“1988,” Shane said.
“You need counseling,” the visitor said.
“Because actually the year is 2003.”
“Look at the calendar on the wall if you don’t believe me,” Shane said. He pointed the flashlight at the calendar on the bulletin board.
“I think we have a problem here,” the visitor said. “The electrical storm must have caused some kind of a time warp. We’re the same person from two different times. You’re me at 15, and I’m you at 30.”
Shane paused. “This is a joke, right?”
“Look, I don’t care who you are. You can’t spend the night here.”
“I’m afraid I have to.”
“Because I’m supposed to be here overnight. If and when the time warp ever reverts back, we both have to be in this room, or else we might miss it and one of us be trapped in the wrong time.”
Shane pulled up a chair from his desk and gave it to the stranger.
“Are you married?” Shane asked, sitting on his bed.
“What’s your wife’s name?”
The visitor paused. “I don’t think I’ll tell you that.”
“Because I didn’t know who my wife was going to be, and since you’re me, I don’t think you should either. Does that make sense?”
“Is her first name Tara?”
“Is her first name Melissa?”
“Look, let’s change the subject, okay? You’re on your own about who you marry. That’s the way it should be.”
“Okay, but what can you tell me about myself that might help?”
The visitor paused. “Obey your parents. Stay active in the Church. Live the Word of Wisdom. Go on a mission. Keep yourself morally clean.”
“You sound like my dad.”
“Well, maybe that’s because I am a dad.”
“You are? I mean I am? I mean I will be? What’s it like? How many kids do we have?”
“One, and one on the way.”
“Is our wife a knockout?”
“Let’s see, a knockout. It’s been a while since I heard that word. That means beautiful, right?”
“Then she’s a knockout.”
“How do we do next year in geometry?”
“Well, if we work hard, and get some help, we do okay.”
“But Mr. Adelstein is a tough grader.”
“I know, but he’s fair.”
“What about girls?” Shane asked.
“What about ’em?”
“Melissa Stewart, what about her? Does she ever get to like me?”
The visitor smiled. “Forget Melissa Stewart.”
Shane frowned. “Rats. What else can you tell me?”
“What do you want to know?”
“Am I going to turn out okay?”
The visitor smiled. “I think so, but of course I’m probably prejudiced.”
“Anything I should watch out for?” Shane asked.
“Drugs and alcohol.”
“Did you stay away from those things?”
“Yes, but last year I was talking to a friend of mine, a psychologist. He told me I had all the personality characteristics of someone who could become an alcoholic. He told me it was a good thing I’d never started drinking. So don’t you start either or else I might not be around at 30.”
“Did we go on a mission?”
“Let me just say, I’d strongly recommend it.”
“What kind of a job do you have?”
The visitor paused. “Actually it wouldn’t do any good to tell you.”
“Because the work you’ll end up doing when you’re my age hasn’t even been invented yet.”
“So what do I do to prepare for it?”
“Get as good an education as you can.”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Hide,” Shane said.
The visitor got under the bed.
Shane opened the door. His mother was standing there holding a candle in her hand.
“I heard talking coming from your room.”
“I was just talking to myself,” Shane said with a strange grin, and then he burst out laughing uncontrollably.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, Mom, really,” he said, still laughing.
“Well, get to bed and get some sleep.”
“I will, Mom. Good night.”
“Good night, dear.”
He shut the door.
Suddenly the lights in the house went on.
“You can come out of there now,” Shane said. “I’ve got a lot more questions. When I go before the Eagle Scout review board next week, can you remember any of the questions they’ll ask me?”
Shane looked under the bed. The visitor was gone.
“Where are you? Look, don’t go away. There are so many things I want to know about my life. When will my parents let me get a driver’s license?”
Another knock on the door. “Come in,” Shane said.
His mother opened the door.
Shane was on his knees looking under the bed. All he saw was an old banana peel and some dust.
“What are you doing?” his mother asked.
“I’m looking for something.”
“Shane, quit this foolishness and get to bed.”
“All right.” He paused. “Mom?”
“It doesn’t matter about Melissa Stewart.”
She smiled. “Well, I’m glad you finally came to your senses. Good night.”
His mother left.
The visitor never returned.
Actually that isn’t quite true, because in time Shane became the visitor.
As we all do.