Afternoon Break by Gregg Chamberlain [sci fi]
It only seems like it’s always full-moon night at the Tesseract. Even in broad daylight.
I was on the first week of my three weeks’ allotment of vacation time at the paper. So, early Friday afternoon, I dropped by the pub for a half-pint before taking in one of the matinees at the Mayfair. I was thinking maybe the latest Avengers or else something animated.
Ernie and Raj were at the corner chess table, studying the board. Sky and the hobbit hovered over them, critiquing the game and offering advice on moves. A few other regulars occupied tables, enjoying a quiet afternoon glass while chatting or just contemplating the air.
Perched on my own stool at the end of the bar, I watched as Shale slowly drew off my mug full of Wolfshead draft. He was just picking up the steel ruler to swipe off the foam when the front door banged open.
Everyone looked up, squinting at the bright high-noon rectangle of light. In through the door, out of Vancouver’s July heatwave, rushed this manic-looking guy, dressed up in what I guess you might call Mad Max modern, complete to a pair of goggles shoved up high on his forehead.
Wild eyes stared around the room. Fixed on Shale, standing behind the bar.
“Quick!” he shouted. “What year is this?”
Shale answered without a moment’s hesitation. “It’s 2014, dude.”
The stranger stomped a foot and cursed. “Damn it! Calibration’s still off!”
He spun around and, still muttering loudly about “temporal vectors” and “coding glitches”, stomped back out the door and disappeared into the sidewalk traffic.
We all watched as the door slowly swung shut. Blinked our eyes and then went back to what we were doing before the interruption. I turned to find Shale just finishing flicking the foam off the ruler while at the same time handing over my half-pint mug.
He looked back over towards the door and shook his head.
“Third time this year,” he said with a shrug.
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