Science Fiction

                In the vastness of time, space, and reality, unusual things sometimes happen. Call them portals to other realities or maybe a hiccup in quantum space-time or possibly a powerful being with a sense of humor decides to have some fun with us. Whatever the reason, it happened. Just ask Greg Schank.

         Greg Schank walked out of the car dealership with a huge grin. He had another outstanding month, selling more cars than the next three salesmen combined. It was the third month in a row he had taken the top spot. He had another plaque going up on the wall of the dealership, with an obesely fat commission check coming his way. On top of that, the owner had taken him aside and given him a bonus check to show his appreciation.

         "Lucy, I'm home," he said in his best Ricky Ricardo voice as he walked in. There was a thunder of paws. A three-year-old, one hundred and thirty pounds of pure muscle, Mastiff juggernaut came around the corner at a full run. "Slow down, slow down," he exclaimed. She didn't. In her excitement, like a defensive lineman taking down a quarterback, Lucy took him right off his feet. Greg flew back, his head hitting a doorframe before he landed flat on the kitchen floor. 


         It was the final two laps of the Nascar Talladega race. In the number four car, Greg was holding onto the lead, but the number eight car was on his ass.

         "He's trying to move inside you," his spotter Johnny J radioed him.

         "I see him." Greg hit the turn, slid down, and blocked the attempt to pass him.

         "Good move, he's backed off some, but you know he's going to try it again on the last corner. He's got to do it there or you win. Be ready for it."

         "Got it." He flashed past the white flag indicating the last lap. He put the hammer down, pushing the car to its limits. Coming into the last turn he had to let up some, taking the turn, high up near the wall.

         "Here he comes, Greg. You hold him off, you got this race."

         Greg used the banked turn to slide down, trying to block the passing attempt as he had done on the previous lap. The number eight car didn't back off this time and tapped him on the back quarter panel. At speeds of up to two hundred miles per hour, things happened fast. The impact pushed the car's backend off Greg's line and air pressure did the rest. His car slammed into the wall. He rebounded off but was now going sideways. His tires grabbed the track, but his directional speed caused the car to start rolling over. It bounced and went airborne. His car hit, pieces flying everywhere, and then went airborne again. His crash harness kept him inside but as he hit the track another car T-boned him, driving him back into the wall and the car started flipping end over end. With a tremendous impact, his car landed on its roof, disintegrating around him.


         Greg came up out of the crystal clear, turquoise water of the Caribbean. He pulled off his flippers and then the mask and snorkel. He ran up to where Karli was sitting on a blanket under a coconut palm. He gave her a conch shell he had picked up off the bottom. The two of them weren't romantically involved, they just liked doing things together with no strings attached. Friends with privileges was the term they used. They were here with a group of people but the two of them had wandered off, deciding to spend the afternoon by themselves on a secluded beach. 

         "Nice conch," Karli said, looking it over. "The water is really calm today."

         "It's beautiful out there. It's clear all the way to the bottom. Lots of fish and coral out at the reef." He picked up a towel. "You having a good time?"

         "Sure, what's not to like? I like everyone we're with, but it's nice to get away for a while. Plus, it's beautiful here, peaceful and you looked pretty good coming out of the water," she said with a grin. "I could use a cold drink though."

         Greg finished drying off, reached into the small cooler, and pulled out a bottle. "Beers are all we have. The frozen drinks will have to wait till later." He popped off the cap and handed it to her. He got another one for himself.

         "Works for me." She took a long pull on the bottle. "That's better."

         "You know, sitting under a coconut palm can be dangerous," he said. "That would hurt getting bopped with one."

         "What are the chances of that? Quit being a scaredy cat. Come on, sit down here and pay attention to me. We're alone on a tropical beach and there is absolutely no one around. It's hot and so I'm thinking of taking off this suit."

         Greg grinned at her. "You know, it is kind of hot and you would definitely be more comfortable that way. Good thinking." Karli grinned back and began showing him what she meant. A breeze suddenly kicked up. The coconuts above them trembled and one let go. With his attention completely focused on Karli, he never noticed. If it was a movie, it would have fallen in slow motion, landing gracefully in the sand. Since it wasn't, the coconut fell with gravity pulling it down at normal speed. It could have landed anywhere around them, but it had Greg squarely in its sights. He never saw it coming. With a loud bonk, it impacted his head. 


         Greg stood over his ball eyeing the putt. It was twenty feet, slightly downhill, breaking right. Not an easy putt, but he saw the line, made a practice stroke, took a breath, and let it roll. Tracking right on his line, it hit the edge of the hole. He thought it was going to lip out. Instead, it took a lap around the inside of the cup and dropped. Grinning, he went over and pulled it out of the hole.

         "You must have been practicing. You've been killing it all day out here," his buddy JJ said. "One more hole and you will have officially kicked my ass."

         "Just one of those days where everything is working. That almost never happens. Either my driver's working and my irons suck or they're both working and I can't putt. It's these rare days that keeps me coming back."

         "Yeah well, next time you're giving me strokes."

         "Bullshit, just golf better."

         "Stick it where the sun don't shine and don't be getting all cocky on me just because you have one good round," JJ said, punching him in the arm. "Maybe that will throw off your swing."

         Greg went up to the eighteenth tee and striped one right down the middle. "Or not," he said grinning, flipping JJ the bird.  JJ hit his drive, not a bad shot but a little right towards the trees between the fifteenth and eighteenth fairway. It landed in the rough. JJ was good with the shot, he was normally in the rough anyway.

         On the fifteenth tee which paralleled the eighteenth hole, Jim, Jim Bo to his friends, took a huge swig of beer before he went and stood on the tee box. He thought he had mad golf skills and the more he drank, the better he thought he played. He had at least six beers so in his mind he was on top of his game. The reality was very different. His golf buddies knew the truth, but there was no telling Jim Bo that. Since he always brought a case of cold ones, except for busting his chops on occasion, they let him have his fantasy. He took a couple of huge practice swings.

         "I'm going make this one scream," he said laughing. 

         "Just try to keep it on this hole, Jim Bo. We're tired of looking for your ball," one of his golf buddies said.

         "Screw you, you're all just jealous."

         "Jealous of a banana slice? I don't think so. You're up."

         "Grip it and rip it," Jim Bo said. He loosened up his shoulders, addressed the ball, and swung with everything he had. It was another huge banana slice, heading over the trees toward the eighteenth fairway. "Damn it," he exclaimed loudly. "You put that thought into my head."

         "Maybe you should yell Fore, I thought I saw a cart over there."

         "Screw that, there's nobody over there and if there is, too bad for them," Jim Bo said nastily, still pissed off about his drive.

         Greg found JJ's ball in the rough and waved to him. "It's over here." JJ drove the cart over and surveyed his next shot, pulling out a seven iron. Greg stepped back to give him room, smiling at his ball fifty yards ahead, sitting pretty in the middle of the fairway. It was a beautiful day. 

         With Greg watching, JJ made a practice swing, lined up the shot, and let it rip. It was a beautiful, high draw that landed in the middle of the green, ten feet from the hole. It was his best shot of the day.

         Jim Bo's ball soared over the trees towards the eighteenth. Since he never yelled Fore, neither Greg nor JJ saw it coming. 

         "Finally, caught one flush," JJ said. He turned to Greg who gave him a thumbs up, right before Jim Bo's ball hit Greg in the forehead.


         Sergeant Greg Schank sat behind the wheel of his squad car while his partner Jonesy was getting them coffee from a food truck. They had been partners for two years. Greg couldn't remember having a better one. They got along great and had pulled each other out of jams more times than he could count. Greg was studying for the lieutenant exam which if he passed and was promoted, got him off the street. It meant losing Jonesy as a partner, but he had worked hard for this. Besides, Jonesy knew and understood. It was the way of things.

         "Attention all units, we have a 10-46, bank robbery in progress at Union Bank, 1421 Canal Street. All available units respond."

         It was only three blocks from where they were. "Unit 19 responding. ETA, five minutes. Hey Jonesy, forget the coffee," he yelled. "We got a 10-46. Move it."

         His partner came at a run and jumped in. Lights flashing and sirens blaring, they took off. They screeched to a halt, both of them jumping out guns drawn just as the McHale brothers came running out of the bank, money bags in hand. Seeing the police, they opened up with assault weapons, causing Schank and Jonesy to dive behind their squad car. 

         "Just great, pistols against AK47s," Jonesy exclaimed.

         As the McHale brothers kept moving away still firing, Jonesy popped up shooting several rounds in their direction. The two bank robbers turned and hosed down that end of the squad car, one round clipping Jonesy in the shoulder. He went down. Greg grabbed him by his bulletproof vest and drug him further behind the car. 

         "Where you hit?"

         "Shoulder just grazed me. I'm okay. Don't let them get away."

         "Unit 19, shots fired at the police. Officer down."

         "10-4, Unit 19. Backup and ambulances are inbound to your location."

         "Go Sarge, get them."

         Bent over, Greg used other cars as cover as he ran after the McHales. They lost track of him in their haste to get away before more cops showed up. Greg got parallel with them, rose up, and shot one several times in the chest. 

         "You shot Mike, you son of a bitch," the remaining McHale said. With his rifle on full auto, he hosed down where Greg was. He ducked behind the car and moved further ahead. Greg kept moving, reloading as he went. He swung around the front of the car and opened fire. Thinking he was still back where he had shot Mike, McHale never saw him. He took two rounds in the chest which pushed him back against the building. His finger was clamped on the trigger and he kept firing until the clip ran dry. He slumped to the sidewalk dead. One bullet caught the corner of the building behind Greg and ricocheted back across the street, catching Greg in the back which his vest stopped. The impact, however, knocked him forward, his head hitting the car and he fell back.


         Slowly coming to, it felt like someone was wiping his face with a warm, wet, smelly washcloth. Greg struggled back to consciousness, trying to remember what happened and where he was. It slowly dawned on him that he was lying on his kitchen floor, but he couldn't remember how he got there. That happened once in a while when he had been drinking too much, but he was pretty sure that wasn't the case this time. His head was throbbing like a marching band was playing in it. He put out his hand and found a hairy face an inch from his. He slowly, painfully opened his eyes to see Lucy right there, licking him frantically.

         "Okay, okay, girl, back up a little before you lick my face off."

         Lucy started barking excitedly, prancing around him now that he was awake. Groaning and holding his head, he managed to get to his knees and then holding the kitchen counter, got the rest of the way to his feet. He held on tight to it until the room stopped spinning. He now remembered getting leveled by Lucy. He petted the excited dog.

         "Wow, you should be playing for the Dallas Cowboys," he said to her. Other than a huge lump on the back of his head, he felt better. All the experiences he had in the five minutes he was knocked out, flooded back.

         "That was the weirdest thing ever. What was all of that?"

         Across the Greg Schank multiverse, all the Gregs were waking up, remembering the same weird happenings. They had all experienced this jumping around the different realities, living brief moments of each other's lives. In the final second that their realities stayed connected, they all had the same thought.

         "I would have won that NASCAR race."  

                                     The End        

April 29, 2023 03:18

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Amanda Lieser
01:32 May 11, 2023

Hey John, Wow, this was an incredible take on the prompt. I love with the way that you explained the theory that the story would be working with before you jumped into the individualized experiences. I also thought that you did a great job of including beautiful imagery for every single scenario, so really felt like you were going through what Greg was experiencing. My favorite line was that last one because it had a just the perfect touch of humor right at the end. Nice work!!


John Jones
11:19 May 11, 2023

Thank you Amanda for your insights and kind words


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Mary Bendickson
04:13 Apr 30, 2023

He must have a pretty big, hard head!


John Jones
13:57 Apr 30, 2023

Lol - for sure. Thanks for the read


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Michelle Oliver
11:12 Apr 29, 2023

A cool concept, takes a new spin on your life flashing before your eyes! I liked the little snippets into each of poor Greg’s lives. Thanks for sharing.


John Jones
13:28 Apr 29, 2023

Thank you so much. The concept of short stories within a short story appealed to me.


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