Hey Kids! by IPostAtMidnight
Boredom. Boredom was Murray’s downfall.
He was absently flipping through his father’s collection of old comic books, rolling his eyes at their dopey ads and wondering if kids back then had really been dumb enough to fall for the promises of X-ray specs and hypno-coins and he-man muscles courtesy of Charles Atlas, when he came across a tiny, blurry ad on a page filled with tiny, blurry ads.
“Hey kids!” it read, “This is your chance to win a trip… TO THE FUTURE!”
But it wasn’t the headline so much as the local New Jersey phone number which caught Murray’s eye. He wandered into the kitchen to dial it, idly curious to see where the digits would connect after sixty years.
The person who answered the call had to clear his throat before proceeding.
“Congratulations,” said the stilted voice, as if reading off a script. “You have won a trip to the future. Come to the following address to collect your ticket.”
“You’re kidding,” Murray laughed. “Okay sure, why not?”
It was Saturday after all, so with nothing better to do, Murray wrote down the location and took a bus downtown. On a street lined with dilapidated buildings he found the faded address numbers between a gutted laundromat and a hat shop that had long ago gone bankrupt.
Murray knocked on the door. Hearing no answer, he tried the handle, then nearly jumped back as it opened and he found himself facing a kid straight out of Leave it to Beaver, in a buzz-cut and plaid shirt.
“Come on in,” said the kid, with an almost maniacally cheerful grin. “Golly buddy, I wasn’t sure that phone number even worked anymore.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Murray. “What’s this all about?”
“I dunno. The ticket says not to do anything different, or else.”
“Or else what?”
The other boy shrugged, but as he ushered Murray into the dim interior, he suddenly shoved him aside and darted past.
“I’m not taking any chances!” he yelled, slamming the door shut.
There was a hiss of air, the door’s edges vanished into the wall, and Murray was alone in a small, silent room. Aside from a chair and an old telephone, the room appeared to be empty.
Murray wandered over to the phone. There was a prize-winning ticket beside it.
“Your trip to the future has already begun!” read its embossed words, followed by instructions on what to do when the phone rang. Murray studied the phone, noting its blank face where an old-fashioned rotary dial should have been. He picked up the receiver and heard only a dial tone.
The room grew darker as dinnertime came and went, but strangely, Murray did not feel hungry. He didn’t even feel tired. Eventually, he sat down to wait for the next kid bored enough to call a number from the back pages of an ancient comic book.
He had a feeling he'd be waiting a long time.