Pete stumbled upon a time machine. Or a mindset that allowed him to go back in time.
It may have been a DeLorean. Or a platform. Or a giant looking chair. Or some type of meditation that involved clinging to a specific item from the past while thinking of a specific date.
Or any number of McGuffins that push the plot forward while pushing Pete back in time.
And Pete didn’t use time travel to ensure his mother and father met, or go back to bet on baseball games while knowing the outcomes, or to stop the assassination of JFK, or hunt down Hitler in his cradle, or to hunt dinosaurs a moment before their past deaths for sport.
No, he went back in time to see rock stars in concert.
Specifically, Pete traveled through time to see concerts by artists who had passed away either before Pete was born or before Pete had a chance to see them himself.
He traveled to 1972 to see John Lennon in Madison Square Garden.
He popped back to 1965 for the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium. He couldn’t hear the band perform above the screaming fans but he saw them and experienced Beatlemania.
He traveled to 2007 to see Prince’s Super Bowl half-time show. He traveled back to another less iconic time and place to see a Prince show during a regular road tour. Pete was blown away by both performances.
He traveled back to 1969 to see The Doors in Miami to witness the controversial concert that ended in Jim Morrison’s arrest.
He traveled to 1954 Memphis to see Elvis Presley’s first concert then to the Honolulu International Center in 1973 to watch Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” concert.
Pete traveled back to see and hear – live and alive – Hank Williams, David Bowie, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Roy Orbison, Amy Winehouse, Duane Allman with the Allman Brothers, Otis Redding and more.
He was aware of the rules.
He’d read Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” a story about time travel where a traveler stepping on a butterfly in prehistoric times leads to changes across history so the traveler returns to a different world than the one he left. The Butterfly Effect – the idea that even the smallest change in the past could have wide-ranging consequences in the future.
He knew he shouldn’t meet himself in the past. No worries. His whole purpose of time travel was traveling back to concerts he had not experienced in person.
He knew to clear his pockets of anything that might be from his present because discovering it accidentally in the past could rip him from the past and spiral him immediately into the future.
He knew not to mess with the flux capacitor.
Still, while Freddy Mercury strutted across the stage somewhere in America, something happened while Pete attended a Queen concert in 1976.
Maybe he bumped into a much younger version of one of his parents.
Maybe Pete found a 2011 penny in his pants pocket.
Maybe he stepped on a butterfly, or maybe he swatted a moth, or caught a guitar pick meant for someone else, though it would have had to have been the opening act because Brian May does not use guitar picks.
Maybe he arrived too early, or returned too late.
Whatever it was, Pete returned to his time exhausted, as always, and went to sleep for hours, as always, to awake the next morning to a world that looked like his world and smelled like his world and seemed like his world until scanning the Internet when he realized his world was no longer exactly the same world he left the day before which was a day that no longer existed exactly as it had before.
The Internet story read:
Rock gala for Elvis’ 88th birthday
The Beatles, Prince, Freddy Mercury were joined by a pantheon of stars from Jim Morrison to Amy Winehouse to pay tribute to Elvis Presley on his 88th birthday.
“All of you who aren’t rock royalty tap your sneakers. All of you who are the King of Rock & Roll tap your blue suede shoes,” John Lennon said from the stage before tearing into the Beatles’ 1990 rocker “USSR Blues.”
Prince played a blistering guitar solo from his and Elvis’ 1987 chart-topping hit single.
Morrison shared a story of how Elvis saved his life in 1979. Buddy Holly shared a story of co-starring in two 1960s movies with Elvis.
Elvis joined Amy Winehouse to sing one of the songs from their duet album of gospel standards. …
Pete sat in stunned silence for about five minutes. He cried for nearly 10 minutes. He spent the next seven hours and 22 minutes searching the Internet sampling songs and albums that had never existed only the day before in what had been his past reality.
Pete didn’t travel back in time any more. Not for a long time anyway. He was too busy listening to all of the music and watching video of all of the performances he had missed in his previous reality.
Though on the second day of his return, Pete realized his dog was missing. Then noted that the man pictured with his mom in the family photo hanging in his hallway was not his dad. Pete was still Pete but he didn’t recognize the face of the person in the mirror.
Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times and editor of The Tifton Gazette.