While driving through a construction zone, Marge Burke, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, saw a soldier out-of-time. This TWIDDER can best be catalogued as a Forward to the Future spacetime slip for the Civil War soldier, and a remarkable view of this fellow by Ms. Burke. One can only wonder if the soldier, undoubtedly back in his own time, tried to describe to friends and family what he saw. If so, was he ridiculed to the point where he just kept it to himself? Or did he doubt his own sanity and never shared his experience at all? (See March-April 2009 issue of Fate magazine pp. 127-128.)
I saw him clear as day alongside the road. And I knew immediately who he was.
It was a comfortable August evening, with the sun just beginning to move behind the treeline but still bright. A breeze cooled the air despite the bright sun.
I was passing through a construction zone with all traffic diverted to the southbound lanes of the road, but there was no delay.
I was thinking how lovely the sky was with the deep blue heavens and the huge fluffy white clouds hanging like puffs of cotton.
The man was walking along the berm of the road facing traffic. He took his time, leaning a bit on the iron rod he had in his right hand. The first thing I noticed was his hat. It was dark blue, round and squat, with a small flat visor across the forehead.
He wore dark blue trousers, thin and belted, with wide suspenders arching over his shoulders. His shirt was gray, short-sleeved and lighter in weight.
I couldn’t see all of his boots, but I could see they were black and had rounded toes. There was a leather pouch on a strap slung over his head and draped from his left shoulder to his right hip. He had a fuzzy, dark beard that filled his face and chin.
I slowed as much as I could; there were no cars behind me but a number coming towards me. The man stopped his trek and leaned against a road sign, staring out over the highway as if he’d never seen one before.
And in that moment I knew. There was only one explanation. This man was caught in a time travel snare. His “iron rod” was a long-barreled rifle with a bayonet on the end.
He was a misplaced soldier from the Civil War.
You can argue with me that it was just a scruffy man with a stick, trying to determine how much longer the road would be torn up. Or you can say that the sun was playing tricks on my vision. Maybe.
But if you had been driving east on Routes 22/119 between Blairsville and New Alexander that day, you would have seen him too.
And you would be just as convinced as I am that this soldier slipped through a crack in the universe somewhere and ended up standing in front of me, watching the cars drive past as if they were the miracles that they are.
I want to believe in my soldier. I do believe in my soldier. I just hope that whoever he is, and wherever he came from, he can find his way home or make his home here, and tell everyone who would listen about the day he fell into the 21st century from 1861.
Because I saw him, clear as day, and I knew.