While I was stuck in traffic on I-75 the rain was coming at us sideways and the whole road just went into some sort of wild and wet whiteout like a blizzard that melted on its way down. I-75 is a six-lane highway in most of Florida, which is to say it has three lanes heading north and South. I couldn’t see the Southbound traffic at all, and I could see the truck behind me and the truck ahead of me. I hoped the truck behind me could see me better than I could see the truck ahead of me, but I strongly doubted this to be true. I had no idea what was to my right, and if I was going to get to the emergency lane and pull over that is where I had to go. Which is the lesser of two evils? Should I stay in the fast lane and keep moving at forty-five miles and hour and hope like hell nothing bad happened in this mess? Should I try for the emergency lane and ride the storm out sitting still? What in the hell with that guy behind me do if I have to stop to keep from hitting the guy ahead of me if he stops suddenly? So, during all of this, with me white knuckled and clenched jawed, with the rain coming down so hard it was pushing the truck sideways in gusts, and with no idea how long it was going to last or what lay ahead of me, what is it that you would think would be on my mind?
I was trying to figure out how to turn it into a science fiction story.
It goes like this: NASA was fooling around with a new launch procedure that was supposed to send a probe into space at speeds that approached light speed. The damn thing blew up and wiped out a piece of the stuff that holds the Universe together and that thing took off across the state eating everything in its path. Because it was so much cooler than the air around it the thing caused massive flooding where ever it went, and that’s why we unfortunate motorists were swept away by it. We were creeping along at forty-five miles and hour when all of a sudden, this thing runs over us and we’re swept back into time, a few hundred thousand years or so. How many people would it take to begin a successful colony? How many of us would have the skills to survive? Were there people in Florida two hundred thousand years ago? Was there even land above sea level then? Damn, that’s a real problem.
So what if it swept us off to another plane of existence where we were in the same time frame but in this existence human beings never got this far? Suppose the natives of this continent had repelled the European invasion and still ruled this land? It would be interesting to pop out of the air with a Toyota Truck in the middle that, for sure. If you were to take ten or fifteen vehicles at random off the Interstate what sort of demographic mix might you expect? What do you carry with you on a day to day basis that might help you in unexpected time travel? Oh, I would be so screwed. I have a Swiss Army knife but not a whole lot more. No spare food, just enough water for a couple of days, no neat devices to wow the natives, and I never carry a gun with me when I travel. So all of a sudden a story forms and it’s about this man who is traveling from South Florida to Chicago. He’s got a RV and what he does for a living is sell native American artifacts. What people don’t know is that he makes a lot of the stuff himself, and passes it off as real. He’s got to travel overland because the airlines won’t let him fly with that many sharp objects so he’s stuck on the Interstate when the Time Warp hits. He, let’s call out hero Pete, crashes into thick brush and a small tree. Pete has no idea what’s happened. It’s total darkness because his headlights are busted. There’s a fire behind him where a car warped into the middle of a tree and exploded. The natives arrive after an hour and are totally freaked. An artifact salesman in the middle of native America. The idea comes that the natives kill everyone else because they think the newcomers are demons, but Pete is saved because one of his favorite arrowheads he found as a kid was made by one of the natives who found him.
If you are stuck in the middle of a Monsoon on the Interstate and your mind starts working like this, you might be a writer.