Will Happen (But According to
William Quincy Belle
just enough time to grit his teeth and squeeze his eyes shut. It was a
reaction, almost an autonomic response. Anyone would do the same if you
your head to see a car running a red light and coming right at your
door, he figured. Getting hit broadside means a car is going to end up
lap, and guess what? You’re going to end up dead, as in dead as a
where the heck did the expression dead as a doornail come from anyway?
the type of thing that ran through your head in the last seconds of
chuckled at the absurdity of this. Dead
as a doornail. Who cares? Who cares now? He was a goner. This
was the end
of it all.
frowned. He had heard that in certain circumstances, time can appear to
down. But now, hadn’t several seconds gone by and shouldn’t that car
already slammed into him?
eye. He looked, but what he was looking at didn’t register. Bobby
eyes. He stared, perplexed by the scene in front of him. Was he
Was he already dead? This didn’t make any sense. Bobby glanced around.
here he was, sitting in the driver’s seat of his Toyota Corolla. There
dashboard. He was holding onto the steering wheel. His right foot was
back and gazed out the driver-side window. He was staring at the front
a humongous sport utility vehicle. It took up his entire field of
vision and he
wondered if it wasn’t a car but a truck, one of those semi-trailer
trucks. Why in heaven’s name did people buy
large vehicles? Are we compensating for a small penis or something?
at his joke. Then it hit him. What the
hell? The SUV wasn’t moving. It was frozen a couple of feet
from the side
of his car. Bobby looked down at the front bumper outside his window
considered it in relation to the road. He confirmed it wasn’t moving. Did the owner brake at the last second? God,
what a close call. It occurred to him that his colleagues
back at the
office would freak when he told them how close he had come to being
grinned. Who doesn’t grin when they realize Lady Luck has smiled upon
they’ve walked away from a potential accident, a lethal one at that?
stared at the grill of the SUV. The vehicle was so big; he pictured it
his Corolla like an egg. He must be the luckiest goddamn guy in the
continued to stare at the SUV, he realized something strange. His car
moving. He looked back and forth between the front window and the SUV.
moved. He wondered if everybody had stopped at once when they saw there
be an accident. But wait. Why wasn’t his car moving? It had been
been driving through an intersection. The light had been green, and he
right of way. It had been at that point movement had caught his
he glanced out the driver-side window to see the SUV barreling down on
was at that moment he had a split second to grasp that the huge car had
red light, had crossed the opposite lane without hitting anything
other way, and was heading right for his side door. And it was during
split second he understood there wasn’t a single thing he could do to
this disaster. The SUV would slam into him and more than likely kill
him. If it
didn’t kill him, he would be maimed for life. Bobby hadn’t even had
time to get
angry and swear. He squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth,
himself for the inevitable. But the inevitable what? Was this going to
Would he feel anything, or would he lose consciousness to wake up days
from a coma all done up in a body cast, lying in a hospital bed?
to look out the passenger-side windows. Everything was still. He looked
every direction, out the front, out the back, to the right, and to the
couldn’t see a single person. He thought that somebody would have
gotten out of
their car to find out what was going on. This was weird.
Bobby sat with both hands on the steering wheel staring at the
the dashboard straight ahead of him. He wasn’t looking at his speed,
the needle was up to thirty; he was trying to conjure a rational
for this situation and decide what he would do next. This was bizarre
he couldn’t think of any other incident in his entire life which would
focused on the needle in the speedometer. Thirty miles per hour. He
again out his window down at the ground. His car wasn’t moving. How was
possible? He wracked his brain to figure out how any of this could
no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t come up with any logical
What to do? Maybe he should get out and survey the scene.
again at the front bumper of the SUV. It was close, damn close to the
the car. He tried to judge the distance, wondering if he could get his
open. Even if he could get the door open, would he be able to squeeze
the narrow gap? Maybe the better thing to do would be to go out on the
passenger side. He’d have to climb over the console, but what the hey?
seemed to block the passenger-side door. Bobby unbuckled his seatbelt
turning in his seat when he heard a noise outside. He stopped and
Everything had been dead silent, but now there was no mistaking it, he
hear the sound of footsteps. But the footsteps didn’t sound as he would
expected to hear in the middle of an intersection. This was an asphalt
and there was no way a shoe step would sound like that on asphalt. This
more like a shoe on a tile floor. There was that distinctive click of
on a hard surface.
his neck to look back. He wasn’t sure, but the sound of the steps
seemed to be
coming from behind his car on the passenger side. The steps were
louder, but he couldn’t see anyone approaching.
silhouette of a figure move beside his car. The figure stopped, and the
door was opened from the outside. The head of a man appeared in the
at the man and said, “Ah, yes.”
think you have enough room on the other side to get out. I think the
is too close to the door. How about you scoot across the seat and get
here?” The man smiled. “Now watch yourself on the console. Don’t get
caught on the stick.” The head disappeared, and Bobby could see the man
the door open as he took a step back. Bobby hesitated. What
the heck is going on? Who is this guy?
over so his head was visible in the opening again. “Coming?”
“Yes,” and climbed over the console of his car. He fumbled in the close
quarters as he got over the console and avoided the gearshift. It
him as he did so that the stick was still in drive, yet his car
remained at a
himself out of the car and stood up. The man had taken another step
was smiling at him. Bobby didn’t recognize him and wondered who he was.
police? A rescue worker? A passer-by? The man’s suit seemed to indicate
wasn’t someone working in an official capacity. Bobby glanced around
noticed a change. What the heck?
was white. There was nothing but white. There was no intersection, no
cars, and no landscape. It was all white. He looked at his left hand
it was gripping the top of the car door. Yes, the car door was there,
everything else was white.
You must be discombobulated.” The man’s voice had a pleasant, friendly
toward the front of his car, but it wasn’t there. He half turned and
the door he still touched. He could see the open doorway to the
interior of his
car and the open door itself, but the rest of the car wasn’t there at
was white. Bobby bent down and looked inside. The interior was
the steering wheel, and the dashboard. Bobby looked out the driver-side
at the grill of the SUV, which was still visible, a couple of feet from
side of his Corolla. He stood up again and looked in that direction,
was no roof to his car. Extending from the edge of the open doorway
only white. The outside of his car didn’t exist. It was as if the open
the car was hanging in space, in the middle of whiteness. Bobby
any ground below him, just this same white. He picked up his feet one
another, then shuffled on whatever he was standing on. It felt solid
like more of this white, more of this sameness that seemed to be
said Bobby staring at the ground, not yet addressing the stranger. “Am
not dead.” The man sounded matter-of-fact. “I’ll try to answer your
but how about we move along? There’s no point in hanging around here.”
paused as though waiting for Bobby to turn toward him.
the man, who stood there smiling. “Who are you?”
forty-second dimensional time break. It is a necessary part of doing a
The man kept smiling as he extended a hand toward Bobby. “You can call
at the man’s hand. After a moment, Mike raised an eyebrow and moved his
a gesture indicating that Bobby should shake it. When Bobby reached
seized his hand and shook it with enthusiastic friendliness.
Hello, Bobby. Now let’s move on, shall we? Would you mind stepping away
the vehicle?” Mike gestured away from the car. Bobby hesitated, then
did as he
Mike, pushing the car door closed. There was an audible click as the
closed into the car frame, then there was nothing, only white. The door
had vanished. In fact, there was no longer any indication there had
been a car
there at all. “Coming?” Mike smiled.
followed, glancing around as he did. While they were walking and had
appearance of moving, everything around them was without form or
got to be dead,” he said as he kept looking around, trying to see
anything, in the void that surrounded him. “Either that or I’m
behind him and saw only white. “Maybe I’m delirious and hallucinating.
that what happens when they drug you up with morphine or something?”
toward Bobby and chuckled. “I assure you, none of that has happened.
we’ll get to that in due course.” Mike continued to walk in an assured
as though he knew what he was doing and where they were going.
reset the scene,” he continued, “as things had gotten mucked up.
fault of my own, mind you.” Mike pointed a finger as though to
truth of his next statement. “There is always an element of chaos even
remained silent as he wondered who the heck this man was, what he was
about, and where the hell they were.
meanwhile, continued to walk. “You like to think you’ve got things set
mathematical precision, but precision itself is more of a concept than
reality. You do your best to get as close as possible to perfection,
but as the
old saying goes, nothing is perfect. Consequently, unexpected
the original model crop up from time to time, and you have to step in
and stared at his companion. “Who are you, really?” he demanded.
startled. “I’m Mike,” he said.
yeah,” Bobby snapped. “You’re Mike. But seriously, what the heck is
silent as if mulling over how best to respond. He spoke methodically,
explained before, this is a forty-second dimensional time break. It is
necessary consequence of wanting to do a reset. I am an intervener and
here to guide you through the process.” He raised one eyebrow and
expectantly at Bobby.
responded with a look of total incomprehension, Mike sighed and stepped
to him. He took Bobby’s arm and half pulled him to get the two of them
walked, he frowned at Mike. “What did all that mean?”
continued to gaze forward. He shook his head and exhaled. “I don’t know
another moment of silence. “What?” Bobby said.
at Bobby and smiled. “Sorry, I was talking to myself.”
going to answer any of my questions, are you?”
shrugged. “It’s not that. It’s a question of whether you’re going to
what I’m telling you. After all, would you explain nuclear physics to a
was both puzzled and irritated. “What does that have to do with
think your chances would be of getting a dog to grasp the fundamental
principles of the atom? Or an electron? A proton? A quark?” Mike gazed
the distance with a concerned expression on his face and spoke aloud as
he were talking to himself. “Those quarks are the oddest things. I
why we couldn’t have come up with a better idea.”
note of Mike’s lost-in-thought look. “Focus, Mike, focus,” he said,
to snap his fingers in front of the other man’s face. “Would you mind
back to me and my little dilemma?”
his head, then turned to Bobby and smiled. “Sorry. Now let’s see, where
telling me about some forty-second thingamajig. But admittedly, I
it. I am only a dog.”
shrugged. “Hey, don’t take it personal. It was the best analogy I could
with on the spur of the moment.”
merely say I may not be smart enough to grasp something that requires
thoughtful. “Nope. I think my dog analogy is a better one. Your
systems don’t even touch what’s necessary to understand these ideas.”
deep breath. “And what ideas might they be, Michael?”
to look at Bobby as though trying to discern any hidden meaning in
words. “You can call me Mike. No need for supposed formality.”
loudly. Either Mike didn’t understand that his use of the formal
been meant as an admonishment or Mike was choosing to ignore him. He
forehead. “Yes, I’ve died. But this isn’t heaven.”
chuckled. “At least you’re keeping a sense of humour about all this.”
Mike a wry smile.
said Mike. “I’ll try to break it down for you in a way that—”
understand?” Bobby had raised an eyebrow to emphasize his question, but
also wore a smile of disdain.
him. “Yes. The problem here is that your accident is wrong.”
Well, it’s not completely wrong, but some deviations to the original
now inadvertently introduced a subtle variation that is going to
results I never intended.”
his steps while Mike kept walking at the same pace. Mike soon noticed
no longer walking beside him, then stopped and turned around. “What?”
stopped walking altogether now and was staring at Mike. “What are you
his arms and placed one hand on his chin. He stared at Bobby.
this,” Mike said. He walked toward Bobby and then kept going by him.
turned around to follow Mike and was stunned to see him approach a
hadn’t been there before. He glanced around to see if anything else had
but no, the two of them were still surrounded by this nondescript
Mike motioned to Bobby. “It’s like this.”
forward and saw in the middle of the table a row of dominoes all
to the dominoes. “I’m sure you are familiar with this idea. Knock down
first domino and the rest fall one after another. The various events
to one another. But what if…?” Mike reached into the middle of the line
displaced three of the dominoes, setting them up to lead in another
Then Mike walked to the end of the table. “Watch.” He pushed the first
and it fell over to hit the second domino, which toppled and hit the
so on, until toppling occurred in the middle. Each of the three
dominoes fell over as expected, but the last one, now positioned away
next domino, fell but did nothing to continue the chain of falling
The rippling event had come to a halt early and did not continue to the
to the middle dominoes. “That’s your accident.” He reached over and
last domino of the displaced group of three. “As you can see, it has
displaced and this event has come to a dead halt. The displaced domino
affect the next domino in the line.”
considered the domino Mike was touching, looked up at Mike, then looked
down at the domino as he tried to sort out what Mike had said and
back to his own circumstances. It didn’t seem to make any sense. Or did
chuckled. “Oh, no.” He paused a second, then burst into a laugh. “Or
say, ‘Hell no?’ Though I did set this up. As a matter of fact, I
done a pretty good job.” Mike flashed a conspiratorial grin. “And I
he said, waving a finger at Bobby. He stepped back and waved his arm
line of dominoes. “I set this all up. I planned it, executed it, and
it to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes. Unfortunately, stuff
can see from my dominoes experiment that if you fiddle with the
some of the dominoes, you can bring the whole event series to a dead
isn’t the way I planned it.”
the dominoes. “You mean the last domino is me. It’s my accident.”
up dead. You weren’t supposed to die. You were supposed to live. You
supposed to go on and push the next domino in the series. But if you’re
like the last domino, you have been displaced from the event series and
unable to play your part in the continuation of the series.”
stood there, an amused smile on his face.
builder. I like to put stuff together.”
confused. He wasn’t making any sense of any of this and he was getting
headache. “I’m positive now I’m all doped up in a hospital someplace
and I’m in
a full body cast. You are a hallucination caused by the pain
vaguely remember reading something about this with morphine.”
said Mike. “No, my friend, you are not going to get morphine, but you
to feel pain. Although it won’t be fatal.” He came around the table
Bobby and pointed behind him. “What I did was set up a scenario.”
in the direction in which Mike was pointing. There was another table
hadn’t been there before. He turned back to discover the table that had
the dominoes had disappeared. While Bobby was startled, he was
accept this as normal. Normal? Nothing had been normal since he’d
eyes in his car and discovered the world had stopped.
“Look at this.”
over. The table had an aquarium in the middle of it. Mike gestured
tank. “I set up the scenario—an environment, if you will—in which you
There is randomness in any situation, but for the most part I can
eventualities and plan accordingly. Such is the nature of my stuff.”
at the tank, trying to make sense of anything Mike was saying. “Your
my stuff. Technically it’s my stuff. But let’s face it; it’s all part
even more puzzled. “Are you talking about the Earth?”
little surprised. “Why, yes. And the surrounding sector, which
contains your solar system.”
said Bobby matter-of-factly.
picked up on the sarcasm, he didn’t let on. He pointed to the aquarium.
but what I meant was for this to be a metaphor.”
at Bobby as if exhausted by the pointless uphill battle of explaining
what was clearly beyond his grasp.
to the fish tank and held the tip of his finger against the glass.
Earth,” he said, and then a tropical fish swam past his finger. “That
Mike chuckled, then reached behind the aquarium and pulled out a glass
a little fish net. He dipped the bowl into the tank, scooped up some
then stuck the net into the tank and swept it around until he could
pull up the
fish. He turned the net over the bowl, shaking it to make sure the fish
in. Mike held the bowl up with the fish. “Ta-da!”
is Earth and you just plucked me off it.”
bowl with something akin to pride. “Something like that. I needed to
scene and, due to the oddity introduced by sheer randomness, I had to
you from the scene to perform the modifications.”
to die and you didn’t want me to die.”
“Yes. I am now rearranging things and I am going to put you back in the
as it were.”
not in the way you mean, I’d say. You folks have primitive ideas about
the world works. Or should I say the way the universe works?” Mike
“You humans are so arrogant. You think you’re God’s gift to the
I grant you, you have potential. But right now?” Mike shook his head.
make me laugh.”
supposed to think about anything you’re telling me? I’m walking around,
aimlessly it seems, in this white void with somebody called Mike who
not be God but can pull dominoes and tropical fish out of thin air.
show, by the way.”
Bobby a sly smile. “Are you now going to ask for a card trick?” Mike
hand on his forehead and looked up as though concentrating on
he pointed at Bobby and said, “You are thinking of…the number
at Mike, utterly confused. Who was this? Some wise guy? Was God a wise
he said he wasn’t God.
his companion’s confusion. “Okay, you’re not thinking of the number
He walked away and gestured to Bobby to follow. “Let’s continue, shall
followed and the two of them walked together again. “You said you’re
change my accident. You said it wasn’t right. Aren’t you interfering?
you fiddling with time?”
an eyebrow. “Good question. I would say it’s more like I’m tending my
shrugged. “You asked and that seems like the best way of describing it.
the best way in terms you would understand. I set up the garden. I
soil; I put in the fertilizer; I planted the seeds. Now, from time to
need to step in to water the plants, pull out weeds, or remove dead
Let’s say your accident was a branch growing off in the wrong
direction. I am
here to trim it and get it to grow back in the right direction.”
people have confused ideas about God. An omnipotent bearded man looking
from above and talking to you personally.”
talking to me?”
Well, I’m not God in the way you think God is supposed to be.”
God supposed to be? What are you?”
being. I am a few levels up from you. In the same way you exist above a
exist above you.”
saying I’m an animal?”
Mike gave Bobby a quizzical glance. “You yourselves define humans as
seem to present it as though we’re not that intelligent.”
chuckled. “Well, you are a legend in your own mind. Your species has a
of seeing itself as greater than it is. You think you’re king of the
realizing there are other hills, bigger hills, elsewhere in the galaxy
are small fish.”
garden and I’m trying to tend it.”
are so insignificant, why do you talk to us? Why are you bothering to
me right now?”
your dogs, your cats, all of your animals. Why? Did you think they
not, but you talk with them anyway. And we could argue that you and
communicate on some level. Obviously on a rudimentary level, but you do
communicate. Picture that as the same with us. Although I have the
talk down to your level, you can’t talk up to mine.”
scratched his head. He did not understand what Mike was talking about,
because they were walking in a white void among random appearances of
props, he had to assume Mike was speaking the truth. Unless this was
dream, or a hallucination.
hallucination,” Mike said.
at the other man. “Can you read my mind?”
need to read your mind to understand that perplexed look on your face.”
later, Mike grabbed Bobby’s arm and pulled him to a stop. “Well, here
the vague image of a car door to his left. Not entirely visible, it was
like a washed-out grey outline of a car door. Mike stepped over to it
pulled on the door handle. The greyish door swung out, revealing what
the interior of Bobby’s car, visible and clear.
you hop back in and we’ll get this show on the road, so to speak?”
at Mike askance, unable to decide what to make of him. God? Superior
form? Mike’s off-the-cuff remarks were disconcerting. Whoever or
was, he was intimately familiar with Bobby, his life, and the entire
afraid I’ll tell people about you?”
at Bobby as though Bobby had caught him unawares. Then Mike chuckled.
about it, Bobby. You’re going to tell people about our little meeting.
imagine what anybody is going to make of this? Heck, they’ll either
you’re on drugs or you’ve flipped. Either way they’ll be dialing 9-1-1
the paramedics over as quickly as possible to sedate you. And put a
your mouth so you don’t swallow your tongue.” Mike laughed. “Worried?
the least bit. But I’d tell you to think twice about doing that.”
at Mike. Did he see tears? Was Mike laughing so hard he was crying?
a little miffed. Why make fun of him? But Bobby reflected on what Mike
said. No, he couldn’t tell anybody. This was absurd. Nobody got taken
out of a
car to wander around a white void in the company of some powerful being
waiting for an accident to be reset, whatever that meant.
in,” he said, gesturing with his free hand toward the opening into the
“Let’s get you back on the road to the rest of your life.”
over and climbed first into the passenger seat, then worked his way
console to settle into the driver’s seat. “Don’t forget to buckle up,”
said. Bobby put on his seatbelt. Everything looked the same. The
was even still set in the drive position.
look to your left,” Mike added, “you’ll see how the scene has been
glance out his window, Bobby saw that the SUV was not there. Well, it
precisely there. The SUV was now facing the rear panel of his car, by
poked his head inside the open passenger door. “You will note that the
been moved back. If it had slammed into your door, it would have killed
Now the SUV is going to hit the trunk of your car and you are going to
fact, you’re going to walk away. Instead of your life coming
a halt, it will continue for the remainder of its allotted time here on
to look at Mike. “But why do this? What is it you’re trying to change?”
hesitated. “You will eventually get married and have a son. I want that
happen.” Mike pointed to the back seat. “Now, Bobby, I want you to pick
neck pillow you have.”
and grab it while I explain,” Mike said, watching. “I’m trying to spare
from getting a concussion. When the SUV hits your car, the car is going
right while inertia is going to keep your head still. Unfortunately,
your head is going to slam into the driver-side door. If you hold up
pillow to the side of your head, you’ll have some cushioning when this
Oh, you’re going to feel pain and will see stars, but at least you
anything as severe as a concussion.”
the pillow up to the left side of his head and turned to face Mike.
said Mike. “Well, I guess this is it. It’s been a pleasure, Bobby. Good
life. We will not meet again.”
Mike,” said Bobby, thinking again how strange all this was.
shut the door now, and then in a moment things will resume. Ready?”
straight ahead while holding the neck pillow to the side of his head.
He heard the sound of the passenger door being closed. He shifted his
across the front windshield and noted that everything seemed to be the
still frozen in the middle of the action. It was silent. He waited. Now what?
loud bang. The car pitched to the right and Bobby’s head toppled to the
and slammed into the supporting post beside the driver-side door. Bobby
stars and was only vaguely aware that his car continued to move to the
then rolled onto its side. There was the sound of metal being bent,
crushed, along with glass breaking. Bobby flopped around like a rag
in place by his shoulder strap.
stopped. Bobby was dazed but still conscious. Slowly he deciphered what
senses were telling him. The car was now over on its right side. Bobby
hanging down to his right, but his safety belt was keeping him in place
didn’t fall. God, did his head hurt. There were voices outside but he
tell what they were saying. He heard an odd swooshing noise he realized
coming from a fire extinguisher. Was the car on fire?
noise around the car and then on top of the car. Was somebody walking
The driver’s door was pulled open and light poured in. A voice from
“Hey, are you all right?”
dazed. “Yeah. What happened?”
by an SUV, but man, are you lucky. It hit the back of your car. If it
broadsided you, you would be dead.”
still confused by the hit on the head. Broadsided? Dead? Just as that
said. What guy? Mike? Wait, did that happen, or had he been knocked
by the crash? Bobby remembered hearing stories of people who’d been
the head recounting all sorts of bizarre things. Did he hear a siren
the paramedics pull Bobby out of the car. Fortunately, Bobby hadn’t
seriously hurt and could manage under his own steam. The difficulty
would be in
climbing up out of the driver’s door. Mike examined Bobby’s car. It was
totalled, but that was a small price to pay for being able to walk away
Bobby would go on to live a normal life. He would, however, stop from
time to reflect on how lucky he was. If the SUV had been a little
would have slammed right into the driver-side door. Yes, what luck. It
luck, wasn’t it?
didn’t say was that Bobby’s son, at the age of thirty-five, would fall
at the wheel of his car and cross over into on-coming traffic and hit a
tractor-trailer truck head-on. He would be killed instantly, but, more
importantly, the resulting traffic tie-up would cause delays that would
have rippling effects throughout society. Mike had lined up the
wanted them to fall in order.
and stepped through the crowd. He headed off down the sidewalk and
about how things had worked out. Accidents will happen, but with a
intervention, they can happen according to plan.
William Quincy Belle is just a
guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to
his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02
over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the
process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and
recite the following which so far he hasn't been able to attribute to
"A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem."