Inspired by this photo from the lovely Tresha Barger
I was just out taking a walk, minding my own business when I came across an open junction box on a telephone pole. It was probably related to the internet, thought it briefly reminded me of all those movies where you see someone is frantically trying to diffuse a bomb and they have no clue what color wire to cut; my mind twisted in on itself as I thought what would happen if I pulled the red wire out? but I committed no such act of vandalism. Instead, I walked up and as I closed it, I muttered: “Guys, next time you work on this box you might want to shut it before someone pulls a wire out.”
Next thing I know, a panicked voice combined with shrieks of static and what sounded like gunfire reached out to me and yelled: “Don’t touch a damned thing!”
Taken aback, I withdrew my hand as though I’d been scalded. “Not even to shut it?” I heard myself ask, my mind lagging behind my mouth as I belatedly wondered who the hell was on the other side of the box, and exactly where the other side of the box was.
“Especially not to shut it!” the voice insisted. “You can’t shut it. You can NEVER shut it!”
“Ooookay,” I mumbled. “I won’t shut it, but may I ask why I can’t?”
Another voice, less panicked, came through the static. “Because it’s our lifeline. We’ve been at war for 35 years now – we can’t lose our only connection to sanity and beauty.”
“Wait, what? Where are you?”
“What do you mean where are we?” the first voice shouted again. “We’re on the island of Navara. Where the hell are you?”
“Sunderland, Massachusetts,” I replied, realizing there was no way they had heard of my sleepy little farm town. “What year is it?”
“2152,” the second voice chimed in. “Why would you ask?”
“Because it’s 2021 here,” I answered, completely bewildered. How the hell could a simple internet junction box be a time portal?
The silence from the other side of the box told me that my time-traveling solider boys were just as mystified as I was. Finally, a third gruff voice chimed in (the voice of the commanding officer, I assumed).
“Ma’am, we can’t explain what’s happening. We just heard some peaceful sounds coming from your side of the portal, and it helps my men deal with battle shock. That’s why we need you to leave the box open. It’s our connection to normalcy.”
“Ok….I’ll go home right now and come back with a sign not to close the box under any circumstances.”
“Thank you. And, ma’am, if you could just stop by and talk to us sometimes?”
“Of course,” I responded, feeling a sudden maternal connection to these invisible warriors. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
I couldn’t explain what was happening, and maybe I didn’t need to. As crazy as standing in an open field talking to a junction box made me feel, someone else’s world, in some other place and time, was a lot crazier, and if my presence gave them a sense of stability, who was I to close the box?