By Will Holland '20
Emmett Schmidt awoke to the mysterious clapping of hoofs. Perplexed at the noise, he stumbled across his room, to open his window and look down at the street. Within an instant of bearing witness to the astonishing sight below, Emmett’s horror could not be mitigated by his bewilderment, nor his fear usurped by his fascination. Indeed, what he saw that morning was so unnatural, so out of line with his perception of the world, that there were no words that could have begun to describe Emmet’s divergent emotions. What just a few hours prior had been an unassuming street that kept pace with the bustling metropolis that was New York City, had become a disordered, cobblestone pathway that was now host to horse drawn carriages and men in bowler hats.
After staring for what seemed like the entire morning, Emmet forced himself to look away from his surreal surroundings and examine the contents of his room. Of course he hadn’t seen it when he first woke up, but now he noticed that the television on the far wall was absent, replaced by an obsolete map of the world, with the borders of African countries scrambled and the size of Russia far too large. He was sure that there were other discrepancies, but before he could conduct a thorough investigation, he looked up at the ceiling, now entirely devoid of light bulbs.
Emmet frantically searched the entire room for any chance of escape from what he was sure must have been a remarkably detailed nightmare. Yet everywhere he looked, the more his panic was compounded by the lack of modern appliances. The computer in his office was gone, the space filled instead with thick volumes of literary and historical works. As he approached the table, he saw a translation of “The Odyssey” had been opened to the first page in Book 10. Although he didn’t lend it much thought, he considered it odd that his favorite story was seemingly on display for him to see.
Emmett spent the next hour combing his apartment, which was exactly the same in dimensions to his actual living quarters, even if it was entirely disparate with respect to its adornment. Unable to uncover any evidence that could explain his present situation, Emmett collapsed on a chair, from whence he watched the daily activity of the commuters below. He finally decided to discover more about where he was, and perhaps how he could return to the life at least he thought he knew. Feeling determined, while still partially petrified, Emmett rose and went to his closet to investigate its contents.
The clothes that he found were like those worn by the people on the street. Deciding that wanted to fit in with his peculiar surroundings, he took off his T-shirt, which he took as proof that he hadn’t completely lost his mind, and replaced it with an Oxford-like button down that served to cover his fright in its antiquated elegance. After he had put on the overcoat, black pants, and loafers that now inhabited his closet, Emmett walked left his apartment.
He paused momentarily in the hallway, but decided to disregard the fact that it bore no resemblance to the building he had known for years and instead to continue onwards in order to see the extent of the transformation that the street on which he had so thoughtlessly resided had undergone.
Emmett took one step out of the building, and was frozen by the commotion around him. Carriages trotted in place of cars, and there was hardly a man who was not clothed in sumptuous garb. However, Emmett chose to temporarily ignore the inexplicable change in scenery and instead amble to his favorite newsstand on the other side of the street, which he was relieved to find remained in place. Even though Emmett doubted that he would find anything close to a pack of Spearmint gum, his usual commodity of choice, he knew that he could find something that resembled an answer.
He bought the first newspaper he saw. On a well-folded copy of the Staats New Yorker Newspaper which Emmett had struggled to open, he read that the current date was April 3rd, 1896. At this, Emmett entered into a state of complete shock. Of course he had assumed that he was out of place, but never could Emmett have guessed that he was out of time and in the wrong era altogether.
Emmett preceded to skim over the articles on the front page, some of which spoke of William Jennings Bryan’s electrifying persona and others the ongoing economic crisis. Having read enough and wanting to understand how this unbelievable turn of events came to pass, he was about to put down the newspaper for good when he made a most perplexing discovery. Emmett looked hard at the words on the newspaper, and although he understood them he could not put off the feeling that he did not know them. And it was in this instant that Emmett realized that he had been reading German flawlessly, despite never having studied the language for a minute of his life.
To be continued…