Found on the Elevator (side one)

Yesterday morning, Anne and I were walking Marlowe up the street, and both of us noticed a house that we’ve never seen before. This is strange, because we’ve lived here for years, and you’d expect us to know our own neighborhood, but there it was: a house that has clearly been here longer than we have, but that we’d somehow never noticed.

Now, it’s easy to understand why: we’re almost always looking at the house across the street from it when we walk or drive past, because we like the dogs who live there, or we’re looking at the house next door to it because it has a really nice yard with lots of plants and flowers.

But I thought it was way more fun to imagine that we never saw that house until yesterday because it wasn’t there until yesterday. It just showed up, because there was a glitch in the matrix, or because we walked though a membrane that separated two realities and ended up in one where the only difference that we’re aware of was that house … and why we’re even aware of the change, why we retained the memory of it not being there, the memory from the previous universe that should have not made it across the membrane, that’s where I think some kind of cool science fiction story could bloom.

Sometimes my brain does stuff like this, just takes something like “I never noticed that before,” and turns it into … well, that whole complicated thing.

I mean, think about it: I bet every single one of you has seen something that you were positive wasn’t there the day or hour or [unit of time] before, but holy shit there it is and surely it must have been there all along… right?

Or how about when you walk into a room looking for something, you see it, but when you blink and look again it isn’t there. It turns out the cat, which you’re positive looked at you and blinked its eyes and opened its mouth and everything was just a backpack. But that’s weird, because you know you saw the cat.

What’s that in the periphery of your vision? A person? Oh, no, it’s just a shadow or nothing at all. But you’re pretty goddamn sure you saw something, someone there a second ago.

I know that there are totally logical explanations for these things, but isn’t it more fun to imagine?

So with that in mind, keep reading:

A couple of years ago, I came across part of a recording called “Found on the Elevator”. It was just a few minutes of a recording from the future, that was archived on a record in the past. It was supposedly found in an elevator in New York City in 1969.

Here’s the way it was described: “This recording is an “unauthorized experiment” that was made in the year 2058 C.D.S. (Carbon Dating System), a “blue verbal data feed” sent backwards in time to “retro A.D.” by Decker, T. L., index J-3, CMR 00965 of T-Group Roaring Vectors 252, a human cyborg who suffers from a malfunctioning number nine electrode in his head which causes him to have an emotional breakdown as he records this message. It’s a secret message to a past world he has trouble imagining, a world of foreign substances like metal, plastic, animals, soldiers… a world all physical and “impossibly slow.”

It was really fantastic. It reminded me of a lot of the late night Joe Frank broadcasts I listened to in my 20s on KXLU or KCRW when I’d be driving around late at night, because I could.

For months, I scoured the Internet, looking for the rest of the recording, or more information about it. Mostly what I found were blogs and BBS posts form other people who were looking for the same thing, but no leads. I knew it was a work of fiction, a work of art, but I desperately wanted it to be real, so while I searched for the entire recording, I imagined the world that it came from. (I won’t tell you how it lives in my mind, because I don’t want to affect how it lives in yours, should you chose to create it for yourself.)

Eventually, I gave up the search and went back to looking at pictures of cats who want to buy boats, and forgot all about it.

Until last week.

Last week, my friend Mer RT’d a link from William Gibson that led to the entire first side of the record. It is just as amazing and wonderful as I always hoped it would be, and well worth the wait.

Now I just need to find a recording of Side Two…

51 thoughts on “Found on the Elevator (side one)”

  1. This reminds me of an exchange in “Soul Music”, part of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

    There’s this little old second-hand shop, that magically seems to move from location and time. Two city guards happen across it, and one of them realizes something is out of place.

    “How long has that shop been there?”
    “It’s been there forever.”
    “Yeah, I know, but … had it been there forever yesterday?”

  2. Awesome! Though I have to admit that I was rooting for this to never show up – and live only in your imagination.

    I’ve had both experiences, things showing up out of nowhere and others disappearing, several times. I imagine all sorts of things about that myself.

  3. All the time.

    I tell me wife that I’m pretty sure I make involuntary shifts between parallel universes.

    I had never heard of Fisker cars until a few months ago. I’m pretty sure they didn’t exist for me.

    And now I go off the deep end with fakey pseudo-physics.

    The speed of light is really the speed of information flow in our universe. Information flow entangles space and keeps it in the same ‘reality’. Our memory is part of that entanglement. As long as you remember things, you can stay in the same continuous reality. But parallel bits of space can remerge once their information delta drops below some threshold. This merging means that in addition to there being multiple futures, there are also multiple pasts. But memories are weak in a quantum sense and when other realities grow strong enough, they can merge leaving the bit of space and matter that your memories occupy out of sync with the rest of the perceivable world.

    Merlin was a wizard because he couldn’t remember the past. Because he wasn’t bound by what happened (only by what would happen) he was able to shape the present by choosing a past that would lead to now (just like I can some control over shaping the future by making choices that lead to that future).

    I had a dream once that this physics property was exploited to create fusion reactors (by using the quantum remerging as a way to increase the matter density probabilistically to the point of fusion.) These fusion reactors had a side effect of allowing time travel (or at least a time reversed causation) and soon fusion reactors started appeared all across the landscape retroactively.

  4. Somewhere in that house is the mystery light switch we all have in our houses which doesn’t seem to do anything when flipped on or off. In this case, it actually powered a Somebody Else’s Problem field that covers the house & yard.

    1. I also have a lightswitch in my house that appears to do nothing. I occasionally will flip it, just to screw with the alternate universe where it affects something.

      1. I did that too, until I got a call from a little old late in Germany who just said, “Stop it!” h/t Steven Wright

  5. This sounds as though it could be Christopher Walken in his early years. As well, this recording is something I think I’d like to have on my iPod for when I’m driving around late at night…because I can.

    Consider your efforts to find Side Two of this doubled. I’ll ping you from the future once I find it.

    Thanks, Wil!

  6. There’s a great book by an Australian writer that covers these concepts, especially of things being added or forgotten from reality. It tells what happens on the other side of our reality from the point of view of a young man who gets forgotten. The book is called Dispalced Person, by Lee Harding. (It is out of print now, and there are probably only a few copies easy to find.)

    1. alternatively, if you come to pax east 2014, i will give you MY copy of the march 1975 issue of fantasy & science fiction entirely for free. good deal, eh?

  7. I like to imagine that his future looked much like what we thought the future would look like in the 50’s. The mere fact that he sent the recording back altered things so that things are nothing like they would have been.

    1. I imagine that he meant for it to be discovered in the time he stored it, so he used the dominant technology of the period.

  8. seems to offer it for sale for an exhorbitant amount.

    Anybody more familiar with US copyright law know if this could be reasonably ripped and distributed by now? If it’s out-of-print, etc, or the author has abandoned it…

    If so, I suspect we could get enough interested people in on buying the thing, ripping it, and giving any excess proceeds to charity or something.

  9. Wow. That was a great. A real flashback to the stuff that made me fall in love with SciFi.

    And his name… His name!

    Thanks for sharing, Wil.

  10. Just hearing the needle drop on the recording sent chills up my spine – the whole mythology behind this recording reminds me so much of the Chris Van Allsburg book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” – the book is nothing but a series of beautiful black and white pictures accompanied by short phrases and titles. Legend goes that the contents of the book were given to Van Allsburg’s publisher by a man named Harris Burdick, who was never see or heard from thereafter. As with this recording, I really want this to be true.

  11. I did this in a suburb I used to live in – there was a apartment complex I’d never noticed, despite having walked down the same road dozens of times.

    The weird part was that it was called “The Colony” which led me, obviously, to believe that it was an alien encroachment and that it had in fact, not previously been there. >_>

  12. I remember when I was much younger, my older brother and I used to read a lot of mangas and the likes. One time we came across one particular cover page for one particular chapter of a particular manga and saw the title “GHOST” almost as big as the page itself. Neither of us have seen that title there before and the chapter itself has nothing to do with ghosts. It was strange (we eventually lost the book).

  13. I’m all for alternate realities and crossing membranes and stuff, but it seems improbable that you would cross into a universe in which you’re the star of things such as Stand Beside Me, Star Trek: Tomorrow’s Generation, and Top O’ The Table.

  14. To quote James Woods

    “…and then, the film Chaplin I had a little cameo in that. I actually traveled back in time, back to the twenties, where… well, I’ve said too much”

    I wonder if Wil traveled FORWARD to the 24th century to get the feel for his role.

    With my luck, I would end up like Lost jumping around like the needle on a recording of “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and end up with a nose bleed. Wil would have to be my constant though.

  15. It’s funny, but dimensional shifts are a lot more common than you’d think. While there are many strong scientific theoretic possibilities for why this happens, there are also spiritual (not religious) examples of it occurring to many people today. As the vibrational level of our spiritual being rises, we shift dimensions slightly to accommodate our new level of awareness and existence. I accept this as my reality particularly because the events in my life and the people and places that were static during those events are burned into my brain pretty fiercely. When I wake up and am aware that those static values are no longer static (a room that exists or no longer exists in a close relative’s house that they SWEAR has always been the same, a business that didn’t used to exist suddenly showing up in a prominent place in town when I have very clear memories of it never being there), I just remind myself that we really don’t know the full scientific realm of all that surrounds us. If we were to step back into the 1800s, all the things we currently know are possible would seem like witchcraft to those people, yet we know they all are based on science and logic. I’m betting in a few decades, we’ll know the same about our shifting dimensions and take it with a grain of salt. Living in the moment and accepting or changing our experience is why we are here. Whether we can explain some things or not doesn’t really matter. It’s just cool to hear someone with a more scientifically based background mention they are experiencing something people more “new age” related are aware of. Somewhere between science and spiritual nature there is truth. It usually ends up having a basis in science though, clearly being able to be explained by the nature of physics in the end. :)

  16. It’s not the same kind of weirdness, but I’ve spent a lot of time looking for a video of a beer commercial where sportscaster Keith Jackson did his sportscaster schtick for a wedding. I’m now at the point where I’d be happy if I could find even a record of the copyright for it.

  17. Didn’t you already send this to my mail last week ? I’m positive I’ve already read it before…. hmmm

    No I doubt you’re the only one feeling like you walked through a brane, my wife and me shared a similar experience after returning from the cinema, when it happened we both looked upon each other expressing surprise regarding a railway bridge which in both our minds was quite different from the one we had previously passed by going into the movie…

    I absolutely agree that, events like the one you described and those described in the comments would be a perfect setting for a scifi story about people crossing between branes, minds being manipulated etc…. you know rational explanations :)

    Please let us know the instant you locate side two if it exists… side one was a pretty good one…

  18. I’ve had a thingie like that. When I was young, I saw a cartoon series that no one has yet been able to identify. Early 60’s, set in space, big, square-jawed hero, pudgy scientist(?) sidekick, woman, all in spacesuits. Don’t think it was Flash Gordon. Was so young I don’t know more. Can anyone help?

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever just noticed a house in my neighborhood that seemed to have been there a while. I know my neighborhood like the back of my ha…hey! where did THAT come from?

  20. Inattentional blindness or indeed visual hallucinations are interesting.
    I remember when me and my brother were building a LEGO space ship or something. Which is worth remembering because with a 6 year age gap we usually fought in the mornings. We found that unique piece we knew we’d need later in this crate full of legos. We meticulously placed it on the table above our heads, feeling proud that we found this. When it came time to put it in, it was gone. We searched frantically and we even started to blame each other. At that time we started to believe in Ghosts or Space warp tunnels that sucks up LEGO pieces. When we were so frustrated and my brother angrily broke our project up, with me shouting I would kick his arse for that, suddenly we saw that piece laying there (again).

    For some reason both of us just had a collective negative hallucination not seeing it. Years later I became a hypnotist and I was fascinated with this seeming negative hallucination and how it seemingly could be suggested among a group of people in great rapport.
    I found out that when the ‘leader’ of the group suffered from a (negative)hallucination the followers would easily admit to it and believe it and either not bother or simply coincide with the suggestion and convince the brain that something was- or wasn’t there.
    In this case I (being the older one) and now realizing that back then I was perceived as the leader. When I either mistakenly looked at the wrong place on the table or suffered does early morning negative hallucinations, I suggested it to my brother and a mere 5 or 6 year old follows suggestions easily.

    Recently I suffered a similar inattentional blindness when I put together my 3D workstation. I had placed one of the two GTX680s on the couch next to me as I wrangled that first monster into the tight housing. When I went to put in the second one (a bit later on) I was like: Where the EFF is it! This thing is the size of a bloody size 12 shoe! I went through the empty boxes nothing. As I sat down and looked in the open cuts of the system, I saw that unbeknownst I had wrestled the second one in too. The cause was explanatory because getting the first one in was a hell! And in my mind I braced for the second one, with even less space. It must have gone in with such an ease that I did not register it. In my mind I still had a struggle to overcome. That meant looking for that GPU, which in hindsight went in far more easy than I expected.

    Weird how inconsistent your brain is. Sometimes having learned a lot about the cognitive processes it worries me how we seem to believe what people “claim to have seen”. An eyewitness testimony in court is not EVIDENCE! There’s enough scientific EVIDENCE to discontinue to allow those to count in a court of law.

  21. Some time after Bill Watterson retired–this would’ve been some time around Sept. of 2001, maybe?, I was in college–I had a dream about a new rectangular-shaped Calvin & Hobbes book. I remember being very disappointed when I woke up to find out it didn’t exist.

    Three weeks later, I found this on

    My friend Joe thinks I actually dreamed it into existence. In other words, you’re welcome!

Comments are closed.