The Kid’s Guide to Hitchhiking (Brandon’s version)

What follows is a description of pertinent information catalogued in this packet. For further details, see copies of documents and photos included in the packet.



Name: Jason Stephenson

Alias/Street name/Nickname: Jase

Race: Caucasian

Age: 15

Date of birth: 4/26/1999

Last Seen By: Samantha Stephenson, mother

Last Seen Date: Friday, 8/1/2014

Last Seen Time: Approx. 8:30 a.m.

Missing Person Reported by: Samantha Stephenson

<additional biographical data listed on actual report, attached>

REPORTING PERSON’S NARRATIVE (Brief narrative of the facts surrounding the missing person report): Jason was reported missing by his mother, Mrs. Samantha Stephenson. Mrs. Stephenson reports that Jason has been acting withdrawn and secretive for some time. When confronted, Jason either becomes belligerent and shuts himself up in his room, or laughs and passes it off as being preoccupied with school matters. On the day of his disappearance Jase was leaving late for school and was scolded by his mother. He never reported to class.

Jason disappeared between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. central standard time on August 1 and has been missing for approximately two days. Jase is described as a Caucasian male with shaggy, wavy brown hair that covers his ears. He is approximately five-foot and eleven inches in height and has green eyes. He was last seen wearing a green shirt depicting the “Legend of Zelda” video game logo, khaki cargo shorts, and flip-flops.

Jase does not appear to have any scars, tattoos, or noticeable birth marks. He was last seen carrying an army fatigue patterned backpack on his shoulder, and a surgical mask and a bag of raw asparagus in his hands.



From: Det. John Farraday

To: Cap. Michael Swan

Sent: Tuesday, August 5

Message: Hey Mike. I’m going over this missing person’s report for the Stephenson kid when wouldn’t you know it, I see Boltman come walking in with a camo backpack just like the one described in the report. They found it stashed by the creek near his house, so I figure it must be his. All it had in it was a notebook with just a few pages of writing. I had Boltman take some pictures and he should be bringing them over to you now. Weird stuff. Are all the kids into this crap these days?

Regards, John.



Alright, kid, here’s the deal: no matter what your parents or your teacher or that professor who talked on the documentary have to say about it, there is such a thing as time travel. And yes, it is possible for even a kid like you to hitchhike his way across the Stream. But if you’re going to do so, you have to know the rules.

1 – The consequences of your actions are yours to live with. This is the most important thing for you to get your head around if you’re going to hitchhike through time. There’s no guy in a phone booth who’s going to show up and fix your problems, nor some crazy haired scientist in a fancy car. It’s you. And call it karma, call it cause and effect, call it God, call it what you like, but whenever you mess around in the timestream, it has a way of coming back to you. So make sure you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it before you do it.

2 – Bring your own food. Seriously. You do not want to know what happens when you eat food from a time period your system can’t handle.

3 – Bring a mask. A standard hospital mask is okay. Actually, people will stare at you far less than you think. Or you can head to any time after 2267 when everyone started wearing the invisible body shields (but don’t look for them after 2584, they became unnecessary). Similar to rule 2, you don’t want to pick up the Spanish Flu or the plague or something. Watch what you touch, too.

4 – Don’t take rides from people who don’t look human. Chances are they come from after 3176 when major body modification became standard. It isn’t just the human appearance that went out of style, if you know what I mean.

5 – Always eat asparagus before you go. Maybe mix it up a little and eat some even when you’re not going, though, or else your parents might get suspicious. Unless they’re in on it, then it’s no big deal. Either way, you’ll need the sulfur for the jumps, so eat it, and bring some with you. Don’t worry about the smell when you go to the bathroom, that’s normal.

6 – Don’t sweat causality. Whatever you’ve read, there’s no such thing as a paradox that destroys the universe. Or at least, the universe is still kickin’ and I’ve done plenty to mess it up. And as far as I can tell, I’ve never prevented my own existence. Just don’t treat the world like a playground, alright? We all have to live here too.

7 – Don’t kill famous people. See rule 6 above. The world isn’t your playground. And it’s easy to get lost if you make big changes.

8 – Clean up after yourself. It’s pretty normal for there to be anomalies here and there; people who remember things that didn’t happen (I laughed so hard when I first heard “Mandela Effect”), anachronous artifacts (ever hear of the antikythera mechanism?) and so on. Just try not to leave a trail of mysteries in your wake. It’s not the problem the theorists of the 21st century or those Synchronism activists of the 31st century make it out to be, but it’s a little like leaving trash on the trail of Mount Everest. It just makes it worse for the rest of us.

9 – Don’t tell other people about your jump spot. It’s no big deal, I just think people should have to discover them for themselves. Kinda like solving a mystery book, you know?

10 – Never talk to a guy named Michael Swan. Never. Ever.

11 – Always remember the exact time, date, and weather when you left. All else fails, you get yourself a Stream Almanac, you look it up and show it to whoever you’re riding with. 99 times out of 100 they’ll get you home.

12 – Have fun. It’s supposed to be an adventure, right? So live it. Chase your dreams, kid.

13 – Almost forgot: Don’t ask anyone to take you back more than ten thousand years or so. No one will, and they’ll probably get mad at you. And if they’re willing, they probably aren’t trustworthy. Or they’re crazy. Probably from going back too far. Stick to know history, is all I’m saying.

14 – Came back to add this, hope you see it: Don’t lose this notebook.



From: Det. John Farrady

To: Cap. Michael Swan

Sent: Wednesday, August 6

Message: Did you pull that backpack out of evidence? I wanted to look at it again and when I went down there Bronte said she couldn’t find it. No signature from anyone pulling it. What gives?



Description: A man, approximately six feet tall, with shaggy, wavy brown hair, wearing a surgical mask and a green t-shirt, walking in a downtown area. The two towers of the World Trade Center pre-9/11 can be seen in the background.



From: Det. John Farrady

To: Cap. Michael Swan

Sent: Monday, August 11

Message: Hi Mike. I’m not sure if this is just someone’s idea of a joke, or what I’m supposed to think here. I opened an envelope and out came this picture. That’s it. No note. Made a couple copies, went down to evidence to turn it in. Asked Bronte about the backpack, and she had no idea what I was talking about. Didn’t remember us looking for it last week, but there it was in the lockup. I had her pull it out for me and it was just like I remember it, except for this: the last time I looked at that flipping notebook there were only thirteen of those “rules” written in it, but now there are fourteen. Last one reads: “Came back to add this, hope you see it: Don’t lose this notebook.” Can you look in your photos just to see if that’s in there? I feel like I’m losing my mind here.

Regards, John.



From: Det. John Farrady

To: Cap. Michael Swan

Sent: Tuesday, August 12

Message: This has to all be one big stupid joke, Mike. I hope you’re not in on it, like it’s revenge for that time I put your car on the roof. I just talked with the Stephenson lady. She claims she doesn’t have a son, and never filed a report. Also, the backpack is gone. Again.



From: Det. John Farrady

To: Cap. Michael Swan

Sent: Tuesday, August 12

Message: Captain, I am sorry to trouble you, but there seems to be some kind of paperwork confusion here, or perhaps someone is playing a practical joke. I have here on my desk a missing person’s report with a variety of evidence, most of which is signed by myself. However, I did not file this report, nor am I familiar with this evidence. As far as I can tell, the people mentioned in the report don’t exist, or at least, they don’t live in the Denver area. When you get a chance, please stop by my desk and we can sort this out.

Sincerely, Det. Farrady



Begin Recording: This is Captain Michael Swan of the Denver Police Department, and I am submitting this packet to… whoever you people are, and I hope you’ll take it away from me and never let me see it again. This packet was left sitting on an empty desk in our department yesterday, with no indication who prepared it. All I know is that we have never, to my knowledge, had a “Detective John Farrady” working for our department, nor has my car ever been put on the roof. None of the evidence listed in the reports is in our lockup. As far as I’m concerned, this is either a practical joke or some government business that I want nothing to do with. The only reason I’m bothering is because a guy who identified himself as Jason Stephenson over the phone gave me your address, told me to record this message, and to mail it all to you. So here you go. Enjoy. (END RECORDING)


This story shouldn’t have been written… but I wrote it anyway.

2 thoughts on “The Kid’s Guide to Hitchhiking (Brandon’s version)

  1. This story tickles my imagination and my horror in all the right ways. I love that the detective vanishes, and we have the ominous warning to stay away from Swan… but we never find out why. I love the list of rules, too. I would read a novel in this setting. This story feels like an appetizer.

    I AM confused by the “slow” change of the timestream — you’d think that if people’s memories changed, everyone’s would change. Or the items would vanish. Why the “inconsistencies”?

    1. Anomalies resulting from multiple changes in an effort to correct things. The timestream isn’t as linear as we’d like to believe, so not all changes result in modified memories. Human beings are more than cogs in a wheel, so our memories are not so easily changed.

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