A Story by Phil Kuhlman

What if, in a flash of light, your world was no longer yours?



     It had been a long night for Jacob Taylor. First off, he was just fired from his long time job as a consultant for a local television station. An error in reporting a severe storm front the night before actually resulted in a lot of damage around town, and following a public outcry he was released. It felt like the heavy black clouds all around him were taunting him, the storm flashing at the same pace as a crazed man's laughter. It all made him feel sick to his stomach.

     He just married and was starting a new life though. How she would take all of this, he had no idea, but she always said she loved him and would go with him where ever things lead. He laughed to himself a little bit though, thinking about how he just payed his car off. Maybe things wouldn't go too horribly wrong after all.

     His world turned bright red as the lightning bolt tore through his car, blinding him and sending his car out of control. A few moments later all was still, but upside down.

      "Hey, mister! We're getting help alright?" How long was he out he wondered as he tried to answer the man. A light trickle of blood flowed down his cheek, but he could still wiggle his toes, and he hurt all over. That meant that nothing was broken hopefully.

      Finally, he felt the car overturning slowly. The movement surprised him though. No one tried to secure his neck, no one tried to get him out first, nothing. The jerking motion of the car being flipped back on its side showed something even stranger. A bright, sun filled sky. No storm, no night, just the strong stinging rays of the sun.

     "Are you okay?" A man called from behind the car.

     "Uh, Yeah...I'm fine. Just a little banged up..."

     "Good! Alright, I can give you a ride into town if you like, this car ain't going anyplace." Very carefully, Jacob crawled out of his car, but there was something greatly wrong. It was a different color than before, and it was a truck.

     "Um, excuse me, there's something wrong here...that's not my car."

     "Maybe we better get you to a hospital..." The man asked slowly as he lead Jacob to his tow truck.

     "Yeah, that may be best...hey, can I use your phone?" The driver chuckled and smiled.

     "Mister, my house is like 20 miles from here, it's quicker just to get you to the hospital." Jacob pondered the strange comment for a moment before getting to the man's truck, had the man never heard of cell phones? Again though, another startling thing came to view.

      The steering column was on the wrong side,, like one you'd find in Europe. Maybe the shock had injured his memories or something, he didn't know. He just got into the truck and accepted the ride. Jacob did smile a bit as he saw the proud emblem of a southern cross hanging across the back window.

     "Hey, do you ever get any flack over that?" He asked as he pointed to the flag.

     "From who? I don't cater to no one that would. I'm a patriot through and through." The comment confused Jacob just nodded and turned his eyes back to the road. The sight of it being backwards just gave him a headache though.

     "Um, when you said that you were a patriot and you were talking about the flag...what did you mean?"

     "How hard did you hit your head?" The tow man laughed. "You do know that's the flag right?" Jacob just shook his head. "Wow, um, alright. I guess you have a concussion or something. Anyway, that's the flag, it's been flying since the 1800's when we ran the Brits out of the CSA."

     "CSA? Ugh, I guess I did hurt myself pretty bad." Jacob figured the best way was to play along with the head injury story, trying his best to hide the unease he felt.

     "Yeah, confederate states of America, son!" The man saluted out into nothing, smiling widely.

     "Wow...I really need to call my wife." He said again, reaching into his pockets to find a quarter, but found only his wallet. He began to slowly open it, and found an assortment of strange "CSA" labeled funds with pictures of the varied "presidents" of the CSA, pictures of his wife, now with blond hair instead of the walnut brown it was just hours before, and a newspaper clipping. Cold terror rolled over him as he read the black, heavy headline.

  "Cancer Takes Life of Local Woman"

      "Oh God, no..."


      The doctors found nothing wrong with him, just a few cuts, but they asked him to stay there until they could get in touch with family, but there wasn't a family here, and he knew it. His wife was dead, the world was backwards, and he had been hit by lightning just hours before.

      For hours he watched TV. The news, history, everything. George Washington? Executed for treason after what was called the “Low man's uprising” now. It wasn't until Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant first rallied his ragtag brigades in raids of English strongholds that had grown weak and unstable due to wars with the French over the years. All men were freed. There weren't slaves in a traditional sense in this world. America was populated by a majority of indentured servants and African slaves alike. Finally, the CSA was formed. Canada was eventually taken by the growing CSA in years to come, as was parts of Mexico and some British commonwealths in the Bahamas. Years later though, in a small suburb a beautiful lively woman was cut down in the prime of her life by cancer. No children, survived by her husband. This was not his world. The skies outside were a murky conglomeration of green, blue and brown. A storm was coming. The room was filled with light as a bolt struck the ground in the distance.

     "The Lightning!" he started, springing out of his bed, gazing out the window at a storm in the distance. "It's the lightning! It hit me, it changed it all!" The thought filled his mind as he finally fell to sleep.


     The next few days wouldn't be any easier. He learned more and more about things. About how World War II wasn't ended until the 1960's since the bomb was never dropped on Japan. Mexico had actually become a strong nation, almost as democratic as the CSA was, even considered an equal in the World Union, which was the united nations here.

      It seemed like it was almost a better place. But without his wife it wouldn't be. At least not to him. The doctors refused to release him though, his condition was "unusual". But there had to be a way to get home, get out of this place and back to her. He began to form a plan. Perhaps if lightning brought him into this strange "mirror reality", it would take him back.

     The time finally came a week later. A nurse had left his room unguarded for just long enough for him to bolt out. He charged out of the room, and down the hallway. Behind him he could hear nurses screaming to him to stop, and the sound of heavy soled shoes following behind as he ran. The signs were all spelled with the typical proper English flair, lots of "u"s used in words like colour, and it disturbed him even more. But he had to find a way to get back to his wife. The grass outside the hospital was wet, the storm was near. He needed a way to make sure he was hit though. He had to think fast though, as there were still people running behind him. Poles, metal, something.

      "That's it!" He reached over and pulled the antennae from a car, it wasn't much but it was something. And with it in hand, he stood on top of the car it was taken from, holding it high into the sky, begging for a strike. The voices grew closer as he screamed to the heavens, wanting his life back, his wife back. Just as he felt the hands of his pursuers against his legs, he again felt the searing heat, and saw the red flash as the heavens reached down in an electric embrace.


      Breathing was hard for a few moments as he gazed up at the cloudy sky, the rain falling hard and piercing against his face. There were voices around him, people asking if he was okay. Finally Jacob stirred, and saw he was still in a hospital gown, but he felt different.

      "What country is this?" He asked, a taste of blood heavy in his mouth.

      "Um...The United States of America?" A woman asked from beside him.

      "Good..." Shaken, and burning up from the bolt he reached into his pocket, pulling free his steaming wallet. Before things became to shaky he managed to pull a burned photo up out of the wallet's pocket. It was her, with her beautiful brown hair again. And with that his head fell back onto American soil.

© 2008 Phil Kuhlman

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Featured Review

Phil, I found out about your story on the sci-fi forum, and decided to give it a read. As to your question if this is sci-fi, my answer is, why not? The trend in sci-fi nowadays is to get away from the aliens and laser guns of yesteryear and to explore themes like alternative history, or to just plain do things differently. And that's what I feel you did here. The argument can probably be made that it can use a more "sci-fi" feel, but once again, if you explored a common sci-fi theme (dimensional/time travel), then who cares that the rest is mundane? That's just my opinion.

Stylistically, while I liked the idea of the story, there are probably a few things you could have carried off differently. I don't have much of a problem with your technical skill (maybe a few missing commas here or there), but the prose is a bit too light for me. I hate telling people "show don't tell," because it tends to get overused, but I think you should add a little more description and flavor to the text. Stretch things out, get the reader emotionally involved. Structure your sentences in ways that invoke feelings and make your readers feel like they are there with the character.

Posted 17 Years Ago

9 of 9 people found this review constructive.


I really enjoyed this piece! You never cease to amaze me anyway so I knew it was going to be good. Great writing and excellent plot, it's one of those that you want to know more, even with all the information. Awesome work!

Posted 15 Years Ago

Another good story with an interesting plot. I love the idea that the lightning strike didn't only "take him back in time" like it would in some stories but actually changed history.

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Captivating. I agree with Peter though--stretch this out. It feels hurried and frantic, and while that may be the state of mind of your main character, it would be even better to agonize with him as he goes through this horrifying experience.

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Interesting. I'm a Unionist, a proud supporter of Lincoln. Unless I'm way down South. I can't imagine life in the world of the CSA. I think this story was most intriguing because I spend a lot of time teaching people about life during the Civil War.

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is an interesting twist on dimensional fiction. I was hoping he would get back to his own time and I'm glad he did. I do like stories to end well, but if you wanted to make this idea into a book, there are definate possibilities. He could keep trying and failing, but learning something with each attempt. Good luck with this. Hope you are well.

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very interesting. I can't wait to read more of your science fiction works, if you have others. Thank you for sharing.

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Nice this was really good. Is this apart of a book?

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

If you want to expand it, I would recommend having the lightening take him to a different world, not his own. Kind of like the sci-fi series "Sliders" if you ever saw this. I really like this, and the concept is interesting and different. The ending would have been better if he didn't make it home, but hey, that's just me. You write very well, and though it could use a little more discription of the new world he finds himself, it is very good. XX

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Excellent story, I think you could really make something of this, I think if you fleshed out the story more, gave it more "meat" and really got into his marriage, his life up to this point, what happens during the time of the accident... Flesh out the character and you could really turn this into a great story -- I'm not a big sci fi fan but I would read this. =))

Great job, Phil!

Posted 16 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

oh yes, this one would be AWESOME could go so far with the alternate reality....the tidbits you mention are riveting, WWII not ending till the 60's etc...Great tension and tone in this piece. A wonderful write.

Posted 16 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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19 Reviews
Added on February 5, 2008
Last Updated on February 6, 2008


Phil Kuhlman
Phil Kuhlman

Kerrville, TX

I am a published author in the Horror genre. Thus far, my publication credits include "Shadows In The Snow" in the summer issue (#3) of Shroud: The Journal of Dark Fiction and Art, "Open House" in the.. more..


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