Direct Line
by Ken Dean
forum: Direct Line
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Direct Line


           Alan Beretti had arrived early to work that fateful day, around seven AM. He passed the usual security personnel and service workers who were just coming on shift as he headed for the elevator. There were some items he wanted to get an early start on. Legal contracts needed to be finished today if he wanted to continue to succeed and move up in the prestigious law firm where he was presently employed. 

          He pressed the one-hundreth floor button after entering one of the South Tower elevators.
The elevator didn’t stop at any other floors since the bustle of the daytime activity hadn’t begun yet. 

          He exited the elevator and headed for his office. As he walked down the hallway on the way to his office he passed Lucy Pavorini in her secretarial cubicle. Wow…didn’t realize she came in this early! Luckily he had landed an office space with a window facing east which let him see some of the city and the water beyond. A great view like that sometimes helped put things in perspective.

          Alan unlocked the office door and proceeded to set his satchel by his desk and shed his overcoat, placing it on the chair in the corner. He was just about to get out the work that required immediate attention when his cell phone rang. It was in his overcoat pocket, and he had to rush over to grab it out. Flipping it open automatically answered the call. 

          “Hello”, Alan said, “Who is this?” He hadn’t checked the caller ID before answering. 

          “Get out, Alan”, the voice on the phone said. “You have to get out quickly.” 

          “Get out? Who is this? And how do you know my name?” Alan answered in a puzzled tone. 

          “All I can tell you is that you have less than two hours to get out of that building or you will die. I know it for a fact. You only have time to grab your laptop and satchel on the floor by your desk. Then get out quickly…in fact, get on the subway and get out of Manhattan altogether…you live far enough away to be safe.” 

          Alan was getting chilled now…how had the stranger on the phone known those details?

          “How can I trust you?” Alan asked. “This could be a crank call.” There was something peculiar about the voice on the phone. He could hear a strange background hiss along with a slight echo…as if both speakers were at opposing ends of a tunnel made of tin.

           “I’ll give you one minute to verify that I know what I’m talking about. I know a secret about you that only you know…you’ve shared it with no one else.” The voice shared the secret to Alan.

          Alan suddenly felt faint…no one else could have possibly known what the stranger had shared! “You see Alan…I’m you…no one else could have known what I just told you. I’m you calling from about six months in the future.” “Don’t faint Alan…I felt the same way when I received this very same phone call six months ago.” 

          The voice on the phone continued. “After the turmoil of that day was over, I started to wonder…how exactly do communication transmissions work? Is it possible that they may cross over to another dimension, time, or existence? So I tried to call my own cell phone number at 7AM every morning, but wasn’t able to make a connection until now. I knew that I would eventually get through…because I am still alive today in the future. I’m not sure if it will ever be possible again. But I will keep trying. I may be able to reach you again.” 

          “I’ve spent too much time talking!” the future Alan said, “Get out and away now!!”

          Alan flipped the phone closed. He was shaking. If all this was true and it really was himself on the phone…then he must move quickly. He left everything as it was except for grabbing his satchel, overcoat, and of course, his cell phone. He left the office, walking hurriedly down the hallway past Lucy’s cube…Wait!!

          “Lucy!” Alan tried to keep calm as to not cause her to be overly nervous. “You have to get out of the building and as far away as possible now! It’s not safe!” “Why?” Lucy asked. “Everything seems OK.” But he had to try to get her out! “Could have sworn I heard a fire alarm.” Alan lied. Hopefully she took his advice. “No Alan, I’m not going to leave! Maybe you’re having a panic attack about work or something.” OK…Alan thought. I guess there was no convincing her.

          Alan hurried into the elevator and punched for the ground level. He rushed out into the lobby walking as fast as he could while trying to warn everyone he encountered that the building wasn’t safe and they should get out now. 

          Looking at his watch, he realized that fifteen minutes had passed! He hurriedly found the nearest subway entrance and boarded a subway car heading towards his apartment near Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. 

          After arriving home, he quickly found a vantage point and used his binoculars to watch towards the World Trade Center. He watched in horror as the planes exploded into the two buildings and their ultimate collapse.  He had averted disaster thanks to his future self. But he was deeply saddened at the loss of life in the attacks. Some of the people he had warned must have survived to tell the tale of the strange man warning of disaster, for he was eventually questioned and cleared by the FBI. He had no ties to any terrorist organizations.

          Lucy Pavorini was never heard from again…she was counted among the missing. How he wished she would have left also. Alan should have been a hero and forced her out.

           He didn’t know if the future Alan Beretti would ever be able to reach him again. But from that day forward he always made a point to try his own cell phone number occasionally…especially at seven AM. Words of wisdom can come down from the future. Alan made it a point to always check his voicemail.

The End

copyright 2005 Ken Dean.

Ken Dean

My name is Ken Dean and I live in Hilliard… a suburb of Columbus, OH.

Previous publications have been The Intelligent Master, Fate, Direct Line, The Gift, The Quickest Way, and Tattoo Ink at Also published several stories in different issues of Down in the Dirt magazine, the anthology collection Chaos Theory, both from Scars Publications (

You may contact Ken Dean at: