Other Timelines: The Portal

portal on SUNY plaza

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme. Here's the first, about what happens when you arrive late to the past...

The Albany Portal had already been open for about three years before I had a chance to go.

By that time there were about 30 around the world, maybe more, so it had become pretty normal.

Downtown Albany BID alternate history-in-post ad

ACCVB alternate history in-post ad

FOGS alternate history in-post ad

CDPHP in-post ad

MHHS alternate history in-post ad

I would have gone sooner, but I had a ton of student loan debt from my two-year degree in shelving. Close to a quarter-million dollars! And how many jobs are there putting things on shelves? Not many, it turns out.

I would have stopped paying the loans back but the Student Loan people are hiring Buddhists now and tracking you down in your next lives, so I decided to pay it off and avoid the post-life hassle. Which, of course, left me with about six dollars to live off a month. And they wanted $200 to go through the portal.

So, what a surprise when I found that the Dalia Lady next door had left me her estate before they carted her off. It would have paid off the whole loan before the government got their cut. But in the end the "big check" came out to be $217.49. Typical. Might as well spend it on The Portal.

I was so excited! To see Albany before even Henry Hudson had!

Of course, it wasn't time travel, they call it a co-dimension. But in that dimension nobody had apparently made it to the "New World" yet. Albany without cars, streets, buildings. No 787 in front of the river! I couldn't wait.

What a let-down!

After pushing through Portal with about a thousand other tourists, the first thing we see on the other side are big RAMAL billboards advertising donuts, iced sugar-coffees, and hospitals. Who the hell chooses their hospital from a billboard in a second dimension?

A Stewart's is already up and running at the foot of where Krank Street is supposed to be. Everything is mud and tree stumps, some smoldering away, covered in garbage. Scratch tickets blow about in the smoky wind. ATVs are lugging fat tourists up and down a slimy road to the river where boats are running booze cruises. The water is a big sheen of oil from a fuel spill a couple of months back.

I cross on a ferry with the Dirty Dancing soundtrack blasting out over the water. The east side is still so green.

I decide to walk to a nice spot along the Kinderhook Creek I used to fish. Stephentown in the real dimension. I think I will stay. They can't get me to pay through the Portal, can they?

Big 'Vic' Proton was born in Vermont and has been trying to return ever since. In this dimension, he is happily living in Troy with his Russian wife and her big gold chair.

More from Other Timelines
+ What would Albany be like today if the Empire State Plaza had not been built?
+ Other Timelines drawing: What's a local "what if" question that you'd love to know the answer to?
+ Six huge institutions that set up here... almost


Have read this 3 times.....wtf???? Should I try to smoke pot and the read it? Despite a phd and a minor in literature and writing at an Ivy League school I have no idea what the point is here.....

@BS: I don't know, try turning it off and turning it back on again. Sometimes that works.

@ BS: Maybe you should try getting into a shelving program?

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