The Park

From time to time I visit a small park south of my hometown. It’s a fairly average park with a baseball field, a small river, picnic benches and a few miles of paths that meander through the woods. It is those paths that brought me to the park. I like to bring a small lunch and a book and wander from bench to bench. It's a way for someone who spends too much time at a computer to get outside and exercise without being to bored.

Not that the park doesn’t bore me. That’s what the book is for. It’s also why I noticed something odd. Not that I really thought much about it at first. It was simply a story I told myself to keep my mind busy, but over time the other explanations began to disappear.

Let me explain. If you walk down one of the paths there are a few stone blocks used as benches overlooking a section of river. Across from it is a hundred foot cliff with woods at the top. If you sit on that bench you can, from time to time, see people walking along the path at the top of the cliff. Nothing strange about that. They're perfectly normal people walking down a perfectly normal path. What is odd is that I could never find a way to get to that path.

At first I simply assumed it was one of the paths that I hadn’t explored. Nothing too odd about that. The path splits a few times, and I’m not in great shape so I usually followed the paths I know that lead to nice comfortable benches. One that went uphill enough to be at the top of a hundred foot cliff simply didn’t hold much interest for me.

I love a good mystery and so I used that path to push myself to walk more. As I mentioned there is a river between the two paths (as well as the cliff). This made it fairly easy to eliminate paths. If it didn't cross the river it didn't lead to that section of the path. And while it wasn’t a massive river it was big enough that you weren’t going to cross it without knowing.

Once I explored every path I considered other possibilities. The most obvious being that there was another park on the other side of the river. Or even the same park, but with a different entrance. That was easier for me to explore because I could use my car rather than having to walk. But while circled around to the other side of the river I never found any hint of another park.

By this time it had moved beyond an amusing story that I told myself to make my trips to the park more interesting to a real mystery. Though I was still mostly just using it to push myself to walk a but further.

It became little more than a ritual. I would sit on the stone for hours reading and from time I would glance up at the people walking by. Mostly they were just people. A few too many for a small out of the way park but just people. But from time to time I would see something odd. For example one day I saw a small group walking along the path in shorts. I’m not someone who dresses overly warmly. I prefer being just a bit chilly to having to wear a coat but I was wearing my coat and still cold. In shorts they should have been freezing.

That was when I decided to do something more dramatic. I had followed the river at least five miles in both directions and there was no bridge, but the river wasn’t all that wide so I decided to just cross it once it was warm enough. More difficult I planned to climb the hundred foot cliff. I'm not a rock climber so I largely ignored the park for the next few months instead spending my time at the local climbing wall.

The water was still cold when waded through it, but I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. Once I was on the other side of the river I took out my rope and began to climb.

I was exhausted when I reached the completely mundane path at the top of the cliff. But there was something strange. When I turned back the cliff I had just climbed was gone, replaced with a patch of unremarkable woods. Strange, but for now all I could do was move forwards so I began to walk down the path towards where my car should be.

I passed a couple of people who seemed normal enough and I began to convince myself that I had simply missed something obvious. Except there was nothing obvious that would explain the cliff disappearing of course and as I walked down the path it became increasingly clear that I had found something strange.

It took about ten minutes of walking to get to the parking lot. But it wasn’t the parking lot where my car had been this was bigger with more cars and several picnic benches. Those cars were the first thing that convinced me what was happening. The first of those cars was called a Ford. Someone, it seemed, had named their car manufacturer after a candy bar.

Of course for most of you that’s going to seem a totally normal name. For you I’m just someone telling a story. But if there is anyone else out there remembers a place where you could buy a Ford Bar or have seen one of the odd gaps between realities please let me know. Because while this world is similar to mine in most ways I’d still like to go home.