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Case without answer: The timeslipped homeless man

Most of us live in a state of unthinking acceptance. We stroll through the little-questioned area of this life, having been indoctrinated about many things in our youth so that we are programmed with the prejudices and belief systems of our parents and the people before them, so we rarely see existence as it really is, but now and then, something may open our minds and hint that what we think we know about the universe is claptrap.

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One of the most jarring things that can shake a person awake and shock them out of their conditioning is the timeslip, because it makes a mockery about all of the things our elders taught us about time.

We believe time has an arrow that travels from the past to the future and it moves steadily and nothing can speed it up or slow it down.

The great Isaac Newton fell for that belief, but Einstein and other scientists then proved, mathematically at first and then through experiment, that time could be stretched like an elastic band through a process known as time dilation, and now even the ‘flow of time’ is being looked at with a suspicious eye by quantum physicists engaged in time reversal symmetry – because it would seem time may move forwards AND backwards.

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The timeslip is a phenomenon by which a person may find him or herself back in the past or in the future; we are all slipping into the future at the rate of one second per second of course, but in the timeslips I am talking about, people could find themselves hours to centuries in the future – or the past.

In late March 2020, when the country was in lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a homeless 45-year-old man named Gavin was looking for a place to sleep for the night.

For the past three years he had been sleeping rough, starting with ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ homes until their patience wore thin because of a drinking problem.

There was talk of schemes to get the homeless off the streets into emergency ‘Covid-safe’ accommodation but no one had reached out to Gavin yet.

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He walked along a deserted Oxton Road, Wirral United Kingdom, heading towards Grange Road, where an old school friend named George was possibly living in a flat over a shop.

If George was still there, surely he wouldn’t turn him away? Gavin bowed his head to the icy eye-watering wind with his scarf wrapped around his neck, his old tweed jacket buttoned up, and his cold fist clenched around the strap of a satchel that contained a five-pound note, a little radio with a dying battery, someone’s lost reading spectacles, underwear, socks and a copy of the novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Before Gavin reached Grange Road, something extraordinary happened.

There was an explosion of noise – people’s voices, horses clip-clopping as they pulled trundling carts, and now the sun was blazing down.

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Gavin felt he had been transported to Spain, yet the surroundings were vaguely familiar.

McDonalds had gone, and in its place was a huge public house. He was still in the area of Charing Cross but this was obviously the past, and it looked as if it was summer. Gavin thought he should go into the pub where McDonalds had been less than a minute ago, but a policeman stepped into his path and said, ‘Where are you from?’ and he looked Gavin up and down and his steely pale blue eyes, which looked fluorescent under the shade of his peaked helmet, zeroed in on Gavin’s satchel.

‘Look, officer, you’re not going to believe this, but I am from the year two-thousand and twenty,’ said Gavin, and now he went from the optimism of feeling summer heat on his face to the terrible realisation he was back in another age, possibly Victorian.

The policeman thinned those prominent blue eyes and said: ‘That’s a right tall tale you’re spinning. Reckon you better start talkin’, or it’s off to the clink with ya! Name and business, sharpish.’

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‘My name’s Gavin [and he gave his surname and his former address when he lived on Claremount Road, Wallasey three years ago]. And I don’t have a business nowadays, I’m homeless. I used to be a computer programmer.’

Gavin said the last sentence meekly because he knew this policeman would not have an idea what that occupation was. He just knew he was going to be arrested now and interrogated.

The copper pushed his helmet back slightly and scratched his forehead. ‘Well, I daresay, I’ve never encountered such a far-fetched load of poppycock in all my years! Are you quite in your right mind, sir, or have you taken leave of your senses?’

‘I know it sounds crazy but I’m telling the truth,’ said Gavin, his mouth drying up. There was a scream behind the policeman and he turned to look at two men fighting outside the pub Gavin had been heading for – the Grange Hotel.

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The policeman turned back to Gavin and said, ‘You are to stay here while I go and deal with them! Got that?’ and he pointed to the small traffic island and then he ran to the battling drunks.

Gavin remained rooted to the spot for a moment, and then he took a chance and fled down Grange Road. He almost collided with a cycle and trailer – a bizarre arrangement where a man in a straw boater was pedalling a bicycle that had a two-wheeled rickshaw type of vehicle tethered to it which was occupied by a woman in an enormous hat decorated with artificial flowers.

Gavin kept running, trying to put as much distance between himself and that policemen as possible; the idea of being stranded in this bygone age in a grim cell at a police station frightened him.

Gavin ended up on Conway Street, where a rough-looking young man and an associate named Tommy approached him and the former asked what was in the satchel. ‘Nothing of any value, just clothes,’ said Gavin, knowing what was coming next.

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‘Giz it here,’ said Tommy, and he took the satchel from Gavin and said to his friend, ‘Shall we take his coat Johnny?’

A man came out of a nearby pawnbrokers and said to the two ruffians, ‘Return that back to this man or I’ll inform that policeman down there!’

“Johnny” threw the satchel at the feet of Gavin and he and Tommy slinked off down an alleyway.

‘You alright, sir?’ the man asked and explained he was one of the proprietors of the nearby pawnbroker’s shop and he advised Gavin to go and talk to the policeman in the distance. ‘The big fellah who wanted your bag was John Rimmer. He’s well-known to the police.’

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‘Thanks very much,’ said a grateful Gavin, having no intention of approaching any policeman because of the outlandish predicament. He posed a query that must have seemed very strange to the pawnbroker: ‘I know this may sound odd, but what year are we in now?’

‘Eh?’ asked the puzzled Good Samaritan.

‘I had a knock on the head and I can’t remember what year it is,’ said a quick-thinking Gavin.

‘It’s 1909,’ the man replied, and advised Gavin to see a physician.

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The shock of hearing that it was 1909 made Gavin feel dizzy, and in an instant, he found himself back in 2020.

Not long after this he came down with Covid and he had a worrying thought: could he have passed that accursed virus on to that policeman, or those ruffians back in 1909?

Author: Tom Slemen, a Liverpool writer, known foremostly as the author of the best-selling Haunted Liverpool series of books which document paranormal incidents and unsolved or unusual crimes. Check his Books on Amazon here.

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Tom Slemen

Tom Slemen is a Liverpool writer, known foremostly as the author of the best-selling Haunted Liverpool series of books which document paranormal incidents and unsolved or unusual crimes. Check his Books on Amazon here.