“Hall of Mirrors” by Fredrick Brown

Fredrick Brown was a master of short fiction. His quick wit and acerbic sense of timing made many of his stories timeless. It has been said that Philip K. Dick was a devotee of his writing and you can see many similar models in Dick’s work. His stories were the basis for many episodes of Star Trek-TOS, Blake’s 7, and The Outer Limits. Perhaps his most prophetic novel was The Lights in the Sky Are Stars, a poignant story of an astronaut begging Congress to refund the Space Program (sound familiar?).

This door has a time lock set to open in one hour. For reasons you will soon understand, it is better that you do not leave this room before then. There is a letter for you on the desk. Please read it.

Thus begins the tale of a man transported into his possible future. Written in 1954, this is a story of time travel and a historical look at how we thought our world might be today.

Submitted for your approval, “Hall of Mirrors”:

 For an instant you think it is temporary blindness, this sudden dark that comes in the middle of a bright afternoon.

It must be blindness, you think; could the sun that was tanning you have gone out instantaneously, leaving you in utter blackness?

Then the nerves of your body tell you that you are standing, whereas only a second ago you were sitting comfortably, almost reclining, in a canvas chair. In the patio of a friend’s house in Beverly Hills. Talking to Barbara, your fiancée. Looking at Barbara—Barbara in a swim suit—her skin golden tan in the brilliant sunshine, beautiful.

You wore swimming trunks. Now you do not feel them on you; the slight pressure of the elastic waistband is no longer there against your waist. You touch your hands to your hips. You are naked. And standing.

Whatever has happened to you is more than a change to sudden darkness or to sudden blindness.

You raise your hands gropingly before you. They touch a plain smooth surface, a wall. You spread them apart and each hand reaches a corner. You pivot slowly. A second wall, then a third, then a door. You are in a closet about four feet square.

Your hand finds the knob of the door. It turns and you push the door open.

There is light now. The door has opened to a lighted room … a room that you have never seen before.

The rest of the story can be found here.

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