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Now's The Time by Gordon Rowlinson
SUMMARY: This story has science fiction and music themes and deals with the side effects of reaching beyond the edge of reality to other periods of time. A bold experiment causes the laws of physics to break down and the fabric of space time begins to unravel.
It was the usual Wednesday night jam session, when drummer Matt Rollins inner sense of rhythm sensed something extraordinary. At the time, he didn't realize what it was. It was as if the world had skipped a beat. The phenomenon was something entirely new to this world and this reality. It was a quantum physics pulse that was counting down to the impending doom of the world.
Rollins and his jazz band were ending the second set at Boston's Jazz Cafe. He was the only "name" player and the bunch of college students in the rag-tag, pickup band were trying too hard to impress him--the supposedly legendary jazz drummer. He had no doubt that tomorrow these amateur kids would be bragging that they had sat in and rubbed elbows with the once-famous Matt Rollins who had once played with John Coltrane.
The long-haired guitar player tried too hard to play like Edward Van-Halen. He played as fast as he could and as a result he merely played scales at a sloppy high speed. The sax player tried to copy Charlie Parker licks and ended up sounding clumsy and unoriginal. The bass player was all over the place and didn't nail down the bottom or help keep the beat. At least the white guy with the hat on the piano was experienced and worth playing with.
It was towards the end of the set and they had just finished contemporary jazz versions of Beatles tunes and were jamming on some old Charlie Parker standards. Just after they broke into "Now's the Time," Matt felt it--a time skip in the beat. At first, he thought that someone in the band was straying off the beat. Several seconds later, he felt it again. This time it knew it wasn't the band. After he felt it a third time, he started to wonder if he was having a heart attack or if they were experiencing an earthquake. The band's set came to a confused end as the guitar player played some annoying loud licks overriding the rest of the band.
Matt looked into the crowd. In the darkness of the small pub were the usual confused mix of people merely hanging out, drunks and the few serious jazz fans. The Boston bar was close to several colleges and attracted a young crowd. He wondered how many of tonight's music and jazz fans had come just to see him. For the last 55 years, Matt's claim to fame and a career--if you could call it that--was that he had once played with "Trane" the famous saxophone player. The year was 1967 and the regular drummer had the flu. It was an era when most jazz music was played by black musicians. As he had a reputation as a steady player, Matt sat in and played on the final two tunes on a John Coltrane album. At the time, Matt was thrilled and thought he had reached the big time. After Coltrane died three months later, it was as if Matt's music career had been frozen in time. He had not cut a record in 40 years.
For the past 40 years, the long-awaited phone call, with the long-awaited chance to return to the big time, never came. During this time, he helplessly watched the music form called jazz became less and less popular.