The men in dark suits grabbed Pete Dawson on the corner of Madison and 34th Street, putting something over his head and throwing him into a car. He felt the vice grip fingers on his arms from the men sitting on either side of him.
“What’s this all about?” he attempted to ask, the material covering his face muffling his voice.
“Just be quiet,” the man to his left groaned.
Soon he felt himself being dragged out of the car, heard what seemed like the ping of an elevator and sliding doors opening and closing. The men continued to hold Pete tightly as they moved downward, another ping sounded, and the sliding doors opened.
They threw him into a room, pulling off his head cover and slamming the metal door. His eyes adjusted to the light and he noticed a table, two chairs, and a two-way mirror on the wall. A voice over an intercom said, “Please sit down.”
“What’s this all about?” Pete screamed.
“Sit down now,” the voice commanded.
Pete reluctantly did as he was told and slapped his hands on the metal table. “I was going to work; now I’ll be late.”
The metal door opened and a tall thin man in a white lab coat walked in carrying a big envelope. He had wiry gray hair and wore black eyeglasses with thick lenses. The man sat across from him and put the envelope on the table. “Do you know why you are here?”
“I don’t have a clue,” Pete said.
The man pulled a thick file folder from inside the envelope and opened it. “We’ve been watching you for some time; however, you appear to live a normal life.”
“What’s this all about? Who are you people?”
The man stared up at him, his green eyes magnified by the thick lenses. “We are a government agency that studies anomalies, researches their origins, and tries to solve mysteries.”
Pete leaned back and sighed. “Great, I’m stuck in an X-Files episode.”
“No, this is the real deal, Peter.” He took a black and white photo out of the folder and pushed it towards Pete. “Is this your mother?”
Pete’s hands shook and tears dropped from his eyes. “Yes, that is her – when she was a young girl.”
“Okay, and how about this one?”
Pete looked at a color photograph of his mother pushing him in a stroller. “Yeah, that’s her with me; I was about two there I guess.”
“Do you notice anything odd, Peter?”
“I’m wearing one red sneaker and one blue,” he noted. “Mom often couldn’t find my shoes because I would hide them.”
“How lovely,” the man said, “but there’s something else.”
Pete shook his head. “Don’t see it.”
The man took a pencil and circled his mother’s head. “She’s holding something up to her ear.”
Pete squinted. “Uh, yeah, so what?”
The man produced another copy with his mother’s face magnified. “If you look at this you can see that your mother is holding a first generation iPhone.” Pete looked up at him with a blank expression. “But this photo was taken in 1977; the iPhone wouldn’t be introduced for another 30 years.”
Pete leaned back and took a deep breath. “Well, I can’t explain it. Did you guys Photoshop that or something?”
“The photo is undoctored!” the man snarled. “Now, your mother disappeared in 1981 without a trace.”
“Uh, yes, I was just a kid….”
“You have no theories about what happened to her?”
Pete wiped tears from his eyes and sat forward. “I wonder every day where she went, what happened, or if she died. It’s a terrible way to live.”
“We believe that your mother was talking on a device that wasn’t made in 1977 because she was a time traveler.”
Pete shakes his head. “She was born Betty Martino in Brooklyn – you see her old photo at Coney Island. She went to Lafayette High School and met my father at Brooklyn College….”
“Explain how your mother’s talking on an iPhone in a picture taken in 1977!” the man growled. “Then she mysteriously disappears without a trace, and you aren’t suspicious? What did your father have to say about this?”
Pete leaned back and sighed. “Dad always felt she was abducted, but there was no proof. He said that he loved her and did until the day he died.”
“How did your father die?”
Pete pointed at the folder. “Don’t have that in there?”
“This is your file, Dawson.”
“He died in his sleep a few years back. I like to think that they’re together now.”
“Did your father have a cellphone?”
Pete chuckled. “Come on, you guys have to know that.”
“We checked his records – 732 calls to one number, except there is a problem – it doesn’t exist. There’s no such number for a cellphone or landline on this planet, and none of the recordings are audible. Don’t you find that odd?”
Pete laughed, “Maybe he was calling E.T.”
“If you know anything, now is the time to tell us.”
Pete took out his iPhone 5 and dropped it on the table. “You’re free to take that apart if you like.”
The man pushed the phone back toward him. “We have all your records; we know that you have never called that number. Still, you could help us a great deal if you know more. There are other documented cases of people using cellphones prior to their invention, but this is the only one where we have a living relative to help us.”
Pete shook his head. “I’ve got nothing; I wish I knew.”
“You’re free to go, Mr. Dawson, but we’ll be watching.”
When Pete got home that night he dug a box out from under the closet floor. He removed an iPhone 6S from it, attaching a filtering device. He looked at photos of his Mom on the table, sitting in the chair and smiling as he dialed a number.
“Hello, Mom, we may have a problem.”