Henry Ellis works at Terran Development, a company working on a teleportation device called a Jiffi-scuttler. Ellis is selected to test the Jiffi-scuttler before it is released commercially, and it cuts his one hundred and sixty mile commute to New York down to just a few steps through a tunnel. One morning during his trip through the Jiffi-scuttler he notices what appear to be tiny human beings beyond a small weak spot near the bottom of the tunnel. He keeps what he saw to himself and is unsuccessful when he tries to find out from the research team where the Jiffi-scuttler actually goes when it bridges time and space.
The next day he sees more tiny humans in the tunnel and this time they pass him questions in an unfamiliar language. Ellis uses a ruse at the linguistics department to have the questions translated, which he then answers, has translated and then passes them back to the tiny humans who now show up in greater numbers and appear to be constructing shrines for him.
Ellis’s boss puts a stop to this madness when he furiously lets Ellis know they inspected his Jiffi-scuttler and discovered the defect after they saw his translations (which turned out to be ancient Hebrew) at the Linguistics Department. The company knew all along the Jiffi-scuttler was warping through space time, and Ellis was supposed to report any problems. Before he fires him, his boss shows him the Bible from the Ancient Artifacts Archives that contains everything Ellis had written and given to the humans in the tunnel. Ellis, more proud than ever even after losing his job, spends his days in his study at home showing off the Bible and writing something new.
The Jiffi-scuttler pops up later in Dick’s novel The Crack in Space where another tear in this notoriously unreliable device leads to a parallel Earth.
Cast of characters
- Henry Ellis – employee at Terran Development
- Mary Ellis – Henry’s wife
- Dorothy Lawrence – Mary’s friend
- Patrick Miller – in charge of research at TD
- Earl Peterson – head of the Linguistics Department at TD