The Commuter

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First published in Amazing Stories Aug-Sep 1953

One day while Bob Paine is selling train tickets in an unnamed city a commuter disappears into thin air right in front of him while attempting to purchase a ticket to Macon Heights. As far as Paine knows Macon Heights isn’t on the map and never has been. When the commuter shows up to buy a ticket the next day and vanishes a second time Paine has his girlfriend Laura investigate. She discovers Macon Heights was nearly a subdivision years ago before the expansion was defeated by the county board of supervisors, losing by only one vote. 

Eventually Paine is able to visit this phantom town, as the reality where Macon Heights survived the board’s vote is slowly bleeding into his own. In the end he comes home to find he is married to Laura and has a son, and the world in which Macon Heights didn’t exist is just a fading memory. 

“The Commuter” was adapted for the first season of Electric Dreams where Macon Heights is transformed into something more mystical as a place of escape for down-on-their-luck souls. The more successful adaptations in this series expand on what they have rather than create completely new stories. I might say this is one of the better episodes, although the bar is awfully low. 

Cast of characters

  • Bob Paine – a ticket seller
  • Ed Jacobson– Paine’s coworker
  • Ernest Critchet – the titular commuter who lives in Macon Heights
  • Laura Nichols – Paine’s girlfriend