Early Morning, Late June

by Tom Hanks

Kirk Ullen was still asleep, in bed, under a quilt and an old Army blanket. As it had been since 2003, when he was five years old, his bedroom was also the back room of the family home, one he shared with the Maytag washer and dryer, an old, chipped, out-of-tune spinet piano, the idle sewing machine his mother had not used since the second Bush administration, and an Olivetti-Underwood electric typewriter that had been rendered inoperable when Kirk spilled a root-beer float into its innards. The room had no heat and was always chilly, even on this early morning in late June. His eyes were rolled up into the back of his head as he dreamed he was still in high school, unable to dial the correct combination for his gym locker. He was on the seventh attempt, turning right, then twice around to the left, then once back to the right, when a flash of lightning made the locker room blindingly white. Then, equally suddenly, came a darkness that encompassed his whole world.


Tom Hanks is an actor and a writer. These are the first six sentences of "Welcome to Mars," which you'll find in Uncommon Type, his first story collection.