“UR" is a short story by the American author Stephen King. It was collected in King's short fiction collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams in 2015.
Wesley Smith, an English teacher at a Kentucky college and book aficionado, wants to go "New School" after fighting with his girlfriend and buys a Kindle. Due to a minor mistake in his credit card number, he is sent a pink Kindle (even though at the time, Kindles were always white). Slowly he realizes that this edition was meant for another Wesley Smith from a parallel universe.
Smith's Kindle has a peculiar function called UR that can search multiple timelines for data. Smith finds four books Ernest Hemingway wrote in an alternate universe where he lived for three more years. Further searches reveal written works by Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare from other timelines. Wesley also discovers yet another function concerning newspapers that were published in an alternate universe.
Smith tells a friend and a student about the Kindle. The three try to connect to an issue of The New York Times from an alternate reality but find to their horror that no papers are published on the day they requested. They learn that in this alternate reality, the world ended when the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into World War 3 in November 1962.
Using the UR feature on his Kindle, Smith also discovers that a busload of local students will be killed by a drunk driver in less than three days. He seeks out help to track down the drunk driver and keep her from killing the students. He is successful, although he realizes no one other than his two friends will know.
However, he is wrong. When he gets back from his success, he finds that Low Men in Yellow Coats (as introduced in King's 1999 book Hearts in Atlantis) are waiting for him, ready to punish him for using the forbidden function of the Kindle. He argues that perhaps this change was meant to happen – how could he have gotten the Kindle otherwise? His argument does not fully sway the Low Men, but they feel it best to simply keep it from happening again by confiscating the Kindle, leaving Wesley alone to ponder the enormity of a world he thought he understood. Soon afterward, Wesley learns his girlfriend may want to reconcile with him.
This is teaching materials for a short story that would be considered untraditional. The assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels.
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the story and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of a scene, character or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the story. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
The materials provided
1 Short story worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
1 Answer Key