Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 20


20ft Halo

Hours later, I awoke strapped to a chair in the same room as my first trip back to the alternate present.  A bandage clung to my injured cheek.  Electrodes were taped to my chest again, though this time they hadn’t shaved my head and instead had wired just one electrode to each of my temples.  Also new this time around were two IVs protruding from a bulky machine.  A rush of blood was extracted from my left arm, spiraled through the tubing and into the machine, then exited out the other end, rejoining me via my right arm.

    A familiar face stood before me: the doctor from the original hospital.  As he finalized some settings on the machine, my mind raced to come up with an explanation for the logo and the album cover his cohort had shown me.  The doctor noticed that I had awoken, but said nothing.  He calmly checked my pulse and blood pressure, then flipped a switch on the machine and left.

    I expected him to return with a syringe to give me the time travel injection at this point, but he didn’t.  Instead I listened to the hum of the strange machine as I watched my blood circle the loop de loop and speed back to me on the other side, like a rollercoaster running in perpetuity.

    After a few moments that were probably really seconds, a green LED light started flashing strobe-like on the machine’s control panel.  At first I thought it was a warning light indicating a problem, then remembered that green is typically a good thing, so I quickly let that thought slide as I became entranced by its rhythmic pulsations.  Mesmerized by the coded signals embedded in the emissions, I stared at the light until it consumed my vision and was the only thing that I saw.  No longer a light on a machine, my eyes just saw green black green black green black green.  Faster and faster the light flashed until it abruptly stopped, cutting me loose and leaving only the blackness.  The ambient noises of the room and the machine had also stopped.  Sound slowly returned before sight did.

    Chirping birds. 

    A horn. 

    The quiet whoosh of passing cars.

    Idling engines.


    Then the world started to fade in again.  I wasn’t in the room anymore.  I was outside.

    Someone was dragging me somewhere.  No, not dragging me, but moving me.  Almost like a conveyor belt or an airport people mover, but with a little more of the bounce associated with natural human motion.  From my perspective I was moving myself and just walking, but I had no awareness of physically engaging my legs into the positions necessary for motion.  Not that I normally have to think very hard about walking since it’s an ingrained reflex, but usually I know when I’m making myself walk, and I clearly wasn’t in control here.  I concentrated all of my telekinetic energy on stopping, but still continued to travel at the same pace.  Tried to turn my head to look at my feet but could not.

    This was dreamlike.  But it was more than a dream in some ways, as I was very aware.  In this lucid state I walked down the street, stopping at crosswalks and waiting for white flashing hands like every good boy should.  I still didn’t know I was walking, and I also couldn’t tell when I was stopping except for noticing that the flow of images to my vision would become static.  Same with turning my head to look both ways before crossing.  My eyes told me I was doing it, but I couldn’t tell you whether I was going to look left, right, or straight at any given moment.  Confused, I tried to lift my arm to rub my eyes but had no control over its mobility either.  Clearly I could use it, as I had a bottle of water in one hand and would take a sip from it every now and again.  It was almost as if I was a passenger inside somebody else’s body, or a character in someone else’s song.

    I continued walking down the street, seemingly without a care in the world.  A girl walked by in a low cut top, and my eyes caught a fleeting glimpse as they moved on their own as she passed.  The next intersection only had the regular red, yellow, and green traffic light rather than white and red hands for pedestrians.  The light turned green, then blinked green.  Green black green black green black green black green black green black green, shrinking in size as it increased in speed.  The blinking got faster and faster and smaller and smaller until it wasn’t a traffic light anymore, but instead the green LED of the hospital machine.

    I was back in the chair.  The doctor stood before me, leaning inches from my face.

    “Tell me, what did you see?  Did it work?” he asked, getting closer with each word.  This was almost exactly the same as our first meeting, minus the syringe and the LBDG logo, both digitally erased from this remastered version.  Was I the artist or the producer?

    He repeated the question.  “What did you see?”

    “I was walking.  Down a one way street.”

    The doctor backed off a bit to ponder my response.  “Where was this street?”

    I thought for a second.  “I’m not sure.”

    “Why were you there?”

    “Don’t know.  Maybe I was looking for someone to meet?”

    The doctor furrowed his brow and gave a stern look.  Apparently he wasn’t a Huey Lewis fan.

    “This is a breakthrough.  You’re the first that this has worked on.  You have to take this seriously!”

    Here was my opening.  “Maybe I could take it more seriously if you told me exactly why I’m being held here.”

    “Memory research.  The intent of the experiment is to send you into the memory storage portion of your brain via hypnotherapy to replay events from your past.  A trip down memory lane, so to speak.  So tell me, did it work?”

    Just as he said this, a man walked through the window wall and into the room I was in.  Not just any man, but me.  The same old me from the bowling alley who started this with the injection.  But how? 

    This old me was the spitting image of the one I had met before.  Since that me didn’t exist here anymore, shouldn’t the new old me look more like the new young me than the old young me?  Or should he even exist at all since I hadn’t yet happened to lived that long?

    Although I recognized him, he didn’t seem to recognize me.  He looked around the room, and was turning to leave when he noticed my shell-shocked stare.  He cautiously pointed to himself and then at me.  I nodded in agreement.

    The doctor noticed the shift in my attention and gave a glance in the direction of other me.  Seeing nothing, he turned back.

    “What’s wrong?  Is someone there?”

    Older me had walked over and cautiously touched me on the shoulder.  Upon feeling that I was real to him, he spoke.  “Just tell him what he wants to hear so we can be rid of him.  We need to talk.”

    I complied and recounted my brief jaunt down the street to the doctor, trying unsuccessfully to avert my eyes from myself as I spoke.  The best analogy I could use to describe the experience was that I was a stowaway inside my own head.  He seemed to like that word and underlined it in his notes.  Excitement filled his face.  He couldn’t seem to write the words on the page fast enough.  My older self also became visibly animated by my tale.

    After going over the full story twice and answering questions, I asked if I could have a breather.  He agreed and brought me back to the hospital room where the sleep deprivation experiment was held.  Old me followed.