Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 20


20ft Halo

    The playing cards were still scattered around on the floor.  Cleaning up didn’t seem to be a priority after seeing me presumably lose it and go bouncing around the room.  Old me saw the pile on the floor and tried to pick up a card unsuccessfully.  He then stuck his head through the wall with the window, vanishing after seeing something he liked.  He returned holding the extra King of Hearts in his right hand.

    “You found the calling card I left for you,” he said with a grin as he skillfully flipped the card towards me, hitting a bullseye on the center of my bandaged right cheek.  “Did you know it was from me?”

    I actually hadn’t got the connection, but now I saw it clearly meant that a time traveler had been here.  Had I thought it through I should have realized it was me, as only I should be able to interact with an object like that.  Maybe Dad could too, but we hadn’t tried.

    “Yeah, I’ve been waiting for you to show up.”

    He didn’t buy my lie.  “You know when they say you can’t fool yourself?  They’re right.  What happened?  You look like hell.  I didn’t even recognize you.”

    “I think I took things too far.  Nothing is fixed, everything is worse, and I can’t travel back to change it anymore.”

    “You can’t travel back?  Then what are you doing here now?  You shouldn’t find out about this place for another thirty years or so.”

    “You knew about this place?” I asked.

    My elder counterpart took a deep breath.  “This was the place I was trying to erase when I gave you the time travel injection.  I was trying to keep you out of here, and away from him.”  He motioned towards the mirror.

    “What is this place?”

    “We’ll get to that.  I think you need to catch me up on what’s happened to you, and why you look like someone else.”

    We sat on the floor of the examination room and had a full heart to heart regarding my misadventures.  Since I’ve already recounted most of those details here I won’t rehash them again, but I will mention his important observations and reactions.

    Regarding blinking back in general:  “It just takes practice and not trying so hard.  I could have told you more, but I knew you’d get a kick out of figuring it out on your own.  All that useless music trivia is good for something.”

    Regarding the girl in the tree house:  “You were young and your heart was an open book.  I turned the page.”

    Regarding giving myself the subliminal messages while napping on the couch:  Smile, nod.  “Doing it the old-fashioned way.”

    Regarding the botched date with the cute redheaded girl:  “Selfish and sad.  We’ll get to her later.”

    Regarding the wedding objection: “That’s why I needed you.” (Nod, smile.)

    Regarding my revelation at the Hearts tournament:  “We’ll get to that during my side of the story.  I know it seems funny trying to understand, it’s just that things don’t always go the way you planned.”

    His biggest reaction of all came with the realization that Dad could see me and we could fully interact.

    “What do you mean Dad could see you?”

    “Dad could see me, just like I can see you.”

    “But if you met your dad...” he stopped, putting a hand on my head and looking me over again from head to toe.  He immediately seemed to comprehend.

    “I knew something was different when things started changing around me, but I was having trouble tracing what it was since I wasn’t looking before our lifetime.  You’re extremely lucky to still exist at all.  I have no idea how this happened.  It’s as if your old brain found its way into the body of the new offspring your parents created instead of you.”

    It was time for me to ask some questions of myself.  “Why are you still the same old me as before, and not the new older version of me now?”

    “I’m not really sure.  It could be because I haven’t been back to the present—my present—since I last met up with you.  Generally speaking, you’re protected from paradox while displaced in time.”

    Light dawned on me.  “Hence the headaches.”

    “Hence the headaches.  Your mind tries to catch up quickly, but also tries to suppress a lot of the memories as if they were part of a dream.  Too much rattling around in your head at once.”

    “The redheaded girl?”

    “She was my first wife.  But I told you, we’ll get into that later.”

    “Wife?  But...”

    “No buts.  I’ll explain it all in good time.  I think the best starting point would be...”

    “...this hospital place?” I said, once again finishing my own sentence.

    “Exactly.  Some of this will shock you, so please let me get through my whole narrative before interrupting.  It’s time I told you the whole truth from the beginning.”