Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 23


23:59 End Of The World

The plan itself was actually quite good.  Dad entered the reception area at the front of the building and flirtatiously asked the woman stationed there if he could be allowed to visit his sons.  He gave our names, at which point older me looked over the receptionist’s shoulder to find which sector of the facility we were listed under.  He already knew where we were physically located, but needed the sector code to give to Dad for later use.

    The receptionist denied our existence at first, but Dad said he had a message from me regarding the experiment and had followed the van that brought Nelson here just for peace of mind.  The woman at the desk said she was just following orders, but as Dad laid on the charm she conceded to finding her superior.

    As soon as she was gone, Dad marched right in using my older self as his scout.  Older me had previously obtained the seven digit entry code to the corridors leading to our holding area by wandering the building and watching authorized personnel come and go.  Employees were instructed to be discreet with the combination at all times, but most of the staff didn’t really know the full extent of the experiment.  When they were alone they were easy targets.  The head doctor knew there was a possibility of time travelers wandering about, but as far as everyone else was concerned how much discretion did you really have to use when you were by yourself in an empty corridor?

    They stopped at a supply closet to get my father into some hospital scrubs so as not to be so conspicuous.  After other me saw that the coast was clear, he showed Dad how to access the wing we were located in and where it was in relation to the main electrical room.

    My role in the plan was to make sure Nelson and I were in the more easily accessible main room of our wing rather than isolated in separate cells.  The timing would have to be perfect to ensure that both of us would be rescued.  What a shame it would be to leave one far behind...

    Putting my petty and self-serving feelings on ice, I lived up to my side of the bargain.  Or at least I intended to.  After getting out of bed and having the usual basic breakfast provided by my captors each morning, I requested a meeting with the head doctor.  The man I spoke to said he was away, but I insisted that it was urgent.  He still resisted and wanted me to wait until I told him that I was ready to cooperate.  Those were the magic words.

    Thirty minutes later the doctor arrived.  I told him that this involved Nelson as well, and I wouldn’t talk unless all three of us met together.  He happily complied, being more accommodating then he had been over my entire stay here.  He even offered me a cup of coffee.  What a host he could be when he wanted something.

    I accepted the offer, stalling for time as I waited for my older self to peek in and check for my signal.  He still hadn’t shown up after Nelson was brought in and I had finished the coffee.

    “Why do you keep staring into your cup?” the doctor asked.

    “I had a dream there were clouds in my coffee.”

    “I think you’re wasting my time.”  He stood and turned towards the door.  “Are you ready to cooperate or not?”

    His impatience was forcing me to wing it.

    Winging it isn’t really the right word.  I actually did have a partial plan in my head.  It had nothing to do with what older me had arranged with my father and was more of a rogue solo plan.  Although Dad wouldn’t approve, after we explained everything to him I felt I wouldn’t need to justify my actions.

    “I’m ready.”  Here goes nothing.  “I confess.  I have been in contact with an older version of myself, and we did have the intention of altering the flow of time.”

    The doctor returned to his seat, utterly delighted by this turn of events.  “Please, continue.”

    “Our mission is more complicated than you may imagine.  It involves my stepbrother Nelson, and a murder.”

    “Murder?” asked the doctor, even more curious.

    “Murder!” Nelson echoed in unison, confused and angry.  “He’s crazy!  I didn’t murder anyone.  He’s just a homophobe who doesn’t want me fucking his brother.”

    “Homophobia has nothing to do with this,” I countered.  “My brother can make his own choices and I’ll gladly support him.  But they are his choices to make, not yours.  Nelson is going to murder my brother.”

    “He’s lying!  He’s a lying alcoholic!” Nelson continued to whine.

    I hadn’t actually lied up to this point, but I was about to.  “Nelson is going to be a time traveler in this study.  And when he meets up with himself, they’ll orchestrate my brother’s demise to fix their own future.  My older self tracked down your facility here, traveled back, and enlisted me to prevent this tragedy.”

    “Lies!  Lies!  Lies!”

    Nelson was still fuming, but his monosyllabic tirade didn’t really do much to convey innocence.

    “That is a most noble cause,” answered the doctor, ignoring Nelson and keeping his focus on me.  “But he’s not on my watch list.  How can I know if this is true?”

    “Obviously we can’t prove anything, but I propose a test run.  What if we were to show you how to send Nelson back into his own memories to pinpoint the exact moment that he became capable of committing murder?  It could be the breakthrough you need.”

    The doctor pondered this.  Throwing the blood onto his hands seemed to rattle him, and dangling the instructional carrot iced it.  “I do suppose that as long as we have both of you boys here it wouldn’t hurt to experiment a little bit.  The results could be beneficial.”

    Nelson continued to protest, but his cursing devolved into sobs and tears.

    The doctor snapped his fingers.  “Prepare the machine.”

    While they were hooking Nelson up for his trip, I saw older me poke his head through the wall.  I smiled and nodded back at him, holding up five fingers to signal I was in position but I needed more time.  He returned the smile and nod combination and disappeared into the wall.

    Nelson was wired up and ready to go.  His blood was steady gushing through the device.  The green light started blinking.  Eyes wide, his body tensed as he entered the trance.  Without warning his heart monitor flatlined.  This was the first time I’d ever witnessed the backend of a blink.  It’s hard to explain exactly, really just the glassy eyes of someone transfixed in a passing sad daydream.

    The machine continued to hum.  I was starting to worry that things wouldn’t go as I had intended.  I wanted to strand Nelson in his own head, essentially getting him out of the way for the time being.  The doctor wouldn’t know how to revive him, and I’d have more leverage to get what I needed from him after the escape.  At least that’s what I was counting on.

    Remembering my own trips to the past, I always returned to the exact moment I had left from.  I hadn’t really thought about what was happening to the body that I left behind.  Did it stay exactly where it was enraptured in a trance for all to see, only to have memories of that trance erased as soon as I returned?  Did I flatline as Nelson seemingly had, or could they revive me?  What if someone shot, strangled, or otherwise killed my sleeping body while I was in the past?  Would I die, or instantly return?  Were there versions of the timeline where I had fallen into a coma for an unknown reason, but had no memory of this because I always returned to the place I had left from?  Worlds such as this one where time travel was deemed impossible and every would-be traveler lived in a vegetative coma?  Maybe that was why travel to the future wasn’t possible, as in that version of life you would have to be a vegetable for the duration of your trip.  Or maybe it was possible, and that explained how on rare occasions patients awaken from an extended comatose state with minimal ill effects.

    That was about as far as my thoughts had gone when the power went down.

    The machine stopped whirring, the low room lights went dark and the green strobe stopped blinking, engulfing us in blackness.  A white beam of light emerged from the doorway and erratically scanned the room.  I worried that it was the doctor’s goons back to spoil our escape, but was relieved when the beam turned upwards to illuminate the face of my father.

    “Let’s win one!” he shouted as his flashlight panned the room.  On our way out, the glowing shaft abruptly stopped on Nelson’s limp body lying on the machine.

    “Don’t worry about it.  He’s safe, just not here.”  I explained as I pulled Dad towards the exit.

    “Not so fast,” screamed the doctor.  As he said this, the auxiliary power kicked in.  A security crew surrounded us.

    So much for the jailbreak.