Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 25


25 Minutes To Go

When the green light subsided, my surroundings left me startled and disoriented.  On a plate in front of me were the remnants of a porterhouse steak from a big old steer, the best meal I’d seen in ages.  Sitting across from me was the cute redheaded girl.  It was obviously before our breakup, but from the scene here you would never have known it was coming.

    A sea of red liquid careening below a translucent archway briefly obstructs my view of her.  My hand lowers the wine glass, but never lets go of it.  I notice an empty bottle on the table, as well as two empty rocks glasses.  She asks a question, but my response is lost in an unintelligible slur.  I take another swig of wine to help clear my vocabulary, then tap my glass and nod my chin.  She giggles and pours another for each of us, draining a second bottle.

    We were sloshed.

    The scene before me gently rocked back and forth as my host swayed in his chair.  This must have been something that happened to the new me, as I had no memory of it.  Would that mean it was happening to a new new me?  At least we seemed to be having a good time.  Despite the rocking and the alcohol, I still couldn’t shake my focus from the beauty of her face. 

    Inside, I thought I want to tell her that I love her, but does it really matter?

    And then I did tell her. 

    I thought to myself reach out our hands, hold onto hers, and just like that I clumsily reached across the table to entwine our fingers.  Since I hadn’t lived through this before I was unable to tell if I was really helping things or not, but suggesting actions from the inside was suddenly far easier than it had ever been previously.  But it still wasn’t flawless.  Although I knew what I was telling my host body to do, he was still having some trouble actually doing it.

    Tell her you’ll be right back.  Go to the bathroom. 

    The words continued to have trouble escaping from his mouth, but he stood up right on cue.  I was a puppeteer, but a ventriloquist would be more appropriate.  My dummy and I awkwardly managed to stagger into the bathroom.  I looked at myself in the mirror—really looked at myself—for the first time since initially discovering that I wasn’t really me anymore.  Searching my eyes for a hidden answer, I remembered that I had to act now.  Maybe I could tell her everything before Dad completed his half of the changes, and then we...

    For an instant I saw my real self in the mirror, and then there was blackness.  When the picture slowly came back into focus I was watching a television monitor.  Twelve.  Twenty-two.  Twenty-four.  Forty-seven.  Sixty-nine.  All five numbers shared the screen.

    I was back at the beginning.

    The vision in front of me panned down to the ticket, then back to the screen, then back to the ticket before crumpling it up and dropping it into the open bowling bag.  I tried to stop myself from damaging the ticket, but I began to lose control and couldn’t.  Why? 

    “Play ‘em,” said a voice beside me.  My eyes involuntarily gave a sideways glance, just as they had before.  And there I was, an old man, taking a long sip of my beer.  My young host pretended not to notice and did the same.

    Beer!  I thought.  That’s it!  Finish it!

    A familiar voice inside the head inside my head spoke the flashback: “The body goes on autopilot, not expecting to have a designated driver ready to take over.”

    Psychic ability, conscience, reflexes, love at first sight, impulse purchases, schizophrenia, instinct, and déjà vu were the building blocks of time travel.  A future version of yourself giving advice and guidance when you needed it most by way of an excited utterance straight to the brain.  A drunken night where you can’t remember anything in the morning must work the same way.  The thoughts are somehow more easily conducted due to the inebriated state and the lack of competing brainwaves, allowing a future mind to take over.  This was how I survived so many alcohol-induced blackouts.  Easy when somebody else was calling the shots, both literally and metaphorically.  And if you eventually remember later, it’s because you’ve become the version of yourself who actually lived those drunken minutes out of sequence.  It wasn’t death as older me had hypothesized, but it was close.

    My host kept the glass pressed to his lips, opened his throat, and poured back the remaining four swallows.

    “Your loss,” said the old man.

    “Excuse me?” was the reply I heard myself give.

    The bartender looked towards the empty glass in my hand.  My head looked at her and nodded, slamming the glass down on the bar with authority.

    I chanted to myself internally.  Let’s get hammered.  Let’s get wasted.  Let’s get let’s get let’s get let’s get rocked. 

    “And a shot of bourbon,” I said as the bartender handed me my beer.

    “Your numbers.  This is your game,” the old man continued.  I could see some worry in his eyes, as he knew our tolerance for hard liquor just as well as I did. 

    “I think I’m about done.  They’re not coming up twice.  I’d rather save the money for booze.”

    The shot arrived.  My body downed it in one and quickly asked for another to satisfy the internal craving I was stimulating.  Anything to quiet that voice.

    The man took another long sip and smiled, continuing to follow the same script as before.  “Twelve, twenty-two, twenty-four, forty-seven, sixty-nine.  They all come up this time.  When you’re feeling greedy you think about adding two, four, and seven.  Now would be a good time to follow through.  This time you got it.”

    I threw back the second shot, gagging slightly as the whiskey burned the back of my throat.  I took a few hearty swallows of the fresh beer as my vision clouded from the alcohol-aided tears in my eyes.  An arm appeared and wiped them away with a wrinkled shirtsleeve.

    “If it’s such a sure thing, why don’t you play it?” I slurred as my body stood up and stumbled slightly.

    Old me continued to look concerned, but that didn’t alter his speech.  “It’s not possible.  And it’s your lucky day, not mine.  My lucky day has come and gone.”

    It’s coming back around again.

    “Whatever.  I’ll be right back,” said my drunken host as he turned and stomped towards the bathroom, nearly falling as he took his second step but managing to recover.  He looked back at the invisible obstacle that impeded his progress, then swung the bathroom door open via a heavy lean into it with his shoulder.

    This time the mirror confirmed the good news I had glimpsed at the restaurant.


    Real me.

    The me that I knew and loved and thought I’d never see again.  I willed my hands to splash cold water on my face, noticing my limbs were once again becoming easier to command.  Staring hard into the mirror at my wide bloodshot eyes, I knew what I was thinking without actually reading my thoughts.  Why the hell did you decide to do shots?  Don’t start me on the liquor.  You know what happens.

    Now I do.

    And that’s exactly what I was banking on.  I needed a full-blown blackout so I could take control.  And as a special bonus, this me from the past wouldn’t remember what I was about to do.

    A wave of warmth engulfed me from the inside, and from within that wave I could feel intelligent use of my faculties return.  In full control of my drunken host body, I returned to the bar and slapped my older self on the back.

    “I know who you are and why you’re here.  Meet me outside.”

    The look on his face was priceless.  The element of surprise was mine this time.  I slowed my walking pace so as not to seem so drunk and headed out for some fresh air.

    When older me emerged from the bar I jumped him much as he had done to me the first time around.  Or at least I tried to, but my coordination was still off from the booze.  We struggled for a brief moment, ending as before with me pinned to the car.

    “Don’t inject me!  I don’t need it!  We can save her!”

    He released me from his grip and stared in disbelief.

    “What do you know?  How do you know?”

    “We played this scene before,” I replied.  “And it didn’t go particularly well.”

    He was still puzzled.  “We couldn’t have done this before.  We can’t both be here at once.” 

    “Apparently we can.  I’m just a stowaway, but I managed to pull off a mutiny.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.  Or at least a couple shots of JD.”

    A glow of recognition came to his eyes.  “Of course.  We have done this before, haven’t we?  On the eve of the wedding.”

    We chatted for a bit, with me recapping select portions of our adventures, but not everything.  Nobody should know too much about his or her own future, even if a lot of that future is in the past.  This time it was he who asked the magic question. 

    “How can we still save our sister?”

    “It’s simple.  You just have to strand me back there.”

    Older me gave a confused look, but it turned to a smile after I recounted Nelson’s fate for him.

    “Do you think it could work?” he asked.

    “Theoretically,” I answered with a nod, adding a wink for good measure.