Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 6



    Outside, the man was pacing as he waited for me.  I wanted to start the questioning, but he beat me to it.

    “Who injected you?”

    “So it was an injection!”

    He grabbed me, shaking my body for emphasis. 

    “I saw the bruise.  You were going to use it, so you obviously know about it.  But you don’t know much about it, or you’d know that you don’t really need to use it.  It’s not a switch.  I need to know who, where, and when!”

    “Are you crazy?  You gave it to me!  Why can’t anyone else see it?”

    He ignored my question while pondering my answer.  A smile seemed to come to him slowly.  “Yes, I would have.  I must have.  But when?”

    “About a week ago.”

    “About a week ago, or a week ago?  I need to know exactly.”

    “Last week.  Bowling night.  Right after you told me to play...”

    He interrupted before I could finish.  “Hot Spot!  That’s when I would, so that’s when I will.”

    The man was suddenly in much better spirits, far calmer than he had been in our previous encounter.  I took advantage of this mood swing to take control of the conversation.

    “Can I ask some questions now?”

    “Certainly.  I’m sorry.”  He sat next to me on the sidewalk, his butt sinking below the raised asphalt.  “I warn you that I may not have answers for everything, but ask away.”

    I took a deep breath, considering the order in which I wanted to state my case.  I decided it best to talk about what I thought I knew first, then let him correct me as needed. 

    “The injection.  What was it?”

    The old man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small syringe filled with a clear, bubbling liquid.  He held it up for me to inspect, but pulled it away when I reached for it.

    “Look and ask, but don’t touch.”

    “Fine.  Obviously it allows me to travel in time, and I’m grateful.”

    The man smiled and nodded while returning the syringe to his pocket, so I continued. 

    “You’ve already told me you’re from the future.  So we both have this power.  But I don’t think I’m doing it right.  I could use some lessons.”

    Nothing really changed in the man’s face, he still just grinned an awkward grin and nodded slowly.

    “You don’t need lessons.  And I think you know why I need you.  Where was the first place you went?”

    “To the scene of the crime.  To save...”

    He stopped me with a raised hand and a slight lean forward. 

    “Scene of which crime?”

    How did he know there could be more than one?  This threw me, though I suppose I should have expected it as it was what I wanted to hear.  Flustered, I held back my emotions and clung to my game plan.


    The man laughed.  “Ahhh.  Kurt.  Noble, of course.  But I think you’d rather save your sister.”

    I’d had it with the mystery shit.  “Of course I’d LIKE to save her, but how can I save anything if I can’t interact with anyone!  And how the hell do you even know about her?  What good is it to time travel just to observe?  You can obviously have an effect on things, and obviously know more than me.  A little help would be appreciated.  So why me?  And how come you can wrestle and inject me, but I pass right through things?  Did you invent this?  Is it some sick time traveler’s joke to go around passing out limited abilities?”

    Another flippin’ nod and smile.  “As I said, I’ll answer what I can.  It won’t be everything, but it should be enough for now.  You have the same abilities I have, though you may not have learned to fully control them yet.  And, alas, I also have very limited powers of interaction, identical to yours.  Time travelers are only able to interact with themselves.”

    “I figured that much.  We can interact because we’re both time travelers.  But your powers are stronger.  Why can you hold that syringe?  Or sit on a stool?  Or drink a beer?”

    The man laughed.  “You’re quite observant.  I can hold the syringe since I brought it with me from my time.  As for the stool and the beer, you must have left them behind.  I suppose I owe you a thank you.  It’s great how the beer stays cold when temporally displaced.”

    I remembered landing on the floor of the bar after my first blink and was embarrassed for not figuring out that much on my own.  It was just like my bowling ball experiment.  The stool and the beer must have gone back with me.

    “So I can be on the receiving end of your syringe because we’re both time travelers?  That can’t be right.  I wasn’t a time traveler before you injected me.”

    Laughing again, the man replied.  “You’re not listening.  We can’t interact with other time travelers.  We can only interact with ourselves.”

    “Ourselves?  But that doesn’t make any sense.”  It suddenly hit me.  “Unless...”

    With another smile and nod, my sentence was completed for me.

    “Exactly.  I’m you.”

    Stunned by this turn of events, I studied the old man’s face for the first time.  In a bizarre way it was like looking into a living mirror—a living funhouse mirror that made you look older.  He wasn’t just an old man, he was an old me.  But that couldn’t be right, since they always said...

    I realized that this was a situation where I couldn’t speak to myself in internal monologue, so I actually vocalized my thoughts.

    “They always say that meeting up with your past or future self could have drastic consequences and really muck up all of space and time.”

    “They say it, but that doesn’t make it a fact.  All that is said about time travel is based on theory.  Sometimes theories are right, sometimes wrong.  It wouldn’t be any fun if everyone was always right.”

    “I guess not.”

    Smile, nod.  “And we’ve just proven that theory to be false, just as we have before and as we will again.”

    “This has happened before?”

    The man lifted a hand to stop me, giving another nod and smile before resuming.

    “Another unproven theory is that you shouldn’t know too much about your own future.  I do subscribe to that one to a certain degree.  I’m not going to tell you much about how we turn out, especially since it isn’t necessarily set in stone anymore.  The one exception:  You now know that you will go back in time and meet yourself.”