Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 7


Tram #7 to Heaven

“Attention passengers.  The captain has turned off the fasten seat belt sign and it is now safe to move about the cabin.  Approved electronical devices may be used at this time.”

    Electronical?  Did I hear her correctly?  Is that even a word?  I considered opening my eyes and asking the passenger riding next to me for his take on “electronical,” but decided I didn’t want to encourage him. 

    I wasn’t particularly tired, but had decided to feign sleep before takeoff once it became clear that my seatmate was going to be quite the talker.  The thought of five uninterrupted hours of unintelligent conversation didn’t sit very well with me.  I really hoped he was stopping at the layover and would not be on board for the second leg of the flight.  If he was on board, I’d be on bored.  Had my assigned companion been a cute girl I may have changed my tactics, though I’d likely still end up singing in silence unless she started the conversation.  Funny how it was always an annoying, older male bending my ear on a cross-country flight rather than some sweet young thing.

    So I remained awkwardly wedged between the seatback and window with my eyes closed, listening to the hum of the 747 engine and occasional snippets of a tale regarding a five dollar tomato being told to an unsuspecting soul across the aisle as I plotted my rescue mission.  I really wished I hadn’t forgotten my headphones.

    The plan I helped myself concoct was complicated, but understandably so under the circumstances.  I needed to go back and convince my younger self to convince my sister not to wed, thus preventing her death by preventing the inciting incident.  The first question that came to mind was obvious.

    “Why can’t you do it?”

    Older me had done his smile and nod thing upon being asked this.  I wondered at which point in my life I would pick up that habit.

    “You know how we were in our youth.  Extremely antisocial.  You’re still the same way.  I can’t get close enough to a version of us that can be helpful.  He’ll think I’m a crazy old man.”

    Based on my reaction to my neighbor on the plane, he was certainly right about that.  But how had he convinced me to help him?  He made me come to him.  It was genius really.  I was ready to banish him to Ignoreland until he intrigued me by knowing the Hot Spot numbers.  That’s probably what I would do if I were him.  Or when I become him, as the case may be.

    Thinking about it now, I might have been approached by my older self many times in the past and not even realized it.  Part of my mind almost started to remember it, though it could very well be a false memory based on the power of persuasion.

    Eyes still closed, the internal, unspoken debate with my real self drifted towards figuring out how to convince my younger self to cooperate in this venture, and then on to selecting the most appropriate dates and events to base our rescue from.  You may think that you know yourself well enough to anticipate how you would react to any given situation, but this was turning out to be quite a stumper.

    My mind continued to wander without much serious deliberation, and my fake sleep inevitably and unknowingly morphed into real sleep.  I dreamt I was falling.  Or not really falling, as there was no wind resistance, no chill.  Just the helpless, dizzy with a sense of vertigo feeling where you know you’re dreaming but it’s still frightening.  Usually you wake up with a sudden start, catch your breath, and that’s that. 

    I forced my eyes awake and realized I really was falling.  Clouds passed through me, and when I emerged I was floating in free fall waiting for an inevitable encounter with the ground below me.


    For some reason it didn’t seem so inevitable.  The ground wasn’t coming any closer.  My body was hovering in space, falling sideways if that makes any sense.  Or actually not falling at all, as I could again feel that invisible barrier beneath me. 

    It reminded me of the old cartoons where a character is able to defy the laws of physics and walk on air until such a time that he realizes that this is happening, at which point he’ll wave briefly at the camera as gravity takes over and his fall begins.  But for some reason I wasn’t really falling.  I tentatively took a few steps, then sat down cross-legged in mid-air.  Was it because I wasn’t really here?

    This started me thinking as to how the time travel effect really worked.  Were the sky and clouds around me real and my body an illusion, or was it the other way around?  Or were both person and place very real, but existing on differing planes of reality?  With my hovering and such it would probably make more sense for me to be a disembodied observer.  The most reasonable conclusion I could draw was that the inventor of time travel (maybe even me, I still wasn’t certain on the history) decided to give the appearance of a body to minimize any potential disorientation that would be felt by an apparitional spirit in the sky.  As usual, I grew tired of internally debating something I knew so little about and turned my attentions back to my surroundings in a practical rather than theoretical sense.

    Looking up, another plane was upon me.  Caught like the clichéd deer in headlights, I broke the trance in time to brace myself for an impact that never came.  The aircraft flew right through me, so fast that I barely caught a glimpse of the inside. 

    Apparently I had blinked back while thinking about my sister.  I wanted to rationalize that since I wasn’t really here nothing could hurt me, but my mind wasn’t up for being rational.  I started to scream as another jet approached...

    ...and snapped upright in my seat. 

    “Are you okay?” asked my annoying fellow traveler. 

    “Me?  Um, yeah.  Bad dream.  Thanks.”

    “I always have the strangest dreams on airplanes,” he started in an attempt to comfort me.  “Once I thought the entire plane was full of Lilliputians.  You know, from the book?  They had plans to hijack...”

    I returned to my fake sleeping posture and blocked out the rest of his odd recollection.  Every time I thought I was used to this time travel thing I’d have a reminder that it’s not all fun and games.  Perhaps I should have been encouraged that I was able to blink back with less and less effort on each subsequent trip (no effort at all in this case), but on the other hand I now had to worry about where I went with my newfound knowledge of the one visit policy.  The circumstances and panic of that last blink back didn’t allow me any time to note when I’d been.  Hopefully it wasn’t to a time of any importance to my mission. 

    I suddenly realized the significance of my library daydream back to April 1, 1994.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that trip had effectively eliminated my plan to wait out the week before Kurt Cobain died.  That was also why I couldn’t get back to any of the prearranged dates I had rehearsed for that trip, since I had already taken the memories for a test drive at the library.  At least that took some of the fickleness out of my supernatural ability.  There were real rules that needed to be adhered to.  Now it was just a matter of learning them all.

    In this most recent airplane blink I wasn’t actually falling, more hovering when the plane flew through me.  That may mean that my height (for lack of a better term) while in the past is linked to my altitude (the elusive better term) upon departing.  Paired with the minor levitation I experienced back in 1994 this made some sense.  If I was right it might prove useful later.  And the tree house would be just the place for further experimentation.