To Your Other Self

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A junkie has an unexpected guest.

Submitted: July 10, 2017

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Submitted: July 10, 2017

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I took one last long drag from my cigarette before ashing it out on the dirty concrete siding of Moe’s Gas Station. I exhaled the thick smoke, flicked the butt away, and drew a breath of dirty city air. It was a hot, sticky summer evening in Pittsburg. A cloud of bugs flew erratically around the ugly fluorescent light of the streetlamp. I jammed my hands into my pockets and waited patiently, casually for Doug to show up.

Doug was my drug dealer. Drug Doug we all called him. I’d barely scraped enough money together to get this fix, but I could feel myself going cold turkey, starting to get the shakes, the sweats - withdrawal, so I called Doug for a meetup as soon as I had the cash. My hands were clammy, and they shook as I felt around in my pockets, checking for the wad of cash I knew was still there, and the knife in the other pocket. With this much money on me, I couldn’t take the risk. If I got jumped and lost all the money, I’d be shit out of luck. Heroin isn’t cheap.

A few more minutes of waiting and I saw a figure walking towards me. Short and skeletal-skinny, with sunken eyes and sallow skin, it was impossible to think Doug was anything but a drug dealer at first glance. He was prone to getting high on his own supply, but he was dependable and cheap. Plus, he was an old friend.

When I saw him, I began to casually walk in his direction. I could see he was clutching something secretly in his hand. I deftly pulled out the roll of cash and kept it concealed much in the same way. When we walked past each other, the exchange was made – expertly, we swapped items without stopping, and continued to walk on our respective paths. The wad of money was replaced by a small baggie of white powder. I stuffed it into my pocket, lit another cigarette, and began the walk back to my apartment.

 

My apartment was a short 15 minute walk from the gas station. I heard police sirens in the distance as I walked up to my building on the corner of Essex and Garnet. A black dog ran by me and down the street. I paused and thought for a moment. Had I seen that before? It seemed oddly familiar; not the dog itself, but the moment as a whole.

“Weird, déjà vu,” I said as a shook my head and opened the door to my apartment building. As I entered, I got a sudden chill. As soon as it came, it was gone, and the familiar muggy heat returned. I must be jonesing pretty hard.

I climbed the stairs to the third floor where my apartment was. 306. As I passed the second floor, I saw old Mrs. Dougherty exit her apartment, walk towards the stairs and wave at me. I went to wave back, but paused. There it is again, I thought. Déjà vu. I swear I had been here before, in this moment. As I thought, another chill hit me and made me visibly shiver. “Shit,” I said a little louder than I intended, and hurried up the stairs, leaving a puzzled Mrs. Dougherty at the landing.

My hands shook and I fumbled with my keys as I tried to open the door to my apartment. When I won the battle with the doorknob, I threw the door open and hurried inside, double-locking it behind me. My shaking hand blindly groped the wall for the light switch, and upon finding it, flicked it on, illuminating the room with an unsteady, greasy light.

My apartment was as filthy as it always was. Various articles of clothing strewn about haphazardly. Flies buzzing around the weeks-old dishes piled up in the sink. Blankets hanging halfway off the stained mattress. Used needles sitting on the dinner table. I guess I was used to it by now, but I’m sure a guest would find themselves utterly repulsed by both the sight and smell.

Good thing I never had guests.

I walked into the filthy kitchen and yanked open the drawer nearest the sink. Forks, knives, more forks…no spoons. I dug around in the drawer, and then three others. “Fuck it,” I said angrily as I grabbed a dirty spoon from the sink and carelessly rinsed it off before walking over to the dinner table. I pulled out the baggie from my pocket, grabbed one of the needles waiting on the table, and looked around for a lighter.

Suddenly I was overcome with another chill, and then an intense feeling of being watched. I tried to shake this paranoia, but it only got worse. There was someone in here. There was definitely someone in here. Frantically I jumped from my chair, unintentionally spilling some of the white powder from the baggie onto the floor. I stormed about the apartment in a paranoid frenzy; I threw open the closet, flung open the shower curtain, upturned my mattress, anything to find whoever was watching me. “Come out, asshole!” I shouted to the empty apartment, “I know you’re here!” I drew my knife with a shaking, sweaty hand and held it aloft towards my invisible foe.

Suddenly a voice from behind me made my blood turn to ice.

“Using again, huh Derrick? Pathetic junkie.”

I whirled in place to face the intruder, but what I saw made me drop the knife and stagger backwards. Standing there before me…was me.

I stumbled backwards over a chair and fell hard to the ground. I stared in shock at the mirror-like image of myself that stood near the door. I frantically scrambled backwards as my mind fumbled for words.  “W-what the fuck is this?!” I shouted. I must be losing it. It’s the withdrawal. It has to be the withdrawal. I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around myself, rocking back and forth. It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real.

Suddenly I felt a hand grab my shirt and yank me to my feet. “Get a fucking hold of yourself, and calm down,” the man said in my voice. “Just take a deep breath. You’re not in withdrawal.” He released his grip on my shirt and took a step back. I did as he commanded and took a deep breath, then opened my eyes.

It really was me, but there were differences. He was wearing a fine suit, something I could never afford. Armani maybe. Crisp gray sharkskin, with a dark blue tie and a white undershirt. He had my unmistakable brown curls, but they were trimmed short and well-kempt, and his face was clean-shaven, in stark contrast to my scruffy mess of a beard. He looked like a proper businessman; like I might look if I wasn’t such a fucking failure. But he also looked older, maybe by 10 or so years. But there was no doubt this was me. Either that, or a long-lost identical twin. I could see the Dr. Phil episode now.

I took a few more deep breaths to regain my composure, then broke the unbearable silence. “W-who the hell are you? What’s going on? Are you my brother or something?” I tried to sound authoritative, but my wavering voice betrayed my fear.

The other Derrick went to sit down on my couch, but the look of disdain on his face made it clear that it was too filthy for his good suit, so he pulled a chair from the table and sat down facing me. “You already know the answer to that,” he said matter-of-factly. “You know who I am. You can feel it. You can’t explain how, but you just know it. Am I right?”

Too dumbfounded for words, I just nodded silently. He nodded back and continued speaking in a casual tone.

“This isn’t a withdrawal or hallucination. You aren’t tripping. I’m actually here speaking to you. And yes, I am you, so to speak.”

I could see that he was waiting for my questions. My throat was bone dry, so I swallowed and took a breath. “How…how is this possible? I have to be dreaming. Are you from the future or some shit?”

“Yes and no,” he said dryly. “I am a possible ‘you’ from another timespace. ‘Time travel’ as you know it is not possible, due to paradoxes that arise from interference in past events, resulting in time loops…”

He obviously saw the vapid look on my face. He sighed. “I forgot you don’t know shit about quantum physics.” I shook my head. “Didn’t think so. How can I put this? There are an infinite number of ‘you’s’ in an infinite number of timespaces. Each ‘you’ started from the same origin. But every choice you made in your life, every event that happened or didn’t happen due to these choices, these create branches, and thus create more ‘you’s’. Are you following me?”

My blank expression was an obvious “no”. He sighed again. “Look. In simplest terms, I am a version of you from a timespace 15 years in the future, from your frame of reference. In 2030, quantum physics has advanced to the point where timespaces can be crossed, but only at crucial points where the timespaces overlap. We call these ‘crux points’. You felt a strong sense of déjà vu earlier, didn’t you?”

I nodded. “Yeah, twice. Once when I saw that dog, and again when…”

“…you saw Mrs. Dougherty leaving her room.” He finished my sentence. I blinked, then nodded.

“These are telltale signs of timespaces overlapping. A critical event shared amongst many or all of your timespaces is about to occur. This is a crux point. That’s what allowed me to be here tonight.”

I slowly nodded and opened my mouth to speak, but he cut me off. “I’m sure you have lots of questions, but my time is limited. As long as you understand who I am, that’s all you need to know.” He pulled out a pamphlet from his suit jacket and handed it to me. Two Palms Resort. A rehab clinic.

“What the fuck is this? A fucking intervention?” I said as I tossed the pamphlet away.

He spoke firmly. “That’s exactly what this is. You need to get clean, and you need to do it now. Get your life back on track. It’s not too late for you. Not yet.” He trailed off and looked at some point behind me. The clock, maybe? Then he spoke again. “Just trust me. Nobody knows you better than yourself. And I’m you.” He leaned in. “You need to trust me.”

I could tell by his expression and tone that this message was of grave importance. If he wasn’t bullshitting me, then he had crossed time and space just to tell me this. I spoke slowly: “If I get clean, do I end up like you? A businessman? What happens to the ‘me’s’ that don’t take your advice?”

His face was grim, but he spoke plainly. “Their timespaces end. The Derricks who don’t listen, either not believing me or simply not caring, die of a heroin overdose, tonight at 11:57.”

I felt the blood drain from my face as I glanced at the digital clock by my bed: 11:50 PM. Seven minutes from now.

He stood from his chair, straightened his tie, and leaned towards me. “I’m just the messenger. Only you have the power to change your future. Remember that.” He smiled, stood up and turned to walk out.

“Wait!” I yelled as he reached the door. He stopped, but didn’t turn. “Why are you doing this?”

He paused, then walked through the doorway. As the door closed behind him, I heard him say:

“Because you did the same for me.”

I felt another chill run through my body as he said this. Puzzled, I got up and ran to the door, but when I opened it, he was gone.

I closed the door of my apartment and walked over to the pamphlet sitting on the ground. I picked it up and looked at it for a long while. I looked at the clock again: 11:55 PM. I glanced at the needles and white powder sitting on the table, then looked back at the pamphlet.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number.

 

15 Years Later…

 

I straightened my dark blue tie as I stepped onto the platform. I saw the scientists typing away at quantum computers and exchanging notes with one another. As I stood waiting on the platform, a large green laser scanned me head to toe. Then the lead scientist spoke. “Quantum superposition verified. Timespace locked. Crux date is June 27th, 2016, crux time is 11:47 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Vital signs are good, all systems online. We’re ready on your mark, Derrick.”

I gave him the thumbs up and closed my eyes. I heard the sound of the quantum machine whirring to life, and I muttered under my breath.

“Only I have the power to change my future.”


© Copyright 2017 J.C. Woods. All rights reserved.

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