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A story, part 2

How do you go on with your life, pretending everything is normal when you know that it’s not? How do you keep a secret that can never be told, for fear of being committed to a mental institution? Or worse. We all know what happens to suspected terrorists… what would they do to a suspected time traveller? Or to someone that knows a suspected time traveller? I’m sure it won’t be flowers and handshakes.

The secret is too important to be shared.

Unless it is pretending to be a piece of fictional writing. Which is, of course, why this is only s story. Fiction. It never happened, except within the strange recesses of my mind where such fanciful tales emerge.

There endeth the disclaimer. Let the fiction continue.

My future self, from 30 years into a now alternate future, was unable to stay and meet Deidre. He left, saying he would be back soon. Soon turned out to be quite a few weeks though. However, it was probably only a few hours for him. Damn time travellers…

“So how do you time travel?” I asked him. We were facing each other over a small table in a cafe, after having met again just a few minutes ago at the art gallery downstairs from my work.

“Well, I could tell you that, but then I’d have to kill you.” I raised my eyebrows at his comment, and he chuckled. “I could, you know. You’re no longer my past self, so it doesn’t matter.”

I smiled, humouring him, while a little disconcerted to be hearing my own sense of humour in his words. It would have been exactly what I would have said if I was him. Which I was… sort of. I blinked, trying to blink away the headache that was beginning to form.

“Ok,” he said, the chuckling dying away. “In 2035, time travel is possible. General Electric developed it in the 20’s, and now it’s used by the US military. Maybe others too, I guess.”

I frowned, interrupting him. “Do you know John Titor?”

He shook his head. “No, why?”

I leant forward in my chair, happy to be telling HIM something. “He’s supposed to be a time traveller from the 2030’s, who came back to 2000 and talked on the internet about time travel and the future. He was in the miiitary and was on a mission to bring a 1970’s IBM computer back to prevent a… a Y2K38 bug.” I grinned at the term I’d just made up, a play on the Y2K bug.

“Never heard of him,” my older self said. “But yeh, I’ve heard of the unix bug for 2038. Remember though, that time travel is more like dimensional travel. I came back to yourreality, which isn’t actually my own. I have slightly different memories to you. If some John Titor comes back to 2000, he created a reality where he DID come back. Just like I did with you. But since I don’t remember anything about him, I’m thinking he didn’t come back to my reality… he came back to yours.”

I digested this for a moment, getting my head around it.

Ok, so John Titor comes back to 2000, thereby creating a reality where he has come back from the future, but it’s not the actual reality he’s from. Which probably means that the new reality’s future is different to John’s future. Except I’m part of this new reality where he came back, and now my future self has returned with the same information John had. My headache was getting worse.

“General Electric created a time travel machine?” I asked. He nodded. “Was there a nuclear war in 2015 that ended the Second American Civil War?” He frowned and looked at me for a few moments, before nodding again. “Then you’re part of the same future John Titor is from, even if it’s an alternate future for both of us.”

“So it seems,” he replied.

The waiter arrived with our coffees, and we said nothing until he had gone. The silence continued as we stirred sugar into our coffees.

My mind was having trouble acknowledging this. The future, as told on the internet by the mysterious John Titor, was true. Or at least it was true for some realities. The question was, would it be true for this reality?

“Don’t be in Australia after 2010,” my future self interrupted my thoughts. “New Zealand will be safer. You can return to Australia maybe 2020, but not before.”

“Why?” I asked.

“It’ll be too dangerous,” he replied. There was another few moments of silence before he continued. “If you want your loved ones to remain alive, you’ll remember my advice. Remember, I’m here to change my past by changing your future.”

I could feel an emotional lump forming in my throat, and my eyes watered as I felt the pain of loss – his past loss, and my future loss, of what I valued most. Deidre. I understood now the reason why, when I had last seen him, he had left before she arrived home.

All I could do was nod silently, and I looked through the windows of the cafe at the world outside, trying to change the direction of my thoughts.

“Hey, I’m going to go,” he said suddenly, pushing his chair back and standing. “But don’t worry, we’ll meet again.” With a smile that failed to reach his own troubled eyes, he turned and left the cafe, leaving me with my coffee and my thoughts.

After sitting there for a few more minutes I decided I didn’t want to continue working that day. I went back upstairs, claimed illness to my manager, and came home to write this.

I haven’t told Deidre any of this. How can I tell her about it? Will she think I’m crazy? AM I crazy?

Fiction is a wonderful disguise for the truth. You never know what is real.

Welcome to my reality.

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