I had a lot of time to think, to plan, as I waited to be ‘rescued’. It took them more than five hours to pick me up. By the time they had arrived, I had everything figured out. I knew what I would say, what I would do. I knew what needed to be done.
“Frank Clay?” the Xian asked, looking curiously at me, as they helped me out of the pod. “What are you doing out here?”
I smiled. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“You have been waiting for us?” the Xian asked, clearly bewildered. “How could you know that we would be here? What are you doing out here?”
“I’ve just been in the future. I’ve seen all this happen. I know the problem you’re facing and I know how I can help you.”
“Easy,” I told them. “All you have to do is save me. My past self and my team is about to appear on Mars without any kind of life support system. If they die, we’ll all be in trouble. Trust me, I’ve seen the future. I know what I will do to help you. If you want help with your problem, you need to save the past me.”
I explained to the Xian about what would happen and what needed to happen. I started to tell them the truth, I wanted to, but something in my head told me to stop, to not tell them. They wouldn’t understand it said. Not yet. But soon. Soon they’d see.
The Xian agreed easily enough. Of course, they did. They knew all I wanted to do was help, though they didn’t know just how much help I would be. We flew toward Mars. “Scan for the beacon,” I told them. “It should be coming soon.”
“A new signal just appeared,” the Xian said.
“It must be them.”
Xian agreed. What else could it be? “Then we should go get them.”
“Not the whole ship,” I told them. “Just a transport. We don’t want to scare them. They’ve just been through quite a lot.”
“Then right this way, Dr. Clay,” the Xian said, gesturing toward the door.
“No, not me. I won’t be going. I told you they’ve been through too much to confront a future version so soon. No, you will need to pick them up alone. Then you will take the other me to the Quantum Chamber. I know you’ve built one. Though, I do now worry why.”
The Xian left without a word.
I waited patiently, remembering what I had to do, trying to remember what I had to say. Finally, I got the signal. They were ready for me. This was it, the voice said to me. This is how I put myself on the path to understanding. This is the first step to be Freed.
I entered the chamber room and took everything in. It was strange seeing my friends, but knowing that it was not them, but past versions of them. It was even stranger because they looked basically the same. This had been us only a few days ago. So little had changed and yet so much had changed as well. Jennifer looked the same, of course. ALAN’s body was still fairly new and Jamal as a dinosaur was still fairly weird. I was still getting used to the older Mathilda. But they still all looked more or less as I had last seen them.
Seeing myself was of course always weird, especially since I’m rarely in the same body. This smaller, skinnier, younger me was something new. Seeing the other me had me really shaken. It was me but not me. Not my body, but it was me. I was reeling. I almost flinched when he looked at me. His eyes went wide and then he smiled, the creepiest smile I had ever seen on such a young body, made worse that that smile was actually coming from me. “Hey, there. What’s your name?” he said.
I almost vomited. “Ew, Frank. Are you kidding me?”
The other me looked confused now, ““Do I know you?”
I gave him a dirty look as I replied, “Do you know me?” A strange woman appears on an alien ship and the first thing he thinks to do is flirt with her? I wasn’t very pleased with myself. “You idiot, I am you,” I told him.
To which he articulately replied, “Whaaaat!?” I was making a very poor first impression on myself.
“Trust me, Frank,” I told him, trying to explain my reaction but also forgive him for his. I remembered how I had felt. I didn’t like it and neither had he, of course. “It’s a lot more disgusting on this side.”
to be continued…
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