Aesthesia: Chapter 6 (2)

 21:47 Monday 2nd February 2578, Ethan 

I had to find a way home. The lenses, I was still wearing the lenses. It conceivable that I should be able to download a map of some description, considering they had helped earlier with trying to change the Visual. How had I done it earlier – I had just desperately wanted to know a way. I summoned some desperation. Within moments a three dimensional screen of a map had loaded before me with walking directions, a miniature map appeared on the left hand side of my visual field, alongside an arrow indicating the direction I should immediately take. 

As I started my walk I heard a ringing, that was proceeded by an automated voice ‘Eve Theophany calling, would you like to take the call?’ 

The ear pieces, of course it became clear what they were used for now. No I didn’t want to take the call, but wasn’t entirely certain how to communicate this to the earpieces. 

‘Umm, no,’ I said quietly. The ringing thankfully stopped. 

After a fair walk I arrived to the glass building in which was my home. I made my way to the elevator, when a flashing appeared within my visual field ‘CALEB DONAGHUE AWAITING YOUR ARRIVAL’. The riddler was waiting for me, just what I needed. It would be nice to finish the night with even more questions than already plagued my mind. 

‘You’re home, and needed directions I see,’ Caleb said as I exited the escalator approaching my front door, ‘the riddler? I don’t think I’ve ever been called that before,’ he grinned attempting to cover the look of underlying affliction. 

I opened the door puzzled, the man following me in seemed to be in my head. 

‘It’s happening soon isn’t it?’ Caleb asked as we entered the apartment hallway.

‘What’s happening soon?’ I asked feeling completely left out of the loop. 

‘You’re leaving or my coming for you,’ Caleb replied.

‘Can you pleas…’ I began only to be interrupted mid-sentence. 

‘You’re eyes look really sore. Why don’t you remove your lenses?’ Caleb suggested.

‘No, my eyes are just peachy. I am tired of the..’

‘Riddles, yeah I know. Like I said you’re eyes look really sore. You should take your lenses out and you might as well unplug from the system. I’ll fix us some drinks, I think we’re going to need them,’ he replied firmly, turning away from me and heading toward the kitchen.

I didn’t really have a chose in the matter. As instructed I removed my lenses and ear piece, which I assumed meant I had unplugged from the system. I walked into the kitchen, expecting to find Caleb there. The kitchen was empty and Caleb was nowhere to be seen. I walked round to find Caleb stood looking out the window in the study. A brown envelope, two empty glasses and a bottle of whiskey lay on the central table.

‘Envelope’s for you,’ he said solemnly, not shifting his gaze from the window. 

I opened the envelope, to pull out two sheets that appeared to be full of writing. I wondered whether this would be another trivial pursuit. The writing once again was recognisably mine, despite my lack of recollection of ever having written these pages. 

TRUST CALEB DONAGHUE, HE IS YOU FRIEND’ the first sheet began. It continued in this manner detailing he was my friend and despite reasonable founded reservations and fears I may have, I should trust him as he meant me no harm and would prove to be of assistance. I turned the page with which the tone of the writing also changed. The first paragraph revealed the location of some plain paper that had been stowed in my bedroom, with a reminder to write out a schedule of the last few days (which was to be given to Caleb).

The second page concluded with a message for Caleb. I looked up, he had not moved and continued to look earnestly out the window. I was not keen to be used as a pawn in this game and felt rather vulnerable. I was unsure who the game was between as the writing on all occasions had undeniably been mine.

‘It’s time,’ I eventually said. 

Caleb turned round, ‘sorry?’

‘It’s a message for you, in this envelope. It just says ‘it’s time’. I assumed you would know what that meant,’ I replied. 

Caleb walked round to join me and looked at the paper held in my hand, almost mistrusting the message I had given him. 

‘So it is,’ he said after a short pause before sitting at the table, ‘you should take a seat. Drink?’ he asked rhetorically filling both glasses with whiskey.

I sat down, as Caleb promptly thrust a glass in my direction which left a trail of whiskey drops behind it. I sat in silence, anticipating the next move. Caleb knocked back the glass of whiskey, and proceeded to refill it. The silence broke with the sound of the whiskey pouring from the bottle into the glass. 

‘I’ve known you for years,’ he began, ‘but I’m guessing you haven’t known me that long.’

How did that sentence make any sense? I shook my head, I had not known him for years but had met him a few days ago.

‘How long have you known me for?’ he asked, appearing genuinely not to know the answer.

‘Since I met you at the planetarium.’

‘And when was that?’ he asked before taking another swig of his glass. 

‘Two days ago,’ I answered.

‘What was the date of that day?’

‘Where are you going with this?’ I asked defensively, unsure as to why I had taken offence. 

‘You’ll see, and that’s not supposed to be a riddle,’ he smiled, ‘what was the date two days ago for you?’ he finished calmly. 

‘5th February 2578, that’s was you told me remember?’ 

He smiled, ‘I’ll bear that in mind. What was the date yesterday?’ he asked. 

‘6th February,’ I replied, wondering how much longer we would continue to tabulate the calendar. 

‘What’s the date now?’ he asked.

‘2nd February,’ I replied not quite seeing where he was going with this line of questioning. 

‘Ethan time moves for you in a unique way,’ he began, ‘yesterday the date for the rest of the world, including myself, was 1st February 2578. I met you at the planetarium you say. Where were you before that? When were you before that?’ he asked. 

I stared feeling strangely exposed – this wasn’t what I had expected to hear. I didn’t want to be different to the rest of the world. I just wanted to fit in.

‘I was at the nursing home, it was…’ I paused unsure of how to continue, with a niggling mistrust remaining at the back of my mind, ‘it was 3111.’

‘You kept that quiet,’ Caleb sighed. ‘I can only tell you, what you have told me. Time doesn’t move for you like it does for everyone else. Time for me, for everyone else I’ve ever met, moves consecutively forwards – following the chronological sequence. From what you’ve told me over the years, I understand time moves for you sequentially backwards,’ he paused analysing my face, looking for a reaction. ‘When you explained it to me you said to imagine time as numbered beads on a piece of string. I pass over bead one, then move to bead two, pass over bead two, and then move to bead three, and so on. You pass over bead five, and move back to bead three. Then pass over bead three and four, then jump to bead one.’

I stared at him then the table before me, absorbing the words he had just said. I considered the analogy he had just given. It did fit, mostly. It explained things from the nursing home. Why people knew me so well and how I had no idea who they were. Everybody had always just said it was early onset dementia. I had become the tragic, slightly spooky figure in the home ‘predicting’ when people would pass, although they always came back to life for me so I never really saw it as such a bad thing. But…

‘Why have I jumped?’ I looked at him needing an answer, ‘why have I jumped back five hundred years?’

‘I don’t know,’ he shrugged, ‘you never told me that you had. You did say something abou…’

‘And the girl, the voice? Who is she?’ I interrupted, leaning in.

‘Eve?’ Caleb asked.

‘No, at least I don’t think so. There’s a voice I sometimes hear, a female voice. It’s a presence that joins me.’ I stopped seeing the look on Caleb’s face, he clearly thought I was insane. 

‘You are a dark horse, this is the first I’ve heard about a voice or presence as you put it,’ he said pouring himself another drink, ‘you should knock that back,’ he said nodding at the full glass of whiskey that had remained untouched in front of me.

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Filed under Fiction, The Book: Aesthesia

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