My Wife Thinks I Sleep Walk (Part Three)
At least this time, I was prepared. I’d packed my usual sleep attire before I went to pick Claire up, that night; gym shorts, a long sleeved, Dry-Fit tee, and a pair of those heavy duty socks, with the rubberized grips on the bottom. The socks aren’t exactly comfortable to sleep in, but they’re better than shoes, and they protect my feet, if and when I timeslip, and have to run.
I was able to explain my unusual bed-time prep to Claire, as necessary in case I got up and wandered off while I was asleep, the sleepwalking half-truth I told her.
“I mean, I don’t think your neighbors would appreciate me walking around with my dick wagging in the breeze.” I told her, laughing.
She shrugged, smiled, and dead-panned, “Well, I wouldn’t mind.” She snuggled up next to me, and quickly fell asleep.
I envy her for that. I wish I could fall asleep like that, knowing I’d wake right where I laid down. I know now, that a fell a bit more in love with her for that, because she made me feel a little safer, too.
This next part, is for you; The one of you reading this who is like me: First, whatever you take with you, comes back with you. this includes the clothes you’re wearing, things in your pockets, blood, hair, organic material, so you won’t have to worry about fingerprints or any forensic evidence of you being somewhere, somewhen you weren’t supposed to be.
Second; Don’t hurt anyone. Ever. You change the past every time you slip. Learn to protect yourself in a manner you can avoid getting killed, without hurting whomever is trying to attack you. Once my dad knew what I could do, he enrolled me in Judo, and several other types of martial arts classes. I’m not telling you this to imply that I’m some sort of badass, but it’s the difference between vanishing in front of someone, and escaping, more often than not. Learn pressure points, you can inflict a lot of pain, without actually doing lasting harm to someone. Disarm, redirect, then stun, then you run like hell. That’s how you should fight, if you have to, on a timeslip, Yeah, I come back when I go out, but a bullet to the head is pretty instant, and I don’t think there is any coming back from that.
Third: Don’t sleep in cars. I learned this one the hard way. (I can tell you waking up skipping down the highway at 70 miles per hour is probably the second worst way I’ve ever come back from a slip.) In fact, try not to sleep anywhere but a place you’re very familiar with, I think this minimizes the timeslips anyway. If past-you is there, Future-You can’t, or won’t go there. Set up caches nearby, with things you might need on a slip, so you can avoid the past version of yourself, and once you set it up, never go back unless you’re on a slip.
Fourth: Stay off of boats. Drowning…drowning can and will get one of us every time. You are conscious all the way down. Not only is this a horrible way to die, but from what I know, there is no coming back from it. This is why my Dad’s Uncle Bob, didn’t make it home from the war. They called it a Lost at Sea incident. But I’m fairly certain he slipped while sleeping on that troop ship, and died sometime in the past, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Fifth: If you have to sleep somewhere unfamiliar, try to do it in a hotel, preferably newer construction, and always get a room on the first floor. I woke up five stories in the air, and fell into a thicket, I laid there, with a broken back, and impaled on a sapling, for three hours before I lost enough blood to pass out. Thank God, Claire was with me, when I woke up sobbing, after I got back. The harm is gone, when you come back, but I will never forget that pain, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
And Lastly, don’t worry about dogs, or other animals, while you’re on a timeslip. They know. They just know you’re not supposed to be there. K9s won’t track, guard dogs will whimper, tuck tail and run away. I think people do, too, on a basic, instinctual level, and that’s why they usually react so violently to people like me, like us. Honestly, I think we recognize each other too, and I think that’s why my daughter and I can always find each other.
I hope this helps, and never forget the first rule: Don’t run into yourself.
When I woke up, Claire wasn’t in bed next to me, but I heard water running in the bathroom. So I stretched out, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and headed to the kitchen for a glass of water.
That’s how I met the other former tenant.
She took one look at me, screamed, and ran into the other room. “Dammit,” I swore under my breath, “I’m going to have to convince her to start doing this at my place.”
“TORI! He’s back!” The woman who had just fled and terror screamed from the other bedroom. The shower abruptly cut off, and the screamer exited her bedroom wielding a machete.
A Goddammed Machete
“Stay where you are!” She ordered, stupidly putting herself between me and the door. I heard another door burst open, and what sounded like someone running upstairs. Must have been the back door. Probably should have found that last night Then, whom I can only assume was the downstairs tenant was 3 paces behind me, holding an aluminum baseball bat.
Focus “Look,” I said, slowing raising my hands, “I’ll go, I don’t want anything you have, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt—“
That was a bad choice of words. Because the guy from downstairs bellowed “Oh, You’re getting hurt, bitch!” as he lunged at me, and took a wild swing. I supposed I could’ve let him clock me upside the head and been done with it, but then I would’ve vanished out of that time, right in front three witnesses. That would attract the sort of attention I don’t want. I ducked under the arc of the bat, dropped to one knee and hammered him with two knuckles, hard, on the inside of his right leg, just above his knee. The nerve strike was particularly effective, as his leg folded up like a lawn chair under him, as the bat embedded itself in the wall. He lost his grip on it, as he fell in a heap beside me.
On reflex, I grabbed the bat, yanked it out of the wall, and bolted for the front door. Then I used it to knock the machete out of the other roommate’s hands, after she took a panicked slice at me, as I ran past her for the door.
The door was deadbolted, and had two chains on it, I lost a few moments getting the door open, but either of the two women seemed all that interested in pursuing, and I’m sure Bat-man’s pride made him want to run me down, but his leg wouldn’t be working right for at least another five minutes.
I quickly got my bearings and took off down an alley toward my nearest cache. Thankfully, it was in the opposite direction of the rapidly approaching police sirens.
This particular cache was in an abandoned auto shop, in a rundown, post-industrial section of town, a few blocks away from the trendy, gentrified area of town popular with recent graduates and upperclassmen. The entire neighborhood was mostly abandoned and even the homeless, the crazies and the addicts avoided the shop because a couple had actually seen the ghost that haunts the place, vanish into thin air. Word had spread like wildfire among the street walkers and junkies, and for the most part, they stayed away.
In case you were wondering, I’m the ghost.
The Caches were Dad’s idea. He pretty damned smart for a mechanic, and he’s got the money to burn. He never asked me directly for stock tips, but he’s pretty observant, and I’m fairly certain he recognized the logo on my phone, when I dropped in for a visit in 1988.
“That thing’s a phone?” He asked me, as I slid it back in my pocket.
“Yeah, everybody’s got them.” I told him offhandedly, and put it out of my mind, because my smartphone was only useful as a fancy flashlight in 1988.
Another time he asked me what sort of PC he should buy for my younger-self. I shrugged, not even sure of the year on that visit, and said “Anything that runs Windows.”
Now that I think about it, It is probably the reason that most of his customers don’t realize the guy that swaps their brake pads, tunes their engines, and changes their oil, is a multi-millionaire.
If I told you the size of my trust fund, you’d realize Dad wasn’t at all ungrateful. But that’s another thing I learned from Dad. Never Draw Attention to Yourself.
I drive a ten year-old Honda Civic, I live in a cramped dorm room. I mean, yeah, I sprang for a single, but that was out of necessity. I can’t have people realizing that I occasionally vanish without a trace in the middle of the night.
Besides, money is for important things, like these caches, and weddings.
From the outside, it looks like any other boarded up old service station, a shitty, rundown eyesore. Of course, closer inspection would reveal solar panels on the roof, hidden from view at street level, a heavy duty security door keyed with a combination lock on the back, and the pit where grease monkeys used to change oil and lube chassis’ has been sealed up and converted into a safe room. In that safe room is a cot, a motorcycle Dad and I built, from the ground up, to be completely untraceable, and a locker that could give a bank vault a run for its money, and probably keep its contents secure long after said bank vault had been cleaned out. Notably, that locker contains ten thousand dollars in cash, clothes for all seasons, food, water, a first aid kit and a Bushmaster Rifle, spare ammo and magazines totaling two hundred ten rounds. I’ve never really been a gun guy, but I know how to use one, and to quote my Dad, “In a firefight, a pistol is about as useful as a rusty spoon.”
I’ve used these caches hundreds, possibly thousands of times, I’ve never even once take the rifle out of the locker, let alone used it. The last thing of note, however I’ve used several times. It’s a little thing my Dad jokingly calls ‘Dustoff’ and if the junkies spreading the ghost stories about this place, knew about it, no amount of spooky occurrences could keep them away.
Dustoff is a converted Epipen. Instead of life saving dose epinephrine, it contains an overdose of morphine for a man my size. It’s my TimeSlipping instant extraction. Of course, if I didn’t go back soon after blacking out, It would kill me, and thanks to the physics, or meta-physics of my condition, the drug, from a time other than mine gets left behind, somewhere, some when, So I suffer no permanent ill effects upon my return.
Still, Dustoff is an emergency-only item, because even it’s phantom after-effects are enough to render me bedridden for hours.
This, however, wasn’t an emergency. The security cameras told me that the police hadn’t been able to track me, so I reached under the cot, and found a box with a few creature comforts, one of them being an old mp3 player, loaded with a collection of audiobooks.
I put the headphones on, and laid back on the cot, those books always helped me get back to sleep. It took a little longer, because I was more than a little irritated with myself, this was supposed to by my, our, relaxed morning after. To Claire, I would’ve been gone for a split second, not for hours, like it was to me. I’d do my best to pretend I wasn’t rattled. But this, this is what I hated most about my condition, after the terrifying slips, I was just happy to be back. The pleasant ones when I got to visit with Poppy, or Granny, or anyone else I’ve loved and who has been dead for years, I felt at peace.
These were the worst. These slips just interrupted my life, and robbed me of a quiet, carefree day with a beautiful girl I was pretty sure I was falling in love with. I closed my eyes, and thought about Claire’s head on my shoulder, I smiled slightly, drifted off, and when I woke up, there she was.