My science fiction novel TIME FRAME is now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.
On January 21 I featured Chapter 1 of the novel here on this blog, and on February 13 I unleashed Chapter 2. Today the sneak preview continues with Chapter 3. Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for reading!
“How is it possible?” Kathryn asked.
“It’s not,” Sandy said.
“If you don’t mind, could I — hug you?” Papa asked his daughter.
Kathryn paused to consider the request, and then she nodded and stepped towards the man who looked exactly like her deceased father.
Papa opened his arms, and gently, very gently, Kathryn allowed herself to enter the man’s grasp. Papa closed his arms around her back, drawing her close, and Adam watched as the man’s face burst into tears.
“Excuse me,” Sandy said loudly, “but am I the only one here who remembers that this man friggin died seven years ago!”
Kathryn gently broke away from her father.
“No, you’re not the only one,” Kathryn said, sobbing.
Adam grabbed a tissue from the dispenser on the end table by the couch and handed it to his mother. Kathryn thanked her son and used the tissue to wipe her eyes and nose.
“He has an explanation,” Adam said.
Papa looked directly at Kathryn. “I am your father, Kathryn, and I am your grandfather, Adam, but — I’m also not him.”
“Damn it, old man, make some sense!” Sandy said.
“I’m not trying to speak in riddles,” Papa said. “Let me tell you the whole story. Then, you’ll understand.”
When they had settled into the comfortable seats in the living room, Papa began.
“We have to go back some years, to when I used to work for the gas company, to get to the beginning of how this happened. They were always shoving different forms in front of our faces. From ‘do you want to give to this charity’ to ‘do you want to be an organ donor?” That sort of thing. I remember distinctly this one time, there was a form from a private research company. They wanted permission to take blood samples from us. I remember it because it was the only time anyone ever asked us for blood, other than the blood bank, of course. I didn’t know what they wanted it for, but I believed in the principle of helping scientists, so a few of my buddies and me filled out the forms and gave these people some of our blood. Years went by, and we never saw or heard from these people again, and I never thought about them again. I went on with my uneventful life, and as you know, eventually had that stroke, and nothing was ever the same again.”
“You got that right,” Adam thought.
The stroke had knocked his grandfather out of the real world. His heart had taken such a hit his doctors had pretty much told him his career at the gas company was over.
He had to quit smoking, which to his credit, he did, cold turkey, and he had to be on medication for the rest of his life. He wasn’t allowed to exert himself in any way, which meant little or no exercise, activity, or travel. What he could do was eat and sleep and sit and watch television all day. In short, he was through being a whole person. He was only 62.
Still, it could have been much worse. He didn’t lose any of his mental faculties. He remained sharp and alert until the end. Of course, the end was a long time coming. Because of the advances of modern medicine, Papa lived on for 18 years this way.
The way Adam remembered it, the bulk of those years weren’t so bad for Papa, but the last couple had been brutal for the man. In the end, he was doing nothing for himself. Adam’s grandmother Nana could no longer take care of him. Nurses came to the house to bathe him and dress him. He even needed help going to the bathroom and cleaning up afterwards, it was horrible. As many family members remarked at the time, it was no way to live.
Eventually Papa succumbed to pneumonia and died at the age of 80.
In spite of his illness, he had always made Adam feel special, and Adam had always loved to visit him. He missed him dearly after he passed on.
“Do you know that my last memory was seeing your mother,” Papa said, looking directly at Kathryn, “in the hospital room. I was in bed. She stood over me. I told her I loved her, and we kissed each other, and she left for the night.
“Later I felt myself slipping away. It was like hanging onto a ladder and then letting go. I was so content with the knowledge that I was going to die. You can’t imagine the pain I’d been feeling for so long. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was so peaceful, drifting off, thinking of your mother, of all of you, of happy times gone by. No regrets, just peace and contentment that I had been blessed with a wonderful life. And that was it, that was the last thing I remembered, that was the end, until — .
“Until I woke up again in a different time in a different place, five hundred years from now, five hundred years in the future, give or take a few. That research company that had taken my blood all those years ago, they had frozen my DNA. Four hundred years from now another company buys my DNA. Five hundred years from now, they take my DNA, and they bring me back to life.”
Kathryn grimaced. “Why?”
“Simply put, my dear daughter, because they can,” Papa answered. “Science in that day and age has progressed so far, it’s unbelievable. Cloning there is like sex. Everyone does it. Parents sometimes even create their own children from a catalogue, like the way we pick out patterns for a room. DNA research is that advanced. Time travel is possible, which of course, is how I got here.”
“You came here in a time machine?” Sandy asked.
Sandy burst out laughing.
Adam gently removed the wine glass from his wife’s hand.
“Sorry,” Adam said. “She’s had more than she’s used to.”
“It’s okay,” Papa said. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true, and the fact that I’m sitting here in this room with you now is proof that it’s true.”
“Are you a clone?” Kathryn asked.
Papa chewed over the question for a moment before answering. Adam wondered what he was thinking about. “I guess it’s cloning since this isn’t my original body, but it is exactly the same. I can’t tell any difference. Can you? And all my memories are intact, my whole life, from childhood to that last day in the hospital.” He pointed to his head. “It’s all in here. I don’t think of myself as a clone.”
“You’re not wearing your glasses,” Adam observed. “Can you see without them?”
“Yes, they made improvements,” Papa answered. “I’ve got perfect vision, even better than I had when I was a young man.”
“You look better too,” Sandy said with a hiccup. “He looks better.”
“I don’t know what to believe,” Kathryn said. “Daddy, let’s just say for the sake of the argument that everything you said is true, that you were brought back to life five hundred years from now using your frozen DNA. What are you doing here?”
“I missed my family,” Papa answered. “Who do I know five hundred years in the future? Nobody. I was homesick, and I’m not afraid to admit it.”
“Were you brought back to life as an adult or as a child?” Adam asked. “Did you have to relive your childhood all over again?”
“No, I came back as an adult,” Papa answered. “Both ways are possible. The company that resurrected me wanted me as an adult. They wanted me to tell them about my experiences in World War II. They still study history in the future. They’re fanatics about it.”
“Excuse me,” Adam said, “but it’s my understanding that clones don’t come with memories. If I were to be cloned today, my clone wouldn’t be born with my memories.”
Papa nodded. “You’re right, and that’s true of the clones today, but five hundred years from now, it’s quite the different story.”
“You’re asking me to believe that they harvested your memories from just a sample of your blood?” Adam asked. “I find that impossible to believe.”
“Not from my blood,” Papa answered. “From my atoms.”
Adam didn’t understand.
“It goes something like this,” Papa said, “and don’t expect a scientist’s explanation, because as you know, I’m not a scientist. The scientists from five hundred years in our future were able to break down my blood to an atomic level, atom by atom, and supposedly, what they’ve discovered, is at that level, memories are stored, and it’s possible to bring them back. That’s what they told me. All I know is, I have my memories.”
How could Adam argue with a science not yet invented?
“So, the people of the future. They wanted you to teach them about the past?” Adam asked.
“Yes, that was my job, to relay firsthand accounts of the war, and when I wasn’t working they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and be a part of the culture of the day. Life in the 2500s is pretty good, let me tell you, but I missed my family. You know how much I love my family.”
Kathryn nodded. “Yes, I know.”
“Anyway, I soon learned that time travel was possible, and in my spare time, I read all about it, how it was done, how much it cost, and I started to save up for it, because I asked myself, what am I doing here? The ability to go back to my family, in the past, exists. Why not take it?”
“And that’s allowed?” Adam asked. “I mean, I would think there’d be problems with it. Interfering with history, for example?”
“It’s legal. Up to a point.” Papa didn’t elaborate.
“Up to what point?” Adam asked.
“Do we have to talk about this now?” Papa said.
“Daddy, what did you do?” Kathryn said.
“Well, I — I’m not supposed to make contact with any of you.”
“Ooops!” Sandy giggled.
Thank God for wine, Adam thought. He turned to his grandfather.
“What happens if you do?” Adam asked.
“I don’t know. But listen, I didn’t return to change history,” Papa said. “I returned to see my family. That’s it. In the big scheme of life, I’m just a little man, and we’re just a little family in little old New Bedford, Massachusetts. What’s the worst that could happen?”
—-END Chapter 3—-
Okay, that’s Chapter 3. Again, if you’d like to read the entire novel it’s now available as an EBook from NECON EBooks at http://www.neconebooks.com.