Almost a decade into this writing experiment, I might be ending it. I am going to post some of my WIP stories for you.
December 31, 2035
The old man sat in the worn-out chair, staring out the snow encrusted window of a broken-down nursing home in Kirbyville, Missouri. He sat quietly, his mind all but gone from Alzheimer’s. Once in a great while he was present in the here and now, but those moments were becoming fewer and fewer. The part of him that was aware of the time passing wondered when the final journey would begin, and which journey would win the race. Would it be his journey in life, the race lost to its ending? Or would it be the journey of his mind, it wandering away once more, never to return?
To be honest, he really didn’t care which one won so long as his time on this earthly plane ended soon.
As he sat there, not really thinking so much as remembering, his mind unable to recall much at all beyond early childhood memories of almost three quarters of a century ago, he gradually lost the present and returned to the past.
He was running through the woods, trying to escape. Behind him, he heard the footsteps of his pursuers chasing him down. He was small for his age, and not particularly coordinated. He knew it wouldn’t be long…
Wham! He was thrown to the ground with a heavy weight upon his back. Rough hands grabbed his shirt and flipped him over with ease. Then the weight settled on his chest and his arms were pinned to the ground beside him.
“You can’t run for shit!” The boy sitting on his chest yelled in glee as he struggled beneath the weight, knowing he couldn’t escape but trying nonetheless. ”Quit your squirming! Open you mouth, c’mon open up!” Another pair of hands pried his mouth open and thrust some moldering leaves inside, then closed his mouth and he heard “Go on! Chew! Chew those leaves up and swallow them! That’s the only way you’re going to get into our club!”
Beaten, yet still desperately wanting to be accepted by these boys, he chewed the dirty, loam filled leaves up and forced himself to swallow them. He gagged a bit, but not much.
“Open up, let’s see if you really swallowed them?” He opened his mouth wide, fearful of having more thrust inside yet at the same time afraid of being found unacceptable, and showed them he had really swallowed the disgusting leaves.
With that, the weight lifted from his chest and he was pulled to his feet. “Okay, that’s step one. Next up, step two!”
He swallowed once more and asked “How many steps are there to joining this club?
“Three. Are you man enough, or are you a chicken?”
There was no way he was going to be a chicken, so he said “Let’s go. Step two.”
Step two was far different than step one. He was tied to a chair in the old barn, and an old burlap bag thrown over his head. “Okay, you gotta sit real still now, because if you don’t, you might really get hurt. We’re going to cut your throat, just a little. Ready?”
Hell no! His mind screamed, but being the new kid in the neighborhood, and these being the kids across the street who he would be living next to for years to come he knew this could be the make or break minute of his young life. “Go ahead, I’m ready.” He took a deep breath, gulped down his fear and held his head up.
Within seconds, a cold, wet sensation crawled slowly across his throat, left to right. Something trickled down the skin of his throat and his mind was filled with a vison of his throat being sliced wide open. Then, it was over and the sack ripped from his head. Willie held an ice cube in his hands, and he realized that was what had been dragged across his neck. He looked into the eyes of he and Dennis, as they yelled out “I can’t believe you sat still for that! You let us do that!” He couldn’t tell if it was admiration he heard in their voice, or amazement at his stupidity: he chose admiration. “What’s next? Step three is it, right?”
They looked at one another and said “Yep, step three is it. Let’s go outside now.”
They found themselves standing next to the tree that grew in Dennis’ back yard. It was a good climbing tree, with lots of branches leading to the top. “Okay, last step. We’re gonna hang you now.”
Dennis went back into the barn and found a rope while Willie got a chair. They stood the chair under a limb, tossed the rope over it and made a loop. “Okay, get on the chair.”
He looked at them, wanting desperately to believe they were not going to hurt him. No emotions showed in their eyes as they prodded him “Go on, get up there. Unless you’re…”
Clamping down the fear, he stepped onto the chair and stood still as a post. The loop was tossed over his head and snugged down, then the other end pulled tight over the limb.
“Okay, we’re gonna tie this off to the porch, then you step off the chair. If you step off on your own, you’re in the club. If not, then you’ll be branded a chicken for life.”
Seconds seemed like hours, the time passing so slowly it felt as if it had stopped completely. Then, he nudged his left foot forward just a bit, then his right. His toes hung over the edge and he gathered himself for one more step…
Suddenly, he was swinging, then falling. He hit the ground and fell onto his side with the noose tight around his neck, but not strangling him like he had feared. They hadn’t tied the end of the rope off, just held it in their hands! He did it! He passed the initiation, and he was in the club!
He snapped back to the present, fear and pain following him to consciousness. He felt his neck, fearing he would find the rope but there was nothing, nothing…
A tear slowly fell down his face as the memory faded to nothingness. “My friends…”
He was sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing the results of the myriad of tests they had run on him. “Sir, you have Alzheimer’s. I wish we could give you a better prognosis, but the reality is we cannot reverse what has already taken place; we might be able to slow it somewhat with these meds I’m going to prescribe. My advice is to enjoy what you have every single day. Nurse, set an appointment for six months as a checkup.” With that, the doctor left the room and was on to his next patient, leaving behind a husk of a human.
He took the bus home, if you could call it that. It was a place that he lived in, nothing more. His light had gone out some years before when his lovely wife had passed, caught up in that pandemic the world had experienced. His children had their own lives, their own problems to deal with. He was alone in every sense of the word. As he went inside he looked around, just to see if there was anything left of her. A few knickknacks here and there; a memory or two but little else.
A short time later he had voluntarily committed himself to a nursing home. He had trouble remembering to take his meds, even eat most days. In one of his lucid moments he realized he was unfit to care for himself and contacted the state. Someone came and picked him up and took him here. His children sold his house, divided his belongings between them and came to visit for a while. Lately, they had stopped coming because it was too depressing to see him like this, and a part of him buried deep inside understood. He had long been the one everyone else depended upon, and he did not desire to be one that depended upon them.
And so, he sat in a chair in this Godforsaken room, waiting to either lose his mind completely and with it his grasp on sanity, or lose his race with Death. Either way, didn’t matter to him.
One day, after his meds and breakfast, while he was sitting in his chair, his mind began to wander once more. Back, back into the past to his early 20’s. He was at a job, one where he met his first wife. As he saw this time, he was in the moment where he first asked her out on a date.
In his present mind, he thought “God, if I could only stop myself from asking her out! What would I give to not make that mistake! She lied to me from the get-go and was even pregnant before we went out on our first date, then made me think it was mine! She screwed up my life for 20 years!”
Then unbelievably, his then-self smiled at her and walked away without asking for a date. “What the hell just happened? Is this real or is it a dream?”. He somehow remained in that time for a while longer before he found his way back to the present. He remained cognizant long enough to realize that, somehow, he had been able to affect his younger self enough to not ask her out and maybe changed his destiny.
He shook his head and asked himself “Seriously?”
A few days later, his mind began to wander once more and he found himself in his freshman year of high school. He knew he had been a horrible student, suffering from ADD, which was unknown to exist then. No one understood why he acted the way he did, why he couldn’t focus on schoolwork. He was anything but stupid as his adult years had shown, but during his teens and early twenties he just was unable to do schoolwork. As he watched himself through his own eyes, he tried to focus upon the work he was attempting to do. With some struggles, he found he could do the work and somehow focus better. He didn't understand what was taking place, but what the hell, if it worked and changed things, okay.
Over the past few months, he had been able to somehow focus his mind in his present and interact with his past self. His school grades climbed to the point he was passing every class. He had also been able to influence his past mistakes regarding other things, such as quitting baseball and not trying out for the basketball team. In fact, he had even made the baseball team as a starter and done so well that he had received a scholarship to play baseball in college!
His present mind was no more able to interact with those in his real time, but his mind suffered no such hinderances when he was in his past self. It was crazy, he thought, to realize he could do this. He was changing his future by interacting with his past self!
One day, he wondered just how far he could go in this. He wondered if this was what déjà vu was, the knowledge of knowing something was coming, that a person had been in the moment before somehow. Is this it? A mind traveling from a distant future, remembering the past while interacting with the past self? A part of him still thought this was a hallucination in his present self, not really happening at all. After all, his mind was failing so why shouldn’t this be a figment of that failure? But another part of him thought “Why not?”. If he was losing his mind, was this a bad way to lose it?
He decided to test himself, to find out if this was real or not. As he moved through his then college self, he decided to see what would happen if he entered the Major League Draft when he graduated with his teaching degree in history. If he were able to play professional baseball, he would know if this was real or not
He got drafted! By his favorite team no less! He would have the chance to play pro ball and earn a living doing that! Now his present self began to see a difference in his life. Instead of being in a broken-down nursing home, he was in a much nicer home, filled with sunshine and happy people. He thought to himself “This feels like some sci fi movie!”.
Now as he moved between the two times, his past and his present, he began to try other things to change his life. He began to play the market a bit, buying and selling some stocks he remembered did well in his early adulthood. Nothing too big, just enough to see what would happen. His present improved even more.
Then he decided to do something really drastic. In his now changed past, he had met his second wife when he was about 40 years old. He remembered her telling him of her first husband, of the abuse and alcohol stupors he would force on the family. How he had longed for the chance to meet her before that had occurred and save her the pain and suffering she had endured. Was it possible?
He decided to find out. He knew he was several years older than her, and with his playing baseball and being as successful at that as he had been, combined with his stock market deals, he was in a comfortable position to retire and go meet her.
He took a job at the college she would be attending as a history teacher and part time baseball coach. Keeping an eye out for her, he settled in to teach and coach and found he was good at both. Then one day, he saw her. She was much younger than she had been when he met her before, but he could tell it was her.
He had to be cautious, as he was a member of the college staff and she was a student. He found ways to meet her and make small talk, enough to show he was interested and to learn she was interested in him. He asked her out on a date, and to his surprise, she accepted.
They ended up enjoying each other’s company, but something was different about her. She was not a “party girl”, but she was one who enjoyed going out with friends and having a different type of fun than he liked. She ended up drifting away from him and towards the guy she married in the other time.
So, what to do? He had tried to influence her through himself, to eliminate the years of heartbreak and hurt she had experienced before they had met in his first life, but even though he could influence himself, he was unable to do anything about her situation. All he could do was sit back and wait, wait until he met her again one day. It hurt, to know she was going to go through this hell, but his present self understood that he would be with her eventually, so he settled in to wait for her.
I am coming to the realization that I do not have whatever it takes to be an author. I can come up with ideas that seem feasible, decent to me but I am unable to carry them forward to completion. So, I am simply going to put them out here for whoever finds them, and give them the blessing that if they like them and desire to do something with them, go for it. Take my ideas and run with them. You have my blessing.
Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on February 02, 2021:
Thank you Ma'am. My thoughts go out to you concerning your step father, we went through my father in law's Alzheimer's/Dementia situation with him passing in Oct 2019, and our caring for him in our home the last few months. It was painful. Please take care.
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on February 01, 2021:
I so love this story.
Please do not give your dreams up.
My step father recently passed away & he was in the nursing home for the past 7 months.
I'd like to think his mind could take him on wonderful exciting journeys like this one.
Bringing him a bit of hope.
You are a good story teller.