The next thing Patrick knew he was vomiting over the side of the chair. He had no even real inclination that he was doing it. He’d been in the chair, there was a flash of light, and the contents of his stomach were spilling over the clean white floor of Dr. Levitt’s laboratory.
Dr. Levitt rush over to the opposite side of the chair and put a hand on Patrick’s shoulder. “Patrick! Patrick!”
Patrick heaved a few more times but his stomach had been vacated. He dropped back in the chair, breathing heavy, his shirt soaked with sweat that had seemingly come out of nowhere.
As he rasped for air, Dr. Levitt checked his pulse, then his pupils. All seemed fine. He hovered over Patrick until patrick waved him away.
“I’m…” Patrick finally spoke, “I’m fine. I am…okay.” Patrick breathed heavy for a few minutes, then wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.
Dr. Levitt began to speak, softly at first, “I suppose I calculated the effects of sending the information to the brain in the past, but neglected to calculate the sudden onset of two year’s worth of new memories on the present brain.” He looked down at Patrick, his hand still on Patrick’s shoulder. “Like Deja Vu?”
Patrick nodded. “Yes…but no. I know that I’m here, I know that I’ve ben sitting in this chair for minutes, but it was like, all of a sudden, it was all completely new to me.”
Dr. Levitt was quite for a second and then he nodded. “Jamais vu.”
Patrick looked weakly up Dr. Levitt. “What?”
Dr. Levitt smiled, “Jamais vu. It’s sort of the opposite of Deja vu. Deja Vu is where you feel you’ve lived something before, even though you know you haven’t. Jamais vu is where your brain tells you you haven’t lived through something before even when you know you have. It would make sense. Your brain was suddenly flooded with two year’s worth of memories that, up until seconds ago, it hadn’t lived through. At least I think that’s what happened.” He looked at Patrick, “Dd, did it work?”
Patrick thought long and hard about this. Trying to sort through the 17520 hours of new memories that were rolling around in his head. “Yes. It did work. I was at home in my tiny one bedroom apartment, playing World of Warcraft when the future memories hit me. I,” he pointed at the mess on the ground, “this didn’t happen, but it was a lot. It was almost that my brain shut down it was so much information. I staggered to my bed and just lied there for days. Not sure how many. The next thing I was aware of was Mary. Mary shaking me awake. I don’t know how long I had been in that state for. She said it had been five days since we had last spoken and she’d gotten scared. We had only just started going out at that point.”
Dr. Levitt listened fascinated.
“But you talk about your Deja Vu, it didn’t happen that often because I was aware of what had happened. That I was undergoing this process. So my day to day life was changed.” Patrick sat quietly for a moment and thought. “But it was the big things. My Grandmother going into the hospital. I knew she wasn’t going to make it out again, because I’d lived through it. I was able to spend more time with her. The first time around I’d been too busy. Busy with nothing, goofing off, but I’d just assumed she’d pull through. After she passed I was racked with regret. I’d spent every summer with Grandmother when I was a kid and now she’d gone and I wasn’t there. But this time…this time, I knew she wouldn’t.”
“What did you do?”
“I made sure I was there. I was there when life left her. I was by her side. The regret was gone.”
Dr. Levitt nodded.
“That was just the start. Just the start of the changes I made.” Patrick sat quiet for a minute. Letting the knowledge of all the changes he had made in the past two years wash over him. He turned to Dr. Levitt with a smile. “Dr. Levitt, this works.” Patrick gestured wildly around the room, “This…this works! You’ve created away for people to abolish regret from their lives.”
“Not all regret, I assume.” Dr. Levitt asked, clasping his hands at his waist.
“Hmmm?” Patrick was puzzled.
“I assume that even though you were able to make changes, your Grandmother for instance, there are still other decisions you made, that you now regret.”
Patrick was silent for a second. He nodded. “Yes. Yes, there are. But it was the big ones, the big ones that I’d made in the past two years that I was able to fix. They’ve given me a whole new life. A better life. I have a job now. In fact, do you have the time?”
Dr. Levitt, looked at his watch, “12:30PM”
“I gotta go. I gotta get back to work.”
Dr. Levitt smiled. “Good. Okay, good. I, uh, I will need to schedule an interview with you. A videotaped interview that I can use to present to the board along with the footage of the experiment to hopefully get more funding towards this project.”
“Sure.” Patrick stood, carefully avoiding the mess he made. “You want me to clean that up?”
Dr. Levitt smiled, “No. I’ll get it.”
Patrick stood still, feeling like a stranger in a new body. He stretched out a hand to Dr. Levitt. “Thank you. Thank you for this.”
Dr. Levitt smiled. “This is just the beginning. Now go. I’ll be in touch.”
Patrick turned and began walking out.
Dr. Levitt watched him walk towards the door, slipping his hands into his lab coat and finding the envelope with the cashier’s check. “Patrick?”
Patrick stopped at the door and turned around. “Yeah?”
Dr. Levitt held up the envelope. “You want the $3000? Technically it’s yours.”
Patrick smiled and shook his head. “I don’t need it. I have everything I want.”
Dr. Levitt looked at the envelope and then back at Patrick, “And Mary?”
Patrick smiled the biggest smiled Dr. Levitt had seen on a man’s face before, “I have her too.”
Dr. Levitt nodded.
Patrick turned and walked out the door.
Patrick assumed Dr. Levitt had been joking, but the more he pressed him, the more he felt the old fool actually believed he could do it.
“For decades people have dreamed about time travel,” he pontificated, “but they were going about it all wrong. You see most people think that you get in some sort of contraptions and zap back in time and then there are two of you running around in that time period. But that’s not how it works.”
“It’s not?” said Patrick with a smirk.
“No!” Dr. Levitt shouted. “That form of time travel is impossible. We can never go back and warn president Lincoln about John Wilkes Booth. In order to time travel back that far we’d have to have someone who was alive when Lincoln was assassinated.”
“Right. You know anyone that old?”
“No. So it’s impossible. But we can send people back in time to any point that they were alive.”
“I’m not following.”
Dr. Levitt sighed, “There’s only one of you. There can’t be two of you. So in order to time travel we have to send your present day mind back into your past mind.”
Patrick looked at him for a moment. “You send my brain back in time?”
Dr. Levitt nodded. “Well, yes and no. You see the mind is an amazing thing. I’m sure you’ve heard that humans only use a small percentage of their brain.”
“I thought that was an urban legend.”
“It is, but behind ever urban legend is a small grain of truth. We don’t use ALL the capacity our brain is capable of. That is the fact. What I’ve been able to do is invent a machine that boosts the power of the brian to near its full potential. Now, you’ve also heard tell of people who are capable of using ESP or mental telepathy.”
“Another urban myth with a grain of truth?”
“Yes. The brain is capable of sending out signals. I mean it does that locally to your central nervous system, but it can also do it as sort of a little wifi network. Sending messages out into the surrounding area.”
“I see.” Patrick said, though his voice did little to mask the doubt contained in it. “And how does all this relate to time travel?”
“My machine not only boosts brain power, it also magnifies the signal, much like you can magnify a wifi signal. It also focuses it through time, back to your brain in the past. Your ‘past’ brain picks up on the signals being sent from your ‘present day’ brain and it downloads the information.” Dr. Levitt suddenly clapped his hands together startling Patrick, “Bang! Time travel occurs.”
“And what happens to the rest of me?” Patrick asked.
“Nothing, you remain here. I told you it’s not like the movies. The kind of time travel I’m talking about is sending information back.” Dr. Levitt put a hand under his chin. “Folks often say, ‘If I knew then what I know now.’ Right?”
“Well, now they can. You, your body, your brain, everything will stay here. But we will send the information contained in your brian now, to your brain two years ago.”
Patrick was slowly starting to grasp the idea. But then the Doctor’s words hit him, “Wait? Me?”
“Yes. I told you you were assisting me. I’m hoping you’ll be the first human I try this method on.”
Dr. Levitt saw a look of panic on Patrick’s face.
“Look, I’m telling you it’s perfectly safe. All you have to do is sit in this chair. The chair acts like an antenna and does all the work. You will feel nothing, there are no needles or electordes, you’re not going to have to take off your clothes or anything. All you’ll have to do is sit in the chair.”
“And then what?”
“And then I power the machine, focus the energy and hit the send switch.”
“And then mere seconds later, we are done, the information in your brain will have been sent back two years.” Dr. Levitt paused.
“Why two years?”
“That’s about as far as my, home brewed, machine will allow for. If this works and I get a grant, the machine can be made to go back further distances.” Dr. Levitt smiled. “Just imagine the choices you’d make differently if you had known two years ago what you know now.”
Patrick thought for a moment. The big choice he would have made was how things went with her. He was silent for a second, lost in thought, and then looked up at Dr. Levitt, “I’ll do it.”
Dr. Levitt insisted on the paperwork being filled out. For as safe as he swore it was, there was still a waiver to be filled out. A requirement of his lawyer he had said.
Patrick filled it out carefully. He got to the part where it said who to contact in case of an emergency. His first instinct was to put her name and number. That is who he’d wanted to be there with. Forever. Who he would want to come to his bedside in an emergency. But that was over now. She could care less about him now, so he figured if something did go wrong, he wouldn’t want to bug her. SO he wrote down his mother and her phone number.
Minutes later, Patrick was sitting in the chair in the middle of the room. Dr. Levvitt busied himself at the computer monitors.
“So, uh, Dr. Levitt?”
“This, lab assistant job. It is a job right?”
“So, like, I’ll be paid for this?”
This brought Dr. Levitt out of his preparations. He stood, looked over at Patrick and adjusted the glasses on his face. He was silent for a second and then clasped his hands as he strode over towards the chair.
“Yes, you will receive compensation for this.” He pulled an envelope out his lab coat pocket. “In this envelope is a cashier’s check for $3000. I will hand it to you as soon as we’re done here today. As soon as we confirm that the device works and works properly.”
Patrick glanced sideways at Dr. Levitt. “Unless what?”
“Well, you are being afforded a chance no one else has ever been allowed. You are going back in time two years. You are, basically, going to be able to live the past two years over again, in an instant.”
Patrick nodded. “So?”
“So, just remember that. You will be able to right any wrongs you may have made. You’ll be able to choose differently in any situation, knowing how they played out based on where you are now. You’ll get a second chance at everything. Now, I’m not sending you back to your pre college or high school days, so you can’t make different decisions there, but two years…two years is a length of time where significant changes could be made. You will, by default, be a different person seconds after the experiment happens. How much is that worth? How much would you pay to go back to some point over the past two years and make a different choice in and major decision?”
Patrick was silent as he pondered this.
“Patrick, after I push the button and we send the information in your brain back to you two years ago, you may take this $3000 cashier’s check and walk out that door. But I’d like you to consider the value of what I’m giving you today and if, after the experiment of course, you feel that you got $3000 or $3000000 worth of value from this experiment, well then I’d like you to consider leaving this check with me, so I can continue to develop this device. Bring that value to other people who may need it.”
Patrick was silent for a moment longer, then nodded. “Let’s do it.”