Story A Week (SAW) 9: Feb 26th, 2018
By Adam O’Sullivan
Felicia stepped out of the shower and was drying her hair when she heard movement in the bedroom. Cautiously peering in, she called out “Hello?” but no-one responded. The room appeared still, undisturbed. There was no-one in the room. Wrapping a towel around herself, Felicia stepped into the bedroom and gave the room a cursory search. There was a wet patch on the bed that wasn’t there before, but she suspected that might have been from her wet hair flicking around during the search. She wrapped her hair in a towel and went to search beside the bed when her mobile phone jumped into life. She answered the call as she struggled to hold the phone to her ear and the towel from slipping off.
“Hello? This is Michael. Michael Saunders.” The caller was obviously male, and sounded young, around the same age as Felicia. The name did sound strangely familiar, but she had difficulty placing it. The tone of the caller made it sound like she was supposed to instantly recognise him just by the voice and the name alone. It had been a long weekend, and she was still recovering. She met many new people, danced with the nicer ones, and even took someone home with her.
“We met the other night. At the club.”
“oh. Did we…” Felicia trailed off, but she was pretty sure she remembered him. Well, parts of him. They were out with friends when they met on the dance floor. He was slightly awkward and geeky, but there was a certain level of charm to him. Plus, he wasn’t all that bad looking. Even though Felicia was out with her friends, she didn’t discount the possibility of having some fun either. It had been far too long since she was last with someone, and a little fling seemed just the thing to help pick up her spirits. Michael was a better choice than the sleazy guys or gym rats who scoured the room looking for hot girls with low morals or who were inebriated. The thought of dancing with one of those guys turned her stomach, but dancing with Michael was fun. He wasn’t a terrible dancer, and he made up for it by every so often doing something silly. It could be annoying, but Felicia was having fun and laughing loudly on the dance floor. Once they sat down, covered in sweat from the heat and the dancing, Michael seemed genuinely interested in what she had to say. He asked insightful questions, and would recall details later in the night that assured her that he was actually listening. He wasn’t in a rush to get her alone or back to his place, and he was happy just to spend time with her and their friends. He was easy to get along with, even easier to drink with. The memories of that night started getting hazier as she remembered the many rounds of drinks. They traded favourite drinks, and just as Felicia felt that maybe he wasn’t interested or was gay, he had touched her arm and they started holding hands. By the height of the night, Felicia felt herself at a tipping point – either keep drinking and end up a terrible sloppy mess (well, more terribly sloppy than that moment), or make a move while she could still emphatically make the decision. She was sick of the social foreplay, and whispered in his ear that she wanted to get out of there. He was hesitant at first, a perfect gentleman even three sheets to the wind, but after a bit of making out mixed with copious water drinking, he relented and they left the club together. Snippets of the night after that flashed through Felicia’s head. The sex had been what it was – drunken groping as two horny young adults pawed at each other. A certain desperation of two people coming together, a hot desire that lasted a single night. The next morning, he left early. Through her wicked headache, she was surprised that he gave her a kiss on the forehead before slinking out. After a breakfast of painkillers followed by a nap, she met up with her friends to regale them of the night’s conquests and listen to a postmortem of the previous night’s events. Felicia and Michael had swapped numbers, but it would take a few days for her to recover properly, and maybe by the following weekend would she be in a state to decide if she wanted to see him again. Well, that was the unofficial plan. Looks like he was taking the first step.
“Yeah. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He sounded worried. No guy ever rang up and started their conversation like that if there was something good to say. That one night of passion, he didn’t have any protection with him, and it had been so long for her that there wasn’t any in her apartment. What kind of guy doesn’t carry around protection?
“Look, it’s fine. I’m on the pill.”
“No, it’s not that. Um, I don’t know how to tell you this. You might have…” There was a pause as he recollected his thoughts. Her thoughts, on the other hand, were in overdrive.
“Oh god,” she whispered down the phone. How could she have been so dumb? How could HE have been so dumb? How could they both have… ‘oh, what’s done is done,’ she thought. ‘He’s given me something. I am wracked with some virus because of this guy.’ Her life was forever changed and it was all his fault. Surely people with STI’s should be made to reveal it before any sexual encounters? Maybe made to wear a big badge that displayed their defects so you had all the information before copulation.
“I’m sorry. You might have…” Felicia’s mind went through the list of possible sexually transmitted diseases as her heart started to beat faster, “Time travel.” She had obviously misheard him. She ran through the last words to see if any of the diseases on her list might match up to what he had actually said. There were no matches.
“Time travel. It’s hereditary. It was passed down to me from my father’s side of the family, but it can also pass between two people through sexual contact. If you have it, you might pass it to one of your kids. If you ever decide to have kids.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Felicia could feel her heart beating faster as anger jumped up to join the panic. This guy must be crazy. This is some sort of prank.
“Time travel. I know it’s a lot to take in all at once. I have it. And now I may have given it to you. I’m sorry.”
“Who are you?” Felicia could feel her voice rising as the anger started to intensify inside of her. How dare this stupid boy make her feel like this? God, she sure knew how to pick them. Looks like it was going to be another six months of loneliness while she tried to recover from this weirdo.
“Michael Saunders. We met at Stardust.”
“Look, yes, I did meet a guy at Stardust over the weekend, and yes, you might be him. But this is not funny! If this is your idea of a joke, then you should know that I am not laughing!” She was yelling down the phone now, her anger palpable. The frustration of dating immature guys and weirdos trying to chat her up over the years rose deep inside her and bubbled over the edge. Stupid boys and their ridiculous pranks. As if they were still in primary school. If this was a joke, she was going to give him the biggest blasting of his life.
“I have you down in my phone as ‘HOT’. Do you remember?”
Synapses fired as further memories solidified. The flash of memory raced across her mind. Before they left Stardust that night, they swapped numbers, and gave their details to their respective friends, to ensure that if either went missing, their friends could get in contact with them. Chivalry for the modern age – they were still having a one night stand, but just making sure everyone knew where they were. She recalled how sweet it seemed at the time, even as they drunkenly stumbled all over each other. When it was time for Felicia to put her number in his phone, she changed the name to ‘HOT’ and laughed loudly when he defiantly saved it anyway, against her protestations. She offered to save his details under the name ‘BIG DICK’ but he jokingly said he didn’t want to disappoint her. Just a couple of young adults messing around.
This helped to prove that the guy on the other end of the phone could actually be Michael, the dude she met at Stardust over the weekend. He was sure revealing his nutter side now. How stupid did guys think women were? Felicia could feel her heart racing as the white hot anger built up inside of her. She’d seen too many immature guys and seen her friends fall for dumb pranks to want to be involved in that sort of thing anymore. The next time she dated, it would be with an older guy – someone who understood her maturity. Little Mr Michael didn’t realise it just yet, but he had thrown away his only chance with her. In her frustration and anger, she flung the towel on her head at the cupboard and it fell to the floor.
As Felicia’s heart beat quickened, she realised she could also hear it thumping in her ears. The two beats were slowly becoming desynchronised. The sound in her heart stayed the same but the sound in her head sped up. A creaking noise reverberated through the room and it made her turn towards the cupboard, where the sound emanated from. The cupboard door was slowly easing open. As she watched, it continued to open but seemed to slow down, until it was completely frozen. Time seemed to have slowed down so much, she felt like she was in a horror movie. The inner voice in her head was screaming out in terror. The walls of the room felt like they were expanding. A monster was going to walk out of the cupboard. The walls of the room seemed to race away, leaving Felicia feeling like she was high on drugs. She was holding her breath, but didn’t feel short of breath. It was as if in this very second she had either stopped breathing or no longer needed to breathe. Like a video skipping forward a single frame, the vision of a single eye appeared in the darkness of her cupboard. The second seemed to stretch out into infinity. Unsure if it had been a second or a thousand years since the appearance of the apparition, it vanished. One second, the cupboard door was opening in super slow motion, and just as an eye became visible, smash cut to a second image, exactly the same scene but with subtle differences. The cupboard door was now closed, as if it had always been closed, as if the actions of the past few seconds had never happened. She exhaled, and it felt like the biggest breath she had ever let out. As the air escaped her lungs, the walls of the room returned to normal. Felicia was jolted back to reality. She felt like something had slammed her in the chest, and she fell back on the bed, still wearing the wet towel. The phone flew out of her hand and bounced against the wall before it fell down to the floor beside the bed. There was the sound of running water, and Felicia realised that the shower in her en suite was running.
She cautiously got up, her veins filled with ice. Was it likely that Michael had somehow drugged her and then broken into her apartment while she slept? She tiptoed to the bathroom, convinced that when she got to the doorway, she would see Michael standing there, waiting for her. The towel was attempting to come loose, and Felicia gripped it tightly to her body, her knuckles white from the effort. Steam was gathering at the floor of the bathroom as she peered inside, bracing for the worst.
Facing the shower head, away from the open door, Felicia could see…. Felicia. Herself. Showering. Singing softly to herself. Exactly the same way she was about 15 minutes ago.
She drew back into the bedroom in shock. Was this a dream? Was she dead? Did Michael give her some sort of hallucinogen? What the hell was going on?
She was experiencing a moment that she previously lived. Is this what dying was like? Wasn’t your life supposed to flash before your eyes before you died? Felicia hoped it would be more than just the last 15 minutes.
No, there had to be a rational explanation to this. She needed to find her phone and find out what was going on. Just then, the sound of the shower stopped. Felicia was out of time. She needed to hide.
Dashing as quietly as she could, Felicia raced towards the cupboard, the only item of furniture she knew had space to hide her. Inside, it was pitch black. The door didn’t have any openings for her to peer through, so she listened with her ear to the door to see if she had been discovered. By herself. From the past. What would happen if she found herself? Naked in the cupboard, naked in her room – two naked Felicia’s screaming hysterically at each other. What if someone came to help? It would be so embarrassing.
“Hello?” came the voice, Felicia’s voice, not from her lips but from the lips of the girl who looked like her and acted exactly as she did minutes before. She could hear herself searching the room. The phone rang. She answered. Exactly as Felicia had done. As if she was stuck in a loop where she had to relive the past 15 minutes all over again. Felicia in the cupboard had a look around at her surroundings. She was reminded that something came out of the cupboard while she was on the phone to Michael. The phone call was obviously happening right this second, but Felicia couldn’t see anything in the cupboard with her. Just her clothes. And yet, she had seen an eye coming out of the cupboard. Maybe it was a hallucination from whatever was happening to her? Once this was all over, she expected that she would wake up in a hospital bed, the doctors asking questions about where the drugs had come from. Well, she would be only too happy to dob in that Michael guy.
Standing there in the cupboard with just a towel wrapped around her, Felicia realise she didn’t have her phone on her. It was still on the floor beside the bed. What happened if the current Felicia – wait, was she the future Felicia? – found the second phone? ‘But I didn’t find it the first time this happened’ she thought. The sound of the phone call had stopped her before she finished searching the room. What were the rules here? Maybe you couldn’t meet yourself, because if you did you would already remember it. Just thinking about it made her brain hurt. She wondered, if this happened again, would she forever be trying to put the pieces together about her past adventures. She pinched herself but nothing happened. If you dream pinched yourself, would it wake you up? It was supposed to, right?
A heavy thud on the door of the cupboard made Felicia focus back on the sounds in the room. Current Felicia had thrown her towel in disgust and frustration, and would soon be hyper ventilating. She decided it was the right moment to risk trying to have a look at what was happening, while present Felicia would be distracted by the phone call and the outrageous claims being made. She pushed the cupboard door open as slowly as she could manage. The hinges of the door creaked softly, but in the current situation it sounded as loud as a grenade going off. The figure in front of her, current Felicia, the Felicia doppelganger, was even wearing the same towel and had her phone in her hand. She was turning to look at the cupboard, her movements seeming to slow as every second passed. As the figure finally turned around to face her, there was a brief flash across her face before she blinked out of existence. Felicia was reminded of a flick book, where each new page replaces the previous images to convey movement. One second, two Felicia’s stared at each other, the next, only one Felicia remained. She stepped out of the cupboard to regain her thoughts and get some air.
The ringtone filled the air for the second time that afternoon. Felicia jumped when she heard the music. Her phone was ringing. The future version of the phone. The now current version of her phone? She looked over the bed, and there it was – it had fallen to the floor beside the bed. She picked it up and turned it over in her hands to make sure there was nothing strange about it before she answered it.
“It’s Michael Saunders.”
“What was that?”
“What happened?” He sounded worried. Good.
“I must have passed out or something. It feels like I’ve had a dream or a hallucination. What did you do to me?”
“Did you experience everything as it was 15 minutes ago?”
“It seemed like it. I could see myself in the shower.”
“Wow, I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. This has never happened to me before. I think we should meet up so I can explain.”
“What have you done to me?”
“Let’s meet up. I’ll tell you everything I know about Time Travel, the sexually transmitted infection.”