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Authors: James L. Rubart

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BOOK: The Five Times I Met Myself
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“You’re saying I’m crazy? That it’s all in my head?” Brock wandered back through his living room and out onto his deck.

“No. I am not saying that. I’m simply trying to explain why I cannot offer an assessment or even attempt to answer the question you just posed, which was, ‘Is this really happening to me?’ Is it happening in your head at the least? We can answer that question in the positive. Is it happening in the construct of physical reality? I don’t know, and I don’t believe it is wise to guess.”

“All I’m asking is, is it possible? Or am I crazy?”

“I recall you mentioning in our first conversation that you are a man of faith. Am I correct in that?”

“Yes. I am.”

“As am I. Consequently, we both likely ascribe to the maxim that with God, all things are possible, yes?”

“Yes.” Brock stared at the dark sky. Rain was coming.

“Then I suppose you have to ask yourself if you believe that or not.”

“I believe that, but not for something like this.”

“Ah, I see. So all things are possible for this God of ours except for the ones you decide are not possible. Have you given him a list to make sure he doesn’t do anything you don’t approve of?”

“This is science fiction. Fantasy.”

“Some would say the same thing about the parting of the Red Sea, or dead and dry bones rising up and becoming an army. Some say those are simply metaphors, stories, not accounts of true incidents. What do you believe?”

“At least tell me how to get control of this insanity.” Brock climbed his exterior circular stairs to the rooftop deck of his house
and slumped into a chair. “I have to fix it. I have to go back again and do whatever is necessary to set things right.”

“Have you ever considered the idea that you’re not in control of any of it? And never have been?”

“If I’m not in control, then who is?”

“As I said a moment ago, I suppose you need to ask yourself what you truly believe.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“According to the belief system it seems we both attempt to adhere to, either the Lover of our souls is in control, or the enemy of our souls is in control. You didn’t really think you were, did you?”

“That’s the whole point of your book! That we can control our dreams. Are you saying that’s not true?”

“I suggest we schedule an in-person rendezvous. When can you meet?”

“Right now.”

Shagull laughed. “The soonest I can get together with you is day after tomorrow. Will that work?”

“Not sooner?”

“I’m sorry, Brock. I have other matters to attend to that prevent me from seeing you before then.”

Chapter 35

M
AY
28, 2015

I
haven’t been dreaming, but when I do next time, how do I know I won’t make it worse?” Brock clomped back and forth across the hardwood floors of Dr. Shagull’s home. “How can I know what to try to change?”

“I don’t know.” The doctor studied him from his kitchen chair as if looking at a rare painting he might buy.

“Then how do I get things back to the way they should be?”

“And how should they be?”

The question was excellent. Did he want them exactly the way they were before this whole nightmare started? Not exactly, no. He wanted to have loved Karissa better, to have been more involved with Tyson. To have treated Ron as a brother and not an enemy. And a million other things.

“I’m not sure how they should be.”

“It would be difficult to advise you on how to bring things back to a state of ‘I’m not sure.’ ”

The doctor picked up a teacup and set it in the middle of a white sheet of paper. He moved it millimeters back and forth till he seemed satisfied it was dead center, then pulled out a mechanical pencil. He drew a circle around the cup, lifted it, then drew two more circles with the lines overlapping so there was a small space in the middle where the three circles intersected.

“See this?” The doctor glanced down at the piece of paper, then back up at Brock. He tapped on the spot with his pencil where the three circles intersected, then filled in the area with quick strokes so it was shaded gray. “This is the area I’m fascinated with.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s what all my research has led me to.” The doctor drew a quick circle around the area. “It’s the place where the past, present, and future meet. The place of dreams where there are never any barriers of time.”

“You’re saying that’s where we’re at when we dream.” Brock pointed at the gray area.

The doctor nodded. “The place where life can be altered forever.”

“The kind of altering I’ve been doing.”

“Apparently.”

“Altered forever, meaning I can’t go back. Make things the way they were before.”

“On paper.” The doctor stared at the diagram and went silent. “I don’t know if it’s even truly occurring.”

“What do you mean
on paper
?”

“I’m saying it’s theoretically possible for you to be doing what you’re doing, but highly unlikely. So you’re either crazy, or . . .” Shagull leaned back and studied Brock for a long time. “For example, speaking of time travel, it is theoretically possible. But
no serious scientist thinks it can actually be done. In the same way, I think you can access this plane”—the doctor tapped the paper again—“in theory, but not in reality. However, you might have proven me wrong.”

“I don’t understand. Let’s pretend for a moment I’m doing what you don’t think is possible—and believe me, I’m not sure it’s possible even though it’s happening to me—are you saying I’m not really there in my past?”

“No, you are there. But not in a way most people would understand.”

“Yeah, most people. Like me.”

Dr. Shagull pushed the paper with the three circles back in front of Brock and tapped the center once more.

“I’m saying you might be outside of this plane of existence.”

“Ah, now it all makes sense.”

“Good to see you still have a sense of humor.” The doctor tapped the paper again. “I believe this is not only where the past, present, and future meet, it’s also the place where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit intersect. They are separate, yet One.”

Brock shook his head.

“Stay with me, Brock. If you can believe that this truth is real, that there is a place where the past, present, and future exist together, and if you can believe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in that moment as well, then you can believe they can take you to a place outside of time where you can communicate with your younger self.”

“I don’t care where the place is, or what it is, I just want to know what to do when I get there.”

“But I care where that place is, and your case has the potential to revolutionize my research. So in a way, that makes us partners.”

Brock drove back to the houseboat more confused and frustrated than before he’d talked to Shagull. He didn’t care about the science behind his dreams, and he didn’t like how the doctor sometimes looked at him like he was a lab rat. And he still had no idea what he should attempt the next time he dreamed.

As he clomped along the dock to his houseboat he spotted Beth turning away from his door.

“Hey, Beth.”

Her smile lit up the early evening air.

“Did you forget about me?”

“Umm . . .”

“We haven’t missed a Thursday-night game in over two and a half years.” She held out a cribbage board and a deck of cards. “I thought this might be the evening we broke our streak.”

“No, uh, I didn’t forget.”

She laughed. “Yes, you did! But I forgive you.” She motioned toward the rooftop deck. “On top as usual?”

“Yeah, perfect,” Brock said. “I’ll be right up.”

Brock joined Beth three minutes later. He carried a bag of peanut butter–filled pretzels and a strawberry lemonade for each of them, then settled into the deck chair on the opposite side of a small wood table. He set down the drinks and pretzels and motioned for her to deal.

After getting skunked the first game and beating her by nineteen points in the second, Brock watched Beth set the cards aside and drill him with those knowing eyes.

“Talk to me. What’s the latest?”

“I need to dream again.” He tossed a pretzel off the top of
the deck into the water. Three ducks thrashed toward the treat.

“Excuse me?”

“I’ve ruined my life and the lives of the people I love. If I dream again, I think I can fix things. The problem is, I don’t know what I should change.”

“From what you’ve told me over the years, it doesn’t sound like you need to think about sleeping, you need to celebrate the fact you’re finally waking up.”

“You’re probably right. I’m finally starting to see.”

“Yes, I believe you are.” Beth winked. “Your eyes are opening.”

“To what?”

“You want my un-Photoshopped answer?”

“Yes.”

“I believe God is allowing your eyes to open to the chains that are wrapped around you, and the ones wrapped around Karissa. And I believe you have the power to cut those chains so you can live the life you were designed to live. One of freedom. He can give you new vision.”

“So you’re a doctor.”

“No. He is the Surgeon, but I sometimes assist.” Beth’s voice grew soft and she leaned across the table. “And if you’re willing, God will apply his laser technology to your eyes.”

“Spiritual Lasik.”

“Yes.”

Brock sat back and folded his arms. “From the look on your face, I’m assuming God or someone else helped perform this type of operation on you.”

“And I’ll be eternally grateful that he did.”

“And how did it turn out? Do you now see as clearly as you want to?”

Beth slid both hands around her lemonade, pulled it close, and stared at it for so long Brock wondered if she’d heard the question. Were those tears behind Beth’s glasses? Brock couldn’t tell.

“Yes. I do see clearly now. Too clearly, and often the light is too bright. In so many ways I wish I was still blind and I could shield my eyes from the truth, because my surgery came far too late in life. But if I could block out the truth, I wouldn’t have been able to help the Brocks of the world, and pray for them, and encourage them to open their hearts and eyes wider than they knew was possible.”

Brock wasn’t sure if he should thank Beth or excuse himself gracefully and call it a night. But he needed guidance. He needed a clue about what to do in his next dream, and what to do until he dreamed again. Brock was a man hurtling down the highway without any lug nuts on the tires, and God was the only one with a tire iron.

“Let’s say I’m willing to step into the operating room. What’s next?”

“Sorry to break the news to you.” Beth smiled and shook her head. “You’re already on the operating table.”

“Can I tell you something crazy?” he rose and walked over to Beth.

“Of course.”

“Really crazy.”

“Please.”

“The reason I didn’t know you the other day is because I’ve been having dreams where I talk to my younger self. Then he changes things based on our conversations, and when I wake up my world is one I don’t know.”

Beth glanced at the table. “What did you put in those lemonades?”

“Beth, I’m—”

“I know you’re serious, Brock.” She cocked her head and smiled. “And if you knew my history, you would know I believe you fully.”

“Thank you.” Brock breathed relief.

“But even so, I don’t think your focus should be on dreaming again.”

“Are you kidding? I can’t live this life. It’s falling apart. I need to dream. I have to fix this.”

“What if you can’t dream of your younger self again? What if these dreams have all been inside your head? What if this is your permanent life?”

“I can’t accept that.”

“You might not have a choice.”

“Then what do I do?”

“If what you’ve told me is true, you created this time line. So for the moment, live in it. Live in the now. Take time to pray, to listen for the answers God is giving you. Think about what’s most important.”

“I already know that answer: Karissa.”

“Even more important than Black Fedora, hmm?”

“They’re both important.”

“I see.” She stared at him with the most serious eyes he’d seen from her so far.

“What do you know?”

“Nothing.”

“If God is telling you something, I’d like to know what it is.”

“I know.” Beth patted Brock’s hand like he was a little boy. “You’re going to want a lot of things in the days to come. Don’t worry, I’ve been praying for you and will continue. I do know this: he is for you and will hold nothing back to set you free.”

Beth finished her drink, stood, and walked toward the edge of Brock’s roof. She started down the stairs, then turned and pressed her lips together as if deciding whether to speak or stay silent. She decided to speak. “I should warn you. When I’ve seen God take people down these kind of paths, it doesn’t get easier at the point you’re at. It always gets harder.”

Chapter 36

M
AY
31, 2005

B
rock reached the summit of Mt. Pilchuck at four thirty in the afternoon. His lungs were in decent condition for a man in his early forties, but it had taken him longer to reach the top than he expected. It wasn’t long, two and a half miles, and the grade wasn’t steep, but still, it wasn’t a beginner’s hike. He was thankful the trail had been empty except for two hikers who passed him on their way back down, three-quarters of the way up.

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