The bearded young man didn’t seem like all the other homeless beggars out on the street. He went to the mission to eat free meals and was willing to sleep in the neighborhood homeless shelter despite the nightly fights and the constant snoring from some of the inhabitants.
One night while the young man was finally sleeping, a person nudged him. He thought he was dreaming and didn’t respond immediately. When the person shook him, he finally opened his eyes and looked up at a man that must have been as old as his dad.
“Come with me, young man, unless you want to stay in this God-forsaken place the rest of the night.”
“Who are you?” asked the young man.
“Call me Ted. I want to take you to a much better place than this.”
The young man laid back for a few seconds before finally crawling out of the cot. The stranger led him out of the building and out onto the street. A couple blocks away, two men were having an argument that the young man feared would degrade into gun violence.
“I hope your car is nearby.”
“Right over here,” the stranger said reassuringly.
A few steps away was a beat-up pick-up truck that had seen at least 100,000 miles of rugged driving. The stranger unlocked the driver’s side door and leaned across the bench seat to unlock the passenger side door. The young man got in and the stranger turned the engine over. Seconds later, the truck pulled away and proceeded down the dark street to an unknown destination.
The young man looked at the older man and asked, “Where are we going?”
“Somewhere you never expected to go. I know you don’t belong out here with this human garbage.”
“You act as if you know me.”
“Actually, I do. You’re Don Morgan. It wasn’t fair that they let you go from Hamilton Research. You were so close to perfecting the double-field motive system for them.”
“How did you know about it? Only I and a handful of people know about it and those jokers think I’m wasting my time on it.”
“You’ll get the last laugh on them.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I have faith in you, young man. I’m taking you to where you can finish your work.”
The young man looked skeptically at him.
“I hope I have enough power in the workshop. I have some graphite flywheel units—”
“You have flywheel units?”
“Yeah, I’ve got various sizes. I know how you rely on them to produce the energy required for the fields. Batteries just won’t cut it.”
“They told me they were too dangerous. They would fly apart at such high speeds.”
“But you know better.”
“You better believe it. They only have those expensive lithium-ion batteries and I might be lucky to fly from this state to the next. But with flywheels, I can fly to Canada or Mexico and back.”
“Further than that. If you make the vehicle a hybrid with plasma igniters so that it can use water as fuel, you can fly the vehicle through clouds if you need to refuel. You’ll have unlimited range then.”
The young man stared at the older man as if he were a freak.
“You scare me.”
“Come on,” said the older man as he glanced at the younger man and back at the street. “What do you have to be afraid of?”
“I thought of using a hybrid system just yesterday after being thrown out of my apartment for not paying my rent. I thought I had plenty of money in my account. But an identity thief cleaned me out and before I could stop him, he ran up more debt than I used to make in a month. I was going to pay my rent tomorrow. But somehow my landlord found out I was flat broke and showed no mercy. I can’t pay you rent.”
“You’re going to stay with me for free. After you perfect your system, the profits will instantly remove your money problems forever.”
“I guess you want a cut of the profits. Is that the case?”
“As partners, it’s only fair. I’ll even let you have 75% of the profits.”
“It might be years before I can patent my system and then awhile before any company goes for it. Do you think a company like Boeing is going to chuck its jet engines and go for field displacement? And then they will have to redesign their planes because their wings will be ripped off the fuselage at high supersonic speed.”
“They’ll adjust to the new technology. Your technology is going to advance air travel by decades.”
“I know. I tried to tell them that, but they didn’t want to listen.”
“They’ll forever regret their mistake.”
About half an hour later the truck drove onto an estate that was surrounded by woods with a lake in the back. The garage door opened and the older man drove into a room that was large enough for half a dozen vehicles. Where cars and trucks would have been, there were workbenches, equipment, and materials the young man needed for his work.
“You can sleep in a comfortable bed tonight and for as many nights you want. My house is your house. In the morning after breakfast, you can get to work on your system. The sooner you complete and test it, the sooner you’ll be able to make money from it.”
After seeing the flywheel units on one of the workbenches, the young man said, “I see you kept your word about the flywheel units. That big one is……”
“It’s 5,000 cubic inches of crystalline graphite that is as hard as a diamond. I’ve tested it up to half a million RPMs for three days and it didn’t try to fly apart. So it should be very safe at half that speed. But you’ll not need it until after you place the field emitters on the test vehicle. It’s in one of the sheds.”
“I’d like to see it.”
“In the morning. I’ll give you the grand tour tomorrow. You need your rest. Your room is on the second floor.”
The young man walked into the kitchen and then the living room where some familiar things were either hanging or on the mantle of the fireplace. He dismissed his feelings as confusion but when he entered the bedroom he saw a blanket on the bed that looked like the one he left in the apartment he was thrown out of. At least he knew he would be warm that night.
The next morning, a strange notion came to his mind as he was shaving off the beard. It was as if he had been rescued by an older version of himself. Was that even possible?
The older man was sitting at the breakfast table with coffee and cereal at the place where the younger man was going to be seated. He was a bit embarrassed to ask him the obvious question. Finally, he asked it.
“Excuse me. This might sound crazy, but are you me?”
I can pretty much guess what the older man’s answer will be. Then again, he might be an angel or maybe someone from further in the future. I have written about watchers that observe our dimension from an adjacent dimension. They aren’t supposed to interact with people in this dimension. Maybe you can decide the answer.