He concluded it was the scotch when he thought about it later before dismissing it, if never, the rest of his life, ever quite forgetting it. He’d had a couple or three single malts at the hotel bar before grabbing a sandwich next door and taking it back to his room on the fourth floor. He figured on gnawing at it in front of the ballgame while sitting around in his underwear, but first, before he turned on the TV and after tossing the bag with the sandwich in it onto the bed, he stood at the window. And shifted.
He equated the feeling to watching a movie about the past. Ancient Egypt, maybe, and there on the desert plain is the half-constructed pyramid of Giza, a couple guys riding camels, other people milling about, as the sun was setting. A serine scene of the past that could only be experienced in the future, detached, through a lens, untouchable, and long vanished.
LIKE what it felt like, but not IT, because through the north facing fourth floor hotel window he looked down at his own time and all he could see was traffic. The Interstate moving rapidly east-west, the busy thoroughfare across the overpass north-south, the sun already set, no buildings of note, no landmarks, just crowded headlights of moving vehicles bathed in a yellowish hue of mercury filled high pressure sodium streetlights. A modern pyramid in motion.
And he wasn’t there.
The world before him could exist only for a brief flash of time and he had shifted out-of-body, watched it like an archeologist examining a fossil, utterly removed from the reality of it and emotionless. Snapshot of fleeting technology, economics, and sociology; lives lived radically different from their parents and hopelessly obsolete from their children. The person he had shifted out of was in there, and he had been removed into some future being, looking down, seeing the past, recognizing existence as a fleeting monolith destined for demolition and reconstruction and feeling zero ownership of it because it wasn’t him. He existed somewhere else, in some other time, far in the future, in a completely different life.
But suddenly he couldn’t bear it. He wasn’t sure later how long he had stood there, seconds or minutes, likely felt longer than it actually was. Something in the scene yanked back at him. It was as though his mind had stumbled onto non-linear perception senses waiting right there to be accessed, and the rest of the brain quickly suppressed it, like a psychosis blocking memory. An ability he had not sufficiently evolved mental acuity to interpret sanely. He felt dizzy. He could feel his feet on the floor with the sensation of pins and needles. He laid back on the bed, his head swimming.
The scotch, he decided. Just a little drunk. That’s all.
As his linear life continued, the sensation would occur briefly again, but never as profoundly. And having shifted before it became less frightening, even to the point he would try to bring it on at will, at which he had limited success. He began to consider – again, fueled by scotch while home sitting on his deck or in his study – that life indeed was not linear, but the ability to perceive such was limited by evolutionary progress. Just as different creatures had different abilities to see or hear or smell, perception of time was relative. He began to consider that, properly evolved, it was possible to shift into other time periods as easily as walking into other rooms. He imagined the mechanics of shifting, theorizing it couldn’t simply occur in thin air but required other beings to shift into and out of. That each shift required two or more beings sharing their perceptions across time. He wondered if shifting required shared acquiescence, or if, as it must have been that first time with him, it was sometimes imposed, or perhaps simply an accident. As the scotch flowed, he wondered if he had actually experienced his own life, or if it was someone else living through him. Or if, in fact, it was he who had shifted and confiscated another’s life in another time, and he was in fact somewhere else, in some other time, far away.
On this first shift, however, whether accidental or not, it was all too much. So he shrugged it off, lifted his butt off the mattress so he could strip down to his underwear, turned on the TV and began gnawing his sandwich. And tried to forget about it.
* * *
BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations and rarely have anything to do with each other. Duality and such …
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.