A Stitch In Time
"You're not going to believe this, but this is the seventh time that I've come to you," stated David, looking up at the sky-blue ceiling of the office. "I haven't told you that before, on the other visits, but it's true."
"Mister Donaldson, I can honestly say that I've never met you before," countered Doctor Silverman, in that same voice that David had always found soothing.
"You're right, you haven't, but I've met you."
"Perhaps you would care to elaborate?"
"Someone's messing with time," explained David, inwardly pleased when he heard the Doctor's pencil stop its scratching. "This is the fifteenth time that I've relived this year of my life."
"Really?" asked Silverman, now scribbling furiously on his notepad. "And of these repeats of this year, you've come to me on the last seven of them?"
"Actually, I skipped last year."
"And now you've decided to return. Why is that, David?"
"Well, after the last time…. After the last time, I wasn't sure that I wanted to see you again, but I kind of missed you. Even after what you had done to me last time."
"What did I have done to you, David?" asked Silverman, intrigued by the premise that the man had presented him.
"You had me committed," answered David, plainly. "Not that I blame you, really. I mean, I know how fantastic this sounds, but it was such a shock after the previous cycles that I didn't know what to make of it."
"That's what I've decided to call them. Cycles."
"So, what you're telling me is that you've repeated this year fifteen times. That you've actually managed, somehow, to live forty-three years though you're only twenty-eight."
"See, that's why I like seeing you, John," said David, momentarily surprising Silverman by knowing his first name. The Doctor quickly dismissed the notion, realizing that David must have read it from one of the many diplomas hanging about the office, despite the fact that he had entered the room and had gone directly to the leather couch. "You help me look at the cycles in different ways."
"Why don't you start at the beginning, David? When did you first suspect that time was repeating it self?"
"Well, actually, I didn't realize it at first. I mean, who remembers exactly how things happened a year ago? I thought I was just having some kind of lapse, you know, how you sometimes write the wrong year when you date something, just out of the blue. The only thing is, I was writing next year's date."
"Are you happy in your life, David?"
"Most of the cycles have been fairly decent," said David, thinking of how things had been nearly identical year after year after year after…. "Two cycles ago, when you had me committed, that was the worse."
"David, if you have been reliving this year over and over, then I'm sure that you know a majority of things that are going to happen. Political events, sporting events, any number of incidents that are to occur."
"Yeah, I do," stated David, something sad in his voice.
"I take that there's something unpleasant on the horizon," theorized Silverman, trying to entice David into explaining further.
"It was really the third cycle before I was positive that I was reliving this year again," said David, dropping the subject of what was to come. Silverman scribbled down more notes on the fact, deciding that David could not reveal future events because, when proven wrong, it would contradict his delusion. "By then I had had enough second thoughts to recognize things occurring again. To be absolutely certain that I wasn't having some blasted nightmare."
"David, life can often be repetitive, and can lead us to feel like we're just living the same day over and over. We become bored with our jobs, we're unhappy with the path that our life is following. All of these…"
"Aspects can conspire to make us feel like we're stuck in a rut that we can't free ourselves from," interrupted David, finishing the very sentence that Silverman had already formulated saying.
"That's a very astute observation, David," complimented Silverman, believing that David had simply extrapolated from the beginning of his statement.
David sat up on the couch and faced Silverman for the first time since he had entered the office. "You've said it to me six times before."
"And did I make any progress with you the previous times?" wondered Silverman, leaning back in his own chair.
"Actually, it was the other way around. I made progress with you, but it was always too late. Last time, I really jumped the gun, and that was when you had me committed. When the end came, you came for me, but it was too late."
"The end?" asked Silverman. "The end of…?"
"I've decided to do things different this time, John," said David, standing up and pulling a small envelope out of his pocket and extending it towards the Doctor. "There's two sets of numbers in here, with dates."
Silver opened the envelope and removed the slip of paper; his brow furrowing, as he looked at the numbers, realizing that they resembled a lottery sequence.
"That first set is tonight's winning numbers. No body wins, but you're going to be kicking yourself in the ass for not playing them. No one's supposed to win next week, either, but I'm hoping that you'll overcome your professional doubt and play them."
"What's the point in all of this, David?"
"I like you, Doc. I always have, even after the last time," said David, walking towards the door. "I'm hoping to convince you that I'm telling you the truth, and that then you'll help me find a way to stop this before it's too late."
"David, I want to help you," pleaded Silverman, sincerely, standing up to try and persuade the man not to leave yet.
"I know, John. But there's something coming that's more important that we stop, and we're going to need a lot a money to have any chance of doing that."
"What do you thinks going to happen that we have to stop, David?
"The end of the world."
Silverman paused, surprised by the declaration, and David slipped out the door. Silverman darted across his office and flung open the door, startling his secretary as he looked about for the young man.
"Is everything all right, Doctor Silverman?" asked Tracey, worried.
"Mister Donaldson, where did he go?"
"He left rather hurriedly," said Tracey, concerned that the young man had done something. "Are you okay?"
"I, uh, yes, Tracey. I'm fine."
"Was there a problem with Mister Donaldson? Should I cancel his appointment for next week?"
"He made another appointment already?" asked Silverman.
"Yes, at the same time he made the first one, for exactly one week later."
Silverman looked to the paper that he held in his hand, and turned it over to examine the two lines of numbers again. He was not a betting man, and he never paid much attention to the lottery, but he was willing to bet that there was no way that the numbers he held in his hand were the ones that were going to be drawn that evening.
Chuckling, Silverman wondered if David would actually return next week. He hoped so; he truly wanted to help the man, and what better way to begin breaking down his delusion about the repeating of time than the proof that his lottery numbers were wrong?
Silverman dismissed the brief thought, chiding himself for even considering it. It didn't matter how earnest the man had seemed, it was impossible that time was repeating it self, and the part about the world ending was just as absurd.
Yes, he would watch the lottery drawing that evening, and tomorrow he would begin outlining a plan of treatment and therapy for David Donaldson, on the off chance that man did return next week.
Doctor Silverman finished out his day, seeing two more patients, meeting with some colleagues for drinks, and then retiring to the spacious, second-floor duplex that he rented.
His night went on, as usual, as it had for the previous fifteen cycles, until the first number that appeared on his television screen matched the one scribbled on the paper before him.
By the time the final number had been drawn, all of them having matched in the precise order that they had been written, Silverman's world had been turned upside down.
"It can't be," he spoke to himself, looking down at the numbers for next week's drawing. "It can't be."
Next week's meeting with David Donaldson was going to be very interesting.
A/N: I may or may not follow up on this. I intended it to be a single, open ending story, but I kind of like that set-up, and may decide to continue with it. Let me know what you think.