Portia and the Double Whammy

Portia and the Double Whammy

By Portia Bennett

This story is the third for Volume II of the Cynthia Chronicles. As to the time frame in which it takes place, I’ll let you decide. I thought some of the readers of the journal, The Cynthia Chronicles, about Cindy Lewis, Bobbie Anderson, Randi Deere, their families, friends and lovers would like to know a little more about how I, Portia Bennett, became the author of these tales. It started many years ago, and to get to be the chronicler for this wonderful group of people has been a strange and wonderful adventure.



A big ‘Thank You’ goes to Holly H. Hart for helping with the grammar and punctuation.

This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.


Portia and the Double Whammy



As usual we were a bit behind the power curve as far as time was concerned. I tend to be a bit anal about getting to the airport on time. Racing through passenger check-in and security is just something I don’t enjoy doing. I’d rather sit in the passenger lounge for an hour than suffer the glares of the passengers who felt we were delaying the flight. More than once we have been the last passengers on a plane when they held it a few minutes for us because of flight problems. Try running from Terminal ‘D’ in Atlanta to Terminal ‘T’. It’s not your fault that weather and equipment have conspired to make the connection as tight as it was. But try to explain that to the impatient passengers in the seat behind you. Why they are worried about a few minutes when the flight was going to take six or eight hours is beyond me.

Well, this time I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. There were lives at stake, although only my wife and I knew it at the time. At least I thought I knew it. This whole thing may have been due to a brain ‘fart’ on my account. I really may have been just losing it. I didn’t think so, though.

We always tried to distribute our goods between the carryon luggage and the checked luggage. We had had enough problems in the past with lost or misplaced luggage, and missed connections to know that we had to carry the essentials with us just in case. Because of my botched prostate cancer surgery a few years before, I needed to carry a supply of absorptive undergarments, along with a change of underwear and a few other things.

These damn regional jets with their inadequate luggage space meant giving up most of the carryon stuff at the gate. We would get it at the other end. I just hoped the flight would be smooth enough that I could get to the restroom while in flight. I didn’t want to have an ‘accident’ before I could get to a restroom at the terminal. That had happened in the past, and although it was not disastrous, it was uncomfortable and inconvenient. I don’t know why I worried about it, though. Because if everything happened the way it was supposed to, I didn’t need to worry about that sort of thing for much longer.

I shouldn’t say ‘supposed to’. There wasn’t any ‘supposed to’ about it. It was just going to happen. His Wisdom said that everything they could see pointed to that fact.

So, what was going on? My wife of forty plus years and I were on a regional flight to Dallas, where we would catch an international flight to Copenhagen. We were going to ‘Host’ a group of 35 tourists taking a cruise from Copenhagen through the Baltic then around Norway through the Fjord Country before returning to Copenhagen. We had done this trip several times before, and had always enjoyed it. Our ship would have only 400 passengers on the ‘all inclusive’ voyage. Talk about luxury! The passengers didn’t have to pay for a thing on board other than their basic fare. Some of the shore excursions were extra, but on board, you didn’t have to pay a penny extra for almost everything. The 35 in our group were going to have to do without us, though.

The flight to Dallas was uneventful, and as we had already cleared security at our departure point, it was just a matter of dragging our carry-on luggage to the international terminal where we would pick up our flight to Copenhagen in about two hours.

We entered the boarding lobby to join the other early arrivers. There would always be a few last minute stragglers. Some had delayed connections; some didn’t plan their connecting flights very well, and just didn’t plan for the time it takes to board an international flight. Some were local and just couldn’t get to the airport on time.

“Do you really think it’s going to happen?” my wife asked as we settled into our seats. I had the window seat. I enjoyed seeing what was below, and as we were going pretty far north on the flight, I would be able to see where we were for quite a while. Not that it mattered.

“I’m not one who has much faith in things that I don’t have some sort of tangible evidence of; however, you met him and the others. I was as surprised as you were. After all, here were some imaginary folks, people I had written about, except they were real. You saw what they could do, as I did.

“I don’t think that we would have felt what we experienced was real except that we both experienced it. I don’t think it was a joke or some sort of mass hypnosis. I mean, you read what I wrote about them, and there they were — as real as could be.” I turned to my wife. We weren’t talking very loudly, and there was no reason to let on to the other passengers about what we felt was going to happen. It was a moot point, one way or the other.

“I guess the magic tricks plus the talking cat, wolf, and that cute little ferret convinced me pretty quickly that it was all real. Betty is such a doll, and little Linda is the image of her mother. After reading your story about Randi, I expected her to be a bit on the bimboish side, but she really is a very beautiful, but wholesome appearing young woman. My goodness, she has almost completed a PhD in chemistry. That is amazing.

“Well, if it doesn’t happen, we’re going to have a nice trip. If it does happen, we are going to have a very interesting trip. We shall see. I hope it works.”

“I think it will,” I said. “Race you on the crossword puzzle.”

As sure as I was that things were going to happen as predicted, I couldn’t help but be nervous about it. It wasn’t too long before we were crossing the Red River, and then we were crossing the Missouri River somewhere in Missouri. Then it was Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron all coming together. Then we were over Canada.

I probably had less than a tenth of a second to realize that it happened. I saw the surface of the wing start to crack, and then it was over — nothing. He said that was the way it would be. I was told that the sudden deceleration would kill everyone instantly. It wouldn’t be like what was depicted on that television show; however, we found out in the last episode that what was shown on the first show didn’t really happen that way, anyway.

You might have some issues with the fact that we were pretty sure that the plane would be destroyed. Why didn’t we do something? You know, warn the authorities that there was going to be a catastrophic failure of the wing. All it would amount to would be that we would be kept from flying, and when it did happen, who knows what would happen to us. The main thing was we wouldn’t be on the plane. His wisdom told us that he had checked out as many universes as possible, and in each one, the same thing happened. The destruction of the plane was written into the fabric of the universe — all of them.

We were basically hitching a ride on the event. What we were doing had no bearing on the plane’s destruction. As tragic as the event would be, we were assured that there were places for all of the passengers and crew.

Be that as it may, at that point we were all dead.

Chapter 1

There are some sorts of shopping that I really enjoy. Going to antique malls is a lot of fun as long as they are not junk malls. You know the type. When I go grocery shopping or to the department store, I hate to linger. I want to go in, get what I need, and get the hell out of there. I don’t find browsing racks of new stuff very entertaining. If I need some new underwear, I go to the underwear depart, get what I need, and I’m gone. Of course it’s much more complicated for ladies. There are many more parts that need to be properly fitted. A 34B bra is just the beginning of the search. One ‘B’ is not the same as another.

I needed a coat on that particular day, and found one relatively quickly.

“I think you need some new dress shoes,” my wife said.

“There’s nothing wrong with the ones I have,” I replied.

“Your black wing tips don’t go that well with your new suit.”

She had talked me into getting a new suit for our upcoming trip. I had given in, and we went to Stein Mart where we found a very nice suit, I’ll have to admit. Then she wanted to look at forty-three other things. That’s what pisses me off some times. We were going for a suit, then all this other crap gets thrown in. I might have been nicer about it, but my adult absorptive undergarment was going to need to be changed soon. That was just one more thing that took the edge off a shopping trip. It’s not easy to change in many public restrooms. The stalls are confining, and sometimes the floors are wet. You never know.

Well, here we were looking for shoes in the Dillard’s shoe department. There was a sale going on. I think she knew that. Of course she did. She saw it on the last page of the first section of the newspaper that morning. The next thing I knew, I was trying on several pairs of shoes. One actually fitted very nicely, was comfortable, and didn’t look too bad. Done! Sold! Let’s get the hell out of here. I think I actually said that.

It was not to be.

The whole shopping thing wouldn’t be that bad, except that it was literally painful for my wife. Years of being overweight have taken their toll on her knees and hip. The high created by shopping is eventually overcome by the aches and pains of advancing age.

I didn’t exercise as much as I should and was probably thirty to forty pounds overweight, but walking was never a problem. I would walk at a slow pace to our next destination only to discover I would have to wait several times for my wife to catch up. I waited at an intersection of several mall corridors, and I was looking around a bit, enjoying the beauty of some of the female shoppers, while mentally clucking my distress over how little some people put into looking even halfway decent when they went shopping. There was a woman wearing sweat pants who was on the plus side of 350 pounds. The pants were so tight that I could see the outline of her thong. She stopped at a drinking fountain and leaned over to get a drink, revealing to the world the thong was pink. I won’t burden you with the rest. Her partner was wearing Levis and a ‘wife beater. I’m not sure how he kept his pants up. It wasn’t very pleasant. He probably carried close to 450 pounds on his 5’10” frame.

That was when I saw it. I mean, you have to be shitting me. It was down at the end of the short corridor towards the restrooms and business offices for the mall. My eyes aren’t the best. I have a lot of floaters left over from several detached retina problems, plus cataracts are starting to show up.

“What are you looking at? Surely not that pair by the drinking fountain.”

“I was, briefly. No … what does that sign say?”

“Toys R Us.”

“Are you sure?”

“Certainly. What else would it say?”

“Read it again. Besides, Toys R Us would never be back in a place like that.”

“Well, that’s what it says. No, wait a second, it says Spells R Us. Isn’t that that crazy place where that wizard does all that transgendered stuff you write about. What is this — some sort of a joke? Did you get one of those crazy friends of yours to put that sign up?”

“What friends,” I replied. “The only friends, with a couple of exceptions, I have around here are on the internet. They don’t know who I am, and I certainly didn’t tell them I was going to be at the mall today.”

We didn’t say anything to each other; however, we made our way down the corridor to the little shop. We couldn’t really see what was there until we got to the front of it. There it was: the large plate glass window with the faded and scratched gold leaf lettering. I could see the crowded aisles and display shelves filled with who knows what. I could see a young woman sitting on a stool behind the counter. She was reading a rather thick book, and was working on her laptop computer. She looked up as we entered the shop. The little door bell sounded just like I thought it would.

“Well, well. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, welcome to our little shop. We were hoping that you could get here today.”

“Mommy, I have to go to the baffroom.”

“Sure. I’ll watch Linda while you’re gone. Watch out for the skeletons. You know what happened the other day.”

“Dat’s okay, Mommy, I knows how to fix dem now.”

“You do?”

“Yeth, Osseo erectus, I wemembah that from the othow day.”

“You said that very well, but I think we need to wait a while before you practice with the magic words. Wolf will help watch Linda while you’re back there.”

She turned to my wife and me, “Mrs. Bennett, I’m Randi Deere. Curly top,” she indicated the five-year old heading through the curtains, “is my daughter, Betty, and the one chewing on Wolf’s ear is Linda.”

“Don’t forget us,” the little black cat said as she stretched and humped her back before jumping to the counter top. The little ferret who’d been curled up against Wolf’s belly, stretched before scrambling up a scratching post to sit next to the sleek, smallish black cat.

“I wasn’t going to forget you,” Randi scratched the little black cat’s head. “This is Silky. We’ve been associates for quite a while, and Marvin is Betty’s associate. Linda is a bit young for an associate at this time. She’s just starting to walk.

“So, what do you think, Ryan? Is this what you had pictured in your stories?”

I’m Ryan Bennett, by the way. My wife is Sarah, and we are both on the wrong side of sixty-five. I don’t think I mentioned that earlier. I looked around the crowded little shop, that with the exception of the lack of dust and cobwebs, looked just like I had imagined it. I knew one thing for sure. We weren’t in Kansas, make that Arkansas, anymore.

“Yes, it looks exactly the way I had pictured it. Even better since you’ve been keeping it neat and straight. I guess that begs the question. What in the heck is going on? I’m not into hallucinogens or anything like that. This is just all too real. I can’t be imagining it.”

Just then, little Betty returned from the back room, followed by His Wisdom, wearing a nice, freshly pressed robe for a change. Floating along in front of him was one of those trays from Starbucks.

“Let’s see. I think I have this correct: Sarah, you get the European roast with half and half, and sugar; Ryan, the same for you without the sugar; Betty, here’s your hot chocolate with mini marshmallows; and two Grande Latte Mochas for Randi and me. I had to go across the street. They don’t have a Starbucks in this mall. I guess I could conjure this stuff up, but it’s just better for some reason, if I get it at their shop.”

The Wizard could see that I was eyeing the coffee suspiciously. “Don’t worry; we haven’t done anything to the coffee. We have some serious matters to discuss.”

“Your Wisdom, I am having a little trouble with all of this. Up until a few minutes ago, as far as I knew, this whole thing,” I said indicating the shop and them as well, “was just a figment of my imagination. But here you are. This is the way I imagined the shop would look when I was writing about it — down to the last detail. You do look like Albus Dumbledore. My God Randi looks like, er, looks like …. Well she looks just like Randi should, and I’ll bet Cindy looks just like Cindy. Betty, well Betty looks a little like a slightly chubby Shirley Temple.” Betty looked up and smiled.

“Is there a Bobbie?”

“Yes, there’s a Bobbie,” Randi responded. “She and Cindy are at the clinic, or they would be here to see you. Bobbie said she would be glad to give you some golf lessons.”

“I haven’t played in fifteen years,” I replied.

“Well you never can tell when you might want to play again,” The Wizard replied in a tone that was a bit strange. Hell, I’m nearly 70, and I don’t think I’m going to take up the game again. That was when the enormity of this whole situation began to sink in. As far as I knew, there was no Bobbie Anderson, nee Schmedlap, who had crossed from the LPGA to the PGA. I certainly would have remembered a stunning redhead who destroyed the record book on the LPGA, and then proceeded to create a stir on the PGA that was unprecedented.

“That is a bit of a conundrum, isn’t it,” his Wisdom stated. He was obviously reading my mind. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to go too deep, unless you want me to.

“I’m sure you are wondering what’s going on, and we need to talk about it. Randi, Betty and Linda will keep your wife occupied for a while, as we discuss this.”

I looked to see my wife sitting on a love seat with Linda on her knee, and Betty sitting next to her as she read a children’s book. Randi was back to doing whatever she was doing on her computer.

“If you remember, Randy Mantooth crossed from one universe to another. We were able to transfer Randy’s spirit into the embryo that became Randi.”

“Yes, that’s the way I wrote it,” I said.

“Ryan, we — I am not going to say who we are at this time — have been carefully feeding information to you across the boundary between your universe and another. That is a far easier process than transferring life forms across; however, thanks to the event that brought Randy across, we discovered how we could briefly construct a bridge from one world to another. It is now possible for living beings to cross from one universe to another; however, the process is very energy consuming. There are also the problems that Randy went through, in that the assimilation process is very lengthy. Because of some differences in the energy in the subatomic level, magic will not work. We now know that the assimilation for adults takes decades.”

“That’s all very interesting. So you’ve been feeding me the information, so I could write fiction in this universe about the reality in your universe?” I asked.

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because it is very important that you and your wife understand what’s going on. You both need to believe, and more importantly, understand what the possibilities are. You see, although magic, at least what you call magic in this universe, is no longer a possibility, there are, or rather were still some carriers of the magic gene.”

“You say ‘were’. I take it the last of the carriers are gone.”

“That would be yes, and no. Your wife still carries the gene, but she is no longer able to bear children. No, the carriers, the last two, in this universe, were your grandchildren.”

“Our grandchildren! What has happened to our grandchildren?”

“Your two living grandchildren are fine. They’re not the carriers. No, the two carriers were the two unborn carriers who were terminated by abortion many years ago.”

Chapter 2

“You are aware of the situation I’m talking about, aren’t you?”

I was. That had been so long ago, and I was still heartbroken about it. I think I need to back up a bit and tell you about the situation that has led to where we are at this point in the story. My wife and I have a son and a daughter, and our son is the result of a previous relationship my wife had. Our son was two when we got married. I never felt it was important to know anything about my wife’s past relationship. When we realized we were serious, and I was pretty certain she was the one, she told me that she had not been married. It didn’t matter to me one bit. Our son didn’t realize for many years that I was not his biologic father.

I was in the military at the time, just a little over four years, and had been looking for a relationship. Perhaps if I had been a bit more suave and debonair I might have married sooner; I was 28 when we married. However, things worked out just fine. We never had to deal with being separated from each other for very long periods. I wasn’t a pilot. I was a missile ‘weenie’ and spent my duty on alert in various missile control centers. We didn’t move very often, had a bit of stability, and made some good friends. I wasn’t that successful as an officer and leader. I would have made a much better technician. I retired after nearly 22 years of active duty, and found reasonably good employment in the civilian world. At that time, our children were 20 and 17.

They were good kids. Of course they did many things that we weren’t supposed to know about; however, they never got into serious trouble. Our son graduated from college. It probably took him five years or so. But for that matter, that’s what it took me to complete my undergraduate work. Our daughter went to college for a while, but she just didn’t like it, and eventually went into retail sales and management. She is doing quite well, lives in another state, and has presented us with two grandchildren. Any problems she gave us, she is getting twice over. But that’s not what this whole thing is about. This is about our son.

“What do you want us to do about this?” I asked, probably already knowing the answer.

“As you are aware, we cannot make you do things that will eventually affect the magic world. This includes Sarah. What you do has to be voluntary and from the heart. We have allowed you to know what can be done.”

“I do have a question about that,” I said, maybe sounding just a bit angry. “Have you been pushing my pen, so to speak? Or is what I have written a reflection of the knowledge you have somehow passed on to me?”

“It’s definitely the latter.

“What we want, need, no, hope for is that those two children can be saved. We now have the means, and have had it for a while to perform corporal transfers from one universe to another. It is a very expensive process. From the universe point of view, the expense is so small that it is lost in chaos. Actually, quantum mechanics allows transfers at the smallest particulate size, and calling them particles is only for explanatory purposes. There are billions of transfers going on between universes every second; however; the transfers of large objects have been relatively infrequent in natural cases: Randal Mantooth being one of the exceptions. It takes black holes and super novae for most transfers. Some of us in the magic world have been able to do it without really understanding the process. It was as ‘magic’ for us as it was for everyone else.

“I can travel in time, and we are working on that, but as it stands right now, only the fully magic can do it. We do have to be careful, because sometimes there are unintended consequences. There is the ‘butterfly effect’; however, most of that is gobbled up in chaos. We just have to be careful we don’t hit the tipping points.”

I turned to see that Sarah was listening intently to our conversation. Randi was standing very attentively to one side. I began to realize this was very important, very important. Betty was looking at us, but she was really more intent on keeping track of little Linda. Marvin was sitting on Betty’s shoulder, just as I had pictured he would, pushing his cold little nose into her ear.

Sarah is a lot ‘smarter’ than I am, even though she hasn’t graduated from college. As I found out later, Randi had been explaining some things to her. She was becoming very interested in what The Wizard had to say. “Your Wisdom, from what you are saying, I gather that you want Ryan and me to go back and try to prevent the rift between our son and Angela from ever developing. If we can do this, they will bring their children into the world. If I heard you correctly, you said Angela was going to have twins: identical?”

“No, they were fraternal: far from being identical.”

“I’m not up on all the scientific stuff. I leave that to Ryan; however, if I understood you correctly, you said it wasn’t possible for mortals to go back in time.”

“Mortal is not really the correct term. Witches and wizards are just as mortal as other humans, that is, we will die, too. It’s just that our life spans can be considerably longer. I’ll be a bit over a thousand years old when I retire from running this shop in about a hundred years, but I will have several hundred years after that. I’ll be teaching for quite a while longer.

“What we want, what we desperately hope, is that somehow you can change whatever made your son leave Angela, and go off like he did. We hope that somehow you can keep their love for each other intact so that they will raise their twins, maybe even have more children. If they will do that, we will work a transfer to Randi’s universe so that their children’s magic won’t be lost. We have to do that, because if we don’t, their children’s magic will be lost anyway in this universe.”

“I think you are avoiding answering my question.” My wife had a way of cutting to the chase, and she was obviously not too in awe of His Wisdom or this whole scenario, for that matter. “You want us to go back in time 20 years or more, and prevent the breakup between our son and Angela so that she won’t terminate her pregnancy. I’m all for that; however, you just said that we aren’t able to travel in time like you do.”

“That’s true; however, there is a way.”

“That would be?” my wife said raising her eyebrow.

“You would have to die.

“I’ll let Randi tell you,” His Wisdom said, while gesturing to the beautiful blonde. “Since she’s experienced this little phenomenon, it might help.”

Randi picked up the conversation at that point. “My brother-in-law might be the best example of what we are talking about, although what happened to Cindy and me is pretty close to the same thing. I was born in this universe and grew up as a man. I joined the Air Force and went to Afghanistan. No one knew it at the time, but I had the beginning of an inoperable brain tumor. When I came back I was really screwed up with PTSD. Then I fell through the hole into the universe where I live now. Because of the cancer I died.

“Now, this is the neat thing. They somehow took my spirit, and put it in the embryo my mother was carrying, and here I am nearly 23 years later.”

“Wait a minute,” my wife proclaimed, “that mess in Afghanistan is going on right now, but you’re talking as if it happened 23 or 24 years ago.”

“That’s correct,” Randi replied, “we’ve done a little time travelling to get here. We’re being very careful not to influence too much in this time continuum as it is right now; however, we hope that that won’t matter, because we need you to affect this time line more than 20 years ago.

“My sister, Cindy, grew up in the universe that we now live in. Her spirit was transferred twice. Those transfers are similar to what we are proposing for you. That is, your spirits will be transferred into existing bodies — yours — as they were more than 20 years ago. That’s a bit like what Cindy’s husband went through; however, that was even more complicated because it amounted to splitting and rejoining two time lines. That was extremely complicated, and required some very close monitoring to eliminate any disastrous paradoxes. I can mess with space-time a bit, but that’s still far beyond what I can do.

“So, if we agree to this far fetched scheme of yours, you, or someone takes our spirits and puts them in our bodies of twenty or so years ago. Then we have to straighten our son out so that he doesn’t abandon her. Then hopefully, they will marry, have their babies and live in wedded bliss in this universe where you come from. And hopefully, they will have more children.

“You are certainly going to a lot of trouble. Obviously, if this works, there will be some changes in your universe. You don’t really know if this is going to work or not.”

“You have to realize,” The Wizard said, “that we certainly aren’t going to do anything to affect our past. The entire magic world has been on too precarious a footing in our universe for too long. I was the last wizard for more than 400 years. We finally have another one, Cindy and Don’s first son, and we hope that there might be another. We hope that there will be future generations of wizards. That remains to be seen. The witch situation is on much better footing in our universe, and if Myrna’s genetic research is accurate, we may even have some sorceresses showing up.

“If everything goes according to plan, we will transfer your children and grandchildren into our world. We will make the transfer as seamless as possible. This will mean there will have to be a few adjustments here and there. Much about your world and our world is the same, though.”

“Right,” my wife said sarcastically, “At least in your world you didn’t have to put up with Dubya.”

I realized something at that point. My wife had read parts of my earlier stories when we had only one computer. She made a few comments, and even did a little editing on some things I had in progress. I didn’t think she had read any of my stories about The Wizard, Cindy, Bobbie, and their friends.

“There is a little time for you to think about this. I can have the shop back here in about a week. I’ll let you know specifically through the internet as to when the shop will be here.”

“If you can contact us through the internet, couldn’t we respond the same way?” I asked.

“Certainly, but we thought you might want to meet some of the others before you made your final decision. Give it some thought.

“Okay, I have to be in our world’s Singapore in a few minutes, and Randi needs to get home.”

The Wizard shook my hand and Sarah gave him a hug. Betty and little Linda insisted on hugs and kisses. We got a slurpy one from Wolf, and nose bumps from Marvin and Silky. We both got a very warm embrace and kiss from Randi — on the lips. I may not wash my face for a while. My God what a body! I even felt a bit of a twitch from below, something I hadn’t felt since my prostate surgery.

We stopped just outside the door. I made sure Sarah watched as the Spells я Us shop morphed into a shoe repair shop. “I just wanted to make sure that what I thought would happen, did,” I said as we watched. “Well, what do you think?”

“I say go for it,” Sarah said without a bit of hesitation.

There was one other thing, and I should have realized it. The Wizard and Randi hadn’t been quite telling the truth.

Chapter 3

“Wow, I thought I was going to have to do a sales job on you,” I said not quite believing my wife’s easy acceptance of the situation.

“Obviously,” she replied, “you are thinking the same thing I am. We have nothing to lose. If this is all a figment of our parallel imaginations, we will go on our cruise, have a good time, and come home a bit older and wearier than we were when we left.

“We’ve taken dozens of trips by air, and nothing has gone too wrong yet. Yeah, they’ve screwed up our luggage a few times, but we’ve managed to survive. If we die on one of these adventures, everything will be taken care of. We’ve had a good life. If this crazy thing does work, we’ll save a relationship, save our grandchildren’s lives, and maybe prevent Angela’s death as well.” Angela had been killed in an auto accident a couple of years after our son had ‘fled’ to China to become a Buddhist monk.

I was out of town, when I found out what had been going on. Angela spent hours on the phone with Sarah. She loved our son very much. When she told him she was pregnant, instead of being happy he fled. We just didn’t really understand what was going on. She spent hundreds of our dollars on international phone calls trying to get him to come home. She didn’t have the funds. Finally, she gave up, and had an abortion. That’s what hurt so much. We would have helped her with the children, had we known. It was two years after that when her car crossed the center line and hit a semi head on. They couldn’t determine exactly what happened, but in my heart, I knew she had committed suicide.

What did actually happen those many years before? We’ll never know for sure. Our son, Andy, by the way, could have gone on scholarship to the University of Arkansas, but that was ‘beneath’ him. He applied to a very nice private college in Tennessee, and was accepted there. Of course there is the good news-bad news thing. He didn’t have a scholarship. We managed to get some student loans, and off he went. His university was known to be quite liberal, and that was fine with me. You might wonder why, as I was on active duty at that time. Aren’t all ‘lifers’ in the military members of the far right? Well, that is a hasty generalization foisted on the public, and supported by many depictions of the military in the entertainment world.

Over the years I had been scraping the residue of a far right upbringing from my exterior, as well as purging what I had left in my mind of the rhetoric and dogma I had grown up with. I could spend paragraphs describing what I went through; however, that is not what this is about. Quite frankly, I was a draft dodger. I would have made a very poor soldier. My number came up, and I was drafted. I was going to be going to boot camp and learn how to be cannon fodder. I knew I had to serve in the military in one way or the other. I had no desire to flee to Canada.

I did have one thing going for me, my education, and I felt that my technical knowledge would be more useful in the Air Force than it would be in the Army. So literally, the day after I left college, I was in the Air Force on a delayed enlistment. Ninety days later I was on my way to Basic Training. I had taken the tests for Officer Training School, but had not had a reply concerning my acceptance, so enlisting was the only option available. I found out later, my recruiter never sent my application in. He got more credits for my enlistment, which was a sure thing, than he would if I was not accepted for OTS.

Basic training was not that difficult. You just had to do what they said. During the early processing they discovered I was a college graduate, and asked why I hadn’t applied for OTS. I replied that I had. They eventually discovered my application and test results locked in a filing cabinet in my recruiter’s office. My recruiter had since had a permanent change of station. Because of that little SNAFU, my assignment after basic training was put on hold. It turned out I had done very well on my qualifying tests, and was programmed into OTS about six weeks after getting out of Basic Training.

OTS was tough. Sleep deprivation was part of the training. Somehow I made it through, and on a snowy February day in San Antonio, Texas I became a Second Lieutenant. My scores in pilot and navigator aptitude were very high which proved only one thing. I knew how to take a test. I had absolutely no desire to fly, and to this day firmly believe that I would have been a very poor pilot, if not a dangerous one. It was a moot point. My 20/400 vision kept me far away from the cockpit.

Basically, I ended up being a career officer. I was assigned to become a launch control officer for one of the ballistic missile systems the Air Force controlled. I understood the technicalities of the weapon system very well, and had a good tour of duty, which included meeting my wife. Why career? I was doing well enough, and I had no skills that I could use in the civilian world and support a family. I learned them over the next 21 years, and retired with a nice pension and benefits.

I guess that brings us back to the present situation. What happened that caused our son to become so radicalized? We will probably never know for sure. He had a beautiful, intelligent girlfriend who was an aspiring artist. It was just so strange to see him become so anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian. Sarah and I had talked about it over the years, but just couldn’t figure it out. We had never tried to dominate or oppress him, and the last thing I wanted to encourage him to do was to join the military. In fact, I’m certain that I never mentioned it.

We made preparations for our up-coming trip as if everything was normal. I couldn’t help wondering, though, what would happen to this reality if we really were able to go back in time. I would probably remember many significant events, including company failures (Enron for example) and successes; however, I had a feeling that none of that would be important if we were able to do what we hoped we could. Still, the possibility of making some financial killings was very tempting. If the opportunity arose, we might even be able to stop some events like the Twin Towers and 9/11. I think the last thing we wanted to do was call unnecessary attention to ourselves. Anything we did to change future events might just create a ‘butterfly effect’ that we wouldn’t want to live with. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that to do anything that would bring conspicuous wealth to us might just really screw things up.

So, with those thoughts and some others in mind, I decided not to try to memorize some lottery numbers. If we made huge killings in the stock market, we would just have people looking at us as suspected inside traders. We decided we would let Martha Stewart just do her thing and suffer the consequences. As it would turn out, we never would meet Martha Stewart.

We received an email from The Wizard a few days later saying that he would meet us at the same place that coming Saturday morning. Sure enough, the Spells R Us shop showed up as advertised. One second it was a shoe repair shop, and the next second it was the Spells R Us shop. I was wondering who might be greeting us, and I wasn’t disappointed. Of course The Wizard was in the back; however, there was no mistaking the fiery redhead and the golden blonde who was her companion. There was a beautiful little platinum gray tabby with a bit of yellow ear and hind foot sitting on the counter. And next to her was a sleek short haired silver-gray tabby. They were Bobbie Anderson and Cindy Brewer with their associates Maddy and Chloe. Cindy was pregnant.

“Ah, Sarah and Ryan, it is so nice to finally be able to meet you,” Cindy said as she came forward to give us a hug. I could see she was wearing low heels, yet I had to look up slightly to take in her sparkling blue eyes. I had lost an inch over the last few years, and it was becoming more and more obvious. I had to look up a bit further to take in Bobbie’s gorgeous blue-green orbs. I wondered, as I had the previous week, if I had done justice to these beautiful young women. How young were they, really. I did some quick calculations, and determined that they had to be at least 35. They didn’t look 25. Then I realized Maddy was at least 26.

The Wizard came through the curtain mumbling something about having to take care of some misogynists in Central America. We ended up in the back room having some very nice tea and cakes. Wolf moved in and put his chin on Sarah’s lap. “May I please have a cookie,” he asked. He was doing his best to give a very sad expression.

“Darn it, Wolf. We just got your weight down where it should be, and now you want to go spoil everything.”

“I can’t help it if I like Marissa’s cookies. The only time I get them is when Cindy visits.”

“Ryan, I thought you might want to read these. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to remove them from the shop,” Bobbie said as she handed some magazines to me. They were two copies of Golf Digest. One featured Bobbie wearing the Green Jacket after her victory at Augusta. The other showed her hoisting the Claret Jug after winning The Open at St. Andrews. This was amazing. I found myself getting lost in the articles. I did look up a couple of times and noted that my wife, Bobbie and Cindy were in a deep discussion about something. They were also showing her some sleight of hand tricks, except that I knew they weren’t sleight of hand.

I was very intrigued with the article about Bobbie’s win at St. Andrews. I hadn’t written about it in any great detail, other than the fact she was a wire to wire winner, and had won by five strokes. Three of her rounds were in the sixties, and the one day she shot a 71 was in a rainy gale, and she was the only golfer below par that day. That had to have been something to see.

“Come on Ryan, we have to get ready for our trip.” I looked up to see my wife and the others. Sarah had her purse, so I knew she was ready to go. Once again, we exchanged handshakes, embraces, and kisses. I really hoped things would work out so that we would see these wonderful people again. However, the most important thing was being able to keep a family together: a family that had never existed in this reality.

Chapter 4

I knew things were different — very different — when I woke up with an erection. I hadn’t had one of those in years. Sarah was next to me, and gently snoring. That was something she hadn’t done in years, either: gently snoring. My sleep had been filled with some strange dreams. We were amorphous lights, for want of a better description. In fact there had been quite a few of us being assisted off in various directions. My wife and I were being led off by one of these shapes — wrong word — presences.

This is going to be easy. You don’t have a thing to worry about. You are just going back to join yourself. You will have fresher memories of the past because that past will be much closer. You will also have all the memories that you have now.

Okay, here we are.

I remember looking around and suddenly realizing we were in our previous house. The next thing I knew, we were entering the two sleeping bodies. Then I wandered off into some other strange dreams; only to wake up with an erection.

It had to be a Saturday or Sunday, because the alarm wasn’t set.

“Man, I haven’t slept that well in years,” Sarah said while stretching. Her hand dropped gently to my crotch. “Oh my! It actually happened. We’ve gone back. It worked!

“Well, I think we had better put that to use. Do you think you remember what to do?”

We did, and I did.

The transition was easy. Our memories of this present were fresh. It was just that we knew about the future. After a nice shower together, where we both commented about how out of shape we would be in twenty or so years, I retrieved the newspaper, and found out that it was indeed a Saturday, just basically confirming what I already knew.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about what we tried to do to change things. We had no instructions from The Wizard. We had just been thrust back into the past, and had been told to do the best we could. As I said earlier, we had been lied to, well not exactly. I just hadn’t bothered to figure out the whole truth of the matter.

One of the problems, I began to realize, with our first try of this reality was that perhaps, we had been too laissez-faire about our children’s upbringing. We tried to set good examples of day to day conduct. We hadn’t complained too much about our children’s friends. My wife and I were careful drivers. We didn’t drink and drive. We didn’t smoke.

I was a devout agnostic, and I wasn’t about to change. Most called me an atheist; however, I maintained that by the truest definition of the word, it assumes a fact that I see as nothing but a grope to justify one’s belief. Since I know god doesn’t exist, the word atheist is meaningless. It’s a double negative: saying that I don’t believe in something that doesn’t exist in the first place. I didn’t use to believe in magic either. Anyway, the point is I did not go to church, except to witness weddings, funerals, and Bar Mitzvahs. I refused to follow the rituals as much as was possible. My daughter eventually had been coerced into joining her in-laws’ church. I was very disappointed because I felt the church she chose was one of the most dogmatic out there.

Anyway, we were on our own.

As it turned out, our son had just met Angela at a nearby blues festival. So what could we do that we hadn’t done before? Or, what shouldn’t we do that we had done before? We both felt we should become a bit more involved in their relationship without being pushy.

I got Andy more involved with things around the house. We encouraged both of them to have dinner with us every few weeks. We even took a few day trips together. Even though he had graduated from college with a degree in international relations, he had not seriously been seeking a job. He had good linguistic abilities and was fairly fluent in both Spanish and Mandarin.

“I don’t want to sound pushy or anything like that, but don’t you think it might be a good idea to find some work that you might enjoy doing? I can’t imagine you wanting to be a busboy all your life.”

“There’s nothing around here that I like. They’re all a bunch of money grubbing fascists. Nobody cares about anybody. All they want to do is make money.”

His tone perplexed me a bit. We certainly weren’t money grubbing fascists. I was wondering what brought this on. Just to be sure that I knew what fascists were, I looked it up. Every time that word came up, I flashed on an image of Mussolini strutting around.

“I’ll agree with you that the distribution of wealth doesn’t seem equitable, but there certainly isn’t anything fascist about our society. If this were a fascist society you would probably be in jail right now for that little protest you participated in a few days ago.

“If you are not happy about the way government is taking care of the poor, going down to the capitol and waving placards and being generally insulting and obnoxious is not the way to do it.” I may not be the most politically adept person around, but I knew that the best way to get something done was through working with your political leaders and voting them out of office if they are not doing their job.

“You are beginning to sound a bit like that crazy roommate of yours. Where is he by the way?”

“Uh, he’s at Georgetown getting his MBA. He’s going to be going to work at his dad’s bank.”

“So he’s gone to the dark side,” I said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

“He’s getting married. She’s trapped him, forced him to marry her.”

“What do you mean? Is she pregnant?” I asked.

“No, but she wants to have children. She’s really fucked up. She gets all emotional, and he feels sorry for her.”

“Did you ever think that he loves her; that his feelings for her are genuine, not driven by the fact they are sleeping together?” I didn’t really see his point.

“Why did you marry Mom? I mean, she had a baby.”

“I guess the easiest thing to say is that I loved her. I knew your mother for quite a while before we started dating. I think you were only two months old when I first met her. I saw her a few times where she worked. I liked her, but I was dating a friend of hers. We met again at a party of a mutual friend a little more than a year later, and just hit it off real well. I asked her out a week later. A month after that we decided to get married. I’ll never regret it.

“Your mother is a very smart person. I’ve learned quite a bit from her over the years. She probably saved my life. I had no direction before I met her. I had no idea what life was about. Then there she was, and you were part of the package. Never once did the fact that you existed have any negative impact. We were a family. A year after we were married, your sister was born.”

“What about those times of the month when, erm, you know … ?”

“You mean, when she is having her period?”

“Yeah, they get so emotional.”

“Andy, what are you getting at? You talk as if being a woman was an affliction.”

“Well, it is.”

“Where in the world did you get these (crazy, I didn’t say) ideas?”

“They’re not crazy (He said it. I didn’t). Did you know that the reason women shave is so they can have the appearance of prepubescent girls. They do that to attract men.”

“So what’s wrong with that? Why shouldn’t woman have the right to attract a mate?”

“Well, it’s not natural. Women should be happy with the way they are born. Cosmetics and fashion are just ways to exploit the population.”

“I think you are talking about aesthetics as much as anything. You’re generalizing some personal preferences and assigning them to the entire population. Your choices in music are not my choices. That doesn’t make either of them wrong.

“Why don’t you wear a beard?”

“Because I don’t like the way it feels, and it’s thin and straggly.”

“So it’s okay for men to shave, if their beards don’t grow well, or are uncomfortable. For that matter, why do you cut your hair? I’m beginning to sense a bit of a double standard.”

We had many more conversations of this nature over the next few weeks and months. Andy was a good debater, and one had to be careful to get around some of his arguments. Fortunately, I am pretty adept at seeing through faulty reasoning, and I was able to hold my own. Sarah got more involved, too. We went to a couple of the watering holes where his band played. They played some pretty weird stuff, but their audience seemed to like it. They had some excellent draft beer there.

Andy was spending many nights with Angela, and I don’t think they were playing cards. Of course the inevitable happened. I knew it the second Andy came home early and slammed closed the door to his bedroom. I turned to Sarah who hadn’t missed the door slam. “I guess we know what that means. We have our work cut out for us.”

He showed up for breakfast the next morning, and was in a particularly curmudgeonly mood.

“Home a bit early last night. Do you want to talk about it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I would say you had a fight about something.”

“Angela wants to get married.”

“What’s wrong with that? In spite of some of your idiosyncrasies you’re a pretty good catch. Besides, she’s an attractive, intelligent young woman.”

“I’m not ready to get married. I don’t think I want to, regardless.”

“‘Regardless’, hmmm, that implies something,” Sarah said as she sat down with her cup of coffee. “I’m going to make a wild guess here. Angela’s pregnant. So what are you going to do?”

“It’s not my fault. She forgot to use her diaphragm.”

Excuse me. You were not using a condom?” Sarah said rather sternly.

“Well no, I don’t like them.”

“So you get to have all the fun, and she gets to worry. So, what are you going to do about the baby?”

“Nothing, I told her to get an abortion. She didn’t like that idea.”

“Andy, many years ago someone told me to get an abortion. He said they were cheap. It wasn’t his problem. I guess you weren’t, at least not to him, because I never saw him again. He said you were a mistake, and I should treat you as one. Well, you were the best mistake I ever made; however, right now I am extremely disappointed in you.”

“Well, I’m not ready to get married.”

I guess it was my turn now. “I probably wasn’t ready to get married when I married your mother. I didn’t have a clue, but I loved your mother and I loved you. There’s no passing a course to get a certificate saying you’re ready to get married. It’s a learn-as-you-go thing. We’ve had some ups and downs, but it has been mostly ups. I thought we did pretty well raising you; however, I am beginning to have some doubts. I never thought I raised my son to be an accessory to murder.”

Andy and Sarah both paled a bit at that remark. “I think the days of shotgun weddings are mostly past. Getting married won’t always be the best solution; however, there is a child (I almost said children) involved in this. I think Angela, you, your mother and I need to have a discussion.”

By this time, Sarah had gone to the bedroom, and I could hear her talking on the phone. She returned to the breakfast room a few minutes later. “Angela will be over in a little while. Fortunately, she hasn’t done anything too serious. She’s quite upset. She blames herself for not being careful.”

Things were obviously different this time around, as we had not been aware of her pregnancy until after Andy had fled the country in the previous time line. Sarah had been unable to dissuade her in their early talks after he had left.

Sarah and Angela hugged for a long time after she arrived. Andy stayed in the background for a while. Eventually he came forward and gave Angela a hug. We talked for a long time about things. Sara and I promised to support them anyway we could, but as far as forcing Andy to marry her, that was not an option. If they didn’t love each other, they shouldn’t get married just for the sake of the child. We hoped Angela would keep the baby, and we promised to provide as much support as possible, including letting her move into our too large house to save money. Maybe we were meddling too much, but I think they understood that we wanted to save the baby.

Andy walked her out to her car several hours later. He hugged her for a while, and gently kissed her forehead before she got in her car. Progress!

They talked a few times over the next week, but he didn’t see her. Then the next Saturday they went out to dinner. He didn’t spend the night with her. Two week later they woke us up. They were standing at the bedroom door with their arms wrapped around each other. “We’re going to get married.” We had a little party.

What did we do differently? We tried to get more involved. I think I knocked the pillars out from under some of Andy’s faulty reasoning. I think we wanted them to know that they were loved, and their children to be were loved, just more love.

Chapter 5

The wedding was just a quiet civil affair in our living room. Neither of her parents bothered to show up. I’m not going to go into that right now. We hadn’t expected they would. Our daughter, son-in-law and their two children, two of our four grandchildren, the other two were in utero we were pretty sure, my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and several nieces and nephews were there. My brother and sisters and spouses managed to make it as well. The ceremony took less than five minutes. Then we just settle down for a nice feast.

They didn’t really want a honeymoon, but we gave them a weekend at the Red Apple Inn, and told them they would have to put up with some ostentatious consumption and privacy. They needed it. Her gallery could take care of itself for a few days. Well her friend, Cecile would take care of things.

We went to bed that night congratulating each other on our success. Now, the major event would be how our son and his wife would be transferred to the other universe. We knew it would have to be soon. Those two little-babies-to-be needed to absorb as much of their new universe as possible before they were born. They would still have some of this universe in their cells when they were born, and as long as they had any significant amount of this universe in them, there couldn’t be any magic used on them: at least any significant magic. The Wizard had assured us that it would be only a matter of months in their case.

We didn’t know for sure when the transfer would take place, but we knew when it had. They did quite a few adjustments. We received a telegram from The Wizard letting us know that they had been brought across, and that everything was fine. They were not aware at that point of what had taken place, but they would be brought into the magic fold over the next few months. Randi, Cindy, and Bobbie were going to have a major responsibility for integrating them into the magic world. There had been quite a bit of preparation, and they just picked up from where they had been the day before. They just didn’t know that it was a different world.

In our universe, it was as if they never existed. Any traces of their existence, except our memories, Sarah’s and mine, were gone. Then things started to go a little crazy. The first thing that was different was that Sarah got into the trip escorting thing far earlier than she had before. We went to the same training sessions, but we really got in on the ground floor this time. Sarah had developed quite a reputation with the travel industry and her agency, and she brought the customers in. That’s the way she was: friendly, outgoing and sincere. The owners of her agency were very pleased, and we were able to take several more trips a year because of the number of trips her agency sold. The groundwork for this had transpired before Andy and Angela’s wedding.

I had hopes that there might be some way to get us across to the other universe. You know, some sort of reward for saving the last two (fertile) carriers of the magic gene in this universe, and making sure they would strengthen the magic population in that other universe; however, that discussion never seemed to come up. I did sort of wonder why. I knew that if they did take us over (to the other universe) that they couldn’t do anything about my health problems because there would be too much of this universe in me. I would still get prostate cancer and have to have the surgery. But just to be able to associate with all those wonderful people would be worth it. Maybe Bobbie, or Andy (Bobbie’s husband) for that matter, could give our grandchildren some golf lessons. I just wanted to see the places and meet the people they had allowed me to become acquainted with through my writing. I didn’t think that was too much to ask for.

Obviously things did not go the same way this time around. Events changed. We didn’t pay that much attention, but every once in a while, there would be some little thing, and this was only at the local level, where there would be something different. One of the nice things was that we didn’t have a student loan to pay off. That allowed us to have a bit more money for other things.

I didn’t expect to get prostate cancer quite as quickly as I did, though. I started feeling some discomfort only a few weeks after the changes to this universe. Maybe I had ignored some things before, but I don’t need to go into that. The bottom line was I scheduled a visit to the doctor. He did his thing, that’s something else I don’t need to go into, and made the comment that my prostate had enlarged. They took blood and by the next day had my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test results. It was at 8.3. That’s about twice the threshold where one should start worrying. The next thing was going to be the biopsy, but that would have to wait for a few weeks. Generally, there is a bit of a delay between the PSA results and the biopsy. This sort of cancer is fairly slow in its progress, and the doctors don’t decide on what sort of actions to pursue until after the biopsy results.

There were several things in store for me. I knew I had cancer. I didn’t need the biopsy results to tell me that. Let me tell you about the biopsy. Picture a metallic dildo with a little window in it. This little torture device is attached to an electronic monitor so that they can, through ultra sound, actually view your prostate. They will give you a little lidocaine to numb things, and believe me it doesn’t work all that well.

Now comes the fun part. This device is inserted up your rectum. They position it, and fire a little grabber through your colon wall and into the prostate to take a tissue sample. They do this eight to twelve times, and it hurts like hell.

We had the following conversation: “Okay Mr. Bennett, this will be a bit uncomfortable but it won’t be very painful.”

“Er, how do you know? Have you ever had a prostate biopsy?”

“Well, no I haven’t.”

“Then how can you tell me it doesn’t hurt?”

“Ha, Ha.”

“I think every male urinary oncologist should have a prostate biopsy performed. Then you could say with conviction that it doesn’t hurt.”

“Ha, ha.”

I’ll clue you. It hurts like hell, and the discomfort lasts for weeks.

Of course I had cancer, and we scheduled surgery for a week after we would return from a trip. The last surgery I had of this type was botched, and as a result I would have been incontinent for the rest of my life. Maybe this time they would get it right. I won’t bore you with the details, but instead of spending three days in the hospital the last time, I’d spent three weeks, and they threw in two extra surgeries for fun.

We had a great trip. We flew into Venice, and spent a couple of days wandering around, going from island to island. We picked up our cruise ship only a few blocks from the hotel; however, that meant a 15 minute ride by vaporetto. Our trip took us down the Dalmatian Coast and eventually to Istanbul where the cruise terminated. Our normal routine at this point was to spend a day or two at out destination port before we headed home. Flying out of Istanbul directly to the US was unpleasant. At least it was for me. The flight left early in the morning which meant getting up at o-dark-thirty to get to the airport. God, I hated that.

Well, this time Sarah said she had a surprise for me. We were going to fly to Moscow, and then fly home from there. I thought that was nice. We had never spent any time in Moscow, but had been to St. Petersburg several times. We’d probably visit a number of places that the missiles I had been commanding years before had been targeting. Contrary to popular belief, the missile crews didn’t know where their targets were. We knew they were primarily in Russia, but as far as specifics were concerned, the actual target, by name was not known. The guys in Plans & Intelligence would tell us if we wanted to know, but most launch officers didn’t want to know what 100,000 innocent civilians they were going to fry thirty minutes after they turned their keys. Thank heavens Gorbachev and Reagan put an end to that mess.

I began to get concerned when we showed up at the gate of one of those regional airlines that anyone in the west has never heard of. The plane we got on looked like the old Boeing 727. I’m sure the Soviets stole the plans for that when they were stealing the plans for other planes Boeing was thinking about making for the government during the cold war. I realized very quickly that the plane was a TU-154. If there was ever a plane I didn’t want to fly on, it was the TU-154. Even Aeroflot had quit using them. I didn’t like this at all.

“Didn’t you say that you would never schedule us on a flight that was going to use this aircraft?” I asked. I can remember furrowing my brow.

“Yes, that’s true. However, that was before I found out about this flight,” Sarah said while searching the seat pocket for an in-flight magazine.

“What’s so special about this flight?” I asked. Sometimes I can be real slow.

“I’ll tell you when we get off the ground.”

I listened to the flight attendant giving the safety instructions. It was in Russian only, but I got the idea. Bend over, grab your ankles, and kiss your ass goodbye.

We headed over the Black Sea towards Ukraine and Russia beyond. “Okay, what’s so special about this flight,” I asked.

“Do you promise not to lose your cool?”

“I guess.”

“We are not going to Moscow.”

“But, that’s what it said when we got on the plane.” I was getting a bit confused.

“Do you remember the last time we were in the Spells R Us shop. You were reading those golf magazines that Bobbie gave you. Well, while you were drooling over those pictures of Bobbie, they were filling me in on a few things.”

“What might those be?” I asked.

“For one, your cancer is not curable. It has already spread to your bones.”

I could feel the blood draining from my face.

“You’re not alone in this. I have a developing aneurism that is not observable, and if it were, it would still be inoperable. We have a few years, but not many.”

I thought a few seconds about what she was saying. We’re all going to die, and fortunately, our denial keeps us from thinking a whole lot about it.

Suddenly, the light bulb illuminated. The Wizard and his group didn’t want to take us across because they couldn’t do anything for us in our current bodies. These bodies were destined to die. We may have changed history as far as our children and grandchildren were concerned; however, in the process, things had changed for us as well.

“So how long do we have?”

“Maybe fifteen minutes.”

I was holding her hand when the Tupolev bomber collided with us. Sarah and I never knew what hit us or when. Some others may not have been so lucky. There were no survivors on the TU-154 or the Russian bomber. The one thing going for us was that we had done this before.


So, what are you doing reading this story if we are dead? Well, it was just like the last time, only that the end results were a bit different. We’re 14 now, and I must say things have gone pretty well so far. We started remembering about our two previous existences about the time we were five. That was cool, because it let us just get used to growing up again without all the encumbrances of having those past lives thrust at us.

What about Andy and Angela? Well, they settled down in their new universe. They weren’t aware for quite a while that the transfer had occurred; however, as Angela’s pregnancy advanced, she began to realize that there were some things about their new universe that just didn’t match their memories. The Wizard arranged for them to wander into the Spells R Us Shop when they were shopping for baby clothes. It looked like a nice little boutique that specialized in baby clothing. I think Cindy, Bobbie, and Randi had a lot to do with making sure everything was set up correctly. Angela had already met Randi in Angela’s little art gallery. Ostensibly, Randi was visiting some friends in our city, and was out looking for some art for her and Frank’s place in Boston. The fact that Randi was expecting made the meeting in the boutique much less of a coincidence.

Angela was a lot easier to convince about what had happened than Andy was, but I’m told he finally came around after a few demonstrations. They didn’t learn about the other thing for quite a while.

Andy works for the Presidential Museum as a host for Spanish speaking and Chinese tourists. He also does a lot of archival work, translating documents to English. He spends Friday and Saturday nights playing bass guitar at one of the avant-garde coffee houses in the area. I still don’t appreciate his music. He tolerates Sarah’s and mine. I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now that we are Andy and Angela’s twins. Sarah was named Sarah in memory of Sarah. They might have named me Ryan except for the fact that the name is fairly gender specific. They named me Portia. Angela picked that name. It was her aunt’s. Obviously, I am a girl now, well actually a young woman.

If The Wizard or his cabal did any tweaking of my gender, he won’t admit it. In my previous lives I was never ‘eaten up’ about my sex being incorrect. I did some experimenting, and realized that if I had felt I could pass, I might have tried to transition late in life. The trouble was I hadn’t even been close to being able to pass. So instead, I lived my other side through my writings. They allowed me to express some of my desires as well as my ambivalence. Then I found out I was being fed all of the information that allowed me to write my fantasy stories. I am still writing those tales; however, I am now chronicling things from experience and second hand knowledge from those who were actually involved. I have the authority to send these stories to the website in our previous universe where I used to post things when I was Ryan. I really am Portia Bennett now.

I am also the official secretary and chronicler for the New England Coven. Yeah, Sarah and I are witches, and we are getting a lot of supervision, training, and practical experience. We are pretty strong, even though we just reached puberty. I know now why it was so important to get us and Mom and Dad to this universe. We are going to be able to literally provide new blood to the magic world.

We do have a brother and sister. Dr. Myrna Monkowitz’s research has simplified gene splicing, and without the use of magic was able to splice the magic genes into our sister’s other X chromosome. This was accomplished in vitro. Of course our brother is just a carrier. They had to do the in vitro because of some scarring in Mom’s fallopian tubes. It was too soon to try magic to repair the damage. Our little sister has not yet come into her powers.

A bit more about us: Sarah often said in our previous life that she wanted to be a willowy blonde. I think she said that partly because I did like blondes, and that she was not tall and willowy. Well she got part of her wish. She is several inches taller than I am, but her hair is dark brown. My hair is a dark auburn and I will probably end up at about 5’ 6”. I am definitely not willowy, and will have to be careful about my weight, but being magic should help. Sarah is definitely straight heterosexual. I am going to have to not let our previous relationship interfere with her choices of boyfriends. I don’t think I will have to worry. We’ll be satisfied just being best friends. Me? I am definitely bi-sexual. I haven’t forgotten what it was like to make love to a woman, and see the pleasure in her expression when I did it correctly. I don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, well not seriously, at this time. I did meet a girl who lives in Maine at one of our meetings. There was definitely an attraction between us. I think we will be old enough at next year’s summer conference to see what level we can take our relationship. We communicate a lot on the internet.

Along with the regular school, we have magic lessons to contend with. Sarah and I are also taking music lessons. Previously, we had absolutely no musical talent. We enjoyed listening to classical music, in particular. Sarah’s going into voice, and I’m learning the French horn and guitar. Our teachers think we should go to Julliard. I’m not too sure, but that decision is still years away. I’m also taking several writing classes. I want to be a better writer than I was. That’s something else we’ll have to wait to see how well it takes.

His Wisdom asked us how we felt about what happened. I told him I couldn’t be happier. Our quality of life had been going down the drain, and my wife and I were condemned to lives shortened by disease. I would have been happy to have been brought over to be a boy; however, this is what I would have chosen, even without the magic. I don’t have to guess anymore about what it’s like to be a woman.

Oh yeah, Bobbie’s giving me golf lessons. I’ve already broken 80 (no cheating; I would never do that), something that I never did as Ryan. I am playing from the women’s tees, though.

One other thing: I still don’t like to go shopping.

Something else: They already knew what was going to happen. The Wizard is able to go back and forth in time, and he had everything scripted. He knew everything was going to work because it had. I don’t want to get too deep into it because it makes my head hurt. Heinlein wrote a story about a guy who was his own mother and father. I’m not sure if what we did was the same. I do think what we did made more sense.

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