Okay...yes there is another ending, isn't there always? But before that a brief update on my deteirorating mental (well status quo there) and physical condition. Still nictoine deprived, still without high speed internet, still on pain meds and now...I have a the semi-ability to do, whats the scientific term...to do the number 2. So for all of you out there who have always claimed that I am full of it...for this one instance you might actually be correct:)
Anyway...on with show:
Alternate Ending 4
(Original Story Lead In):"So what about the bra?" I asked? "It is physical evidence that proves her existence?"
"It is much more probable," the shrink began, "that you went out and bought it subconsciously as part of your fantasy and somehow managed to block it from your mind. It's the only reasonable and plausible answer."
This seemed to be a sticking point so I thought it best to just agree with him and move along. Once I did, I was deemed fit to return to my meager existence of life as I knew it. I agreed readily with the shrink because he could not touch those dreams that were locked up in my head. Those were mine and I kept and cherished them.
Since that eventful weekend, I still go to conventions and I haven't changed my routine very much while there. I go to panels, talk with friends, and just hang out. I sit in the bar and have a drink. I will grab a table that has two chairs and make sure that the other chair is left unoccupied. I leave a rose at the front desk at each hotel for Trista. I don’t know if they are ever picked up or not but I leave them anyway.
It’s been a few years now and I still honor the ritual I started. I always tell myself…just one more convention and then I should stop, but there always seem to be one more convention and one more ritual of hope to go through. So I do it.
I was at another convention. There I was, sitting at the table sipping my drink as usual when there was the flash of light that blinded me as something settled into the empty chair next to me. In a few seconds my eyes cleared and then I blinked them several times not believing what I saw.
“Whoa…” I said. “You’re a damn ostrich!”
“Of course I am,” the large bird said non-chalently.
“And you talk as well,” I said as I reached into my pocket for my cigerettes but then realized I had quit smoking about ten days ago. So instead of the comforting feel of a pack of smokes, I came up with the little square pieces of nicorette gum. I quickly took one and stufed it into my mouth and chewed it until I could feel the nictoine.
“Correct again,” the ostrich said.
Not seeing to much of a choice of ignoring whatever it was that sat next to me, and of course not having any previous interaction with such a creature, I asked the obvious question. “So what do I call you?”
“My name is Nora.”
“Well by the way…er…Nora,” I began trying to keep my voice calm, “ostriches can’t talk. Which means you aren’t real. I don’t know what you are…maybe you are an hallucination of some kind brought on by my nictoine deprived state or a result of the pain killers I am taking for my…injury.”The injury was a result of an intergalactical slide…well that will all become clear later.
“Like I was saying...Nora, ostriches can’t talk.”
“Is that what you r-e-a-l-l-y believe?” she asked in a very snarkisk manner.Is it me or is this snarkish thing becoming a trend or something lately?
“Well there isn’t another rational explanation is there?” I asked. “I mean how often is it that an ostrich shows up in a bar for a bit of conversation?”
“I see,” she said and grinned as if she knew something about me but wanted to lure it out of me. “You talk of rationality,” she continued, “yet you sit here waiting for something that is not rational either—isn’t that so?”
“What?” I said acting as if I didn’t know what she meant.
“ You don’t lie well,” she said with a sly smile. “Your eyes give you away. I know you’re waiting for a fairy.”
“Now how do you know that?’ I asked trying to keep the surprise out of my voice.
“I know a lot about you,”she said. “I have the ability—”
“Wait a minute,” I protested, “if you know that, then that only proves my point about you being an halluciantion from my own thoughts.”
“Maybe,” she said in a very neutral tone. “And maybe not.”
“That’s not much of an answer,” I said.
“But does it really matter?” she said. “If I am a hallucination, then you are really just talking to yourself. No harm there because you do that already.”
“True,” I agreed.
“And if I am not an halluncination, and I am just an ostrich, well then you are just having a conversation and there is no harm in that is there?”
“Well I…,” I tried to come up with an answer but couldn’t.I hate it when delusions get so damned rational.
“But to make you feel better, we can just go along with your assumption that I am an hallucination brought on by your deprived state. Feel better?”
“I suppose,” I said but I really
did feel better. I mean which is easier to explain—that I was talking to myslf via an hallucination or I was really having a conversation with an ostrich? Chances are the first one would get you some odd looks but the second one would get you thrown into a psych ward. So I decided what the heck and just went along.
“So what was her name?” the ostrich asked.
“Her name is...wait a minute…you should know her name.”
“Well I do, but I want to hear you say it.”
“Well…her name is Trista,” I said and felt the warmth well up inside me as the syllables crossed my lips.
“So..what would you do with her?” she asked. “If she showed up here right now?”
“Well there’s a short and a long answer to that question” I said.
“Which might be?”
“That’s a pretty personal question from an ostrich that I don’t really know,” I said.
“Are we going to go through that again,” she said as she cocked her head to one side.
“No,” I smiled. “But still that’s…”
“Oh…so its for her ears only—is that it?”
“Kind of,” I agreed.
“Well I think I know what it is,” she said and smiled what I assumed was a sly grin…for an ostrich. “And she thinks the same?”
“Well I…think so,” I said hesitantkly but then chanmged my mind and said, “no, I’m sure she feels the same way.”
“You have such faith—that is good,” she said. "I think they, whoever it is that is behind all of these kind of things, like for us to work through it on our own. Says something about the nature of faith right there."
“Sometimes its all we have,” I said.
“And sometimes it is enough,” she said. “Just enough…but now I must be going. I wish you luck in your search and what you are looking for.”
There was a sudden flash of light and the ostrich was gone. I felt an emptiness at her departure. In the short time we conversed I felt as if I had known her in an odd sort of way. But of course if it was an halluncination—then I should know her because it was really myself. This gets kind of confusing…eh?
These thoughts about Trista made me really want a cigerette really badly. I knew the gum would no longer be enough so I got up, limping slightly, and made my way toward the doors which led out into the street. There was a little convienence store I remembered where I could get a pack of cigerettes and calm my nerves.
As I stepped out of the hotel and into the street. There was the sudden and violent transition as the vortex swept me back to my own world. My mind received the neural input that rearranged the other information that had been implanted in order for me to function in that past environment. Now the two information streams intermingled and the purpose of the trip became clear; the date was 200 years in the future of the period I had just come from.
“So how did it go?” the man standing at the the console asked.
“No joy this trip. But the other problem…it’s getting bad,” I said. “I’m seeing the ostrich more and more. It must be some form of interplanetary dimensia caused by vortex interference during the time travel. The feedback is getting quite convincing. But the summoning device to call me back, the need for a cigerette, worked fine.”
“Well you were in there for quite a while, a number of years according to their time so I racheted up the craving to draw you out. Did you see them?”
“No. Not this trip,” I said.
“Do you think they really exist?” he asked.
“Yeah I do,” I said. “The story we uncovered about them is one of the greatest stories our world knows. It gives us hope to go on in our lives and if we can find them, then we can regain what we have lost and save our planet from the mundane death that awaits it.”
“But don’t you ever wonder if it was just a fictional story? Maybe it was just something that was made up.”
“No…I don’t believe so. Besides with a title like that, The Importance of Undergarments
—it has to be true. Why else would anyone write something as ridicloulous as that if not as a sign of hope of what is the greater good of life?”
“I suppose,” the operator agreed.
“Going back into time is the only way to find out for sure,” I said. “If I can duplicate the exact situation by doing what he did, I might get the chance to meet her or even both of them.”
"But you risk changing the course of history as well. It was this other man's dream or passion with this woman--not yours. Each trip makes it seem more like your reality to the point where you are him."
"I know. I feel myself being drawn into what he felt and experienced. It's damgerous I know but we have to risk it."
"You might even get stuck there...in the place of the man who..." a beeping alarm emanated from the console. "The vortex is becoming unstable. It’s time.”
“Close the gateway,” I said.
As I watched the time vortex close, I said softly, "I will find her
..someday.” I smiled as I imagined her...
Back on Earth, a large clap on thunder disrupted the magnetic field over the house in the rural area of Suffolk, Virginia. The sleeping man rolled over on his side and smiled.