my lover is a time traveler!


T   I   M   E   D   A   N   C   E   R


Chapter 1:     ARROND

My name is Mrs Jeannie Dancer, I'm 75 years old, living alone, 
have no children, and am dying of cancer.  But that's only right 
now, on most earlier time levels I'm quite healthy and happily in 
love.  Anyway, now that I know how it's going to end, I want to 
tell the story of my life with a timedancer.

Actually, we all know how our lives are going to end except for 
the small details: we live for a tiny while, and then don't for 
all the rest of eternity.  A rule that applies for almost all of 
us--individuals, races, civilizations, species, worlds, galactic
systems.  That's the linear version.

But there's also the non-linear version of life, and that's 
actually what I want to write about.  Maybe just to convince 
myself that I'll actually be living for all of eternity anyway.  
As far as my husband Arrond is concerned, that is.  He's the 
timedancer, not me.  

The first time I met Arrond was when...no, wait, that would be 
too confusing.  We first met each other at...no, that's an even 
more hopeless way to begin this.

Problem is, I'm not sure how to tell this story: if my version, 
it's pretty much linear; his version is non-linear and scrambled 
all throughout history; but it's the same story.

I'll have to go with my version, I can't even FATHOM most of his.


Let me take it from when I was going to Shoreline High School in Seattle. The year was 1959, I was 17 years old, Eisenhower was president, Elvis was a minor god but not yet The King. I was a good student and involved in several extracurricular activities at school; the debate team, school newspaper, president of the Latin club, stuff like that. But not cheer- leading, that wasn't my style, even though my best friend Shari Watson kept trying to get me to join her on the team. I was shy about my body, afraid my boobs attracted too much attention. Well, they did. No boys yet, although there was one guy I liked in Art class, Dennis Hansen, but he was even more hopelessly shy than I was. I suppose I'm going to have to admit that I was actually exceptionally beautiful back then. Although I wasn't especially impressed by my own looks at all, boys were. And older men. But I was unconvinced, insecure, considering myself just "okay". I had a natural beauty I didn't appreciate at the time, but accepted my face as pretty enough: crisp Scandinavian features, high cheekbones, cute nose, ice-blue eyes. Blonde hair done up in long braids, I looked like a vestal virgin in those days. It was my body I was critical of, not that I was ever FAT, but "extra round" described me. I had a classic voluptuous belly- dancer figure, heavy flesh that jiggled a bit. I'm sure what guys liked were my big boobs, and even I thought they were nice, but always considered my belly too round, my arms and thighs too heavy, my bottom too big. But I was wrong, I've recently witnessed just how totally beautiful I was at 17 and was stunned. I wish I could say that my face is more interesting now at 75, but can understand why men prefer young beauty. There she was, in my own flesh... ...no wait again, I'm doing the linear version of this story, she'll have to wait. We're back in High School, my Senior Year. The school held a vocational seminar day for those of us who would be graduating in the Spring and going out into the real world looking for jobs. There were guest speakers who introduced us to various work markets, such as the aircraft industry, banking, transportation, military, and so on. One of the guest speakers was a "Mr Arrond", who gave a presen- tation about computer science. He drew a crowd, a charismatic man with a powerful message. We had barely heard of computers in 1959, they were something the military used, big as buildings, expensive as a new highway bridge. But this man made us all believe than we would some day each have our very own superfast little portable computers and be sending photos and electronic mail and music and movies back and forth to each other. He made it sound like he'd been there, it was fascinating. And so was he. Mr Arrond was a very handsome and impressive man, magnificently adult, obviously in great shape, taking the stage like a movie star, moving like a dancer, as he made his presentation. He was dynamic, energetic, and extremely cool. Personally, I thought he was the most absolutely beautiful man I'd ever seen in my life. He also had style: his long brown grey-streaked hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail, and NOBODY was doing that yet in 1959, that was outlaw-style. But his clothes were obviously expensive, yet casual, in daring pastel colors. Mr Arrond reminded me of my own dad, who was a professional artist and had once been a beatnik, even seemed about my dad's age, maybe 35-45 years old. But it was his way of speaking that really commanded our attention, riveting us with his blazing intelligence and wonderful words, totally convincing and inspiring. He should have been a preacher. He had a slightly exotic accent, indefinable but definitely not American, which made him sound extra-intellectual. Nice smile, eyes that wrinkled so sexy and wise. All in all, he was turning all the girls on. They were breathing heavy, Shari was getting silly about him. Me too. And best of all, he only had eyes for me. This was in a crowded school auditorium; there was a crowd of people between him and me, including lots of other pretty young girls, and teachers closer to his own age. But he didn't seem to see them at all, just me. I mean, he was REALLY looking, locking eyes with me, and not one bit shy about it. I was flustered about it at first, but his interest in me was so blatant and bold that it made me feel confident, as if I could do no wrong, so I started returning his glances. I even smiled back. There was something quite familiar about him, as if I'd known him from somewhere before, but couldn't remember where or when. He did sort of remind me of a very old man I'd once met when I was just a little girl in a park with my mother. That old man had talked with us for hours, charming both my mother and me, I remembered being very impressed by him. Then I thought, no wait, it's someone else Mr Arrond reminds me of...but wasn't that a young man? As a school journalist I took it upon myself to interview him after the talk. That was my excuse anyway. I had to wait my turn to talk to him, because there were many boys wild to know more about computers, but he let me know with his glances that he was also waiting for me. Finally it was my turn. We mumbled something about computers while looking one another deep in the eyes. I was melting. Everyone else was leaving the auditorium and finally we were almost alone. "You seem so familiar, Mr Arrond, do I know you from somewhere?" "Possibly," he said, "I've definitely seen you around. Actually..." he looked around us to see if we spoke in semi- private, and then he began speaking to me in Latin. "Vere, ego operor non vere tutela adeo super computers, ego tantum ordinatus ut tribuo is sermo ut acceptable indulgeo condeco vos, Jeannie Evins." Which translates as, "...actually, I don't care that much about computers, I've only arranged to give this presentation as an acceptable excuse to meet you, Jeannie Evins." I was amazed to hear anyone speak such fluently conversational Latin. He pronounced it with an Italian-sounding accent, but I could understand him. I was president of the Shoreline High Latin Club so I was fairly versed in it, but I wondered how he'd known that. As for what he was actually saying, I was much less surprised since he'd been looking at me so deliberately. "Quare operor vos postulo...er...indulgeo condeco mihi?" I just managed to ask in my own less fluent Latin, meaning "Why would you need an excuse to meet me?" "An older man romantically interested in such a young and innocent girl would not be well received by parents or school authorities, if they knew what he really wanted." It took me a few seconds to comprehend such a complex sentence in Latin, and once I did I could only respond in English: "Oh." "I hope I haven't I frightened you off?" he said in English, after making certain we weren't being overheard. "Mmm, not sure yet. Are you a pervert?" He laughed, in a wonderful mature way that melted me even more. "That's up to you: if you don't want me to be interested, then I suppose I am. But if you are willing, then I'm not a pervert, but a happy man in love." "Willing to what?" I asked, letting his proclamation of "love" slide, half-assuming he was only kidding. "To be my mistress, of course," he said, clearly not kidding, "interested?" I opened my mouth to say something like, "I'm not that kind of girl," or "Sorry, but you're too old for me, yuk," but after some considering, what came out was: "Maybe, tell me more." "Indeed," he said like some proper Lord, "but not here." Indeed, we were in the middle of a high school auditorium, surrounded by students and teachers who would be pretty much scandalized if they knew what we were discussing so freely.

Chapter 2:     FIRST DATE

Of course, I knew it WAS scandalous behavior, he was an older man
whom I really didn't know at all, but I let him secretly pick me
up on Aurora Boulevard, a few blocks away from the school.  It 
was a busy intersection, very public, perhaps we'd be seen but 
probably not noticed.  

Then again, everyone must have noticed his car, a brand-new 
bright green 1959 Jaguar XK-140 roadster.  We went roaring out to
Richmond Beach with the top down.  I'd never been especially 
interested in cars, but this one was fun. My braids were whipping
in the wind. 

"Nice car," I had to say, then blurted out, "are you rich?"

"Rich is a relative concept," he said, "but yeah, I have enough 
money to impress you."

"Don't be too sure. I'm used to millionaires groveling at my 
feet."  I was being clever.

"Well, I'm not interested in groveling, but I could woo you with
expensive gifts, take you to romantic places.  The traditional 
approach to attaining a mistress, you know."

I gave him my sternest look.  "You can't buy me."

"Good.  So neither one of us grovels, okay?"

"Okay."  Our light-hearted conversation had abruptly turned 
serious, which was fine, since I had a serious question all lined
up.

"You say you want me for your mistress...so are you married?"

"Not in this time."

I was somehow certain he wouldn't lie to me, but there was a 
playfulness to his answer that suggested gameplay.  I took his 
answer to mean he had been married but wasn't any more.  Which 
was shocking enough to me at 17 in 1959... unless his wife had 
died, of course, and then it was okay.  Well, you know, I was 
young.

"I've never heard anyone speak Latin as conversationally as you,
not even our teacher."  I had to ask, "were you a Catholic monk 
in a monastery or something?"

"A monk?"  He laughed.  "No, I'd never vow to be celibate!"

I think I was supposed to laugh too, or giggle like a schoolgirl.
I just waited instead.

"I've studied Latin in Rome," he said soberly, "actually, I know 
lots of people who speak it better than me."  He mentioned some 
sort of densely academic research he was doing in ancient Roman 
history, then said, "You seem to have an affinity for Latin
yourself."

"Yeah.  I don't know why Latin has always appealed to me so much
--it's a useless dead language after all.  Maybe it's because I 
have this fantasy of having lived in ancient Rome in a previous 
life...although I'm still not sure if I believe in reincarnation 
or not."

"Anything's possible," he said, in a way that sounded so worldly 
and wise.  Which suddenly made me feel like a silly little school
girl blabbing away about the silliest things.

"So just how old ARE you, anyway?" I countered, continuing my 
tradition of blurting out rude questions.

"Oh, I'd better not tell you that just yet."

"O God, you're so old you're scared to tell me?  You must be 
over...40?"

He laughed again.  "Jeannie, you're so cute."

"Oh no, you're even OLDER!"

"Age is relative.  Look at me: do you really want me to be 
younger than I an here and now?"

"Hmmmmmmmm...no, I guess."

Amused, "You don't sound very certain."

"Hey, I'm not.  I mean, sure, you look good now, in great shape, 
but...in 20 years?"

"Are you already planning to stay with me for 20 years?" he 
asked.

"I dunno, I guess not." I had to admit.

It was a nice day, for the month of May in the Pacific Northwest,
we parked the car and went for a walk along Richmond Beach.  Not 
holding hands, probably looking like a father and daughter out 
for a stroll.  

But I already had a father, didn't need another, so I let my hand
graze Arrond's hand, to suggest that he might take it.  

I jumped and cried "Eeek!" because I got a mild but startling 
electric shock.  

"Oops," he said, "I was going to warn you about that before we 
touched."

"What WAS that?" I asked, holding my unhurt but surprised hand.

"Don't worry, it's just a form of static electricity."

"From walking on sand?  Come on."

"No, it's me, I've always had this...this shockfield.  But if 
we're grounded..." he took my hand firmly, there was the 
faintest tingle to it, but I was ready for it this time, 
"...it's not so bad."

"No, it's not so bad...but it's still tingling," I said, "Weird!"

"Actually, you'll learn to love it; I promise."  His eyebrows 
wiggled up and down, his smile a little too smug.  

I may have been young and innocent, but I knew a sexual innuendo
when I heard it. I snatched my hand away.  

"You're a little too sure of yourself, MISTER Arrond!"   Not that
I was that prudish, this was just the way a high school 
sweetheart was supposed to act in 1959.

"It's not myself I'm sure of," he said, with absolutely no 
apology in his voice, "it's you and me together."  

"Well, I'm not your...MISTRESS yet," I said, stepping back away 
from him, making a play to see who was boss here.  "I'll admit 
I'm attracted to you, but I'm certainly not convinced that I 
ought to fall for a VERY MUCH older divorced pervert who thinks 
it's funny to zap me with some kind of weird electricity!"

"I didn't zap you on purpose, sorry, but I can't help it.  In 
fact...well, never mind."

"What?"

"Not yet, later."

"If there IS a later," I said, playing the drama for all it was 
worth.

He smiled, amused. "Oh, there will be. We're going to be wonderful 
lovers, Jeannie.  And yes, you WILL enjoy getting my electric
tingle up inside you whenever we make love."  So much for vague 
innuendo.  Totally sure of himself.  Ooo, I liked that.

He gently touched my cheek, there was the initial sting of mild 
voltage, but then a pleasant hum.  His hand glided down my neck, 
tingling and thrilling me.  Then he faced me square on, touching 
and studying me, gripping my shoulders, my breasts, waist, belly,
hips.  Checking the stock, claiming his property.  I let him.

I really liked him.  The thought of actually rejecting his 
advances never crossed my mind.  He made me feel cherished and 
desired.  I liked that too.

"So Arrond, why me?" I prompted, perhaps fishing for flattery, 
I'm not sure.

"Well, Jeannie..." he hesitated "...telling you WHY just yet is a
bit of a dilemma for me: I don't want to lie or deceive you in 
any way, but I simply cannot tell you the entire truth yet."

"Why not?  Is the truth so bad?" I asked, a little nervously.

"No, no, in fact I promise you'll LIKE the truth.  And I'll 
certainly need you to be in on it.  But you're not ready for it 
yet, you couldn't possibly believe ANY of it without some proof 
first."  

Having said that, Arrond pulled a slip of paper out of his jacket
pocket and handed it to me as he spoke.

"You asked if I was rich: I am. Multi-millionaire, actually. I've
amassed a fortune by dealing in the stock market over many years
and being unreasonably successful at it.  This paper lists value 
fluctuations of certain major stocks over a week.

"Over next week, in fact.  I want you to compare this list with 
the finance pages of the New York Times every day next week.  See
what happens."

I had no idea what he was talking about, high finance was beyond 
my high school experience, but I took the paper anyway.  "This is
proof of...something?"

"Yes, and I'm trusting you to keep it confidential.  Don't show 
it to anyone, not even your parents.  This information is worth a
lot of money and they'll want to know where you got it."

"If it's worth so much, why are you giving it to me?  What if I 
lose it or something?"

"It's only information; this page of paper is worthless if one 
doesn't know how to use it.  Besides, you are worth more to me 
than any money it represents."

"Yeah, right."  

We laid on the sand and talked until it got dark.  Had our first 
tingly electric kiss.  Then he took me home.  I'm not sure if I 
would have resisted an overt sexual advance, but Arrond knew not 
to try that in 1959.  

Chapter 3:     A LONG WEEK

Arrond dropped me off near my home, arranged to meet me at the 
Pike Street Market next Saturday at 2:00, and was gone.  I 
realized that he hadn't given me any address or telephone number,
and that I didn't even know what his full name was.

It wasn't so late when I got home, but I'd missed dinner, so my 
folks wondered where I'd been.  I didn't want to lie, so I told 
them I'd gone to the beach with a friend.  When they wanted to 
know more I told them it was private, so they guessed it was a 
boy, asked who, etc.  

I had to insist on my right to a private life, which they 
grudgingly accepted, because they were really good parents. But 
already I could sense how Arrond could be a problem, and we 
hadn't even started having an affair yet.

First when I was away from Arrond's seductive charm did I begin to
assess the seriousness of getting involved with him.  For one 
thing, I really did not wish to go behind my parent's backs, but 
I knew that Arrond was far too much older than me for them to 
accept him as my boy friend.  

The truth is, I knew nothing about this man, and he was telling 
me less.  Maybe he WAS a pervert!  Maybe he was lying about never
lying to me.  I could get my heart broken--and maybe my Mom and 
Dad's hearts as well.  Or worse: he could be a serial killer for 
all I knew.  I felt that I could trust him, but really, just how 
many young girls have been stupid enough to fall for the lies of 
a devilish charmer?

And somehow, I already knew that this man was superhuman, a dmon
lover.  What WAS that static electricity anyway?  I had all sorts 
of reasonable reservations...but it was already too late, I was 
his.  Devilish charmer indeed.

I went a whole week without seeing him.  It was awful. I couldn't
do my school work, I skipped all my extracurricular activities.  
Shari kept asking me what was wrong, but I couldn't tell her that
I was obsessed over an older man.

The only contact I had with him through that week--the only proof
that he even existed --was that slip of paper with stock 
exchange rates.  I was supposed to compare them with daily stock 
market reports, which I did faithfully, although I didn't 
understand what they were supposed to prove.

I saw that each day's list of numbers was exactly the same as the
newspaper reported.  I didn't know what that meant at first, 
probably that he had some contact at the newspaper who gave him 
the rates in advance.  After Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday being the
same, I knew Thursday and Friday would match up too.  Pretty 
boring.

Until I casually asked my dad about how the stock market worked.
Dad was a professional artist, did big canvas paintings for 
public buildings and large firms, and sometimes got paid in 
shares instead of cash.  I didn't mention Arrond or my little 
slip of paper, just asked some general questions, as if I was 
suddenly casually interested in high finance.  

I did become, in fact, suddenly quite interested, when I realized
that Arrond had predicted major market fluctuations for a week 
with 100% accuracy.  Which even I knew was impossible. 

Chapter 4:     NEXT DATE

It was a nice warm sunny Saturday when I met Arrond again at the 
Pike Street Market.  He was exactly on time, I'd been there an 
hour early because I couldn't wait to see him.  I was watching 
for his flashy Jaguar, but he came walking up behind me and 
tapped me on the shoulder.  Tricky man.

"Abyssus , meus carus."  Hello, my dear, elegantly spoken in our 
secret language.

I considered playing it cool, really I did.  I'd told myself I 
would not rush lame-brained into this shady affair with that 
older man, but when I turned and saw him I simply threw myself 
into his embrace.  The electric sting of him went all through me,
stunning me, arousing me, just as I'd been yearning for it to.  
I was gratified by his response, because he had it the same way I
did.  There we were, grappling and kissing passionately right in
the middle of the crowded public marketplace, both of us kind of
out of control.  

We didn't talk much, content to walk around the market, holding 
tingly zapping hands, in love with the beautiful vegetables and 
fruit, aroused by the long slippery salmon, amused by the raucus 
calling of the vendors.  We shared a fruit drink and some more 
kisses.  From there he took me to his car, and for another ride 
with the top down.

"Did you do your homework assignment?" he asked me when we were 
alone at speed on the Aurora Viaduct.

"Uh, yeah.  I can see why you're rich.  How do you do that?"

"We'll get to that pretty soon.  I need to tenderize you a bit 
more."

He took me to the Longacres Horse Racing Track.  I knew what was 
going to happen before he said anything, but I'd never been there
before, and it was fun to step into the crazy atmosphere of the 
place.

"Here's a hundred dollars, which I am loaning to you, place it on 
Glory Run in the 3rd.  Pay me back $100 with the winnings, you 
keep the rest." 

"I don't believe in gambling," I warned him.

"Neither do I."

I knew that horse would win, and it did, of course.  It was 
exciting anyway, because I couldn't be certain, and I ended up 
with $3553.49, cash in hand.  Never had I had so much money, that
was a lot in 1959, you could buy a brand new car.  I formally 
paid Arrond his $100 back.

"You didn't bet," I noticed.

"No, why should I?  I don't need money, and as you can tell, this
 is not sport for me.  I only needed to prove something to you."

"Yeah, I'm getting the picture.  You...do what...predict the 
future somehow?"

"No, not at all.  For me, it's the past."

I was incapable of scoffing; the money was in my hand.  He didn't
lie to me, so I believed him.  But I certainly had no idea of 
what he was talking about, nor of what I should say about it.  I 
guess I just let it pass.

Chapter 5:     HOME DEMONSTRATION

From there he took me to his home, a great big lovely old wooden 
house on the shore of Lake Washington, just south of the UW 
Arboretum.  The grounds were large, wildly forested and overgrown,
amazingly isolated from the city lights and traffic of Seattle.
The house sparkled in the sunlight, having been newly painted and
roofed.  It wasn't quite a mansion, but could certainly be a rich
man's domain.  

Inside, it had also been newly painted, but was almost 
unfurnished, only in the most spartan style. Arrond was evidently
not a materialistic millionaire.  There was only a table, one 
chair, a telephone, a television, and a cheap little radio. There
were no pictures on the walls, no plants.  There were a few books
and a stack of newspapers, some quite old and dusty, as if they'd
been laying there for many years.  No refrigerator.  An empty 
bedroom, with no bed in it.

"I've been travelling a lot, haven't really started living here 
yet," he explained, "except to use the phone and park the car in 
the garage."

"I can tell.  So where DO you live?"

"Well, from now on, right here.  But I wanted you to be in on 
buying the furniture, appliances, stereo equipment, whatever you 
want.  Fix it up as you like."

I believe I gave him a stern look. "Is this where you're planning
to park your mistress, along with your car?"

"This is where we can live together," he said, innocently.

There was a certain amount of creep factor settling in.  I had to
wonder exactly what he was expecting of me.

"Uh, look Arrond; I'm 17 years old, going to high school, still 
living with my mom and dad.  I can't just...MOVE IN with a man.  
I'm not sure I even WANT to, certainly not until I know what's 
going on.

"Besides, you're so MYSTERIOUS!  Don't get me wrong, I LIKE you 
way much, but...but I'm still a virgin and..."

"Relax, Jeannie, sorry if I'm scaring you.  Must be time to start
explaining things."

"Well, yeah, please?  I don't even know who you...WHAT you are."

He gave a heavy sigh. "It's just that I don't know how to tell 
you without you thinking I'm crazy." 

"I'm already wondering about that, so you've got nothing to 
lose."

"All right, here goes: I'm what popular science-fiction would 
call a time traveler.  But you've always called me your 
TIMEDANCER."

"I have?"

"Yes. I've known you before," he told me, "in your future."

So there it was, he WAS crazy. I looked down at the floor, wanted
to go home.  Soon.

"Of course I'll have to give you a demonstration before you could
possibly believe me," Arrond said and stood up, assuming a 
position balanced on one foot, "I'm going 2 minutes into the 
future.  I'll seem to vanish, although I'll actually still be 
here, and reappear in 2 minutes.  All right?"

"Yeah, okay, sure," I humored him.

Arrond posed like a ballet dancer about to do a pirouette, hands 
raised dramatically.  He started a slow graceful turn...

Gone, just like he said.  I could have questioned my own senses, 
except that his clothes--suddenly empty--went fluttering down to 
the floor.  There they were, but not him.

I could also have questioned my sanity, but didn't.  I understood
that what he was telling me was true, Arrond was neither lying 
nor crazy.  There had been enough weirdness about him to 
establish that the truth had to be weird.  

I took it pretty calmly, didn't scream or anything, although I 
was probably holding my breath for those two minutes.  Actually I
was frozen in place.  But if I was afraid, it was mostly that he
wouldn't ever reappear.  

But he did, right on time, finishing the same pirouette, ending
his turn so elegantly that it was obvious what he had just done 
was EASY for him.  

"There, you see?" he said, and bowed slightly.  Without his 
clothes, of course, which still lay in a heap on the floor.  

I couldn't speak yet, but finally managed to nod.  It didn't help
that I was standing right in front of a naked man, another first-
time experience for me.  Although somehow I still did manage to 
be pleasantly aroused by such a beautiful male body.  

He was natural about it, but became aware of my shyness and 
scooped up his clothes for my sake.

"Are you all right?" he asked as he dressed, with a slightly 
concerned expression, "you're not going into shock or anything?"

"Uh...no, yeah, I'm okay...I guess..."  

Then my rational mind took over.  "Wait a minute.  No no no, that
did NOT just happen.  You're a magician and that was the most 
convincing trick I've ever seen, but you did NOT travel through 
time.  That's impossible!"

"Not for me, I do it all the time.  Shall I show you again?"

"No!" I almost shrieked. "Uh...not yet, please. I need to 
regroup."

"Of course.  Shall I drive you home?"

"Maybe so."

When we got outside I said, "No, look, I'm going to take a bus 
home.  I'm sorry, but I have to...get away.  For now."

"All right."  He was very calm.  That scared me too.  

"I'm sure I have enough money for a bus tick..." My hand came out
of my pocket full of $3453 in loose bills I'd forgotten I had.  I
threw it from me, crying "Take your money!"  I had already turned
and run before the money had fluttered to the ground.

Chapter 6:     REGROUPING

I went home and stayed in my room, didn't watch TV or eat dinner 
or do schoolwork, I was a zombie, totally traumatized.  I'd been 
so in love, then so afraid, then so lonely, then so sad.  

Finally, I desperately wanted to talk to Arrond again, but didn't
know how to contact him. I wasn't even sure where the house was,
I'd run blindly out to a street and kept running street after 
street, until a buss passed my way, then transferred several times
without noticing which lines I was on.  I'd not been planning on
going back at the time.  Now I had no way back.

When I came home from school the next Friday afternoon I found an
envelope addressed to Miss Jean C Evins, no sender's name or 
return address on it, but I knew who it was from.  The letter was
only a telephone number.  

I didn't dare call from home, so I "went for a walk" down to the 
Montlake Terrace shopping center and used one of the pay phones 
there.

"Hello Jeannie, I've been hoping you'd call."

"Yeah.  Hmmm.  I...I don't know what to say," I admitted.

"I suggest that you ask me questions, I'll answer them all now."

"All right, that sounds good.  Uh...how are you?"

"Well, I'm better now that I'm hearing your voice.  This has been
hard for me, I miss you too much."

"How can you miss me?  You barely know me."  It was a stupid 
question, I was missing him so much it hurt.

"Oh, I've known and loved you for years, in your future, my past.
In fact, we're married..."

"Look Arrond, if you keep saying that crazy time-travel stuff I'm
going to hang up..."

"No, you're not," he said with complete confidence, "in fact, you
are going to accept all of that completely.  I know, because your
future self told me that you did. We just have to get through the
process of convincing you." 

He seemed to know what he was talking about, I certainly wasn't 
about to hang up.  "Okay then," I said, "playing the game, let's 
try this one: you say we're married in the future?  But you want
me to be your 17-year-old mistress so that you can two-time your 
older wife...who is ME?"

"Two-timing?  Amusing choice of words.  But I can't be deceiving 
my wife if she TOLD me about it, can I?  She remembers our time 
together here with great fondness."

"Mmmm, well...  But why do you need ME?  What's wrong with her?"

"I'm reluctant to tell anyone the details of their own future, 
that can be unhealthy..."

"I ask, you answer!"

"All right, but don't ask when you die, for example, that's out."

"Do you...know that?" I found myself asking timidly.

"Actually, no I don't, neither for you nor myself.  Haven't been 
there, don't want to find out.  However, I can tell you that you
were quite healthy for your age last time I saw you.  

"But you were a bit tired of me and my perspective of time, we're
having a slump, taking a break.  But you'll get over it later and
we'll be happy together again."

"Wait a minute: so after you dump me, you go back to your wife, 
and--oh God--I'm the OTHER WOMAN?  What kind of a mess IS this?"

"Jeannie, you're the ONLY woman.  I'm here because I can't get 
enough of you, and you're available to me at this time.  I don't 
want to miss out on these years of yours.  Old, young, I'll love 
you til the end of time.  Literally."

I just looked at the telephone stupidly.  The thing is, I knew he
wasn't lying, I just wasn't understanding a word of it.

Chapter 7:     TELEPHONE ADVENTURES

It sounds crazy, but I came to believe what he was telling me. He
came up with some item of proof almost every day: he'd tell me 
what would be in the newspaper three days in the future, and lo 
and behold, it came to pass!  Again and again, I could only 
ignore so much consistent accurate data, and finally had to give 
in.  He was certainly doing SOMETHING with time!

Arrond tried to explain how he did it, although he really didn't 
even know himself.  He had no time machine or other device, in 
fact he could take nothing with him when he danced through time,
not even his clothes.  It was just HIM, a psychic talent of some
kind, and as far as he knew, he was the only person in history 
to have the ability.

"You think of time as linear, because what you experience is like
a journey on a train.  But for me time is stacked in levels, like
stories of a building.  Right now we're on the level we know as
1959th year/5th month/6th day/9:36pm. You're stuck on that train
trip to the next day--8th day, 9th day--but I'm not.  I have some
kind of key that allows me to take the stairs either up or down 
levels, change trains.  Easy if you have the key, impossible if 
you don't.

"But of course, there are always limitations:" he admitted, "for
example, if I've already been on a certain time level before, 
when I was younger, then I'm locked out. It would cause a paradox
for there to be two of me at one time, so it's impossible." 

"So where...I mean WHEN are you from originally?"

"From the farthest future you can imagine," he told me, "at the 
end of the world."  More about that later.

We didn't make arrangements to meet, not for a while, but talked 
every evening.  Our discussions were sometimes so absurd with 
paradoxes and time-games that they became funny.  We laughed.  We
carried on our romance by telephone for a month. I didn't dare go
see him.  I wanted to, hell, I wanted to do everything with him; 
love, sex, whatever.  But I was too young and he agreed, for the 
moment.

"Have you no shame, Arrond?" I'd tease him, "An old fart like you
stalking an sweet innocent young 17-year-old high school virgin 
like me?"

"Time is on my side, you get older every day," he said. "Besides,
you're lucky I didn't come after you when you were 15, or--hmm, 
13--you would have been a tasty treat back then."

"God, you're disgusting...but you could have, why didn't you?"

"Hey, I'm not REALLY a pervert.  And you'll be just old enough 
quite soon now. You're about to graduate from high school, you'll
be 18, I plan to make my move then."

"You have been patient," I admitted.

"No I haven't.  I can hardly wait to have you, so I've been 
cheating."

"How so?"

"You think I sit here by the phone, waiting all this time?  I hop
ahead to the next phone call.  When we hang up here, I'll step 
into tomorrow evening and carry on our conversation."

"Oh, tricky...don't you get tired of talking to me non-stop?"

"Well, actually, I may take a detour to ancient Rome in 55 BC, or
back 45,000 years to my Cro-Magnon friends, I've got projects 
going on there."

"Just a minute, maybe you can hop around in time, but how can you
get to Rome and back?  Can you teleport anywhere you want?"

"No, of course not, although it would appear that way to an 
outside observer.  Actually, it's quite a process.  Sometimes I 
hop to my own HomeTime, currently 297403 AD, where my robot ship 
will pick me up when I call, and we fly to wherever I need to go.
That's the easy way, but it's so far in the future that it's hard
to find precise locations.  By then continents have drifted, 
sunken, risen, been eroded, nothing's where it was back in this 
time.

"For more precise travel I have a set-up in the nearer future, 
when transportation systems are quite advanced, fast, cheap, and 
there's very little government regulation or interference.  I hop
to year 2383, take a shuttle to Rome, paid with electronic money 
from my long-established company bank account.  The shuttles are 
so fast by then that I'm in Rome an hour after I started.  From 
there I hop back to 55 BC, where I've got an apartment set-up 
waiting for me.  Reverse the process to come back here.

"So it's not quite as effortless as it seems.  Maybe I won't take
that detour after all, just hop up to our next phone call."


When I asked Arrond what his "plan" for me was, he offered me a summer job. "As what, your sex-slave?" I teased, hopefully. "No, that can be your hobby. I'll want you to do telephone work for my stock market investments, I travel too much to bother wth it myself. It won't take up that much of your time, but you'll make a good salary, so you can go on to college as planned, " "So where's my office--in your bedroom?" "No, downstairs, OUR bedroom is upstairs." At this point it was all talk. Sometimes I wondered why such an attractive man would be so patient with a silly virgin. Eventually I realized that he had no choice: I was simply the one he had to have.

Chapter 8:     GRADUATED

Once I graduated, everything changed.  I accepted Arrond's offer,
he picked me up one afternoon, we went shopping for furniture for
the house. He was rich, expense was not a problem, so it was fun.
We bought a nice double bed, used it to consummate our love the 
same day.  

By then, Arrond didn't have to make any advances, I gladly gave 
myself to him.  I wanted him, forget virginity.  I was too 
inexperienced to judge how good a lover he was, all I knew was 
that sex with him was absolutely the most thrilling experience 
I'd ever had in my short life.  As if he already knew my body and
where my buttons were.  Which he did, of course--my future body
being his wife's.

And that tingly-thing he'd once hinted at?  Terrific, constant 
non-stop orgasms, I was hooked, and greedy.  I was so naive that 
I thought sex was like that for everybody, but got straightened 
out on that later on.

After I turned 18 there was no legal problem for us being a 
couple, but we still had to keep the affair secret from my folks.
Arrond told me "I like your dad a lot, but I'd better not meet 
him now--it could cause some strange paradox when I meet him 
later on in the future as his much younger son-in-law."  

My parents knew of Arrond's existence only as "my employer who 
seems to be out of town all the time".  They did suspect that 
there was a potential boy friend out there, but never met him.  
Arrond never called me at my folk's house, since my parents would
wonder why that "boy friend" had such a deep mature voice.

It was quite fun to have a forbidden liaison anyway, to be secret 
passionate lovers.  He loved me so much it almost scared me, but 
then I'd love him back just as much.  Gobs of sex, day and night,
on the floor, kitchen table, in the lake.

Arrond actually was "away on business" quite often, but I could 
use the house and the Jaguar while he was away. Anything I wanted
I could have, and he was really rich, so it was wild for a teen-
age girl.  I don't know why I didn't abuse it more.

I finally moved out of my parent's house that summer--they were 
surprised, but took it pretty well, especially since I had a 
well-paying job in high finance.  

Chapter 9:     ARROND'S STORY

Once I came to accept that Arrond really was a timedancer, I 
became deeply involved in his world and his work.  I got used to 
seeing him disappear: he'd do his dance and step down to some 
past time level, or up to his original HomeTime in the far 
future.  That stuff became everyday routine for me.

Of course I also learned his story:

Arrond said he'd come from the End of the World.  He was born in 
the year we'd call 297369 AD to be exact, almost 300 thousand 
years ahead of our time.  Actually a couple of thousand years 
AFTER the End of the World as far as the human species is 
concerned, Man being extinct by then.  Except for Arrond, who 
will be the very last one.  But the robots will still be 
carrying on and doing just fine.

Arrond was not born of any woman--because there were no living 
humans remaining--but cloned by the robotic race because they 
wanted to study a living human being. Being perfectionists they'd
improved him slightly over the original model.  They repaired 
genetic flaws that had infected human DNA to the point of 
eventual extinction, resulting in Arrond being so perfect and 
beautiful. But he'd also been equipped with an immune system that
could handle just about any disease, his electrostatic shockfield
for physical defense, 3 times normal longevity, and somehow 
having the ability to dance around time.  

The robots were good to him in their own way, but Arrond missed 
human companionship.  That became worse as he got older, and was 
extremely depressing by puberty.  The robots raised Arrond until 
he was 15 years old, then realizing that he was about to die of 
loneliness and boredom, taught him how to dance through time and 
sent him off to the past to meet other people.  

They also gave him a job, a purpose: to experience the history of
Mankind along the way, and periodically come back to download 
his memories for them to document and analyze.  

"I didn't know much about humans when I started," he told me, 
"most of their history had been lost along with their 
civilizations, only ruins remained.  There were some ancient 
files and documents, but they were meaningless to me, so I could 
only go back and find out things for myself.  It was scary, but 
I had to do it."

He started out dancing back 2000 years from HomeTime, to when 
mankind was supposed to have ended.  Arrond found only sick and 
feeble among the few men who remained, so he hopped farther back,
unrolling the history of Man backwards.  Working his way farther
and farther back through time, he came to a golden age of space 
travel and technological wonders almost at the level of the 
robotic race.  

Fortunately, Universal Galactica was Arrond's mother tongue, so
he had no problems with language while starting out in that end
of history.  It had been a dead language for 2000 years when he'd
been cloned, but the robotic race still knew it as digital 
information.  They spoke it to Arrond as they raised him, because
a human could never physically speak the binary+ code of 
cybernetic data exchange.

Universal Galactica is evidently going to become the greatest 
language population ever spoken by Mankind, as well as several 
other species.  It's going to endure over 200 thousand years as 
the common idiom of just about everyone in the Milky Way.  This 
being in the far future, when thousands of interstellar planetary 
systems have already been colonized, an era of galactic nations, 
starships flashing between them.

But although he understood the words that men spoke, he didn't 
always understand their actions, so often in conflict with their 
lofty speeches.  He saw how wondrous civilizations were rapidly 
constructed by high-tech capabilities, cultures blossomed--and 
then were destroyed, again and again, always due to war and greed 
and all-too human nastiness.

"I'd been so lonely for human company, but once among them I was 
frightened and disgusted by their behavior.  I preferred my 
robots, who were so perfect and predictable.  Humans were either
totally institutionalized and boring--or quite dangerous, 
destructive, cruel, even criminal.  Not everyone of course, but 
enough of them to cause conflicts and wars that ruined things for
everyone else."  

So even among people he was still lonely, rarely spoke with 
anyone at first, just observing, then moving on back through 
time.  The farther back he went the better he liked the world,
although language became a problem before the 38th Century, since
no one spoke Universal Galactica yet.  But he pushed on back 
anyway.

The most appealing thing about humans were human girls, Arrond 
admitted.  Being a horny teen-ager, he wanted one--or several--
but they simply looked at him as if he was a freak.  And if he 
touched them, they got zapped by his shockfield and ran away 
screaming.  So he had to do without, poor baby. 

Some time levels were better than others, he would spend weeks,
months even, in the ones he liked.  He learned the language, read 
books, did research.  He'd established a base when he could, to 
make life easier, but where he had no base it was often so 
problematic that he was forced to dance back up HomeTime for food
 and shelter.  Although sometimes he would endure the worst 
hardships just to stay and eat real food in the past rather than 
the synthetic mush the robots provided for him.

"I studied documents and books picked up from various time 
levels, learned about historical personalities like Michelangelo
and daVinci, so I decided to visit them.  It all seemed so 
romantic: visiting the middle of human history, the European 
Renaissance.  

"Almost got myself killed, being totally unprepared when I 
arrived, it was a rough time for the common man, and I was a 
notch lower than them.  Besides owning nothing, not even clothes,
I couldn't speak the language.  It got brutal.  Luckily, I had 
my shockfield, but mostly I just danced away when things got too 
nasty."

Arrond's shockfield was actually a defense system to protect 
himself from the worst dangers of time travel--other humans.  The
electrostatic tingle I came to enjoy so much was only a hint of 
the energy he could call upon in an emergency.  He could generate
an energy-shell to repel an attack, and he could deliver an 
electric shock that would down a man by an easy touch of his 
hand.  I've seen him do it, very effective.

"I had to steal sometimes, clothes upon arrival for example.  I 
didn't like stealing, and would return things later if I could.  
It wasn't that I was so innately honest when I was young, I 
hadn't been raised with a human code of ethics to respect, I had 
to work that out later.  It was more that I was afraid of causing
paradoxes--I steal one merchant's money, he goes out of business,
the Industrial Revolution never happens, etc.

"As I began to put together a picture of the time levels I wanted
to visit," Arrond explained, "I realized that I'd better be much 
more careful how I went about it.  For example, if I would 
witness the Crucifixion of Christ-- which I could do only ONCE, 
and never again-- I'd best know exactly where to go and when to 
be there, or I might easily end up on foot 20 miles away and miss
the event itself.  

"That happened with the burning of the Library at Alexandria in 
47 AD, I screwed up completely.  Then again, I don't think I 
really WANTED to see it happen, I've got an emotional attachment 
to the place.  I still spend a lot of time reading there--earlier
times of course, it was founded in 300 BC, so there's a few 
hundred years to play with." 

But Arrond's academic endeavors came later, as he matured. "I was
just a scared 15 year-old kid when I started out, had no 
routines, didn't know where I was going, flying blind, arriving 
whenever, naked and penniless, totally lost.  But I loved it 
anyway."

Eventually he had several "set-ups" scattered through time, 
places where he could use the same house over many years, where 
he had clothes, money, an identity, even friends.  55 BC Rome was
one, Japan in the 2780's was another, ancient Alexandria (where 
he used the Library so often), and all the way back 45,000 years 
to caveman days, where he was building the City of Arantha with a
tribe of Cro-Magnons in southern France.

20th Century Seattle was one of his most important bases, here
with me.  I was his one true love, his primary emotional touch-
point with the human race.  Well, that's what he told me, and I 
believed him. There were other women out there in time somewhere,
but I was the one he couldn't get enough of.

His operational base was still HomeTime, his original home among 
the robotic race in the far future, where he went to download his
memories for them--that was his job, after all.  They also 
monitored his health, tuned and toned his body to perfection, 
even repaired damage from some too-dangerous encounters on his 
journeys.  The robots had saved his life on several occasions.  
The truth is, he loved them.

He was their son, they had given him everything: life, a perfect 
body, and the incredible ability of time dancing.  Although the 
latter seems to have been unplanned, not even the robotic race 
understood how Arrond could do it.  And yet they had also given 
him total freedom.

Human authorities would never have allowed a time-dancing boy to 
run loose in their own history.  They would have either contained
or killed him.  Arrond would have been considered an absolute 
danger to the status quo, someone with the potential to change 
history.  

The classic time paradox: you go back to 1932 and kill Adolph 
Hitler before the Holocaust, save 6 million Jews and avert World
War II.  Or maybe you save President Kennedy from getting shot.  
Are you a hero, or have you wrecked everything?  Something else 
had to happen instead, all those people with changed destinies to
be adjusted down the time line.  The world would be different 
after that, but better or worse, who can know?  

"It's not that the robots have laid any rules upon me, they 
haven't FORBIDDEN me to change the past--actually, they don't 
really care.  To them the Time of Mankind is like something that 
went on in some anthill.  Interesting to observe, but not really 
important to their own destiny.  If one ant goes back in time and
causes paradoxes in the time-line for all the other ants, so 
what? The entire History of Man is forgotten by their era anyway,
on the cosmic scale whatever occurred among men means Nothing.

"But since I'm learning the history of my own species, I try not 
to make big changes," Arrond told me.  "But I don't think I can 
anyway, I've come to believe that my presence in different times 
IS history, that there's no other version.  Whatever I do doesn't
change history, because I was supposed to do whatever I did."

Chapter 10:     PROCEDURES

Arrond and I would often speak Latin together, just for fun.  He 
was much more fluent than I, but the more we did it the better I 
got too.  For me, the language changed from an academic challenge
to relaxed everyday conversation.  You know, Mellita, domi adsum!
for "Honey, I'm home!"  Or Braccae tuae aperiuntur, "your fly is
open."

As a Latin buff I really enjoyed knowing that we were speaking the 
genuine street language of the Roman Empire--a lost idiom--nobody 
else in the world could get instruction on this level.  If I got 
stuck finding a way to say something, he filled in the blanks for 
me.  Even slang.

I told him that I regarded Latin as our secret private language.

"Latin is hardly that secret," he said, "there's often someone 
who'll surprise you by understanding it, even here and now in 
Seattle. But if you want a REALLY secret language, I'll teach you
Universal Galactica, it'll be about 35,000 years before anyone 
can sneak up on us."

I tried to learn a little, some phrases, some grammar, but really
felt no connection to it at all.  "This language isn't even dead 
yet," I complained, and gave up. "Latin is secret enough for me."

Arrond spoke many languages, because he needed them in all those 
exotic times and places he travelled to, but he wasted little 
time learning them by traditional school methods.  He'd dance up 
to the future, usually the 2780's, where he also had an extra 
apartment set-up in Seattle just to make things easier for 
himself, although he lived mostly in Kyoto Japan on that time 
level.  He could learn any online language fluently within in a 
few hours by jacking his brain into the WorldNet through some 
kind of computer interface. 

So besides English, Latin, Universal Galactica, and a weird 
future-dialect of Japanese, Arrond could speak, read and write in
about 30 other ancient and futuristic languages. I didn't under-
stand how he could have all that in his head without mixing them 
up.  "Just a matter of procedure," he'd tell me. 


One of the important procedures in Arrond's lifestyle as a time- dancer was to leave some gaps in time levels, so that he could always have a window to dance to, forward or backwards in time. That was crucial, he told me, if he had to get information in and out or make adjustments in one of the time levels where he was most often, such as back in Rome, Arantha, or here. All the years we lived together in our house, Arrond was gone from this time level every Wednesday from midnight to midnight. He would simply dance over that one day every week. He'd established that routine when he'd been 28 years old in 1968, first as a courtesy to older versions of himself, so that he wouldn't inadvertently bump them around. It turned out to be an extremely effective system for manipulating time. The younger versions of himself could use the mornings, the older versions had mid-day, and there were still some hours remaining if any very much older versions needed to dance into this time slot. This was how Arrond would dance ahead a month--to a Wednesday--and memorize the stock market reports, then dance back to now and make investments at a profit. There was a special room for this activity: The Study, den, library. The door was always locked on Wednesdays. On his desk were stacked the week's newspapers, local and New York Times Financial Pages. There were also current World Almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, latest popular music, newest books. It was constantly updated with the latest technology: starting with a telephone, a television and a radio when I first came there in 1959, later on there were video machines, CD players, modern computers with Internet access. And there was a nice clean bathrobe always hanging ready for a naked man to slip into on his way through our time level. I was asked to stay out of that room on Wednesdays. Arrond knew that all of the versions of himself that might pass through that room would be tempted to make love with me instead of doing their business and getting out, so that another version could have room to work. "I know myself," he admitted, "I can't get enough of you." And he was right. I would go to that room a Wednesday in a while, but that was later on in life.

Chapter 11:     LOVE LIFE

We were lovers for almost 3 years.  I took care of his finances, 
he took care of me, it worked out nicely.  We travelled 
occasionally, to Mexico, New York, Paris, London, but otherwise 
we did not live especially like millionaires.  

I'd feel guilty about being so rich so easily while there were 
poor people everywhere.  Arrond simply allowed me to do anything 
I wanted with money, so I founded several help funds: for 
children, for Indians, for the homeless.

Arrond had another view of life: everybody ends up dead after a 
hundred years, but if he'd just dance back in time a ways they 
were healthy and happy anyway, so what did it matter? I sometimes
felt that his humanity was stunted by being raised by robots, and
by living out of sync with everybody else in the world. He seemed
to have no problems unless I caused them.

Arrond was a man of power in every sense of the world, but he was
a jellybabe for me: he needed me sexually and wanted me so 
desperately, even when he had me, that I could have steered him 
much more than I did.  Okay, now I'm bragging.  I wanted him too,
and he could have made me beg for his tingle too, but he never 
did.  I misused that power much more than he did, but still, it 
was a fair game.

Although one day something occurred to me, so I had to ask: 
"Arrond, do you have other women?"

"Not in this time level, my dear."

"Aha!  I know what that means: you've got women stashed around 
time in OTHER levels.  Maybe one in Babylon, another in the 
future, maybe even among those Cro-Magnon you spend so much time 
with."

"Well, of course.  Why shouldn't I?"  He wasn't being apologetic.

"Because that's being unfaithful to me!" I was indignant.

"Just a moment, woman," he said, authority voice, "let's do the 
mathematics: I can theoretically live at least 3 times longer 
than most men, and may thus well end up with a 300 year lifespan,
whereas you can only live 100.  Do you really feel that I should 
deny myself any women for the other 200 years I may live?"

"Well...no, but not WHILE we're together."

"WHILE is a word that has an ambiguous meaning for me, my whiles 
being non-linear.  Any WHILE spent with you or another woman is 
not time taken away from either of you.  Isn't it enough that I 
have no other woman in this century WHILE you live?"

"But you go see them sometimes, don't you?  Do you love some of 
them?"

"Yes, of course I do. But each in a world of their own, different
cultures and rules, I'm different too in those worlds.  Those are
other lives, with no contact or competition between them. You are
the only one I love here, in this culture."

"Well you're breaking the rules of my culture."  

He smiled, as if to a child.  "Jeannie, there is a reason that I 
love you above all other women, and it's not just your physical 
beauty.  It's because I can be honest with you--and I need that 
in SOMEONE, since most of my life is such a secret. You can think
beyond your own cultural limitations.  Right now you're still a 
very young girl just coming out of the 1950's, a socially 
conservative, rigid, prudish time.  But everything will change, 
including you: the 60's are coming. 

"I remember you and me as a couple then, when I was younger and 
you will be older.  When you lived by another set of rules than 
you do now.  You too will come to love more than one man at a 
time, which will seem all right to you then.  And I accepted that
then."       

When I thought about it, I wasn't really jealous, just playing 
out the cultural model I was supposed to.  "Well, then will you 
tell me about your women?"

"Why yes, Jeannie, I'd love to share that with you..."

My guesses had not been far off, except that I had guessed 3 
women, but there were many more. There were at least 5 important
liaisons: a slave woman in Ancient Rome, a princess in Alexandria,
the Cro-Magnons actually offered him a string of virgins, a 
Japanese woman pilot about 400 years into the future, and me.

What Arrond told me about his relationships with the women he 
loved in those far away times certainly expanded my concept of 
what love is, what life is.  Actually, I came to respect those 
few women who were capable of being his "wives".  I discarded my 
jealousy, it was silly. I even sent and received messages to some
of those women through Arrond.  In a way, I was in a commune with
them, we were all family.

As for immediate family, I was too young to want children yet, 
but when the subject came up Arrond confessed that he could never
give me any.  Our DNA was incompatible, he was a genetically 
enhanced human clone from the future, who had actually been the 
Last Man in the World.  Back then I had to ask what DNA was.   

He gave me a technical explanations about DNA that a lot of 
research scientists would like to have heard in 1960, then went 
on to tell me what it meant for us specifically: "I was cloned 
from the last strands of human DNA, after Mankind had become 
extinct.  They didn't die out in a particular catastrophe, since 
Mankind was spread out over the galaxy by then.  It was because 
their genetic strain was simply worn out, they could no longer 
reproduce to carry on the species.  I only survive because the 
robotic race enhanced my genetics, which makes my genes unique.  
They don't match yours."

We were busy anyway, babies didn't seem to matter then.  I was 
going to the University of Washington to study art, he was off to
the Cenozoic to study dinosaurs.  In the evening we'd both come 
home, make love, make dinner together, have some wine, end up 
talking for hours, go to bed early and make love.  We usually 
made love three times a day, sometimes more, that's just the way 
we had it.  We were young, or at least I was, and Arrond was 
prodigiously vigorous for any age, so it didn't seem excessive at 
all.  It was nice.

Okay, I've got to admit that we didn't have much of a social life
those days, since everything was structured around Arrond's 
being a Man of Mystery.  We could have fun with strangers 
sometimes, but we never had family or close friends come over to
us for dinner, never visited others. We were isolated homebodies.

But that was just the way we wanted it to be at that time.  To be
home alone, cuddled up by the fireplace on a rainy night, or out 
sunbathing naked by the lake in the summer.  We enjoyed being 
together, hardly ever saw television or read a book back then, 
there was just too much to talk about.

Sounds like I was a giddy schoolgirl in love, doesn't it?  Well 
sure, I was, but we actually DID have so much to talk about: all 
of the knowledge and history of Mankind was available to me in 
that one man.

Chapter 12:     QUESTIONS

I loved to ask Arrond the kind of questions only he could answer,
about the future, about the past. I was privy to information and
secrets, mysteries revealed, exotic histories that no one else in
the world could possibly know.  He was so experienced, so wise--
but mostly I just loved to hear him talk.
 
"So what about the Crucifixion?" I asked, carefully.  Not that I 
was especially religious, but all those Christian superstitions 
do lurk in the back of any mind raised in this culture. 

"Well--heh--I haven't been there yet.  I don't really enjoy 
witnessing executions and catastrophes."

"So you won't go there?"  I was almost relieved not to have to 
deal with a Test of Faith.

"Oh, I'll go, yes.  It's too important an historical event to 
avoid, the cause of untold good and evil over millennium to follow
--there's just no hurry.

"Actually, I'm still working on it: I've been learning the 
Aramaic language back at my Rome house in 50 BC. Also visited the
Dead Sea investigating the Essene cult--who may have taught Jesus
everything he knew.  Saw the famous Star in the East, which 
looked like a supernova to me, but was a few years too early to 
really connect as a divine announcement of Jesus' birth--myths 
tend to adjust those events a bit.  I've even seen Yeshua bin 
Yosef as a young boy..."

"YOU'VE SEEN JESUS?"  I sat up in great respect, a product of my 
culture.

"Yeah, just in passing on the streets of Nazareth.  Totally 
unremarkable kid to look at."

"So were you," I reminded him.

"Right.  And that's part of my reluctance to go see the 
Crucifixion of Christ.  I've been in the God Business myself, and
I KNOW I'm not a god.

"When I was starting out with my Cro-Magnon people, leading them 
toward civilization, I tried to tell them that I was only a guy 
with a handy trick, but they couldn't accept that. Understandably, 
I was performing real live miracles all the time, outliving 
generations of them, ACTING godlike.  Eventually I accepted that 
role because it was easier to steer them in the direction I wanted. 
I even began to believe it myself.  

"Funny thing is even had they understood The Truth--my robots up 
HomeTime would have been interpreted as a Host of Angels in 
Heaven, the skyship as my Rainbow Throne, my mega-robot Mommy as 
the Holy Virgin, Holy Ghost, whatever.

"So when I contemplate visiting the Crucifixion I'm afraid of two
things: being disappointed that Jesus was only a man; or being so
overwhelmed at the presence of a True God that I'd have to serve 
Him forever.  I'm not ready for that.

"Still, I'd like for SOMETHING miraculous to be real."

"YOU'RE real," I said, in adoration.

"Yeah, and look at me: still not a god."

"Do you even believe in God?" I thought to ask.

"Creative Spirit, sure.  One egoistic Manlike entity, no."

"So do you believe in an afterlife?"

He chuckled.  "Sure: THIS is an afterlife.  The Spirits move on, 
utilizing one form, then another.  We humans were once the 
trilobites, then dinosaurs, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, and now US--
modern men. Later, when this form is also outdated--well, I think
we eventually become the robotic race."

"But what about the individual US's?  Will you and I meet in 
Heaven after we die?"  I was young.

"Oh, I doubt it, but who knows?  There's a timedancer, therefore
anything else is possible too.  But you'd better be ready for a 
long wait--if you die in your time and I die in mine, you're 
going to have to wait more than 297 thousand years for me to show
 up." 


I really enjoyed all the time-travel metaphysical paradox stuff: "You're telling me that the future is SET," I'd challenge him, ranting a little, "that there's nothing I can do to change my "destiny", that it's all PREORDAINED? There's no free will?" (I'd just been studying Calvinism in History 101.) "No," he'd rebut, "you ARE making your own decisions right now, it's just that in a later time level these were the decisions you HAD made." "But once you've told me about it, I could make a better decision!" "Hey, it's the same for me--I haven't experienced my own future any more than you have. I only knew that we'd have this affair because YOU told me about it when you were 24 years old!" "But suppose I decided to have nothing to do with you, that would have to CHANGE both our futures." "Maybe...but please don't." "You mean it IS possible?" "Actually," he reluctantly admitted, "I DO change little things sometimes, so yes, it CAN happen. But big events in history are pretty much unstoppable, like the course of a great river."
Let me mention that after I'd met Arrond I had studied everything I could about time travel. Which means science fiction, because.. well, just because there IS no other documentation. That's where all the theoretic concepts can be found, the paradox games, potential scenarios that COULD result assuming time travel was possible: books like H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Robert Silverberg's Up The Line, movies like Race Against Time and the Back to the Future trilogy. I knew most of the ideas. It didn't matter that some of the concepts were absurd if you understood how time travel really works, the IDEAS were important anyway because they made you think in non-linear terms. Besides, who knows if what Arrond does is the only way of doing it? Not even Arrond can answer that one.
Some questions were tabu, like "How long will I live?" "I don't look ahead to the future to see when my friends or family are going to die. I've simply LEARNED not to do that. For one thing, it's too sad to know, and for another it's a horrible secret to go around with when you do see them. Sometimes people ask, "When will I die?" or "How will I die?" I want to be able to honestly say, "I don't know." "For another thing, it can change the future. When I was much younger and more foolish I made the mistake of telling my Cro- Magnon friend Khangda-gha that he would live to be a wise old man. We went into battle against Neanderthal, and Khangda-gha believing that he was impervious to harm because of what I'd told him, was recklessly fearless and died a young man."
He'd told me about nano-technology in the future, super- miniaturized medical machines, so small that they moved throughout the body like submarines in the blood veins, cleaning away arthritis, cancer. It sounded wonderful. "Couldn't you bring any of that technology back here?" I asked. "Only in my head, as ideas, not physically." "I've been thinking about that. You say you can't take anything with you when you move through time, but you eat food, drink water, and then you dance through time. It doesn't splash to the floor along with your clothes--thank god. So couldn't you take something that small in your mouth, or even swallow it?" "Oh, I can take it, but it won't arrive. The process of time- dancing is a conversion of matter into energy, for a millisecond I exist only as energy. When I reconvert to matter again in some other time, any food I've eaten remains pure energy in my body. I always feel quite empty after a hop, but so fully-charged that I don't need to eat for a while."
"What's the world like in the future you come from?" "By the 2975th Century the whole planet is a blend of nature and machine, all networked to maintain the ecosystems that support life. Organic and robotic life have similar needs for energy, water, minerals. The atmosphere's different than now, rather toxic. Animals and insects are long gone, but plants flourish. And robots are the dominant life form. "Understand, when I talk about robots, I mean the PEOPLE of that time. Although non-organic, they are semi-living machines capable of intelligent thought and behavior--some more than others, of course, depending on their programming. There's a really big variety of types, some are specialized for certain functions, others more versatile in their operations than humans ever were. "They're all networked, always in contact with each other, one vast hive entity. Yet many have programming that generates individual personality as well. Like I said, they ARE people. "But these people don't make war, cause deliberate harm to others of their own kind, don't act out of greed or selfishness. However, they do sometimes act out of passion, since emotions have been programmed into them to put some fun in their lives. That's right, robots like to have fun. "Cities don't exist, just small terminal clusters, since robots don't need to congregate for economic or social reasons. Their social life is on The Interface, where they communicate constantly with one another--and yes, they develop friendships, even romances of the mind."
"So where do you live in HomeTime," I asked, "Europe, America, somewhere else?" "I've always lived aboard the big skyship I call Mommy, rather than any particular location on earth. I was cloned in one of her labs and grew up on her, always moving around. It was fun to be at the beach one day, in the mountains another, or the desert, the jungle. There are no other humans living there, so I had no friends to leave behind." "God, it sounds pretty lonely. Poor baby." "Well, it was and it wasn't. I didn't miss playmates until I got older. I had Mommy to keep me company. She'd entertain me, teach me. The entire skyship itself is actually one great mega- robot, not only intelligent but also quite loving--that's why I call her Mommy. Her function is to serve me, and she was the only family I knew. "But when I say SERVE I mean that she nurtures and takes care of me, she certainly doesn't always obey my commands if she thinks they are in conflict with my well-being. Mommy sometimes protects me for my own good, considering me the property of the robotic race who created me to study extinct humans. She can also be pretty bossy, reminding me of my duty to come home every now and then to download my experiences and get checked and tuned. Actually, she still thinks of me as her baby." "Does she make chicken soup?" I asked, and snuggled closer to hear more.
"I know it's a long way off in the future, but doesn't it make you sad to know that the entire race of Man will completely die out one day?" "No, it's absolutely fine. They'll get their turn. Mankind will be around for more than another 297 thousand years, that's enough time to do whatever you need to accomplish before moving on to the next experience. Mankind was a stagnant race by the end anyway, an outdated species, ready to go." "But the thought of this entire world being just empty..." "Oh, it's not, life will go on fine without Man. In fact, the robotic race will become the dominant species in our galaxy long before Man finally fades out, and they'll keep improving. In my HomeTime they're just as alive and spiritual as Man ever was. Better too: no wars, no crime. Nobody misses Man at all." "Are you sure robots have emotions?" I wondered. "Oh yeah," Arrond chuckled over a memory of some funny robot he knew. "But do they have souls?" I asked. "I don't know," he answered, "but then, is there any empirical proof that WE do?"
"Have you ever travelled to another planet?" "No, I've been too busy with this one. Besides, maybe I'm afraid to. Dancing through time in a starship could be disastrous. "I've been to the Moon, though. In my own Mommy-ship, nothing to it. It's just a big dead rock. With a good view of Earth, but you can see that anywhere in orbit. The lesser gravity was fun though, I was just a kid, hopped all over the place." "I wonder if we'll ever get to the moon in my time," I said. "Oh sure, won't be long now. First Lunar landing, July 1969." "In 9 years, really? Wow!" I got all dreamy, always a fan of science-fiction, "And when is the first starship?" "Oh, that'll be a while. About 400 years, depending on what you call a starship. The first ships weren't faster-than-light, a wasted effort because the next generation of real starships caught up with them halfway out to the stars." "So will we colonize planets of other stars? Are there alien civilizations out there? What about teleportation? When will..." I never ran out of questions.
But there was one question he would never answer, he always wheedled his way out it one way or another: "So Arrond, just old ARE you, really?"

Chapter 13:     VISITOR

One evening Arrond and I were making dinner together when he 
stopped and turned, as if listening to something.

"Hmm, there's a stirring in the time level--oops, I do believe 
I'm about to get bumped..."  He vanished, poof, was gone.  

His clothes slumped to the floor, as if he'd dance out of this 
time, but he hadn't danced.  I'd never seen him get "bumped" 
before, had no idea of what was going on.  I was scared, 
considered screaming.

"Oh, excuse me, I guess I bumped myself," came from the other 
side of the room.  I turned around to see a naked young man.  For
a second I didn't recognize him, so this time I went ahead and 
screamed.

"Jeannie, it's okay!" he said, "it's only me.  And don't worry, I
just accidentally bumped him out of this time level, he'll be back 
as soon as I leave."

"But who are YOU, what do you want?" 

Then I finally recognize him: it was Arrond, but as a young man.
And was he beautiful, if I hadn't been so satisfied with my own 
Arrond I'd want a guy like THAT!

"Oh," he said, almost shyly, standing there naked, "uh...you 
don't know who I am?"

"Yeah, now I can see you're an earlier version of Arrond--but 
much earlier."  I was calm now, but still confused.

"Uh, yeah--I've just come from 1968."

"Oh.  Well, welcome to 1960."

"Thanks.  We're married up then, you and I."

"Oh?  Oh!  I hope we're happy?"

"Oh yeah, totally in love. You're wonderful...uh, THAT older you,
I mean.  Although you look... pretty wonderful now too."

"In '68 I must be 26.  You don't look much older than that 
yourself."

"A little older."

"This is weird," I said.

"Yeah, it is. Uh, look, I've come here to check out what's going 
on..."

We were both awkward and shy with each other, yet hypnotized by 
mutual attraction, like moths circling the flame.

"...it's just that you're so young, and my Jeannie said she'd 
been my mistress when I'll be much older.  Guess I'm concerned 
that I'll be some kind of dirty old man."

"Oh, well yes, you are."  I had to giggle a little.  

"You don't mind?"

"Mind?  No, I LOVE my version of you so much...well, just wait, 
I'll show you when you get old.  So don't try to rescue me, 
please, I wouldn't miss out on all this for the world!"

"Yeah, that's what my Jeannie told me.  Actually, I was more 
worried for myself than you.  Maybe I should just be glad that 
I'm going to be so lucky when I get old.  You're very..."

"Would you like to put on some clothes?" I abruptly asked, having
just picked up Arrond's discarded pants, and offered them to the
naked young man.

Arrond was suddenly aware of his growing erection, which we were 
both looking at, and then both had to laugh.  He stepped into the
pants, a bit embarrassed.  I was enjoying the show.

He shrugged, "As you can see, I think you're really beautiful, 
even if you are too young for me."

"Yeah well, so are you.  Too young, I mean," I teased him back, 
"maybe you should go back to your wrinkled old wife."

"She doesn't look much different than you do," Arrond from 1968 
said, "a little more grown up maybe.  Don't worry, you'll age 
well."

We just looked at each other for a while, not really knowing what
more to say.  There was a silence, undecided if it was embarras-
sing or not, I was content to look and so was he.  

But finally he shrugged. "Guess I'd better let my old fart self 
come home.  And I'll try not to bump him like this any more.  
Well...guess we'll meet again later on in life."

"When?" I asked, just a smidge of begging for more information.

"Ah...don't think I'd better tell you.  I don't want to take any 
chances with changing time.  Could cause us to never meet.  Don't
want that."

"No, we have to meet!" I agreed.

We looked deep into each other's eyes.  I wanted him, he wanted 
me, but we both had someone to be faithful to.  Silly us.

But we did both surrender to a passionate goodbye kiss before he 
danced away.

Immediately from behind me "...and oh yes, I was bumped!"  My own
Arrond was finishing his interrupted sentence as he popped back 
into real time a second after young Arrond was gone.  It was him 
who was the naked man now, so I gave him his pants again.  I was 
calm this time.

"What is BUMPING?" I asked.

"Yes, well, you know how there can't be two of me in the same 
time level, and my youngest self always has priority--simply 
because he was the one who got there first.  So I get bumped, 
diverted to the next available window.  No harm done, although it
can be irritating sometimes.  It doesn't even matter WHERE in the
world my earlier self arrives, I get bumped if we're in the same 
time level."

"He--a younger you--was here.  From 1968, he said.  I talked to 
him."

"Here?  From '68?  For me, that was a long time ago.  Hmmm, I 
suppose he wanted to have sex with you?"

"No!  Well...maybe.  But we DIDN'T!"  I may have protested a 
little too much.

"Wait a minute, now I remember that visit!  I came here because I
had moral qualms about becoming a dirty old man.  I was so pure 
then that I wouldn't even try to make love with you because...
because you were too young.  Ha ha, look at me now!"

"It wasn't because I was too young," I insisted, "he was just 
being faithful to his wife, the future me.  It was sweet."

"You're probably right, it's hard to remember my own motivations 
so long ago."

"Just how long ago is that in your own time?" 

"You know I don't want to tell you that.  But not so long ago 
that I've forgotten my/his next visit to you."

"He'll be back?" I couldn't help sounding glad, "But he said he 
wouldn't bump you any more."

"He won't, that was when I established Wednesdays as drop-in day.
I had to find some way to come see you again, couldn't resist."

"What should I do?" I asked, with wide innocent eyes.

"Well, I remember what you DID do.  It's one of my favorite 
memories."

"You won't be jealous?"

"Of myself, of my own youth?  No, that would be silly."

Chapter 14:     NEXT VISIT

The next time Arrond from '68 visited me was just so perfect.  It
was a month after the first time, a summer afternoon.  I was 
reading a sexy book, Lady Chatterly's Lover, sunbathing naked
outside on the lawn.  Alone, because it was Wednesday, so my own 
Arrond was away and didn't even have to get bumped that time, 
just as he'd said.  Told you it was perfect.

Arrond '68 came out of the house, wearing shorts this time, 
borrowed from his older self's closet.  "Hello, Jeannie, hello?" 
he called, looking for me.

"Over here!  Oh it's you again, hi!"  I waved and smiled as nice 
as I could, put down my book and stood up.  So that he could get 
a good look at me, of course. "We always seem to meet when one of
us is naked, ha ha," I said.

"Uh, yeah.  Oh well," he smiled nicely too, gave a little shrug, 
"no big deal.  I'm used to seeing your other you naked anyway.  
You still look pretty much the same."

"Then I'm not going to get fatter than I am?"  That was something
I fretted about sometimes.

"Not a bit.  Look, you...my Jeannie told me that we'd...uh..."

"Mm-hmmm.  And my Lord and Master Arrond said you'd show up.  He 
insisted that I make you welcome."

"...just one time.  I couldn't resist."

"Course not, me neither.  Come on."  I took his hand and led him
into the bedroom.  

I peeled off his shorts like a pro, laid myself back on the bed 
like Lady Chatterly herself, spread my legs and said, "Make your
self at home."

Sometimes it's fun to play the concubine.

Chapter 15:     OTHER WORLDS

When Arrond was away, he was sometimes unthinkably far away.  
Occasionally I could see that he had visibly AGED from one day 
to the next.  And knowing that he aged at least 3 times slower 
than normal people, he had to have been gone a long while. That's
non-linear time for you, leave an hour ago, spend a few years 
away, and be back for lunch. 

But one time I could see that he'd overdone it.  He was obviously
older, completely disoriented, and it took him a few days to 
settle into life here again.  He admitted that he'd been gone for
almost 5 years and was very glad to finally get home to me again.
 
It was awkward being with him for a while, as if we hardly knew 
each other any more.  I was definitely peeved that he'd lived so 
long years out of touch with me, and that he was acting so weird
now.  

"You know that I have several lives going on," he explained, "but
most of them are not like this.  Here, I'm a wealthy gentleman 
with a beautiful mistress I adore, life is wonderful. Some of the
other lives are much less pleasant and more demanding; harder, 
dangerous, heartbreaking lives.  I NEED this place, I need YOU, 
this is when I can rest and remind myself that the struggle can 
be worth it."

"What struggle?" I had to scoff, still peevish, "you're like a 
God, dancing in and out of everybody else's problems."

"That's just it: I AM considered a god, for instance by the Cro-
Magnon civilization I've built up over 800 years.  The City of 
Arantha, that's mostly where I've been."

"For 800 years?"

"Their time, not mine."

"What about MY time?"  I was probably pouting.

"Well, I've been gone from here for 3 hours, was that so bad?"

"No, but you came back all weird and old and..."

"Look, Jeannie, sorry about that, but I'm responsible for an 
entire race of people.  I had to be there for a while, set up a 
government, schools, lots of time-consuming linear processes.  I 
succeeded in steering them through 7 years of drought and 3 years
of famine, but failed to avoid a civil war.  There's always 
someone who wants to take all the power.

"So I've been fighting wars, beside my troops with crossbows, 
spears and swords, defending the City of Arantha.  It's been 
horrible and frightening, so give me a break, please."

"Exciting too?" I asked resentfully, imagining all the fantastic
adventures he was having without me.

"Fighting in war is nothing like watching a movie about it.  I 
hate it, I hate killing people, even those brutal Neanderthals.  I
always get hurt too, despite my shockfield defense and zap-touch.
I'm not a superhero, I'm usually quite afraid of dying in combat.
I've had to limp back to HomeTime a few times and let Mommy save 
my life.  But my friends don't have that possibility, they just 
die.  

"I hate war even when we win it.  Which we always do, because I 
lead my troops with strategies learned from future history, with 
weapons our opponents have never seen before, with technology 
thousands of years ahead of their time, and I dance back and 
forth through time to spy out our next move.  In other words, I 
cheat, there's no honor in my warfare."

"Then why are you fighting wars in the first place?"  I knew that
Arrond was at heart a pacifist like myself.

"Survival, freedom.  Hell, freedom from cannibalism--that reason
enough for you?"

Arrond often visited Arantha, his Cro-Magnon project. I knew that
they had lived in what is now Southern France at the end of the 
last great Ice Age, about 45,000 years back in time.  He'd come 
upon them when he was very young, about 17 years old, off on a 
boyish adventure looking for Cave Men. 

He'd had a romanticized concept of what cave-man life would be 
like: noble savages, mighty hunters, Tarzans.  What he found was 
a brutal hodge-podge of creatures who looked like people but 
acted like animals.  The Neanderthals were violently aggressive 
cannibals, but had at least developed a tribal society.  The Cro-
Magnon people had not come so far, they were small groups of 
individual families, always on the run from Neanderthal hunters, 
naked wild things almost without language.

Arrond rescued a Cro-Magnon family from a Neanderthal hunt, was 
with them a while, and discovered that although totally ignorant,
they were basically quite intelligent. He taught them how to make
stone weapons, and in that process they also learned Universal 
Galactica, a language of starships and galactic nations, because
that's what Arrond spoke to them.  Arrond got very enthusiastic 
about that, and made a project of developing them into his 
romanticized concept of Cave Men after all.  

He gathered other Cro-Magnon families, organized them into a 
tribe speaking one language, taught them agriculture, cooking, 
music, metallurgy, chemistry, city-building.  Arantha began as a 
cluster of adobe huts, rebuilt to stone houses, then a walled 
city.  And when the Neanderthals came to take everything away, he
taught them War.

It's no wonder they regarded Arrond as a god.  He made no secret 
of his abilities, dancing in and out of existence before their 
eyes, overpowering Neanderthals by zapping them with a fingertip,
he was their All-Wise prophet and bearer of scientific knowledge.

And of course, as he visited them over a span of 800 years, he 
seemed to be immortal as well.  He even arose from the dead a few
times.

Arrond also came to consider the people of Arantha as His 
Children.  He'd started out just to give them a better life, but 
as they responded so intelligently to instruction and knowledge,
he became caught up in seeing how far he could take them. He took
them quite far: so far that there was a technologically advanced 
super-city located on the Mediterranean Coast in Southern France 
45,000 years ago. 

"I was changing time, I know.  There's no record of such a city, 
there are no ruins today, but once I started I couldn't stop.  
And I justified it because I knew that the last Cro-Magnon would 
disappear around 10,000 years ago.  Their history should not 
affect modern Mankind.

"Remember that there have been human-types on this planet for 
over 5 million years, and modern humans for about half a million,
that's a lot of history never documented.  And yet, all the 
people alive on Earth today are descended from one family in 
Africa only 110 thousand years ago.  Which is to say that all the
other variations of homo sapiens have become extinct,
including the Cro-Magnon.  Although I still haven't proved that 
this is so, I suspect that it's because the Human Spirit DECIDED 
to consolidate to one design."

Over the years Arrond had told me enough about those people that 
I felt I knew them.  As if they weren't so far away after all, 
like I could just take a trip to France someday and drop in on 
them saying, "Hey, I'm a friend of your God!"  Although when the 
stories are spread over 800 years, all the characters seem minor,
they keep changing, it's hard to know any one of them.

One of his benefits as a god among them was the sacrificing of 
virgins to him.  Arrond accepted those sacrifices as a good god 
should, not harming the girls, but honoring them by His Divine 
Deflowering.  This became a tradition that the horny boy Arrond 
could get into--so to speak--and he dutifully carried on the 
tradition as a mature god. I couldn't bother being jealous, there
were so many of them--thousands--that no one of them was 
competition to me.  Besides, what's the point of being a god 
without some bennies? 


But everything comes to an end some day, especially something that went on 45,000 years ago. It was just before those 3 years with my mature Arrond also came to an end, that he returned from one of his journeys, obviously depressed and sad. Something was wrong. "I can't talk about it yet," he said, then started weeping uncontrollably. That was shocking for me, I'd never seen that cool calm collected man cry before. He didn't even want to make love later that night, so I knew it was something really awful. The next morning I finally got him to unload his burdens, first sexually and then emotionally. He told me that the City of Arantha and the entire Cro-Magnon civilization had simply vanished. After 800 years of constant experimentation and development, the city-state of Arantha had become one of the most perfect societies the world would ever see: like Arrond's robots, no war, no crime, no poverty, in balance with the environment, technologically superior to the standards of today, the home of an educated and enlightened race of people. It sounded like Disneyland to me, or the fantasy of Utopia, but Arrond assured me that it had been real, and he never lied to me. Still, I did have to wonder if Arantha had ever been REAL anyway: if it wasn't some crazy delusional dimension he'd gotten sucked into in his travels. I mean, time-dancing anyway, what IS that? But he'd been there hundreds of times, over 800 of their years, made friends, built the city, fought wars, screwed thousands of virgins, it HAD to be there. And yet, this last time he danced back to visit it.. the entire City of Arantha was simply GONE without a slightest trace remaining. The Cro-Magnon people still existed, but much fewer, and only as primitive cave men. Some paradox had taken everything they had achieved. Arrond danced franticly backwards and forwards through time-- wherever he could find a window between the times had already been on those time levels--trying to find when or why the paradox had taken place, but never was there any sign that Arantha had existed at all. Or that he had ever been there, none of those people recognized him. "I believe I changed too much time. All those lives gone in different directions than intended, inexplicable technology from the future, there must have come a breaking point when the paradoxes were too much and too many. But actually, I don't know. I may never know."

Chapter 16:     THE END, OR WHAT?

And then, like all utopias, our own nice little world in that big
house with the miraculous man and his devoted young mistress also
had to end.  

We knew it would, this chapter at least, because Arrond had told 
me so. At some point he would be bumped out of this time level by
an earlier version of himself, back in his own teens and early 
20's, when he'd been travelling around Europe and Asia in the 
1960's.  

End this chapter, start another, because I'd be meeting that 
young Arrond.  My Arrond wouldn't tell me when, but in 1962 I 
already knew that I'd be married to him before 1968.  

We'd been together a little over two and a half years when the 
bumping started.  Just as the first time I'd seen it happen, 
Arrond suddenly vanished out of his clothes, but this time it was
no surprise.  We'd been expecting it.  No other Arrond showed up 
here, however, because that guy was actually on the other side of
the world, in China at that time.  

"As I recall, I'll just be checking in to see if I'm interested 
in this time level at all, spend a few hours, then continue on 
back to the Ming Dynasty."

My Arrond was gone for almost a whole day.  Once his younger self
had travelled on, Arrond could exist in this time level again, 
and popped back in place as if nothing had happened.  He was 
unhurt, but it was traumatic for me, afraid that something as 
bizarre as this could easily go wrong and I could lose him 
forever.

"You can't lose me forever, Jeannie--although there may come a 
time when you'll wish you could--I'll always come back to you.  
But there are coming periods when I can't get into this time 
level at the age I am now, because I've already filled them up 
many of my own years ago.

He explained that he'd be bumped out more and more over the next 
half a year, and then he would be locked out for years.  He 
explained that there would go a period when we wouldn't see each 
other at all before we'd meet again--but we'd be almost the same 
age then.

"I don't want a younger Arrond," I protested, weeping, "I want 
YOU, my dirty old man!"

"Look, you'd still have to meet me then, or we'd never have been 
together now.  And for me, that was when I first met you, so be 
nice to the guy, okay?"

He wouldn't tell me where or when we'd meet again because he 
wanted me to have a normal life for that period between. "You can
have other boyfriends, try other things.  Enjoy those years..."

"Yeeaars?" I cried, "oh no, I can't go years without you!"

"You'll treasure them later on, believe me.  No one should be 
with only one lover all their life, it breeds dissatisfaction and
envy."

"But what about you?" I sobbed.

"I don't know my own future--thank God--but I do know you're in 
it. You're still a beautiful woman when you're older, and I'll be
older too, we'll get together again."  Then the old goat chuckled
and added, "but I'm certainly glad I did get to have lots of sex
with you at this ripe and juicy and delicious age."

Over the next six months he started vanishing more often, was 
gone longer.  At least he could tell me when he'd be bumped and 
come back--he had a very good roadmap of time in his head--
because sometimes it was for days. I'd be alone in that big house
missing him, waiting for him to arrive, it became very tedious.  

Finally Arrond announced that he would be bumped in the morning 
and that it would be for a long while, so it was time to say 
goodbye.  I'd already wept and wailed enough, so we simply had
a nice evening.  Dinner and wine, made love.  Again and again all
night long.  One last time in the morning, but in the middle of 
the tingling he popped out of existence and was really gone at 
last.

By then I was relieved. I hadn't wanted him to leave me, but was
very tired of putting my own life on hold, waiting out the 
bumps and the betweens.  It was like being with a sick husband, 
someone about to die, you can only do it so long before you're 
glad when it's over.

Chapter 17:     A NEW LIFE

I was alone, but not bad off.  I could live in the house, had the
Jag to myself, access to all the money I needed.  I was almost 
finished with my 3rd year at the university, was involved in my 
painting, with my charity funds.  I even understood the stock 
market enough to continue making some money at it without 
cheating.  

The year was 1962, I was 20. Arrond had told me all about the up-
and-coming 60's; sex, drugs and rock'n'roll; sounded like fun, I
could hardly wait.  In fact, I stopped waiting and began to have
a social life again, got involved with people, went to parties.  

My life with Arrond had been quite isolated--it's not so smart to
have guests when your secret older lover suddenly appears out of 
thin air in your living room, stark naked.  Hard to explain.  
Especially to parents.  I saw a lot more of them again.  

There were even a few new boyfriends.  They were nice enough, and
I was a liberated woman so I had sex with some of them, but sure 
did miss that electrostatic tingle I'd gotten so used to.  Still,
there was Ben, and then George, both nice guys: I tried to be 
fair to them, but was never really in love with either.  I was 
just experimenting, and I knew it, there was no question as to 
who I'd end up with.

There was another experiment that didn't work out so well. LeeRoy
Jones was not a nice guy.  He was a biker, a Hell's Angels wanna-
be.  I didn't really want to get involved with him, but he 
insisted enough that I was awed by the raw lust he felt for me.
LeeRoy was big and powerful and handsome, had a certain animal 
charm about him--but that's exactly what it was, animal: he was a
brute.  

Anyway, I spent one night with him, and it was a mistake.  I was
not interested in being a motorcycle mama at all, and he wouldn't
take no for an answer.  He kept stalking me when I tried to avoid
him.  He made threats, and I knew he meant it, he was a real 
psychopath.  A criminal too, I found out.  He carried a gun, even
pointed it at me once.  It got really scary.  

I remember wishing Arrond would dance in from out of time and 
deal with the guy, electric karate, zap zap. But my hero had left
me to take care of myself.  

Or had he?  I had to think like him, in non-linear solutions.  At
some point in the future Arrond would show up at the house and 
check the bulletin board in his Study, so I wrote him a letter. 
It didn't matter WHEN he read it, he was the timedancer.

               Written Tuesday, October 8, 1963, 7:33 pm  
    Dear Arrond:
        I need your help--and soon.  I'm being harassed 
    and threatened by a man, big macho biker who will not
    take "no" for an answer, and I'm afraid of him.  I 
    think he's dangerous and only hope you can find a 
    window into this time before it's too late.  Really!  
        I'm not asking you to hurt him or anything, just
    DEAL with the guy, okay?  Some heavy-duty zapping 
    should scare him off. His name and address are below.
    Please!
        Love you forever, maybe even together someday?
                                             Your Jeannie

LeeRoy's harassments continued for another week, and then simply
stopped.  He never even tried to contact me again, LeeRoy seemed 
to be out of my life.  What a relief.

But I did run into the bastard a few months later, walking 
towards each other on a busy sidewalk in the University District.
We each saw the other simultaneously, and I would have turned to 
avoid him, but he turned first, and was about to run from me.  So
I got curious and decided it would be fun to know what happened, 
cornered him.

He was abjectly afraid of me, this was great! 

"Hey, I ain't bothering you anymore, so back off," he insisted,
waving me away.

"Was he that rough on you?" I asked, playing with him a little.

"Look, baby, I didn't know that you were married--not to a 
fucking FREAK like that guy!"

I couldn't help being intrigued, this was a chance to hear about 
my beloved Arrond, I pretended sympathy.  "He didn't really HURT 
you, did he?"

The look LeeRoy gave me was hurt, almost a pout.  Then he turned 
as if to go, but paused, and turned back to face me.  He was 
curious too.  

"How the fuck did he DO it?  That's what I wanna know!  How the 
fuck?"

"Well, I'm not sure exactly what he did," I said carefully, 
hoping to hear.

"I'm just sitting at home all alone, minding my own, and all of a
sudden there's this buck fucking NAKED maniac in my room.  He 
tells me to stop fucking with his wife, who's YOU I find out, and
then the fucker ELECTROCUTES me somehow.  Almost KILLED me!  And 
then...then he just DISSAPPEARS, like some kinda spook.  Now, how
the fuck?"

"Sorry LeeRoy, I can't tell you.  His job is kind of top secret, 
cover-up stuff.  Scares even me, y'know?"  I couldn't resist 
leaning closer and suggestively whispering, "Surveillance 
work, he could be anywhere."

"Ohhhh, I hear ya."  LeeRoy spoke low, looked worried, eyes 
scanning left to right to check out the street, then just left me
without even saying goodbye.
   

Back at the house I looked to see if the letter had been taken, but it hadn't been touched. Actually, I knew it could wait there for 10-20 years, wouldn't matter: Arrond would obviously read it someday, visit LeeRoy in 1963, and deal with him then. Which he had already done in my time, although he hadn't gotten the letter yet. Even for me that was pretty weird. A perverse thought crossed my mind: what if I Threw Away the letter now so that Arrond never got it? LeeRoy HAD been stopped. Would that cause a paradox? Of course. I didn't really want to paradox LeeRoy back into my life, so no experiment. That letter was on the bulletin board for many years. In 1964 I moved to New York City for a year. I wanted to paint, so I rented a studio in Greenwich Village, it was wonderful. I loved the coffee shop scene, folk music: Pete Seeger, Elizabeth Cotton, a new guy named Bob Dylan. It was all happening there. I became a hippy. I'd always sympathized with the beatniks, my dad being one, more or less. Alternative cultures, peace, love, organic food, free sex, marijuana, rock 'n' roll...that's where I belonged. My best friend Shari came out and stayed with me for a while, then some others, and we ended up being a mini-commune. It was a lot of fun, but I didn't get a lot of painting done.

Chapter 18:     CAERNARVON

I'd been to Paris and Rome with Arrond, but those had been 
whirlwind trips.  In 1966 I was 24 and decided to take an extended 
tour of Europe, all by myself.  It took nerve to do that, but I 
decided not to go travelling with anyone else, I wanted to be 
FREE.  

And I was, it was great.  I did Paris again, much slower this 
time.  Amsterdam, London.  While in Great Britain I passed 
through the city of Caernarvon in Wales.  I hadn't really planned
a visit, just sort of upon ended up there for the night.

By then I had been Free for five months and was getting desperate
for some company.  Oh, I met people all the time, and guys were 
constantly coming on to me--so much that I got tired of it and 
developed a pretty defensive attitude towards men.  I met girls 
too, but no one I ended up travelling with.  But I was open to 
contact with the right someone.

There was a big old 12th century castle in Caernarvon, the town's
main tourist attraction, so being a good tourist I had to see 
it.  Actually, it was a classic example of what a castle should 
be, basically intact, very impressive.  Walking around in it gave
me a powerful feeling of what it had been like back in Medieval 
times.

Those few times when Arrond and I had visited Europe together 
he'd loved places like this.  He would have danced back to the 
14th century to experience the castle in it's prime, then farther
back to check out Santorin, the even older Roman outpost across 
the river.
 
I went up on the battlements along the high wall, checked out the
view over the river, and chose to climb one of the two higher 
polygonal towers for an even better view.  All of this seemed to 
be merest whim, happenstance, no real decisions being made at 
all.  Just going with the flow.

I had the view all to myself, there was no one else up there.  I 
felt very much at home, sitting on the edge of the tower wall.  I
felt like just being there for a while.  But that stone wall was
hard, so I looked for something softer to sit on.  

That's how I found a small tattered backpack tucked into a nook, 
and a pile of denim travelling clothes.  Everything was a bit 
ragged, like they belonged on some long-distance hitchhiker or 
Interrailer, a hard core traveler.  But where was he?  Why would
he leave his clothes behind?

I was hit with a feeling of dj-vu so powerful that I gasped right 
out loud.  I knew why.  I even knew WHO he was.  

All I had to do was wait for him to dance in out of time.  This 
could even be when HE would meet ME for HIS first time!  That had
to happen sometime.

I waited.  I figured he'd stashed his clothes here while he went 
back into Medieval time--as he'd often done when we were together
in Rome, visiting his friends back in 53-52 BC.

And I waited.  For hours.  Hungry and thirsty and needing to pee.
It seemed odd, he wouldn't just leave his clothes behind so long,
he could be back a second after he left.

Finally it occurred to me that he wasn't coming back while I was
waiting there.  Arrond didn't APPEAR in front of people unless it
was necessary, and he probably had no idea who I was.  

I've never been sure of how it works, but his time travel 
technique was psychic in nature, and he could effectively SENSE 
where he would step into a time level--otherwise he could end up 
materializing inside a brick wall that had just been built, or 
even inside another PERSON, probably killing them both.

So I went down from the tower and waited there.  I had to take a 
chance and use the toilet, but otherwise I watched the tower 
stairs constantly.  

Chapter 19:     JUST   A   KID

And yes, finally he came down the stairs, dressed in those ragged
denim jeans, backpack slung over one shoulder.  But not the 
Arrond I'd been expecting.  

He was just a kid.  I'd recognized the clothes, but probably 
wouldn't have known it was Arrond otherwise.  His brown hair was 
quite long and shaggy, his face was round and boyish, his build 
slighter and shorter than I'd ever seen him, a teen-ager.

He was about to go right on past me, not even looking my way.  So
I moved toward him.  I knew he saw me, but was trying to ignore 
me.  I tried to call out his name, but was so thirsty that I 
choked up just then.  

As I got closer, he looked at me but avoided eye contact, swerved
a bit to get on past me.  I waved him down, got in his way.  He 
finally stopped but looked at me as if I might be dangerous.  He 
was nervous and ready to run.

Finally I managed to clear my throat and say, "Hello, Arrond."  

He scrunched up his eyebrows with suspicious surprise, then 
pretended he hadn't heard me.  

"Earth to Arrond, hellllo!   I need to talk to you."

Reluctantly, very cautiously, he timidly mumbled "Hello?" then 
looked around to find his getaway route.  

I stepped closer to him, he backed up, so I backed off.  It was 
like trying to get close to a wild animal.  Then I remembered 
what Arrond had told me about how he'd been so painfully shy of 
girls when he was young.  How he'd been so horny and they'd been 
so uninterested in him because he was a weird kid with a high-
voltage touch. 

So I smiled as sweet and friendly a smile as I could muster, 
which did seem to make him relax just a bit.  Then I looked 
around to see just how alone we were.  There were some tourists 
behind me over to the left, a maintenance man busy over in a 
corner, the coast was semi-clear.  So I pulled up my t-shirt and 
showed him my boobs.

Arrond had always been a bit silly about them, I figured a 
younger hornier Arrond wouldn't have a chance.  I hadn't worn a 
bra in years, so the effect was maximal.  So were my boobs back 
then, if you'd like to know.

He was hooked then and there.  His eyes lit up, and instead of 
looking for a way out they were locked onto my tits.  He blinked 
about 10 times, then even smiled, sort of the way idiots do.

"These are yours to play with if you want them," I said, then 
covered up before someone else saw me, "and you get all the rest
of me too... eventually.  But first we have to talk."

He finally spoke.  "Escuse?  I no...not spreake goode Anglich."  

Everything fell into place.  I knew this kid was the youngest 
Arrond just starting out on his travels, about 15-16 years old, 
who hadn't quite learned English yet.  He didn't recognize me, of
course, because he hadn't ever met me until now.

What I didn't know was what I was going to do with him.  Even if 
we could talk, he was too young for me.  But no matter.  I had to
meet him anyway, introduce myself, establish contact. Everything
else would fall into place as well.  

"Latine loqueris?" I asked him, but he shook his head. He hadn't
learned Latin yet either.  He said something back that might have
been Welsh, or more likely Universal Galactica, but in either 
case I'd be the ignorant one. Now I wished I'd learned his mother
tongue when Arrond offered to teach it to me, that would have 
surprised this kid. 
 
I saw how scruffy and thin he looked, remembered that this young
Arrond would be having a hard time of it, having no money or 
friends.  My next move was obvious.

"Listen, Arrond," I spoke slowly, as clearly as I could, "my name
is Jeannie, I'm a friend.  I want to talk to you.  Let me buy 
you dinner."

He looked at me in confusion and embarrassment, feeling stupid, 
shrugging.  He wasn't understanding any of it.

I made it even simpler, rubbed my belly. "Food?  Eat?  Eat food?"

His eyes lit up even brighter than for any boobs I had.  "Food? 
Oh yes.  Food goode." He knew the most important words.

"Come then," I said and slowly reached to take his hand.

He snatched his hand back, to avoid being touched.  I knew why, 
so I smiled and moved much closer.  He looked at me but didn't 
back up because my boobs were about to press against him and he 
wouldn't miss that for anything, I could tell.  

"Give me Hand," I commanded, two or three times, my own hand held
up for him to see.   And he did, carefully, but I could see what 
he expected to happen: electrostatic zap.  Poor kid, no wonder he
scared off the girls.

Even though I was ready for it, I did jerk a little when I 
touched his hand--his electric sting was quite a bit stronger 
than when he was older, or he had less control over it.  But I 
didn't let go, and once we were grounded together it was a hardly
noticeable buzz.  Except that it reminded me of that old tingle 
so much that I began to think of this kid as maybe not TOO young
after all.

He was quite surprised that I held on.  When I smiled and laughed
he even laughed back, relieved that I hadn't run away screaming.
Instead I pressed up against him and gave him a bosomy hug and a 
kiss on the cheek.  After that I could lead him anywhere. It must
be hell to be so horny.  Well, it was, for me too.

Caernarvon was a typical Welsh town, there were posh restaurants 
for tourists, Indian restaurants, fish 'n' chip bars, pubs where you
could get a sandwich, and working-class cafes.  No such thing as 
McDonald's back then.    

I'd led him along by the hand into an upper-class restaurant, but 
he seemed intimidated by all the people and smells and being 
closed in, so we were better off outdoors.  I preferred it as 
well, over the stuffy atmosphere in those places.

So we ended up getting fish and chips and sitting in the park, 
which seemed to be his dream come true anyway.  Big hot chunks of
deep-fried codfish, long wilted french fries, all wrapped in 
yesterday's newspaper soggy with grease-- mmm, actually, it was
pretty good.  Arrond ate as if it had been a long time since his
last meal.  I bought three orders, he ate two and part of mine, 
a couple of cokes.  I think that's when he actually fell in love
with me.

He did know some words of English, so I tried to carry on a 
minimal conversation, but it was hard going. Then I was surprised
to learn that he spoke as much French as English, and I'd just 
warmed up my phrase-book French talents in Paris, so suddenly we 
could almost say things.  I tried to explain that I knew who he
was from another time level, but neither of our vocabularies 
could cope with those concepts.

I saw how ragged and dirty Arrond's clothes were, he'd probably 
found or stolen them somewhere and just used them until they fell
apart.  It was too late that day, but I resolved to take him 
shopping for a new set the very next day.

In contrast to his clothes, Arrond himself was antiseptically 
clean, but that was a function of dancing through time, rather than 
washing with soap and water. Since he couldn't take anything with
him when he stepped through time, including any dirt or grease or
dust he'd accumulated, it just fell off when he vanished, as did
his clothing.

After we'd eaten we walked around town holding hands until 
evening fell.  There wasn't much else to do in Caernarfon at that
time, except maybe drink beer.  Then it started to drizzle, so I
took him to a pub and we each had a pint of bitters. Showing the
kid a good time.

He liked it anyway, looking at me, smiling more and more.  I knew
about how lonely he had been--and had been feeling pretty lonely
myself up to the moment I'd found him, so we were both happy to 
be together.

When night fell I tried to take him home with me to the Bed 'n'
Breakfast I was staying in, but the landlady was scandalized that
I would even THINK of taking a MAN into my room.  Not allowed, 
no no.  So we were stuck.  Still, I didn't want to let him go.

Chapter 20:     THE HOTEL

I'd been travelling on a budget, because I didn't like living 
like a millionaire.  For one thing, Arrond's money wasn't 
really my money--he just let me use whatever I needed.  And I 
didn't need to waste all his money on luxurious garbage.  So I'd 
been staying at bed and breakfasts, youth hostels.  Cheap and fun, 
but no private life.

But spending money was absolutely no problem if I was investing 
it in our future relationship.  It was Arrond's money anyway, he
just didn't know that yet.  I found the most expensive hotel in 
town, The Celtic Royal, and took the most luxurious suite for 
myself and my little brother.

The suite was very old-fashioned and elegant, quite beautiful, 
mellow colors.  There were two bedrooms, with a salon and sofa 
between them, bath, bar, television. Us inside, the rain falling
outside, very cozy.

Arrond didn't seem to be used to that lifestyle, he was too 
impressed by it, bouncing on the bed, playing with the 
television, drinking juice from the bar.  He was just a kid, I 
thought, and knew that despite his godlike ability, his life had
been hard up to now.  

Alone for most of his life except for robots, then dancing 
through time with no language or money, arriving naked and 
unarmed, more or less lost, hardly knowing where or when he was 
going.  That had to be a hard way to travel, and yet he'd done
it anyway.  He was driven and brave.

He'd finally settled on the sofa, hypnotized by the TV as if 
he'd never really gotten the chance to watch one before.  I 
slouched in beside him, feeling almost motherly, holding his 
shoulder affectionately.  He slid himself up against me, and I 
could tell that he wanted as much physical contact as he could 
get.  Fortunately, he was still to shy to initiate sex.

I wanted him to need me, establish first contact, bond with him, 
but I wondered if sex was the right way to do that at this time.
It wasn't a moral issue, he was still Arrond my true love, if he 
really needed me he could have me.  Besides, I HAD led him on, 
showing my breasts to turn him on--which it did.  But I didn't 
really desire him so young, and my own desire had always been a 
joy to both of us.  I decided that whatever happened would be 
that which must happen.

I let him rest his head against my bosom, that's what he wanted
most of all anyway, he wasn't about to get sexually aggressive 
any more than I was. He was so satisfied that he'd dozed off for 
a while.

So I got up, took a bath, went to bed.  A short sentence to 
describe the most cosmic night of my life.


Most of that night was seen in silhouette and shadow. My room was dark until the doorway opened, spilling in a dim light from the other room, shining on naked skin. I heard Arrond come into my bedroom, I was half-asleep and groggy, but aware of him standing beside my bed, looking down at me. I surrendered to my fate and lifted a blanket and invited him under the covers with me. Jeannie, the whore with a heart of gold. I didn't mind that he was inexperienced, I taught him the advantage of lubrication, steered him in. I wanted him to enjoy having sex with me this first time, of course, since he was going to be my husband with the magic tingle some day. But this boy's tingle was something else. It was awful, like having sex with an electric eel, being electrocuted from the inside! I tried to stand the pain as long as I could, but was about to start screaming when he suddenly finished with a cry of his own. Lucky for us both. He thought it was terrific, I could tell. He also wanted to talk after that, and chattered away at me in a language I'd never heard (Universal Galactica) and couldn't understand. He seemed to be proud of what a stud he was, showing no concern for my whimpers of pain. I'll bet he thought that was just how a woman sounds when she has a real super-dooper orgasm. I wanted to sleep and recuperate, but he was just warming up. Young guy, you know, ready to go again five minutes later. I'm not exaggerating. Now I WAS unwilling, so I rejected him. He insisted. Not fun. I tried to tell him what the problem was, "...turn down the power first, it hurts! Too much voltage, you know?" He didn't. "Ow, ow! Zappitty zap!" I said pointing at his thing and mine. Finally I had to sit up and hold him back by both shoulders and shake him, "Not now, Arrond, we have to talk first." He babbled something. "Talk English," I insisted, "English!" He stepped out of bed. Glared at me for a moment, then left the room.

Chapter 21:     DISCUSSION

Well, I thought, that's that, too bad.  I was so tired I didn't 
fret, just tried to get some sleep.

But he walked back into the room and was kneeling on the bed 
before I made it to dreamland.

"All right, we'll speak English now," he announced.

That woke me up.  "Huh?  English?"

"Yes, we can talk now."

"How did you do that?"

"I..." I sensed that he was going to tell a lie, then couldn't, 
"...I can't tell you."

"Let me guess: you went to another time and learned it, maybe for
weeks or months, then danced back to this minute."

There was a long pause.  "Uh wait-- just what is it you...THINK I
can do?" 

"Arrond, I KNOW what you can do.  You're from the future, you 
travel through time, you're my timedancer."

"Time...dancer?"

"That's what I call you.  Because you seem to take a dance step 
when you push off this time level.  And because you do it so 
easily and gracefully, like a dancer."

"Oh.  Hmmm"  He shrugged.  "Timedancer: cool, I like that.  But 
wait-- HOW can you know about all that?  I've never told anyone 
on this...""  

"...time level," I finished his phrase for him, showing off a 
little.  "You told me 6 years ago, when you were an older man and
I was your girl friend--my past, your future." 

"Oh.  Wow."

"Yeah, wow.  We were lovers for 3 years, so I know a lot about 
you."

Not quite believing me, he needed proof, so I told him about 
HomeTime, the robots, his skyship named Mommy, related what I 
knew about the beginnings of his adventures back into the past of 
Mankind's history, which put me up to date with this 16 year-old 
Arrond.

"So you're really from my own adult future?  Hmmm... guess it 
could happen, don't really HAVE to live my life in chronological 
order."  

"You're going to live a totally non-linear life," I assured him.

"Hmmm...yeah, I'll bet I could.  Never thought of it before.  I 
think the robots discouraged it."

"You've really learned English quite well, you must have been 
gone a long time."

"Naw, three days.  Uh, I've found a place where I can learn 
languages by digital osmosis on WorldNet, thought I'd try it. I'm
in the future a lot.  Uh...you believe me, right?"

"Sure, from here you learned to speak fluent English in 3 
minutes, proof enough.  Funny accent, though."

"Oh, that's just the way they talk in 2383.  Uh, about you being 
my girl friend..."

"You want to make love again, I can see.  Well, sure, you learned
English, you deserve it.  But let's talk about this first.  Your 
shockfield is too strong right now, it hurts me.  You have to 
turn it down."

"Uh...how do I do that?"

"Well...I don't know, but you could do it when you were older. It
makes a big difference."

"Yeah, okay, I'll try," he said, with great impatience and 
started to climb aboard.  

I wanted more control over this, so I pushed back and got him to 
lie on his back and let me do the mounting.  But the voltage was 
still to painful to take, I tried to hang in there, give him a 
chance to turn down the volume, but he was too horny and started 
pumping as fast as he could.  It ended with me jumping off, him 
frustrated and angry.

"Arrond, I love you but you're killing me.  I need you to be 
older.  About my age, okay?"

"What?"

"This isn't working.  Can't you go away for a few years and come 
back in a couple of hours?" I was tired, could use a couple hours
sleep anyway.

"But I don't want to, I want to be with you now!"

"Okay fine, we can travel together, but no sex. I can't take it."

"But...but that's why I want to be with you!"

"I know, and we'll be lovers when you're a little older, I 
promise.  But not until you can control your shockfield, sorry." 

"This isn't fair!"  I could see his pout in the dim light.

"My god, Arrond, you really ARE too young! You think it'd be FAIR
that you get your rocks off while cooking me from the inside?   
What about being fair to both of us?"

"But...but...well, hell with you then!"  He abruptly hopped up 
from the bed, stomped once, and was gone with a dance step.

"Good riddance, you spoiled brat," I mumbled and grabbed some 
sleep.


"I'm older now," he said, waking me. "Hunh? Oh, Arrond?" It was very dark now, I couldn't see him. "Yeah, well, who else?" Adolescent tone, didn't sound much older. "Well, that's nice. How old are you now?" "Sixteen, my own years," he said. "I thought you were 16 before." "Okay, I'm 16 and a half now. I've been gone almost 2 months. I just can't wait any more. Please?" Poor horny baby. His hand landed on my leg, the sting of his touch awakened me further. The voltage felt the same, not reduced at all. I didn't feel good about this. But I was sympathetic, I let him try. And went into spasms right away, it was too much pain. "No, no, I can't," I screamed and pulled myself free. "You have to tune your shockfield way down, I can't take it!" He shook his head in frustration. "No one can take it, I scare everyone away! Girls I touch faint, I can't even shake hands with a man! I know it hurts, but I don't know HOW to turn it off!" He began to cry, boo hoo hoo, and pleaded, "Can't you help me?" "Have you asked the robots back HomeTime?" I suggested, "They made you like you are, maybe they know how to tune down your zaps." "I've talked with Mommy about that. She said it's for my own good. My electrostatic field protects me from harm, she says, so I have to have it." "Arrond, go tell Mommy this: that high charge was good when you were a child, but now that's you're almost a man it's doing you HARM. Psychological and emotional damage, stress, anguish, something like that. She understood before that isolation from your own human kind was bad for you, but you'll be forever isolated if your shockfield isn't reduced." He was nodding as I spoke, taking in every word. "Okay, maybe she'll believe that. I'll go tell her now." And he was gone.

Chapter 22:     RAPID FIRE

I don't know what he did, but his charge was lessened when he 
came back ten minutes later, him wanting to try it out on me.  It
was better, but still too much.  

He came back from adjustments in HomeTime 3 times in rapid 
succession before his tingle was acceptable--in fact quite nice.
He had to have sex each time, of course.  

He wasn't getting much older, I don't think he waited very long 
between visits. I was hoping he'd visit once for every 2-4 of his
years, but he was desperately horny and I suspected that he was 
visiting me several times for each of his DAYS.  I was beginning 
to burn out.

"Look, I can't keep this up.  I'm getting sore from all this 
traffic.  Can't you go find some other girls for a while? I won't
be jealous.  Come back to me when you're 25-26, that'd be just 
right."

"But I love you!" he protested.

"No you don't," I replied, "not yet anyway.  But later you will, 
so maybe this is a good time to go try your wings, before we get 
married and all that."

"Yuk!" he said, like some pre-pubescent boy.

"Exactly!  You'll have no trouble getting girl friends, you're 
cute, interesting, and your tingle will thrill the hell out of 
them now that it's gentle.  Go, go!" 

He went.  There was a pause in the rapid fire demands for sex, 
perhaps half an hour.  It was probably about then that Arrond had
found his Cro-Magnon people 45,000 years back in time.  That was 
when he'd be a god to them and virgins would be sacrificed to 
him, when he'd wallow in sex and power.  It could be hard for 
someone so young to keep that in perspective.

Something was going to his head anyway, his personality changed, 
and not for the better. 
 

During that break in all the visiting, I managed to get some sleep. But awoke to the sound of somebody breathing close to me. I knew who it had to be, but it sounded like another. The darkness in the room was turning blue from the pre-dawn glow, but I felt an urgent need for more visibility fast, so I snapped on the reading light beside my bed and looked. I was startled, almost screamed, because right beside me was a face of deep lines and shadows, valleys etched high-contrast in that stark bright spotlight. An old man, whom I didn't recognize ...but then did. My original older Arrond, whom I hadn't seen for 3 years, was patiently sitting in a chair beside my bed. "Hello Jeannie. Missed me?" "Yes, I have." Without hesitation I slid out of bed and straddled him on the chair, kissing and embracing him, my breasts in his face. He held me too, but very gently, cautiously. Almost properly. "My god, the smell of your firm young flesh, girl," he said reverently, eyes closed, "good thing I don't have a weak heart." When I paused to look at him that close up, I saw he was much older than when I'd last known him, his face creased and wrinkled and much thinner. His body was thinner too, but still in good basic shape for an old man. I knew not to ask his age, he looked about 70, but was probably 3 times that. "What are you doing here, my love?" I asked. "I've been travelling around Europe lately--in the 1800's--and I found myself in the neighborhood. I used to come here a lot when I was younger, you know. There was this girl, ha ha ha! So I took this very room in this same hotel where I had all these memories. There was one little tome level window left open to me, so I danced in, hope you don't mind." "Mind? Oh I'm so glad to see you! I've missed my good old Arrond." He laughed again. "No you haven't, I've been plaguing you all night long." "That KID isn't the YOU I've loved." "The one you want will show up tonight, Jeannie, just hang in there." "But YOU are the Arrond I want!" "No no, child, those days are done. I'm far too old for you now. Anyway, I'm not here to get you back, I just wanted to see you again." "Part of you doesn't seem too old," I mentioned. I was still straddling him on the chair, we were both naked, something was prodding me. "Oh that--it doesn't understand what old means--just ignore it." "Okay, I'll put it away." "No, Jeannie, don't. Not this time." "You don't want to?" I was teasing, it was obvious he couldn't help wanting to, "All I have to do was sit myself a little further down...slide on easy." "You don't want an old man like me," he said, "besides, I didn't come here to get in line for sex. I remember what a marathon this night was for you, I just wanted to offer moral support, not wear you out more." "It'd be a relief after all those horny young electro-dynamo versions of yourself." "Oh, don't tempt me, please. I want to be faithful to my wife now, she's old too now and would feel bad about competing with herself when she was so young and beautiful." "Oh! Well that's...different. All right, good for you, and her-- that is, me." I sat further up, behaving properly. Except for my breasts in his face, which he couldn't help nuzzling. "Let's turn off that light," he said, "it's too tempting to see you." "Okay," I killed the lights, "then we can look the same age in the dark. So tell me, how old am I for you up then?" "You know I won't tell you that. Makes people overconfident, they take it as a guarantee. Let's talk about NOW instead. This night was a very long time ago for me, I'm not sure I remember every- thing in order. Have you...has a young me mistreated you yet?" "Mistreated? Well, you've been a bit of a selfish brat, not nearly as gallant as my old Arrond, but not mistreated. Er...why? Are one of you going to?" "Oh, don't worry, you'll be unharmed...more or less. I don't want to say too much about it now, because another version of me will be telling you more, and it's important he gets that chance to rescue his honor," Arrond said. "But I do want to tell you one handy fact: my shockfield is grounded out in deep water." "Huh?" I wondered, "Are you being cryptic or what?" "Of course, that's how we old ghosts from the past deliver messages." "Want to interpret that one for me?" "Nope. But I would like to tell you that I've recently had a very nice chat with you and your mother at Green Lake Park in Seattle. Back in 1949." "1949? But I was only 7 years old then...oh, wait, I remember. That old man was you? Aha, that's why that Mr Arrond seemed so familiar when I met him 10 years later!" "Well Jeannie, I'm going to be bumped soon, my younger selves are raging to have their turns." "Oh, but this has been so nice after all you young studs pumping and pushing...well, actually, that's been okay too. Guess I'm getting into it, going for the record." I kissed him. "But Arrond, tell me before you go: am I doing the right thing here?" I had to ask, "I've just started screwing this kid impulsively and putting him through all sorts of changes..." "All this has to happen, it did for me. I grew up in this room. You'll see. Bye..." Then he was bumped and vanished.

Chapter 23:     WARNING

Old Arrond's words were still in the air when another Arrond's 
voice came from the right side of the room, a deeper, nicely 
masculine voice.  It also sounded a little breathless, hurried:

"Listen, I've come to warn you and I've only got a little window
of time-- I'm going to be bumped in less than a minute.  First, 
let me apologize for what I...what THAT next Arrond does in a few
minutes.  He's just trying to be the dominant male, don't let him
scare you or hurt your feelings.  He...I was just a kid then, 
mean with too much power, and I've been ashamed about this for 
years..."  

"You sound older now."  I couldn't see him in the dark.

"Yeah well, I was too embarrassed to come back, so I've been away
for several years.  But like you said, I can't..." 

He sounded bumped.


But a younger voice came from the left side of the room. Younger, surly, arrogant, definitely a teen-ager. "I don't know why I keep coming back here--you think it's EASY to get to and from this damned hotel room in the middle of nowhere? Caernarvon, Wales, wowee! Why couldn't this be going on in Rome or Kyoto or Southern France, where I've got other projects going on? Oh, I know it LOOKS easy--poof, pop!--but it requires a hell of a lot of behind-the-scenes messing around on my own time: flying, shuttling, walking, and I'm getting tired of it." "Well, Arrond, you could always wait longer between visits." "Yeah? Why am I coming here to have sex with you anyway? It's not like I don't have LOTS of girls to choose from. Girls dig me now, they think I'm a GOD!" "Ah yes, the Cro-Magnon virgins of Arantha?" "Uh...never heard of Arantha, but Cro-Magnons, yeah. They're beautiful and I can just TAKE any of them I want. Pluck'n'fuck." "Arrond, you aren't HURTING those girls, are you?" "No! They LIKE it, I.." he was suddenly defensive, then switched attitude, "wait--why should I let YOU push me around?" he asked, as if angry. Rebellious adolescent years. "You're not my boss, I do whatever I want. Just because you let me fuck you once in a while..." "Come on Arrond, be nice." "I don't HAVE to be nice! I don't need this, and I don't want to be coming here again and again! I can get any woman I want!" "Oh, I'm sure," I said, keeping calm, "but I'm the one you can't get enough of." "What makes you so sure I haven't already had enough of an arrogant bitch like you?" I was a bit shocked, Arrond had NEVER spoken to me like that before. Then again, I'd never known him as a typical self- centered teen-ager before either. Boy, was I glad I wasn't HIS mother. "Because I know your future, Arrond, remember?" I countered, "Besides, sex is what you keep coming back for, isn't it?" "Yeah, because...okay, I DO want you, to fuck. Otherwise...You know, what I really don't like is that you have this weird power over me." "You'll eventually like it a lot." "You weren't really my girl friend at all in my future, were you? You were my whore, or mistress, something like that, right?" "We were lovers." "You're suggesting that I've loved you, I doubt that. Oh, I DO love to fuck you all right, I don't know why but you're the best woman I've ever had for that--but to love a whore? "Why do you say that?" I was controlling my anger and my sorrow. "Because you fuck me but don't love me." "I will love you--when you finally grow up," I said defiantly. "But you don't right now." "Perhaps not, because you're not loveable right now. You're acting like a spoiled brat." He looked angry, mean, and then he lifted his hand against me. Not to hit me, but to zap me. I saw it coming, tried to back away, but he touched three fingers against my bare shoulder ever so lightly. It didn't hurt so much because I simply went into shock. I felt every muscle in my body go rigid--even my heart--I gagged, lungs jammed, saw nothing but sparkling stars, thrashed my arms and legs, collapsed back into my bed, and passed out. But it wasn't over. When I was aware enough to feel my body, it was being fucked by somebody in the dark. I assumed it was Arrond because of the tingling inside. But that tingling increased to the level of stark pain, I screamed and passed out again. I heard satisfied laughing. This happened again and again for a while, until I heard him come with a great grunt and it was finally over. I was crying and gasping for air, hyperventilating, trembling uncontrollably. I heard him say, "That was pretty good. We'll have to do that more often." Then I heard myself speaking, without thinking of what to say I had time to listen: "This will NEVER happen again! You think you are untouchable, but you're not. You think you're a god who can't be punished, but you're wrong. I have the power to punish you, and I SHALL!" "Ha ha, dream on, baby. Nobody can catch me, I'm your tra-la-la Timedancer, one and only, ha ha!" "You're an undisciplined child becoming a monster, misusing godlike powers for cruel amusements. The real Timedancer is yet to come--MY Arrond, who will love me and will protect me--even against his younger self!" "Really? You think you can talk some future me into going back and punishing THIS me? Heh, an amusing concept, but you're forgetting the rules, there can't be two of me in the same time level, so we'd never meet. Sorry, bitch, there's no way..." "Maybe there is a way, you're going to be an intelligent man, you'll figure something out. Traps could be set, poison could be waiting, he'll know exactly where and when to strike, since he'll remember everything you do..." Suddenly I remembered old Arrond's cryptic words: my shockfield is grounded out in deep water. But I had no water at hand, and even so didn't understand how I could use that information here and now. So I went on with my fulmination: "...so you'd better think about what he could do to you, so that you'll be able to outsmart your older and wiser self...until you BECOME him, with all those schemes you thought of, and THAT's when you'll know how to do it!" "That's stupid, you know. I'm not going to punish myself!" "My Arrond will do ANYTHING for me, as long as he gets laid!" I impressed myself, having no idea where all that came from. Arrond was also impressed. He looked at me seriously. Threateningly. "Well, not if I change your future, here and now." He lifted his hand, hot sparks visibly running over the skin. I would have been afraid--all right, I WAS afraid--but remembered the last Arrond's warning, and his assurance that I would not be harmed. He never lied to me, I told myself. "That's right, go ahead and become a monster," I challenged him, "but remember that the nastier you are, the crueler and more dangerous you allow yourself to get--that's the guy who's going to be coming after you!" Arrond hesitated, unsure. Then said, "Aw, fuck you," gave me the finger, and was gone.

Chapter 24:     MR RIGHT

"...get enough of you.  I've certainly been thinking about you, 
anyway."

It was the young-but-more-mature Arrond voice speaking from the 
darkness to the right of me once again, finishing the sentence he
had started before being bumped by his younger self.  The teen-
ager was gone, his older self suddenly back on this time level.
   
"Thanks for the apology," I told him, "asshole."  

"Yeah.  Sorry about that.  What a jerk, eh?"

"Yeah.  Look, I don't know if I want to go on with this abuse..."

"That won't happen again, I promise," the voice assurred me, "I 
haven't visited you again since I did that, which was almost 4 
years ago for me.  I've changed since then.  Please forgive me."

"Hmmpf.  So did you get all those women you wanted in the 
meantime?"

"Well...yeah.  But even so, I still wanted you too, always. Still
do. You don't even know how much."

"Right now?" I asked with a weary sigh.  I knew I had to see this
night through.

"Uh, well...  Look, I've been spreading these encounters out over
several years, but I guess this is all happening in one night for
you.  You must be pretty tired--and sore."

"Yeah, I'm pretty--ooohoo--sore all right."

"Then I can wait.  For a while."  He sounded reluctant but 
willing to be fair.

What's this? I thought, the selfish spoiled brat is being 
considerate of another person's feelings?  I liked this guy 
already, maybe he's just about ripe now.  I turned on the light.

There he was, a handsome young man now, with just enough maturity
in his face to resemble the Arrond I'd originally fallen for, 
just a little younger than vintage '68.  This was the guy I'd been 
waiting for.  He was also naked and evidently quite horny.

"Wow," he said, "I keep forgetting how beautiful you are!  Oh, by
the way, I've been desperately longing for you as some mystery
woman for years and years--what's your name?"

I laughed.  I'd told him only once, when he'd been a kid, before 
he could even understand English. "Jeannie Evins.  But I guess 
we'll be changing that eventually, if the future comes true."

He was sitting on the bed now, not the shy kid any more. The lust
in his eyes was the kind I liked.

"So," I asked, "how old ARE you anyway?"

"You know, I'm not going to tell you that.  Makes no difference 
anyway, this is what you get.  I don't want to wait any more. And
neither do you." He sounded just like My Kind of Arrond, sure of 
himself, sure of us.  Ooo, I liked that.

"Oh well, okay, you'll do, I guess."

"I will?" he looked surprised, as if his confidence had been all 
bravado. "At last?  After all these years!"

"It's been a long night for me too," I said.  Then added, "But 
come on sailor, I'm not TOO sore."

Arrond had learned a lot in that night of mine, and was a good 
lover now.  Despite his own desire he was gentle and careful.  
Maybe not as refined as my first Arrond, but I lost count of the 
orgasms anyway.  The good tingle was back in my life.

Chapter 25:     ON THE ROAD

After that, well, we were together, a couple again. Again for me,
first time for him, you know what I mean.  Everything was in 
place...except for some mind-boggling concepts left hanging in 
the air.

"Arrond, there's something I don't understand: when I first met 
you in 1959, you'd known me in MY future.  Then you met me for 
YOUR first time at the age of 15-16, and learn that I'd known you
in YOUR future.  One of us has always known what was supposed to 
happen."

"Well, I AM your non-linear timedancer."

"Right, but even so...we've NEVER met as two strangers who don't
know what's going on.  How can that be?  Isn't that a paradox?"

"Perhaps, but I can live with it," he shrugged.

"Oh me too, but it's like it's all been ...arranged somehow." 

We left Caernarvon together, trekked over Mount Snowdon, headed 
south, and just kept going.  We travelled Europe for almost a 
year, then on to the Far East for another year.  

Arrond had money now, lots of it.  He'd already figured out the 
stock market advantages of being a timedancer, had a Swiss bank 
account.  I informed him that he also had a bank account and a 
nice big house in Seattle waiting for him.

"You mean where the degenerate old-fart version of me was (will 
be) banging the sweet innocent 17-year old version of you?  I can
hardly wait!"  He wasn't sure whether he should be scandalized or
laugh about it.

Arrond was twice the hippy I was.  He loved the 60's and was 
enthusiastic about spending quality time in them.  He'd spent 
several years travelling around Europe and America doing the 
music scene.  Having discovered The Beatles from ancient digital 
recordings in the future, he'd hopped back to attend their 
concerts before they became famous, at the Star Club in Hamburg, 
in Liverpool at the Cavern Club and even busking on the street, 
Albert Hall in London.  I was shocked to learn that he'd also 
been in Greenwich Village while I was living there, following Bob
Dylan's early career, but we had never met. 

"The 60's are gonna be a very special era," he told me, "one 
great big revolutionary mix of music and politics, alternative 
lifestyles.  The big Rock Festivals will be starting soon--like 
Woodstock, now that was an experience!"  

Woodstock was still 3 years into my future, but he'd already been
there 4 of his years before.  Arrond had literally danced around 
the decade, but now he wanted to explore this time in a linear 
mode with me, the love of his life.

This musical fanatic was a facet of Arrond I hadn't known, my 
older mature lover seemed quite stodgy compared with my new young
Arrond, he'd been much more interested in classical music than 
rock'n'roll.  My young Arrond loved rhythm, and was an amazing 
drummer himself--but then, a timedancer had to have a special 
affinity for timing, didn't he?  

It was easy for me to be in tune with him now that we were both 
about the same age, and I enjoyed his enthusiastic perspective of
the time we lived in.  We had money, but we hitchhiked anyway 
just for fun and meeting people.  Europe, Africa, India, we did 
it all.  

"This is an ideal time for travelling around the world," he 
explained to me in 1968, "40 years ago it was impossible because 
of World War II, other political problems, 30 years from now 
terrorism will be such a problem that politics and travel 
restrictions will be the problem."

Arrond had a strong connection with Rome, so we lived there for 
several months.  As when the older Arrond and I had visited Rome,
he spent a lot of his own time back in the 50's BC, where he had
another life going on.  I knew about Marissa, his slave girl, 
whom he had made rich and set up with his villa, so it was easy 
for him to dance in and out of that life.  Arrond told me about 
her, and his life in Rome back then, and I'd walk around the 
streets of modern Rome and almost feel those ancient times still
going on.  Marissa knew about me too, and we sent occasional 
messages back and forth over 2000 years via our timedancer. 
Kinda fun.

I didn't mind about her, I was a hippy chick, and besides, Arrond
was such a vigorous lover that I felt almost grateful for her 
help in keeping him satisfied.  You think I'm kidding?  The young
guy was much hornier than the old guy.  Let him have his Cro-
Magnon virgins, his Japanese girl friend in the 2300's, I had him
all to myself in the 60's and we had lots of fun.

We went East, travelling the hippie trail to India, via Iran, 
Afghanistan, studied Tantric Yoga together in Benares, on through
forbidden Burma to Southeast Asia, China.  Months in Japan--where
he also carried on his future life with Haruki in Kyoto, of 
course.  

Everywhere we went he'd dance back into history and give me 
reports of how it had been.  Alexander the Great arriving at 
Herat, a conversation with Buddha, meeting Marco Polo on his way 
back from far Cathay, great stuff.

Yet I was living a life of my own too, I painted whenever we 
stayed someplace for a while. We lived cheaply, like hippies, but
spared no expense for paints, canvases, materials, studio space.
If I didn't give away or sell the paintings where we were, I just
crated them and sent them off to the house in Seattle.  It was a 
very creative time for me, although it was sometimes difficult to
be a painter when we were on the road, so I did pencil sketches 
for future paintings.  

Suddenly 2 years had gone by.  My folks in Seattle were worried 
about my lifestyle by then and wanted me home again. Arrond and I
also decided that we'd been travelling enough for a while, having
been everywhere, seen everything, and that we were satisfied.  So
we moved back to Seattle.

Chapter 26:     MARRIED LIFE

Arrond and I got married when we got to Seattle in 1968.  He had 
false papers that gave him an identity as a Welsh national named 
Arrond Thyme Dancer, and being married to me gave him American 
citizenship.  

My parents had been hearing about him (this time) in my letters, 
and they loved him when they finally met him.  My friends liked 
him too, especially Shari and her new boy friend Ted.  So this 
time around we could actually have a social life with family and 
friends, which was something I had missed before, when Arrond was
my secret older lover.

We still had that house, which young Arrond was "taking care of" 
for his older "father" with the same name.  And even that lovely 
Jaguar, which had been in storage.  We were set up.  And happy.

Easy to be happy when you're rich.  We didn't need to earn more 
money for a long while, since there we had several million 
dollars spread over several bank accounts around the world, so we
let the stock market rest and concentrated on our own projects.  

Arrond had a life unlike anyone else, so the thing he wanted the 
most in our life together was an experience of normalcy.  Raised
by robots, dropping in and out of centuries, he'd been without 
family or friends most of his life.  He'd known some fleeting 
friendships, but he knew that the only way to develop any real 
friends was to spend a long block of linear time with them.  
That's what he wanted with me, and he wanted friends to be a 
part of our life together.  

We were still primarily hippies back then. As were most of my old
Seattle friends, and it seemed the most natural thing in the 
world for us to form a hippie commune. Our house was big, lots of
rooms, nicely hidden away in a good sized patch of nature near 
the University District--a sort of Walden Pond.  Friends moved in
with us, people we'd stayed within Europe were now our guests, 
friends of friends wanted in.  There were usually 12-18 people 
living or visiting with us.  Every night was a social event, 
every dinner a party.

It was fun, but we did have to control the scene.  Arrond was a 
timedancer after all, and could vanish or appear at any time.  So
we established The Study as his private chamber, and we insisted
that everybody respect the locked door. This was an exception to
the spirit of a hippie commune, but there was no argument since 
Arrond did own the house, after all.


Like all hippy communes in the 60's, there were some common drugs around, marijuana, LSD, but no hard drugs were allowed in our house. Arrond experimented a little, as we all did, but eventually decided that a timedancer shouldn't be tripping out of control. There was one night, we were about 20 people and had all dropped Purple Haze, The Doors blasting away at very high volume, and us all totally into dancing. The normal lights were turned off and flashing strobes put us into a jerky jumpy non-linear altered state. Arrond too. He was dancing without inhibition, into the beat, into the strobe-effect. And then he began to vanish between flashes: he was here, gone, here, gone... The others saw that, some of them fell down, afraid that they were overdosing. Others just stared with their mouths open, saying, "Wow, far out..." And then Arrond was just gone. Fortunately, that scene had been so hallucinogenic that no one actually believed what they had seen. Arrond was back the next morning as if nothing had happened, and if they questioned him about it he'd just say, "Man, you were REALLY stoned that night, weren't you?" Afterwards, it was just one of those drug stories that floated around in those days, "Remember the time we were SO stoned...?" Arrond had found himself face down in a swamp 70 million years back in time. He supposed he'd just had a sudden desire to see a dinosaur, but couldn't remember. Fortunately, he hadn't found any. That was the last time he took any drugs.
I was the only one who knew Arrond's real secret, although everyone who stayed with us was aware that something was magical about him. In fact, he became regarded as a bit of a guru among us, he knew so much, emitted so much personal power and charisma. Several women who stayed with us had hinted that group sex might be all right with them, meaning that they'd like to screw Arrond if it was all right with me. But Arrond was strict in his dedication to me in this time level. His other women in other times were no threat to me, but I was glad not to be sharing Arrond's emotions with anyone else in my own time. Although I did sometimes wonder if group sex would be so bad, since there were also some pretty nice guys living with us. But then, I certainly wasn't sexually deprived. Arrond needed me a lot, and I was happy to give him what he needed. Although our 3 times a day average became 5, sometimes more. Anyway, like I said, sometimes I did wonder if group sex would be so bad after all.
We had chosen to form a commune so that Arrond could develop a social life in this time level, but even among our little family of close friends Arrond was always respected and admired a little too much to be just one of the guys. And while Arrond liked women, he was more ambiguous about other men. Oh, he liked the company of men, was friendly with them whenever possible, but never had a best friend. I assumed it was because Arrond knew that he was superior to every other man he met, which was true, of course. But he told me that wasn't it. He said he'd had powerful friendships--mostly when he was young, far back in that Cro-Magnon world. There'd been comrades whom he'd absolutely loved, back when he was building their pre-Neolithic culture up towards becoming the city of Arantha, while they were fighting wars against the Neanderthal, so I guess they were like old army buddies. "A bonding happens when you fight for your lives side by side, I certainly experienced it. Those guys, Khangda-gha, Buuruda-gha, they treated me like one of them--despite my being a "god". Of course I had a talent they didn't, but I considered them brave and noble in ways I could never be, so I wasn't superior to them, we were equals. We were best friends. "Thus knowing what friendship IS and can be, it's hard for me to get on that wavelength with the men of this time. Everyone is so SOFT here in the 60's, good music, good times, not life and death." "You like me," I reminded him. "Sure, I LIKE my WOMEN to be soft!" he said and grabbed me. Later he told me the rest of it. "Those Cro-Magnon friends? We were like brothers for years. But time is the great destroyer, and I always end up seeing how much ruin time can deal out. Friends die, they change, and part of me dies and changes with them. "I've mentioned Khangda-gha, who died young in battle because I'd told him he'd live long. That hurt, I felt responsible." But Buuruda-gha went the other way, became envious of my authority over the next 30 years and plotted to take over the entire Cro-Magnon nation by assassinating me. He'd somehow come to believe that if he killed--and ate--me, he could assimilate my talents and become the god himself. Finally he offered me a poisoned drink, assuming that I trusted him. Which I would have, except that I'd been in that local future and learned how I'd been murdered by him--so I had no compunctions about turning that particular future around. "I always have to view any emotional commitment I make in the non-linear aspect: it's good to have friends, but they'll die, and they'll change--how much am I willing to suffer about that?" "Well, what about me?" I asked. "Why do you think I spend so much time away on other levels? I'm rationing you, spreading my time with you over as many of my own years as I can, just to keep you in my life. If I do it right, we'll both get really old and die together, then I won't have to suffer about you." Therein lay another reason Arrond didn't relate to other men: most men prefer best friends around their own age. Arrond looked under 30, but may have been 3 times that, so any other man his actual age was too old for him to relate to. All other men were kids to him. As for women, well, the younger the better, I guess.
Like all hippy chicks in those days, I played a little with the pop-occult, astrology, tarot, and especially the pendulum. I was amazed at how responsive the pendulum was for me. By dangling one over a "yes /no" cross, asking questions to see which way it would swing, I unraveled this story: --that one of my earlier lives was as a slave girl in ancient Rome, around 50 BC, until a mysterious magical man became my lover, made me a free woman, and gave me a villa to govern. We couldn't have children of our own, it seems, so I took all the homeless kids off the street to live with us in the villa. My man was an academic, wealthy, and some kind of sorcerer. This story was sounding all too familiar, so I asked the pendulum if my name had been Marissa in that life, and if my man was Arrond. The pendulum responded with a clear yes! to both questions. Well, I assumed I was my own subconscious mind leading the pendulum to spell out what I wanted to hear, because I couldn't believe a coincidence like that. Arrond was amused. For a man who lives a fantasy sci-fi life, he didn't have much faith in the occult. Oh, he could accept the transmigration of souls, it was the pendulum he scoffed at. Except that there were some accurate details about his life with Marissa that I was getting from the pendulum, things he hadn't ever mentioned to me. But other details seemed wrong, or at least ambiguous. He was intrigued enough to tell Marissa about it when he saw her, but nothing could really be proved one way or the other. I liked the idea, though, in fact all three of us did, that Marissa and I were the same reincarnated soul. And that Arrond's being with us was no coincidence at all, but your standard run of the mill everyday cosmic destiny.
We had good-sized well-lit studio built behind the house so that I could finally get back to being a serious artist, painting canvases, developing a style. I didn't need to sell anything, but I enjoyed when someone appreciated one of my paintings enough to actually buy it. Some of our housemates were artists too, so we opened a gallery down by Pioneer Square, our little communal business. Being rich, Arrond didn't actually need to work or study, but he enrolled in tech school courses anyway. He wanted to learn basic engineering, industrial design, metallurgy, chemistry, etc. Our 1968 technological level was primitive compared to that far future he came from, but like MAGIC wherever he went to in the past. Knowledge was the one thing he could take with him when he danced around time. He would sometimes enthusiastically tell me about his experiment with Cro-Magnon people 50,000 years back in time. How they were learning the future knowledge he brought them, and beginning to build that city-state of Arantha. Those tech courses he took at the community college in Seattle were the source of information being channelled into various projects back in the Paleolithic Era. Whenever Arrond spoke to me of Arantha I was put in the dilemma he'd always tried to avoid for himself: knowing bad news about the fate of a friend. Arantha was doomed, and I knew it. Should I tell him it that it was all in vain? Or would that change the future? Rather, in this case, the past? If I did tell him, perhaps he'd be more careful and the city would not become consumed by a paradox. Or then again, my very telling could CAUSE the paradox, since my older Arrond didn't seem to know before the city vanished. But if I DIDN'T tell him.. I kept my mouth shut. Let him have the experience, the thrill of adventures, let him screw the virgins, let him be a god. I had no right to take all that away from him. He'd survive it. I was living by his rule, that had to be the right thing to do. Didn't it?

Chapter 27:     DEALING WITH LEEROY

I should mention a rather significant incident that happened when 
we first came back to Seattle from Europe.  I was showing Arrond 
his own house for the first time.  He liked it, it was just his 
kind of house, naturally, since his older self had bought it in 
1949.

"What's this?" Arrond took up the letter I'd written about LeeRoy
5 years before.  It had been unread all that time.

I explained the situation, including meeting a rattled LeeRoy 
after he'd been visited by a certain timedancer.  "Maybe you 
should take care of that for me," I suggested, "don't want a 
paradox popping up."

Arrond was reluctant.  "Hey, I don't even know this guy.  And 5 
years ago? it's hard to get mad enough to just ATTACK some 
stranger.  In fact, I don't EVER attack people!  I'm a pacifist, 
not a hit man, you know."

"I know, sweetie, but all you have to do is scare him.  Whatever 
you did, it worked great!"

Actually, we discussed this for a few weeks, Arrond really didn't
want to do it.  I figured, okay, later then, but I knew that 
eventually it did have to be done by some later version of 
Arrond.

Then one evening he went straight to the bulletin board and took
the letter, read it again and again, really pondering it.  His 
sudden interest did seem a little strange to me at the time.

Then he said, "All right, let's go pay this LeeRoy guy a visit."
I didn't argue, it would be best to get it done before...well, 
whatever happens if it never gets done.

We drove over to the Fremont District, where LeeRoy had lived 5 
years before, not knowing if he still lived there or not.  Which 
didn't really matter, except that I didn't want to run into him.
But his name was still on the mailbox of the seedy run down 
apartment house.  It was 9:00 at night, there were no lights in 
his apartment, it seemed perfect.

We went upstairs and found LeeRoy's locked door.  Arrond had to 
get in.  I thought he'd have some tricky way to jimmy the door or
something, but he opened it by putting his hand on the lock--
which was SLAGGED by an incredibly powerful white-hot spark, as 
if he'd used an arc welder.  I jumped, it was startling, I didn't
know he could do that.  

I commented, "God, are those the hands that play with my boobs?"  

But he wasn't interested in small talk. In fact Arrond had seemed
especially businesslike on the trip, really concentrated.  A 
little bit scary, actually, like the hit-man he said he wasn't.  

He went in aggressively, in case LeeRoy was home anyway, but the
place was empty.  Quite empty, evidently nobody had been there 
for a while.  It was a mess, beer cans scattered around, porno 
magazines.  I blushed thinking how I'd actually dated this low-
life a couple of times.

"I've found a window when I can get into that 1963 time level, 
but it's short, so this is an in-and-out operation.  Keep my 
clothes ready, I'll be back in a few seconds."

He stood in the middle of the dark apartment, did his pirouette 
dance step, and popped out of time. His empty clothes fell to the
floor, I picked them up. Seconds later he reappeared, naked, and
I handed him his pants.  

He seemed disoriented, which was odd, he was always sure of his 
landings, that was part of his magical ability. He looked around,
almost nervously, as he put on his shirt.  "Okay, let's get out 
of here!"

Back down in the car he was breathing heavily.  I could see that 
something had really rattled him, but he wasn't talking yet.  He 
had me drive as he finished dressing.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I'm still working on finding that out," he said, mysteriously, 
"tell me what you saw when we came to that apartment house."

"What?" I was confused.

"I may have caused a paradox," he admitted, "I've changed time."

"What?"  Stupidly, I knew this might happen sometime.  "What did 
you change?"

"When we...when I came to that apartment, it was closed off with 
police tape, Crime Scene Investigation, Do Not Enter. It's gone
now.  But you didn't see any of that, did you?"

"Uh, no."

"Do you remember reading the news about the girl this LeeRoy guy 
had murdered?"

"Wha...?  No, nothing.  But you do?"

"Yeah.  You showed it to me, an article in the Seattle Times, the
girl in the picture looked a lot like you.  You were pretty 
shocked because you knew LeeRoy and had been afraid of him.  We 
agreed that I'd better take care of your 5 year-old problem.  I 
did that, scared him, didn't mess around with trying any changes.

"But then I went looking for a window to see if I could save that
girl. I found one just after he'd murdered her, right here, there
was blood everywhere, he was a pretty sick guy.  So I had to find
a window even further back.

"But we've been together a lot, I haven't been out of this level 
very much, so I could first get in about three months ago.  He 
wasn't home.  I had a few hours, so I put on some of his clothes 
and waited for him.  Finally he showed up.

"I was going to talk to him, tell him I knew, tell him he'd go to
prison.  But he remembered my first visit, went crazy, pulled a 
gun.  I disarmed him.  And then...then my time window was up, I 
was going to be bumped, had only seconds to save that girl...so I
killed him."

"Oh, Arrond..."  I stopped the car.

He was weeping now. "I zapped him hard enough to give him a heart
attack.  The police probably assumed it was a natural death, I 
doubt if they're looking for a murderer.  They'll certainly never
pin it on me, you and I were still in Florence at that time. I'll
have to check newspaper back issues...oh god, Jeannie, it was 
horrible!"

"But you saved the girl?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"My hero," I said, "you probably saved me too."  

Chapter 28:     WOODSTOCK

Woodstock was about to happen in August of 1969.  Arrond had been
so enthusiastic about his experience there that I really wanted 
to go see it too.  Only thing was, he couldn't go because he'd 
already been there when he was younger and was locked out for 
that time period.

"In fact, I'll be getting bumped out of this time for about a 
week," Arrond said, "but you can go, I don't want you to miss 
it."

"Maybe I'll find that 18-year-old you there."

"Omigawd, I hope not.  I was stoned, and...well, I think there 
were some girls..."

"SOME girls?  As in several?"

"Hey, I was young and horny, everybody was in love, and you and I
weren't a couple yet..."

"Feeble excuses--but hey, that means I can mess around too," I 
teased him.

Shari and I went together, flew to New York, stayed in our old 
commune in Greenwich Village, which was still going strong.  
Drove to Woodstock in a classic psychedelic V-dub hippie van, 8 
of us, smoking joints all the way.  

Arrond had told me what to expect, so we had a tent, food, 
rain clothes, and we got there early, before the other half a 
million people had gathered for this god of all rock festivals.  

I couldn't help leaking future information to my gang, "They'll 
be filming, there'll be a movie, and later a CD." One of the guys
asked "What's a CD?"  Sometimes I slipped in anachronisms, CD's 
were still years away at that time, but Arrond had mentioned them
so often that so did I.  My friends figured I was stoned.  Well, 
so were they, no harm done.

I don't need to tell you about the rock festival, the crowd, the 
rain, it's so famous anyway, you probably know all the music--
Jimmie Hendrix, Joan Baez, Country Joe, etc.  It was big, fun, 
physical hardship, emotional bliss. I was having a good time with
my friends (all 400,000 of them!), but of course I had to go off 
by myself looking for you-know-who.

Not easy to find one hippy at Woodstock, and of course, maybe I 
wasn't supposed to. The thing was, Arrond himself was not sure if
he'd met me there or not.  "I don't remember seeing you then," 
he'd told me, "but I'd gotten stoned a lot, and after Woodstock I
found myself thinking about you waiting in Caernarvon.  All the 
time. But I couldn't go there because it was after I'd mistreated
you that one night when I was 17.  Actually, I think I was afraid
of you."
 
I finally did find him on the last day, it had rained and the 
entire place was a sea of mud, grass trampled into mulch, 
exhausted people just laying down in it. But the sun had come out
again and I think Crosby Stills & Nash were singing "Wooden 
Ships".  There was a little lake where people were swimming naked
in public, for the first time in their lives, I'm sure. And 
there he was, a very young Arrond, playing with three hippie 
chicks, all as naked as everyone else around them.  

They were having fun, the girls had evidently discovered Arrond's 
tingle, because the play was pretty erotic. In fact, he seemed to
be having sex with them right there, just under the water.  Other
people around them were either watching or doing the same, this 
was sex, drugs and rock'n'roll made manifest.

I felt--well, I felt everything a woman does when she catches her
man being untrue.  Automatic reaction, getting jealous, even 
though I knew I shouldn't.  It was too much for me to watch, MY 
Arrond cavorting with other women, so I turned to run away and 
cry, or something.  But I didn't get far.  I couldn't really 
justify being jealous or hurt, this had nothing to do with me, he
didn't even know I was there. 

So I went back to the lake, peeled off my clothes and went into 
the water, right to where they were playing.  I put my hand on 
Arrond's shoulder to get his attention, he turned, our eyes met.
He was stoned all right, but he reacted anyway, looking surprised
and saying "Oh wow, it's you!  Or...?  Uh...where do I know you 
from?" 

He couldn't recognize me out of context with that hotel room in 
Caernarvon, another time, another place.  Mostly we'd been 
together in the dark anyway.

But I recognized then just which version of Arrond I was seeing: 
this really was that nasty kid who had insulted and zapped me, 
who'd even raped me, who thought I was a whore he could hurt.  
Who thought he was beyond anyone's punishment.  

I'd forgiven MY Arrond years ago for his meanness when he was 
that arrogant brat, he'd suffered shame and regret for those 
acts. But seeing this kid brought my anger directly to boil, he'd
not suffered any remorse yet.  I felt like kneeing him in the 
balls right then, but knew his electroshock defense field would 
protect him, even if he was stoned. 

Then it hit me: "my shockfield is grounded out in deep water."
The cryptic message of the very old Arrond at Caernarfon suddenly
made perfect sense.  The revenge I'd promised that nasty kid was 
at hand, if I had the will to carry it through.

I hesitated, unsure: I loved Arrond.  Had I really borne a grudge
all these years?  The answer being Yes.

This young Arrond made it easy.  He was a genuinely horny animal 
just then, ready to turn his back on those other girls and ravage
me right there in public.  He pulled me to him, which I allowed, 
but gracefully held him off from actually penetrating me, as I 
whispered in his ear, "Do you remember my name?"

"Huh?  Oh uhm...ah...well, no.."

I teased him, leaned into his ear and said, "You can have me if 
you remember my name."

I knew he couldn't remember, of course, having heard it only once
when he was 16 and could barely speak English.  And he was stoned
and stupid at the moment.  But I could see he was desperately 
trying to remember it anyway, because he really wanted to have 
me, that was coded in between us.

We were facing each other in water up to our bellies.  Deep 
enough.  I put my hands on his shoulders.  He smiled like the 
stoned idiot he was just then, and put his hands on my boobs, of 
course.  A perfect set-up.  I kneed him in the crotch, hard and 
fast.  He folded, went down under water.

I pulled his head up by the hair, said to him, "You're not the 
only one who travels through time, Arrond, we ALL do!  And I can 
ALWAYS find you, so you'd better not mistreat any more women!"

He was hurting, confused, afraid, stoned, helpless.  And surprised! 
His shockfield was generally impenetrable, blows normally just 
slid off him.  I let him go, he bubbled back under the water.

I assumed that he'd survive, since I knew he had. The other girls
with him rushed to rescue him, giving me some frightened looks. 
Everyone did, but no one tried to stop or question me.  They were
all stoned too, had no idea what was going on. Someone did manage
to mumble, "Hey, that's some heavy chick, man!"

I got out of the water, took my clothes under arm and went off 
into the crowd.  I looked back to see that he was watching me, 
testicles obviously still throbbing, but even more paralyzed by 
the enormous task of trying to figure out who I was. I gave him a
smile and a wave, and let him have a good look at me.  It was 
quite satisfying to know that he'd be afraid of me for his next 5
years.  Heh heh.

When I found my friends again, Joe Cocker was singing With a 
Little Help From My Friends, it all seemed so cosmic.

Chapter 29:     THE PROBLEM

Of course, Arrond actually did have a secret job: researching the
history of Mankind, and took it very seriously.  He travelled a 
lot.  But even so, he was almost never gone.

He could go off on a little trip Monday morning, back 65 million 
years in time to find out why the dinosaurs really became 
extinct, spend weeks, months, years there, and be back the same 
Monday morning.  Himself a little older, of course.

But not much older.  He had that different life-span than we do, 
and guessed that he could live to an age of 300 years.  But even 
then, when he periodically went back to his future home with the 
robots to download his memories for them, they'd fix him up, tune
his DNA, repair any damage his adventures had caused, and he was
good as new.  He could theoretically live forever.

"I'm not sure I want to live forever," he said, but then again, 
he wasn't sure he'd want to die of old age.  There was enough 
danger in what he did to eventually kill him off some day, the 
odds were against eternal good luck.  For now though, he actually
did allow himself to get older so that he and I could be on the 
same plane physically.

And physically, we were on a very high plane.  I think being with
him gave me some energy that was healing and invigorating, very 
aphrodisiac.  We always had a really powerful sex life, right 
from when I found him again at Caernarvon and it had been like 
that ever since.  Arrond would come back from his journeys happy 
to see me, and very horny.

But.  

That's right, the "but" always shows up in life. But-- just how 
much sex does a woman really need?  

Don't get me wrong, I still loved Arrond and enjoyed that electric 
tingly sex with him.  Twice a day would be nice.  But he wanted 
more all the time, too much more.

It's not that he was a sexual monster--although certainly a very 
vigorous man who did like to have me in lots of different 
positions and places--Arrond was actually easy to satisfy and not
especially greedy.  Needy, but not greedy.

The problem was our different perceptions of time.  He'd be gone 
for a while of HIS time, long enough to get horny anyway, but he 
could return to MY time seconds after we'd just made love, ready 
to do it again. In other words, he got a break, but I never did.
  
That hadn't been a problem when we were travelling, we lived on 
similar time levels then, but when we settled into everyday 
routine life, things changed.  They always do, I guess.  He was 
always there, and always horny.  I had almost no chance to get 
horny myself. 

But most of all, I was an artist, I wanted to paint.  Sex was 
nice, but I liked doing other things too.  Arrond had work to do,
but he did that on other time levels, when he was with me he 
wanted to play.  After a while I began to feel that's all I was 
for.

I couldn't go on like that, and told him so.  The solution was 
simple, since he could dance to any point of time: he could just 
give me some time between departing and returning from his 
journeys.  He could still have sex when he needed it, and I could
have some time off to recharge...and paint.

It was a great plan. He offered me a week free and I accepted it.
So Arrond went off to work--somewhen in ancient Babylon, looking 
for clues concerning Atlantis, which he had deduced to actually 
have existed--and I looked forward to missing him, and even to
making love again when he got back.  

I got out my paints, found some blank canvases, set the easel up.
I had no idea what to paint, just wanted to start using the 
brushes again, see what happens, let it flow.  It had been years 
since I had gotten deep into being creative, I had to warm up to 
it again.  I spent a whole day just getting ready.  Tomorrow I 
would start, I had 6 more days of freedom.

Chapter 30:     CHAIN OF ARRONDS

Nope.  I had one day free and there he was again, hornier than 
ever.  Only not exactly the version of Arrond I was married to.

It was my very first Arrond, my older lover whom I'd last seen 
when I was 20 years old, looking up his old flame.  

"Jeannie, beautiful as ever," he said, in his familiar suave way.
I felt a spark of the old thrill his charm had always aroused in
me.  Especially since he was naked, of course, and looking quite 
charmed himself.

Without thinking, I embraced and kissed him.  It was sort of an 
automatic reaction, I'd never really resolved losing him that 
time way back when.  I'd missed him for years.  Then reality 
caught up with me, I pulled back and looked at him.

"Arrond...what...what are you doing here now?"

"I've been wanting to see you again," he told me, still holding 
me quite passionately, "but couldn't find a window."

"Yeah, well, he...you...arranged to be gone a week."

"Yes, I remember.  Good plan, I didn't know how good it would be 
when we first made it.  Makes it possible for me to see you 
again."

"Makes it possible for me to paint," I insisted.  I tried to 
wriggle out of his embrace, at least until I figured out what to 
do.  "Besides, you can't be thinking you can come here and just 
fuck me like in the good old days, I'm married now..."

"Yes," he said joyously, "to me!"

"Yeah, but not to YOU you.  My Arrond is younger, about my own 
age.  You're...say, how old are you now, anyway?"

"Never mind, it's only relative.  I'm as young as I feel."

"So how do you feel?  50?  Or 60 by now?"

"How would I know?  How does 30 feel?  But I might feel 100, 200,
I can't tell."

"Oh?  Well, too old for me.  Sorry."

"I was just right when you were 17, remember?"

"That was then, now my husband is just right."

"Yes, well, YOUR Arrond is no longer your age either.  You know 
I/he/we stack up a lot of time in other levels: years, even."

"I don't care, I love him like he is.  And I'm not going to be 
untrue to him, even with other versions of himself.  So there."

"I remember this trip he's taking.  I'd promised to be away a 
week.  It was about 2 months of my time, which I spent on 
vacation with Haruki--but I couldn't get enough of her so I was 
visiting Marissa, and there was a string of virgins..."

"Good.  I'm not jealous. Gets you off my back...or rather, me off
my back."

"I know, I'm just trying to get you aroused."  Mature Arrond was 
kissing my neck as he spoke, his hands under my blouse, his naked
body pressed well against me. Actually, I noticed that I already
had a firm grip on his erection.

I was totally excited, but still trying to resist.  I wasn't 
really worried about morality so much as trying to keep my week 
off.  And yet, I couldn't help wanting my old beloved Arrond one
more time.

"Oh all right," I finally agreed, "you get lucky, but then you 
go.  I want to paint."


We made love, and it was wonderful. It was like being 17 again, when my first lover, that older more experienced man, taught me what a woman's body was for. He was still fantastic, although not really BETTER than my own Arrond, just different. It was a refreshing experience. My plan was to toss him out when we were done, but I really loved that version of him and we ended up talking all night. It was noon the next day before I finally got him to dance off to somewhen else. He threatened to come back someday. He had barely left when the next Arrond showed up. Even older, a grandfatherly man. I was definitely not interested in having sex with this one, but he talked me into it anyway, and it wasn't that bad, really. I thought I was just being kind, but he surprised me into enjoying it. Then a mature Arrond from before he had met me at 17. Anyway, you get the idea. There was no end to the flow of Arronds from different points along his life-time, a vast array in copious variation. And copious copulation, they all wanted to play with me. By the end of that week, I hadn't painted a thing. My very own version of Arrond would be coming home and I just could hear my husband asking: "So how did your week go? Got any paintings to show me?" It had been so extreme that I became confused about how guilty I should be feeling, not sure if I had committed infidelity at all, or if he would even be jealous. It was all his own doing. Finally decided to allow myself to feel guilty about having not painted anything when he'd given me time to do so. I'd even asked one of the Arronds from the future, "Tell me: will I ever get any paintings done?" He'd laughed, as if I'd told a joke, but said, "Oh yes, you'll eventually do a very respectable body of work, don't worry." The canvas was all set up, the brushes and paints ready, I attacked. I had no idea what to paint, just wanted something to show him when he arrived. Paint splashed and splattered, I went into a frenzy to cover that blank canvas with colors, anything would do, I was beyond worrying about good art. Working against a deadline can be an inspiration in itself. When my current Arrond did come home--horny, of course--I just let him have me. That was nice too, familiar yet like new again. And after sex, he asked about my painting, as I knew he would. I showed it to him. I thought it was good, but he was overwhelmed by it. "Man, is that erotic!" he said, "Resembles a woman getting laid by a hundred guys, and yet they're not really there at all." He begged me never to sell it, then bought it himself and hung it up in the living room. I didn't tell him about my sex life, he didn't ask. I figured he'd know what he was doing eventually.

Chapter 31:     BABIES

I had loved my fascinating and charming timedancer in one version
or another with absolute intensity since I'd been 17, except for
a 4 year break, but now I was in my 30's.  I had once been his 
totally willing sex-slave, in awe of his every word of wisdom, 
worshipping him.  Those emotions had to cool with time, or I'd 
burn out.  That Arrond didn't cool down too became a source of 
irritation for me--that and his demands for too much sex.

There were several things about living with a timedancer that 
were unsatisfactory for me.  That he was always gone on some trip
in his own time, and yet always here with me in my time was not 
just a sexual problem.  Because when he WAS here, his mind often 
wasn't--he was thinking about problems in those other worlds he 
lived in.  Granted, he had some serious things to consider, but 
he was dreamy and unconcentrated with mundane functions and 
everyday duties here, like shopping, paying bills, that was all 
left up to me.

I know, it sounds pretty petty when I say it now, we were rich, 
he supported me, all I had to do was be a good wife and take care
of him while he did his More Important Man's Job.  But at the 
time--'71-72--I and my friends had become politically involved 
with Women's Liberation.  Arrond had not, and it rankled me, 
suddenly he seemed so conservative and old-fashioned.

This was the Vietnam War period, and all of us in our commune 
were out there with all the other young Americans protesting that
war, going to demonstrations, against American Imperialism, for 
free abortion, against police brutality, for legalizing 
marijuana.  But not Arrond.  He may have been politically active 
somewhere else in time (he said), but here he was totally 
apolitical.

I objected to that, how he just accepted the inevitable, wasn't 
about to get involved.  "Which politician should I campaign for, 
the one whom I know will win, or the one who will lose?" he 
argued.  "Look, it's 1971, the Vietnam War will get much worse, 
then end in '73 with the US just giving up and getting out.  You 
don't like Nixon? fine, he gets impeached in '74.  Meanwhile the 
Cambodians will be killing themselves off faster than the 
Americans ever do.  Apartheid in South Africa bothering you? got 
20 years to go yet, sorry, but it ends in with a black president 
being elected, then come tribal wars for power.  Berlin Wall? 
falls '89.  USSR crumbles just after that.  Peace in Europe?  
Absolutely not: Yugoslavia, Albania, civil wars over who gets the
power next...  What right do I have to interfere with these 
things?  Even if I'd try, I can't change time on that scale."

As I became more irritated or angry at my imperfect cosmic mate, 
I'd punish him by the old tried-and-true "no sex for you, boy".  
He didn't like that, so he'd just dance ahead a day or two, until
I was less angry or maybe even horny myself.  I was hooked on 
that tingle, but began to resent even that.  So we'd spend less 
time communicating--our absolutely perfect Romance to the End of 
Time was falling apart.

But the hardest part for us was that after I'd turned 30 my 
biological alarm clock started ringing "Baby Time, Baby Time!  
Gotta have a Baby now!"  And we knew that Arrond couldn't father 
one.

Not only that, it seemed he didn't really WANT me to have one. He
was reluctant to even talk about it.  Which was odd--normally he 
was overeager to give me anything I wanted.  Except what I wanted
most, I sulked.  

Looking back, I recognize that I was in an obsessive state of 
mind, but couldn't help it.  Arrond did suggest adopting a child,
but I was the stubborn one there, uninterested in anything but 
my own ovulated offspring.

Finally I had to say to Arrond: "You have other woman, out there 
in time.  So it's fair that I get myself pregnant with some other
man.  You can be in or out of the decision process, as you 
choose."

"Yes, I know."  He looked quite sad, but not surprised.  He'd 
probably been waiting for me to say it, I thought, always knowing
everything in advance, the jerk.  "The thing is...well, let me 
look ahead first."


The next day was Wednesday, Arrond would be away. But he came out of His Study to talk with me. He looked tired, sad, in fact he looked OLDER. I realized he was not my current husband. "Jeannie, I'm from 1982, over seven years forward. I'm here to warn you not to have a baby." I got angry. All my frustrated obsessions peaked, it was the last straw. "No! You don't start laying some incontestable prophecy on me like the Word of God!" He waited patiently for me to calm down, then said, "I know what having a child means to you, but I've got to say I'm against it, because I also know how it will end up." "So you've looked ahead?" "Much more than that, I've already lived it. And I've changed time. Too many times, I have to give it up. I can't save your... children." I simply waited for him to go on, my mouth open, no words coming out. "In one future you will have a child with Larry Davis. In fact, you'll leave me for him, although that ends badly in 2 years--but never mind, that one won't be happening anyway." "Why, because YOU change time?" I asked, accusingly. Or maybe guiltily: I had thought about Larry and me. "No, because YOU did. After I warned you that the child will be born dead." "You're lying, making this up." I was shaking my head in denial. That was the first time I ever saw him look at me in anger. I was well aware that he NEVER lied to me. "As I said, that future won't happen," he went on, "instead you get pregnant with another man--someone in a succession of one- night stands, you're never certain who. You have a boy. He too would have died in your womb, but I healed him with my energy by putting my hands on your belly every day of your pregnancy. "That boy lives 6 months, dies of crib death, no explanation. I danced back, got him through that particular night. He electrocuted himself on a plug outlet before he was a year old, I backed up, saved him from that. He was run down by a car when he was 2, died, I save him again. Eventually we realize that he is severely mentally handicapped. Choked to death on candy at 3. At 4 he fell out of a window to his death, and later was accidentally killed by playmates who were teasing him. At 6 years he..." Stop!" "Yes," he agreed, "I had to. By then I'd punched so many holes in time that I was locked out from helping him any more." "I REFUSE to believe you!" "I know." His head was bowed. "What happens now?" I couldn't help asking. "I don't know. I haven't anywhen to look any more. The future is such a mess from this point that I have to just let it work itself out. What does or doesn't happen is determined by whatever decisions you make now." "But...but if I had a baby with some other man than those two... I'd be avoiding those futures." "Yes, but while details in time can be adjusted, the patterns remain the same." "You saved that girl from LeeRoy," I reminded him. "There was still a death--his instead of hers. The temporal average was maintained." "I'll find a way!" I said. "Well...good luck, then. It might work out if you find the right father, who knows? At least you'll be free to find him, since I'll be mostly gone for a while, about 7 years." "What? Where are you going?" suddenly I was indignant again, "off to your more willing Cro-Magnon virgins or sex-slaves in Rome?" "No Jeannie, I'll be with you, back up in 1982, where I've just come from. It's your current version of me who's going to be gone." "Oh. So you're...he's...just going to abandon me while I have a baby?" "This is not of his/my choosing, Jeannie. I'll get bumped, no matter what, there's nothing I can do about that. I spent a lot of time between now and then trying to save our little Eddie, I've already used those years up!" "Our little...Eddie? My baby's name?" "Sorry, I wasn't going to mention it," Arrond's eyes misted over. "Bad enough he...he...he was doomed, it's best he's never born." I suddenly realized that Arrond was telling nothing but the truth, as always. And that he was trying to spare me from a tragedy that he himself had endured. I felt shame for my selfish anger. "But wait, if I DON'T get pregnant...he...little Eddie...won't be born at all. You can't be bumped if that time never happens." "You don't understand: it DID happen for me, I've already lived those years. My own time is one day at a time, just as your is. Even if those events don't happen, those years will, and I'm locked out of them except for a few remaining windows." "But...but if I DO have...Eddie, then everything you told me about WILL happen and you'll still be with me. Won't you?" "Yes, of course. But I..." Arrond lost it, began weeping, as I'd only seen once so many years before, when he'd lost his Cro- Magnon people. "...please don't put little Eddie through that. Or us." I embraced that man, to comfort him somehow, no matter from when he was always my husband. "But this isn't fair," I insisted, "you won't be anywhere at all? You'll just be GONE for 7 years?" He shrugged. "You can't change time without it costing something."
That night Arrond came to me again. I could see that this one was my own current husband. He had looked ahead and started to warn me about the first child who dies unborn, but I tell him about my visit from 1982. He believed me, was concerned, and investigated. Arrond has that road map of time in his head, where access to all time levels are laid out. Not even he can see his own future, but by dancing to a farther future he could simply look back and see the tracks of WHEN he had already been, and determine which times he was locked out of. "It's true," he told me, "after about nine months I'll be bumped, and from then on there will only be a few short-time windows I can visit. It's a mess for about 7 years, like he said." "What can we do? Should I go ahead and have that baby?" "Well, if that was going to happen, then those time levels would not be closed to me, so I have to assume that you decide not to go through with that plan." "I didn't like it much anyway--someone in a succession of one- night stands, you're never certain who, you told me, as if I'd just let myself get picked up in a succession of bars. I'll bet I did too, I was really obsessed." "You still want a baby," he reminded me, "maybe you should go for it, find the right set of genes to produce a healthy kid..." "Yeah, sure. How? And I'm scared now. Maybe it's MY genes that are no good: two dead babies..." "Well, we can't do it now in 1974, but around the turn of the century DNA research will be pretty well established." "So I can maybe have a baby when I'm 60 years old? Thanks a lot." "Or..." I could see that he'd had an idea. "...or I could have my robots check your genes, they understand them better than humans ever will. That's why they could enhance my own unfit DNA when they cloned me." "In the year 297-thousand-whatever? Well, since you can't take anything with you through time, that might be an even worse wait, let's see, I'd be..." I was getting sarcastic. "We seal samples of your DNA in absolutely hermetic packages and bury them. I dig them up in my home-time and give them to Mommy. She processes them to see what's encoded in your DNA. I CAN carry information back and forth." "That's crazy, you'd never find it. Besides, organic samples couldn't last a quarter of a million years! Or what?" "DNA remnants in fossils DO last that long, in the coming century scientists will be cloning dinosaurs and mastodons for zoos. We bury multiple samples, of course, to increase the chance of one set making it..." We did it. The samples were simple enough, some hair, skin scrapings, blood. Then we sealed them in pitchblende, an common organic technique that would last longer than any technology- based solution ever could. Then we buried them deep in a cavern, and Arrond danced away after them. Even for Arrond this took time. He could dance to his home-time as easily as if it were an hour away, time spans made no difference to him, just levels. Don't ask me how it works, ok? But he would never find the samples in the year 297400 after the continents shifted and the seas traded places, as they shall. So he had to dance along in stages, following the shifting of continents, physically checking on where the samples were buried and what condition they were in. He got them to Mommy over increments of 500-2000 years, and 4 out of 20 samples made it intact. Pretty amazing. For me, it was an hour later when he came back with the report: "As far as they can see, you have a very nice DNA spiral, there seems to be no genetic reason you can't have a healthy baby." "But you still look worried," I observed. "Genetics are one thing, temporal patterns are another, call it destiny. Oh, by the way, there is one less positive footnote: your DNA also shows a potential for cancer later on in life. We'll have to keep an eye on that."
I was 33 years old in 1975. I decided to have a baby because I'd never have peace of mind if I didn't try. Let me give Arrond credit for being a noble friend and helping in the selection process without ever getting jealous. There were some lovely men in our commune, but we ruled them all out, since most of them were slightly in love with me already, and Arrond and I were going to remain a couple through this. Then one day I just suddenly remember Dennis Hanson, the boy I had a mutual crush on in art class back in high school, when we were both too shy to do anything about it. I found Dennis through some of his old friends, looked him up. The old mutual attraction was still there, now free of the bonds of High School stupidity, so I told him what I needed. He was surprised but absolutely eager. Dennis was even single then-- just divorced, in fact--so it seemed to be DESTINY. Arrond sent the two of us on a 2-week vacation to Hawaii, now that's noble. I got pregnant, and had a pretty good time doing it too. Of course, the hard part was saying goodbye to Dennis afterwards --so I didn't. Arrond was understanding about that too, since he was going to be gone for 7 years. Luckily, the two men got along pretty well, although Arrond was always a bit of an outsider for obvious reasons, and we more or less were a threesome for the first 3 months of my pregnancy. Yes, sigh, if you must know, I was having sex with both of them. But only one at a time, all right? Unconventional, but so was our situation. Kinda fun though, I recommend double lovers to every woman for at least one period in her life. And then Arrond got bumped. Technically, he could still show up on Wednesdays, but would rather save some windows he could use later on, giving me and Dennis some time to be parents. At first I didn't even miss him, although the tingle I did, but was feeling pretty happy about being pregnant, and I did love Dennis in a way. I could probably have loved him all the way if it wasn't for that stupid tingle. The baby was born dead. A girl. I... Well, you know: shock, grief, etc. Dennis tried to be the man I needed, but he couldn't, and eventually gave up. Eventually he fell for a woman who treated him better and left. I certainly didn't blame him. No, I blamed Arrond. For not having foreseen that future, for not having been there with his magic healing electrostatic touch, for having wasted his slot in this time-level on some OTHER children I mean, I knew I wasn't being reasonable about this at all, but.. well, just "but". You can't rage at Destiny. When he did show up, in a three-hour window a month after my tragedy, I almost attacked him. He took my abuse gracefully, finally holding me, comforting me, crying with me. We didn't have time to make love before he was bumped, although by then I wanted him to. He was forgiven. Oh, the next 7 years: forget them, I don't even want to tell about them. They were oatmeal. Waiting for Arrond, no other man would do. He'd flash in for a few hours--we'd make love, and each time I felt recharged, renewed--and then I'd have to wait 4 for 5 months until we could be together again. It was like having a man in prison, or a sailor off to sea. One thing at least, I was totally in love with him again. "Abstinence makes the hard grow fondle," he used to say, or something like that. Finally it was September 1982 and Arrond's exile was over at last. We rejoiced together, in all the ways that lovers can. We had the house to ourselves by then, since our commune had drifted apart over those 7 years. That was fine with us, when friends moved away for jobs or to get married, we simply didn't ask any others to move in. It had been a fun and interesting episode, but then it was over.

Chapter 32:     THE EXECUTIVES

We finally got computerized in the 80's.  I would have thought 
Arrond wanted one as soon as they appeared on the market, but he 
was totally disinterested in them.  He'd been raised by thinking 
machines, so I'd assumed he'd be a genius with computers, but no.

"Computer expert, me?  Where I come from computers are more 
intelligent and complex than any human brain, smarter by far than
me.  I certainly don't understand how they work. But these 1980's
computers are primitive pieces of junk that you've got to program
yourself, which I can't be bothered learning for machines that 
will be uselessly outdated in a few years, when GUIs show up on 
the market."

But we needed them anyway, no matter how primitive they were, the
stock market was inseparable from telecommunications. It was time
to earn money again.  Not for us, we had more than enough to live
out our lives in luxury and splendor if we wanted to, although 
neither of us were interested in that kind of lifestyle.

Our private financial company, Dancer Inc, was managing several
major funds for assistance to starving children, abused women, 
homeless, as well as contributions to research in AIDS, cancer, 
various diseases.  We were involved with Greenpeace, Amnesty 
International, UNICEF, just about any idealistic organizations 
for a better world.

At first Arrond was skeptical about our ability to change the 
world that way, he already knew that AIDS would be eliminated by 
the All-Virus Cure in 2017, and not before.  I convinced him that 
the money we were pouring into that research might be exactly 
what brings it about, and that if we didn't, then AIDS might 
never be cured until much later, thus changing the future.

The thing is, I didn't care if we changed his futures, they 
weren't carved in stone for me.  I knew some things could be 
changed, and some could not, my "lost children" were a constant 
reminder of that. I simply couldn't have the kind of money we had
flowing through our fingers and not use it to some kind of good 
for others.  

So I needed lots of money, millions, billions, and since Arrond 
would give me whatever I wanted, he made it in investments and 
stocks and bonds.  He had, for instance, gone back to buy large 
amounts of stock in Microsoft when Bill Gates was just starting 
out, Coca-Cola at the turn of the last century, Sony, Nestle, oil
companies, television, and so on.

I more or less ran the company at first, it was my passion, but 
Arrond began to take an interest in it.  He'd always regarded his
time with me as his vacation paradise from other times and places
where he had duties and problems, but now he spent more liner 
time here to effect deals and take care of business himself. He 
was just as idealistic as I was, it turns out, and enjoyed the 
challenge of making Dancer Inc. become a force in the world.   

But he still preferred to remain in the background and let me be 
the figurehead.  So I was a powerful woman, dispensing money here
and there, travelling frequently to maintain control of the 
funds we were giving out.  Arrond travelled with me, often to the
Third World, Africa, India, South America.  It was often fun for
us, but sometimes the places we visited were gruesome, and 
sometimes we had to deal with problems.

To tell the truth, Arrond loved dealing with the problems, it 
appealed to his sense of adventure.  The most common problem in 
the Third World (and everywhere else) was corruption: our money 
being channelled into the pockets of fat government officials 
instead of to starving people.  They didn't have a chance against
Arrond's abilities, and we always got the money to where we wanted
it to go.  That was rather gratifying--and so was the fall of 
those corrupt officials.  Arrond enjoyed screwing them over so 
much I that think he still had a bit of the mean streak I'd met 
when he was that nasty teen-ager in Caernarfon.  

Other more dramatic problems were bandits and revolutionaries, 
violent fanatics, simple criminals. Everyone was after our money,
legally or illegally, so we had to be on top of it.  The more 
extreme the action got, the more Arrond would laugh and get off 
on it.  Those poor thieves were dealing with the timedancer, the 
God of Arantha, a genuine super-hero.  Hey, I enjoyed it too, I
was his faithful side-kick...or side-fuck, I guess, all that 
stuff made him twice as horny. 

I'm romanticizing it, I know.  The fate of some peoples were far 
too tragic to laugh about, and we'd be among them in drought and 
war and absolute poverty, doing what we could to help, and yet so
far better off than them that it shamed us anyway.  Arrond WAS a 
God for all practical purposes, capable of escaping human 
miseries with a dance step, and I was his goddess.  

Although sometimes events did equalize us, reminding me that I 
wasn't really a goddess at all, and that Arrond could lose me, 
and that we could both easily get ourselves killed just as dead 
as anyone else in the blink of an eye.

Chapter 33:     KIDNAPPED

In Columbia '87 I was kidnapped by a band of guerrillas calling 
themselves revolutionaries, mostly illiterate young peasants. 
They were actually connected to a drug cartel at war against the 
government--parts of which were actually supporting them 
secretly, the politics of it all was as dirty as could be.  What 
they really fought for was money, so they were in the business of
kidnapping rich foreigners for ransom.  

There I was, 45-year-old Rich American Lady, visiting the 
Columbian city of Kali to find out what had happened to the funds
we'd sent to a local aid station--they'd been siphoned away 
somewhere, of course.  I was there alone, Arrond would be along 
later.  By alone I mean in a hotel surrounded by the people I'd 
come to question about the missing money.  Some of them had set 
up the kidnapping, "soldiers" came and took me away, no one tried
to stop them.

I was taken far up into the hills, tied and bound, kept in a 
leaky little thatched hut in a jungle.  I was not raped or 
violently mistreated, because I was worth too much money, but 
they were rough on me, threatening with guns, always pushing and
shouting to keep me docile.  I knew Arrond would come--even if 
they killed me, Arrond would undo that...I told myself. I was 
afraid anyway, of course.  

They say that hostages develop a sympathy for their kidnappers, 
come to understand their standpoint, to the point of forgiving 
them.  My time among those campesinos was probably typical, I
hated them for kidnapping me, but they were so uneducated and 
poor and stupid and mean-spirited that I realized they didn't 
know any better way to deal with life.  I've always considered 
myself a good person--I share my money, I do what I can, I can 
relate to everybody--but the only thing I shared with them was 
their mean-spiritedness.  

I waited for Arrond to come and DESTROY them.  I relished the 
moment when the Angry God of Arantha, who drops Neanderthals with
the tap of a fingertip, would descend upon them and SMITE them 
thew and bone!  Okay, they weren't feeding me much, not enough 
water, I got pretty wigged out.  

I was there for over a week, wondering why Arrond hadn't shown up
the same moment I'd been kidnapped, catching them on their way 
out of the hotel. So I got angry with him, all he'd had to do was
dance back to that moment...  Of course, I wasn't taking into 
account that he was doing business in Bogota at that same time, 
thus couldn't get back into that level again.  And then he was 
trying to find out where they had taken me.  And he had to be 
available for ransom negotiations.  Etc, etc.

But he finally showed up inside my hut in the middle of the 
night. I'd been awake, an almost full moon was shining in through
the tattered mosquito net to illuminate my timedancer pirouetting
into existence before me.  He was naked and unarmed, but ready 
for action.  

The guard outside my hut heard something and looked in. Surprise:
a finger-tap to his forehead knocked the man out without a word.  

"Okay, let's get you out of here," Arrond said to me.

"No," I insisted, "Now that you're here, I want you to PUNISH 
these fuckers!  Zap them all!"

"Jeannie, I don't care about them enough to take a chance on you 
getting shot."

"Well, I do!  They'll just come after us in the jungle anyway."

"What have they done to you, Jeannie?"  

For a second I could sense how dangerous Arrond could be if I'd 
told him that they'd really harmed or raped me.  I hesitated, 
wondering just how much high-powered wrath I really wanted to 
release on these ignorant campesinos.

"They've been assholes," I shrugged, "but I'm all right."

We walked out.  The few soldiers who saw us were dealt with by a 
super-hero who vanished before them, danced in behind them and 
zapped them out cold.  Arrond was expert at this sort of warfare 
from various battles for Arantha, these guys were not dangerous 
enough for him to kill.  

I did get my revenge though, back in Kali. Arrond had found me by
uncovering crooked connections of everyone in town who was 
involved in the drug cartels, corrupt police, government 
officials on the take, hired killers, renegade soldiers, you name
it.  Then he took the time to witness in the biggest clean-up 
trial Columbia had ever experienced.  

We had a good time of it, especially Arrond.  Assassins were 
constantly being sent to take him out, and they'd be delivered to 
the dwindling ranks of the few honest police left in Kali by a 
tall man wearing a black cape and a Zorro mask.  So were their 
bosses, cartel overlords, zapped and tied up, dumped into a cell.
Zorro strikes again. Those who had lawyers were out again that 
day--and back again, zapped and tied up the same evening, along 
with their lawyers.  Oh, it was great.
  
There were hundreds of political scandals, so much media was 
involved that there was no way of covering up who was protecting 
whom. The mysterious Zorro-figure was quite popular in the press,
but no one took it seriously.  It was assumed that it was more 
than one person, since no one man could have captured all those 
gangsters, and anyone who wanted to be a vigilante could put on 
that mask for anonymity.

There was no end to the trail of corruption, even the Columbian 
government was in trouble, as well as a few neighboring 
countries.  The trials may never end.  

We had to leave before someone's agents came after me, but Arrond
still goes back there now and again to witness--and be Zorro, 
just for fun.    

Chapter 34:     GETTING OLDER

We were getting older, as people do over the years.  But mostly 
me, it was impossible to judge Arrond's age.  When I turned 50 he
looked younger than me for a while, then seemed to catch up and 
become a rather dignified-looking mature man.  He'd never tell me
his age, but looking back now I'd guess him to have probably been
about 150 of his own years.  

There was a moment of shock one day when I realized that he 
looked exactly like he had when I'd met him in 1959.  I asked him
if that affair with my 17 year-old self was going on for him even
now.  "Not yet, I'm still quite happy with this version of you,"
he said.  But we both knew he couldn't deny that it would have to
happen eventually.

I wasn't sure how to feel about that.  I mean, I had all my own 
wonderful memories of him back then, but soon he could be in love
with a younger version of myself I couldn't compete with as I 
became more wrinkled and less sexy with the years.

At the same time, I knew I wasn't bad for my age.  I wasn't 
especially wrinkled, and my famous boobs were still turning 
heads.  I know I got some healthy energy from rubbing against 
Arrond's shockfield, I suspected it was keeping me youthful. And 
Arrond was still just as eager to rub against me, although we had
slowed down to a couple times a day, even did without once in a 
while when we were busy with other things. 

And busy we were.  Besides the funding projects we had going on 
together, we had each our private endeavors.  Arrond was involved
in the academic: "One wing of the ancient Library of Alexandria 
is going to be burned in 3 BC, I'm trying to process all that 
lost knowledge, constantly hopping HomeTime to download into 
Mommy's database, it's a colossal job."  

Myself, I was painting big canvases, having a proficient period.
I'd become rather successful as an artist, on show in galleries 
in New York, Paris, London. It must have helped that I was famous
as a rich philanthropist who didn't really need to sell a 
painting at all, because my works sold for high prices--the money
going to whichever of my charities the purchaser chose.  But I 
liked to think that they sold because they were good paintings.

We were happy together, the 90's was an exciting time for us.  
From being in Berlin for the fall of The Wall in 1989, to New 
Century's Eve 2000 in Rome.  Between adventuring around the world
to do good, and being able to express myself artistically, and 
having a dream lover with a magical tingle, I had to say that I 
was generally a very satisfied woman.

Here comes another one of those Buts.

Chapter 35:     SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

When the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed by Arab 
terrorists I went into shock, as did most Americans.  But me in 
another way, to be so totally surprised by such a major 
historical tragedy: Arrond had not warned me.  

"We could have stopped it, and you just let it happen!" I accused
him.

"I thought about that, of course, but an event of those 
proportions... no, I wouldn't dare change the future that much."

"Why not?  What's so great about THIS future?"  I got really 
angry, "Or is it YOUR own cozy future in 2390 you want to 
protect?  Don't want to mess up your sweet life in Japan with 
cute little Haruki, do you?  So what if 5000 people die here?" 

"We've been through all this before," he said, getting irritated.

"Why didn't you at least tell ME?"

"You'd only suffer.  You'd feel that you had to do something, but
couldn't have stopped it even if you'd tried.  Later it'll be 
revealed that the government had lots of clues about terrorists 
planning this, but interdepartmental jealousies kept anyone from 
acting on it.  There were warnings everywhere, yours would have 
been just one more warning they'd ignore."

"But I...we..." then something occurred to me, "oh shit, THIS is
why you had us dump all those stocks 2 days ago, isn't it?"

"The Market will drop for a while."

I looked at him as if he was a robot-hearted stranger from 
another time.  "You don't really live in this world, do you?" 

"I live with you," he said, as if that was enough to put up with.

I was so angry with him I left for New York. Or maybe I had to go
find friends, or help rescue people from the still smoking 
wreckage of the Twin Towers somehow, I don't know.  Hard to 
remember what my motives were, I was so emotional about it all.  

There were no flights anywhere that day, so I drove in the old 
Jaguar XK-140.  I was stopped twice for speeding by State Patrol,
said I had to get to New York fast, and both officers let me go.
I picked up a hitchhiker and he wanted to go there and help too, 
so we took turns driving and were there three days after the 
attack.

The emotional impact of being in New York City in the aftermath 
of the World Trade Center attack was very extreme.  Everyone 
bonded in compassion, sympathy, tragedy, fear, and brotherly 
love.  We stand together!  

Experiencing that intensified my own negative perception of 
Arrond's lack of human response. I'd been isolated from all those
human feelings of fearing the future, hoping, uncertainty, 
wondering what was next.  Arrond had always just told me the 
future, and we avoided all bad decisions.  Most people can't deal
with life that way, and I suddenly felt as if I'd been missing 
out on all that for too many years.

I still had friends living there, still alive, thank god.  I had 
a favorite hotel, a few galleries where I was known, it was easy 
to be in New York. Days became weeks, I found myself staying with
no plans.  I'd send Arrond an e-mail now and then, mostly 
concerning the business of our funds, but I was taking a break 
from him.  

More and more, I wondered if he was visiting my 17 year-old self 
by now.  More and more, I felt myself becoming intolerant of the 
idea.  Finally, I sent him an e-mail:

"I'm staying here for a while, don't come to me just now.  In 
fact, you can go to 1959.  I don't want to live with you while 
you're seeing HER, so get those 3 years over with, please."    

I believe I went through a kind of hysteria, a blending of human 
sympathy and womanly jealousy: New York united, the Twin Towers 
gone, 17-year old Jeannie Evins gone but maybe united with 
Arrond, who could also go visit the Twin Towers any time he chose
to.  When I started regaining my perspective I realized that 
knowing the future was a survival advantage that anyone who'd 
been in those crumbling burning towers would have been very 
grateful to have had.

And when I began to analyze my life, what Arrond had meant to me,
done for me, how he'd loved me, and how I'd disdained him for 
being what he was--the timedancer--I had to ask myself: am I 
stupid, or what?

I went back to Seattle after a month in NYC, my anger dissipated.
It must have been something I just had to go through, but now I 
missed Arrond.  I felt as if I'd been rather unfair to him.

But he wasn't home, just a note saying: "You seem to need some 
time alone. I'll be back later," not saying how much later "later" 
was.  

Days passed, I waited, not knowing what my husband's plans were.
Wondering if it was now that he'd finally gone back to be with me
in 1959.  Or if he was gone forever.

I found it rather hard to be alone in that house, because it was
haunted: by me.  I found myself remembering every time we'd made
love in it, room by room, back when I'd been 17, 18, 19...

But the more I wallowed in it, the deeper I got into those 
memories, reminding myself that I'd actually had a very nice 
time with my older lover, he'd been kind, generous, behaved like
a gentleman.  Finally I got so weary of being jealous of myself
that I began to enjoy the memories. 

Arrond showed up a week after I'd gotten back.  He was cautious,
seeing if I was still angry with him, but I was very glad to see
him.

I had to ask where he'd been. "Sydney, Australia," he said, "I'd
never been there before."

"What about 1959?" I had to ask.

"Oh, well...I went there while you were in New York, as you 
asked me to."  He seemed almost ready to defend himself.

"Oh good!" I said and hugged him. "I've really been enjoying all
those old memories.  It's almost like I was with you all over 
again."

"You don't mind, then?"

"I was remembering how you taught me tantric yoga.  It's been a 
while since we did that, want to show me again?"

Chapter 36:     FUTILITY

A few years later Arrond went through some kind of mid-life 
crisis.  Of course, I couldn't really be sure it was the middle 
of his life, he could have been 200 years old for all I knew, 
but he was definitely in a slump.  

For the first time, he had begun to doubt the value of his own 
life's work, compiling a history of Mankind for the robots to 
analyze.  He seemed to finally realize that for the robots it was
all merely entertainment.

"The robots like to study all forms of artistic expression the 
race of Man had produced throughout history.  They study them for
a very specific purpose: to be entertained themselves.  Many of 
the emotions they don't themselves have, they can see in movies, 
hear about in songs, come to get a feeling for, and then try to 
program themselves into feeling those same emotions.  Excitement,
fear, love, hate--robots want to have those things, because even 
for an intelligent machine, life is not worth living without some
sort of thrill.

"Back up in HomeTime much of mankind's ancient digital medias 
remain intact.  Books, paintings and photographs, audio files, 
movies, dramas, comedies, action stories, documentaries, psych-
vids--can you realize just HOW MUCH ART has been created, 
preserved, and archived by the year 297000?  Take just movies, 
for example: think of how many have already been made in this 
very first century of movies, and multiply that by 2970.  Only 
it's much MUCH more, because there will be an entire expanding 
GALAXY full of people creating more and more movies, music, art, 
until...well, until there's absolutely no way of processing it 
all.

"No one, not even a robot, could ever SEE all those movies...they
couldn't even read a LIST of them all.  And a standard you can 
count on is that most of art is CRAP, with a few masterpieces to
justify everything.  The problem for robots is that they can't 
sort the masterpieces from the crap, it's all just data to them.
Humans made the movies, robots would have to think like a human 
to enjoy it.  So they try to.

"That's why they cloned me, to see how a human thinks.  They 
showed me many videos when I was young, to see what I liked.  
Then they set me loose in time to assimilate as much information 
as I could about human values.

"And what I've come to realize is that there's too much art and 
data and information.  It becomes as worthless as too much gold.
I'm working to archive the library of Alexandria--but most of the
works inside are also CRAP.  Stupid books written by ignorami, 
not worth saving anyway.  So I'm contributing to the mountain of 
unprocessable data being stacked up at the End of the World.

"I'm beginning to fear that the robotic race will go for the 
crap, for the rush and the thrill, and upon seeing a war movie 
they'll go to war, just to be more like humans used to be!"

He was away a lot, not very talkative when he was home, and even
uninterested in sex.  With me, anyway, I supposed.


As mentioned before, Arrond had a set-up in the future years 2380-90's, and was there quite often. As a sci-fi fan I was very interested in hearing about space ships and all the colonies spread around the solar system, but Arrond didn't seem very impressed by them, other than as high-speed transportation to wherever he needed to get to around the world. I never knew much about Haruki, Arrond's Japanese woman up then. She was little and cute, unconditionally subservient to Arrond, and she was a space pilot, that's about it. Arrond wouldn't talk much about her. I supposed he was reluctant to tell me that she gave him Oriental massages and subservient sex. Or more likely, just afraid to tell me how much he loved her. He seemed to be living a quiet old-fashioned life with Haruki just outside Kyoto, in a traditional little Japanese house with paper walls, one of thousands perched on top of a entire city built into one huge mega skyscraper, as were most cities on earth at that time. Arrond studied some yet unknown version of martial art discipline with his sensei. Otherwise he was usually brain-jacked into the WorldNet to find or process information, learn languages, or earn money as only a timedancer can, by selling information from that future's own future. It seemed to be one of those golden eras he'd found throughout history: world politics functioning at last, technological solutions to most of mankind's greatest problems, a sense of adventure about the solar colonies, a pioneer spirit responding to the opening of interstellar space because of new faster-than- light starships. Damn, I wanted to go there. "Take me, take me! I'll even be nice to Haruki!" I mock-pleaded, knowing it was impossible. Later I discovered why he didn't like to talk about it: he knew that golden era was about to end. A war was coming, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Getting himself and Haruki and a few friends out of way in time was the best he could do. And even so, he couldn't save her from getting killed in that war-- she was a pilot, had her duty, which she also fulfilled unconditionally. The skyscraper city he'd lived upon had been bombed from space, the destruction made the World Trade Center seem minor. I cautiously asked if he was going to go back to find Haruki when she was younger, as he had with me. "No," he said, "it would be unendurable to love her all over again, knowing what I do now." This was a hard time for us both. He wasn't loving me because he was mourning another woman. I wasn't jealous about that, I sympathized, but it was hard to be loving him while he was so depressing to be with.
He finally got over his depression, but looked much older by then. I knew he'd been away for a long time. I asked where he'd been. "I've been documenting a history of that war in the 2390's." "I thought you'd decided that all documentation will just be entertainment for the robots." "Oh, I got over that. Entertaining robots is as noble a job as anything else. Besides, my documentation is also heavily programmed anti-war propaganda." I remarked how it seemed odd that a war could make him a happy man again. "Oh, it wasn't that. I also spent a year in Israel, at the time of Jesus." "You finally went to the Crucifixion?" "No, and I don't think I'll ever want to either. But I did go meet Jesus, when he was younger. Just coming out of the desert after 40 days, on his way to Galilee. We had a nice talk. Restored my faith in the miraculous and the Human Spirit. That's what helped me past that gloomy period of my life." "What? You actually SPOKE with Jesus Christ?" "Yeah. We became friends. Nice guy. He knew who I was: Omega-- the final vessel of the Human Spirit come from the End of Time. The Holy Spirit told him so, he said, and I came to believe it. The logical progression of which was to believe in an Intelligent Universe with every individual life a part of some design...well, you know. Everybody's a god, in the end. I was especially convinced because Jesus told me all this in the Universal Galactican language of the far future instead of his native Aramaic tongue, which was kind of a miracle in itself." He'd apparently accompanied Jesus for almost a year, as a friend rather than disciple. But knowing how the story would end, Arrond chose to leave before the Crucifixion. "Did you warn him?" I asked, knowing that Arrond wouldn't change time on such a level. "I didn't need to, he knew what was going to happen. Had his cup to drink from. Just like we all do."

Chapter 37:     I   VISIT   ME

I was sleeping in our big double bed. I was alone in the house, 
since it was a Wednesday.  I awoke, sensing that someone was 
there in the room with me.  It was dark but moonlight shone in 
through the open window, and I could see a gleaming silhouette 
of naked skin, someone beside my bed.  But not Arrond.

It was a young woman looking down at me.  I was too startled to 
react.  Afraid to, actually. I laid there and looked back at her,
trying to understand what was happening, being especially
confused because she looked so very familiar.

She was extremely beautiful: classic Scandinavian features, high 
cheekbones, blonde hair woven into two long braids.  Her body was
lush, extra round but not fat, big shapely breasts, wide hips, a 
bellydancer's belly.  I knew that face, that body.  I remembered
her from my High School Graduation Yearbook. Her maiden name had
been Jeannie Evins.

It was myself at 17, of course.  Or even younger, 15 maybe.

I sat up, convinced I was seeing an hallucination, turned on the 
light beside the bed.  But she was still there, in absolutely 
perfect flesh and blood, just looking at me.  My heart almost 
stopped, now I WAS afraid.

"Who are you?  What do you want?" I asked.

She said nothing. I repeated myself. She reluctantly answered, but 
in another language.

Then the bedroom door opened and another young person came in.  
This one I recognized right away, although I hadn't seen him look
like that since 1969, at Woodstock.  Arrond at 17.

He spoke to the girl in their language, and she answered him, but
seeming a bit surly and reluctant, like a spoiled brat.  Arrond 
spoke in a sharper tone and she turned and snapped back at him, a
mini conflict of egos, then she stepped back away from me.

"Arrond, what's going on?  Who IS she?  What are the two of you 
doing here?"

"Sorry if JiNi scared you, Jeannie, she won't hurt you. She's not
supposed to be here yet, but sometimes she's a little hard to 
control because she's not quite complete yet."

"But...but she's...that's ME when I was young!"

"Uh, yeah, that's right. She was cloned from a sample of your DNA
by the robots back HomeTime."

"A clone from HomeTime?" I caught my breath "She's another 
timedancer?"

"Yes, Mommy wanted me to have a mate."

I looked at him, at her, with utter disbelief, totally confused.
Something did not add up here.

"But Arrond, you're so YOUNG, from before we even became a 
couple.  How could you have been keeping THIS secret from me all 
of our lives together?"

"No, Jeannie, you've got it wrong.  I'm over 400 years old now, 
the robots rejuvenated me after I left you for the last time.  I
was almost dead myself, ready to die in fact, but I owed them my 
final memory upload.  Once Mommy got her calipers on me, they 
repaired every organ in my body, including my brain.  I've been 
upgraded."

The girl spoke to him in a nasty tone, reaching my way as if she 
wanted something, I felt threatened.  Arrond commanded her back.

"What does she want from me?"

"She came to download your memories.  But she's too early, it's 
bad timing."

"Download?  What does that mean, that she can steal my memories 
and then she'll BE me?"  I could hear my voice getting shrill.  
"Then she can take my man...and my youth...and everything?"

"Don't get upset, Jeannie.  This is not against you, I loved you,
that's why they made another one of you for me."

"You LOVED me?  Past tense?  And you do THIS?  No no no, you get 
out of here, both of you, and never never never come back!" 

"Jeannie, calm down, you died a long time ago and I missed you.."

"So go back and fuck me at 12, you sonofabitch! Get out, get out,
get out..."

I kept screaming that over and over, eyes crunched closed, 
shutting them out, the world out.  When I stopped and looked, 
they were gone.

If and when my current Arrond finally came back home, I was gone 
too.  

Chapter 38:     HIDING OUT

I travelled alone.  Money was no problem, I paid cash to avoid a 
paper trail, the problem was to find a place where he wouldn't 
think of looking for me.  We'd travelled so much together, he 
knew all the places I liked: New York, San Francisco, Rome, 
Paris, Florence, they were old habits.

I ended up in San Christobal de las Casas, in Chiapas State of 
Mexico.  It was a place I'd never been, had no friends, no one 
knew me.  Actually, it was all right, there was a gringo artist's
community and I blended in quite well. My name was Jane Smith. I
even developed a new style, and sold my paintings on market day.  

I didn't fool myself, I knew he could find me someday.  He could 
dance 30 years into the future, or whenever, read my obituary, 
trace me backwards through time.  There was no real escaping a 
timedancer if he wanted to find you.  

That is, IF he wanted to.  I hadn't been especially nice to him 
the last time I'd seen him, and then I'd run away, so maybe I was
safe.  Safe from what, I wasn't sure, the man had only loved me.  
His weakness was that he couldn't get enough of me, and that was 
his sin against me too.  

But I believed I could never forgive the treachery I had endured,
that he had manufactured a COPY of me in my prime, so that he and
she could go dancing off through time together for all eternity, 
happily fucking their little hearts out.  Well good, good, but I 
really could have used her help a few years back, when I was 
still young and pretty and he couldn't get enough sex.  We could
have fucked him in relays, a tag team.  Sisters unite.  Was I 
bitter, or what?

I got less bitter as time went on. San Christobal is a lazy place
at a lazy pace.  Shopping in the mercado, coffee at a cafe on the 
zocalo.  Chatting with people, local gringos and Mexicans, even 
tourists. I had some nice little affairs with men my age who were
passing through--I certainly wasn't interested in finding another
husband.

But I did miss that old tingle.  And Arrond too, mostly he'd been
a good enough husband.  He couldn't help that he was a god.  The 
temptations he must have met...

I'd been here 4 years when the pain started.  The doctors 
diagnosed cancer of the liver and said I had less than a year to
live.


One tends to rethink her life when she gets that kind of news, and I did. I wanted to settle all accounts, wrote e-mails to everyone I'd ever known, no longer in hiding. Even Arrond. I've also been writing this record of my life with a timedancer, not that I'll publish it or anything, I just want it to EXIST somehow. Although it might be interesting to somebody--they'd assume it was fantasy-science-fiction, of course, I wouldn't have to worry about anyone BELIEVING it. Maybe I'll just post it on the Internet, that would be kind of cosmic.

Chapter 39:     2 OLD FARTS

Three days after I'd sent the e-mail to Arrond he arrived in San 
Christobal by bus, just like a normal man.  Not flashing into 
existence out of the air, just stepping off the bus and walking 
across the zocalo.  

My little house was just off the zocalo and I could see him from
my window, asking directions in fluent Spanish, and a minute 
later he knocked on my door. I let him wait a couple of minutes 
before I decided to open it.  

I was shocked when I saw Arrond up close: he was really looking 
quite OLD now, wrinkled and leathery, although hardly feeble. I'd
thought he was almost immune to age, but he looked as weather-
worn as me.

Even so, my heart beat faster when I saw him, eager to pump with 
love.  But I wouldn't reveal that to him.  Not after what he'd 
done.  Even though he hadn't done it yet, technically.

"What do you want?" I asked as nastily as I could.

"You," he said with perfect equanimity.

"Oh, well maybe you can go back and find me at 15."  I'd used a 
variation of that line before, but it was to the future upgraded 
Arrond, so this one probably hadn't heard it yet.  

"With this old carcass?  I wouldn't dare to pit it against that 
juicy young virgin, probably give me a heart attack.  Besides, 
there are no more windows to prime time, your youth is all used 
up," he stepped closer, "which is fine. Now I want your old age."

"THIS old carcass?  Whatever for?"

"Don't you remember?  I can't get enough of you."

"Well, I've had enough of you," I was sharp for my age, snappy 
comebacks and all.

"No you haven't.  I've checked our future."

"I thought you didn't DO that."

"I made an exception. You're going to die of cancer in 6 months."

"Well, thanks for making my future an open book."

"You knew that one anyway."

"Mmmm-yeah, doctor told me a year."

"Doesn't matter, that future's not going to happen," Arrond 
informed me, "I'm here to change it."

"Oh Arrond, you still think you're a god, don't you?"

"You know that physical contact with my energy can heal you.  
Slowly, it'll take a while, so I'll have to be with you from now 
on."

"No..."

"Shut up, woman.  I'm your husband and you will obey me in this."

"Oh!  My Lord and Master speaks!"

"Indeed, pay heed.  The treatment will require intense physical 
contact to speed up the healing process, so we'd better have sex 
at least 3 times a day.  Better make it 4 to be safe."

"As if you could, you old fart..."

"Try me."  

Ooo, but I was liking this despite myself.  I'd better retaliate.

"You know, you could just go home to your robots and they'd fix 
you up like new, make you young again..." 

"I age slower than you, Jeannie, do you know how LONG it's taken 
me to finally get like this?  353 of my own years." 

"Oh, finally telling me your age at last?  Well, you're way too 
old for me now, sorry."  

"Way too long to wait to start ageing all over again, so I've 
been avoiding the robots.  Mommy gets more insistent about 
maintenance every time I go HomeTime, and she has a tendency to 
do whatever she feels is best for me despite my wishes."

"Mothers are like that. But getting old is the pits, WHY are you
letting that happen to you?  I sure wouldn't." 

"So that we can be old together."

He'd been approaching slowly all the while, and now he put his 
hand on my face. The electric sting of him was weaker than it had ever
been, but still active.  

I swear I could feel the cancer inside me give a tiny jerk as it 
got zapped.  Not enough to kill it yet, but enough to scare it, 
let it know that it had better run: more zapping coming.  And 
tingling too, but it was another part of my body that jerked to 
that.

There was still his treachery to confront. I didn't even want to,
I was ready to just surrender, let him have me, have him heal me.
Let me have him, I still loved the man even though...

"I remember you taking samples of my DNA to your robots. What are
your plans for that?"

Finally I'd caught him unprepared, or at least, he looked 
puzzled. "Your DNA? I have no plans for it, besides I'm avoiding
HomeTime for now."

"You're not going to clone a sexy young copy of me, as I was at 
17?"

"Well, that's an intriguing concept. But a clone wouldn't be YOU,
she'd only look like you.  She wouldn't have your memories.  And
she'd be stuck alone in that world with no other people, I really
wouldn't wish that on her."

"What if she was a timedancer too?  And had my memories?"

"Well, now you're talking.  Tell me, where can I buy one of 
those?"  He laughed, amused by my fantasy.

He didn't know! He was only 353 years old, the rejuvenated Arrond
was over 400, and of course they could never have met to swap 
stories.  My Arrond was innocent!

"Jeannie, you're my only project now, getting you healthy, and 
keeping you that way long as I can. There are no other women any
more, either, only this version of you.  I'm guessing we have at 
least another 20-30 years together before one or both of us dies,
so as soon as you're healthy I want to take you travelling 
again."    

"Then I guess we'd better start the tingling--I mean the 
treatments," I said.

So that's our love story, spanning the entire history of mankind,
over 350,000 years.  Funny, it seems so short now.  I thought it 
would be longer.

Epilogue:     2037 AD

I was right, it was too short, there's more.  Or should I write 
"she was right"? I'm confused as to which one of us is really ME
right now. I'm probably not making sense yet, but that's because
I'm still trying to make sense of what just happened myself.

So I'm bringing this chronicle up to date just to sift through 
all these new memories. It's been about 30 years since that last
entry.  Jeannie never did put it on Internet, when Arrond came 
back to her she thought it best to preserve his secret. Maybe 
I'll go ahead and do it now, since it won't matter anymore, 
we'll both be leaving this time level. 

The original Jeannie has already left it.  She died a little 
while ago.  Hardly tragic, she was 105 years old and her last six
months were a waste of time anyway, lying in bed with a tube up 
her nose.

Arrond is around here somewhere, still mobile but feeble and 
doddering.  He's been faithfully staying here for Jeannie all 
these years, so that they could die together.  Well, he missed 
her death anyway, the old fool.  Age has addled his brain.  I'm 
waiting for him to show up, got to get him HomeTime before it's 
too late.

I...no, she, no I...  Damn, now my own JiNi memories are all 
scattered. It's hard to remember what she--I mean I--was 
thinking or doing while I'm writing in English, which was 
Jeannie's language.  In fact, it's a lot easier to remember her 
life than my own.  It seems so long ago that I came here, but 
actually it's been less than an hour.

I do remember that I was sent here to download Jeannie's 
memories just before she died.  And I do remember looking down 
at her lying on the bed.  Just a wrinkled old rag of a woman 
sleeping with that tube up her nose.  I'd never seen anyone so 
decrepit, so ruined, so decayed, she disgusted me.  I really 
didn't WANT her memories!

Mommy had cloned me from this woman's DNA, so I should have been
a perfect physical copy of her young self--except for some 
improvements, of course. But up in HomeTime, Arrond had insisted
that there was something wrong with me, that I was missing 
something.  I hated him for saying that--but I knew it was true,
I could feel it.

The robots had some silly theory that there were no more human 
souls remaining in our end of time, that they had all gone on to
the next stage of their journey.  Arrond had the last soul--the
Omega, they called it.  The same thing Jesus had called Arrond.

I also remember that old Jeannie's eyes opened ever so slightly 
as I approached.  She didn't move, but I know she saw me.  I'd 
met her once, over 30 of her years before, and had frightened 
her.  But this time she managed a wrinkly little smile. She even
tried to lift her hand toward me, but was too weak.

I really didn't want to touch her at all.  This time it was she 
who frightened me: maybe what she had was contagious.  What if I
became old and dying like her?  

It was like she was spun of spider webs, too gooey, too delicate. 
But I couldn't stop myself, I touched her hand anyway.  Sat on 
the bed beside her and our breathing became synchronized.  I lay 
down beside her.  We looked each other in the eyes. 

Felt the strangest sensation, something I'd never experienced 
before: a connection. This was the mother that Mommy could never
be, my human ancestress, the source of my DNA, she was my.. self.

Her memories came pouring in, gladly escaping the shriveled old 
brain that had imprisoned them for so long, synapses that were 
too slow, neurons too dry, too many dead cells blocking the way 
for memories to move around freely any more. They gushed into my
roomy, young, enhanced brain, like happy children!

I remembered being Jeannie Evins, a real baby girl born to human
parents who loved her/me.  Growing up, going to school, meeting 
Arrond...

The memory of Arrond hit me like a supernova.  The Love of My 
Life. As JiNi I'd known him up in HomeTime, but we'd been almost
rivals about everything, like quarrelling siblings.  He was 
always trying to tell me what to do, an irritating and 
disgusting BOY.  But according to Jeannie's memories...I could 
really ENJOY him if I wanted to. The idea of having sex with him
had never occurred to me before, but suddenly I was ready for 
it.  

The memories kept coming, years and years of them.  Good times, 
tough times, travelling adventures, dead babies, joy, anger, 
hate, love.  And through all those years that tingling sex with 
my Timedancer.  I wanted to try out that tingle in this new 
body...and I had a tingle of my own to offer now.

More memories: how Arrond stayed with me to cure me of cancer, 
and how he'd gladly made love with me to do it.  Me and only me 
in those days, saving his energy to spend it on me, there were 
no more other women stashed in other times. It didn't matter how
wrinkled and old I got, he always saw my young face somehow.  
There were many good years of travelling and adventure.

It was only last year that my body decided to give up the 
struggle.  Arrond's shockfield was also so weak by then that he 
could no longer help me.  He could barely keep himself alive, he
was 393 years old by then, after all.

The last memories came trickling out, until they were hardly 
memories at all, but thoughts and feelings in live time.  A stab
of pain for her dead child...then a realization...that I/JiNi 
was her own DNA child.  She spoke one last whispered word to me:
"Daughter..."  And there was no more.  She was gone.

Or was she?  I sat up to look down upon my old dead body.  I was
stunned by the clarity of my vision, the depth of my hearing, 
the strength and balance of my motions.  I had NEVER been this 
young.

What had happened?  Had I merely assimilated Jeannie's memories 
and was now deluded into believing I was her?  Or had I actually
downloaded her/my soul and now she/I was in JiNi's body, like 
having traded in an old car for a newer model?  I couldn't tell.
I may never know.

In fact, now that I had both the memories of Jeannie and JiNi, I
realized that there was so much I didn't know. For example: what
now?

I could clearly see that road map of time in my mind, as Arrond 
had tried to describe it.  It stretched everywhere, futures and 
pasts, all virgin territory--except the years from 1942 to 2037,
the years I had lived as Jeannie.  Too bad, it could have been 
fun...or perhaps that was for the best.


Arrond finally came shuffling in a little while ago. I'd been writing this chronology while waiting for him, tidying up my Jeannie-life. He was very upset about my having died, and confused about myself as JiNi/Jeannie. I explained things as best I could, but it was like he'd almost forgotten he was a timedancer. Hard to understand how he'd just let himself get SO old. I guess he really was planning on DYING with his Jeannie. Sweet but stupid. I told him he had to get back to HomeTime now, before he DID die. First he wouldn't leave Jeannie's body, then said he didn't know where HomeTime was any more. I shouted and commanded, but he only began to cry, the old fool. I considered just letting him go, die with dignity. But remembered that this was Arrond, my cosmic mate, and the guy with that tingle I wanted to try out. I also knew that Mommy would make him into a young man again--because that was the Arrond JiNi knew up HomeTime. It had already happened up there, just not yet here. Finally I remembered how to deal with this guy. I commanded him to look at me. I posed for him so that he could study my face, and he did, as if hypnotized. I'd been wearing a bathrobe while sitting at the computer to write, so I opened it. His gaze drifted down to my boobs, and that was it. Hooked again. "Go HomeTime, now!" I ordered, closing the robe with a snap."Get fixed, I'll join you later and we can play with our bodies." He blinked, mouth open, a stupid old man on the edge of senility --and then something seemed to go click and he was Arrond the Timedancer again. He even smiled his old horny smile. Arrond stood, trembling with age, did his wind-up routine, an awkward spin into a pirouette, and vanished out of his clothes, which collapsed like a popped balloon. He was already HomeTime. I decided to finish this story before I dance up to meet him. There's no hurry, I've got lots of time. Arrond will be spending some time up there without this version of me, because I'd been JiNi for 16 years and HomeTime is linear even for us. Those years weren't that much fun for him, I'd been such a brat, I'm only now realizing. We sure never had sex together in those years anyway. I hadn't paid attention then, but poor Arrond must have been enormously frustrated, his body young again, all his juices flowing, reunited with his cosmic mate--and she not quite all there yet. Oh well, he'd probably visited some women in earlier times to get him through those years. But now, I can feel that whatever I'd been missing all that time is in place. Memories, a soul, whatever. I feel COMPLETE! Ready to dance through time, ready for high adventure, ready for... Wow. Ready for Arrond. He'll be glad to see me and I can't wait any more. Here, this chronology is done. I'm posting it on the Internet and I'm outta here. JiNi/Jeannie

3R
June 2002
København, Danmark
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