Bobbi looked at Lockhart, He pulled a bit closer before he locked the wheels on his wheelchair and began. “Glen is a person, a human being just like us only he lived a number of lives in the past and some in the future, and he can remember them, or some of them anyway, more absolutely than anyone else I ever heard of. If you already met Diogenes, you know what I mean. He calls it trading places through time.”
“But I saw him actually become another person.” Alice protested. “He just vanished and this other person was standing right where he was standing, or squatting, actually. Do you know what I mean? How can he do that?”
“It was not another person, exactly.” Lockhart began again, but Bobbi interrupted.
“It was still him. It was another one of his lifetimes. Diogenes was a first cousin of Alexander the Great way back when.” Bobbi noticed the slight reddening of Alice’s face. “He claims he was married to Aphrodite, the love goddess toward the end of his life. I can’t verify that but I think some of her may have rubbed off on him. What do you think?” Bobbi was teasing. It required no great insight to tell what Alice thought.
Alice could not seem to help the smile that came to her face. “Wait! You don’t mean the real goddess.”
“Later.” This time Lockhart interrupted. “For now you will just have to accept that he has access to other lives like no one else does. He says since the genetic pattern is nearly exact, and since time has some small flexibility or relativity if you prefer, he doesn’t disturb the timeline when he borrows a past or future life.”
“Wait.” Alice had another question, or several. “What do you mean disturb the timeline? Isn’t this like reincarnation or something?”
“Absolutely not.” Lockhart answered her. “He says his lives are because some mysterious “Friends” as he calls them, keep forcing him to be reborn every time he tries to die.”
“Sometimes he talks about himself as an experiment in time and genetics, like he is no more than a hamster on a treadmill with no way to get off.” Bobbi added with a touch of sadness in her voice. They all paused for a minute to look at Glen.
One of the men from the table took that moment to bring over a tray of coffee, tea and snacks. They were at cruising altitude, not that any of them ever buckled a seatbelt.
“Wait.” Alice regained the floor even as she accepted a cup of tea. “You said future lives.”
Bobbi and Lockhart looked at each other again before Bobbi took up the explanation. “Yes. You must be a lawyer. And, yes. He remembers the future, too.” She said that much, and then she paused to sip her coffee while she consider something. The others waited patiently, including the three at the table who were neglecting their work to listen in. “Let me just say this… his memory, I mean Glen.” She pointed. “It was toyed with at some point in his early years. Most of the time, he has no idea that he is the Traveler and he just lives a normal, everyday life.”
“Like a grocery clerk?”
“He is a minister if you must know. Mostly, though, he is the Storyteller. That is what his other lives call him, but he claims it is not an honorific, just a job description.”
“Anyway, he mostly lives as normal a life as such a person can live.” Lockhart interjected. “He says even with his memory blocked, the past and future have a tendency to leak into his mind at the most inopportune times, but without the context to understand what is happening, he says it is very strange and makes him feel like he is living as a stranger in a strange land.”
Bobbi put her hand up to stop Lockhart from speaking further. She continued with the explanation. “Anyway, at times of crisis, the block on his memory is designed to come down and he remembers at least some of his past lives and usually one or more future lives as well. And it is like actual memory, too; triggered by events and little things just like real memory. It is a lot to process, though, all at once like that.” Bobbi paused again to sip and reach for a cookie, bad as it was for her waist, but in this way she gave Alice time to process her own thoughts.
“I’ve seen him like this before, some years ago.” Lockhart said to reassure Alice that Glen would be fine after a while. “He just needs time to straighten it all out.” Lockhart tapped his own head and stayed away from the cookies.
“So, he remembers the future?” Alice shook her head. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It is the only way to understand it.” Bobbi responded. “And another strong reason why his case is not like some kind of reincarnation.”
“I can see that.” Alice understood that much. “But, now, Traveler?”
“Kairos, technically. Event time. An ancient Greek word.” Lockhart did the translation. “We might call him the god of history. The Traveler is just shorthand for the Traveler in Time.”
“Time traveler? Oh, of course, Diogenes.”
Lockhart and Bobbi both nodded and there was a moment of silence before Alice spoke again.
“So now, who is this Princess?”
Lockhart and Bobbi passed another glance, but they were smiling. “She is a lawyer.” Bobbi said again. “She doesn’t miss much.”
Lockhart nodded and pointed at Glen. “He is the Princess.” Before Alice could respond, Glen lifted his head. He was speaking, though it did not seem like he was speaking to any of them.
“What? Sure, that might help.” He said, and he stood and vanished from the airplane, to be replaced by an absolutely stunning young woman who was maybe twenty-something at most. She stood around five-seven, with long golden brown hair that was so light it was nearly blond, and eyes as blue as Glen’s, but her eyes flashed with life, youth and health. Indeed, Alice could not see an ounce of fat on that perfect body. The Princess stood with a smile for Lockhart, and she turned once all of the way around, slowly. She was in a dress that fell halfway to her knees but hid nothing of her figure. Alice wondered where the armor and weapons went, but she held her tongue as the Princess spoke.
“So how do I look?”
“Beautiful, as always.” Bobbi spoke first.
“Gorgeous.” Lockhart confirmed as he matched the Princess’ smile, and then some.
Alice thought the word gorgeous was an understatement, but her mouth said something else as she watched the woman sit in Glen’s chair. The Princess kept her knees locked together as only a real woman would do. “So you are the Princess? Wait a minute.” Alice’s thoughts caught up with what she was seeing. “Do you mean he has lived as a woman?”
The Princess nodded. “Half of my lifetimes.” She confirmed before turning to Bobbi. “There was so much memory coming all at once I was afraid my Storyteller might burn out his little brain. What? Oh, he says his brain is not so little.” The Princess laughed softly, and the laugh was as beautiful as the rest of her.
“But isn’t he still remembering?” Bobbi asked.
“Yes, but this way I get some of the pressure and he doesn’t have the distractions so he can focus better on processing it all. At least I think that is what is happening.” She shrugged.
“All right.” Alice spoke and threw up her hands for emphasis. “I’m getting it, but not really. I think you better start at the beginning.” She looked straight at the Princess. “And I mean you whoever or whatever you are.”
“Me? I was born in 228 BC.” The Princess said. She sound a bit confused, like maybe she was having trouble translating the English into her native Greek.
“Do you mean the Traveler?” Lockhart asked. “That would be around 4500 BC, near as we know.”
“I think she means just Glen’s life.” Bobbi tried, and Alice nodded and pointed at Bobbi.
“Like when did he first realize he lived all of these other lifetimes and when did he first, what did you call it, trade places in time?”
“Oh yes.” The Princess liked the idea. “Talking it out might be the best thing to do.”
“Well.” Bobbi drew out the word as they watched the Princess vanish and Glen return. He was dressed in the jeans and shirt he wore in the market and, Alice noticed, not keeping his knees together at all.
“That would be before my time,” Bobbi said. “Lockhart, you met him at that college in Michigan. What was he, seventeen? Eighteen?”
“Actually.” Glen got their attention. “I was remembering a time when I was four, or actually not quite four. Things don’t usually happen that early in my lifetimes. Normally, I get the chance to develop my own personality and learn some things before time starts to open up, generally sometime during puberty; but this was a special case if I remember it rightly. Let me see…”