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“What?”

“Ever since that day,” I said, “I remember everything—everything about you, about what it’s like to be you.  I know why you think everything and do everything you do.  I thought it was the same with you.”

“I… I had no idea,” he said.  “I guess my brain wasn’t big enough to take all that on about you… you know… like how I hadn’t even realized it had worked…”

“I’m sure that’s not it,” I said. I pulled out the laptop and opened it up on the coffee table.  “Here—let’s do it again.”

“Really?”

“Hold on, now.  We’re not going to do the all-day thing.  Use the computer—make it just a minute or two.  And no stealing my body and running off on time trips!  Just… take a minute to understand me.”

“No tigerjacking?  Awh… All right, you drive a hard bargain,” he said, laughing.

He pulled up the keyboard and painstakingly tapped out: “Can I learn his mind the way he learned mine?

With my help, yes.

“It talks about itself?” I said.

“It would have to, wouldn’t it?  What would you want it to say instead?”

“I don’t know, ‘This unit will comply’?”

“No, I’d rather it spoke English,” he said.  “Now,… you’re not worried, though?  I’m actually kind of terrified you know so much about me… You haven’t run away screaming, though, which I suppose is a good sign.”

I leaned in and kissed him.  “Don’t worry about it, sweetheart.   I know it all—but I understand it all, too.  I love you, all right?”

“All right,” he said.  “I am still worried, though.”  He jabbed the keys with a finger: “Let’s do it.

OK.

I put my arms around him, and he put a hand on mine.

Next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor, with Ralph standing over me.

“You all right?” he said.

I tried to clear my head.

“I saw it all,” he said, “Just for a bit.  But you passed out.  Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

He sat next to me on the floor and pulled down the laptop.  “What happened?” he asked it.

Unable to complete transfer.  Source already present in target.

“See what you did?  Now it’s talking like you wanted it to.  What does that mean?  It thinks I’m already in your head?”

“Well, you kind of are, aren’t you?”

“I shouldn’t be!”   He started typing again.  “Can you cancel the existing transfer?

No existing transfer found.  Prior transfer expired normally on June 9, 2000.

“That’s not encouraging,” I said.

“See, see this is why I don’t like computers,” he said.  “Enough of that,” he said, and shut it off.  “Steve can figure it out later.”

“Anyway,” he said, “I understood it all for a second, but it’s gone now.  It felt like you were afraid, though.”

“Of course I’m afraid.  I’ve just been given a world a million million times bigger than my own, and you’re trying to push me into it!  It doesn’t excite me like it excites you.”

“All right, then,” he said.  “Let’s get you excited.  C’mon, we’re going to the video store.”


The plan, I suppose, was to check out every time travel movie ever made—at least, out of those carried by the local movie joint.

I don’t know if I was excited yet, but Ralph certainly was—bounding among the shelves, piling up stacks of movies—Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, several episodes of Star Trek—till he seemed to have enough, and marched up to the front and dumped the whole pile of tapes on the counter.

“I still can’t get over how you don’t own any of these,” I said.

“I can’t let you check out this many, man,” the clerk said.

“I can get them anytime I want,” he said, to both of us.

“What?” the clerk said.

“You’re new, right?  Call up your manager and tell him it’s for Ralph.”

“Ralph?”

“Never mind, there he is.”  ‘He’ was a rather large rhinoceros in an ill-fitting uniform shirt.  “Hey Todd—break in this new guy?”

Todd pointed at the pile of tapes.  “Get him checked out—Ralph is always on the house.”  He turned back to Ralph.  “But bring ’em back tomorrow, aight?  It’s Monday, so I don’t mind so much, but you can’t keep me cleaned out like this for long.”

“Don’t worry,” Ralph said, giving me a wink.  “I’ve got plans to never be late for anything again.”