“Accessing dream variables,” the computer announced.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked, inching his chair over to get a better view.
Earl ignored him. He scrolled through the various templates looking for something that may help him. Finally, he selected NIGHTMARE, subcategory VAMPIRES. Then, under additional details he added TWINS. He selected the date for the dream to be the night before the proposal.
“I don’t get it,” Sam said.
“Of course you don’t,” Earl muttered. “If the Josephine and Frank changed their path last time because they remembered their own twins, then maybe we can scare them back onto the path by overriding that memory.”
“But how do they have a memory of the twins they’re going to have if it hasn’t happened yet? Or isn’t going to happen at all. Didn’t we erase their twins existence the last time back? So, shouldn’t they have forgotten?”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s not going to happen anymore. It only matters that it did happen at one point. They won’t have any solid memories of their past lives, but there will be a reside of the memory that sticks to the brain. It alters their actions because those moments are what make them into who they are. We can’t completely erase the past even if we can undo it.” Earl grabbed the training binder from the shelf and tossed it at him. “Read this and be quiet.”
Sam absently flipped through a couple of pages then went back to watching Earl intently as he reversed the timeline to their proposal again.
* * *
Josephine and Frank walked hand in hand through the woods. She glanced up at him and he grinned back. Suddenly, there was clattering behind them as two bikes appeared out of nowhere and nearly hit them as the flew past.
As the last second Frank grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the way as the boys flew past. “You okay?” Frank asked. She nodded.
The second boy skidded to a stop up ahead and looked behind them.
“Gee, sorry mister,” the first boy said. “We didn’t see you.”
Josephine looked at their identical faces staring at her and something jolted in her memory and she was hit with a wave of horror as she remembered the terrible dream she’d had the night before. She grasped Frank’s arm.
“No harm done.” Frank said. “Just be more careful next time.”
The boys grinned and nodded in unison.
The memory of the dream washed over Josephine as she remembered two identical boys chasing her through the woods trying to catch her.
“C’mon Ricky!” the other boy called.
Frank and Josephine watched them race off on their bikes. “Come on,” Frank grinned at her, holding out his hand for her. She slowly relax as she as they continued on their hike.
* * *
“He still didn’t yell at them,” Sam said.
“Thank you for stating the obvious,” Earl said, keeping his eyes glued to the screen.
“Why didn’t you give the dream to Frank?”
“Because Frank loves vampire movies. It wouldn’t have scared him. He’d have thought it was funny and nothing would have changed. Josephine, on the other hand, finds those movies terrifying.”
“How do you know that?” Sam asked, flipping through the binder. “I didn’t see any of that in here.
Earl ignored the question.
The proposal played out exactly as before. It wasn’t until they were back in the woods at the bottom of the hill that Earl and Sam perked up in their chairs to watch.
* * *
Josephine and Frank smiled as they discussed when they’d get married and how many kids they’d have.
“Twin boys,” Frank said, as they walked through the woods back to the road.
Josephine stopped abruptly causing Frank to stumble a bit as his hand was jerked backwards.
“Why would you say that?” Josephine asked.
“I don’t know. I could just see it.” He shrugged. “Ever since we ran into those boys on the path earlier. It’s not a big deal.”
She reached up and rested her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I had a really weird dream last night about twin vampires.” She shuddered. “I think it just stuck with me.” She gave forced little laugh.
He took her hand again. “Ok, no twins and no vampires.” He grinned at her.
“Hey mister!” a voice called behind them.
They turned around to see the boys were back. “You want to see something really neat?”
“What is it?” Frank asked.
“Ricky found a bat in our fort!”
Frank looked at Josephine and waggled his eyebrows. Her eyes opened wide in surprise and fear.
“Sure,” Frank said.
“No, let’s go,” Josephine said, pulling on his hand.
“It’ll just take a second.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”
* * *
“Noooooo!” Earl shouted at the screen as the couple followed the boys into the woods.