How different my life might have been, if I hadn’t seen that obituary for my fiance, Julia.
Of course, Paul– half imaginative genius, half cyber guru–could have photoshopped it.
But I am now unable to write it off as merely a clever use of technology. Paul had previously demonstrated an uncanny ability to predict future events. Never more than a month in the future; but always beyond rational explanation.
Last week we were sharing a glass of scotch and soda when I dared him to write down a few predictions so that I could check them the next day. He usually flat-out refused to comply with this kind of request. But perhaps he was feeling the loneliness of living with visions of disaster, living on a shoreline where tsunamis might sweep in at any moment. In any event, he wrote down a few things for me to check the next day, each one an event that had not yet happened.
The next morning, hung over after polishing off the bottle of Cutty Sark the night before, I found Paul’s scribbled predictions and collected the morning newspaper from the end of my driveway.
I confirmed all of Paul’s predictions. Yes, the Montreal Canadians had defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4-3 and, as Paul also predicted, scoring their tie-breaking goal in overtime; Yes, Prince Harry had promised to get a Mohawk haircut if a fundraiser for children with cancer raised ten million dollars; and Yes, a Black Hawk helicopter had crashed in San Bernardino, California, killing all seven soldiers aboard.
I had noticed, the night before, that his predictions all included the word, “hawk”. Now I wondered if Paul was able to see so many things that he had selected items that rhymed, out of boredom with the process. In any case, I can affirm that he wrote down those predictions before he could have seen any on-line news source, and while the hockey game was still in regulation time.
I walked down the street to Paul’s house and knocked on his front door. When he didn’t answer I went out back, where his sliding patio door was already open, and walked into a part of the house I had not been in before. I was intending to leave when I noticed a cork board on which were pinned pieces of paper. Since I already felt like an intruder, what harm could it do if I had a quick peek?
The posted notes were not as trivial as who won a hockey game or what famous person was getting a haircut. There were references to massive earthquakes, to WWIII breaking out over a trade dispute, and then I felt my blood run cold. There was an obituary for Julia, the woman to whom I was engaged in 2020, dated June, 24, 2036.
I heard the glass door sliding in its tracks and spun around. Paul was standing there looking as pale as I felt. After a few moments he said, “That was far from a certainty until you read it. Now it would take a miracle for it not to happen.”