MIND JOURNEY – basic premise

Tyler Grettir discovers that his dreams about himself at a younger age are not dreams but glimpses through a time corridor of himself in another dimension – a world that is a direct copy but a delayed repetition of this world. With the help of a rogue experimental psychologist / dream researcher recommended by a colleague Estra Gudrin (and former love interest) who teaches at the small Atlanta college where he teaches, Tyler’s mind makes two journeys to the parallel world and relives moments of his past by inhabiting his own younger body. He re-experiences the beginning and break-up of his relationship with Estra.

His third mind journey is not a controlled experiment but an accidental separation when someone tries to kill him in an auto collision. His mind is trapped in his past in graduate school where he again pursues a beautiful Malaysian co-ed whose mind has been caught up in his timeline and drawn to this dimension with him. His body is confined to an ICU ward back in his own time and city. Frightened for his safety, Estra contrives a way to join him in this other-dimension version of his past by inhabiting his own body at that age.

Unfortunately, a fourth time traveler travels to Tyler’s past – a mind that turns out to be psychotic. When he kidnaps Tyler’s Malaysian girl friend Lalitha, Tyler believes that he is Nolan, an artist and former partner in a multi-media program.

Chapter outlines:

Ch. 1: Tyler’s first trip back to McNair College in Illinois where he met Estra Gudrin (later to become his colleague at a college in Atlanta) lands him in 1970 when their relationship began.  He is an older student and she is his instructor. Both are married, and Estra has a young child.

Ch. 2: Continuing his first mind journey, Tyler experiences the end of his relationship  and the painful loss. He awakens in the office of Craig Marchand MD, the dream researcher monitoring his experiences.

Ch. 3: Tyler’s second mind journey takes him to McNair College many years later when he is an instructor himself and disgruntled about the state of education in a technological age. He learns from his former male instructor and now his colleague that Estra is divorced.

Ch. 4:  Tyler’s third time trip is a deadly one because he is floating on his own this time, separated from his physical body because someone tried to kill him in an auto collision. He is not being controlled by Craig. His mind travels to Shawnee University where he is a graduate student working on his doctorate and sees his fellow GTAs in the English Department: Albert, Jake, and Jerry. He knows what they will say before they speak and knows what their future will be. He also realizes that he has yet to meet Lalitha.

Ch. 5:  Back in 1996, we meet Estra at her age in the present as well as Tyler’s therapist Mary Thurid. We learn about Tyler’s third ex-wife Beth. Estra dreams about two Tylers, a dream that will turn out to be a precognitive dream.

Ch. 6:  Trapped inside his 1982 body, Tyler feels the conflict with his 1996 mind.           Outside in the snow, he encounters the beautiful woman from Malaysia, Lalitha, before he met her in his own dimension. In the present, Estra describes the condition of Tyler’s body in the ICU.

Ch. 7:  Estra and Mary Thurid visit Craig’s office upstairs of the Thurisaz Playhouse in a bohemian area of Atlanta called Seven Point Junction. Crag shares the old theater with Nolan Sursson and Willy Steincamp, artists who are putting on a multi-media show called Dream Corridor. We learn the technical aspects of the transferal process of Tyler’s mind and how he is drawn to an emotional event at a particular time in his past.

Ch. 8:  Estra supplies more background information on Tyler and listens to a hypnosis session on tape where Tyler, interviewed by Craig, believes that he is actually back in 1982. He discusses his feelings of being disconnected, his failed marriages, and his belief that reliving events is connected to the dreaming back belief held by William Butler Years.

Ch. 9:  Tyler meets the second time traveler, Lalitha, who has been drawn back to 1982, along his time-line, because of Tyler’s emotional attachment to her. She has been brought here because her husband in the present, in Malaysia, has been kicking her to death. He tells her that he is in a coma in his own time because of the auto collision and may die.

Ch.10: The next day, alone, Tyler explains to a tape recorder his options to change events in this world because “recycling in a parallel dimension is no-risk time travel.” It is also a type of “immortality at the cost of free will” if his life continues to recycle through various multiverses.

Ch. 11: On New Year’s Day, Tyler drives to the university and remembers suicidal thoughts that he had at this point back in his own time. He sees Lalitha again. She still thinks that she is dreaming, but her existence here changes the reality in this dimension. He finds himself slipping when he talks to her, revealing information he would not have known in 1983.

Ch. 12: Estra and Mary attend a special preview of the multi-media show Mind Corridor and are stunned by the visual effects. Estra wonders which of the cast members tried to kill Tyler.

Ch. 13: Estra talks with Nolan at a cast party at the house of Nolan and Tracy (Nolan’s wife who owns a New Age shop in Seven Point Junction) and learns about sordid interrelationships among the cast – and Tyler’s part in them. Nolan and Estra agree that one of them should go through the time corridor to find Tyler in the other dimension.

Ch. 14: Estra journeys to the past in the other dimension and meets Tyler’s colleagues in the GTA office in 1983 in his absence. When Tyler meets her inside her younger body, he is, of course, stunned.

Ch. 15: Tyler feels that he may be permanently trapped in his world and time and that he will die back in the present. Estra warns him that Nolan has been also sent to this time. Tyler tells her about Lalitha. Now there are four time travelers.

Ch. 16: Estra describes her feelings (even erotic ones) in Tyler’s apartment. As she falls asleep, she drifts back to the present with Craig and his private duty nurse assistant (Rhonda) for an instant. When she returns to the past, she believes that she has been dreaming.

Ch. 17: Tyler makes more slips with his 1996 mind. He sees the woman who will become his third wife – Beth. He chats with the other GTAs until Estra calls from her temporary job in town to tell him that Lalitha has been stalked by a strange man and has vanished.

Ch. 18: Tyler searches on campus and downtown Cedar Lake for Lalitha. Memories impinge. When he finds his car and discovers that he has a flat, he finds a note that reads: “Where is Lalitha?”

Ch. 19: Tyler and Estra drive around the city in his old car, looking for Lalitha and discussing his painful memories. They separate in a mall while searching for Lalitha.

Ch. 20: They drive to a service station/quick mart for gas, and this turns out to be a replay of Estra’s early dream. While Tyler is inside paying for the gas, Nolan appears in his younger body and tells Estra that he has Lalitha. Both realize that Tyler has to stay alive for them to return to their own world. Nolan does something that reminds Estra of Craig (this is a plant that will mean something later). When Tyler returns, Estra tells him that Lalitha is with Nolan and that he wants to meet him in the Big Muddy. Estra also learns that Tyler had an affair with Nolan’s wife Tracy and is disappointed.

Ch. 21: Estra has a dream about Nolan and sees Lalitha tied up and nude. In her dream state, she travels back to the present and talks to Rhonda; she learns that Craig has tried the time corridor.

Ch. 22: Tyler learns that Nolan has visited the GTA office and confused one of the GTAs with anachronisms. He learns that Nolan will meet him in the Big Muddy Room on campus, not near the Big Muddy River. When he meets Nolan face-to-face, he learns that Nolan did not try to kill him in Atlanta. However, he is clearly here to get revenge by harming the woman who will be Tyler’s third wife, Beth, by creating games with her life. This is not their world, so it doesn’t matter. Tyler shows that he has been taping their conversation. In a nearby booth, Tyler’s friends Albert and Jerry have been recording a back-up tape. Nolan bashes Tyler with a napkin holder. Albert fights with Nolan. Tyler bleeds profusely. A student calls a security guard. Nolan escapes.

Ch. 23: In Tyler’s apartment, Tyler, Estra, and Albert plan strategies. Albert doesn’t realize that Estra and Tyler are from the future, even though Tyler slips by mentioning his future wife and Estra slips by mentioning borderline personality disorders. They separate. Tyler and Estra talk to a friend of Lalitha’s who gives them an address.

Ch. 24: Tyler and Estra drive to a trailer park and find an empty trailer with two notes     Nolan has left behind as clues. It is clear that Nolan thinks he is creating a meta-theater drama.

Ch. 25: Tyler and Estra interpret the note as a reference to a state park near the university town known as Titan City. They want to find help but must travel to the park alone. They learn nothing when they ask directions. In the park lodge, Estra falls asleep and her mind returns temporarily to Atlanta. She learns from Rhonda that it is not Nolan’s mind that is occupying his own younger body but Craig’s (Craig’s consciousness has been linked with Nolan’s younger body).

Ch. 26: Deep in the narrow Titan City canyon, Tyler finds underwear that clearly belongs to Lalitha. He finds her body tied nude to a snake-shaped tree. Nolan blames Tyler for all that has happened and challenges him to think for himself instead of waiting for fate to decide. With great effort, Tyler crawls up the steep cliff-side. He tries to cut Lalitha free but engages Nolan (not knowing that Craig’s consciousness is occupying his body) who has a hunting knife. He struggles violently with Nolan and they both fall against the side of the cliff. Tyler is knocked unconscious.

Ch. 27: Back in Atlanta in the present time, we learn that some time has passed. Tyler has  gone through a long physical therapy process. He has brought Lalitha to the US and lives with her. Craig’s body is now in a coma in the ICU. Tracy has divorced Nolan and fled Seven Point Junction.

Ch. 28: Tyler and Lalitha drive to the campus where Tyler teaches with Estra. He finds a survey taken back in graduate school and thinks about his former friends. Left alone by Lalitha, he makes one final time trip back to his graduate school office. He talks to his buddies and again slips with anachronisms. Beth enters the office. Tyler says a tearful good-bye to his bewildered friends, even though his 1983 self will be with them again after he is gone. Back in the present, Tyler and Lalitha talk to Estra before they leave the campus. Estra clearly still has feelings for Tyler. She asks him if he would ever consider time traveling again. Tyler says: “You never know.”

__________________________

Below is an excerpt from the introduction and Chapter One of the novel.

THE TREE THAT WAS LIKE A WOMAN

The first time Tyler saw what he thought was the girl, it was in his own time, his own world.

But it wasn’t her that first time. It was only a skinny, naked, white birch tree half-hidden in the mist on New Year’s Eve. The second time he spotted the image, it wasn’t in his own world. Nor was it a ghostly birch tree. It was the girl – lost, bewildered, wondering what she was doing here in a replication of the country and city where, and when, she had been a student all those years before.

Now she, like he, was a time traveler, but she didn’t know why. She certainly didn’t know how.

Neither did he, actually – even though he was, in a technical sense, the one who discovered the mind corridor. He was the guinea pig.

Soon, however, he was not alone.

The girl, Lalitha, was here, trapped because of his time line – not her own.

Then there were the others – all mind tripping to this time and place because of him.

As confused as she was, she could, at least, be grateful for being mentally transplanted. After all, she had, because of Tyler’s own journey back to the place and time where they had met, been rescued from death at the hands of her violent husband in Malaysia.

As Tyler stood in the cold night air of southern Illinois, staring at the naked birch tree, he thought about his first journey – the beginning stages of the experimentations – the practice trips. After all, that was how it had all started.

#

Chapter One

“The First Trip”

Tyler locked the telescope in on Polaris just above the northern horizon; then he swung the six-inch reflector overhead to find the line of the ecliptic. He leaned down to squint through the finder-scope, turning the dial and moving the scope until Jupiter slid close to the intersection of the crosshairs.

Harold Duncan nodded his approval. “That’s good, Tyler.” He turned to the other students and resumed his lecture. “Remember, when using the clock drive, you first have to sight on Polaris, then lock it in.” He paused. “Why is that?”

“Because all the stars revolve around Polaris,” said a male voice.

It was a humid night. Tyler wiped the back of his wrist across his forehead and huffed away the moisture on his lip. The heavens, at least, were clear. One of the few advantages of summer school was that the weather allowed Harold to hold more night sessions, giving students more time to work with the telescope and to use the cardboard star guides. Since the science building lacked air-conditioning units, night sessions were preferable.

“Right.” Harold looked at the boy who had spoken. “The stars, though, only seem to revolve around Polaris. It’s the earth that’s moving — rotating fifteen degrees per hour.”

Thirteen students, counting Tyler, huddled together: a large class for the six-week summer version of Astronomy 201. They were positioned in the middle of the broad expanse of campus between the gymnasium and the science building, the extension cords for the motor clock drive reaching all the way to the window of the biology lab.

They all look so young. Do I look as young as they do?

Tyler studied the extension cord to be certain that none of the links had been pulled loose to break the connection. He mentally followed the cord all the way to the building, through the open window, and into the classroom where they had plugged it in. Estra Gudrun’s slender form stood in the pale glow of the fluorescent lights, crouched over the lab table ordinarily used for science classes, teaching Experimental Psychology to a handful of night students.

This summer session is the last course she’ll teach for McNair College, and tonight is her final class.

When was it? Fall of 1970, right after the start of the first class I took from her, when she told me that she was pregnant. Her husband was completing his tour-of-duty at the nearby Air Force base; then they would move to Atlanta so he could study at Emory University.

Tyler had discovered that he and Estra were near the same age, so he didn’t think much about the fact that they often talked casually in her gray-walled basement office after class.  Even though he was majoring in journalism and had only taken her for Psychology 101 because he needed a social science requirement, she seemed interested in the stuff he was writing.

The second class he took from her was during the following spring semester. Another psychology class. Just as an elective. And, because I misread the schedule, he remembered, I missed the first day of class.

But when he had arrived the second day, a few minutes late, she blushed as she pointed out an empty seat. She had ballooned out over the Christmas vacation, her pregnancy forcing upon her the traditional maternity garments.

“I won’t be able to look at your legs anymore when you stand in front of the classroom,” Tyler later told her in her basement office, causing her to blush again.

She named him Olin, her baby who was born in May. Her husband objected to her teaching a summer class that began so soon after her son’s birth, but she insisted that she could handle it. So while Tyler took the astronomy class from Harold Duncan, she taught the psychology class in the biology lab.

Tyler had seen her only twice during the month of June, both times visiting her apartment on the base. Both times he sat quietly while she tended to her infant son.

“I’m probably turning you off,” she had said.

She was. I had never felt comfortable with infants or children.

One day, impulsively, Tyler had bought her a purple card from the McNair bookstore, which, on the cover, read: SOMEDAY. On the inside, it read: SOMEHOW.

“Why didn’t you sign it?”

Tyler shrugged. “I wish your husband didn’t exist,” he said in a weak voice.

“But he does, Tyler.”

Sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor of her apartment, Tyler had looked up at her, feeling like a child.

(continued)

Below is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of the novel:

Chapter Nine

The Second Traveler”

Behind the building stretched an open field with snow-crusted naked trees that glowed a bluish-white in the moonlight.

“What is. . .” Tyler sputtered into the microphone. “Unnnnh. I thought I saw a girl standing over there, a slender woman with long black hair. I guess it’s just–  wait a minute! Those trees covered with snow. I thought they looked like—-”

There is someone there! A woman! She sees me.

He lowered the hand that held the microphone and watched her.

She wore a trench coat; her long dark hair flowed over her collar. That’s all I can see from here.

Her face.

He felt like he should know her.

She called to him: “Hallo-oo.”

Her voice. She wasn’t American. She might be from India or Pakistan.

“Hello,” he answered. He wanted to say more, but he waited.

“I heard you talking,” she said.

That voice. He knew that voice.

And then it dawned on him.

This didn’t happen before. It couldn’t have happened before. Something like this I would have remembered.

“Yes,” he told her. “I was talking into a tape recorder.” He showed her the tape unit and the external microphone connected to it by a cord.

She started toward him, crossing the gravel side road. “Do you live around here?”

“Yes.” He gestured toward the barracks. “In here.”

“Oh.” She studied the building. “What street is this?”

An odd question. He told her that this short street was Garfield Street. He turned off the recorder before she saw that he was taping her. He was usually self-conscious about taping people, even though he often did it.

This, he knew, hadn’t happened before. When he stood out here on New Years Eve in his world, he continued dictating. So he had changed events in this dimension; he had changed his past -– at least, this dimension’s version of his past.

“Where do you live?” he asked her.

“On Logan Street,” she said.

Logan Street was an east-west street that flanked the university. Many apartment complexes and houses that had been converted into student residences were located on that street.

“Are you waiting for someone out here?”

“No,” she said.

She continued toward him, and the closer she came, the more familiar she looked.

“Then. . . do you mind my asking what you’re doing out here alone? I mean, it’s not a big city, but. . . I don’t know if you’re safe. . . by yourself. For a town of this size, because of the university, there are a lot of rapes.”

She stopped and looked around again. When she stared into the bluish-white streetlight, his heart nearly stopped.

I do know her.

But it can’t be.

He wouldn’t meet her until the summer of the coming year -– not until Matthew Baines’ British literature survey course.

“I don’t know. I woke up, and suddenly I’m in the bedroom of the duplex where I stayed when I was a student. This is Cedar Lake, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’m confused. I guess I’m dreaming. Something just told me to get up, get dressed, and come this way.”

“You walked all this way?”

“Yes. But it doesn’t seem real.”

“I know.”

“I felt I had to come find someone. And I guess that’s you, isn’t it?”

“You don’t know?”

“No.”

He tried a long shot. “Do you know who I am?”

She came closer. Her eyes widened as she stared into his face. “I know you, I think. I remember your beard. But I can’t remember your name. It’s like. . . you’re someone from a long time ago.”

“Yes. Well, I don’t have this beard back in my own world.”

“Your world,” she echoed. She spoke as if she were in a daze. She was very sleepy.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m not supposed to be here. And I don’t think you are either.”

“Is this a dream then?”

“Not exactly. Do you know what year this is?”

“Of course.” She frowned. She moved closer, trying to see his eyes. “I do know you. And yet. . . .”

“We haven’t met yet. In this world. But we will. What you remember is me from my own world.”

“Your world?” she echoed again.

“I’ve done this three times. Traveled like this, I mean. Did you experience the sensation of falling through space?”

“I don’t think I -– maybe –-  I felt like I was in a movie. Or a TV show, like Star Trek or something.”

He asked her again if she knew the year.

“Where?”

“Now.”

“1996.”

“No. It isn’t here. This is Cedar Lake all right. But it’s 1983. New Year’s Day.”

“No. It isn’t. Not really, I mean.”

“Yes,” he told her.

“I can’t be back in America.”

“You are. Really. The USA.”

She shook her head. She was trying to rule out the absurd -– the insane — possibility.

“Are you wondering why it’s cold?”

“Yes. I’m freezing.” Her voice quaked. Her throat sounded raw. “But—-”

“What was it like where you came from?”

She hugged herself, trying to keep warm.

He gestured toward the heavy doors of the apartment building. “Why don’t you come inside?”

“I don’t know if I. . . .”

“You’re safer in there than you are out here.”

She nodded, reluctantly.

He opened the heavy doors for her and followed her down the corridor. “Number six,” he told her. He took out his key. “Do you remember where you were before you woke up in the duplex on Logan Street?”

“I—-”

“Try to remember.” He unlocked the metal door which had the numeral 6 fastened to it above the peep-hole.

“It was. . . I was. . . .” She stepped into the apartment. She stood still on the shiny linoleum floor for a moment; then she looked back at him. Her eyes widened again.

Tears came to her eyes.

Suddenly, she flinched and raised her arm as if someone were about to strike her. Then she snapped back; her eyes again focused on their surroundings. “I was home.” She gasped. “Shouting. My husband was shouting.”

“Husband. . . .”

“He hit me. I fell. Then he kicked me. I tried to get up. Then he kicked me again. I think I. . . I don’t know. I remember pain. Dizziness. . . .”

“You blacked out. Fainted.”

“Maybe. Yes. I guess that was—-”

“Where’s your home?”

“Kuala Lumpur.”

“Malaysia?”

“Yes.” She looked at his small kitchen area, at the old card table where the typewriter sat, at the large cardboard boxes under the table. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes. You’re Lalitha. Don’t ask me to pronounce your last name. But I remember you shortened it to Kumar.”

“You do know me.”

“I remember you. You look exactly as you did in 1983. But this is before I met you.”

“Before. . . .”

“We won’t meet until Dr. Baines’ class this coming summer.”

“If we haven’t met yet. . . .”

“I know. Believe me, I know how that sounds. But it’s true. Do you know me?”

“Yes. But I’m not sure of your name. Tyrone. Right?”

“Close.” He laughed. “Tyler.”

“That’s it. But that was. . . .”

“A long time ago. In our world. When you blacked out, your consciousness came here. You’re in your own body, but the body you had in 1983.”

She shook her head again. She walked over to the new sofa, stared at it for a moment, then took off her coat and sat down. She was dressed in a casual shirt and brown slacks; she looked as if she had dressed herself in a hurry or in a half-awake state.

“Somehow. . . I drew you here,” Tyler continued. “I don’t know why. But I did. You were pulled into my  corridor.”

“Why?”

“My thoughts, maybe. My obsession. My desire to relive the past -– to redo it -– to do what I didn’t do before, in my own world. I don’t know. I’m only guessing.”

She sat silently for a long moment.

I feel her confusion. I understand.

Tyler put the recorder and the microphone down onto the counter; then he removed his jacket and hung it on the coat hook next to the clothing closet.

Her consciousness was here because he somehow pulled her here. His obsession, as he told her, drew her to him like a beacon. My lonely, foundering soul connected with hers and sucked it back to 1983.

“I wish I could tell you more,” he said. “I don’t even know if you can go back. I don’t know if I can go back. If I do, I may die.”

“Back where. Who’s going to die?”

“Back to Atlanta in 1996. I’m in the hospital there. In a coma. Maybe dying.”

“You?”

“I was in a car wreck. Someone tried to kill me.”

(continued)

Note:

I am working on a follow-up novel about the same character who joins an underground expedition to explore an abandoned city that may have been a fragment of the original Atlantis. By being exposed to an information-gathering probe sent from an alien civilization in the distant past, he time travels back to Atlantis to occupy the body of a distant ancestor right before the island city is destroyed by this probe that has, for centuries, been thought to be a meteor.