I was 12 years old the first time I saw him.
The man in the mirror.
I didn’t realize at the time he’d met me already, when I was 33 or so, on the field of war.
Time Travel can be confusing, where the start of someone’s story is someone else’s ending.
Or so the man in the mirror thought.
You see we really don’t have an ending or beginning of our lives, we merely have transitions.
Story arcs if you will.
Back to the mirror though.
Did you know that infinity and eternity are concepts without numeric qualifications?
Similarly, math can be used to label these concepts in finite and mentally manageable terms, but as the man in the mirror and I both learned, even math has it’s limits as a language.
A limit which incidentally, we both broke.
The story goes something like this:
One day, while at my gramma’s house in Southern California, I used to love playing in the infinity mirrors in her bedroom.
The effect is pretty simple to recreate, take two mirrors, 10 foot wide by 10 foot tall, stand them nearly perfectly parallel to eachother about 5 feet apart, and then walk in between them. I say nearly, as there’s a slight angle of the mirror downward to provide the infinity effect when you’re looking at the mirrors moving upwards.
I used to love waving at myself waving at myself waving at myself in the mirrors.
Not long after watching the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High and having seen Phoebe Cates wonderful breasts for the first time in a dream sequence, I was in California with my family visiting my grandmother’s house when I and my younger brother Jason – with nothing to do to entertain ourselves – disappeared into my grandparent’s bathroom where the massive mirrors were.
I will fully admit, the mirrors had gotten boring. But we were going stir crazy. Our parents were not letting us leave the house, and there really was not a whole lot to do at my grandmother’s house for young children.
We’d take turns running from one end of the mirror hallway – about 20 feet in length – to another end.
We were absolutely bound and determined to catch the mirror not keeping up with us.
Childish games, right?
I would hide off to the side of the mirror, and then reach my hand over the top of my head and pretend to be some monstrous demon out of visual range pulling my hair and me out of the mirror’s range of vision…
We would stand there and just wave.
Never did we see any flaws.
I mean, it’s a mirror, right, what’s it going to do?
But here we stood waving and in the distance, about 13 reflections deep – I saw something that to this day gives me chills thinking about.
My brother, who was standing next to me was not in the 13th reflection.
“Jason,” I yelled. “Wave!”
He did and I did at the same time.
It was most certainly only me in that 13th reflection.
“Do you see that?,” I exclaimed.
I counted out loud “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve – JASON – you’re not there!”
“Oh yeah,” he said at the time, I think he was only placating me.
“MOM, DAD,” I yelled, not wanting to leave the room lest I see what I was observing go change.
“MOM, DAD,” I yelled, again, louder this time.
“JASON, STAY HERE,” I yelled, excitedly, and ran out of the room, moments later returning with my incredulous mom and dad.
“Ok. I was standing here. And we both waved and …. ,” I looked at the mirrors.
Jason was in the 13th mirror.
“I don’t see what he’s talking about, do you Sharon?,” my father, David asked.
“Brian, why don’t you come out and spend time with the family,” my mom said.
“But MOM, I saw it. Jason did too,” I said.
Jason looked at my mom and said “I don’t know”
My mom sighed, looked at my father, as my father said “Out of here. Now. We’re here to spend time with your grandma.”
I looked back in the mirror, a little miffed, and walked out of the room.
About an hour later, I was still bored out of my skull when I snuck back to my grandparent’s room.
The door was locked.
A key was hidden above the door frame, so I was quickly in.
I didn’t turn on the light as I sat down in front of the mirror.
“I saw you. Why are you lying to them?,” I said to the mirrors, halfway expecting a response.
I counted the reflections.
There was nothing missing or unexpected.
I sat there for about 10 minutes, looking – studying the mirrors in the dark.
I walked out of the mirror’s view, turned on the light, and walked back, smiling and waving.
And that’s when I saw it.
A young boy. Who looked like me. but he wasn’t smiling.
And he wasn’t waving.
He just walked the same path I did, and when I looked at him, he just stared blankly at me.
He did not.
He did not.
I walked out of view.
He did too.
He copied all my movements.
I said “Are you an alien?”
The boy’s lips didn’t move, he just stood there motionless.
I sat down. The boy sat down as well.
I said “Are you a robot?”
The boy’s lips continued not to move, as he sat there with a blank expression on his face.
I leaned in closer.
“Are you a zombie?,” I asked as I snarled my teeth and made a ferocious claw-like gesture with my hands.
“Are you a cyborg from space?,” I inquired.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven – Seven – you’re closer than the last one,” I said.
Right as I said that, in the same mirror image as the expressionless boy walked in an older grey haired man with a bow tie on in a long coat suit.
He was in none of the other reflections, when he looked at me and said:
“Yes, he’s a cyborg, and we’re coming to get you!,” he said.
And fell on the floor, convulsing.
I was rushed away to the hospital.
The doctors called it a grand mal epileptic seizure.
Little did they know what caused it.
My little brain was incapable of comprehending infinity.
In that lifetime, I never recovered and remain in a coma to this day.
Apparently that reaction was wholly unexpected by this man I saw in the mirror who I would come to know as “The Doctor”.
In my future, his past, he had never seen me vulnerable or afraid before.
Then again, he had never seen me as a child, either.
To him, I was the fiercest warrior he had ever met on the battlefield.
To him, I had destroyed his civilization in a future I would never see.
To him, I was known by many names, but he had never questioned why “The Master” was the one that stuck the most.
To him, I was his sworn enemy.
To this man, The Doctor, a man who had journeyed from the beginning to the end of time and back again, he had intended to take my life with his own hands, but when he saw my reaction reaction and the look of sheer terror in my eyes, and my epileptic fit and subsequent convulsion…
And then with how heartbroken my family and friends were when I didn’t recover, he couldn’t help but question himself.
As he retreated to his home and time traveling vessel known as the TARDIS, and said out to it out loud.
“God, What have I done?,” he asked out loud, “Have I created my own worst enemy?”
The TARDIS whirred to life, tossing The Doctor back and forth.
He quickly flipped some knobs and levers on the console which didn’t seem to respond to his attempts to get the machine under control.
“Where are you taking me, “ he exclaimed.
The whirring stopped and the door opened.
It was light outside.
The Doctor looked at the console of his machine, but it didn’t show anything that might indicate where he was at and when.
“Where have you taken me?,” he said.
The machine didn’t respond.
But The Doctor swore for a moment he could feel it breathe.
He walked outside, and as he did, the door shut behind him as it whirred to life.
The Doctor tried pulling out his keys
“No, no, no, you can’t do this to me,” The Doctor yelled, but it was too late, the TARDIS had disappeared.
The Doctor gathered in his surroundings.
“I guess you wanted a captive audience, eh?,” The Doctor said out loud as he saw young boys gathering in a baseball diamond right in front of where they had dropped him off.
The young boys, no older than 11, were selecting teams for softball.
The Doctor spotted me right away.
The Doctor approached me, and said “Have you done this? Where am I? What is this?”.
But I didn’t see or hear him.
The Doctor, tried talking to another boy, but it was as if he wasn’t there.
So he just watched.
“I got Troy,” said one boy.
“Bates,” said another boy.
“Me, pick me” I screamed.
But I was tiny and compared to the other boys, I was clearly less athletic than the boys who were picked first.
“Doug,” said the first boy.
This went on for a bit, as the Doctor walked around to the two boys selecting teams and pointed at me and said “What about him? What’s wrong with him?”
They didn’t hear him. One boy leaned into the second kid selecting teams and said “What about Gregory”
“Oh we’ll lose for sure if we pick him. Terry, I got you,” he said “that makes 9. Gregory, get lost.”
The Doctor threw up his hands as I walked dejectedly away towards the blacktop.
“It’s ok. You can’t be good at everything,” he said, with total sincerity.
I sat at the edge of the blacktop, crying, as I was watching the other kids play.
“Why are you crying? It’s just a game. Go play. Go do something else you kid things do.”
The Doctor sat down next to me and tried to put his hand on my back when it passed right through me, as if I wasn’t there.
“What is this all about?,” The Doctor said, standing up.
“How do you turn from this to … to… the monster I know?,” he said, ” I just don’t understand”
About then, a kick ball came rolling at me from the field.
I stood up, and went to kick the ball when the sky became the ground and the ground became the sky, and gravity inverted.
I had been knocked on my back, unable to breathe.
“Bloody hell, what was that?,” The Doctor asked.
The Doctor looked around.
But none of the other children were in the sleightest way disturbed.
The Doctor looked down at me. My tears had resumed as a boy came from the field.
“Can you not do anything right, Gregory? All you had to do was kick it back to me?,” said the boy.
I was crying again, this time because I couldn’t breathe.
“What is wrong with you?,” The Doctor asked in complete synchronization with the young boy who had just run up.
The Doctor looked as the young boy grabbed the ball and ran off
About then, a whirring noise occurred, and the TARDIS reappeared.
The door opened.
“It’s about time,” The Doctor said.
I caught my breathe again and sat up.
“Wait a moment,” The Doctor said, “It is about time, isn’t it?”
The Doctor walked through the doorway and up at the TARDIS, as he walked in.
“Is this like ghosts of Christmas past or something? What are you trying to tell me?,” The Doctor said.
He looked back through the doorway at me as the door closed.
The TARDIS whirred back to life, rocking the Doctor back and forth again.
The door opened.
The Doctor walked to the center console, pushing buttons, but nothing was responsive.
He slammed his fist against the console.
“Why are you not telling me anything?,” he yelled.
He sat on the chair of the console, and put his head down.
“What did I used to call you? It starts with an R…. Rhonda… no.. Rose… no… Rachel… That sounds about right… But not…. What is this? Why are you showing me these things?” he pleaded.
The TARDIS made no sounds in response.
“Fine then. Have it your way,” he said, as he walked through the front door.
The Doctor noticed the outside world seemed as though it had been paused while he was inside, for when he walked outside a bird flew commenced flying close by and a man resumed walking. If he hadn’t been paying as much attention to it all, he would have missed it.
A young man was getting his ankles strapped with a long elastic cord which appeared to be strapped to a cage.
The Doctor looked to the left, and right along side a freeway was a large sign reading “Bungee Jumps – $50”
The Doctor stepped out of the doorway, and as had happened last time, the door closed and the TARDIS whirred to life.
The Doctor turned around, quickly and pounded the door “Why are you doing this to me?”
But it was too late.
The TARDIS was gone.
The Doctor walked towards the boy – who was surrounded by three other men, three generations apart.
The Doctor knew immediately who they were – my youngest brother, Matthew, my Father, and my Grandfather.
“And you?” The Doctor said as he looked at me, “Short hair again, and what is this?”
The Doctor spun around as the crane holding the cage whirred to life.
I didn’t see him and didn’t respond.
“Are you suicidal? What is this contraption? What is a bungee jump?,” The Doctor said.
With my feet firmly tied together with bungee cord, I hopped to the cage.
“Oh Dear. You’re not going to…. “
With me and another man dressed in black inside the cage, it started a journey upwards.
The Doctor felt nervous. Something wasn’t right about the situation.
He looked to the side “The world’s only 250 foot drop”
That’s when he noticed it.
“Wait a minute. The operators. They forgot to attach the cord to the base of your cage. If you jump 250 feet. You’re going to…. “
The crane kept drifting upwards.
The Doctor watched as everyone on the ground noticed but the crane operator, too far away to hear anything, kept going, and up in the cage itself, nothing could be heard through the floor of the cage over the roar of the crane.
My grandfather, father, and brother all began yelling.
“Maybe I should just let you die,” the Doctor said…
“But wait. Something is going on. If the original you is 12 years old and I scared him into a coma. And now you’re what… 16… then… am I changing… our future?,” The Doctor pondered out loud…
The unattached cables dangled under the crane.
“What’s going on here, why hasn’t the crane operator noticed?,” The Doctor demanded.
But no one responded.
“But wait. timelines are fixed. If you’re 16 that means you are not in a coma or…” The Doctor trailed off, pensively…
“But how is this even possible?,” The Doctor exclaimed, “*Think*, *Think*, *Think*,” he said
“Oh dear God. You’re…., You’re…..” The Doctor’s voice reached a crescendo as he looked skyward and time seemed to slow down….
At the same exact moment, my grandfather and the Doctor exclaimed, separately, but in complete synchronization.
“Me. STOP. THE CORD IS NOT ATTACHED!,” yelled the Doctor.
“Brian. STOP. THE CORD IS NOT ATTACHED!,” yelled my grandfather in unison with the Doctor.
The crane stopped.
It began descending.
Two men went to the crane, as the Doctor walked up alongside them.
“Lucky we caught it. The cord wasn’t attached. That wouldn’t have been pretty,” said one of the men as he attached the cord.
“You can say that again,” said The Doctor, with a smirk on his face.
I had a huge nervous smile on mine.
“You sure you want to do this?,” said the Doctor and the man in black in complete unison to me.
The Doctor looked sideways at the man in black and then added “Ok, this is getting to be weird.”
“Well, now that the cord’s attached, what have I got to lose?,” I said.
“Wonderful logic,” Quipped the Doctor.
“Take her back up, Joe,” said the man in black.
The whir of the crane began came – as everyone stepped away from the cage with the exception of me and the man in black.
The TARDIS returned behind my family as the Doctor walked over.
“Fancy you should show up now,” he said to the TARDIS.
The door opened as the crane reached the halfway point.
“I’m going to stay and watch this,” the Doctor said to the TARDIS as he stood next to my family watching the event.
A small steel door flipped out of the cage.
I could be seen high above, looking down at the Earth below me.
“You’re not going to do this, are you?,” The Doctor said.
“He’s not going to do it,” My brother said right after that.
“Wanna bet,” my father said.
I turned around.
And let myself fall backwards, as the cord extended, and I bounced up and down a few times.
The Doctor smiled.
“You’re crazy. You know that, don’t you.. Certifiable even,” but there was a sense of odd respect that had been gained in that moment.
The Doctor walked through the open door of the TARDIS as the doors closed behind him.
The TARDIS sprung to life, but this time the Doctor was prepared. He’d braced himself at the seat next to the console.
“Rommie, just what are you up to with all of this?,” The Doctor said.
The door opened.
It was dark outside.
“I’m not walking out of here until you give me some indication of what it is you’re up to.”
“I’m serious!,” The Doctor yelled.
The lights turned off and the machine turned lifeless.
“DAMMIT, ROMMIE, “ The Doctor slammed his fist to the console, but there was no response.
“Fine. If you would like to play it that way,” The Doctor said as he reached under the console and pulled out a flashlight, “then I too can play this silly game you’re playing. “
The Doctor walked down the stairs to the underdeck of the TARDIS and shined the flashlight on a compartment as he opened it.
He then looked slyly to his left towards the center of the underdeck.
He left the open compartment remain open, and shined a light on a latch, opening the latch, and reached his hand in.
“AHA! Let’s see how you like manual control, Rommie!,” yelled the Doctor.
The result was instantaneous, as the lights flickered for a nanosecond then sparks flew out of the open latch, forcing the Doctor to withdraw his hand quickly which landed him on his ass.
The lights remained off.
“You really want me to see this don’t you?,” The Doctor said.
He walked back over to the other compartment, and pulled out a notepad and pencil.
“Just in case,” he said.
He walked upstairs. and to the door.
It was night outside.
A street not far from where he could see, with a traffic light frozen on red and cars not moving.
A pedestrian too far to make out anything other than being human appeared halted in time – mid gait.
The Doctor walked outside the door, and as he did he held one hand firmly inside the door and as he did he was watching the cars, pedestrian, and light, but everything appeared frozen in time.
He slowly removed his hand from the doorway – and as quickly as he did that, the movement resumed and the light turned to green.
The door closed behind him.
The Doctor spun around as the TARDIS whirred back to life.
The Doctor then put his thumb and forefinger over his eyes, shaking his head as the TARDIS disappeared from view.
“Where am I?,” The Doctor said.
The Doctor walked around the area a bit, and could see he was in the back of a park.
“But why here?” he said out loud .
The Doctor wandered back to the location he’d been left at
There were two chairs and a foot stool there.
The Doctor sat down.