Author: David Henson
I hold my breath as Dr. Wocker studies the results of my full body scan. “Well, Stan,” he says, “it’s fortunate we included the FutureScope diagnostic in your physical this year.”
I sit straighter as if that will influence what the doctor’s about to say.
“There’s an 87 percent chance you’re going to break your right arm sometime in the next 48 hours.”
Not great news. Not horrible. Maybe my posture helped. I raise my arm. “It feels fine.” Dr. Wocker stares at me. Oh. “Sorry, Doc. Still trying to get my head around these new medical advances.”
Dr. Wocker tells me to be careful the next couple days. “Use common sense. Stay off ladders and such. It’s not like you’re trying to change the past, but the future will fight for its probabilities.”
As I pull into the drive after the appointment, I notice dead leaves jamming the gutters. Should’ve cleaned them. I search the sky. Might it snow? Could lead to ice dams, water backing up under the shingles. The image of a deluge crashing through the ceiling pushes into my thoughts.
I start to get my extension ladder from the garage, but stop and take a few deep breaths. Don’t be crazy. I’ll be wearing sandals before long. Not going to snow. I’ll clean the gutters after the 48 hours. Or not. Never had ice dams before.
For now, I’ll put my arm in the protective custody of a good book. I go inside and check out my collection. My eye is drawn to an old murder mystery I enjoyed years ago. I forgot who the killer was, but recall it was a great twist. The book is on the top shelf, which I can’t reach without a step stool. Could a 12-inch fall break my arm? I stand on my tip toes and swipe my hand. So close. I jump, land awkwardly and stumble against the wall, protecting my head with my arm. My right arm. I flex it a few times. Doesn’t hurt. Definitely not broken. Lesson learned. I watch a ballgame and turn in early.
I’m coming out of the emergency room, my arm in a cast. I’d put up a good fight, but the future probability prevailed in the end. I approach a man with a little girl, a robo-duck waddling beside her. A dog sticks it’s head out the window of a parked car and barks. The startled robo-duck quacks, flaps and rushes into the street. The girl, chases her pet between two parked cars. I run after the girl and sweep her up with my good arm — just as a red pickup truck barrels past, the robo-duck taking flight in the nick of time.
I can’t get the dream out of my mind. So real. Was it a premonition? A side effect of the FutureScope? What’ll happened to the girl if I’m not there at that moment? Maybe I could go to the emergency room and wait outside for a girl with a robo-duck. But which emergency room? And when? I’m no hero, but a broken arm is nothing compared to a little girl’s life. I decide to clean the gutters.
I come out of the emergency room, my arm in a cast. Sure enough, I see a man and a little girl with a robo-duck. I brace for action. Dog barks. Duck freaks … And the girl picks up her robo-pet and cradles it in her arms.
A red pickup truck roars past, horn beeping. I swear it sounds like laughter.