“Hey, Stubbsie, Got a minute?” Briggsie, our giant full forward, was at my elbow. I looked up from my book in surprise, he usually says “Hey Nerd.”
I was in my quiet place beneath the trees, and Briggsie looked as out of place as I would have felt, out there, where his mates were kicking a ball around, yelling and shouting. Briggs looked furtively across at them and lowered his voice although there was no-one nearby.
“I gotta problem!”
“Tell me about it.” I said.
“What’s that supposed to mean!” He bridled.
“Tell me about your problem.” You have to be patient with blokes like Briggsie.
“Well, Okay,” he conceded. “I got this problem. Like I know what’s going to happen. I mean,” he added. “Since the accident.”
Accident was a nice way of putting it. Even I knew that he had been creamed by St.Kevin’s full forward, a bigger ox than he is, if you can imagine. Our hero had been carried off the field on a stretcher and was reputed to have been unconscious for an hour. I remember thinking at the time it must be hard to tell the difference. I listened patiently, politely folding my book while keeping my place with my finger. I wished he would get on with it; my finger was feeling squashed.
I heaved a sigh. “Well,” I asked, “What IS going to happen?”
“That’s the problem!” he groaned. “If I tell you, it won’t!” He rubbed his eyes with a hand the size of a large steak. “You know about this science stuff, Stubbsie, computers and such. Tell me what to do to make it work.”
“Make what work?” I was beginning to feel stupid myself. I had the sudden alarming thought. Maybe stupidity rubs off! “Begin at the beginning, Briggsie. Tell me what has happened.”
I won’t take you through the next tedious half hour.
I’ll just say that the recess was completely used up, and my book remained unread. But I didn’t mind. Unusually, for me, I was inattentive in class and earned a couple of demerits. But I didn’t care. My mind was totally absorbed with Briggsie’s problem and its amazing implications.
I saw myself rich and famous, as Briggsie’s sole agent. There was still twenty thousand bucks waiting for the first provable paranormal feat that could be repeated under test conditions. And in Briggsie I had found the first authentic case of precognition. Briggsie could remember the Future! His problem was that he could not utilise his knowledge. I felt certain that I could get around this problem. HUBRIS! I didn’t know the meaning of the word! And if you don’t, look it up!
I didn’t believe him at first, but Briggsie isn’t smart enough to make up a story like that. I wondered fleetingly if I was being set up by my arch rival, Spinks. But even Spinks couldn’t coach Briggs in a story like this. No, the blow on the head had done something strange and wonderful to Briggsie.
He told me that the messages came through better in dreams than when he was awake. In the daytime, it was more like having a vague memory of something that had already happened, but, and this was the wonder, it hadn’t happened yet.
Briggsie isn’t the brightest bloke around, so it took him quite a while to wake up to what was going on. Initially he just had the normal feeling of deja vu which we all get at times. With him it persisted and, tentatively at first, he began to check out the accuracy of his predictions. Surprised and elated, he found that his “memories” were one hundred percent accurate, such as they were. His major problem, or so it seemed at the time, was that even in normal circumstances his memory was not all that good. This probably accounted for his poor record in school and fuelled his desire to excel on the sports field.
We conducted experiments to determine the range of his predictive talent. It seemed to be limited to three days at the most; weakening from the present until it faded completely on the third day. It seemed completely passive. If he wrote down his dreams immediately on waking, and put the paper aside until the following day, they proved to be true. Once, he dreamt that he got an F on a test, and he did. But when sitting the next test, he “Remembered” all the questions and looked up the answers beforehand. When he came to do the test, all the questions had changed; he got an F. That was why he had come to me.
We did an experiment. We had two tests the following day, I got Briggs to write out what he “remembered” of the questions of each and instructed him to place them in different envelopes. One, chosen at random, I locked up in my desk drawer at home; the other I opened and read before the test, it proved completely false. Following the second exam paper, I hesitantly opened the second envelope; its accuracy was unchallenged, given the usual limits of Briggsie’s understanding. It was certainly as he would have remembered it.
As a real experiment. I tested Briggsie’s memory for something he was really good at – the sports results. Here the parity was amazing. Score after score was listed with ninety- nine percent precision. Luckily we did not bet much.
Briggs certainly did have a problem. And so did I. All my dreams of instant wealth were fading. Horse racing had the same frustrating limitations. Providing we didn’t try to influence the future by changing the betting odds, Briggs’ memory feat was an uncanny success.
Then I got clever. We bet on a boxing match. I asked Briggs who was going to win, and then bet on the loser. He was disqualified. Next we tried tennis, the finals, where it had to be one player or another with a tie breaker to provide a firm result – against anything but simultaneous resignations due to sickness!
I was beginning to get an eerie feeling about the whole thing, even being tempted by Briggsie’s theory that we were jinxed. Could there be an ethical force of nature? Actually I came up with a theory of variable reality, a refinement of Cause and Effect. Trying to change the future was impossible because introducing a new cause inevitably produced a new, and random, effect.
I still had one hope left. The twenty-thousand dollar prize for a reproducible psychic phenomenon. And it would have worked too if it wasn’t for that damned magician.
I thought I had all the angles covered. Briggs was to spend the night locked in a room. He was to dream the headlines on the following day’s newspaper, seal them in an envelope to be opened after the paper had been published. It was a brilliant success. Everyone was very impressed, except the magician. He demonstrated how, by misdirection, it was possible to substitute an answer prepared after the paper was received.
He persuaded the committee to change the rules of the experiment. This time Briggs was to tell the committee the contents of the paper BEFORE it was published. Goodbye twenty- thousand!
The following week we had a rematch with St.Kevin’s. Briggs was determined to get his revenge. He didn’t, and this time the injury cured him of his talent. He is happier now, and is full of good advice. “Hey Nerd,” he greeted me today, “Don’t it just go to show that too much thinking hurts the brain!”
“Tell me about it!” I said.
copyright H.St.V.Beechey 1994