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The door slammed shut behind me, and I found myself walking in a load of sand. I held onto my pocket watch while moving through it. The watch had a red glow to it, which meant this was the correct point and I had to fix whatever went wrong.
A lot of noise and men yelling. A couple whistles and calls from somewhere as well. The air was hot and the wind didn’t help any.
Gigantic machines with giant metal structures told me I landed in a construction zone. That would account for the sand. The hazy sky didn’t match the weather. Of course, that could’ve been pollution.
I walked out of an open gate and onto the sidewalk. A lot of tall decorated buildings around, and one of them had a replica of the Statue of Liberty. That didn’t tell me where I was, though.
The hat on my head was still there. The 1940s dress was still in good shape. Although, there were runs on top of runs in my stockings.
A quick glance around told me I wasn’t in 1940s England anymore. A newspaper would give me a better idea what time it was. It seemed I walked around for ages and no newsstand.
A store that sold television sets and one of them faced the window. It was 3:45 PM on July 3rd, 2021. Wow. OK. Based on what I saw around me and on that TV, I needed to get new clothes.
Without money, though, that would not happen. What I had wouldn’t pay for anything. I needed to get my bearings first before I started looking.
Wait, that TV mentioned Las Vegas. The last time I was here was in 1953. I kept Marcello Caifano happy. Whatever and whenever he wanted something, I got it. That included the arson job in retaliation for being denied his pleasure. Sometimes, I hated history.
The place changed a lot since then. Well, I won’t know why I arrived for a while. How long that while lasted could vary.
The heat I could do without. The dress didn’t help any and the sand in my shoes I didn’t need. After pouring the sand out of my shoes, I went inside one building and a cool rush of air swept over me. I never felt so much relief in an instant as I did at that moment.
Dings and buzzes all around with people talking. Slot machines have become a little brighter and a little more entertaining since I last saw them. The style may have changed, but the concept didn’t.
OK, the best way to get money was to find a job. A place like this, there should be a lot of jobs available. Before I did that, though, I needed to find out why I came here.
I must’ve circled the casino floor about a hundred times and nothing. Well, it gave me a chance to cool off. Freezing cold, I walked outside only to be blasted by desert wind. It didn’t take long to defrost, so to speak.
The sun set down some, although it still burned my eyes. It didn’t help any; I didn’t have money. I think I had that thought before. Nothing could be done about it, though.
I walked up and down the sidewalk among other people while hoping I might feel something. Those high hopes plummeted because again, there was nothing. Maybe it wasn’t so much a time or a person. If not, then what could it be. A vacation? I laughed.
I walked into a big building called Treasure Island to get out of the heat and sit for a bit. A woman walked by me. She set off my radar. Not having any other choice, I followed her despite my tired and aching legs.
There had to be something. As I got closer, the more it pinged. I wouldn’t know why until I confronted her. More often than not, finding out information was easier said than done.
We ended up outside. She must’ve felt something, because she kept looking behind herself. I had to hide. I stopped between two potted plants and watched as she opened a time doorway.
I ran through and followed. The lit path was the one to take. Step outside the boundaries, and one could get lost in time for an eternity.
We returned to 1940s England. She wasn’t a Time Traveler. I was familiar with everybody, and she wasn’t one of us. If that was the case, how did she open a door?
Glad I didn’t change clothes after all, I followed behind her until she stopped in front of someone’s house. I needed a bath and to wash my clothes. Here I knew how to do that.
I didn’t know this street, but that only meant I had to walk around to find out where I ended up. I made a mental note of where I was and started looking around. The house on the corner with the green door. I had dealings with that house. That meant I could trade them a chore for an opportunity to wash up. They always needed something.
I knocked on the door, but nobody answered. I tried the doorbell and still nobody. Well, I had to push through what I wanted to what I needed and it was necessary to find out more information on that woman.
That and food would be good.
I went back to the house I knew before I left and knocked. The door opened. “Yes. May I help you?” Frank asked.
“Is there a small woman here with you?”
“No. No. No.” He shook his head and moved his left hand out in front of his stomach and pointed behind him. “Nobody here.”
Two things telling me contrary to each other. “I’m sorry. I must be mistaken. Lost American.”
He reached for me and pulled me inside before closing the door. Take off your shoes, he mouthed while he pointed at them.
I nodded and set them by the door. He pointed toward the sitting room. She’s in there, he mouthed.
I tiptoed to the room and walked behind her. “What are you and how did you get here?”
She stood from the chair and turned towards me. Eyes and mouth opened wide, she ran from the room screaming. “No. You weren’t supposed to find me. This was my only chance.” She ran up the stairs.
I caught her as she stepped onto the landing. “You can never escape a Time Traveler. It is never an if it is always a when. Explain.” I picked her up and held her against the wall.
“You wouldn’t understand.”
I stood close, but I let go. “I have heard any and every excuse anyone could ever think of. Nothing you tell me would surprise me.”
“Yeah, but… .”
“But what?” This was annoying.
“I needed to get back to my time. I made a horrible mistake. I met someone like you and he traded me. My life for his. Only problem was, he didn’t tell me how to work the watch. Since I dropped it, I don’t think it works anymore, anyway. Please, just… just drop me off at June 1, 2019 and you won’t see me anymore.”
“A he you said.” Took me a minute to remember. There would be only one. He always complained about changing times, no money, and how hard he had to work to stay alive. “Would that be Julian?”
“Yeah. That’s him. I can’t forget that weird name. He gave it to me, but he didn’t tell me how to work it. Please, you have to tell me how.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I opened them again with the inevitable in mind. “You do not control where or when you go. The watch you hold controls everything.”
She opened her eyes wide and shook her head. “No. That’s not right. You’re supposed to set the watch to where and when you want to go. He told me. He just didn’t. Please, you have to help me.”
There it was. Every rookie that became a Time Traveler went through the same thing. Being one of the more experienced crowd, it was left up to us to teach them what wasn’t taught. I hoped that this wouldn’t take long.
Here’s hoping. “The watch controls everything. It is up to you to find out the information, do what needs to be done, and move on.”
“No. No. No. You don’t understand. I have to go back.” Her face turned red with tears streaming down her cheeks. Hands spread out on either side of her body. Then the sobbing.
“I already told you. The watch controls where you go and when you go. You do not control it. It controls you.” Why couldn’t I find a nice deserted island somewhere and bury the watch?
“You don’t understand. You have to help me reset it. Please. Don’t you know how?” She brought it out of her pocket and held it out.
Oh boy and there it went. “My name is Paige by the way and I already told you. It. Is. Not. Up. To. Us. It. Is. Up. To. The. Watch.” Maybe the slower pace might help. I didn’t know anymore. I ran out of ideas.
“You can’t be. I left you and—”
The sirens blared. I grabbed her hand and pulled her behind me. Frank pointed in the direction of the backyard. After he closed the door, we went inside the buried metal structure. He closed the door.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Rose. Don’t you remember?”
Either the woman had mental issues, or suffered from an emotional trauma. I didn’t know which. I didn’t know what else to do other than wait until the sirens stopped.
Leaving memories behind was a common occurrence. The theory was that there would be too many memories to hold with too much emotion attached to them. Therefore, the mind guarded itself by not remembering certain events or people. However, I think I would’ve remembered this woman if I met her before.
Yes, she was cute. Short, petite, yellow blonde hair with sky blue eyes. Other than that, she was not… oh what was that word. Anyway, she was someone I couldn’t forget.
She stood next to me and squeezed my hand until the sirens stopped. Frank stood and opened the door. He poked his head out for a while before he turned around. “I think everything is OK.” After he left, he got up and lay down on the ground to help us out.
“I’d invite you for tea but supplies are scarce with the war and all. About all I can do is offer you some water and what they call bread. Dry, hard, and tastes like dirt I say.”
I smiled. “That’s fine. Thank you.”
I sat down at the table and Rose sat next to me. She became attached to me all of a sudden. All I had to say I’ve already said. There was nothing more. I didn’t know how to get her to understand.
After our snack, we retreated to a couch in another room. I almost felt guilty with everything that happened. I never expected it to take this long.
I bowed my head and closed my eyes in the hopes that an idea would come to mind. How do I get rid of her and get her to understand? Thank you, Julian, for giving her the wrong information. I’d slap you if I could.
I raised my head up and opened my eyes. Nothing changed. She still sat next to me. I didn’t want to have another roundabout argument.
It was time for lights out. I didn’t mind staying on the couch so I lay down. She opted to lie on top of me. I tried to push her off but she continued to crawl on top of me.
“You are not a child. Stop and find somewhere else.”
“Nuh uh.” The sniffling had to come from her.
Great. “You are not a child. I’ve said and done all I could. Unfortunately, I can’t leave until you understand that.” At least, that was the assumption that ran through my mind. Otherwise, I would’ve been gone.
“You have to help me. He said you have to set it. So you can set it.” She held up her watch in front of her face.
“If you start screaming, you’re going to wake him up and I don’t think you want that. You know my response to what Julian said.”
“Then why would he tell me that? Why would he lie?” She put down the watch and grabbed my hands. “You’re not telling me something because you love me.”
“That’s for him to answer. Not me.” I tried to push her off again and about as far as that got was her sitting on the floor.
A thump followed by more sniffling were the next noises. I laughed into the couch because it was either that or screaming.
Did I need to worry that the sniffling stopped? No, but I was curious. I looked up and she fell asleep.
My watch turned green. Five… four… three… two… I hope the next stop was a tropical island.
Those plans changed when I felt something grab me from behind. Rose must’ve run inside while the door was still open. I didn’t want to push her off the trail but she gave me no choice.
She wouldn’t be the first one or the last. I continued down the pathway until it stopped.
I heard people calling from somewhere when I walked through the door. The dim lights didn’t help much. By the sounds of it, I was still in England.
“He struck again. He struck again. One of the whores was murdered.” He grabbed my collar. “You have to help her. Do something.”
I grabbed his hands and pulled them off my collar. “If she’s already dead, there’s nothing much that can be done. If anything.”
He shook his head. “Bloody hell. Limbs and blood all over I tell you. He killed her.”
Here we go. This would be the point I either got called an idiot or something worse. “Could you tell me where I am?”
“It shook you up too. Didn’t it? I should’ve known. A fine lady like you should not see such things. This is Whitechapel. Third of April in 1888. Remember now?”
Yeah, that did sound familiar. That would be about the time and place of the mysterious murders. Jack the Ripper.
“Body parts, everywhere, I tell you.” He grabbed my collar again. “Isn’t there anything? I saw that strange door you walked through. You are with him. I know you are. You can’t play innocent. Not for long.” He ran away screaming after that.
That meant not only did I find that body and alert the authorities, but I had to find whoever it was that man saw.
I threw away my hat. One of the street beggars would find it there. In the meanwhile, see if I can trade this dress for something a little more time consistent.
I looked in the rubbish containers, like everybody else did around here, and found a few things. They stunk, plain and simple, but it was the best I could do. Maybe with the next rain, I could scrub it against something to get most of that rotten smell off.
I opened my watch to check on it and it had a yellow glow to it. If it was yellow, then something or someone messed up this time period to his or her every advantage. That also meant, not only did I have to fix whatever needed fixing, but I had to disarm and render them a non-traveler.
Maybe if I got myself arrested, I could think of it as a break. I laughed at the thought and walked around a bit longer.
Between the dim lights and the thick smelly air it was not a pleasant place to be. I had to start looking when the sun rose, until then, stop somewhere and rest.
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