I found a gold ring that transported me to a parallel world. Now my guide has a twisted ankle and I have a spear in my behind. (The story begins here)
* * *
“And now I have to decide whether we jump to another world. There’s no guarantee it’ll be any safer or friendlier than this one.”
“Friendlier? You call this friendly?”
“Nobody’s trying to kill us, there are relatively few wild animals and parasites, and most of the plants aren’t poisonous. Friendly is relative.”
She rose up onto her knees, put her fingers in her mouth and gave a loud double-whistle. Then she started pushing herself up.
“Don’t you have a twisted ankle?”
“Yes I do, and yes this hurts. But my horse can find us better if I’m standing up.”
A few moments later her horse walked up and she patted its head. Then she took off the saddlebags and gave it a pat on the rump. The horse wandered a few yards off and started munching a tuft of grass.
She dropped the saddlebags and then herself to the ground, then started pulling medium-sized rocks together.
“What are you doing?”
“Making a campfire. We’re going to need one.”
“Is it going to be dark soon?”
“No, we’re going to need the heat. I’m going to take that spear out of your ass and if it’s grazed any big blood vessels I’ll have to cauterize it. The fact that there’s not much blood now is a good sign.”
“Are you going to untie me?”
“Nope. With your hands and feet bound it’s harder for you to flail around. And I’ll tell you now this is going to be painful.”
I thought about that while she prepared the fire. Actually, I tried to think about anything else, but my mind kept coming back to it. I have this thing about pain: when it happens I take something and either sleep it off or call a doctor.
Finally she pushed me down and sat on my legs. While I’d been wallowing in misery she’d set out a few medical supplies from a fairly modern-looking first aid kit. Before I could ask she addressed me.
“Not really. Do you have any… AAAAUGH!”
She was right. It was painful. And the pain got worse a moment later when she rammed some evil-smelling salve into the wound. Finally she pressed a white gauze bandage on it and taped it into place. Finally she slapped the other cheek.
“Good as new. You’ll bruise a bit, but nothing major was damaged. It’s also going to hurt to sit for a few days.”
She shifted her weight from my legs to the ground and set to work wrapping her ankle.
“When did you pull my pants down?”
“While you were crying like a baby after I pulled the spear out.”
“Are you going to pull them back up?”
“Nah, a little sun will help with that pale colour.”
“What about my…?”
“Oh stop whining. The crown jewels are perfectly safe unless a scorpion comes along.”
“They like shade and meat. If you want to protect them, roll onto your side.”
“But then you’ll…”
“I’ve seen nuts before. Unless you’ve got a hook or a third ball it won’t be anything new. Anyway, I have to get the tent set up. The wind can be pretty awful here at night.”
“So we’re not leaving?”
“Not today. Neither of us is in any condition. We’ll work out a course of action in the morning.”
Within twenty minutes she had a tent set up. I offered to help but she ignored me. Every now and then she’d look over at me, and she seemed to like what she saw. Once the tent was up she dragged me inside and onto an animal skin.
“Now we wait. Any ideas on how to pass the time?”
“You never give up, do you?”
“I was going to say you could tell me more about what’s going on. What’s on your mind, girl?”
She stared at the fire a bit, and I stared at her. It actually surprised me when she started talking.
“I was trained as a secretary. Typing, filing, that sort of thing. Back then it was about all a woman was allowed to do. Then came the war and a lot of girls got jobs in factories, freeing up the men to go fight the Nazis. Do you have Nazis where you come from?”
“Had them. We fought that war in the 1940’s.”
“So did we. Beat them pretty handily, too. They surrendered not long after we dropped the bomb on Munich. What we didn’t know is that they’d already won.”
“Huh? But we beat the Nazis. The Japs, too. No offense.”
“None taken, I’m Korean. My America didn’t fight the Japanese; they had their side of the Pacific, we had ours. Anyway, we made a lot of sacrifices to fight the war; the one we didn’t notice was our freedom. By the time Hitler was beaten we had a fascist in the White House. Once the Germans were beaten they kept finding excuses to keep the people down. Maintaining order, they called it. They even had a slogan: Amerika First.”
“The blacks were the first victims. They wanted freedom from being second-class citizens; they got ghettos and concentration camps. It wasn’t long before the Asians got the same. I escaped by finding a magic ring that sent me to another world.”
“And that all happened just a few years ago?”
“No, it was the 1950’s. I’m older than I look.”