I found a gold ring that transported me to a parallel world. My companion Jessica and I have just appeared somewhere new. (The story begins here)
* * *
I’d expected a jolt or an impact or a burning sensation; there was nothing. I blinked and we were somewhere else. Specifically, we were falling off a bridge.
I’d barely had time to register what was happening when we hit the water. The bridge deck was maybe ten feet above us and the water was shallow enough that I struck bottom. Literally.
“Stop whining, Boy.”
“I landed on my wound.”
“Okay, you’re allowed one scream then. Now be quiet while I figure out where we are.”
“We’re in a creek that’s about two feet deep, beside a road bridge. There’s a man with a gun looking over the edge of the bridge.”
He had a ruddy face and a thick salt-and-pepper moustache that merged with muttonchops. He was wearing a dark bowler hat and suit jacket over a striped shirt. But most of all he was pointing a gun at us.
“Hey! What’re you doin’ there? Where’s that nosy cop?”
Jessica stood up, “We rost. You help us?”
His arm pulled up suddenly and sprouted a knife handle. The gun dropped with a ‘sploot’ into the water.
“Wha’ was that for?”
“Not polite to point. We come out cleekie and talk okay?”
“Jessica,” I hissed, “what’s with the cheesy accent?”
She hissed back, “It’s what he expects. Play along, Boy.”
Walking up to the bridge was pretty easy. Muttonchop was holding his arm and staring, probably because Jessica’s thin cloth outfit was soaked and leaving very little to the imagination.
“Okay Yankee-boy, where are we?”
“What matter? Don’t they have girls where you from?”
He looked at me pleadingly.
I adopted my best Bogart, “Look pal, what’s the nearest town?”
“And the date?”
“If this is twenty-fifteen, why are you dressed like a reject from a barbershop quartet?”
“Why are you wearing pyjamas, and why’s she in her underwear?”
“STOP!” We both looked at Jessica. “This is not the time to debate fashion!” She pointed at Muttonchop. “You are going to give us a ride into town and then pretend you never saw us. Otherwise you find out how many more knives I have hidden on me.” She reached over and yanked the knife out of his arm.
His car looked like it came from 1910, basically a black metal boat with running boards, a fold-down windshield and a canopy top mounted on a frame. It had running boards and spoked wheels and a silver canopy over the engine. The seats were real leather but surprisingly uncomfortable regardless. The engine chugged as we bounced down the dirt road at a breakneck ten m.p.h.
I leaned over to Jessica and whispered, “I thought this was twenty-fifteen.”
“Technology isn’t based on the calendar. This is what they’ve got; deal with it.”
As we drove through the woods I tried to take stock of things. Yesterday at this time I was out jogging in Calgary; by noon I was on another planet. Today I’m on yet another planet, one where progress took a leave of absence in the 1920’s somewhere. My traveling companion is a bossy Korean woman who claims to be almost a century old. Could this get any weirder?
Muttonchops called over his shoulder, “So, do you really want me to drop you in town, or should I take you straight to Professor Sebastian?”
“Well, I been thinking. You’re obviously from another world; it explains the stupid accents, the Halloween costumes, the not knowing what year it is. And if you just arrived, you probably want to see Prof Sebastian to get oriented. He’s the world expert on that kind of stuff.”
Jessica was turning an interesting shade of purple. “You mean he’s… Look. Drop us off when we get to town. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do we want to see Professor Sebastian!”