This week, I start giving answers.
Very cryptic, vague ones, but answers nonetheless.
So, if you haven’t read so far… what you’ve missed is generally a lot of confusion. A time traveller coming out of nowhere and basically remembering nothing except a girl he’s supposed to find. He was picked up by a couple of college students in the middle of the night. And now… we return to our regularly scheduled Thursday program.
Oh yeah and catch up here:
Part 3: A Sick Man & a Pocketwatch
Chase looked just about as worried about Demetrius as he had before. Maybe even a little more so. But at least he was fully awake this time.
I pulled on his arm a little to get him to step further into the room, giving a nervous smile. I looked back to the tall, curly-headed figure standing by the couch, gesturing his way.
“Chase, this is Demetrius.” Then gesturing back the other way. “And Demetrius, this is Chase.”
Demetrius’s pose made him look like some guy from a Jane Austen movie. The hands clasped behind his perfectly straight back and the slight tilt of his chin.
“Greetings, Mr. Chase.” He gave a polite nod to Chase, but confusion slowly crept across his features.
Chase gave a tiny wave and forced his mouth to curve upwards into a smile. “H-hey, man. Nice to meet you.”
Demetrius nodded again, then looked back over at me, his brow wrinkled in concern. “What did you give my name as?”
I blinked, wondering if I’d read the letter wrong. “Demetrius.”
“Oh.” He rubbed a hand over his stubbly beard and frowned, staring off into space. After being quiet for a few seconds, he started patting around his pockets. “Yes, I suppose that would be…” he froze suddenly, his muscles going stiff and his eyes widening. “My papers. I had a… I had a parchment in this pouch… possibly a holo-screen. But it was important and I… oh zounds…”
So much for him not noticing.
I swallowed and pulled his old letter back out of my pocket, waiting for a slight break in his rambling and frantic searching.
“You lost your…” Chase tore his eyes off Demetrius and glanced over at me. He blinked once, then gave me a look. “Zoey.”
I winced and shrugged, inching over towards Demetrius. I held out the paper. “Hey. This thing?”
His head snapped back up, hair whipping around his face, and his expression lit with relief. “Yes, I do believe that’s it.” He plucked it from my hand and unfolded the top, glancing over it a little. He nodded and stuck it back into his pocket. “Thank you. And yes, my name is, in fact, Demetrius.”
Wow. Good thing I didn’t keep that paper.
“Mm.” Chase pressed his lips together.
It was silent for a minute, only broken by the rattling buzz of the ceiling fixture’s old lightbulbs. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going through the guys’ heads, but I was just busy trying to figure what questions to ask first. Trying to narrow down all the questions I had. Because I had a ton.
Wait until one of them breaks the silence and starts talking about something else. Then like… bring it up sort of casually.
But what do you even talk about casually with a time traveller? When there’s some guy standing in front of you in a revolutionary war coat and Spanish boots who needs an old letter to even remind him of his own name, it’s kinda hard to come up with good icebreakers.
Still. Chase is an amazing guy.
Chase cleared his throat. “So, would you… like some coffee, Demetrius? Or tea?”
“Oh, tea would be… awesome. Many thanks.” Demetrius smiled. “Earl Grey, if you happen to be in possession of any.”
Chase and I exchanged a confused glance at his choice of words. But Chase just shrugged and moved on to the kitchen to get some tea.
I stood there, twisting my hands together and watching our guest.
Demetrius watched me, blinking a couple of times and still looking mildly confused. And pale. And like he probably needed to sit down again, by the way he seemed to be swaying back and forth on his feet.
I swallowed and cleared my throat. “D’you… want to sit down?”
Demetrius took a second to process my question, then smiled and nodded. “Yes, of course. Thank you.”
That seemed more like a reflex answer than anything else. And he made no move to sit down.
I nodded towards the couch.
“Oh.” Demetrius looked like he’d just then registered what I meant. He stepped over sideways and sat down on the edge of the couch. His long legs bent awkwardly from the angle of the low couch and he clasped his hands between his knees.
I chewed on my lip and eyed him.
Chase walked back into the room, the cuffs of his pajama pants scuffing on the floor. “Got the tea.” He held up the mountain skyline painted mug with steam drifting up off the top of it. The tea tag dangled down the side and fluttered a little as he handed it over to Demetrius.
“I do thank thee.” Demetrius nodded and took the tea. He wrapped his bony hands around the mug and closed his eyes as he inhaled the steam.
Chase stepped back and gave me another look, mouthing “thee?”
Just… ease into the conversation. Casual. Don’t freak him out.
Demetrius took a sip of the tea.
Chase scratched at the back of his head and shifted his stance. He crossed his arms stiffly over his chest, coughing a little. “So you… need anything else?”
His naturally quiet voice sounded very loud in the silent room.
Demetrius held up a hand. “I am fine.”
“Who’s Jane?” I asked, the question exploding out of me so quickly Chase jumped.
Demetrius’s vacant gaze moved up to my face, sharpening a little. “My Jane?”
“Yes, your Jane! The one you have the picture of and who that wrote that letter? Who is she?”
Chase looked between Demetrius and me. “So you read his letter too? Jeez, Zoey…”
I spread my hands. “Listen, we’re all trying to figure out what’s going on here. I don’t see why we shouldn’t have all the pieces of evidence out in the open.”
Demetrius’s voice cut off both of us from arguing any further. We both shifted our gazes over to him.
He stared down into the mug of tea, looking like he didn’t even see it. “Jane Doe… is the most beautiful woman in the world. She’s kind and brave and… and selfless and amazing.” His voice was quiet. “I didn’t deserve her. I still don’t. But she deserves to be found. Not left to…” his words trailed off.
I leaned over closer, moving to sit on one of the chairs near the couch. “But in that letter. She said… she was leaving by herself.”
Demetrius didn’t look up at me, just shaking his head a little so his curls swung back and forth. “That’s not her handwriting. She barely knew how to read until I taught her. Her handwriting… it’s not that.”
Goosebumps raised on my arms under my coat and I felt a tingle up my spine.
Now this was a mystery.
“She wouldn’t leave me. She wouldn’t,” he mumbled, more to himself than to either of us.
I stared at Demetrius. “Do you… know who took Jane? If she didn’t write that note then…”
“Then she could have had someone write it for her,” Chase interrupted. “And, Jane Doe, though? That’s her… actual name?”
Demetrius raised his head. “Yes, of course. Why?”
He looked annoyed. “I have gone to great effort to make sure that I am. Again, why?”
Chase’s eyebrows went up. “Because that’s like… a fill-in-the-blank name. It’s basically like ‘anonymous’, just specific to women. It’s been that way forever.”
Demetrius paled at that, pulling in a breath. “Oh curses.”
I leaned over further. “Do you know who would take her, Demetrius?”
“I… I…” Demetrius opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. He set the tea down on the coffee table and rubbed his shaking hands together. “I feel like I do. Somewhere. There’s just so much…”
I frowned. “Well, where do you come from? What time?”
“Oh, that…” he looked more confident for a second, snapping his fingers together a few times. “I come from… from when… there were…” he narrowed his eyes. “I had dinner with King Henry the Eighth once. And we’d colonized the moon. Dinosaurs were everywhere. I grew up on a small farm in Yorkshire before being drafted into the Great War…” His voice cracked. He scrunched a hand in his hair, squinting over at the wall. “And they figured out how to make blue watermelons. A remarkable development.”
There… went any of my remaining faith in Demetrius’s sanity.
As he trailed off and looked over at me this time, his expression looked more worried than before. His eyes momentarily a little clearer and looking like he actually saw me. “There… there is a time that’s like that, right?”
I swallowed and shook my head.
Demetrius groaned softly and dropped his head into his hands. “I’m sorry. I… everything is so mixed up. My memories… I can’t… it’s hard to tell which ones are mine anymore.”
Gosh. I guessed time travel had some adverse effects on people I hadn’t even considered until now.
I bit my lip and looked sideways at Chase.
Chase looked more worried than I’d seen him in a very long time. He looked sideways back at me and raised his eyebrows, pressing his lips together in a tight line. Like he was saying “you were the one who brought him here, you asked for this” telepathically.
“You see, I’m… sick.” Demetrius raised his head again, one of his hands dropping down to fiddle with the loops of his scarves. “I’m very sick.”
Chase perked up slightly. Something that he could actually quantify and help, finally. “I have a first aid pack and a few meds,” he offered. “If you want.”
His eyes still clear for the moment, Demetrius gave Chase a frown. “Young man, this sickness is beyond comprehension for your time. It involves a science of the mind and its inner workings that boggles all medical practitioners. There’s no simple medical treatment.”
Chase just stood there for a second. He nodded slowly. “Right. Okay, I’m gonna go grab the kit.”
“A first aid kit…” Demetrius muttered, shaking his head. He flung one scarf end over his shoulder. “The scarves are about the only preventative measure that even works.”
There were so, so many questions I wanted to ask him. This was like a world-history-major’s dream come true, having a time traveller drop out of the blue like this. But by the way he’d been talking… it didn’t look like I’d be getting a lot out of him for now.
“So you are… actually from the future, then. By the way you’re talking about medical advancements and stuff.”
Demetrius frowned for a second. “I suppose I could be. Though I obviously haven’t been anywhere where they’ve figured out a cure for the whole time sickness thing. “
“Mm.” I nodded. This wasn’t getting anywhere.
And talk about an impossible mission. Looking for one Jane Doe in all of history combined?
No wonder he was going insane.
At least he has a picture to go off of.
“Found it!” came Chase’s muffled voice. His scuffing footsteps came back down the hall from the bathroom.
I pushed my hair back from my face and turned to Demetrius again as Chase stepped back into the room. Despite the fact that he was looking less mentally present by the second, he had to at least know the answer to this one.
“Hey, Demetrius. How do you time travel?”
He broke off from his blank staring and straightened up as he turned towards me. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the dangling watch and smiled like he was showing off a picture his child had drawn. Carefully, he twisted a knob on the outside, then looked up to me.
“I’ll show you.”
Demetrius flipped open the watch.
And the room melted away.
Where did they go? We’ll have to see next week.
Tune back in next Thursday to see what happens!