It’s Thursday, and we all know what that means.
Out with the old cliffhanger, in with a new one!
When we last left off, our crazy time traveller opened his crazy time traveling pocketwatch and zapped our two college students out of their own dimension.
Let’s see what happens next. -eyebrow wiggle-
Catch up here:
Part 4: Not My Memory Lane
The feeling I got after that was by far the weirdest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. No competition.
You know that feeling of going down a big drop on a rollercoaster? It was sort of like that, only without having a rollercoaster car to sit in. And that your surroundings are just blurs of color and light and sound. It was like falling off a cliff into a very colorful tornado.
And that was only the start of it.
What went on inside my head was even weirder.
At first I thought it was just my life flashing in front of my eyes because… you know… I felt like I was about to die. But then I realized there was something a little off with the memories popping up in my head.
I remembered this stuff happening. I was there. This was stuff from when I was a kid. But it wasn’t from my point of view. I could see myself.
Voices and images flashed through, bits and pieces. The montage slowed down for a little bit on one certain clip.
I could see myself, at about age eight, standing there grinning at… me. Blonde hair all tangled up and stuck with playground wood chips. Dirt around my fingernails and a smear of it on my face.
Then the voice of the memory owner spoke.
“I’m gonna marry you when we grow up, Zoey. Okay?”
That was… Chase’s voice. I was remembering this like I was Chase.
Memory-me laughed. “You gotta catch me first!” I threw wood chips at him and took off in the other direction in a skipping sort of little-kid run.
Everything blurred back into the color tornado and I tried to yell for Chase, but my voice wouldn’t work. I couldn’t tell if everything was frozen into the big blur it was in or if it was just moving too fast for me to register anymore.
Suddenly I was seeing something else in my head.
At first I thought it was something I was remembering something from a historical documentary. It was on a big boat. Everyone was dressed in old-fashioned clothes. Was I remembering something from the Titanic movie? Man, it had been forever since I’d seen that.
But I was looking up at the stars on deck. I was much taller. I was smiling. It was freezing outside, but the smaller hand holding mine seemed to provide all the warmth I needed.
Green and blue ribbons of color played out across the sky, rippling around the stars.
“Well, what do you think?” I said, looking down.
A small woman with a familiar face I knew from a black and white photo, bundled in a too-big coat stood there. Her cheeks and nose were red from the cold and strawberry blonde hair whipped around in the wind, but her smile looked like it could split her face. She tilted her head back to look up at me.
“It’s beautiful, Demetrius.”
The memory rippled back into the blinding color from before, and then suddenly cut into black.
I woke up to the smell of Christmas trees and dirt in my face. And to the sound of Chase panicking. Chase doesn’t panic very often.
“You’re insane!” his voice cracked. “You are… oh my gosh, how did…? What wasthat? Where are we? What was all the… all the…?” he trailed off into spluttering.
“Hmm. That was a bit bumpier than usual.”
It took me a second to get my thoughts sorted enough to click that voice into place. Demetrius. The nut who ran into me on the road. Who was going to show us how he was able to time travel.
A small part of me started to panic along with Chase.
And another part of me started forming my boasts in my mind. Because I knewhe was a real time traveller. This should pretty well prove the point to Chase the skeptic.
I grimaced and rolled over a little, squinting my eyes open and brushing the poky pine needles off my face. We were in some sort of piney forest. There were a lot of ferns and a few thorny vines around the ground. It wasn’t night anymore. It was bright out, but the air was still cold.
“A little bit bumpier?”
I could see Chase now and he was standing alongside Demetrius. He was holding onto a tree branch to support himself. His baggy pajama pants were wet and muddy on the cuffs and he had pine needles in his hair.
Demetrius was examining his pocketwatch and looked no worse for the wear. Which is to say, still pretty bad, but no worse than before. Except for a few pine needles in his hair too. He didn’t spare a look back up at Chase, rapping a knuckle against the shiny gold surface of his pocketwatch. “Yes, quite a bit bumpier. You see, this device is only meant to transport one soul at once through the timestream. And when I took all three of us went, it had odd effects.”
Time travel. We actually… we actually time travelled. The fact finally started to sink in in my mind and my heartbeat fluttered a little. I bit back a grin, along with the impulse to just go ricocheting off around all the trees in the forest.
I knew it I knew it I knewit!
What time were we in? Where had he brought us?
It was a little hard to tell from… well… just the forest. At least I guessed this was somewhere further north. Maybe on the Pacific coast, guessing from all the greenery in the forest.
What sort of historic event would be in this area? Were we seeing the Native Americans? Lewis and Clark? Captain Cook?
Chase clenched one of his hands into a fist and there was the thin whoosh of him taking in a breath. “What wasthat? How did I get memories from Zoey and from… medieval Europe and old-timey Canadian Mounties?”
Europe and Mounties?
I pushed up into a sitting position and rubbed at my aching head. That was weird, I got the Titanic, but I didn’t get any…
Okay now that I was actually thinking about Mounties I realized there was this weird thing in my head about learning how to ride a horse. Like I knew how to do it. And I’d never done it before.
Weird. Was that some sort of clue as to where we were?
I craned my neck and looked around the forest, trying to find any other clues. Anything that might tip me off to what time this was.
“You two weren’t wearing the proper protection,” Demetrius responded, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You need a scarf, or you could get time sick. And I’ve never known anyone who had it, but I totally know that it’s not something I’d like to deal with.” He raised his eyebrows at Chase and they disappeared back into the untamed wilderness of his hair. Giving a wise looking gesture, he motioned to the multiple scarves that he wore.
Chase narrowed his eyes at him. “But just a little bit ago, you said you were…” he stopped as he noticed I was sitting up and abandoned the rest of his sentence. “Zoey! Are you okay?” he hurried over, dropping down next to me.
I winced a little and rubbed at my head again, but nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I gave him a bit of a smirk as he helped me to my feet. “Wish we had the time to put down bets before he started up that watch. I told you he was a time traveller.”
Chase rolled his eyes, but I saw a tiny smile before it melted back away into concern and worry. “Time travel. Do you… uh… have any idea where we are?”
I shrugged helplessly.
“I hope our good mademoiselle Zelda is okay?” Demetrius called back, turning away from his intense examination of the rest of the forest to glance back at Chase and me.
“Can’t speak for her, but Zoey’s fine, thanks.” I waved to him.
“Zoey, yes. Right. Of course.” Demetrius waved a hand absently, then turned back around, his coat swooshing behind him. “If you’ll kindly follow me, I believe there’s a road in this direction.” He started striding away, having to stretch his long legs up and around a few fallen logs. It made him look spidery.
He said something I didn’t quite catch as he retreated off into the thick green of the forest. Though I thought I caught the name “Jane”. At least he remembered one thing consistently…
Chase cleared his throat. “Uh… hey! Hey Demetrius?’ Keeping a reflexive hold on my arm, he started after the disappearing blue coat. He wound his path around a few odd ways as we moved after Demetrius. I realized a few seconds later it was because he was still in his bare feet as well as his pajama pants. And it looked like he’d gotten some scratches already. Demetrius and I were both in boots.
Demetrius’s uneven, crunching footsteps stopped and I was able to spot what little whiteness of his face was showing as he turned back towards us.
Chase raised a hand and let go of my arm, hopping up on a fallen, half-rotted log to walk over towards him further. “Hey. Okay so I know you have stuff you probably need to do in… this time. Whenever it is. Places to go, people to see, all that…”
“I need to find Jane,” Demetrius confirmed, nodding.
“Right,” Chase drew out the word as he came to a stop next to Demetrius. He blew out a breath and rubbed at the back of his neck. “Well we… really don’t need to find Jane. So I don’t really see what we’re doing here.”
“Well I did ask to see how time travel worked,” I put in as I moved up with both of them, stepping over a few more thorny vines. My hands were getting cold and I shoved them in my pockets.
“Yeah, but you didn’t mean take us,”Chase clarified. He paused and looked back at me with a frown. “Did you?”
I twisted my mouth to the side. “I didn’t think he’d say yes.”
“Your ladyfriend did ask,” Demetrius pointed out, spreading his hands. “And here we are.”
“Chase, I lovehistory. That’s what I chose to study in college! How could I pass this up? And come on, time travel?” I raised an eyebrow at him. “Look me in the eye and tell me honestly that you’ve never wondered if it was possible.”
Chase just dropped his head back and glanced at me barely out of the corner of his eye, looking exhausted.
I hesitated a little. “Though, okay, some warning might have been nice.” I turned to Demetrius. “But what time are we in right now?”
He closed his eyes for a second and took in a breath through his nose. “Eighteen-ninety-nine, in British Columbia, Canada.”
I felt a smile pull my mouth wide even though I was trying to keep my face serious. “The end of the Canadian Gold Rush.”
I always loved that time period. Sort of the heart of Canada’s old-west phase.
Demetrius’s face registered surprise as he opened his eyes. “Indeed. Are you a historian too?”
“Okay, okay. Canadian Gold Rush. Great.” Chase held up his hands. “Apart from the fact that I have no idea if you’re even telling the truth or howthat stupid pocketwatch of yours even works, we really don’t need to be here. Could you please take us back home and continue on your time-quest by yourself?”
“Mm.” Demetrius raked his fingers into his tangled hair, pushing it back from his face. “That would require… more trips than necessary.” He looked sideways between the two of us. “I expect that both of you experienced the strange shift in your memories? There’s something there that wasn’t before?”
I thought again about the vivid horse-riding memory that I didn’t have before. About seeing memories through Chase’s and Demetrius’s eyes.
Chase and I exchanged a glance and I nodded.
“You see,” Demetrius untangled his hand from his hair so he could gesture more freely and his hair fell back into his face. “Every time you make a trip – every time you go through the timestream unprotected like that – that happens. You pick up memories. Some of them useful to your visit to that time, some not. But none of them are yours. And every unprotected trip gives you more.” He eyed us both, one hand still up, half-gesturing as he waited for us to give an indication that we understood.
“So…” I began. “We go back to our time and just going through the timestream would give us more memories? Even if we’re going back to our same time?”
“Every trip comes with memories if you’re not protected,” Demetrius repeated. “And too many memories leads to time sickness. Madness.”
So more trips back. A few more memories might not drive Chase and me crazy. But the way Demetrius already was… I felt bad making him go through two more whole trips.
“And you need to do things here anyway. So just… we’ll finish that up first before we go home, I guess. No unnecessary trips.” I shrugged, picking a couple of pine needles out of my own hair. “Then we can all go back to where we were and figure everything out after this.”
Chase threw his hands up and turned around, taking a few steps away from us like he was just going to leave. Like he’d have better chances wandering off into the forest to die than sticking with us two crazies.
“Chase, come on!” I called after him. “We’ll still go home, we just need to ask around about Jane first!”
“On my honor, Mr. Chase. No harm will come to you or your girlfriend,” Demetrius added, putting a hand over his heart, where it was promptly buried by three layers of scarves.
“Yeah, don’t mind me,” Chase called back. “I’m just the party pooper stranded in the Canadian wilderness in my pajama pants and bare feet.” But he stopped walking away. He sighed and turned back to look back at me and the crazy time traveller he’d left me standing next to.
His shoulders slumped tiredly, Chase scuffed his way back to us.
I bit my lip. “We can probably find you some chaps or something, right?”
Chase let out a small, humorless chuckle and shook his head. “Let’s get this over with.” He looked over to Demetrius. “Where do you need to go?”
Demetrius smiled, dimples showing through his scruffy beard. “Just down the road and into town. There are a few people I need to see.” He stretched out one hand like a signpost to one side. “The road is this way.”
We were going to see an actual old town. Actual historic people. I tried not to look as excited as I was.
I elbowed Chase a little as we started walking. “Hey, think we can steal some horses while we’re at it?”
Chase groaned softly. “Please no.” He stepped around another thorny vine and ducked a cedar branch. “Not unless it’ll get us home sooner.”
Thankfully, the road was a lot closer than we anticipated. And it was a lot easier walking than the forest floor.
Mountains peered down on us, blue and dusty from off in the distance as they looked over the pine treetops. The rough dirt scuffed underfoot as we all walked. Birds chirped in the trees and chilly wind blew through, making a dull roaring noise as all the forest branches brushed together.
Usually I’m one to strike up conversation when there isn’t a lot of talking going on, but I was just too busy taking in the scenery here. It was just so… untouched. I mean, yeah the road was there. And it seemed like a well-travelled road. But everything around us was just so raw and wild. And so beautiful. I didn’t even think of talking. It seemed like it would ruin the scenery to make my own sound.
But after a while of walking, Chase raised a hand slightly like he was interrupting the teacher in school, coming over a little closer to Demetrius as the road started to turn around another clump of trees. “So this town… is…?”
“Right here,” Demetrius cut him off, nodding and gesturing ahead in the road. “Excellent instincts, Mr. Chase.”
We both looked up to see that we were coming right up on a honest-to-goodness old west town. I could see a red-clad Mountie on his horse, trotting down the street. Men that looked like lumberjacks and gold miners made their way from building to building.
I stopped in my tracks, trying to get my breath to come evenly again.
Chase’s eyebrows went up and he looked a little impressed. “So, you said you have friends here?”
“Not friends, exactly,” Demetrius corrected, not breaking his stride. “I know ofthem. I know that if anyone can help me find my Jane here, they can.”
“Oh.” I nodded and managed to get my feet working again, jogging a few steps to catch back up with the boys.
The hill we were on sloped downwards, leading into town. My heartbeat pounded, questions and excited thoughts popping into my head with nearly every thump.
Will people notice our modern clothes? It’s not like we’re wearing anything super brightly colored. What will they say? Can I talk to people and ask questions? How long can we stay?
I was so lost in my thoughts I didn’t notice at first when Chase stopped in front of me. I almost ran into his back.
“Hey, what…?” I looked up and blinked, trailing off as I saw why he’d stopped.
A wiry man with a close-shaven beard in a raggedy, brown coat stood in the middle of the road. He eyed us from under the shadow of his old, brimmed hat. And then slowly, he raised a gun to point at us.
My heart skipped a beat.
Chase made a strangled noise.
Demetrius raised his hands and blinked, looking surprised.
The man in the middle of the road let out a breath that sounded half like a sigh. He raised his eyebrows. “Demetrius Morrow. I was really hoping you wouldn’t show up.”
Oh hooo who’s this?
We will see next week. -fingergun- Tune back in next Thursday!
Any theories? Share them below!