Images of night VIII – Changes

I am walking through the old city, a city carved in stone that stretches over the landscape like a blanket. It is almost as vibrant as I imagine it once was, full of shops and entrepreneurs looking for a new fix. When this old city was first built there was no electricity so the streets were lit by candles or oil lamps, making the already ominous streets all the more ominous, now though it is mostly full of tourists, taking in the sights and going through the shops and boutiques that make as much part of the scenery as the old brick streets are. There are small slits in the walls; those are most likely the only remains of the old oil lanterns. The city is surrounded by an old brick wall that is mostly torn down; it used to have several gates that were the entrance and exit points of the city. Each gate had a designated name, I know that much although I don’t know the names of the different gates. I don’t even know why certain parts were named a certain way. I imagine that most large cities had similar protective walls around them, with these large double door gates, although none of the gates have those doors anymore, just a large hole in the wall.
I continue marching through the city, every street corner and every several feet a salesman tries to sell me something. Sometimes bags, something clothing, jewellery and sometimes things I can’t really recognize. I try to keep my conversation with them to a bare minimum because I really don’t wish to buy anything and they usually are very leach like. They attach themselves unto you and don’t let go until they sold you something, an attitude I tend to dislike.
I continue to march through the city until I reach the coast where the sea greets the remains of a castle. At least so I am told, there is very little to see of the castle itself, most of it was destroyed I think. There are two broken down fortifications still present, but those are very low and resemble a path that leads to what might have been the castle, the only evidence that a castle was ever there. I stare at the blue sea there are seagulls everywhere they flock around in search of fish that they try to grab from unsuspecting fisherman or even tourists that walk around. I turn away from the beautiful sea and head back to the old brick city.
I reach the old city and enter it through the large gate. As I walk through the street there is a sudden shift, almost like a rift that is going through me. It passes through everything and right in front of my eyes the tourists that cluttered the streets change slightly. Their clothing changes into a multicoloured facet mostly with checker like patterns and bright colours. The hair is also something else it is high voluminous and very out there. The jeans that most of the people are wearing are very tight I would almost say these are women jeans. Several more moments pass as I stare at the crowd and they back at me and then without a doubt in my mind I know what this is. It is the 80s, the era where guys wearing extreme colours and crazy hair-dos were ok. It took 10 years of this mess and many people hating it for it to turn into the boy band 90s.
I snicker, and swallow a laugh as several incredible characters shuffle past and decide to make the most of this day. There was one thing I forgot about this era I notice, everyone around me is smoking and it takes mere seconds for the smoke to cling to my cloths and skin. Back in the 80s smokers were not restricted to a handful of places only, and it was common to smoke everywhere, then my ear twitches as I recall something else that is so very commemorative of the 80s. I quickly walk down the street when I hear it, the radio music of the 80s, the single most impressive era in music, because in one little swoop it forced every band to include synthesisers and a generic beat. Although for many it was also the birth of many different styles many of which I enjoy tremendously.
After the first wave of laughter falters and I can stop myself from continued outbursts, I try to figure out what has happened. It seems as though I have gone back in time, or that time somehow changed. It would also mean that my flight back is now cancelled, so I can’t use it anymore. This posed a little problem, but considering it is 1980 or at least somewhere in that time frame I can at least buy a ticket for a much cheaper price. I smile a big smile but it does not last as I don’t have access to my account, because I haven’t even opened it yet. So that means that the cash that I have is all the cash money I have at the moment. That would not last a very long time; I would have to find something to give some much needed cash quickly.
I try not to panic and keep calm. There must be some logical explanation for everything that has happened and if I can’t find it at the moment than I must do something to at least be able to survive in this era. I know the 80s well form the party’s we had and the themes I had played with myself, so there must be some way to make money of it. I know what companies will make money in the future, but of course to invest the little cash money that I have into the stock market won’t work, maybe though I can do something else that will give me some money, something that won’t require stealing money from a bank or living on the streets begging for money.
Winning the lottery would be a good option but I don’t remember the numbers that won back then, but maybe I can make a bet of some kind. I look through the city to see if there is something I know that I can use. First I need to know the exact date, as well as which events are taking place and what bets I can make. This proves to be easier said than done, the date is easy enough. I find a local newspaper stand that shows the date (I am almost positive that I did not see this newsstand on the way here) to be 12th of September 1985. The date means nothing to me, I know there is no soccer game at the time no world cup. The tennis tournaments that I watched are mostly already over, I can think of nothing that I can use to my advantage betting wise. Regrettably I give up on the idea and look for something else that I might be able to do.
I walk through the city for most of the day thinking about what I can do, but nothing comes to me at the end I am just tired and hungry and annoyed. I get some food and count the money that I have, it is enough for a small dinner and that’s it. I decide to go get the dinner and think about the problem later, I might find a better answer on a full stomach.
It is night, there are people walking through the street that are real characters and I still haven’t found a place for the night. The money I have left is not enough for a hotel or anything of the sort and my backpack is filled only with useless things. A change of clothes my camera and a bottle of water. There is also a map of the city but other than that there is nothing in that could help me. I walk onwards through the endless streets and start to feel slightly dispared, the hours pass and still I have nothing. I ask the people for help but I am shut down quickly and efficiently. Perhaps I am doing something wrong, they all speak English as a second language and maybe my needs do not come across. Either way it is difficult to communicate with them and I have no experience in talking to them, I have never found myself in a situation where I have no home, no house or place where I can sleep. I also have no experience in asking people for help or in this case begging. It is a humbling experience that I hope I will not have again.
It is the middle of the night when I finally rest next to a somewhat shady building. My legs hurt and I decide that I had enough, I am too tired and I the place is too inviting and I just sleep there.
A kick from someone wakes me up, and angrily I get up. I get shouted at by some old lady who says something I don’t understand. I try to make myself at least partially understood but she just nods her head in disgust and leaves me. After that rude wakeup call I look back at my surroundings and the hope that it was all a figment of my imagination dissipates together with the smoke from all the cigarettes. I get up and take several steps when suddenly I see a bubble in front of me. It looks like a soap bubble that increases in size until it engulfs the whole path in front of me. I turn to run from it but it increases in size much quicker than I can move and just like that I am sucked in. A flash of light blinds me and I hear the hustle of people walking past me. I stare around and find that I am back. I am in my own time I let out a shout of joy and get several odd looks, but I don’t care. I quickly go to an ATM and take out a large sum of money. It is a reflex that I would have never done if I wasn’t stuck in this situation for fear of getting robbed, but now that is but a small thought. I quickly go to the hotel for the sleep I had last night was a bad one and a nice sleep will do me good.
The hotel is exactly as I have found it and a smile finds its way to my mouth as I think about going inside and getting into my comfortable bed. I go inside immediately to my room, take a shower and crawl into my bed wearing my pyjamas. But before I can fall asleep something strange happens around me. A smoke like substance blinds my vision and in the space of breath that it takes for me to blink, I see that something has changed. The lighting in the room I am in is different, even the bed I am in is different. I look around and see that my things have disappeared, replaced with things that I don’t know, the large television set that was hanging on the wall is gone and there is no television anywhere in the room.
I try to think clearly and come to the conclusion that I have been moved once again. I am in a different time again; therefore this is most likely someone’s home. I move quickly and remove my pyjamas. There are some cloths that resemble old gangster cloths in the wooden closet, old suits that were famous in old movies. I decide to quickly take one of these suits, wear it and get out as quickly as I can before I am caught in a situation I can’t explain. I get out of the front door and find that the hotel is now a residence, I quickly close the door behind me and run out of what used to be the hotel and look at the street that is in front of me. It is different than what it was like previously. Not so much because of the walls of the city, because those look very similar. At first sight they are the same old walls that were there previously, but on closer inspection they are dirtier. There is something else, it is the air, it smells of coal not a lot, but as though there is someone burning coal close by. I continue to walk and try to figure out when I am. There are still some cars around but they look old, classic. I must then still be in the 1900s maybe 1940?
I notice the attire of the people around me, and it is definitely before my time. I have seen it before however in old classic movies. There is one thing I also see everywhere; Soldiers, they speak French and they all carry firearms. I don’t know what is going on but maybe this is an aftershock of the world war, if I could only figure out the exact date I might know a little more. The other thing that strikes me is that there are hardly any coloured people around, when I arrived here there were many Chinese and other Asians walking around the city, but now there are none and except for the Muslims who were part of the population at the beginning, there is not much else other than the French army. I reach a small newsstand and this time it is again slightly different. It is blue and looks like a weird booth, on the papers I see to my surprise that almost everything is in Arabic except one newspaper that shows the date: 12 June 1950. I am further in the past still, just as I thought but if this continues on I will find myself stuck somewhere without a way back. My French is not good enough to understand what is written and I have learned already from previous encounters with the French that you can’t expect them to speak any other language other than French.
Luckily I took out enough money before leaving to eat and perhaps get another place to stay. I walk towards a small diner and ask for food in English. The waiter smiles not really understanding but gives me a menu anyway. The menu is split between Arabic and French and so I try to just say to the waiter that I want something simple with salads. At the end I get a large plate of all sorts of things that look and smell delicious. I eat with vigour and enjoy it immensely. When I am finished I signal the waiter and get the bill. I put more than the amount that is written and give it back to the waiter. The waiter takes the money smiles at me and walks away. I get up to walk out but before I can leave the waiter comes back and shouts something at me pointing at the money. I don’t know what it is and I try to ask what is wrong with the money. He pulls out a different bill and points to it; I stare at it and realize it is completely different from the money that I am holding. There must have been a currency change between 1950 and my time. I try to apologize and motion that the money is very valuable and that they should keep it. But the waiter is having none of it and I get shouted at whole heartedly. Just then two French soldiers enter the diner and the waiter walks towards them explaining the situation. The soldiers look at me and laugh they point to the back and I am pushed by the waiter to the kitchen where I am put to work. I spend the whole day in the kitchen cleaning dishes. It is hard work and very tiring, when I am finally done the day has passed and it is now dark outside. The waiter and whole group of people are standing around me ready to kick me out. I leave them and once again I now need to find a place to stay. But knowing that my money is of no good I reluctantly search at the outskirts of the city.
Before I even reach the outskirts of the city, lamps are suddenly lit everywhere. Not the lamps I saw hanging just seconds ago but rather florescent neon lights I smile in hope that I have perhaps moved back to my time. I run through the streets and notice that there are many people around of all races and colours. I am back in my time and because of the darkness I didn’t even notice. I quickly go to my hotel not caring if I wake up in someone’s personal flat or not. I very rapidly reach my room; take a shower and fall asleep exhausted.
I wake up rested and content; I get up happy to see that I am still in my hotel. I get up, get dressed in a comfortable long-sleeved T, jeans and hiking shoes. I walk out of the hotel after enjoying a hearty breakfast many glasses of fresh water which I gulp down eagerly. I entertain the thought that maybe this ordeal is over with and I can now continue a normal holiday, but just as that thought enters my mind reality wavers and I see it change again. Everything around me wavers and dissipates and this invisible wave changes many little things until it stops. This time the sky takes a dark black colour and I stare at it in confusion. The smell is that of burning or a grill or something. It is hard to pinpoint but it is a strong smell. The bricks around have gotten black stains on them, but other than that it doesn’t seem like any more changes have occurred. That is until I notice the people around me and the ground.
The people around me have changed their appearance again as well. I take note that the women are wearing large dresses, and everyone is wearing hats. There is shit on the ground, it belongs to horses and the wet smell of a manure is everywhere. In front of me I see a horse and carriage pass. It must be a long time ago, much earlier than the 50s at least. Maybe the industrial revolution or something like that, depending on whether I see any large machines maybe or… And then it hits me, the black clouds, the smell, the dark patches, the burnt like smell, it is coal that much is clear. Therefore the time must be the industrial revolution and I have now travelled further backwards in time than previously.
A thought strikes me I have now gone back twice and to two different times now the third time is further back still, maybe I will continue to go back until I am stuck somewhere in time where I can never return… It is a thought I don’t want to contemplate and I try to force it out of my head. Instead I decide to focus on becoming a little less conspicuous as I stand out too much. Specifically because now there is no one that dresses like me and I can’t just say I am from out of town, or perhaps I can, although I doubt that they will believe me.
There are people walking through the streets, there are French again everywhere and Arabic people. Although I stand out the people are not paying much attention to me, I continue to walk through the street trying to find out more about where I am. There are children running around and it smells everywhere. I am not overly thirsty yet but I know it is only a matter of time. I know now that the next time I get back I will prepare food and water, if I don’t I might have other problems. Still until this time the maximum amount of time I was gone was a day therefore I just have to make it one day without food or water which shouldn’t be too hard to do.
Suddenly before I can do anything else a rift appears and everything around me disappears. The stone covered pavement that I was just walking on is gone, and for several moments I am stuck in a place where I can only see ripples, colours and shapes surround me and become visible when a ripple nears me. I can feel no wind, no air, nothing that normally would tell me something. It is as though I am stuck in some sort of limbo between waves of time. One such ripple leaves the others and is coming towards me, it engulfs me and the nothingness I had just been in is changed to a specific place and time. I am in the same place I was only now it is somewhen else again. The stone covered pavement I walked on is a dirty brown with patches of dark matter everywhere. The beautifully decorated shops disappear to reveal a dirty and work like atmosphere. The signs, the fashionable oil lamps, everything is gone almost like in a magic show, to be replaced by wooden signs depicting the sort of shop that is found at the location, little black structures are struck with pins into the walls and it takes me a moment to realize that these are the oil lamps, only much more primitive. The worst thing however, is the smell. I pinch my nose several times to try and overcome the smell but it is like an essence here. It is almost like a gloopy syrup that glues onto your skin and enters your pours and presses all around you like a blanket. The worst of all is the physical feeling the smell leaves on your skin, it is like a layer of invisible clothing almost covering you from head to toe, in mere moments of being in it I feel dirty myself and it serves as a reminder that it is here to stay.
I try not to gag as I rush through the now alien streets and in horror realize I have stepped into something. I look down and see that my sport shoes just entered in a large pile of waste. The once white and clean shoes are now brown and disgusting. The people around me are giving me strange looks; they are wearing sheets of clothing most of them brown with shoes that resemble a cross between a cowboy boot and a farmer’s one. Their faces and skin are equally brown and look dirty; their teeth are yellow and gingivitis it seems has found a place where it can prosper. On closer examination I notice that what I had taken to be the colour of their cloth is actually shit or waste. They all look like peasants to me, or something resembling farmers because they carry large baskets with what I think is food. But there is no way I can eat that, it looks dirty and I am almost sure that if I would eat it I would get a severe case of dysentery or food poisoning.
I try to make sense of when I am again and I know that wherever this is it must be earlier still, the way people are dressed and what the smell of dirt and shit means this must be somewhere around the Middle Ages or maybe earlier or maybe later. I am not an avid learner and history was never one of my strong suits. I suddenly remember something, the castle at the beach or better yet the lack thereof. That could prove as a marker for the time I am in. I remember that when I was walking down to the sea there was a pathway and that was the only thing left of the castle. It was built somewhere in 1500 and destroyed sometime after. So if I see it there I will know roughly when I am. A second thought than reminds me that it doesn’t really matter when it is as long as I can just avoid too much attention.
The language around me is also different, they no longer speak French but rather something that sounds a little like Spanish. I try to walk through the city as though I belong there but still there are many people around that are staring at me. They are pointing at me, most likely commenting at my shoes and cloths, or maybe it is my clean skin. I notice that I am one of the only ones that is clean shaven most of the other people around me have beards or stubs and the smell when they just walk past me is horrible.
A group of somewhat better dressed individuals are riding a carriage across the road from me. The carriage stops and the driver motions for me to approach him. Not wishing to attract attention, I come towards him. He says something in a language I don’t understand and motions to the door. I nod assuming that he wants me to approach it before I open it I can already smell it, the smell of cheap and very strong perfume. A smell so potent and disgusting that for a moment I don’t know what is worse the smell of shit that looms everywhere or the smell of cheap and strong cologne that masks a smell of shit. It is then that I also realize that it isn’t just the smell of shit; there is a smell of sweat, musty and old. The smell is of someone that hasn’t showered for a very long time. The perfume is most likely used to mask the smell of shit and dirt and the fact they have not had a shower for a long time.
I turn around take a deep breath, turn back and open the door. A woman is sitting there looking at me. She is wearing a large dress with a corset and she is looking at me expectantly. Not knowing what to do I smile at her. This was apparently the wrong this to do for she gasps in shock and quickly shuts the door. The driver quickly drives off leaving me somewhat perplexed on the paved road. I shrug and continue my walk to the sea.
I reach it with little difficulty and although every single person that passes me by stares at me (including the many baggers that are sitting or lying on the floor), no one makes an attempt to stop me. I look at the castle and can’t help but smile; there standing in front of me is the foundation of what is supposed to be the castle. This means that it must be early in the year 1500. Even with all the dirt, the work looks good it is not something that people do anymore in my day, but to see it built is a joy.
I sit down at a reasonable clean place and watch the workers go at it. Every now and again I can see what looks to be soldiers pushing people around. They hit people without any regard for anyone but themselves and for a moment I am afraid that will come for me. To my relieve they don’t, they are only interested in the work being conducted on the castles, for from my vintage point I can see another one being built on an island a little further from the coast. Large cannons are strategically placed all around the castle and it looks as though the Spanish are preparing for war, or at least for a contingency plan.
Looking at the castle being constructed I try to understand what is happening to me. I have now been zapped into the past several times, each time further into the past, each time first back to my time before ending up even further. This time though I was in a crossroad of sorts and I didn’t end up back in my time but rather I was immediately whisked back to where I am now. There must be some kind of pattern that I am missing, something that would tell me at least why this is happening and how I can control it.
As these thoughts rummage around through my head I fail to notice the things that happen around me. A group of soldiers have apparently noticed me and have made up their mind are now approaching me. I panic and quickly get up I run quickly down the street in opposite direction from the soldiers. I sprint as fast as I can, not looking back to see if they are following me. It is only when my breathing comes in gulps and I heave with the effort that I take a look back. My chest hurts and I nearly vomit from the effort, but fortunately I have gotten away and no one is behind me. I want to smile and laugh at my brilliance when in front of me is a shift, a tremble that looks like a drop that is hitting the water, it resonates sending pulses of waves through everything and just like that reality dissipates and I find myself in the crossroads once again.
This is the second time that I have ended up here, each time the way to get in is slightly different and each time I move through time there are differences. I am still nowhere nearer to finding out why all of this is happening to me. The ripples are almost tangible, as though I can reach out and grab them. I look at them and notice that there are different ripples all through this room, if I can call it a room. I am standing on something although I can’t see what it is. The first time I was here I was so captivated by seeing nothingness or perhaps just the darkness being interrupted by the mist and ripples that appeared in front of me that I failed to notice anything else. Like the fact that I was breathing, walking and doing everything a normal person does, in a place that look similar to a vacuum. I have a few moments before the ripples start and I try to find a way to get back home, this trip down history lane was fun for a moment, but that moment has now passed and I would like to go home.
I search around me for clues; there must be something that could lead to one way or another, something that will let me regain control of when I am going. Around me though there is nothing but darkness, no sound, no wind, no air to breathe although I am clearly breathing. My lungs are taking in air from somewhere, even though it appears not to be this room. I try as hard as I can to come up with an answer, if there is something that happened to entrap me in this contraption, I can’t recall what that something was, but maybe that is not important. All I need to do is find a way out, but before I can think a little longer about what my options are I can see the ripples of time around me. It feels like looking through a tainted opaque glass that distorts everything that you see. I try to make out what is there, but the image is too distorted and slowly the ripples are coming towards me and I am in a new place once again.
The castle is gone, the old city is gone. I am close to the sea where just moments ago I witnessed the building of the castle, but now there is nothing to even prove there was something there in the first place. I look around and all I see for the most part is landscapes filled with sand and some vegetation. In the distance over the hills there are several small houses made from stone.
I try to grasp when I am now, for it is clear that I am much further in the past. If I was somewhere in the 1500s before I am now significantly before that. I don’t remember when the old brick city was built but it was old. Older than the castle that is now also gone. I walk along the coastal line locked in thought. I have again not moved to my present time, this movement through time to the past must have something to do with the ripples I saw. The ripples must be time itself or at least a moment in time, it is this moment that I keep finding myself sucked into. The ripples also seem to take longer each time to transport me, or get to me almost as if the space within the darkness is growing, or standing still perhaps for longer periods of time. Maybe this is what affects the ripple that I see the longer the distance the further away I am moved through time. But then why was I moved back to the present the first two times?
It takes me some time to figure it out, but the only change was that the first two times I did not see the ripples or the dark place. All I saw was my reality change or disappear around me until everything changed. As soon as I found myself in this in between place I could no longer move forward, or back to the present, I could only further back. But as far as I could tell there was nothing else in the room that I could manipulate or at the very least change.
A tap on my shoulder disrupts my thoughts and I turn to look a 40 year old gentleman standing in front of me. He is wearing a yellow coloured bag-like tunic attached to him with clasps and thongs. I look at my shirt which has one little decoration like button on it and back at this gentleman who has clearly never seen my kind of cloths before. His face is in awe and he keeps touching my shirt and button with a twinkle in his eye. I try to politely leave but the man doesn’t let me, he says something I don’t understand, his hands are rough but strong, he is nearly my height and although I assumed the people further down the past would be weaker than us in the present that is apparently not the case. The man in front of me is definitely not weaker than me, if anything I think he is stronger than me. He pulls at my shirt and shouts something in my ear. I push him back violently and he takes several steps back. This makes him stop and for the first time he looks at me, not at my cloths but at my face. His face is hardened, his mouth tightly shut and he looks like a man that has seen his share of troubles in the world.
Without a word he walks away towards the houses in the distance. I let out a sigh of relief and sit down. Several moments pass as I try to gather my thoughts and reclaim my calm, I look at the cloth of the long-sleeved T that I am wearing, the jeans and the hiking shoes. They do not fit the scenery and naturally I do not fit here, but for the moment there is not a lot I can do and so I leave it alone and just try to relax. My throat is soar and I am thirsty, it has been a while since I drank and the hours are taking their toll on me. Or at least it feels like hours, it is hard to tell. I suddenly remember my phone, with everything that happened I completely forgot about it. I take it out and have a look at it. It is off; I turn it on, but for some reason that doesn’t work. I feel like throwing the piece of garbage on the ground but I refrain from doing so and put it back in my back pocket. Even if I could get it to work there would be no reception here anyway.
A shout shakes me from my thoughts and I turn to see the man approaching me with what looks like a small girl. When they are close to me I look at the girl, who looks like she had suffered though trials worse even than the man. I feel horrible for the poor girl, she can’t be more than 12 years of age and she wears a similar bag-like tunic to the man.
The man looks at me and says several more things in his language, he points at the girl and then points at me shouting something incoherent. At first I don’t understand what he means but after several more motions the father gets angry. He rips takes the girls tunic off, who is not protesting and pushes the naked girl to me. I am so mortified that I avoid her touch and body like I would avoid the plague. I do the only thing I can think of which is turn tail and run. Shouts and what I assume to be pleas follow me, but I don’t stop and continue running along.
I stop when all is quiet and I am out of breath. I am becoming increasingly tired and thirsty. I feel a throbbing in my head and I have to take a moment to sit down. Before I manage to sit down though, the lights of the world suddenly turn off and somewhat startled I find I am back in the dark place. I sit down on the dark floor and reach down with my hand to see if I can touch something. To my surprise my hand is going down through where the floor should be and continues to go down below the level where I sit. In horror I pull my hand up, I try it again with the same result. I look around and decide that I have to change the way I think of this place. It is not a room or chamber, I am not sitting on the floor, I am in fact sitting on nothing. I clasp my hands together and now they do not go through one another, therefore I am at least tangible and real even if everything in the room isn’t.
It is then that I look at the ripples around me, during all this time of experimentation they were slowly moving forward to me, but they are somehow slower than before. Maybe the speed of the ripples is an indication of the time? I decide to try a new experiment but before I can do so the ripples are already surrounding me and with a curse slipping from my lips, I find that it has happened again. I am back in a strange world that is not my own.
I look around trying to get a handle on my surroundings. The brick houses in the hills behind me are gone; in fact all sign of civilization has disappeared. At least those next to the coast I am now sitting at. I look around at the sea and a gasp escapes my lips before I manage to stop it. There sailing the seas I can see ships, not one or a few ships but rather a vast number of ships, stretching all around me and as far as I can see. Interested I walk to a better vintage point to see if I can see who is on the ships and what is going on. I walk up a small mountain that is part of a range that I hadn’t noticed previously with the buildings and the other things that were here, or perhaps it wasn’t here before. The climb is not a long one, but I quickly feel my head turn and again I am reminded that I did not drink anything for a long time. I need to find water quickly but with no signs of civilization there is not much I can do.
I reach the top of the mountain and look down at the ships that are sailing past. They look like a swarm of ants marching for war. It must be an incredible campaign and when I look closely I notice that the ships are full to capacity with people, some are rowing while others are shouting out orders or just sitting looking at the water. There are large metallic shields everywhere on the ship and it is this that lets me know who these invaders are. These are roman soldiers out to conquer lands for their emperor.
One ship breaks formation and stops at the sandy shore not too far from where I have made my climb. Soldiers are getting off the boat and before they can finish their stretching another ship lands on the beach next to the first one. I get down and lie as close to the ground as I can, hoping that I won’t be seen by the soldiers. I have seen enough movies to know that being a Roman slave is never a good idea.
Crawling over the ground, I follow the Romans as they make their journey through the seas and the other smaller party that is now on making their way on land. The smaller party is carefully walking in a structured form down the valley. But before I can wipe the sweat from my brow in relief, I notice that several soldiers are making their way up my vintage point, most likely for the same reason I have.
I try to think of something to do so that I can avoid detection, but my mind is drawing a blank and all I can think about it is the pain I will be in if the Romans catch me and torture me. I try to make myself as small as I can and crawl to the place I think is least likely for the soldiers to come to, close to the other side of the mountain but being so preoccupied with the group climbing I forget to look at the other side of the mountain and there nearly on top of me is another group of Roman soldiers making their way to the top. Their ships landed just on the other side of the mountain.
The Roman soldiers are now so close to me that I am surprised that they have not already seen me, I can hear their heavy breathing their high strung voices, I can smell the strong scent of sweat coming from them. I have no more alternatives they are nearly on top of me and if I want to get out of this I have to act now or I will be gone. I slowly get up and in a dash using all my strength I bash straight into the first Roman that I see using my shoulder as a bettering ram. He flies backwards and tumbles down the mountain in a heap of bungled up tissue, metal and leather. The hit is so powerful that I feel as though I have shattered my bones hitting him, I don’t have time to think about it though for two more soldiers are coming up the same side. I jump kick at the first guy who is still a whole march lower than me and therefore an easy target. The kick unlike the shoulder bash is less successful in causing the guy to fly back. Instead he stumbles a few steps back and then straightens himself and lifts his sword towards me. Acting purely on instinct I jump forward grabbing the arm wielding the sword before the soldier has time to move and with a quick pull and turn I manage to get behind him while still holding his sword and use the soldiers own considerable weight to lift him and through him down the mountain. With a shout of terror the soldier tumbles down until he utters no more words.
Without looking back I run down the mountain and see that the cry from the soldier has altered everyone on the beach. The mountain is now surrounded by soldiers and I am now running down it towards my doom. I stop mid run and look up the mountain. There above me I can see two more faces looking at me. Down below there are now rows of soldiers organizing themselves in battle formations. I know it now to be a lost cause, there is nothing more I can do and as I stare at all the soldiers ready to take me out I feel grief, sadness and fear. I don’t want to die, I didn’t want to be part of this, I didn’t ask for any of thi…
I look around at the darkness and it is the first time I am truly happy to see it. The soldiers and everything else is gone and I can take a much needed rest for at least a moment or two. I sit down and try to catch my breath, the questions I had previously about what it is that I am sitting down and all the other mysteries leave my mind, as I am too tired to think and too thirsty to question foolish things like what happens around me. I lie down and relax and slowly I feel my weary eyes and my sore aching body just detach and flow like the leaves of a tree carried by the winds, my eyes are growing heavy.
Startled I wake up I am no longer in the same place. The temporal shift that has moved me from place to place has moved me again. The ripples of time have moved me when I slept. I look around me trying to figure out where I am, the mountain I was on is gone I am no longer at the coast but rather in a field, not a cultivated one or even a proper field; it looks more like swamp that has many different sorts of vegetation growing in it. At first I thought it was a field because the vegetation is all around me, but on closer examination I can see that the ground is humid, wet and there is all manner of bugs and insects around. I hear strange noises around me, and the plants look strange to me, alien. They are high and look like they haven’t been touched in a thousand years.
Wherever this is, or whenever this is, it seems I have travelled farther than even human life, or maybe civilized human life. For all I know this might be before human life, which means I am now in a very clear danger. I have to find some protection from whatever is out there, be it animals or bugs, plants and all other things alike. I stare down at the rags I am now wearing the journey I have taken, the crawling on the sand, the dirt, shit and the rest of the things I have witnessed have left a mark not just on me but on my cloths as well. My long-sleeved T is incredible dirty there is a small cut on its side, but for the most part it is still ok. My jeans on the other hand are in tatters, it has multiple rips along the knees and it is extremely dirty as well. My shoes fair slightly better as they are still whole.
My situation surmised I go in search of the most important part in all of this fresh water. Because I am in a swamp like area the water that is everywhere in the ground must be coming from somewhere, maybe from an underground source. If that is the case then maybe, finally I’ll be able to quench my thirst. I rummage through the greenery making sure that I don’t touch anything that could be a potential dangerous insect or, animal or, perhaps even a plant. Although the ground is humid I can see no water, so I continue on my search following my instinct, or more accurately put my random guess on where the water could be. When I stand I feel hardly any pain, when I bend though I can feel my ribs aching. I am not sure if they are broken or not but for now I give it no thought. The most important part now is to find fresh water; I am becoming increasingly dehydrated and really need the water.
My search leads me along to a place where the greenery is abundant and most likely there is also water. I go through the large bushes and rough plants to find only more plants and trees, it is becoming increasingly dense to spot anything, but I press on assuming I will get to the water source eventually. From the distance up in front of me I can hear a roaring continuous sound, that raises hope in my heart and I slightly quicken my pace. The greenery is now so dense that I can hardly see in front of me and so I push the large bushes and plants out of the way until suddenly just in front of my feet a chasm opens and I stare at a 65 feet drop into a large lake. On the right a large waterfall smashes into the lake causing an incredible loud roaring sound. The water looks clean and I decide to slowly make my way along the edge until I will find a way to get to the water.
It takes me an hour hike but at the end I arrive at a lower ridge that I can climb down. The way down is painstakingly long and because my head is aching, my ribs are sore and my body feels physically fatigued and I am mentally at my breaking point. When I finally do reach the bottom, the water is not as clean as I had hoped, but at least the water is running and I am too thirsty to care. I crouch next to the lake and scoop the water eagerly into my mouth. I gulp the water down as though I haven’t drunk anything in a very long time and when I finally feel like my thirst has been quenched I take a moment to look around me.
Standing there on the opposite side of the lake looking at me with interest is a human I have never seen before. It some sort of primitive man, wearing hardly any cloth except some kind of contraption made from leaves and some branches that cover the intimate parts. Other than that this primitive for of man is quite hairy and has a much heavier bone set than me, but even with those modifications it is clear that this is one of our distant ancestors. It strikes me that the creature is not afraid, it stares at me with a keen interest waiting to see what I will do next, but it is most assuredly not afraid of me, rather curious.
A noise from behind me makes me turn and there standing on two legs slightly bent over is my ancestor. It stares at me in surprise behind him several more of his group show up. I assume these are all males, they looks strong. Their heavy set bones are impressive and I am slightly apprehensive to which direction this would go. My body is still painful and I do not feel overly assured that I can get away from them.
The creature in front of me says something to me, or at least it seems like it does but there is no way I can be sure. It reaches its hand to me touching my stubbed chin, he then jumps back and shouts something and everyone joins him in his cries. I don’t know what exactly is happening but I have a feeling this is not something dangerous rather intrigue at what exactly I am. It is almost emotional and I am slightly overwhelmed when somebody flicks the light and I find myself in the dark once more.
I sit down in the dark alone once more. It is almost like this place has become my home. At first I think about what could cause all of this, but as I have no idea how all of this started I quickly decide that it is not worth thinking about this matter. I move on to finding a way out of the black place. I take roughly a 100 steps forward without anything happening I do the same to the left, when in front of me I can see the rift slowly moving forward. It is coming for me once more; I decide that this time I will get away from it. I turn to the opposite side of the rift and begin to run. I sprint forward but after only a very short dash I have to stop for here as well I find the rift. I turn again and run to the left but there just like before is the rift, surrounding me like an animal surrounding its prey. I have no way out and just like all the previous times the rift is there to suck me into it and go back through time once again.
The now all too familiar rift bursts around me. The last two times were difficult and if I continue going backwards in time, there will be nothing left. I have already seen the primitive Neanderthal or whatever it was and considering the amount of years that pass by each time it is almost as if it is exponential. This leaves me truly terrified for I don’t know what will be in front of me. The rift fades and I am in an area that looks even more alien then the place I was just in. It looks savage, almost like no human hand has ever touched anything in it. Unperturbed I walk through the large trees and the strange plants. They seem more colourful somehow and I have never seen anything like them. They do not resemble the plants or even trees that I know, they look more menacing. They are of all colours and they have the strangest flowers I have ever seen, some are large some small but all look like they would gulf you up if you would come too close. There are strange noises around me too, they sound like animal cries but it is something that I can’t place. It is not human that is for sure, but it is also not an animal that I know. It does not sound like a tiger or an elephant or something that I could recognize; instead it is more similar to a shriek. A shriek that sends shivers down my spine. It is a shriek that resembles the sound nails that are run down a blackboard, squeaking in protest. Or like metal objects creating a high pitched sound when they are brushed against porcelain. It is enough to give you Goosebumps, and make you curl into a ball and mumble in fear.
An enormous roar shakes the air, and disrupts me from my frozen state, I stare at the direction of the scream that sounds like a cross between a giant elephant and the roar of a lion and there stretching above the highest trees I see something. It takes me several moments before I understand what it is that my eyes are gazing at. Several critical moments where I am entirely defenceless from the danger that this incredible beast represents, it is with shock and almost incredible reluctance that I must face the threat and reality of what is looming high above me. An animal extinct during my time, but here staring at me with its large eyes, it is very much alive, and I am very much out of place. It roars again sending shockwaves that shake the trees and ground around us. I nearly fall to the floor by the force of the cry and it takes some effort and the help of a nearby tree to keep me from flying backwards. Luckily I am able to hold on.
Years ago when I was a child, I knew all about dinosaurs they were some of my favourite playthings. The large reptiles that ruled the earth but were now long gone. I even knew their names, but now those days are long gone and I struggle to remember even the most basic of dinosaur names. All I can I say is that it is incredibly big; it has pointy things on its curved and incredibly large back which look like huge menacing needle like thorns. There is hair everywhere as well, which from what I remember from dinosaurs is not supposed to be there, but it is. It has a large giraffe like head, only slightly shorter, its broad neck is connected to an immense body that resembles an anteater or something of the sort. It has a large tail as well, most likely to balance its massive structure. I look up and I have to stretch my neck as far as it can go to see its eyes, or face. I decide not to focus on it and try and find a place to hide instead. I am too small for the gigantic creature anyway and he quickly walks away to search for prey.
I breathe a sigh of relief and get out from my hiding place which was a giant bush. An itching sensation assails me, and I feel like my skin is on fire, I look at the place where the burning sensation is coming from and see bubbles of red appear just underneath the skin. It quickly spreads to and I look back at the plant with malice. The plant must have infected me with something, or perhaps I am having a reaction to the plant. Maybe an allergic reaction, or maybe even worse, maybe the plant is poisonous. I refrain from touching the red bubbles that are sprouting like a fungus all over my bare skin. For the moment the skin that is behind the rags that I wear is still alright, without any sign of the burning and itching. I run through the forest in search of water, or the sea.
Back several centuries or more, when I was here last in the future I was close to water, there must be some around here too. The burning becomes intolerable and I need something to sooth it. I run and can avoid scratching no longer, the pain is tremendous and the fire that I feel in my skin threatens to stop me in my tracks. I continue to run with no regard to myself, I stumble into branches, bushes and large holes, none of which feel remotely as painful as the red dots that have now spread. The pain is no longer retained only to my bear skin, but is moving towards the skin that hadn’t even touched the plant or plants, it is steadily moving towards my chest as well. I don’t why but I am filled with fear by this notion. However, as long as it is only the skin, there shouldn’t be any problem, I should be able to just continue on and the inflammation of the skin should just resolve itself, just like any other rash. I continue on my way to the ocean, but it appears as though I am further away than I thought I was. Or maybe now the continent changed and I am now somewhere else entirely. The doubts swarm through my head like flies stuck in a jar and there is nothing I can do about them except keep going and hope that I can disregard them.
Finally in the distance I see my salvation, water. I quicken my pace and my heart that was already racing goes just a beat faster in anticipation of the cold water. I reach it and eagerly jump in them, they are not completely clear and have a slightly green hue, but I don’t let it bother me for the water is cool and fresh to the touch. I rinse myself in it and happily jump in it. The burning rash slowly subsides and I allow myself a little smile of victory.
I take several more steps and then turn towards the beach. A sudden sharp pain runs through my foot. I have stepped into something, my first reaction is that it must be glass, but that can’t be, there are no humans yet. I walk out of the water clutching my foot, the pain increases amplifies as though the first shot was nothing but a taste of the pain I would feel after. It quickly becomes an incredible searing pain and I bit down on my lip hard to stop myself from screaming. Blood drips down my chin but I can’t even feel it, the pain from my foot is so bad that I can’t even walk and I fall down on the sand just outside of the water. I feel the pain increasing burning and suddenly just as quickly it disappears and I feel numb. I try to move my leg but I can’t, it feels like a dead weight. Quickly a similar sensation occurs to the rest of my body and as I lay there on the beach my limbs immobile and completely useless, I feel incredible venerable. I want to scream, move my head but just like my limbs and the rest of my body that too is now immobile. My lungs are now slowly burning and I find the air that I am breathing now, comes in small little gulps until that too disappears and I can’t breathe anymore. I fight to draw a breath but there is nothing there, it is like I am breathing an empty bottle of air, there is nothing to suck and I am becoming dizzy. I feel a small pain in my chest and then that too stops…
***
His eyes open slightly taking in their baring and when he knows where he is again he turns in his bed to continue his sleep. He is slightly cold because the blanket that covered him completely at the beginning is now only covering half of him. It was most likely removed when he turned during the night. He lifts it up to his neck and rolls in it, with a sigh and a deep breath of comfort he falls back to sleep…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s