Monday, July 16, 2018

Microstory 886: Fish Out of Water

I’ve always been fascinated with the past. History was, by far, my favorite subject in school, and I never really liked learning about anything else, except in the context of history. I even taught myself Old English, just for the hell of it. I guess someone upstairs was paying attention, because I woke up one morning on the ground, and it was the middle ages. At first, I thought I was the victim of a practical joke. I couldn’t have known right away that I had traveled through time. I thought I was just left in the middle of the woods. Then I thought maybe I was at some weird renaissance faire without the Renaissance. I eventually realized that this had to be the past, because the kind of architectural structures I was seeing just didn’t exist anymore in my time, and to recreate them would have been prohibitively expensive. The more I walked around, the more I could remember about where I was the last time I was in my own time period. I wasn’t asleep at all, but walking back from the store. This left me with a few provisions, including some healthy snacks, and a vitamin-enhanced flavored water that I drink, because I don’t like regular water, and I don’t drink high fructose corn syrup any more. I would have expected people to look at me funny, because of my modern backpack, and strange garb. They didn’t care, though, because their lives were total crap, and they didn’t have the energy to worry about anyone else. They just kept going with their chores as I passed by, looking for shelter. I found an inn that gave me a room for a few nights in exchange for a box of gluten-free cookies.

After about a day there, I realized that as much as I enjoyed studying the past, I didn’t really like actually being there. Like I said, these people’s lives sucked. Even though they had never heard of video games, or good hygiene, they could recognize that they lacked basic comforts, and of course, this feeling was more acute in me. I went back to the place I woke up, hoping to find a magic coin, or a rift through time and space, or a wizard, but there was nothing. If there was a way back home, I had little hope of finding it. I was thirsty on my way back to the village, so I started drinking the second to last bottle of my flavored water. The first person to really speak to me was a woman who happened to be hunting for truffles. She immediately saw how odd my plastic bottle was, and wanted to know everything about it. I told her that I came from a land of magic and fairies, who had exiled me for being too tall. It was a dumb lie, but people these days are easy to trick. I could be a god in this world, like the wizard of Oz, if I wanted to. Anyway, she asked to have my last bottle, and I gave it to her. It wasn’t like I would be able to go get any more, so I might as well just end it now forever. A couple weeks later, I was completely out of the food I brought back from the future, which meant I could no longer keep my room. I packed up and left to look for work that was reported to be abundant out East. As I was walking back through the woods, the woman I gave my water to walked up to me, like she had been waiting for me to return. She handed me a jug with a wide smile, and asked me to drink. I was surprised to find that it tasted just like my water. She told me she had studied my bottle, and reverse engineered it. She said if I stayed with her, I could have as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. I asked her how she did that, and how she knew the term reverse engineering. She smiled again. “I’m from the year 1954, and I’ve also been working on a way to get back.”

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