Location: Home for the Aged. New Terra, New Amsterdam City, Franklin Borough
“Ceci, who’s Adam?”
Cecilia turned her head sharply, surprise registering on her features, deepening the wrinkles across her forehead.
“Eh? What’s that?”
“I said, who is Adam?” Victoria spoke slow and loud, hoping this time the perfectly good, expensive hearing aid snuggled in Cecilia’s ear picked up each word.
“Oh my. I haven’t thought about him in years. Why do you ask?”
“I found this letter in your safe.”
“Can’t wait till I’m buried eh? Have to go snooping for treasure before my body is cold and in the ground?”
Victoria knew she was joking, but at a day past 159 years old, jokes about her passing were hard to laugh at. The hospice workers didn’t think there were many days left.
“No sweetie. You know you asked me to bring you your lock box from the safe. This letter was underneath it.”
“Did you read it?”
“So you know about as much about who he was as I do.”
“You’re pulling my leg. C’mon, tell me. He had to have been some joker to have written this piece of fiction.”
“You think he’s joking, do you?”
“What? You can’t expect me to believe this story? I mean seriously.”
“Well, I believe it.”
“Then you’re as daft as he was.”
“Come sit down, let me tell you a story.”
I couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. It was December, 3898, and I was working as a waitress in this place a few blocks from my flat. It was decent work, decent wages and I enjoyed it. Kept me fed and living indoors so I didn’t complain. My life was simple, you know? Then in he walks. Tall he was, with the broadest shoulders of any bloke I’d seen or seen since. He was dressed in all black – tee shirt barely hiding the muscles in his chest and arms, loose fitting trousers with the side pockets, you know, like the soldiers wear these days only there weren’t no markings on them. His jacket was nice, fitted but I could tell it had those armor plates in it. I had a motorcycle jacket like that once but his was thicker. Looked heavy and made out of some material I didn’t recognize. Anyway, he comes in, looking lost, as if he isn’t quite sure of where he is. Usually it was tourists who came in looking like that, that part of town wasn’t exactly on the beaten path you know.
He sits in my section, at a booth where he can see the whole pub. I walked over to him, gave my usual smile and he disarmed me immediately,
“What day is it?”
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“What’s today’s date? The year?”
“It’s December fourth, thirty-eight-ninety-eight. Are you okay?”
“Have you got any beer?”
“Of course, what kind would you like?”
“Guinness if you have it I guess.”
He sat there for another couple of hours. Drank two beers and asked me a ton of questions each time I came by to check on him. When I brought him his bill, he looked surprised, and then dug in the pocket on the side of his pants. He dropped two small, square bricks of what looked like solid gold. I started to protest, but he looked at me. There was something in his eyes that made me take whatever they were without question . Figured I could swing the cost for the two beers from my tips. It got a bit busy and I lost sight of him after that, not sure when he left but when I glanced over after that, he was gone.
* * *
A couple of weeks later, he shows up again. Still looking lost and out of place, he sat in my section.
“What’s your name?”
“Cecilia. What’s yours handsome?”
“Ha, handsome huh? I doubt that. Anyway, you can call me Adam.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too.”
He didn’t talk much more after that. There was a match on, the place was packed so I didn’t get round to his table often. When the match ended, he was gone. Left another couple of those gold things for me.
* * *
A month after that, I’m coming out of the pub, I had the afternoon shift that day, I’ll never forget. It was just starting to rain, so I’m stopped, trying to put up my umbrella and I see him sort of propped up in the doorway of the vacant shop next door. He looked terrible. Very pale. I forgot about the umbrella.
“Hey. Hey, Adam? Are you okay?”
“Do you live around here?”
“Yes. A few blocks walk.”
“I hate to ask, but I’m in sort of a fix.” That’s as far as he got before his eyes closed and he slumped to the ground. I did what I could to revive him, a couple shakes, a single slap to the face, gentle like you know. Didn’t want to cause any more harm. He came too enough for me to get ‘im to his feet. He leaned on me like a drunk and I carefully walked us back to my place. Thank goodness there aren’t many stairs and that he didn’t pass out again. I’d have caught hell trying to carry his bulk up the two flights to my door.
Once we get inside, I put him on the couch and he just slumps over, face in the seat cushions. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, so I just tried to make him comfortable. All that fussing around brought him to again. I had to help him sit up.
“How long have I been gone this time?”
“A, a month. I think.”
“This jumping back and forth is going to kill me.”
“Nothing. Look can you help me get my jacket off?”
“Sure. Are you okay?”
Between the two of us, we worked slowly to get his jacket off. He was having trouble moving his left shoulder. As I pull it from him, I see his back. His shirt was ripped in half a dozen places, the skin beneath was crusted with dried blood. It looked as if he’d been wrestling with a large animal and had been clawed across the back.
“Yeah, a little. It’s nothing serious though.”
“I’ll be fine. Just need to rest.”
“At least let me put something on it.” I got my little first aid kit and tried to clean the scratches as best I could.
He took off his boots with great effort, then his shirt, giving me an unobstructed view of his chiseled physique. Arms and shoulders that would put many a prize fighter to shame. There were plenty of old scars as well. This man played rough for a living obviously.
“Might not be a good idea, but just in case, the uh, shower’s in there. There’s a fresh towel and wash cloth in the cabinet. Are you hungry?”
“Yeah, food would probably be a good idea. I’ll. I’ll take a shower first though.”
When he came out, he looked ten times better. Wearing just his pants, a towel across his shoulders, catching the water that now dripped from his freshly washed hair.
“I have a shirt you can wear. It was um, my old boyfriends. It’s clean.” I handed him a retro tee with the logo of an ancient band, Def Leppard, on the front. I noted the way he smiled at the design, like he knew them or something.
“Thanks.” He put it on and stretched it to its breaking point at the seams. He saw the food waiting for him on my small dinette table. A couple strides of his long legs put him at the table in seconds; he was seated and tearing into the two chicken salad sandwiches, pile of potato chips and one of two ginger ales, all within what seemed like mere minutes.
“Strong, silent type, eh?”
I was trying to ease my nervousness. Since he’d finished eating, he’d prowled the cramped space of my one bedroom apartment, checking the two small windows to make sure they were latched, then easing himself back onto the couch, still giving my place the once over every few minutes with a steady turn of his head. My comment earned the heat of his full gaze and I wondered if that’s what it was like for the guy at the zoo who has to go into the cage with the tiger in order to feed it.
I sat down next to him on the couch and turned on my television. I flipped through a few channels until I found a movie to watch.
“Thank you.” His voice came out smooth with the exception of a short hiss as the pain in his back flared when he relaxed into the couch.
“Oh, um. You’re welcome.”
“I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here.”
“Okay.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. He wasn’t thinking of moving in I hoped.
“I mean, really, I don’t know. It could be minutes, or days.”
“Is there someone after you?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
We watched a bit of the entertainment feeds, me wanting to know more but not daring to ask. He fell asleep fairly quickly. I left him there, muttering about some woman named Silver. He was gone when I got up in the morning. Not sure how he managed it but he’d locked the door behind him.
“So what are you telling me, he just disappeared?”
“I didn’t think so at first, just figured he’d left and knew a way to lock a door without a key. He didn’t have that criminal air about ‘im, but I suspected the life he led wasn’t exactly one of healthy repute. I’d find out the truth just a few months later.”
“He really did just disappear.”
“Yep, that cinches it. You’re both crazy.”
“I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t watched him do it.”
“What? You really want me to believe that you watched a man disappear into thin air? He must have been one hell of a magician.”
“I think he was just what he said he was.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I’m a lot of things, mainly old, but I’m telling you, he was from the future. It was him that told me Earth, oh, well, Terra was going to be destroyed.”
“Hush Cecilia. You know we don’t talk about, well, that.”
“Hmph. What are they going to do to me? I’m old. I’m not a threat. Why is it not okay to talk about it?”
“I don’t know Ceci, it just, isn’t right.”
“Well, right or wrong. If it hadn’t been for Adam, I might not have been able to get away. You had to have money. So many people didn’t there toward the end, but thanks to Adam, I had more than enough.”
“What are you talking about Ceci?”
Adam popped in and out of my life on and off for the next three months. Time passed between each visit for me, but not for him. When he showed up in January, the scars on his back hadn’t aged but a few days. By February, they were finally healed, but he’d added a couple of bruises along his rib cage. They were just as black and blue as the first day I’d seen them, when he popped up at the bar in March. March 22nd it was. There was a preview of spring in the air, bright sunshine, clear skies. I’d lucked up and gotten the afternoon shift so it was just dusk when I strolled out of the bar. Adam was in the doorway of the shop again, this time standing strong.
“Oh! Adam. You surprised me. Are you hurt…still?”
“How long have I been gone this time?”
“Almost a month.”
“It’s only been a day for me.”
“Adam, what’s really going on here?”
“Do you mind if I come back to your place again?”
“No.” I hesitated though.
“I promise, I’ll tell you everything. If I can. I just need to get off the street. Your place feels safe to me now.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me that Earth, that’s what he called it. He told me something bad was coming. There was then going to be war and that I had to get away. He talked about time travel as if it were already old news. When he left that time, he left behind a stack of those gold pieces and told me when the time came, I had to buy my ticket. That’s it, and that was his last visit. I never saw him again. A few months later, in December, it turned out he was right. It was all about money though, just as Adam told me. The richest went first, of course. Things went downhill from there, but I had those gold pieces and I was able to buy my ticket. That was the scariest trip I’d ever taken.”
“Did you ever see Adam again?”
“No, I was still a hundred years in his past. At least, I think that’s how it worked out. I never was good at the math even when he’d tried to explain it to me.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you loved him a little bit.”
“Eh. Maybe I did, a little. There was something so sad in his eyes every time I saw him. It just did things to my heart I guess.”
“You’ve missed him all these years haven’t you?”
“Yes. I’d always hoped he’d show up, you know, to see about me. See that I’d made it.”
“Well, let’s get you to bed. I’ll put your letter on the table so you can read it whenever you want.”
“Thank you Victoria. You’re so sweet.”
Cecilia Montgomery was laid to rest in a quiet ceremony at the Franklin Memorial Cemetery. In attendance were just a few of the friends she’d made at hospice, a couple of the nurses and Victoria who’d been her caretaker the last ten years of her life. Cecilia had left everything to her – what amounted to over three million in credits. As the funeral procession pulled away from the plot, Victoria saw a shadow detach itself from the trees nearby. A tall figure, dressed in black as mourners usually are, walked to the grave and threw in a single rose.
About the Author
I’ve been putting words to paper since 1974. Granted, at that time they were the primary words being taught in elementary school, but they were no less exciting. I wrote, produced, directed, and starred in my first play at nine years old. It was a science fiction piece that included several stunts and special effects. Using the talent available at a summer arts camp, I and my fellow campers performed the play at the camp’s closing ceremonies. It received a standing ovation and I was hooked on the creative process.
I received my Bachelor of Arts in English Lit from Tuskegee University and my Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University.
I’ve written theater reviews and feature articles for The Urban Spectrum community newspaper in Denver, CO and freelanced for Date Night Magazine, an online magazine for single professionals based in Atlanta, GA. I self-published my first book in 2008 and eventually went on to start a publishing consulting business in order to help other indie writers achieve their publishing dreams.