A flash of red, smiling lips and a wink are all I remember before I ended up here. This wasn’t home, and this wasn’t familiar at all. The roads were all unpaved, and horses roamed along them. No longer were the roads lined with cafes, either, but refuse and shouting merchants hawking all manner of fish, fruit, vegetables, and more. Just as I began to approach a pickle-seller, I felt suddenly stretched, and I shot into the air, but my feet remained on the ground. I jerked into a chair, stunned and bewildered.
Now I was in an uncomfortable chair, strapped down with sterile-looking leather bands. I tried to flex and shift, but it was useless. All around me, the walls were metal, and a mirror stared at me from just ahead. My head felt fuzzy and thoughts refused to stay long enough for me to examine them as they flitted past.
A thrumming echoed suddenly through the room, and it reverberated through my body, like someone put the bass on too high. Silence followed for several long seconds, and another thrum sounded. This pattern continued, although for me, the thrumming sounds seemed farther and farther apart each time, though no less disorienting, nor any less frightening. I became very tense, and my shoulders and back began to ache.
The thrumming finally stopped; it cut off suddenly and left an uneasy silence in its wake.
Moments later, I felt the stretching and pulling sensation again. My feet stuck to the ground, but I seemed to simply ooze through my bonds as I stretched upward and out. My feet snapped back to me like a rubber band, and I fainted.
I woke up in the middle of a corn field. The breeze was wonderfully warm, and the sun left me feeling pleasantly toasty. Without a thought, I closed my eyes. My mind was clear again, and I just wanted to rest in this relaxing field.
A rumbling woke me from my doze. I sat up quickly and saw an old-fashioned corn harvester. It was heading toward me, and I didn’t much appreciate the idea of being harvested. I quickly ran to one side, and when I looked back, the area I’d been laying in was flattened. Instead of staring long enough to endanger myself farther, I continued to run until I was safely out of the field. A man in a suit that belonged in a history book stared at me in surprise.
“Son, what are you doing in the field? It’s harvest day.” He scowled as he looked me up and down. “Those clothes aren’t suited for a field.’ He shook his head and walked away. “Kids these days.”
I felt the pulling again, and this time I didn’t resist. This was an awkward situation I didn’t feel was needed. Before my legs snapped back to their proper place, I saw the man look back. He nearly shit himself in shock when he couldn’t see me, and I laughed at his expression.
This time when I returned to the room, I was able to recall that this wasn’t the second time. My head was more clear now, and I could recall several other incidences of the strange taffy-pulling travel.
A speaker in the corner clicked to life. “Morvo, is your head clear? How do you feel?” It was a warm female voice.
“My head’s clear now. I feel like an over-used rubber band, but I’m fine. Shall we get on with the actual experiment now?” I suggested hopefully.
“One more test jump, and then a meal and some rest-” She began.
I cut her off. “No, let’s do it now. I’m ready, and if I eat before I go, I’ll vomit.”
There was silence on the other end for several moments, and I flashed a smile at the mirror. I knew she was watching on the other side.
“I’ll be fine. This mission is too important to delay any longer.”
She grunted. “It makes no difference how long we wait before we send you. It’s time travel with a set destination.”
“Just send me.” I frowned. “Stop stalling, Alise!” There was silence, and once more, I was rubber-banded straight up. My feet snapped back to me. This time, I remained conscious, and crumpled as I suddenly landed on something soft and comfortable. I opened one eye.
Great start. I was between the breasts of a giant of a woman, and she was staring down at me in shock. I stumbled back, apologized, and promptly collapsed. She stared down at me, then began to laugh as she reached down and helped me up.
“I suppose even strange magically-appearing men can be clumsy.” she teased. Her accent was thick and brought warm syrup to mind.
I couldn’t hold back a smile. “I’m Morvo.” I introduced lamely.
“Lyss.” She shook my still-held hand firmly. Her strength was impressive!
I felt more than slightly stupid as I grinned at her. She was a rare beauty: strength matched with aesthetics in perfect harmony. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to tell me exactly where I am, Lyss?”
Her face fell. “Gladiator pens. I guess you weren’t planning to come save me, were you?”
I shook my head. “Not my original plan, but I think I can fit that in.” I tried to sound reassuring, and she forced a smile in return. The new strain in our budding relationship was far from slight. “Can you lead me to where I can find Emblyssra the Fierce?”
Lyss stared, then began laughing. “You’re looking at her, Magic Man.”
What luck! I gripped her hand. “I guess you’re exactly who I get to whisk away, then!” Of course, I was overjoyed; once removed from this time period, Emblyssra would be free, and I could pursue her as I wished. I looked up. “Ready to go?”
She pulled away, uncertain now. “Can I bring someone?”
I paused. “Who?”
“Rimala, you might know her as.”
This was shocking. I frowned thoughtfully. Rimala couldn’t come. Rimala was going to start a rebellion and initiate a great change in history. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I was now.
Thankfully for me, history provided a reason to flee.
Guards spotted me with Lyss and dashed towards us, weapons drawn as they determined to fight me off. One landed a hit on me, and I grabbed Lyss and tried to push her away from a blade. She wrapped me in her gloriously strong arms, and I felt a scratch etch into my side. I pulled myself upward, and caught. It was time to go, regardless. I wrapped my arms tightly around Lyss, and we stretched and snapped upward.
When we arrived, I was strapped into my chair, and Lyss was on my lap, clinging to me and shaking. Her blood was hot and wet on my hands. “Medic!” I shouted. “Medic!”