Out of Time

Karen Rose

Can you imagine what it's like to wake up in a different world? Where everything you thought was right, turns out to be wrong or at least only half-right. You feel like Dorothy and at first you may even resort to clicking your heels together and reciting, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home." And of course before that even crosses your mind, there's always denial.

"There's no way this can be happening. I'm dreaming, that's it…"

"Excuse me, I object to be thought of as something that could have originated from your pea sized intellect…"

"…either that or I'm going mad…"

"Now that I can accept."

"Excuse me." I looked up at the thing that had broken its silence and hobbled towards me. It had been standing next to a being that looked freakily human.

"Do you think your denial will take long? Only I have a few question to ask."

"Go ahead." Given that I was being spoken to by a giant frog, I didn't see any reason why actually answering it would make that much of a difference, I mean I was clearly already going mad.

"Where are you from?"

"Earth, where are you from?"

"Tallah, where's Earth?"

"Where's Earth?! Where's Tallah?!"

There was a sigh from the other alien in the corner, "This is getting us nowhere." I looked over at the giant…thing that had just spoken for the first time. In English!

"Wait a minute. If you don't know where Earth is, how come you all speak English?"

"We don't speak…English."

"OK I need a seat." I sat and looked at the four of them and tried to clear my thoughts, "Now, let me get this straight. First of all, you want to know if I'm edible and if the little orange git over there can eat me. You don't believe that I'm part of a race of intelligent beings. You've never heard of Earth and you don't speak English, even though I can quite clearly hear you speaking…in English?"

"Basically yes."

"Uhhh…OK just explain one thing."

The frog shrugged, "Shoot."

"Oh please," I looked over at the little orange being, "don't tempt me…there's still one thing I don't understand though…"

"I thought we had covered your lack of intelligence…"

It wasn't long before these aliens realized that I wasn't to be made angry. Especially when my day so far had consisted of being knocked unconscious on board the Mir space station, waking up to a giant frog, a small orange fraggle, a human that wasn't human and a strange looking hairy giant that looked a lot like Chewbacca after Han Solo had just shoved him in a giant tumble dryer with a bottle of blue dye. Then to find out I'm lost in space with them, I don't know how I got here. They don't know how I got here. They've never heard of Earth. They don't speak English, but they do and the fraggle wants to know if he can eat me!

I rubbed my temples and sighed. Looking around at them, I saw that they looked as uncomfortable with the situation as me. Especially the not human. Perhaps he was as freaked by the resemblance as I was.

"How is it that you say you don't speak English? 'Cause I can hear English but your mouths make weird shapes that don't fit words at all."

The frog looked at me as if I was mad, and the way my day was going, I was inclined to agree.

"The air is filled with nanobot translators. We understand that you may not be familiar with the technology. You seem like quite a primitive race. How could you understand what other beings were saying?"

"Well you lot are the first alien species' my race has ever encountered…what do you mean, "primitive"?!"

It was at that point when I realized that I really was lost and that's when I tried the whole "no place like home" thing, which is one of those highly embarrassing stories that I don't intend to tell you about…ever.

My new shipmates all had very strange names. The frog was Rghjya, the fraggle, Tae'po, Chewbacca was Growl Growl Growl - I asked him if I could call him Chewy and he agreed because I wasn't pronouncing his name right - and the human (actually he was Florrien) was Nieay.

"So where in the universe are we exactly?"

"Exactly? Well we're 700 dons left of Tillera."

"Sorry I asked." I looked around at the controls. "So all the ship's controls can be accessed if I touch that red crown shaped thing in the middle?"

Nieay looked over to see exactly what 'that red crown shaped thing in the middle' was.

"Yes"

"Can I try?"

Nieay nodded.

"Is every thing on the ship touch screen? Oh wow!" I stepped back as a three-dimensional interactive holographic imaging processor came to life from the screen.

Don't ask me what all that means because it's too complex - which is to say that I'm not entirely sure what it means, or how it works. It just does. The ship could also travel large distances in the blink of an eye, which I didn't really understand but I didn't really want to because it had something to do with the a large pool of green goop that didn't make me feel very well and smelled worse than my Uncle Rab's dirty socks.

"So this is an image of the whole ship?"

"Yes."

"Wow. What does this purple dead guy do?"

"What a wonderfully colorful analogy." He grimaced, "It controls the speed of the ship."

"What about the small green triangle?"

"Turns on the engine coolant."

"The green goop gets hot?"

Nieay laughed and nodded, "Yes, the green goop gets hot."

"And what about the 3D electric-pink jaggy thing?"

"DON'T TOUCH THAT!"

"Sorry. Anyway, I've been meaning to ask. I've been on this ship for about a week and I still haven't seen you lot do anything. What exactly do you lot do?"

"We're scouts for the Intergalactic Space Corps."

"And translated that means…?"

"Basically, we look around space for signs of trouble."

I looked at him with a wry smile "Did I qualify?"

"Most definitely."

There was definitely a lot to be said for this place! OK so maybe I'm getting a little side tracked here. I was getting less confused as time went on – not that that was saying much, I was just glad my sentences were no longer starting with noises like "nghja" and ending with "help" or "confusion much". Nieay and I also spent a lot of time together, and started to notice just how sexy…OK too much detail. We also found out why I was here. I wasn't at the other end of the galaxy at all. I was in exactly the same place.

"That's impossible."

"But," I looked directly at him, "It's the only explanation."

"Let me get this straight, what you're suggesting is that this is the exact same place in the galaxy as the Earth, only the Earth isn't here because you've traveled into the future."

"Basically yes. Look the small black octagons on the blue flashing panel in the docking bay said it had found temporal differences between the Mir and your ship. I was looking at space on those weird headphones and I recognized some of it and I asked the computer, which by the way is very cool, very Star Trek…and I think I'll stop now as I can see I'm just confusing you even more…anyway, I asked if it could show me what these things would have looked like a couple of billion years ago. I found the Orion Nebula and even where our sun used to be. I'm telling you, I'm from the past."

"And just how do you explain how you got here?"

"Well, I haven't quite got that far yet."

"I have." I looked over at Chewy who was, I had discovered, a man…well, a male of few words.

I take that back, he launched into a twenty-minute explanation about the space-time continuum and something about a wormhole that went everywhere and nowhere all at the same time…and at different times…at once. Basically, once again my sentences were starting with noises like "nghja" and ending with "help" or "confusion much". That was when fate came knocking…literally. He was a three armed bandit that looked something like Freddie Krueger after he'd had a fight with a blender and I won't even venture to mention the smell.

"I thought you said you guys worked with some Peace Corps."

"Yeah, well I also told you that we looked for trouble, and Fate is definitely something to be counted as trouble."

"Look can't you just send the guy a box of chocolates and say sorry?" He stopped and looked at me, "I'll take that as a 'no'"

"Look, I'm going to sneak up behind him. Cover me"

Now there was something I had hoped he would say, just not in that context!

"Hello?"

"Uh sorry…" I stumbled to regain my line of thought…that is, the one I was supposed to be following. "Yeah sure…Nieay?"

"What?"

"How long has there been no shooting?"

"Eh…I don't know."

"To use a famous quote, I have a bad feeling about this."

"Me too. Wait here."

"Yeah, because I'm going someplace."

"Just keep watch."

Slowly he crept towards the window then he stood up in confusion. "He's gone." Nieay turned and as he did, his eyes widened.

"LOOK…"

Death wasn't exactly something I had wanted at that particular moment. Luckily it wasn't something that wanted me either. I woke up to a white room and…why is it that all medical rooms are white? Is there a rule or something, and I'm just not aware of it?…anyway, I woke up to a white room, some weird beeps…and one hell of a migraine.

"You OK?"

"I don't know. Maybe if you could stop the nuclear explosion in my head, I'd feel OK."

"Well you haven't lost you sense of humor, so things can't be that bad. At least not as bad as your sense of humor."

"Ha, ha, very funny. What happened to Fate?"

"Dead. Now seriously, are you OK?"

I smiled, "I'll live, won't I?"

He laughed, "Of course you will."

"Look," I noticed that Nieay looked serious.

"What is it?"
"Growl Growl Growl thinks that he may know how to send you home, to your own time."

"Oh."

"Is that all you have to say?" I looked up at him.

"You know what? I kind of like it here. I think I'll stay." And with that I pulled him into me and kissed him.

Well, what would you choose?!

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