30 September 2011

#FridayFlash - Where Am I?

This scene might answer some questions that you may have. I probably should've posted this before the last one, but I'm still playing with the order of scenes and had thought to leave this for later. (Thanks for the feedback, Jen!)

Here are links to the other scenes I've posted.
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Akeva couldn’t shake the feeling that she should be taking care of something important. Lying in a warm cocoon of comfort, Akeva burrowed into the bed with the hope that she’d stay asleep. Maybe she’d dream about that kilted man with his strong arms wrapped around her again.

Instead of seeing the Kilted Man’s ice-blue eyes, disjointed images flickered through her mind. A red-rocked desert, lightning flashes, a stone circle, endless green glens, a rustic house, and finally the Kilted Man lunging at her as she fell. Akeva eyes flew open and she broke out in a sweat. Shit.

Ignoring the protest from her battered body, she pushed herself to sitting. The room swirled around her and she closed her eyes as she took deep breaths.

Damn. It wasn’t exactly sleep she’d been waking from, but another one of her faints. And as usual, it had occurred at the most illogical and inconvenient time, not that now was any better.

Several seconds passed before the ringing in her ears stopped. When Akeva opened her eyes again, she found two concerned women watching her, both dressed like characters in a period movie. While uttering something that Akeva couldn’t discern, the younger one held out a cup to her.

Akeva accepted the cup, and after a tentative taste, she gulped down the water like a person in a desert. “Thanks.”

The young woman’s brows lifted. “Ye dinna have the Gaidlig?” Akeva frowned, the woman’s thick accent made it difficult to understand her.

From her perch in the bed, she glanced around the small room, taking in the rustic nature of the chair, candle sconces, fireplace, and dresser. Despite its’ sparseness, it was better than the hard and cold ground she’d slept on the past few nights. “Where am I?”

A smile lit up the young woman’s face. “Faradoch den Beithe.” Before Akeva could ask where that was, the older woman cleared her throat, causing the young woman to roll her oddly familiar ice-blue eyes. “Jean, our housekeeper, would have me say this house belongs to my husband, Ennis, Laird Faradoch den Beithe,” she sent the housekeeper a sharp look, “but, I live here too, forbye.” The woman turned her attention back to Akeva. “Ye can be calling me Meriel.  What do we be calling ye?”

“Akeva Riordan.” She lifted her hand for a handshake and the bruises on her arm became visible. Meriel’s smile wavered as she tried to ignore the purple marks. Akeva lowered her arm. “They don’t hurt as much as they did a few days ago.”

Meriel nodded, and before the other woman could ask any questions about how the bruises had been delivered, Akeva asked, “How did I get here?”

“Brian, my cousin, saved ye more bruising by catching ye. When ye dinna wake, he carried ye in to the house.” Brian must be the Kilted Man. She didn’t know if that was a good thing or not.

Akeva glanced around the room again, this time looking for a phone, but not finding one. “Could you lend me a phone, I need to call my Dad.”

Meriel’s brows furrowed. “Phone?”

Oh. The strange dialect, the old clothing, and the rustic room finally made sense. She must’ve stumbled into an Amish or Quaker settlement, not that she’d ever visited such a place, even growing up in Ohio. Places without modern technology never held any appeal for her. She believed in better living through printed circuit boards. Of course they wouldn’t have a phone, but there must be one nearby.

“Could you take me to the nearest phone?” Akeva pushed away the quilt and swung her legs off the bed, but Meriel’s firm hand on her shoulder kept her in bed.

“Och, no, lass. Ye had to be carried into this house, ye will stay right there in that bed.”

Just that attempt to get out of bed had reminded her how weak she’d become over the past few days. Akeva sighed. “Could someone call my Dad. He’s probably frantic since I haven’t called him.” Both women frowned at her with confusion written on their faces.

“My cell phone died, probably from electrical shock in that thunderstorm.” Akeva searched for her pack, she’d show them her phone. “Where’s my backpack?”

Jean frowned. “Backpack?”

Panic flooded Akeva’s body. I lost it.

Meriel stooped over and lifted a black bundle. “Ye mean this?” The woman held it out in front of her like it might explode.

Relief washed over Akeva as she grabbed the bag from Meriel. “Thanks.”

Akeva pulled out empty snack wrappers, her digital camera, and her laptop before she found her phone. “Figures it would be at the bottom.” She held up the device that held half of her life. Her laptop held the other half. She pushed the power button and nothing happened. “Like I said, it’s fried.” She hoped they’d be willing to help her even if it went against their anti-technology beliefs.

The younger woman’s brows furrowed, leaving a deep line between them. Jean’s hissed as she took a step back, her narrow-eyed gaze fixed on the items on Akeva’s lap.

What’s with them? It wasn’t like the stuff would kill them, her devices barely qualified as paper weights.

In a whisper, Meriel asked,  “What are those?”

Really? Could there be people who didn’t know a camera or phone when they saw one? “Just my dead electronics. Like I said, I’d use my phone or my laptop to get in touch with my Dad, but they’re fried.”

Akeva opened her laptop and pushed the power button for what must’ve been the thousandth time in three days. And like all the other nine hundred and ninety nine times of pressing that button, she received no response. No spinning hard drive, no screen flicker. Nothing.

Closing the lid, she sighed as she thought about the cost of buying a replacement for the laptop, she’d have to wait on a camera. Damn.

“Electronics?”

Unnerved by Meriel’s strange pronunciation of the word, Akeva glanced at the two women. Jean glared at Akeva with suspicion, while Meriel wore a wary expression. Were they angry because she’d brought modern gadgets into their house? It wasn’t like she’d meant to cause them trouble, she just wanted help getting home.

“Um,” Akeva shifted in the bed, “if I could call my Dad, I’d be out of your hair as soon as he can get here.”

Meriel’s eyes settled on the pile of items on Akeva’s lap, then to the phone in Akeva’s hand. She reached out. “Do ye mind?” Akeva handed it to the woman.

Turning the phone over in her hands, running her fingers over the smooth buttons, Meriel seemed entranced by the device. The old woman shook her head and stepped back again when Meriel held it out to her. “I am no going to touch the wicked thing.”

Meriel stood with an expression of awe, curiosity, and maybe a little fear. The feeling of unease Akeva’d been feeling grew. Meriel turned to Akeva. “And what are ye supposed to do with this?”

This house, as far as she could see, had no modern conveniences. They wore clothing that Akeva only expected to see in period movies. And now, their reaction to her devices made Akeva’s gut twist into a knot.

Putting the phone back in the backpack, she asked, “Where exactly are we?” When Meriel looked confused by her question, she tried again, “What city?”

Meriel frowned. “The closest town is Naern, only a few days ride from here.” A few days ride? Akeva didn’t remember seeing Naern on the Arizona map.

“Ye must have hit ye heid verra hard if ye dinna ken where ye are.” Meriel’s smile reminded Akeva of the placating type an adult gives a young child. Or a crazy person. “Ye are in Clan Chisolm lands, in the Highlands.”

“As in the Scottish Highlands?” She may be a geography-challenged American, but—

“Aye.”

Her reality was unraveling right in front of her. Akeva swallowed hard, then asked, “What’s today’s date?”

Meriel gave her that smile for simpletons again. “The sixth of August.”

No matter how sure she was of the answer, she had to ask her next question. “What year?”

Meriel’s brows furrowed again as she glanced from Akeva’s face, to the devices, and back to her face. “1661, o’ course.”

“Scotland, 1661?"

She couldn’t believe it. No, she didn’t want to believe. As a physics major in college, she’d learned about string theory and multiverses, all of it just hypothetical constructs. The bed beneath her, the strange clothing,  the women who had no idea what to do with a cell phone, these weren’t hypothetical constructs. Very non-hypothetical.

Sure, the landscape she’d traveled certainly resembled photographs of Scotland, but she’d reasoned the unusually placed countryside could’ve been some hidden oasis in the middle of the Arizona high desert. Out in the dark hills that first night after waking at the stone circle, when she’d tried to navigate by the blinking stars, she hadn’t been able to find Orion or the Big Dipper. She’d entertained the idea that she’d  stumbled into a time travel corridor, a mashup of real life physics and elements of science fiction novels. It was just an idea, but ...

Had she really traveled from an Arizona vortex from 2008 to a Scottish stone circle in 1661? Was it possible she’d traveled thousands of miles and hundreds of years? In a flash of lighting?

Meriel said, “Aye.”

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