Day 119 – The Girl Who… Part 5?

Wrote this one on train.

 

Word count: 1226

 

A drip from a stalactite splashed against the cavern floor and shattered the sharp silence between Alice and Monty. Alice was still brandishing her old diary while Monty remained clammed and unrelenting.

Alice wiped away her tears with her sleeve.

“Tell me, Monty.”

Monty reacted as if in physical pain, “Alice, I can’t.”

“Are you… are you stalking me?”

Monty shook his head.

“Then what, you just happened to have this? I mean, is this all one big wind up – one big joke? Slip her a couple of pills to make her really believe she’s out in space? We are in a cave. We could be in Wales!”

Monty tried to snatch the diary.

“No you don’t,” Alice reeled back and tucked it under her arm.

“Alice, please, I need that…”

“It’s mine, not yours…”

“No…” he winced in pain, “No it’s mine… you left it to me.”

Alice was confused, “What?”

Monty scratched his forehead, “Check… check the back page… folded underneath the corner….”

Alice opened up the diary and flicked to the last page. The bottom corner had been folded over. Apprehensively, Alice unfolded it to reveal something that took her breath away. There was no doubt that it was real. This was no illusion; written in her own handwriting as a message not only to herself, but to the man standing in front of her, who she had only met a few hours ago.

Alice, you wore red socks this morning – the ones you got for Christmas. This is your future self. Trust everything Monty says and make sure you write this before you die, otherwise god knows what might happen.

Alice looked up, gawping at Monty, “It can’t be?”

Monty nodded, “Do you trust me now?”

“But how? How is that even… that’s my handwriting… I wore red socks this morning… that’s how I would write to myself!”

“You wrote it in the future.”

“Apparently so.”

“Do you trust me now?”

“But… but I wrote this… in the future… and this is the future…”

“Yes…”

“So… there was a point… where this wasn’t the future? Where it was the present… where I didn’t know whether or not to trust you, but I did anyway?”

Monty scrunched his eyebrows up trying to fathom what she had just asked, “I think so.”

“So what do I do?”

Alice was beyond confused. There was nothing solid to grasp on to. At one point, she had put blind trust in him. Was that moment now, was it in the future, was it in the past? What came first, did it really matter?  Should she trust him; this perfect stranger who knew everything there was to know about her and conversely she knew nothing about?

“Is Monty your real name?”

“No,” he shook his head.

“Can I call you it anyway?”

“Yes,” an edge of a smile creased over his cheeks, “Does that mean?”

“If I’m to trust you, you have to be honest. You have to be totally and completely honest with me.”

“Okay, then.”

“Can we go somewhere drier… and maybe with a bit more light?”

“Sure, let’s head back down the way. I don’t really use my study any more anyway.”

“Study?” Alice mocked, looking back at the desk in the passageway in slight disgust as they walked back down towards the more open part of the cavern. “Do you properly live here?”

“Right now I do. I tend to move around a lot.”

“Why?”

She repeated herself when he did not immediately respond.

“Nature of my job.”

“Which is?”

“I guess you would say I’m a sort of… civil servant.”

Alice burst out laughing, “I’d have thought they would have got rid of you lot years ago! Or… wait, I’m confused… I can’t deal with this time thing.”

They were back in the more comfortable part of the cavern. It was slightly warmer down this end, but nothing balmy. Alice was chilly in her pajamas and even Monty rubbed his hands together to keep warm. Alice sat down on a rock and tucked her arms under themselves.

“You’ll get used to that….”

“How, isn’t it confusing? Which order comes in what?”

Monty laughed, “Yip, it can be amusing. Try to always think of yourself being in the present. I mean, you might be forty thousand years in the future from where you were… but you were only in bed about two hours ago. I’d stick with that.”

Alice contemplated this, “I suppose.”

“Do you want something to eat?”

“No… uhm, what kind of food would you even have?”

“The normal for you, unfortunately.”

“Unfortunately?”

“Well, I’m not too keen on Earth food.”

“Did… did we leave the planet?”

Monty laughed again, “Eventually – you bloody killed the thing!”

“What? No? Really?” Alice suddenly felt a bit sick. Everything she had known would eventually rot and burn in outer space; become a transient planet of historic self destruction.

“Are you really that surprised?”

“Sadly, no… So where did we go? Did we come here?”

“You went all over… but I don’t think you came here.”

“Then why do you look so much like us?”

“I’m mixed. Half alien, half human.”

“Which part’s alien?”

“That would be telling.”

“You seem different.”

“Do I?”

“Sadder.”

Monty clapped his hands together, “It’s a bit chilly in here. Let’s get the heating on.”

He jumped to his feet and marched over to the cavern wall and started listening to the walls.

“Right about…there…” he tapped on the wall about half way up and suddenly everything was lit up in the light of molten lava.

“Oh my god…”

“Don’t worry, it’s behind about a metre of transparent stone… it won’t burn you.”

“It’s beautiful,” whispered Alice, who shrunk in its awe. Her arms were starting to warm up and soon she felt no cold at all.

Monty quickly went to attend to his time manipulator device.

“It must be nice, living here.”

“It’s horrible,” Monty replied distractedly.

“Horrible? Your world is… I can’t describe your world. You’ve got oceans and lava for heating! You’ve got time manipulator devices and you’ve got… weird tunnel things that I don’t understand.”

“It’s just not what it used to be… what it should be.”

“You said… what happened to it?”

“Long story….”

“Tell me.”

“I’d rather not, it’s quite painful.”

The time manipulator device gave a satisfactory beep.

“You said it was destroyed before you were born. Have you ever gone?” she nodded at the time machine.

“What? No!”

“Why not?”

“I… I don’t know…”

“You’ve only ever seen pictures, haven’t you?”

Monty nodded.

“Is it charged?”

“Yes…”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“We can’t, Alice!”

“What are we going to do here, sit around in your charming cave waiting for those people or things to come along and find us? Which, by the way, is so far down my list of questions for this bizarre night that we might not even get to it by morning!”

Alice leapt to her bare, mucky feet, eyes alive with the amber of the lava. Monty looked right back at her and she knew that he could not resist.

“We have to be back here though, within a few hours… the battery…”

“We’ll have you back in Kansas before you know it!”

“Kansas?”

“Never mind, press your buttons!”

Monty reached out for her hand, “Let’s go….”

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~ by S.G. Mark on February 3, 2012.

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