Out of Time (3.2)

Point of Battery

Part 2

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…

In this episode (3.2) Letitia delves into her friend’s past and makes some intriguing discoveries…]

Frieda led Letitia into her room and rifled through a room-sized walk-in robe packed-full of clothing. From what Letitia could discern from the king-sized bed which faced a wall-sized window view of the Derwent, there were at least three decades worth of fashions represented. 1940’s to mid- ‘60’s, she surmised. A bold red and green floral print dress flew through the air and gracefully landed on the bed next to her. As she picked up the polyester-cotton dress, she remarked casually, ‘Blood and bone? Isn’t that something you do to roses in springtime?’

Frieda’s voice floated out from the depths of the clothes cupboard along with a pair of knickers still in the original plastic wrapping. ‘Yeah, don’t remind me! You know Will. He’s always gunna do, but then he’s on call, then there’s a golf tournament, and then Christmas, and then the bothersome yacht race! And in the end the job never gets done. Then before you know it, the damn dog’s got into it. Poor roses!’ More rustling could be heard from the vacuous hole of the cupboard, punctuated by Frieda’s verbal explosions, that spanned several European languages. ‘Now where are those dumkopf shoes? Merde! Can’t find anything in this hole!’

Standing by the bed like a dummy awaiting further instructions, Letitia chuckled, ‘You’d fit well into Mirror World.’

‘What? What the blazes is Mirror World?’

Realising that this Frieda may have never experienced such a world, Letitia shrugged. ‘Never mind.’

After a few more crashes and angry expletives, Frieda popped her head through the door. ‘Oh, er, Letitia, you can use the en suite shower and get changed. Just throw the dirty clothes outside the door. I’ll get them and put them in the wash. They won’t take long to dry in this weather.’ Then, almost as an after-thought, ‘Oh, er, Johnny’s coming home with his nanny soon.’

Letitia raised an eyebrow. ‘Johnny? Is that…?’

But Frieda had already flown out of hearing-range.

Letitia spied the adjoining door to the closet and assumed that this led to the en suite. It did. After peeling off the offensive manure laden garb, and depositing it just out the door, she turned on the shower revelling in the warm water flowing over her parched and soiled body.

For a couple of minutes, she enjoyed the refreshing and steamy streams run over her tired skin and aching muscles. Her mind wandered over postcards of lush fertile temperate forests of the West Coast of Tasmania (Mirror, of course, and East Coast there). She had not been there yet but remembered the pristine photographs from Geographic calendars and books that Jemima had sent in years gone by (or in future years as the case seemed to be in this out-of-time world). At Christmas, a tradition was established: she would send Switzerland, and Jemima would send the Tasmanian wilderness.

Hot spicy drops of water seared Letitia’s skin, jarring her out of her Tasmanian wilderness daydreams. She leapt to the far corner of the bevelled glass shower cubicle to escape the stings of boiling hot water. Through the steam, she noticed a knob marked with a blue ‘C’. She had forgotten that even showers were not computer-adjusted in 1967. With a sigh and with careful manoeuvring, she twisted the cold tap handle until the water simmered down to a more ambient temperature. How the soft water lathered the speck of shampoo to froth into a huge volume, she marvelled. Adelaide’s desalinated water of 2018 on Mirror World, never did that. It was a good day if you managed to conjure up a few stray bubbles from that water from drought-stricken Adelaide of the 2010’s on Mirror. Since global warming had taken a firm hold, the mainland of Mirror-Australia had been in perpetual general drought for more than twenty years.

Conscious of impending future water restrictions that might even extend to Hobart, even on this world, she terminated her shower after a few minutes of bliss, and dried with a towel compliments of Frieda. Actually, the white fluffy Dickies towel had “Frieda” embossed in dark pink across one corner. She did not feel comfortable using the one marked “Wilhelm”. Carefully, she dried her long dark locks and donned the blue patterned loose-fitting dress, and underclothes Frieda had provided.

‘A bit of a tent,’ Letitia said admiring her slim figure in the mirror, ‘but cool all the same. The white floral design I like.’

Finally, she began to thaw from the freezer of the South Pole.

Her limbs felt like rubber after the warmth of the shower and for once she could move them freely without the stiffness of cold, threatening frostbite and muscle-cramp. She wandered out into the bedroom of Wilhelm and Frieda. Was that the same Wilhelm Frieda had begun dating back before the Boris disaster of the Lagrange Point? she pondered. The Derwent was bathed in the first flushes of sunset, reflecting pleasant pinks and glowing orange on the hills beyond, the flickering lights of the city shimmering against the warm dark grey blue of river and evening. She read the analogue clock that sat in its own foldable leather case on the cluttered bedside table.

‘Nine o’clock!’ she muttered. ‘I was only in the shower for a few brief minutes. Who’s been messing with my time? I was sure it was only two or three in the afternoon, surely…’

She noticed a family history book that was stacked on top of a pile of neglected receipts and used airline tickets. ‘I wonder if I’m in this family history in this particular world and time?’ She flipped distractedly through the stiff A4 sized pages. Caught a glimpse of Frieda’s brother. Their mother remained a mystery. ‘I wonder who she was? What happened to her?’ She flicked back in search of the page and elusive image. She found John, Minna’s brother. Born 1963. ‘You didn’t waste any time, Frieda,’ she muttered. Then she gulped in momentary, reflection, ‘Neither did I, I mean, we. Wow, Jemima and John are the same age, technically…’ Distracted, Letitia turned page after page, hoping to uncover her or her counterpart’s existence.

‘Wise guy! Jolly joker! Who may I ask are you?’ A man’s voice echoed through the room while a golf club nudged Letitia in the back.

With a shriek, Letitia tossed the genealogical document into the air causing it to splat inelegantly onto the homemade patchwork quilt.

‘Who are you in my bedroom, wearing my wife’s clothes, and reading my family history?’ the man accused half in jest.

Letitia replied, ‘Just seeing if…I hope you don’t mind.’

The man she assumed was Wilhelm Thumm interrupted her. ‘Well, of course! Go ahead. Have a look. You helped Frieda with the research. Letitia! How good to see you, after, after…’ He paused thoughtfully, ‘after all these months! Or is it years?’ And gave her an obligatory hug. ‘Frieda informed me of your auspicious discovery. So, this is where you escaped to! What a surprise! You know, to be honest, we all thought you were, you know,’ he cleared his throat, ‘um, gone…dead. Although, we never did find a body, so, of course certain members of the IGSF, you know the likely characters, never gave up. After all, with what happened to me…’ Wilhelm’s voice trailed off into the realm of uncertainty.

What a bonus! Letitia mused. She recalled a few discussions with Frieda as they sun-baked on the sands at Bondi but didn’t think she had done that much to help write the family history. ‘I ended up in another dimension, Mirror World, and was busy helping the IGSF there. Anyway,’ she smiled, ‘It’s good to see you too, Will. You don’t mind if I have a look through the book, you know check for, check for typos, inconsistencies and, and there’s these distant relatives from Switzerland that I want to check up on, see if they were put in here,’ she rambled. Figuring that she had to get her facts straight if she was going to appear convincing in this time frame and realm.

‘Sure!’ Wilhelm nodded. ‘Come on down to the deck. We are having a nice glass of Riesling from the Barossa, and Frieda’s grilling up some salmon on the Weber. The latest thing from America, you know. Tasmanian salmon, it’s the best!’ he sucked in the twilight air between his gritted teeth and lead the way out to the deck.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Focus on Sandy Bay, Derwent River, Hobart © L.M. Kling 2016

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

One thought on “Out of Time (3.2)

  1. Pingback: Out of Time (3.2) | leeannemarieblog

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