Subgalaxia: Ch 2

He paced the study of his house.  Books lined cherry shelves and his desk was overcrowded with papers and electronics.  He had sent his maid up to check on the woman. What had possessed him to intervene was beyond him.  A simple trip was all he wanted. He had gone to see the beginnings of Wall Street and the establishment of Manhattan’s business district.  While walking back to his movement point he had heard the high pitched shrieking of a woman in desperate need of help.

He wasn’t sure what he was going to tell Ms. Lisgon about the new woman in his house.  He had successfully been able to have an actual conversation with her for once. If she found out about the woman and misunderstood the situation, then he wouldn’t be able to move on to the next step of recruiting her to help him get his cryopreservation chambers up and running.

He had cracked the time barrier within the last year and been ducking in and out of past centuries over the last month when his tests of the transportation points came back as stable.  He peeked in on Monet’s studio, seen Hiroshige’s woodblocks drawn out, and noted the murder of Anastasia Romanov. He had successfully forewent playing with history, knowing that by removing, preventing, or helping in history would probably collapse the present in its totality. Now he had screwed everything up and he wasn’t sure what to do about it.

“Mr. Ziphle, the lady is doing fine.  I took her up a cup of tea with just a tinge of whiskey to steady her nerves.  She is distraught at having woken up in a foreign place. I wasn’t sure what to tell her.  Lord only knows where you found her with that get-up. I told her that she was resting at your residence until she felt well enough to come down and talk to you.  She said that she would like to gather her thoughts until dinner, which I will start now. It should be ready in an hour.

While you were out, Sophia Lisgon called and asked if she could drop by to talk to you about something.  I told her that she could join us for dinner if she wanted. I wasn’t aware that you would be bringing a guest back with you, so I’m not sure what you would like for me to do now, though.” The elderly maid rung her hands.  All the breath left Ziphle’s body as the blood drained from his face. Sophia, coming here? Oh God how could things not be worse? “Mr. Ziphle? Corbin? Are you all right sir?” The maid shook his arm. He snapped out of his trance to look down at her, his mouth going dry.

“Um, yes, no, thank you Mrs. Stiner.  Dinner would be nice. I need to speak with Ms. Lisgon anyways about a few matters, so this is convenient for me.  Thank you for speaking with the other woman, I’m glad she is doing all right.”

“‘The other woman?’ You mean to say you don’t even know who she is?” Mrs. Stiner took a step back from her employer. 

“Um…” Corbin swallowed. He hadn’t informed Mrs. Stiner that he had been time traveling. She thought that he was out on business calls.

“This is going to be better for me, in the long run, I believe, if I don’t ask.  I’m glad to see that you have finally found some female companionship, though Ms. Lisgon, seeing as you know her and all, I thought would have been better for you.  If you get off on that type of thing upstairs though.” She waving her hand at the ceiling as she made her way to the door.

A strangle hold fell around his throat and his face burned at her tisking.  He rub his temples, fighting a head ache. He should call Sophia and forewarn her of the company, but he should probably introduce himself first to the woman upstairs if he planned on explaining the situation in its totality to his dinner guests.

He trudged upstairs to the guest bedroom where he had placed the woman to wait for her to wake up.  He had feared that she had received a concussion in her fall. To his relief, she had done little more than faint.

Unsure of the gentlemanly thing to do for the period, he had at least relieved her feet of her tightly laced boots.  He had thought to loosen her stays, but having found that she was wearing more layers than he knew what to do with, he decided it was probably wiser to leave her as is.

He rapped his knuckles on the door and listed for a reply.  “Come in,” a trembling female voice called out.

He eased the door open and popped his head in.  “Hello, I hope you’re feeling better.”

 The woman was sitting at the little desk he had positioned under the window overlooking the backyard garden.  “Oh, hello. You’re the one who rescued me, I believe.” She rose to meet him, the swish of fabrics distinctive in their nostalgic sound of years gone past.

“I’m sorry to place you in this awkward situation, ma’am.” He apologized.

“Mrs. Stiner is very nice, sir.  She brought me something to drink and has invited me to dinner.” She glanced at her shoes, pursing her lips.

“She is a dear.  She makes a fantastic lamb roast, which I think is on the menu tonight.” He rubbed at his arm in a nervous tick.

“Oh, wonderful.  I haven’t had lamb since leaving my folk’s farm.” She turned back to him, smiling.  Her stomach growled at the invitation.

“Oh?  Your parents raise sheep?” he asked.  He had neglected to change out of his period shoes and the hard leather sole was beginning to make his knees ache.

“Well, they usually keep fifty head, but they primarily raise wheat, and corn,” she admitted readily.

“What were you doing on the edge of Five Corners, miss…?”

“Miss Teslanoviach.  I was trying to find my way back to my boarding house from the college, and I was told I could cut through Five Corners to get there,” she answered.

“Miss Teslanoviach, my name is Corbin Ziphle.  You work for the college?” He shifted his weight from left to right, trying to relieve the pain.

“Very nice to meet you Mr. Ziphle.  I had my interview today to enroll in the College of Science.” She drifted to the bedframe, trying to restrain her tears once more.  “I was not accepted.” Her voice cracked, but her back and shoulder remained ridgedly straight.

“I’m sorry,” Corbin apologized automatically.

“I’m not,” she answered back fiercely, taking Corbin aback.  He wasn’t expecting her sudden venomous backlash. “I did something that no one else in my town has ever done.  I applied for college. Even the mayor only graduated from eighth grade. It’s their own fault for not accepting me, and I’ll try for another college,” she told him determinedly.

“What was it that you wanted to study in the college of science, Miss Teslanoviach?” he asked, expecting her to reply with botany or zoology.

“I want to explore the nature of machinery in relation to human anatomy, such as seen in the mills and factories in the city,” she responded automatically.

“Such as the men with one large arm and one small arm from working the same lever over and over?” he asked, knowing what she was referring to.

“Yes, but also the stagnation of musculature seen in the overabundance of farm equipment, and this new innovation, the automatic wagon.  Such things provide magnificent help to the farmer or a person traveling a long distance, especially for the elderly, but I believe the more people utilize these inhibitors, the worse our bodily health will be,” she answered, before blushing, feeling a bit outspoken.

You have no idea how accurate you are. Corbin told himself.  “It sounds like a fascinating topic of study, Miss Teslanoviach,” he smiled at her.

“Oh, I believe it to be of utmost urgency to study this topic in an effort to retain our health and longevity,” she told him adamantly.  “I do have a question though.”

“Yes?” A pit of unease settled in his stomach. She had been brought out of the late 1800s.  A white woman in his house. How bad was the racist rant going to be that he was about to hear? He cringed, expecting a tirade.

“How did you come to hide all of your wires?” she asked, pointing up.

“Huh?” He looked up at his smooth finished ceiling at the ceiling fan with a light fixture in the center.  “The house was built like that,” he shrugged, staring at the fan.

“I’ve seen it done with gas line lighting at the college, but even the boarding house only has the one electric light in the foyer and the line was run up the wall last month.  I’m amazed. You have this light, and then there are two lights on either side of the bed.” She pointed to the other two lamps, their chords hidden behind the bedframe. Blood drained from his face and he considered the prospect of a fainting couch. This would be an unusual phenomenon for her.  Electricity in a private house, let alone so many light sources in a spare room would be exceedingly rare in her time. “You must have struck gold to be this wealthy, Mr. Ziphle.”

A bell rang in the hall outside of the door.  “Would you like to join me? Mrs. Stiner has finished preparing our meal.” He bowed slightly at the waist and motioned to the door. 

“My shoes!” She protested.

A blush ran across her face.  “Do not worry yourself. I prefer to keep my house free of dirt brought in on shoes, I just have not had the time to remove my own.”

“Really?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.” She followed him out to the hall.

“It is very typical of many Asian countries to remove their shoes at the door to keep their flooring clean.” They walked to the stairwell.

“I have heard of the Nipponese!  What a strange country. They walk around in robes all day.” She giggled.  Corbin blanched, again realizing that the Meiji era had recently come into being at the point he had removed Miss Teslanoviach from.  She would have only heard about them through second or third hand sources from twice old newspapers.

As they made their way down the stairs of the Victorian era house, light flashed through the foyer window, bouncing sparkling blue onto the whitewashed walls.  Nicole gasped, startled. She stopped on the steps. Corbin turned back to her quizzically, wondering what had spooked her. He followed the line of her eyes to the window next to the door that looked out over his circle drive where his Dodge Tomahawk V10 and his electric blue Pagani Huarya were parked. It didn’t help that Sophia Lisgon had pulled up in with her 1978 custom cherry red Mustang she had inherited from her grandfather.

“What are those?” Nicole asked, descending the stairs, quickly dashing around Corbin and out the door to look at the vehicles.  “Oh, ummm…” he followed her out. She had come to a dead stop again. Sophia, her leather bound shoulder length red hair striped with green and blue and purple highlights gleamed in the setting sun.  Her black knee high leather boots fit snugly over her skin tight hot pink jeans. Her padded motorcycle jacket barely covered her middrift and her massive bug-eye sunglasses rested precariously on her upturned nose.  Down her ears were several piercings, all unmatched, one gauged, one bearing a hummingbird worth of feathers. “Corbin! Did I miss a re-enactment? I so could have done with tea today.” Sophia beamed, her heavy British accent cutting through the stagnant summer air.  Nicole fainted. Corbin and Sophia looked down at her, both raising their eyebrows at the action.

“Sophia, um…yes, great to see you.  I wasn’t aware of your coming over today, I just got back, but I think Mrs. Stiner said something about you dropping by now that I think about it,” he stuttered, lifting up Nicole and quickly motioning Sophia into the house.

“Is she ok?” Sophia asked, moving out of the way in the foyer for Corbin to get in the door with his heavy load.  “Not really sure, this is the second time today that she’s fainted, so I’m wondering if she has a concussion,” he told her as he laid her into a reclining chair in the living room.  Sophia rummaged out a tiny pen-light from her coat and checked Nicole’s eyes and felt her pulse. It didn’t take much for her to come to. Mrs. Stiner, hearing the commotion, hurried out to the living room, wiping her hands on her apron.  “Oh dear, the poor thing fainted again. What have you done Corbin?” she whacked him on the shoulder, pushing him out of the way.

Sophia looked at Corbin, baffled.  He motioned her back out the foyer.  He massaged the back of his neck, not really sure what to say.  “Not a tea party?” Sophia asked him.

“No…not a a tea party. Um…how can I say?” he asked her. 

“By saying it,” she offered with a smile.

“You’re going to think I’ve lost it,” he replied, sitting down on the bench at the bottom the stairs. 

“Insanity seems to lead you down good roads,” she offered, referring to his house, his cars, his booming technology business, and his philanthropical work towards orchard creations in third world countries through biodegradable funerary boxes that contained tree seeds.

“I’ve been working on a new experiment,” he told her, trying to figure out where to start appropriately for this conversation.

“Fashion design?” she asked.

He looked down at his clothing, smirking at her humor.  “No, not really. Tempting for a different project maybe.  You remember, over coffee, how I was explaining my endeavors in chryonics and how I got to my funerary box idea?” he asked her.

“Well yes, that was last week after all.  I wouldn’t have passed my medical degree if I couldn’t remember more than a week of information,” she scooted down next to him.

“That hasn’t been my only experiment recently,” he confided.

“Oh?” she asked, curious.

“I’ve figured out time travel,” he told her, practically whispering.

“What?” she exclaimed.

“You’re not going to make me say that again are you?” he begged.

“Like, Albert Einstein equation time travel…or…time time travel?” she asked.

“Time time travel.  Machine and all,” he answered.

Sophia stared at him for a minute, and then looked up at the door that lead into the living room, and then back at him.  Her face fell from humorous fun to seriousness. “You aren’t joking, are you?” she asked. He shook his head, mute.

“And the girl?” she was a bit afraid to know.  She had hoped that after coffee, and coming to dinner, that maybe Corbin and her were hitting it off.

“I was trying to see Taos.  I ended up in the wrong spot. I found her in an alley being harassed by this big bloke.  I didn’t really think about it, I just sort of brought her through the way point, and the next thing I know, I have this Victorian girl in the thirty-first century.” He buried his head in his hands.

“Do you know who she is?” she asked, curious now.

“Miss Teslanoviach.  She just got denied her application to a science college.  Her parents are farmers,” he mumbled. He looked up to find Sophia gone. He groaned.  This was not how he had hoped to spend his evening.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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