Science Fiction/Adventure – a riveting jacked-in dreamy mind-bender

R. J. DAVIES, AUTHOR

“Just great Tom! Yeah real mature!” she screamed at the heavens. “Idiot!”

Kicking the dirt road with the toe of her running shoe, she really wanted to kick him in the seat of his pants … or in his over inflated head.

“Stupid … stupid … stupid idiot!” she paused. “Just great!” she twirled around looking for some tell-tale sign of where or more importantly when she was.

“Great! Just great Tom! Where the hell am I?” A dirt road in the middle of the woods …. Trees and more trees … and more trees! Stranded in the middle of nowhere the trees were going to devour her. Maybe she shouldn’t be asking where but more importantly WHEN she reminded herself.

No, no, no this was not the first time he had done this to her. Why couldn’t he just fight fair? This was not normal, nor was it fair, but it was becoming a regular event with them.

Her last boyfriend use to give her the silent treatment whenever they fought. Whenever Zane had gotten angry with her he would just shut down. If only Tom was like that? Very sad she thought that she would wish her boyfriend to be more introverted. Yet, right how she found herself wishing she hadn’t met him at all. How she wish she had thrown her drink in his handsome face and walked away when he had introduced himself. Instead she had found him charming sweet and engaging. A friend warned her or tried to warn her that he had a bit of a temper and a jealous streak. Instead Marissa ignored them, after all he had a great smile and he was very charming.

Sighing heavily she looked all around her again and decided to go in the direction of the setting sun. “Just great trapped outside in the wilderness with all this fresh air and wilderness. I’m not happy with you Tom!” a few unlady like words crossed her mind in reference to him. “Take the high road,” she mumbled. “This road better lead to people … friendly people … friendly humans who speak English in this century if he knows what’s good for him.”

She should have listened to her mother. When she brought him home, her mother warned her that he looked like a man with a temper. “Why can’t you be normal!” she shouted to heavens again. He was probably back in his lab, playing with one of his stupid gadgets. “Obviously not the right one!” she shouted out to the empty air around her. Sticking to the path she kept walking the evening was wearing on. The sun would be setting and then she would be left out here in the middle of god only knows where and when.

This is it, she thought. Once she got back home they were done. There was nothing he could say to her this time to smooth things over. He had zapped her into history one too many times.

They have been together for over six years and within the past 18 months since he got his contraption working he has sent her back into time eight times, this was the ninth. The first time was back to the 70’s, the second time back to the 40’s, then 1876, 1780, 1566, 1210, 980, ancient Greece was the last time. In one of her adventures she was taken in by a family then sold off as a slave. When he finally came for her she was beside herself not knowing what to expect next.

It’s not like she could go see a therapist about this. Who would believe her?  She would be locked up for 72 hours of observation for sure and then they may not release her at all. If the shoe was on the other foot she couldn’t justify a story like this as a person who was living in reality.

So this was number nine. In the past 18 months he found himself in such a fit that he used his invention against her. Each time he would come looking for her eventually, when he cooled off but not for a while. At which point she had managed to prepare herself, at best she knew for a city girl she did have survival skills that kept her alive.

What was she thinking? She had almost agreed to marry him, and yet here she was! Again, who knew where she was and when? This time she had been talking to a guy at a party. His name was Victor, a nice looking guy, very entertaining and engaging and very married. Had Tom listened to their conversation he would have realized that, but no he didn’t. Quite frankly she was tired of his insecurities they were not attractive in any man.

In the distance she heard a dog howling. Oh good! People! She thought and actually managed to move a little faster. The sun had dropped the skies were growing darker.

Still trudging through the woods she felt cold and lonely. Not scared, she was too angry to be afraid. Seen too many things, this was a walk in the park so to speak. She kept heading in the direction of where the sun had disappeared. She also knew she was in trouble for a couple of things she had been walking for hours and her legs were sore, she was just plain tired in general, cold she felt cold in her limbs and lower back. The howling had continued but she was beginning to think, it may not be from a friendly dog. Thankfully the noises sounded like they were moving away from her and were far off. It was hard to see, maybe it was partly to do with the dark night but also partly because she was so tired.

Marissa just wanted to sit down some place warm for a while but knew she had to keep moving. It wouldn’t have been so bad had she slept the night before but after the party she was up late working on a project for work. In all honestly she had turned the ringer off because Tom started fighting with her on the way home. Once she got home with him she slipped back out and took off to her office she would have told him, but then it would have heated into another argument. She was up all night working on a project, managed to complete it and hand it in. Then she finally got home he was furious, she told him she had enough she couldn’t take it anymore. He accused her of sleeping with Victor. That’s when she should have turned and walked out but she went upstairs to pack first. He followed her. They continued to argue then the next thing she knew she was out here ... in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees. So many trees.

A small part of her hoped he didn’t’ come for her at all. Whatever hell she ended up in … Marissa felt baffled by it all. Yawning she shivered again. She kept trudging on there was no way she was going down without a fight. The night stars peeked at her through the trees but they weren’t much company. Her feet felt heavy, another yawn escaped her lips.

Marissa decided her body just couldn’t go any further and found a tree that provided a little shelter from the wind. Snuggling up against the base of the tree, she fought to stay warm. Her heavy eyes won the tug of war. Slipping off to sleep her body was grateful for the break. Wished she had found some place warmer but grateful none the less. Sleep took over.

“Fight hard to stay alive!” someone shouted to her. She was running through the woods. The howling was back and in hot pursuit. There would be no escape. Flames surrounded her she could feel the heat on her skin, which felt like it was going to melt off. Then darkness wrapped her up like a warm fuzzy blanket and she found herself giving into it.

Her eyes fluttered open to find herself lying in a cozy room near a fire place. There were blankets piled on top of her as well. She felt so relaxed and safe she thought she had to be dreaming, sleep took over again and the world slowly disappeared. A very handsome concern looking face passed by her but darkness enslaved her.

Waking she found herself in a cozy cabin it wasn’t a dream, frowning sadly. Where and when was she?

Stretching she rolled over and peeked around her. There was no one around. Sitting up she found her clothes were replaced with something that was warm and so soft. The room was large yet cozy and the fire in the stone hearth low but it kept the room really warm. It was very rustic; wood was everywhere … lots of woods. There were no noises except for the wind outside. Examining the blankets she cringed as she realized a couple of them were hides from animals.

Wincing she shoved them back. Standing up she poked around and found nothing that would indicate where or when she was. Pushing the door open she went outside. She had been inside some kind of wooden hut and by the looks of things, she was on some kind of farm. A man came out of the woods and smiled at her.

He came over, “Dia duit conas atatuag deananh,”

She smiled back, “I don’t know what you are saying but thank you. I appreciate you taking care of me.”

“Nia,” he started and she held up her hand.

“I know I don’t understand you. You don’t understand me. I’ll bet phones haven’t been invented yet. It’s just one of those days.”

He bowed, “Brighid?”

She shook her head, she had no idea what he was talking about.

“Flidais? Fodla? Eriu? Iiom Daegan,” he pointed to himself. “Daegan.”

“Oh my name is Marissa,” she patted to herself. “Marissa.”

“Marissa,” he said slowly. He repeated it a couple of times and smiled back.

He made a gesture to eat “Ocras?”

“Ocras?” if that means eat, "yes,” she nodded.

He pointed back to his hut. She led the way. Once inside he began making her something.

She liked the warmth and simple life this guy had going on he was talking to her in another language. She hadn’t heard this one before. Before long he gave her dinner. It looked like a dead squirrel, some kind of veggie and berries. She felt her stomach turn. But she really was hungry. She had a bite of berries and knew she couldn’t stop. When it came to the meaty thing she didn’t look at it. Using her imagination she pretended that it was a piece of chicken which it didn’t taste like at all and chewed quickly swallowing hard. She ate the meat thing completely then finished the veggie thing which was more like a potato which had a sweet taste to it. Savoring the berries for last she enjoyed them and used the flavor to clean her tongue and mouth out.

Marissa watched her new friend carefully, he was not bad looking if he had a haircut and brushed his teeth he would be a nice catch. He seemed to keep a close eye on her too. After she ate he showed her around naming things. He seemed really nice.

She was grateful for his hospitality he rescued her from the woods and kept her warm and fed. So nice of him to treat her like this when she must have looked different than what he was normally used to. She hoped this didn't mean they were married. Smiling she nodded when he nodded.

A few days went by and they taught each other some simple phrases. She went with him to attend his animals, sheep that fed in the nearby field. This guy was very impressive he had many talents. He had made all the cloths, blankets and house wares.

She tried not to judge to harshly he did have bad teeth, a bad haircut and poor posture. Daegan didn’t keep track of time like normal calendar nor days of the week. She had no idea how long she had been out or sleeping. It was approximately a week since she woke up.

Marissa wanted to kick herself for constantly looking over her shoulder expecting Tom to show up and rescue her. This is where the problem lies, she reminded herself. She wouldn’t need rescuing if he would stop throwing her into these careless situations. He would eventually come to the rescue and make promises that he couldn’t keep. Things would go good for a little while until something else happened and then she would find herself stranded … she vowed to herself that this crazy cycle has to stop. It wasn’t a healthy relationship when she could be beamed off into history, whenever he decided to have a temper tantrum like a little two year old. She repeated to herself, “I deserve better, I will ask for better, I will expect better.”

She looked for him again. She found this lifestyle Daegan lived to be lonely and hard. He didn’t have anyone. Marissa couldn’t imagine a life so lonely. He was interested in her, she could tell and she was grateful he was too shy to make a move.

He had taken her for a walk to a nearby village yesterday and once there it was something out of a movie. Little huts like the one Daegan owned. He traded his soft wool for food and other things. A young woman turned ten shades of red when she saw him then her face soured as she saw Marissa. Marissa wanted to say she didn’t have anything to worry about. Daegan of course was unaware, men really she thought … pick a century it seemed like it really didn’t matter some of them were just plain clueless.

The villagers were friendly and they took an interest in her. Even though she couldn’t talk to them in the same language she knew the looks and tones. Who is this? A relative? Is this you new wife? Well she isn’t very strong … Marissa played with the children and held a baby. Holding the baby in her arms she realized she would love to have one of her own. She had thought that person  she was going to have her first child with was Tom, but knew that had all changed. The baby’s tiny little fingers and the long baby eyelashes … so adorable.

On their way back she didn’t look over shoulder once instead she enjoyed the simple task of heading home with Daegan.

What would it be like she wondered if she stayed? Could there be something between Daegan and her? They came from such different worlds. No he was not he man for her. This life style was too simple and it wasn’t home.

When they got back she helped Daegan put things away. They made dinner and sat down to eat. She missed her family and friends … and the internet. Not that she was on it all the time but she missed the act of checking her email. How many emails would she have in her inbox? When and if she ever got back, she reminded herself. Daegan had gone for a nap. Marissa stepped outside and sat down with a blanket by the hut and silently sobbed for her old life back. What was Tom thinking? This was so unfair. She had been here for over a week and he didn’t even care enough to come and get her. It was not right. She didn’t deserve this. Looking up at the stars they looked so different than what she was use to. They seemed so big. The night sky never looked so clear. It was like taking a time out. Heaving a big sigh she said a silent prayer, she just wanted to go home. Please just send me home, she begged.

She sat out under the stars for a little while, mulling over her life, her decisions and ambitions. Finally she went inside and crawled into Daegan’s bed. He was curled up on the floor in front of the fireplace. She watched his sleeping body and how the light of the fire place danced across his strong tender features. He was such a gentleman before gentleman were created. If only Tom could take a page from this guy’s book of how to treat a lady. She drifted off to sleep in an uncomfortable state of mind.

The next day she followed Daegan out the field and he tended to his flock he was a busy off in one side of the fields. She sat down in the field of flowers and plucked one. ‘Does he love me? Does he love me not? Does he love me …’ she plucked away all the petals.

“Marissa?” his voice full of uncertainty it startled her. Without looking behind her she knew it was him ... it was Tom. Looking up  she saw Daegan coming towards them.

Biting her tongue she just wanted go home. Once there she planned on packing her bag and then if she ever heard his name again it would be too soon.

“Marissa, I’m so sorry,” he began.

“Sure like the last time? And the time before that? And how about the time before that? Are you just sorry you found me?” She didn’t want to look at him she really had enough and would just like this nightmare to be over with.

“I know I have behaved badly. I deserve nothing from you. And in turn owe you more than I could ever repay you.”

He was taking a different approach this time. “I just want to go home.” She stood up. Daegan was closing the gap between them. She waited until he joined them. The she made the introductions. Glancing Tom’s way she noticed he didn’t look the same. He looked older and worried.

“Tom? You look … you look ….”

“Old?” he frowned. “Yes, I know. As I’ve said Marissa I shouldn’t have treated you so badly. I deeply regret my actions and hope someday you’ll find it in your heart not to hate me for what I’ve done to you. After I had zapped you back into the past I shorted out my Time Jumper. Basically I broke by accident and it took me years to finally fix it, and a couple more years to find you.”

“Thank you for coming back for me.”

“It’s the least I could do.”

“So are you able to take me back to my time line?”

“I will try.”

It hit her she almost didn’t get back home because his machine broke … his carelessness! If he loved her like he claimed, how could he do these things to her?

She turned to Daegan and hugged him. Saying good bye and thanked him for all his help. Then she took Tom’s hand and they walked through the field until they found themselves walking into a busy street. She could not believe how wonderful it felt to be back in her own time.

“You can’t go back to our apartment.”

“But my clothes?”

“I know I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I’m there. If I see you and me together it just won’t work. I need to learn my lesson and I really don’t deserve you Marissa.”

No you don’t at least we can agree on something.”

“Please don’t go back to our apartment,” he pleaded.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t walk away and let him … you think that I didn’t care enough to spare him this grief I won’t do it and you shouldn’t be asking me to do this. If you like, you can come with me and tell him your side.”

“Please reconsider.”

“If you ever cared for me you won’t ask again. It’s just not right. I’ll admit he is or you are an ass but he and you don’t deserve this. I just couldn’t do this. I’m going upstairs to let him know I’m back and that I’m done with him.” She turned and headed upstairs to their apartment. She turned the knob and entered.

Tom sat at the table pouring over his schematics. He didn’t hear her come in. She crossed the living room over to him. “Tom,” she began.

“Marissa? Marissa!” he jumped up and stared at her for a few minutes not daring to blink in fear she would disappear. “How? The machine is broken.”

“Well Tom, you actually came back to the past, to wherever you had sent me and rescued me. It was a future you. I’m packing my stuff and I’m moving out. I’m done with you.”

His smile faded and his shoulders slumped. He looked defeated. “But … but …”

She shook her head no. “This time was the last straw. Whatever love I had for you have evaporated with these tantrums you have you’re not a kid. And I’m not a punching bag for you.”

“Marissa I’d never hit you.”

“No, no you wouldn’t.  You would throw me back in the past into civilizations that I have no knowledge of and leave me there stranded! Who does that kind of thing? I can’t believe I’m still standing here talking to you.” She turned and headed to their bedroom.

“Awe honey, come on …”

“Awe honey, come on!” she whirled around. “Are you kidding me? Look at me! Look at me! I’m wearing wool and animal hide. I didn’t pick this up at Chloe’s this is the real deal. I can’t even deal with you right now. Do you realize your future self, told me to just walk away and not even let you even know I was back here and alive. This is too much to deal with; you’re too much to deal with. You almost left me trapped in time! No you never hit me, but it was worse at least bruises would heal. How many woman can say their ex-boyfriends sent them back in time because they got pissed off?” she stormed into their bedroom, grabbed a quick shower, dressed and packed her things. He watched and lurked in the doorway.

“Marissa I can change I will change. I’ll never do that to you again I promise.”

“Ha! I’ve heard that all before. I’m done with you and your pretty lies.”

“It’s different this time, I almost lost you forever.”

“No, the moment you pressed that button and sent me back. That’s when you lost me. When I realized that I almost didn’t make it back and I met your future self I knew then that you lost me.  Me standing her packing and walking out on you is just something that waas already been pre-written.” She dragged her two suitcases to the door.

“Have a nice life Tom, I really hope you find someone you can treasure like I use to treasure you.” She walked out and down the hallway. Forging forward she bit back the tears and the part that begged her to go back. With tears running down her cheeks she forced herself to not look back.

by R. J. DAvies

The Quarrel