The Traveller

There’s no point in trying to remember when this all started, or how. What matters is that it’s happening now.

My life isn’t a continuous series of events running from birth to death. I’ve been all over the globe and seen history, as I was taught it, in the making. I’ve met people I’ve never seen before who know me by name, and I’ve encountered people that I know who don’t recognize me at all. My time just isn’t the same as everyone else’s time. At some point I came into this world, the same old-fashioned way everyone else has: from between my mother’s legs. The difference is that I’ve lived before that time, and I’ve lived long after I should be dead. I’ve even encountered some people I’m fairly certain were present when I died, though the didn’t tell me so.

I’m not telling you all this because I’m afraid of death. Comes to us all sooner or later and I’ve got no qualms with that. I’m concerned with what happens in between. That’s the important part – the stuff that matters. You only get one shot at that and I aim to get it right. The only problem is that I have very little control over that because for some reason, I slip through time.

Time, space… whatever. I could be anywhere in the world at anytime in the world, but as far as I can tell it’s all the same planet. And spoiler alert – there is life on other planets.

Where I go and when are completely out of my control – it just happens. Sometimes it’s as abrupt as turning a corner on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee 1972 and winding up on Koenigstrasse, Stuttgart, Germany in 2031. Other times it happens gradually, like I’m walking through what’s left of the English countryside on a morning in 3075 and the terrain gradually becomes a little more sparse, the temperature slowly drops, and by late afternoon I’m trudging through a snowy countryside in what will someday be Russia. (I do a lot of walking.) Every time I’m about to make the switch, though, I feel nauseous. It feels like the world is spinning too fast. That could start a couple of days before the slip or a couple hours. And that’s it – the only warning.

For a while, I figured this at least keeps things interesting. I didn’t have anyone to miss, no one to miss me. I could just wander. Everywhere I’d wind up, it seemed like someone could use my help and that’s rewarding. Most of the time I can keep a full belly and good enough company to last the stay. It’s rare that I see anyone more than once, but it’s happened. And I suppose that because it’s happened is why I want to stop it now.

You see, there’s a time in the world when things really go south… and when I say that, I mean they really go bad. I’ve saved a lot of people and lost a lot of people during those times, but whatever it is I’m doing I get to finish it before I make the slip. Except for once.

I’d met this girl a couple of times, but she was never the one I was helping. Then I met her a third time. Figured something important in the universe must be happening around her – whoever or whatever has any control over the travelling thing, they want me to be there – at that place, during that time. So I did what needed done. Only things got a little overrun and we had to make a break for it. We ran. We ran for a good long while and she managed to keep up – not everybody did. The streets of Seattle are an unforgiving place during that time. We finally made it to a safe point, someplace where we could climb high enough that the things chasing us couldn’t reach. I boosted a few guys up, then climbed up myself to help the others. She stayed on the ground, doing what she could to fight off those things. Everyone was up and the others were starting to climb down the other side now. I called out to her, laid flat on my belly, and reached my hand out. She came runnin’. She jumped up and reached her arm out – her hand was going to fall perfectly into mine. I was so focused on it. I decided in that moment that if no one else made it that day, she was going to be the one I’d save. She had to make it. I felt the contact of skin, clamped my hand down on hers and hoisted her up. All 130lbs of 2nd Lieutenant Berry, of the Talon Brigade in what used to be Glasgow, Scotland.

I’d slipped.

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