Thursday, 1 May 2014
'So how does it work?'
It was a silly idea and looked like it had been made out of washing up liquid bottles and cereal boxes.
'You just step inside and think of a year.'
He sounded pretty confident even though what he was saying was totally ludicrous.
'It's bullshit,' I said.
'Try it and find out for yourself, I met Nan this morning.'
Nan had been dead for ten years.
'Like I said, Bullshit.'
'And like I said, Paul, try it.'
My big brother had always been two poles short of a tent and we were all use to his bizarre behavior but this time I was beginning to seriously worry.
'1994,' he said
'1994. She was in hospital, recovering from her knee operation.'
'You're an idiot,' I said.
'She gave me this.'
He threw it at me. Nan's ring. The one that went missing on the ward. The one we never found.
'I took it from her so that she wouldn't lose it. Before she lost it.'
'In 1994?' I asked.
'Don't be stupid,' I said, 'this isn't Nan's ring.'
Dan had always been a free spirit and had lived in so many different places we hardly ever knew where he was any more. None of us had seen him properly for years. So it was a shock when he called me out of the blue and arranged to meet at the old wooden shack in the woods. It was just a shed really and the thing took up most of it.
'Think of a year.'
'Oh shut up. What are you on anyway?'
'I'm on nothing. Just try it then you'll understand.'
I stepped inside to humour him or to shut him up, I wasn't sure which but the ring was freaking me out. It was exactly like Nan's ring. But couldn't be.
The thing wobbled when I stepped inside which strengthened my belief that he had made it out of washing up bottles. Probably high on something.
'Now close your eyes and think of a year. And a place.'
'Just do it,' he said.
I closed my eyes. Hoping that it would at least knock some sense into him.
'Well don't just stand there,' he said.
'A year. You need a year. And a place. Say it in your mind.'
'7044,' I said. 'Let's see what a mess we've made of the world.'
'You can't do that. It's not safe Paul. Stick to the past, it's already happened.'
But I didn't want to stick to the past. I wanted to prove that he was an idiot. I called his bluff.
'This place but in 7044. Make it Christmas, Christmas morning.'
He was panicking. He thought that I was going to cause devastation and destruction, maybe the end of the world by saying it.
I said it over and over.
Somebody opened my eyes for me and it wasn't my brother.
'Isn't this the part where I'm supposed to say boo?'
He was thin. Horribly thin and was wearing nothing but a pair of dark underpants.
'Are you a traveller?' He said.
'A traveller. They come here a lot. Nosy bastards the lot of you.'
'Who are you?' I asked.
'Stop being nosy.' He sang it rather than said it. Peculiar chap with bright green hair and he was tall. Too tall. Surely nobody was that tall?
'How did I get here? Where's Dan?'
'Nosy, Nosy, Nosy.'
I turned around to find my escape blocked by a white wall. The room was smaller than Dan's wooden shack. And it white. Pure white. Heavenly white.
'I've got to get out of here.'
'That's what they all say,' he said.
'This can't be 7044?' I said. Half hoping that Dan would appear out from behind a secret door and drag me back.
'7044?' he said.
'Yes 7044. That's the year I chose. 7044.'
He said nothing. He was poking me. Prodding me. Feeling my biceps even though I had no biceps. Just arms. Regular arms where some people had biceps
If I screamed maybe he would come for me.
And then I knew what I should be doing, although a few minutes ago the whole idea would have been absurd. I close my eyes and said it anyway.
'April 2014. Dan's place. The shack in the woods.'
He was still poking me, pulling down my trousers.
He was laughing now. Not Dan. The thin man.
'You really are nosy little bastards aren't you.'
'Nosy, nosy, nosy.'
'Nosy but always tasty.'
I could feel his breath on my testicles.
I didn't know whether to faint, vomit or cry. I wanted to do all three but instead I just carried on saying it. Not out loud but in my mind's eye.
I pictured Dan, I pictured him standing against the door. His stupid grin. I pictured it all. Dan in the shack and the thing made from washing up bottles and cereal boxes.
'Nosy. Nosy. Tasty. Travellers.'
Then the ring dropped into my mind. As if Nan had thrown it at me just like she had thrown it at Dan. That old ring with the emerald stone. Her engagement ring I think.
And instead of thinking of the year I focused on the ring. The ring became my thoughts. I became the ring.
I lashed out with my hand and caught him by surprise. I don't know what part of him I hit but it was a cold part. A cold smelly part. I didn't really want to think what part of him I had hit.
The ring. Nan's ring.
Somebody opened my eyes again but this time it was Dan. I was outside and the moon was bouncing around in front of me. Like it was on the end of a long string.
'Where's your pants Paul?'
That's all he said. Where's your pants?
The moon was still jumping all over the place but I tried my best to get up. I felt floppy and exhausted.
'I thought you weren't going to come back.' He said.
'I nearly didn't,'.
'I've never used it to go into the future.'
'You have to get rid of that thing.'
'Where's your bloody pants?'
'He has them,' I said, 'But he can keep them.'
(C) Ally Atherton 2014