Marianne’s time-travels were not the only thing that was different. Her
personal space was now an issue. This street was crowded with people, and
people were pushing and shoving each other when they wanted to get a clear
path to get around. Marianne thought about taking a slightly more direct path,
but she just as quickly changed her mind.
The air felt different as she walked. Something was moving—something that
was more aggressive and threatening. Marianne decided to ignore it and moved
on, determined to find and return to her place where she could rest while she
explored the new city she had just entered.
For the next ten minutes, the streets seemed completely quiet. The only
sound was the occasional voice of the man she passed on the street who turned
and looked at her with an amused smile.
The final street she came to seemed to be on a hill, and from that hill to
the sky, everything stood tall and straight. Marianne was surprised at the
vaporous blue sky, the lack of sound or movement in the air. The blue sky was
breathable, and that made her feel safe. With that feeling, she felt a strange
girlish thrill as she approached the National Science Institute.
Marianne pushed through the people who were blocking her path. She found
the door and opened it. Inside, she could hear the sounds of scientific
discussion and some loud and energetic shouting.
Looking around, she could see the scientists from other time periods, along
with those from her own world. Her world? Marianne wondered. This seemed like
a place where men were required to always be in charge of the group, at least
in her time. There were many men, men with long arms, and some with short
shoulders, who seemed to lead the scientific discussions.
Marianne stepped to the side and looked around the room. The people in her
world wore the same long sleeves as the people in this part of the future, and
their hair was brushed back from their face in a fashion that reminded Marianne
of a military uniform. In her world, people were not allowed to be as forward
in their thinking as they seemed to be in this future. But then, the people of
her world had a very different outlook on life. She realized that this was not
her world, but she certainly felt like she was in the right place to meet the
person responsible for creating her time-travel.
She stepped up to a man and asked for the time of day from his arm, the one
with the long sleeve. He did not bother to look up at her even though his head
was down. He continued to talk, and Marianne looked in his face, trying to
figure out if she had made the right decision in coming here.
There was no question. She had made the right decision. She knew everything
about this place, and she was looking for answers to her questions.
With only a moment to consider, she asked, “Is it not true that you create
your own time-travel using the energy of a star?” After a short pause, she
asked, “Do you not have to take the energy from the star to create your
The man looked up from his work and looked at her with a smile that was
completely genuine. Then his head suddenly turned in another direction. Marianne
stood there for a moment in shock. She had never seen a man react like that
before. He seemed like a completely different person. And then she realized
she was being stared down by the same angry-looking man she had seen in what
she assumed was an accident just moments ago. She was also surprised to see
another man standing there who was looking at her with a slightly annoyed
stare. He was dressed in a similar way as the man from before, with only a
different long-sleeved shirt underneath.
For a moment, all four of them stood in silence. Then Marianne took a deep
breath and decided that she could no longer stay in the lab. She jumped up and
walked out of the room, but not before she noticed the man she had just seen
two minutes ago looking at her, with a look almost like satisfaction.
“What a strange woman!” The other man turned and walked a few steps down the
room with a look of amusement. “I am sorry about this, but I had to keep her
away from you. You seem like a different guy.”
Marianne smiled. She felt the need to explain that she had not been
staring—merely waiting. She was curious about this man even though he was
looking at the other woman with an amused smile. The man looked like a
different person, and that was something that she wanted to know more about.
She could see the man’s eyes twinkle with amusement at this, and she knew he
felt a little different as well.
“It is funny how people change, isn’t it?” He nodded. “That is the
universality of your time. The person you feel like is the truest you,
personally, is the person you really think you are, but once in the past,
every day, someone else thinks that they are you.”
Without noticing anything out of the ordinary, Marianne followed the man
down the hall with the other man following her. They seemed like they knew
each other, and were not strangers. In fact, they looked like they had met in
the past. She tried to remember who they were, and she could barely remember
anything about them before she was caught in this situation. It was hard to
focus on anything but the man following her.
“We should take this way. You are going to tell me about the person you
are, and I am going to talk to you about the person I am.”
“Yes, yes, I remember that. What a great conversation that will be.” Marianne
turned to face him and looked him in the eye as she spoke.
The man was just as different as Marianne, and he was not the kind of man who
was easily impressed or intimidated. In fact, she had learned that he was not
the kind of person who could be talked out of talking to a strange woman. He
was not the kind of person to change directions when he was being followed.
He was certainly not the kind of person who would give an obvious sign of how
much fun they had together.