The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans, Part Two
November 29, 2011
Rachel was dreaming. Dreaming about taxis, apparently, as another one sounded its horn loudly in her ear. She blinked and opened her eyes. A barrage of colors hit her and she winced, covering her eyes immediately.
"Too much. It's all too much." Maybe if she kept her eyes closed it would all go away again. Maybe...
"Wake up," Leigh pinched her arm. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
"Ow." Rachel rubbed her arm. "We weren't in Kansas to begin with, so that's...good?" She blinked again. Everything was too loud, too bright, and too shiny.
They were standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk in a city that looked suspiciously like New York. New York City in the fifties to be precise. The vibrant colors were much more realistic than she had ever imagined. Somehow, the past was always half in black-and-white in Rachel's mind. Admittedly, that was probably due to all the old movies she watched when she was little. Now though, it was impossible not to stare as the people walked by as though they'd stepped straight out of a Metro Goldwyn Mayer film. Standing there in the afternoon sunlight, she had a blindingly brilliant moment of clarity.
"Lemme see the book."
Leigh held it out wordlessly, and they looked down at the pages as people brushed past them without a second glance. There, under the picture of the Empire State Building, was the caption: New York City - 1956.
"You zapped us." Rachel said quietly. She was still clutching the coffee cup. It was the only thing that felt real at the moment. All the people surrounding them, the taxis and cars jamming the streets...the smell of New York in the late winter. The air was cold and wet. It all looked and sounded real. How was that even possible? Rachel stared into the closest shop window. For a second, she was distracted by the display, full of mannequins in impossibly tight dresses ('Nobody's waist is that tiny.'), before leaning in to squint at her own reflection. At least she looked normal enough. Same reddish-brownish hair. Same glasses. Same slightly wry look of skepticism. Nothing had really changed.
Except that they were in New York City.
"Say what now?" Leigh craned her head to look upward at the buildings around them. "This is fantastic. Completely unbelievable, but fantastic. Did you put something in that coffee?"
"No. You either zapped us back into the past, or we're both hallucinating New York in its heyday. Take your pick."
"How on earth would I make that happen?" Leigh looked almost affronted. "I didn't build a time machine, you don't have a DeLorean, and as far as I know, neither of us has sighted the blue box. Yet."
"I think you did it via the book." Rachel waved the pocket dictionary at her. "You wished." That was it. Leigh had wished and somehow the book had heard them? That was crazy even for Rachel, who was known for a vivid imagination. Once when she was little, she had talked all the kids in her neighborhood into believing that she'd been abducted when she was a baby and that any day her true parents would come find her, just as soon as they figured out her location. Her parents in suburbia were less than thrilled when the kids had started calling them 'The Kidnappers.'
"Right. Okay." Leigh nodded very slowly to herself. "So what do we do now?"
"Out of the way!" Somebody barked at them, and Rachel jumped. They barely had time to move to one side before two men barreled by carrying a large piano. Rachel leaned back against the building and took a deep breath.
I'm Rachel Evans. I am twenty-one years old, currently employed, albeit temporarily, and probably not crazy. That is to be decided at a later date. Tune in next time for...
"Rachel!" Leigh hissed. "Snap out of it! What are we going to do? How do we get home?" She looked around nervously. "We probably can't get cell reception in the past." She took her phone out anyway, just to check. "No bars."
Rachel took another deep breath and faced her friend. "Why do we want to get back?"
"What?" Leigh was starting to look at her as though she really might be crazy now.
"Oh, eventually, yes, I know. But why right now? I mean...we're probably here for a reason right? Something specific like an event or an accident. Or something." That's always the way it worked in the various time-traveling stories she had encountered.
"But we can't change anything." Leigh looked even more horrified at that prospect. "You can't muck around in history."
"I didn't say we were here to muck around." Rachel said calmly. "I simply think we should take this golden opportunity that fate seems to have handed us and have an adventure."
Rachel pointed at her. "You said you wished we could go to New York. You're the one who said you would take me somewhere for my birthday, and now," She spread her arms, coffee cup high. "You have. So let's enjoy it."
"Look at that man. He's wearing a hat. He looks like a gangster." Leigh stared at the man in question until he continued down the street. "Are you sure we're not hallucinating?"
"Nope," Rachel said cheerfully. "But I'll believe it if you will."
To be continued...