Chapter the Third
The doctor took his new associate through a maze of back alleys, designed to confound any pursuer, before finally arriving at a clandestine entrance to his residence. After taking a moment to assure their secrecy, he whisked the armored amnesiac into his chambers. He set her down in his most comfortable chair before heading downstairs to request the landlady put on some tea.
“Just knock twice, then leave it by my door, Mrs. Watson. I do not wish to be disturbed, my thanks.” He spoke these words through the crack in the door, moments before easing it closed. “There, now!” he dashed off to a hutch and began rifling through the drawers and cabinets for his medical kit. “That was truly the most original way I have ever made someone’s acquaintance. A pity the landing jarred your memory so. You say you cannot even remember your name?” he asked, from behind a cabinet door.
“No, nothing,” replied his houseguest, now removing her cumbersome armor in a piecewise fashion. “I cannot even remember how I came into your presence. Can you describe for me the incident?”
The doctor did not reply instantly, but rather seemed lost in thought. “Eureka!” he announced, before pulling a black bag from an entirely different chest of drawers than he had been searching. As he grasped the bag in one hand, he checked his pocket watch with the other. Just as his path took him in front of the door to his quarters, there were two sharp raps. “Punctual as ever.” Then: “Thank you, Mrs. Watson.” He brought the tea and his medicine kit to the side of the young girl with the golden hair. “Now we shall get you properly well, but quick!” He filled the lone cup on the tray with a greenish-brown liquid, and left it to steep. “Lean forward.” She did so, and he began to bandage her head quickly and efficiently. “It was the most phenomenal thing. It was as if you fell from the Sun. I’m sorry I cannot give your memory more than that to coax it from hiding.”
Despite having her head handled by a strange man, the girl looked thoughtful. “The sun… my name. My name is the sun. Or from the sun. Of the sun? All the sun? That’s it!” She jumped up from her seat, upsetting the tea and also very nearly the doctor. “Alison. My name is Alison!” She held extended her ungauntleted hand, as in first greeting.
“Well met, Alison.” He shook her hand firmly. “And if we are using first names, I am Doctor Nathaniel Anachronos. That is not, of course, my real name. I fear to use my real name lest I should rupture the time-stream.” Her face was puzzlement. “Ah, I can see I need explain a bit further. Very well, regain your seat and I will try to salvage both the tea and my reputation in your eyes.”
He slowly and deliberately gathered the teacup and saucer from the carpet, resetting them on the tray. He poured some more tea for his guest, urging her to drink up. “Can’t stand the stuff, myself, but these British live and die by the stuff. They fight wars over it, and no, that is not a jest. So, “when in Rome” and all; I must keep up appearances. But come, drink, it does have some restorative powers after all.” He then finally removed his dusty black coat and made himself as at home. It was a long pause before he spoke again, filled only by the sound of tea and china. Once he was seated, he began again.
“You heard correctly; I am not British. I am not from this place, nor from this time. I cannot use my real name because I may yet affect my predecessors, who I fear shall follow me as were they my heirs. But again, I speak too cryptically.
“I came to be here by means unknown to me. But I tell you true as you fell from the sky today, remembering or not, that I am in reality yet to be born. I come from the twenty-first century. Queen Victoria has been dead for over a hundred years; of natural causes, do not worry. I have seen things far beyond the Industrial Revolution, things which I spend my time here, quietly trying to recreate for myself. First and foremost among those is searching for the secret of travel through time so that I might be joined again with my friends, my family, and my beloved. Which is why I was so desperately surprised to see you here, in this day and age. Have you any idea the nature of this device which was strapped to your back?” He indicated with his foot the giant brass knapsack she had laid next to her chair. She shook her head in the negative. “Where I come from, this is called a jet- or rocket-pack. And though examples exist in my time, none are workable to the point of convenience. This looks to be the technology of the future, and you may just be my sister in temporal displacement.
“You think I’m from the future?” she asked, astonished.
“It’s quite possible. Even if you yourself are not, you may hold the key to my return to my proper time… and my proper life. It’s funny,” here he laughed, half-heartedly. “I always wanted to travel through time, to see what other eras and other cultures were like without the bias of history. But I never figured on being stranded.”
“Well, you’re not alone anymore. We can get you back to your time and get me my memory back at the same time. Two heads are better than one. And I have a jet-pack.”
“Then you will help me? Does that mean you believe my story?”
She smiled over her tea at him. “Sure, why not? I mean, what do I have to lose by believing it? As long as you’re pledged to help me in return, I think we’re golden.”
“Then we are agreed! With my mind and your might, none shall stand in our path.” At this he stood, and she in return. At this moment, the irony of his words struck him back full force; lacking her armor, the girl Alison was a full foot shorter than he. And suddenly the great weight occupying the room departed in a fit of laughter, which seized them both. It was disrupted by footfalls upon the stair. “Mrs. Watson!” He hushed the both of them.
“Have you company, Doctor? I thought I heard a woman’s laughter within your chambers. You know my rules about lady callers!” She was nearly at his door now.
“Mrs. Watson, for shame! Have we not discussed you listening at my doorstep? I told you, I must not be disturbed when working at my inventions.” Here, he opened the door but a crack and hissed through, “I was at work upon my voiced telegraphy machine. My very SECRET voiced telegraphy machine. I understand with the current market here in London, it would not due for you to lose a tenant who pays as punctually as I due to a breach in his personal security that threatens his very livelihood. There is no telling the nature of riff-raff a landlady might have to accept in order to meet her debtors’ demands. You know my work and my word, and I trust the combination of the two will suffice for me to bid you a very cordial good day.” At this, he gently but very firmly closed the door again, listening for the sound of a grumbling Mrs. Watson’s retreat.
“A very dear old woman, for the time period. Dispel that look on your face; she adores me for all her sturm und drang. Keeping up appearances and all. But still, I cannot keep you here. We will need to devise arrangements for you. We may ruminate on these matters while I show you some of my inventions.” He led his guest towards his study. “A few words about what I am to show you. Of these, I only sell what I must to make ends meet. You understand, of course, many of these things are not yet due to appear in the world for some time yet, and as such, must be kept in the most absolute of secrecy…”
Other things: When we get to SF, I hope we can meet Carlotta Valdes.
• I’d like to work with Dr. Anachronos’ history a bit; throw in some doubt that he’s actually from the future (how could you prove such a thing in an immediate, repeatable fashion?)
• Travel – first to New York, then to San Francisco. Both classic 19th Century nostalgic destinations. (nostalginations?) First TransAtlantic airship journey?
• Dr. A’s cool “retroventions”
• I hope to hell this Victorian crap gets easier with time. Has it really been almost 20 years since I read Sherlock Holmes? So hard to go gaslight after so long away… Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be perfect (or even good), just fun! But I’m totally going to use “vouchsafe” every chance I get.
• More dialogue for Alison! Plus, kittens. I would like to give her a kittie so we can do the whole warrior/catlady thing up right.
• Should figure out a living arrangement for the Girl from out of the Sun. It’s not politic for an unmarried man and woman to be living together in London; but neither is it easy for a single woman with no family to find lodgings in Victorian England where she can still run out to do superhero things as need be (warrior-governess positions are few and far between)
• Maybe if I offer him some Scooby Snacks, I can get sobriquet to draw up some art to accompany the stories. Alison: Short hair, goggles, jetpack. Armor or leather flightsuit somewhere between steampunk versions of Iron Man and the Rocketeer. Nathaniel: Long cape-like trenchcoat, swordcane, somewhat mussy/dusty Victorian men’s suit but with workman’s boots (outwardly and most immediately looks like a gentleman, but little things belie his disregard for his appearance in the face of utility and the quest for knowledge). The best bit is Chris knows what we both look like, and as a mutual friend is, I think, uniquely qualified to draw us.
• I CAN HAS DINASORE FITE?
Dr. Anachronos will suggest "Nemo" for a surname for Alison, based on his love of the character. She will maintain a daylight cover as a harpsichord instructor (and so the in-jokes begin). This is how she will maintain her 'lifestyle' and yet keep the freedom to adventure as need be.