Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Timing Is Everything

Chronos, what year was this anyway? Sometime after trains, but before air conditioning. So... Twentieth Century somewhere? Sometimes Celia really regretted not paying more attention in history class. If she'd known back in school that she'd be stuck paying off the student loans on her Chronological Engineering degree delivering dumplings to Time Travelers with the munchies, she would have.

It wouldn't be so bad if she was at least in Coordination, making sure the machines were properly calibrated and would dump you in the right time and place, rather than on the other side of the planet during the wrong war, as had happened to many an early Traveler. She was still at least two years and three promotions from that though, and for now her job consisted entirely of stepping through portals to strange places with weird smells. And never anywhere she'd want to go, of course, because all of those time periods occurred after the invention of fast food delivery and very few people were stupid enough to pay Speedy Snacks' delivery fees when there were local alternatives.

At least this drop-off wasn't in the Middle Ages. She'd been back and forth from there all week and her hair absolutely reeked of the time period when she got home every night.

Dripping sweat, she followed the directions of her customer-locater app across a train platform and up a small set of stairs that looks to be made out of pure rust. Why in time would anyone vacation here?

It took a few moments to spot her target, but once she did there was no mistaking the couple. They were the only people on the train with white sneakers and top hats. Bloody tourists.

Celia handed them their order and shifted from foot to foot waiting for payment. Outside the train, people were rushing around and Celia had a bad feeling about the whistles that were being blown.

“Honey,” said one of the customers, “do you have a ten? I'm a little short.”

“What? You said you had enough.”

The train made an ominous creaking sound and yet more whistles sounded.

“I do, but I don't think she can break a hundred. Can you break a hundred, dear?”

Celia shook her head. “No. You can send credit through your phone though.”

The male tourist snorted. “Don't trust those things. I'm sure we've got cash somewhere.”

The train shuddered and started ever so slowly to move.

Ugh. Celia was going to be stuck on the thing, speeding away from her portal home. It was a million degrees here and she was supposed to get off in half an hour!

She grabbed the money the woman was holding in her hand. “I've got ten I'll spot you. Have a good trip!”

She took a running leap, landing on the platform just as the end of the train car accelerated past it.

Prompt taken from The Flash Fiction Project on G+.

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