An Alternate Beginning

All of this, though, was different.

‘Where are we? Polly knelt on the ground, her hands pressed into the pale, sandy earth.

‘I don’t know.’

‘You were driving.’

‘It was true, I had been driving. But, back then we had a car. I sat up and looked around. There was no car, not now.

‘Well?’ She glared at me.

‘Well, what?’ I did think about pointing out that she could not blame me for this, not this time. But I knew how much Polly liked a challenge. Given time, she could blame me for anything that happened, and usually did.

I got to my feet, looking around at even more nothing. It was just… I don’t know… scrubland. Not desert, but not grassland either. There were hills in the distance and woodland too.

‘Sam?’

‘What?’ I turned back to Polly. She was sitting on her knees, shading her eyes against the sun as she looked up at me.

‘Where are we?’

I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I never understood geography at school. If it’s not an ox-bow lake or a terminal moraine, I’m buggered.’ I shrugged again.

‘Stop bloody shrugging,’ she snapped, getting to her feet and dusting the place off her hands. ‘This is serious.’ She turned a full circle. ‘Where is the car? Where is the place we stopped?’

I started a shrug, but then saw the way she was looking at me. ‘I don’t know.’

‘That’s no bloody use.’ She strode off, seemingly in a random direction.

‘Where are you going?’

‘I’m going to find the road.’

‘What road?’

‘The road we were driving along before you had to stop for a piss.’ She strode on, not looking back.

I thought about pointing out she’d ‘needed a wee’, too. But that would be a transparent attempt on my part to shift the blame. Polly had already decided it was my fault and I would have to accept that decision… eventually. But not too soon. I had to wriggle first. It annoyed her if I took the blame too quickly.

‘There is no road.’

‘What?’ This time, she did stop and turn.

‘Look around,’ I said. ‘This is not the place we stopped, is it?’

‘Well? If we walk….’

‘Walk where? There is no road. There is no car. This is not Wales.’

‘But….’

I strode up to her and took her in my arms.

‘Where are we then?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How will we get home?’

‘I don’t know,’ I said. Then I realised I was smiling. All my life, since my early teens I’d read, dreamed and fantasised about the parallel worlds and alternate universes of science fiction and fantasy. I looked around. Now, at last, I’d found one and I couldn’t wait to see what kind of new world it was.

 

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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