Funny Historical Fiction Science Fiction

Unnatural Habitats:

by Nathan You

Lucy had always loved the atmosphere of Victorian London streets. The way the gaslights cut through the heavy fog. It gave the whole city an air of beauty and mystery. There wasn't anything like this back home, everything there was so boring. She was too used to that place, there was nothing new there, nothing interesting. But here it felt like there was some new secret to uncover everywhere she looked. 

It almost made up for the discomfort that came from having to wear a corset. She desperately wanted to tear the stupid thing off but if she was going to be here she'd have to try and pass for a respectable Victorian gentlewoman. And despite that going against pretty much everything in her nature she felt like she'd managed to pull it off quite nicely. Her clothes, despite being made from synthetic materials, looked the part and she styled her hair into a bun that hid most of her purple highlights. That combined with an impression of an upper class accent which she honed through watching far too many period dramas completed the facade. It may not be perfect but it seemed to pass muster as an acceptable if slightly odd picture of a young lady. Unfortunately there wasn't much she could do about the creeps who gave her dirty looks for her light brown skin.

The look had been good enough at least for her to pass long enough to finish her mission here. She opened her basket and started rummaging around through the note covered papers and odd bits of highly advanced equipment. Eventually she fished out a thick black book. Its cover read "The Origin of Species", she opened it to the first page where the name Charles Darwin was freshly signed in blank ink. She smiled and rather carelessly dropped the book back into the bag, another memento of her travels and another item off her bucket list. She chuckled to herself as she suddenly had the thought that if she was trying to pose as a respectacle gentlewoman then it perhaps wasn't the best idea to go about with one of the most controversial books of the age.

Before she could dwell on this much more her attention was diverted by a small white shape that scuirred from an alleyway. 

"Hello." She said, giving a small wave to the small white cat that now sat a few paces down the street in front of her. It reminded her of a scruffy old white cat that had lived on her street when she was a child. She and her sisters had been such terrors to it, always pulling on its tail, not realising they were hurting it. She felt a bit guilty about that now.

The cat cautiously crawled along the cobblestones, and approached her, seemingly curious. She kneeled down and gently patted its head. It seemed a bit too friendly to be a stray, a bit too well groomed as well, perhaps it was lost. 

"Where'd you come from kiddo? You run away from home? Just between us, so did I."  

She reached down to check if it had a collar. But her touch spooked it and it ran off into the shadows. 

"Oh well. I guess we'll both keep wandering for a little while."

The elephants thundered through the rocky landscape. They look incongruous, among the snow capped slopes, almost comical. They were driven through the mountains by heavily armed soldiers that rode on their backs and marched alongside them. It was truly a ridiculous plan, who ever would think to launch an invasion of war elephants through the Alps?

However they weren't the only thing out of place in the landscape. Hidden high on a distant ledge was a woman watching their march. She wore a long grey cloke and the tips of her hair were dyed purple. She watched them through a pair of binoculars, following the precession of giant beasts. She smiled a little at the sight of them, still amazed at their sheer audacity.

"So the silly bugger really did it."

But as Lucy watched she noticed that elephants weren't the only beasts on the mountainside. She seemed to see a small white shape darting between the creatures, trying to avoid being trampled on. What was it? Some kind rat or shrew? Maybe even a small deer? It was difficult to tell even with the aid of the binoculars. Eventually, the, whatever it was, despaired from sight. She gave a slight sigh and got up, deciding that she too would leave the elephants to their journey.

In the wilds of a Cretaceous era jungle, creatures of all kinds gathered in the relative safety of the watering hole. A crested but hornless protoceratops basked in the sunlight, seemingly unconcerned by the carnivorous velociraptors that had also come for drink. All the creatures seemed to subscribe to a kind of loose unwritten truce so that they could all enjoy the benefits of the watering hole.

However there was a stranger at the watering hole today, a member of an unfamiliar species who had also come to enjoy the waters bounty. Perched on a rock overlooking the water sat a deck chair in the shade of a large beach umbrella. In this deck chair lay a young woman with purple highlights in her hair and wearing a pair of round sunglasses on her head. She took a fishing rod and cast a line into the water.

She'd already had some success today, her earlier catches in a basket beside the chair. However, they didn't seem to be biting anymore. She closed her eyes and waited for something to tug on the line. After a while she heard something in the water. It wasn't anything tugging on the line, she could feel that and it didn't quite sound like something drinking. She opened her eyes to see what it was.

Over on the other side of the lake was a small white cat staring intently at the water. Every now and then it would dip its paw into the water. Evidently it too was trying to catch a fish. Lucy immediately recognized it as the cat she had seen in London and the blue she had seen in the Alps. She also recognised that there was only one way it could be here, somehow it had followed her in her journeys through time.

Thinking on her feet she pulled a fish from her basket and held it out to the creature.

"Here puss puss."

The cat gladly accepted her offer and very soon it was quite literally, eating out of her hand. She picked up the friendly cat and put it into her basket. Inside it was distracted by the rest of her day's catch. She took the opportunity to read what was printed on the feline's collar. It had a small metal pendant that read Daisy and a short address 324 Bailey street. Now that she had a destination in mind she could get going and try to sort this out. She flicked a switch on the deck chair and umbrella and they folded themselves up into a parcel about the size of a first, access to the 41st century sure made it easy to travel light. She scooped them up and put them in the basket then walked back into the forest.

She wandered through the trees, looking for the clearing where she'd first arrived. She found it and sure enough the spinning vortex of brilliant white light was still there, just hanging in mid air. Daisy must have followed her through the portal. But that didn't make any sense, the gateways were meant to shut almost as soon as you went through. Her portal projector must really be acting up if this still wasn't closing.

She pulled the slim black hi tech device from her basket, and quickly found the fault. One of the antennas was ever so slightly bent out of alignment. She carefully grabbed the antenna and bent it back into shape. Hoping that would do the trick, she stepped through the portal. A few seconds later the swirls of the vortex spiraled to its centre and eventually snapped shut. 

Lucy had arrived on the other side back in the rocky snow capped landscape of the Alps. Thankfully the machine seemed to be working properly again and she hadn't had any trouble closing the portal. But she still felt guilty for being so careless with this technology, things could easily have gotten a lot worse than just one lost cat. She sighed, well at least she was fixing it now.

She looked around the mountaintops and decided that it was unlikely that 324 Bailey street was anywhere around here so she decided to make straight for the next portal. She made a Beeline for it climbing straight over all the steep hills that got in her way. It was a struggle but she had to get this sorted out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately though some complications arose when she was spotted panting up one of these hills.

A straggler of Hannibal's forces lagged behind the rest of the army due to an uncooperative elephant. He had been trying to lead the stubborn beast by the reins when he spotted the stranger. Maybe if he could capture a prisoner the general would forgive him for not being able to keep up. 

Lucy saw the soldier running towards her his weapon drawn. He yelled something in Carthaginian as he charged at her and she figured this wasn't something she could solve by talking. She booked it out of there, all sense of tiredness forgotten. Only one thing mattered now, getting back to the portal.

Despite his warrior's physique the soldier struggled to keep up with her. Whilst she may have had to carry a full basket he was wearing full armour and that put him at a serious disadvantage when it came to sprinting. She reached a light that glowed as bright as the sun and ran so fast that she practically jumped into it. Before he could follow her through the light vanished and he was left bewildered by her disappearing act. He fell to the ground, frustrated and exhausted. He sat there kicking himself for not being quick enough, then he remembered that he'd also left his elephant unattended and roared something in Carthaginian that's probably best left untranslated.

Lucy turned out of the alleyway where she'd hidden her portal and out into the London streets. Without her gentlewoman getup was drawing quite a bit more attention. But a harsh look soon got them to mind their own business. She didn't have time for all this. Building up some speed, she raced along the cobbles to the try and find house she was looking for.

Eventually she found her way to Bailey street, it was down in the east end. She had to admit she felt a lot more at home down here, the working class people seemed to have better things to do than gawp at her. In fact on reflection "at home" might be quite an accurate description, she realised that she'd grown up quite close to this part of London, albeit centuries later. And if Daisy was from around here maybe that old cat she ran into as a kid was one of her descendants. She giggled a little and shook her at the thought, connecting two random cats across space and time was pretty far fetched, perhaps she was just feeling homesick.

Emily had almost reached the end of the street by the time she found number 324. It was homely enough but very small and run down. She knocked on the door and was greeted by a young girl and an older woman, maybe her mother or an older sister. It was hard to tell, people in the past lived much harder lives and seemed to age differently.

"Hi, I'm Lucy. I think you might be looking for this." She pulled Daisy from her basket. The little girl thanked her enphausactically. It was good to see these people get at least some kind of comfort back in their lives. The older woman tried to invite her in but she said that she best be moving on.

She walked away from the owner's house. She was still thinking about how happy they'd all seemed, the girl, the woman, even the cat. While she was glad the poor thing had found its way home she still found herself dwelling far more memories of her own home. Perhaps she had been wandering too long. Maybe it was time to head back home.

But before she could dwell on this any longer her attention was once again diverted. Standing in front of her was the small brown shape of a very lost looking protoceratops trotting along the street. It seemed there was still at least one thing she had to deal with before she went home.

March 02, 2023 23:46

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