A Martin Fields Time Travel Story
“That was exhausting,” he said in English. “I can’t believe I let you convince me to come here. It’s worse than Disneyland.”
Martin Fields sat heavily on his chair at their table. It was June in Paris and the weather was very pleasant as the sun receded into the west.
“It’s not all that bad, Martin.” NaCumbea sat lightly in her seat as if totally unaffected by the past nine hours they’d spent touring the vast number of stunning exhibits at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts.
“Deux café.” Martin spoke to the waiter as soon as he appeared by their table. Taking their order, he rushed off. Poor fellow looked exhausted, but the whole fairground was packed and service staff were doubtlessly being worked ragged.
“This place is fabulous. We’ve got to come back tomorrow. They’re holding a giant banquet and gala in the Grand Palais. Loie Fuller, Eva Le Galienne, and Ida Rubenstein will all be dancing. I heard it was fantastic, or rather, ‘will be,’ since it hasn’t happened yet.”
Their harried waiter rushed back with their two coffees.
“Merci beaucoup.” Martin took his coffee and the waiter set the other in front of NaCumbea. The man rushed to the next table where a party of five had just been seated.
“Can I catch my breath and enjoy my coffee before we plan for tomorrow?”
“Of course, dear Martin.” She patted his hand. “You know, for an American, you make a lousy tourist.”
It was true. When he was a kid, Mom and Dad always dragged him and his sister to every single museum, art show, science exhibit, and zoo they could find. Sis loved every minute of it just as much as Martin hated it.
The things you do for love.
So he agreed to travel to Paris, June 15, 1925 to a massive exhibition devoted solely to the decorative arts in celebration of the Allied countries who had fought in the Great War.
They’d visited the Belgian pavilion, the Swedish pavilion, the Danish pavilion, the Dutch pavilion, the Italian pavilion, and the British pavilion, and that was just for starters.
Martin was pointing at the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t on the grounds, but it was clearly visible from where they were seated.
She turned to face the tower. “That’s wonderful.”
Martin’s suit was feeding him the relevant data.
“The Citroën Company decorated the tower from top to bottom with two hundred thousand light bulbs in six colors. The lights are controlled from a keyboard, and can present nine different patterns, including geometric shapes and circles, a shower of stars, and the signs of the zodiac.”
She turned back to Martin. “Still unimpressed?”
“I never said I was unimpressed, just exhausted. Okay, I have to admit, I do like the Art Deco.”
“It’s not called that yet.”
“Whatever.” He knew it bothered her when he was less than historically accurate, especially since the suit made it easy for him. He liked to tease her.”
It didn’t take long to finish their tiny cups of coffee. Then she stood up.
“Where to now?” Martin slowly rose and put enough cash for their coffees and a generous tip on the table. “My place?”
Of all the different places and times they’d visited, none of them was modern day Los Angeles, his home. He planned to cook her dinner and after all, in France, they ate at a horribly late hour.
“I made reservations for us at the Pacific Cafe for Friday evening, May 30, 1980.”
“Back to San Francisco in the past?”
“Future from our current perspective. Why? You don’t like seafood?”
He sighed. She knew he was getting frustrated. For the past month, they’d played tourists across the past century or so. Her favorite city seemed to be San Francisco, though she hadn’t said why.
But as much fun as they’d had and as many activities as they’d shared, NaCumbea always held Martin at arm’s length, as if she were afraid to get to close to him…or anyone.
“Sure, what the heck.”
Instantly, they both jumped and were standing on the corner of 36th and Geary on another warm, Spring evening. This time of course, they had to leave the Eiffel Tower behind.
It was as if NaCumbea needed to fill every instant they were together with some activity, some series of events, sights, sounds, textures, anything to keep them from filling in the space between them with themselves.
She picked up the tab for dinner, but their mysterious benefactors were really paying for everything.
“Now how about…”
It’s a nice night. Let’s go for a walk.”
She hesitated. “Well…okay.” She took his hand and they walked north up 36th. Martin already knew they could cut over to 34th and keep going north into the park toward the Palace of the Legion of Honor. It would be a romantic stroll.
They didn’t talk for a while. Just enjoyed each other’s company, but as much as he sensed that she liked him, he also sensed she was preoccupied.
“I think this is the quietest we’ve both been in each other’s company for the past month.”
“Yes, Martin, I guess I do keep us both very busy.”
“Why’s that do you think?”
“I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about it.”
“Okay. I guess that’s fair.”
“No, Martin. It’s not fair, not to you. You’ve been very patient. But except for Amun, I’ve been alone for a long time, and it’s difficult for me to…open up.”
NaCumbea explained that Amun was her extradimensional “control,” just as Isis was his.
“You’re the one who found me, remember? You said you wanted company.”
“And you are wonderful company, Martin. Really you are. Actually, I’m not sure what’s holding me back.”
The couple was just entering the park off of 34th and Clement when they both stiffened.
“Now?” Martin was incredulous. Just as he was starting to get her to talk, they both received a mission.
“Speaking of ‘Amun,’ an artifact has gone missing from the Temple of Karnak.”
“But it disappeared in the 11th dynasty and it only could have been taken by a time traveler!” Martin was astonished hearing the words coming from his mouth.
“But who, Martin?”
“I don’t know and what’s worse, neither does Isis.”
“Nor Amun. None of them know who the time traveler is or what the traveler wants.”
Their disguises fell away. No one was near enough to see them, and at any rate, their suits contained a stealth capacity that kept anyone around them from noticing the activity generated by their jump devices.
“You go back to the temple in the 11th dynasty, I’ll go in a different direction. I have an idea.”
She shimmered in violet and vanished. Martin used his suit to track her jump and his blood turned to freon in his veins.
“The future,” he whispered. “But that’s impossible. Due to the uncertainty principle, it’s impossible for a jump suit to travel into future time beyond your true present.”
“That’s right, isn’t it Isis? Isn’t it?” He was yelling at her. No reply. He tried to set his suit to go into the future, even a few seconds beyond his local “present” in 2017. Nothing.
“Where is she Isis? You bitch! Do you hear me? Where?”
No reply. Only the sound of the wind through the nearby trees.
The 11th dynasty. The Temple of Karnak. Now he had two mysteries to solve. Who is the third time traveler and how can NaCumbea go into the future when he was told it was impossible?
Martin imagined ancient Egypt and the temple, shimmered in violet, just as she did, and vanished.
This is a direct sequel to Catching NaCumbea.
The next part of this story is Unraveling.