Copyright© 2012 by Denham Forrest
It was an interesting night after Sylvia and I eventually got to bed. I'll admit that I had been ... well, sucking up -- I suppose you could call it -- all that Ciera and Chaise laid on for my benefit. Boy those two had been all over me, especially Ciera.
Er, I think I should clarify that; when I say all-over me, I mean in the figurative sense, not the physical.
Mind you, I had been working on -- what had I thought was -- a cunning plan. Well, I kind of had it figured, that if persuasion wouldn't bring Sylvia back into line -- she and Rose had still been blatantly playing-up to those four tossers from the instant they'd arrived. And, what with Sylvia enjoying all those compliments liberally thrown her way by all the different guys we'd met during the day, a little too much for my liking, as well -- then, I figured that perhaps a little jealousy might work.
It proved to be a double edged sword. Sylvia was aroused ... oh, I was sure of that all right; remember we'd been married almost ten years. But she was extremely pissed with me, because I'd spent most of the evening, "With those painted harlots!" Sylvia's words, not mine.
Yeah well, I gave back as good as I received. I suggested that Sylvia's annoyance was tantamount to the kettle calling the pot black, an analogy that Sylvia didn't appear to understand. And I reminded Sylvia that all games have to have two teams at least. If she wanted to play games, then I was very likely to want to play as well
At the time I just hoped that the plan would work. But later, for some reason, I had my doubts.
Best plans of mice and men, and all that gobble-de-gook.
The next morning two different members of the team had replaced our minders. Handsome and pretty youngsters again and dressed in yellow; so that led Doug and I to believe that they were not there just to keep us entertained for the day.
After breakfast we all took a walk in the dome and watched some folks playing an incomprehensible ball game. But shortly after, we came across some people sitting around playing chess. Well, a slight variation on chess, but that didn't stop Doug from having a go, once he'd studied them playing at it for a while. His opponents went easy on him until he got the hang of their rules and then the games grew quite intense. I must admit that I got sucked in as well, and played a couple of games myself.
It was while we were doing so, that we lost the girls completely.
Our two minders looked distinctly uncomfortable, when Doug and I demanded to know where the girls had gone, and claimed that they had been so engrossed in our games of chess (or whatever they called it), that they hadn't seen the going of them.
"Bollocks!" Was Doug's eloquent reply, when they said that, and he marched off in the direction of a couple of the bodyguards -- or security guys -- who been trying to follow us around without us noticing them.
Those guys weren't too clever when it came to covert operations; I think they were really surprised that Doug and I knew they were there. All very stupid of them, because those yellow shirts they wore, really made them stand out from the crowd.
George had it figured that wherever the girls had gone, there would be at least two more of those yellow shirts trailing along behind them somewhere. He took everyone by surprise when – after one of the yellow shirts had claimed he had no idea of whom we were referring – George snatched the communicator whatsit, from the guy's ear, and stuck it in his own.
"Now, I know that some bugger is on the other end of this bloody thing," Doug ranted, "and I'm also sure that you know exactly where our wives are. If you don't get them back here in five minutes I'll ... Oh, hello Adona. Well, what a bleeding surprise! Okay, where are they?"
There was a pause while Adona replied.
"Bloody boat! Those arseholes are terrified of water; what happens if the boat capsizes or something, are our wives supposed to save your crewmen's lives. You get them back here sharpish, Adona! You've gone too far this time!"
Doug listened again; then ranted on. "I've a right to get excited, mate; Rose is my wife! Look, if both of them are not back at the digs within half an hour, they'll be bloody hell to pay, I promise you!"
Adona must have spoken again.
"I don't give a shit what you do in this century Adona. We're of the twentieth century, and back there, wives do not put-it-about, with all and bloody sundry. Now you better use whatever influence you have over those wankers and get our wives back here, sharpish. Then you can ship us back down west today. Bugger your logistical problems, we want as far from you and your people, as possible."
Doug then pulled the unit from his ear, and tossed it back to the very shocked security guy.
"Would you believe it, they've gone out on the Thames in a bloody boat with two of those tossers from Adona's crew!" Doug raved at me and then he stomped off in the direction of our accommodation at a fair old lick.
When I got there, there was no sign of the girls. Well, I hadn't expected there would be, not that quick anyway. Doug was attacking what was left of one of the wine bottles from the night before, and he handed me a bottle. I took a good swig and figured that I was beginning to get a taste for the stuff.
Then -- I'm not sure why -- I did a quick count. There were another eight full bottles of the plonk sitting on the sideboard thingy what's-it.
"Shit!" I thought, "They didn't bring that many bottles in with them last night, someone has topped up our supply. What's the plan here, were Doug and I supposed to get pie-eyed on the stuff and lose track of what's going on."
I grabbed the bottle from Doug's grasp and pointed out the discrepancy in the count to him, and the possible reason for it.
"Shit, they don't know us very well do they. We could drink several gallons of this muck, and still be stone-cold sober." He replied with a wicked grin.
"That's assuming it hasn't been tampered with in some way, Doug. We still don't know what the game is here."
"Sure we do. They are planning that, when they send us back to our time, our wives are going to be up-the-duff with a couple of these wanker's kids. Exactly why, I have no idea. But that's got to be their plan; stands to bloody reason!"
As George finished his rant, our female minder appeared in the room, and somewhat sheepishly handed me one of their communicator things. I stuck it my ear and said, "Hello."
"George, I'm sorry about this..." Adona's voice replied.
"Adona, I don't give a toss what you're sorry about. I'm with Doug on this. You get our wives back here now, and then you can ship us back down to our cottages, pronto!"
"Just a moment, please George?" Adona replied.
Then I heard nothing for maybe half a minute or so; then.
"George, it's Sylvia. No, we are not coming home yet. While you and Douglas were playing your silly game, Rose and I were bored out of our skulls. Win and Mol invited us to take a cruise on the reservoir and we thought it might be fun. More fun, than watching you two argue with those people over that silly game anyway."
"We weren't arguing, Sylvia, we were discussing the differences between their rules and ours."
"That doesn't matter, George. Rose and I were bored silly, and the boys invited us to go on a cruise on this barge thing. Anyway we're not alone it's a regular sightseeing trip and there must be a hundred other people on here as well. Anyway it doesn't get back until..."
Someone in the background prompted her, I distinctly heard a male voice say "About four o'clock."
" ... after four. We'll see you then. And will you and Douglas please not embarrass us by making any more fuss."
"Fuss... !" I began to rant.
But Sylvia was saying, "I'm going now, George." Then she didn't reply anymore.
"That was..." I began to say to Doug.
"Yeah, so I gathered. They aren't coming straight back are they?"
"No, they're off with two of Adona's guys as we surmised."
"Do you think... ?"
"I wouldn't be at all surprised, Doug. What with that 'time-out' line of crap Sylvia was laying on me the other day. I tell you, if she comes back pregnant, that's it, as far as I'm concerned. If I get the slightest hint of proof that she's stepped out of line on me, then that's it."
"How will you be able to tell. All the proof we're going to get around here is that they are on a boat with those guys."
"Well, Sylvia claims there are other people around as well. So I should imagine, besides those two tossers, they'll be a couple of those ever-watchful security guys as well. And you know yourself, that barring Adona, who appears to be an expert at deception, these folks can't lie for nuts. All we've got to do is, watch which two security guys follow them back and straight-out ask the buggers."
"Might work, I'm with you all the way George. I'm not standing for..."
"Yeah, I know Doug, I know!"
About half an hour later, Doug, who had been staring out of the window – I think studying all the security guys in the hope he'd be able to recognise which had been missing while Rose and Sylivia had been away, when they returned – said, "Something's up, that's for sure!"
I went over to join him and noted that all the security guys were looking ... well, smartly alert, and they were all standing to attention.
Then a vehicle glided into sight.
Something like one of those stretched golf trolleys that seat about six or eight people, but without any wheels; it hovered just clear of the ground. Sitting in the front of it, were Chaise and one of the girls in red, who'd been at dinner the evening before, and two of those ubiquitous yellow shirts sitting right at the back.
"The first time we've seen anything like that," Doug commented, "I didn't think they used mechanised transport inside the city, only those moving walkways and escalators."
"We've only seen this one small dome, Doug. That golf cart has come from the direction of the big one. That thing's at least a mile across; too far to walk. When it comes down to it mate, we've only seen what they've wanted us to see."
"I'll give you that, but I wonder what do these two want?"
Chaise walked straight up to me wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug. Looking over at Doug I noted that the girl in red had done the same to him. Mind the two girls had been ... well maybe they'd showed a little too much familiarity – of the touchy feely kind – the evening before. I know that Sylvia had been narked about that, and I had to suppose that Rose must have been as well. But then again, it was no more or less overt, than the blatant familiarity our wives had been showing towards those...
"What brings you here today, Chaise?" I asked guardedly. I was definitely suspicious of the two women's unexpected arrival.
I'm not sure what Doug said to the other girl, but it was pretty obvious that both of them were taken aback by the coldness in our voices.
"Oh dear, am I being too forward by embracing you ... I didn't mean ... I'm sorry George; it's our way. Please accept my apology if I've done anything to upset you?"
"You haven't exactly, Chaise, but everyone else around here has. We want out of here today ... Doug and I want your people to send us back to our own time now ... today."
"Oh dear, what on earth has happened?"
"We suspect that you know already, young lady," Doug interjected, "Our wives have disappeared off somewhere with a couple of Adona's Neanderthals. That's why you're here isn't it, to keep us occupied while they ... they fornicate somewhere. And to say that we're pissed-off about the situation is putting it mildly."
Chaise's eyes had grown as large as saucers.
"Oh, dear. That wasn't supposed to happen yet, I'm sure."
"What do you mean, yet?" I demanded.
"Well I ... Oh dear, none of this is going as it should have ... I think someone has ... well, there has been a major foul-up somewhere. I can't tell you exactly what was supposed to happen because I don't really know. All I can tell you is that I was detailed to accompany and chaperone Ciera when she came to ... be introduced to you. I thought that Adona's people..." she stopped speaking.
"Adona's people what, Chaise?" I demanded.
Although mind my mind was even more confused than it had been. Chaise had used the word 'Chaperone'.
"I don't know for sure, George. And I can't tell you what I think is supposed to happen either. Oh my, am I going to get into trouble for telling you anything?"
Somewhat oddly -- when I thought about it – it sounded like Chaise was actually asking me, if she was going to get into trouble. As if I would know. Although there was the possibility that she was asking herself.
"Chaise, you've told us sweet FA really, just confused us even more." Doug chimed in, then he demanded, "What about you, can you tell us what the sodding-'ell is really going on around here?" of the girl dressed in red.
With eyes looking even bigger the Chaise's had done, the young woman just stood there -- visibly -- trembling and shaking her head.
"She has less idea of Simul's wishes than I have, Douglas. Simul arrived in the city a little while ago and has requested that both of you attend an audience immediately. That is why we are here this morning and for no other reason I can assure you."
"Simul!" Douglas echoed.
Both, Doug and I knew that name. Adona had only mentioned it a couple of times. Simul was the name of the deity, or single world ruler, that Adona had told us about. We'd surmised that the name had a religious significance of some sort, and because of that fact it was rarely mentioned in public, or folks appeared to avoid using it anyway.
"We'd better get going. Simul doesn't like to be kept waiting," Chaise went on, "And please, George, don't say that I told you anything, I beg of you?"
"Chaise, you have told us nothing anyway. Just confirmed that all wasn't as we were supposed to believe it was. Lead the way, girl, let's see what the almighty Simul has to say for himself?" Doug told her.
Chaise nervously slipped her arm in mine, and then led the way out to the little golf-trolley thing. She and I climbed into the front two seats, Doug and the other girl into the two behind. The two guys at the rear sat there like a pair of dummies.
"The palace!" Chaise commanded, then the golf trolley gentle accelerated away, eventually getting up to considerable speed.
I have no idea how it was achieved, but there was a clear pathway though the quite large numbers of people who were milling about within the dome -- doing what they usually did, I suppose -- for the craft to follow. Mind you, those people in yellow outfits kept catching my eye.
The craft swept into a short tunnel, then out into the large dome. There was no mistaking it; it was so much larger than any of the others we'd been in the day before.
I'll hazard a guess here, but say that there was a predominance of people dressed in various shades of red. With just the odd character dressed in purple. All watched us as we passed and some of them even bowed or nodded their heads.
I glanced at Chaise and was surprised to see that she had ... well, a slightly embarrassed expression on her face. Not what one would expect of someone who was used to having their presence acknowledged, or honoured as they passed.
As we got nearer to the centre of the dome, the few buildings that there were dotted around between the rolling lawns and piazzas very suddenly came to an end. Then we passed through a great park -- or garden -- dotted with trees, very few of which we'd seen in the other domes. The park area was also devoid of people. Well almost, there was the odd yellow shirt to be spied here and there.
Eventually the craft slowed and stopped in a cobbled courtyard before the entrance to a large -- and not very impressive – structure, that had without doubt been modelled on the 'International Style' of the nineteen thirties.
Chaise got out and I followed, as obviously did Doug and the young woman in red. I'm afraid my mind was too busy studying our surroundings. And trying to figure out why it was called a palace, in looked more like one of the older office blocks, or blocks of flats, that can be found scattered around London. Jesus, the entrance was even reminiscent of my old school that had been built during the thirties.
Ciera came hurrying down the few steps to meet us, but as she did so, Chaise broke down in tears. There was no doubt in my mind that Ceira was intending to greet me as Chaise had done back at our accommodation. But when she saw Chaise was crying, Ciera quite niftily diverted to hug and kiss her.
But while she did so, Ciera was staring into my eyes, almost demanding to know what I'd done to make her friend cry. Actually I'd say it that was a look of disappointment.
"Don't look at me like that, girl. I didn't start any of this," I retorted.
"Sorry, I know it's ... anyway Simul is impatient to meet you. Follow me please," Ciera said and then taking Chaise by the arm she led the way inside the building.
Somewhat surprisingly there were no yellow shirts around. A couple of people dressed in purple bowed heads very formally to Ciera as we passed them and climbed a wide staircase to a higher level. Then Ciera, stopping before a pair of large wooden doors, said, "Please go in, George. Simul is waiting for you."
As I stepped towards them, the doors opened of their own accord. I heard Ciera telling Doug not to follow me, as the doors gently closed again.
The room was a large hall; I'm sure designed to be impressive by it's size, rather than its décor. Actually it was very plain by our standards; reminiscent of the main assembly hall in my old school, once again.
At the far end, seated on a ... well, large chair, -- I'm sure intended to be a throne, but not ornate in anyway. – that itself sat upon a raised dais, was a person dressed in the same vivid shade of purple toga that Ciera wore. And who commanded, "Come closer please, George?" in a female voice.
When I had closed the gap between us, I saw that she looked to be about thirty-years-old, but I instantly got the impression that she was far older than she appeared to be.
Actually I'd seen few people who appeared to look any older than forty, all the time we'd been in the city.
"Good afternoon, your highness," was the only greeting that I could think of.
"Oh, please don't be so formal, George. You know as well as we do, that we're just another ordinary person like yourself, Douglas, Sylvia or Rose."
"Who rules the World!" I found myself reminding her. But I was thinking "And it doesn't appear to have stopped you using the Royal 'we' though, does it Simul?"
I thought it prudent not to voice that thought, though.
"Just because somebody has to, George. Not because we wish too. That is the first prerequisite of a Simul actually; not to want the chore."
"I don't understand, your highness."
"No, you're a man, I didn't suppose you would understand, unless you knew our history. You will call me Kay in my presence please, George. But always refer to me as Simul to others; no gender reference mind. Now come, we'll try to explain," she said, rising from her seat and taking hold of my arm, much as Chaise had done earlier.
Then Kay led me through a doorway into, what I assume, were her private quarters. Decked out as they were in the same decor as our temporary accommodation had been. There was nothing spectacular about them at all.
"George, a long time ago, our society decided that if any one individual wanted to rule the earth, then they are the last person in the world that should be allowed or trusted to do so. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
"I've heard that quote before, or something very similar, anyway," I commented.
"Yes, it's an old saying and one our society has been constructed around. Each Simul chooses her successor, always female, and one who doesn't want the job in the first place."
"You're kidding me. Surely someone has claimed they didn't want it, when they really did?"
"Some people have tried to fool the system, of course. But up until now, none have succeeded. It's very doubtful that anyone ever will, we have checks in place that most of our inhabitants will never understand.
"We've even had a few males try to pretend that they are female so they might be eligible. Unfortunately for them, our reproductive system makes that deception virtually impossible before they even start. Ah, that's raised your curiosity hasn't it? All that will be explained to you later. In a way that is why you're here, we believe.
"Sorry, we're confusing you George, aren't we? Yes well, we always knew that this was going to be difficult.
"George, you are going to ask why we brought you here. The answer is, that we don't exactly know. History tells us you came here, stayed for some days and then went back to your own time; but we don't really know the reason why you came."
There was something distinctly odd about the way Simul spoke. Besides realising that there was, I couldn't put my finger on why it struck me as so strange at the time. While what she actually said to me sounded so casual and relaxed, every so often she left distinct pauses between her sentences. Kinda like she was ... I don't know, maybe calculating and discussing with herself, what she was going to say next. Her speech came out sounding rather unnatural and disjointed anyway.
"Well, we do know why you have been brought here, and we don't know at the same time. Perhaps you will know when it's time for you to return. Please make it clear to Thomas, if you do?"
"Thomas, who's he?"
There was a distinct delay before Simul replied, as if she was in two minds whether to tell me who the Thomas she had mentioned was. I thought, she even regretted mentioning him; but eventually she decided to half tell me. Well, I thought she did.
"Oh yes. We're confusing you again, aren't we? I'm sorry this is very difficult for us. Thomas is part of your future and our history. Much like Professor Pemberton is."
"Pemberton, Adona mentioned him."
"Her, George. Jean Pemberton is your great granddaughter; or will be one day. Oh my, I wonder if we should have told you that yet. Perhaps you could clarify that with Thomas as well?"
"Look, you are confusing me more than a little, Simul. But am I right in assuming that, if Jean Pemberton is going to be my great granddaughter, then Thomas is a what ... grandson or great grandson?"
"Well we're not exactly sure, but we believe that you're on the right lines. This is very awkward for us, George, there are some questions that we know that we should not tell you the answers too; not yet. And some we do not know the answers to because ... Well you didn't tell Thomas. But in time ... your time, the answers to those questions will become obvious to you, I'm sure.
"What we are able to tell you is all in Thomas's records of your visit here, and we have been in possession of those records for many centuries. Indeed it is they that must guide our actions while you are here ... how much we may tell you, and when."
"Yeah, stands to reason. I guess somewhere, that history guy who was kicking around with Adona, he's got to have a book or diary that Thomas wrote hundreds of years ago, and you people are trying to make what happened in the diary actually happen. Am I right?
"You've got the basic idea, George. But you, Ciera, Chaise and your offspring have been the basis of myth and legend for many hundreds of years."
"Ciera and Chaise?"
"Yes, they both go back with you, and bear you five children between them."
"Both of them?"
"Yes! Oh, of course, monogamy is the norm in your time isn't it? Well, you must live outside the norm, I assume. Between them they bear you five children, according to Thomas's account anyway."
"She stays here, and so does Rose. Myra, the young woman who was with Chaise this morning, goes back to your time with your friend Douglas. They have three children we believe. Thomas was more than a little vague about certain facts, purposely vague we believe."
"Oh my, but we can't just dump Sylvia and Rose here, and take three strangers back to the twentieth century with us. They're our wives. I love Sylvia."
"You don't dump Sylvia! Sylvia effectively abandons you, or so we believe, and..."
Simul suddenly stopped herself mid sentence, and then remained silent for a considerable period of time. I got the distinct impression she was debating with herself again. Then she nodded her head and went on. "No, I afraid that it's too early, we shouldn't be telling you this, yet. History must run as it has already run. We must be careful what information we do give you, but we are afraid that Adona's impatience and attempts to hurry things along, might have..." another untimely interruption, "But of course it can't have done, can it. Well, we think, not yet, anyway."
"You are confusing me again, Kay."
"George, you can never understand how difficult this is for us to do. We're charged with ensuring that history goes as it should, or did. And that isn't easy when you are dealing with the emotions of others that you little understand to start with. Many years ago our society developed along a different path to yours. We live with the consequences of that change of direction. Now. our duty is to ensure that life goes on as it has been.