Time began from nothing. There was void, nothing, and then grey as the Universe spun up.
Damn, I thought to myself, I must have slipped again.
It often took a few days to get my bearings again after a slip, but I’d start trying as soon as I totally regained consciousness and could see my surroundings. I could be in luck and there could be something there telling me exactly when and where I was.
As the world slowly came into focus, I tried to remember where I had just been.
Ah, yes, China about 3,000 years before what came to be known as the Common Era.
No. That was the last time.
I was on a space station 600 km above the Earth and it was the year 2132 of the Common Era, or CE.
Yes. That was it.
I felt a chill as a breeze blew across my naked body. It was pretty inconvenient that my clothing never made the slip with me, but, on the other hand, what would someone in, say 10th century CE Scandinavia say if I showed up in a 53rd century CE survival suit that was actually a living being?
The landscape was coming into view. I still couldn’t see much, but soon discovered that there wasn’t a lot to see.
It was flat. I thought of Western Ohio. No. That was wrong. Rows of trees marking off fields.
And there was a standing stone.
It drew my attention. Typically something pulled my into a time and place when I slip and the stone must have been it.
For a second I thought of a Chorg, with its angular face and eye-stalks growing out of the top of its head. That would place it after the 98th century CE. But the image faded. For a moment I could see through the head, but it grew solid with time, becoming stone.
Was this still the effects of the slip? I often had visions from other eras pulled in with me. Or was it the stone?
I stood and scanned in a circle. I was pretty sure that I was in England, but had no idea of the time frame, since standing stones were pretty timeless. Well, it looked old, so I guessed I was into the Common Era. But how far?
And how long would I remain? Could I get established and have some type of life, or was this just a temporary stop over? It was impossible to tell. The last time I slipped I arrived in Times Square in New York City at midnight to call in the New year of the new Twenty Second Century. I was there for 32 more years.
I put my hand on the stone and closed my eyes, drawing energy from the artifact.
I heard voices. Several people were approaching. Damn. I had hoped to find some clothing. Oh well, I knew the routine.
I didn’t know where I was, what day it was or my name. It was pretty close to the truth. If it was a semi-civilized time they would take me to a doctor to be checked out. If not… well, I’d be prepared.
I opened my eyes.
A couple in wearing winter garb was staring at me, mouths open.
Seeing their attire, I took a guess.
“Hello,” I said in late 20th century English. “I’m a bit confused. I have no idea where I am nor how I go here. Can you help?”
It was a great opener, perfected after a countless number of encounters as a truly timeless person.
For some reason I couldn’t think of anything, so just winged it. That being said, two things struck me about this photo – the stone looks like it has a face with eye-stalks on the top of its head. And the way Sue framed it makes the top half of the stone appear almost transparent, with the landscape behind echoed in the color.
Note – rewrote this – I wasn’t totally happy with it. Here is the new take.