“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” of course I am plagiarizing from Mr. Charles Dickens. I am in this time portal for what seems like ages and all I can do is to record down my current thoughts using my mobile. Strange that my mobile can still be used for recording as I believe I am crossing into spaces not governed by earth laws. The trouble with earth is that we human have run out of original words and phrases but we have been super-drilled to quote clichés from school days. How not to plagiarize? You tell me. The current trend of viralizing (my newly coined word) in social media is the best example of we millennials running out of originality. LOL.
Enough of ranting about English (which is to satisfy my former English teacher). How is the ride? My young nerd friend, don’t try if you can avoid this. Well, I have set my target destination as 2040-a golden tech age according to the latest tech know guru-nerd magazine prediction.
The time portal is is a tiny robot which I strap onto my waist. Once I press the button ON it becomes an invisible opaque shield cum capsule all round me and teleport me to another time and space. I have the longest lasting Solar pack from an inventor I won’t name to avoid being accused of advertisement. I presume 2040 still functions with sunlight. I intend to get their latest mobile!
Everything suddenly stands still. My time portal reappears as a robot strapped to my waist again. I feel chilly. Where am I? I can hear geese. I see that I am on a seashore with jagged rocks and gloomy sky. It doesn’t look 2040. It looks more like some scenes from old English movies. My robot mobile blinking the time and date as 26th May 1940!
Impossible! Either I have keyed in the wrong year or the time portal has made a mistake. I check location. The screen blinks: RAMSGATE. Being one fond of reading horrible history, I know what this means. 700 private ships sailed from Ramsgate in England to Dunkirk in France between 26 May and 4 June 1940 to help rescue more than 338,000 Allied (British, French, Polish and Belgian) soldiers trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during Second World War! My mobile starts broadcasting to me a call by King George VI attending a special service at Westminster Abbey, having declared a national day of prayer.
What am I doing here? I am not being punished to do a research on the evacuation or the battle at Dunkirk, am I? Why me? My negative mind starts whining. The thought of me being stranded in the possibly worst era in the past to do history essay writing is practically chilling. I cannot think of a worse penalty for an ex-student who flopped history.
This girl appears with a wounded(?) snow goose. I am now inside the story “Snow Goose” from Paul Gallico. “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs). Another cliché line quoted from my mind data bank. I can’t help it. Unlike the original story I have not become the handicapped artist. This seems a new story after all. The snow goose is not wounded.
I smile at her and ask, “Do you speak English? Where are we?”
She smiles and replies in English, “Devon, France.”
I could have fallen off the cliff. I am not at the safe side of the channel? I am on the wrong side! What is the other story that involved Devon? I do a quick search in my brain. A British soldier left behind at Dunkirk, forced to be stranded in France for four months surviving on stealing from farmers’ kitchen and living in the wild. But there was a good ending because he managed to steal a fishing boat from Devon and sail home to Britain!
Then she says, “Tonight we cross the channel. Three of us. You wait here.” So we are crossing the channel ahead of the actual Dunkirk rescue? I ask to clarify, “What is the date today?” She looks puzzled. “4th October, 1940!”
The sudden changes of date and place no longer shock me. I know I am in a story so I am alright. Good thing I have not become the poor soldier who had to suffer four months as a fugitive being hunted by the enemy!
She soon disappears. I wait behind some rocks patiently for sundown. (To be continued)
The above picture is a snap shot of what I shall go through during the next phase of this time travel journey. Another narrow escape.