Press a Bunch of Buttons

Panic takes hold of you in the darkness and you start to press every button available on the remote in the hope that it will get you out of this blackness. There is a sudden bright flash and now you are in mid air, grappling for nothing with your arms and legs as you flail downwards.  In the split second of free fall the thought dawns on you that perhaps it was not wise to travel in time from the first floor of a building that has only existed for twelve years.  There is little time to reprimand yourself before ...THWACK... you plummet into a fruit cart and tumble to the ground in a whirl of squashed oranges, mud, wood splinters and a very irate fruit seller.

‘Oweeeee! Ere ... wass this? Where’d you come from... oww me back ... me fruit... me cart... me...me...’ the young fruit seller stalls mid sentence as she claps eyes on you. Her face turns a deadly white and she staggers backwards, mud and orange debris splattered across her long street seller’s dress and apron. ‘Oww Gawd’ she cries, ‘it’s the devils work... it’s a ghost... it’s... Oh gawwd help me! Mr. Mawley! Mr. Mawwwleeey!’.  She is nearly hysterical as you attempt to calm her, raising your hands and gently taking a step backwards on the cobbled street. Your head is throbbing and you are somewhat battered and bruised after the fall, and barely able to gather your bearings. Any words of reassurance that you try to muster are drowned by the shrieks of the terrified girl, who by now is backed up against the dirty brick wall opposite, eyes like saucers and clutching at the cross around her neck while muttering a prayer under her breath.

The girl’s sobs are interrupted by the voice of a middle aged man. He wears a hat and a grubby waistcoat, and his white hair merges into thick whiskers covering most of his cheeks.  The girl runs to him, wailing ‘Owww Mr. Mawley... it come from nowhere, and me cart, sniff, me fruit, sob, it scared the livin’ daylights outta me, what is it Mr. Mawley? Is it a ghost? Owww me back, me fruit, me cart, me gawwd! The rest of her words are unintelligible as she buries her face into the shoulder of the man who is now looking at you with a look of deep puzzlement and suspicion on his face.

‘Wass happened ‘ere then? What ya done to our Bess?’ You glance around you at the remnants of the cart and the muddy oranges scattered in all directions, trying to think of a plausible response that will not land you in any more trouble than you are already in. You remember the professor’s word of warning about influencing history and try to think of a fairly innocuous explanation. Your mouth is dry and your vision is becoming hazy as you splutter ‘I’m sorry, I fell, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I’m sorry’.  You feel a warm wetness on your arm and look down to see blood trickling from your elbow, and you notice your vision becoming hazy just at the moment your legs give in and you sink to the muddy floor.

‘Is it a ghost, Mr. Mawley?’ Asked the girl. ‘No, don’t seem that way now does it?’ He said, ‘Look’s as real as you or me, although never ‘ave I seen anyone wearin’ such clothes! ‘Ere, don’t look too well neither.’ You see the man approach you and place his hand kindly on your shoulder as you cling to the last bit of consciousness that you can manage.  You can only give a quiet moan as the blackness envelops you, and the last thing you are aware of is strong hands holding you up as you pass out.

The End

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