There was a high-pitched squeak as I ran round the corner, shiny shoes slipping on the polished marble floor. I reached down and hasitly tried to untie the laces, but it was taking too long. I pushed them off at the back with the heel of my foot, then deposited them in the vase of flowers to my left. Said vase then exploded as a bullet ripped through it and embedded itself in the wall in front of me, and I took off again, the group of soldiers rounding the corner a few seconds after I had.
My name is Fixer. And right now, I’m in deep shit.
So I got bored. And when I get bored, I usually find the best thing to do is to pull on my coat, stuff my pockets with stuff, and go out and find some adventure, or inspiration, or something. But for me, that doesn’t mean catching a bus, or going for a walk. It means time travel.
So I ‘jump’ – or time travel – back randomly. Usually I spend a while researching where I’m about to go, like any influential figures, any rules I shouldn’t break, how I should dress and all that. Though we have gadgets and stuff that can create images of clothing, so that last one isn’t much of an issue, I just need to program something in. But this time, none of that happened. Because it wasn’t really a planned trip. I sneezed, and wound up here.
And so I found myself in the Palace of Versailles, on the 15th May 1770. And of course, there’s some big event on. Servants rushing around, red carpet out, people who look like royalty being announced as they entered. And I had no idea what was going on. So I did what I thought was natural. I 'acquired' through various means a swanky outfit and went to mingle.
This was fine for the first hour or so, as the room slowly filled up with more and more people. I snacked on appetizers and made small talk, trying to pick up what was going on, which went about as well as George Bush’s presidency. Yeah, that bad. It wasn’t good that I spoke mediocre French at best, but I had also learnt it in the twenty-first century. Languages change over time, and I had to catch myself several times from using words that didn’t exist yet.
But then this amazingly beautiful girl walks up to me, and everyone seems to take a step back from us. Everyone is dressed to look nice, but she takes it to the next level. I mean, mind blown.
“Excuse me Sir, but I must ask, who are you? I have been watching everyone who has entered from the balcony, and did not count you among them.” She tilted her head to one side as she spoke, like a curious cat. Well we all know how that ends.
I glanced up at the balcony she spoke of – two thrones, both empty. That meant royalty.
I took her hand and planted a kiss on the back, then smiled as she blushed. “I apologise if my entrance might seem rude or uncustomary, but I am shy – I am not one who would like his name to be announced where I would rather walk not under the eyes of this multitude.”
“I do say, your words are poetic, but your accent… strange. Where were you born?”
“I doubt milady would have heard of it.”
“Please – I was raised at court. I have seen messengers and envoys from all the corners of the known world. So please, pray, tell me.”
“Manhattan.” A complete lie. Her eyes lit up with interest, and she took a step towards me, so that only inches separated our faces.
“A mysterious, handsome stranger from a kingdom I have never heard of, let alone met someone from it? Indeed, you are interesting.”
I leaned a little closer. “Well, if milady permits it, I should love to spend some time telling you of its wonders.”
“That sounds truly wonderful, but with such a grand celebration on the morrow, I must decline ‘till a better time.”
“A shame – a truth, but a shame none the less. Then I shall depart with that promise on my lips. And yours.”
Now I have no idea what came over me. But I wrapped my arms around her slim waist and kissed her.
The whole room fell silent. I opened my eyes to find every single eye on the room on me. Shocked ladies, astonished gentlemen, servants holding back giggles – and one man dressed even finer than the girl I was kissing, red in the face and pushing his way through the crowd. Now this man I did recognise – a young Louis XVI. Which meant…
I pulled away from the kiss and looked down at the girl. “Marie Antoinette?”
“In the flesh.”
I didn’t even bother to curse. I turned on my heels and fled. Immediately I heard the soon to be Queen fainting, and Louis shouting at his guards.
“He has accosted the soon-to-be Queen! Capture him dead or alive – either way I shall hack his head from his shoulders!”