“Oh. When was Space Travel, then?” Anna said, trying to keep the rising panic out of her voice.
“Oh, it was what the people ages ago called 3009 AD. So I suppose you might say that it is 6009 AD.” Anna gulped, but the first tear trickled down her cheek before she could wipe it away. “What’s wrong?” said Apple, concerned. “Have I upset you?” Anna shook her head. “Then why are you crying?” said her new friend.
“I’m four thousand years away!” she whispered despairingly. “How am I going to get back?” Apple looked uncomprehendingly at her.
“You’re from – from the past?” she said, understanding dawning on her face. “But time travel is impossible! How did you get here?”
“I don’t know,” Anna sighed. A thought suddenly occurred to her.
“Apple, I want you to promise me something,” she said urgently.
“Of course,” said her friend. “What is it?”
“Apple, promise me you won’t tell them I’m from the past!” Anna replied. If people knew she was a time-traveller, she’d not have any peace.
“But how will I explain everything?”
“Tell them I’ve lost my memory, and … and I hid down there for a joke,” she said hurriedly. It wasn’t a story that could hold up to close scrutiny, but was easier to believe than the truth. Apple looked sceptical.
“They’ll never believe me,” she said. “It’s not going to work.”
“It’s going to have to work!” said Anna, half-shouting in her desperation. “Now, help me with these clothes.” With a slight blush of embarrassment, she realised that she had been wearing only a towel throughout the entire conversation.
“Of course,” said Apple, relieved to be onto a topic she understood.
The next few minutes were educating, to say the least, for Anna. She learnt that the leotard-thing was in fact called a ‘one-piece’ and was used as underwear. The other clothes were simpler: a pair of white trousers and a long, tunic-style green top. She couldn’t work out what it was made of, but the material was soft and warm, and very comfortable. There was a long jacket, too, but the weather was mild and Anna doubted that she would need it.
“You’ll be surprised,” said Apple. “The weather can turn quite nippy here, if the artificial climates that the NT put up stop working, which always happens.”
“NT?” queried Anna. There were a lot of words she did not understand in Apple’s speech.
“The National Trust.” Anna almost laughed out loud. So they were still going, then, four thousand years on? She should have known, really, when they were first mentioned in Doctor Who, all those years ago. And it was years ago, she realised, her smile fading. Four thousand years ago, to be precise.