I shield my face from a bright light interfering with my eyesight. Once my eyes have adjusted to the bright rays I notice that the sun is coming from an opening in the canvas tent I am in, the type nomadic people would use.
I look down and notice that I have warm, coffee coloured skin, with strands of long, straight raven-coloured hair hanging down over my smaller than usual frame...since when do I have a fake tan and have dyed my hair black?
I am lying in a bed of sorts on the floor with a rough cotton blanket and a pillow of rolled up material. I roll over drowsily, noticing small feathers and beads had been braided into my hair. Something isn’t quite right...it feels as if this is a dream and yet it is so real....I even feel the pain of my nails biting into my palm as I try to calm my quickly escalating breathing patterns.
Rule number one when you think you’re going crazy: Don’t freak out. Lying next to me I notice a young girl a bit older than me who looks to be about 20 years old, with similar skin and hair to me. Her locks are decorated with far more beads and exotic bird feathers and the clothes she wears have a rich colour I somehow know is only worn by those of a high status.
The girl isn’t unremarkably beautiful, although she has a quiet peace about her as she sleeps deeply. Where the flip am I?
Suddenly, a man parts the opening of the tent we are in, stepping through uninvited. He has a short black beard, and dark eyes which seem hardened and unkind. He wears extravagant clothing...the kind I remember my history teacher Mrs Simons showing my class pictures of last school term. What had we been discussing? I struggle to jog my memory. Oh yeah...famous figures of the 16th Century.
He seems familiar; and I feel like I recognize him. He sort of looks like one of the guys Mrs Simons had flicked through on her power-point. Henry? Herman? No...Hernando. That’s it, Hernando Cortés.
The girl next to me quickly opens her eyes, but slowly props herself up on her elbows whilst looking at the man.
“Marina...Malinalli....you need to get up now. The war council wishes to discuss the defences of Tenochtitlan and our strategy once more with you before we attack tomorrow,” The Cortés look-a-like said, looking straight past me as if I was of no importance to him. The man is speaking Spanish, that much I know...but how the hell am I understanding it if I have never learned to speak it? Second question... why in the world am I wearing a butt-ugly dress made of badly processed cotton and some animal skins?
“I’ll....um....be right there,” The girl responds, bowing her head slightly towards the man. The man nodded at her, before leaving the tent. The girl turns towards me, her exceptionally dark brown eyes serious and forlorn as she says “Today is the day we finally rid this land from the rule of the Aztecs...oh how wonderful it will be and how sweet the revenge shall taste upon my lips. The slaughterers of my brother will experience as a deep a loss as what I have felt since the day they took him from me during the city attack. When we became slaves to Cortés and his men, I did not see the blessing in disguise but I shall finally have my peace after this day. Thank you for your friendship and for remaining a trustworthy sufferer alongside me all these years, Ichika. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Should my usefulness end after I give Cortés the information he seeks and he does away with me, I wish for you to know that of all people you were one of the few I held in high regard.”
Whoa....as stirring a speech as that was, why had she just called me Ichika when I know for a fact my name is Elena? Sounds like the name of some horrid disease....and what does she mean 'get rid of the Aztecs'? Ok....absolutely friggen wonderful, I’m definitely going crazy.
I look at her, stunned into silence. I’m just about to open my mouth to ask her what drugs she and everyone else seem to be on but before I do she pushes herself off the floor of the tent and walks out through the tent entrance.
I get up to follow her, but before I even take a few steps my knees feel like jelly and my vision goes blurry. Out of control I fall to floor, my vision going dark before my head even hits the ground.