First chapter of Io Deceneus Journal of a Time Traveler – a science fiction and fantasy book about time travel. The Living Universe books series.
The streets of Amarna: people were different, the smells were different and the noise was different. By appearance, I belonged to that place – white knee-length skirt and sandals, very like the others, even in the way that they looked worn – yet uneasiness grew inside me. “The Nile is reborn,” people cried around me. I understand… I burned from the childish temptation to answer questions raised three thousand years before I was born. Would they find the stranger in me?
The crack came too late, my shoulder burned, pain shot up and down my arm. “Take me back home!” I screamed. With blurred eyes, I noticed the lowered heads and I bowed. The whip stopped; the buzz stopped; my mind regained clarity, clarity arose from panic, unnatural and treacherous.
Two soldiers dragged me away, and sand filled the cuts in my skin. “Once sand enters the scars it burns for days,” the Gate whispered to me.
Bitch! I thrust myself upwards to stand on my feet; the soldier on the left lost his grip on my arm, then pushed my head in the sand, his words coming out in hiccups: “Snake … try to escape now … feel the sand…”
“Ba…taa…rds!” the pain cried for me, and I tasted dust and bile rising in my throat. “Ba…taa…”
“The snake is hissing.” With a slim smile, the soldier lowered his whip, a little, and my teeth clacked so hard that he burst into laughter. “Don’t feel like cursing again, eh? You must know your place.” His hand carrying the whip was still high, waiting for an answer.
“I will not try again, sir.” A strangled voice in a tone I forced to be conversational.
They made me kneel down in front of the imposing personage the litter was carrying. As the man was actually short, thin and bald, the proper word would be important. Power … whips. Bow! While lowering my head I caught a glimpse of a young girl looking curiously at the ingrate daring to break the rules – meeting my eyes she hid inside the litter. At the man’s sign, I was dragged up again and pushed forward, stiffening the closer I got.
“Is the belt yours?” the thin man asked, in a thoughtful voice, seeding in me the panic that he saw, beyond my local appearance, the stranger who did not really belong to that time and place.
“My waist … my belt,” I answered fast, without thinking, just because a cold hand of fear was gripping me, and the soldier’s blow almost cracked my ribs. Wordless, I bent in pain.
“Let him be!” he snapped, and tension filled his voice. The soldier froze. “They don’t know about the belts,” he almost apologized. “You are not of us, and you are not a Black Traveler.”
A man from the past having more knowledge about an object coming from my future. She said it is a communication device… She will never tell the whole story. What does he really fear? The Black Travelers? Is she one of them? His fingers touched the belt, for a second. Nothing happened, and he pressed again, trying to open it. Do something. “You know what the belt is,” I said, meeting his eyes and he stopped. It works. “The belt has only one master … me.” A silent gaze sized me up at length. “It’s a powerful thing…” His hand recoiled.
“Ahmose, the scribe of Egypt, apologizes to you, Master Traveler. Your clothes … no hat… Forgive me. Please come inside,” and speaking to the girl, “Meritaten, we have a guest for the King.”
It took a while to gather myself and step inside the litter. What the hell…? The girl’s skull was huge, almost twice normal human size. She is really pretty, I calmed myself, admiring her face. If you hide the back of her skull…