I’m going to tell you a story. I’m going to tell it slowly. So you remember it and pass it on. Through time. I’m going to trick you. But you need to wait until the end to find out how.This is the first part of a young adult fantasy story – ‘If and When’. The chapters will be released monthly here.
Ilyah dodged past the bustling wave of commuters and tourists. Drowning out the shouts, she jumped over fresh chewing gum and puddles of piss. She made her way past Soho Theatre, skirted around Pizza Pilgrims and rushed through the cloud of stale beer wafting out of The Toucan. She hesitated as she reached the square but her brain made each foot plant itself in front of the other, even more determined than before.
There’s no turning back, Ilyah thought.
Her destination was in front of her. A shiny black door with large glass windows on either side. Inscribed in neat gold italics above the doorbell read: the past is only a moment away.
“A moment and thousands of pounds”, Ilyah muttered to herself as she pressed her finger down on the buzzer.
The receptionist was expecting her and led her down to a dazzling room. Walls, floor, door – everything was a shiny, plastic, newly mopped white. There was a large chair in the middle, a sort of lazy-boy reclining contraption that looked out of place.
Squinting, Ilyah perched on the chair’s edge. The receptionist left and Ilyah’s eyes grew accustomed to the abundance of light. She got bored of waiting and sank into the seat, taking out her ponytail so she could comfortably rest her head back.
Looking up, she could see her outline reflected in the ceiling. She automatically patted her hair into shape, trying to smooth out the fuzzy curls.
Ilyah stopped preening, craning her neck round to find the source of the voice.
“I’m your technician. I actually operate it all,” said a tall, thin woman standing in the doorway.
Striding over to a big fridge-looking-thing, the woman started making a clanking and tinkering noise, with a side order of tutting, as she helped the machines vibrate into life. Suddenly, Ilyah was thrown backwards and lying horizontal in the chair.
“Sorry. It doesn’t give a warning,” the Technician said.
“No problem, I was just startled. This feels a bit like the dentist,” Ilyah said, failing to sound light hearted.
“Just relax darling. The procedure is completely painless and only lasts six hours,” said the Technician.
She connected various white straps and wires to Ilyah’s arms and legs as she continued, “you’ll need to count backwards from ten once I place the head gear on.”
“Yes, I know,” said Ilyah.
“Right, remember the rules. Keep out of the way yet try to blend in. Firstly, you’ll need to….”
“Get the clothes and the right currency,” Ilyah interrupted.
“It’s all at the checkpoint,” finished the Technician.
“I know,” Ilyah sighed. “I’ve read all of the forms and gone through the briefing.”
“Well it’s good to know you’re well prepared. You’re rather young for this but I guess we must test a variety of ages. Just don’t try to kill Hitler,” the Technician laughed.
It doesn’t matter if I try, Ilyah thought. She whispered to herself, “you can’t change the past, everyone knows that.”