An essay by Carolina Moon, as told to Maureen Bowden
Art by Luke Spooner
It was Friday, 5:30 pm. I’d cleared my desk, logged out of the World Wide Wishful Displacement Detector, and was about to head home, when Richard III walked in, fresh from the battle of Bosworth Field. He was in full armour, customised to accommodate the hump.
“What brave new world is this?” he said. That’s more or less what they all say. “Thy door was not barricaded and I required safety from the roaring monsters encased in coloured metal, moving by witchcraft.” At least his language was decipherable, which was a relief. Fifteenth century English is a doddle compared to twenty-first century teenage gangsta gobbledegook.
“Welcome to the Ministry of Wishful Displacement, known as the MWD,” I said, “not to be confused with WMD. That means something altogether different.” We always make a little joke to put the visitors at ease. “Sit down and take your armour off.” He removed the helmet; breastplate; back bit, complete with hump accommodation; and an impressive codpiece that was giving me a headache. He dumped various other accoutrements on the floor, and flopped down on the couch. “I can help you to return home, Your Majesty,” I said, “but there’s no hurry. You can stay overnight for a rest.”
“Thou knowest me?” he said.
“Only by reputation. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Carolina Moon.” My parents were Connie Francis fans with a sense of humour, but not an iota of parental compassion.
“I am honoured to meet thee, Mistress Moon.”
“Please, call me Carrie. What was the last thing you were thinking before you turned up here?” I said.
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”
“I thought so. You were probably meant to materialise in Ladbrokes, next door.”
“Is that where I would find a horse?”
“In a manner of speaking. You could place a wager on which horse would win a race.”
“And if the horse won, it would be mine?”
“No, sorry, but it wouldn’t do you much good on Bosworth Field, anyway.”
His eyes held a haunted look. “Why is that so?”
Whoops, I’d nearly slipped up there. We have a strict rule never to tell anyone the fate to which we have to send them back. If we did, they’d all do a runner, our cities would be teeming with historical asylum seekers demanding their human rights, and it would play havoc with the stability of time lines. Luckily, we’re trained to cover up gaffes. “They’re racehorses, not war horses,” I said. “Put them on a battlefield and they’d be off, looking for the nearest fence to leap over. Anyway,” I changed the subject, “it’s too late to sort things out today. I’m about to go home.”
I checked the weekend rota to see who’d have to take charge of Richard. Oh, no, it was Nicholas Goole-Pinkerton, the nauseating waste of space who was only given a job with the MWD because his Uncle George had a close friend who knew a woman who had a juicy piece of information about the murky past of a leading politician. I couldn’t leave a helpless Plantagenet to the tender mercy of the ghoul, as we called him.
“You can have my spare room for the weekend,” I said. “We’ll get you back home next week.” I delved into the emergency wardrobe and pulled out a purple and green nineteen-eighties shell suit that looked approximately the right size. It would do for now. “Put that on and let’s go.” I wanted him out of the way before the ghoul arrived. He probably hadn’t bothered to turn his detector on yet, but I wasn’t taking chances.
“Thou art most kind, Mistress Carrie, but please explain how I came to this place.”
“I will, on the way home.”
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2015 collection.
Carolina Moon studied quantum physics at Keele University but she failed to get a degree. Her common sense and people skills did, however, secure her a job in a top-secret government department, The Ministry of Wishful Displacement. These qualities have proved invaluable in the operation of her duties.
Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian, living in North Wales with her musician husband, where they try in vain to escape the onslaught of their children and grandchildren. She has had forty-two poems and short stories accepted for publication and she writes songs, mostly political satire, that her husband has performed in folk clubs throughout England and Wales. She loves her friends and family, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.
Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
This story was originally published in Words with Jam, April 2013.
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