Aggie Winegrove sat folding her clean laundry, her laptop, purse, cell phone, and makeup collection next to her on her left, watching “Wheel of Fortune”. She thoroughly enjoyed the show, and rarely missed watching it.
These days, it was a much-needed respite from the pandemic and lingering insurrection drama.
The previous year, 2020, had been one for the record books, and the garbage heap, a year just begging to be burned beyond recognition!
As she yelled out the answer to the Bonus Puzzle while the contestant drew a blank,
“Burritos and guacamole! C'mon, lady! How can you NOT know burritos and guacamole?”, her eyes clouded up and the tv suddenly seemed to be fading away, along with the contestant.
Seconds later, she loudly repeated the answer.
“Burritos and guacamole! How can you not know that, lady? I don't even LIKE guacamole, and I know the answer!”
“Excuse me! Who are you, and what are you doing in my apartment?”, a deep voice asked.
She turned towards the voice. A man was standing there. He was tall, handsome, had ridges that lay flat on both the bridge of his nose and his temples.
He was shirtless, VERY buff, with brown hair down to just below his shoulders, a chestful of hair, and tattoos down his neck, arms, back and the right side of his chest. He had jeans and casual shoes on.
“EXCUSE ME! Who are you, and how did you get in MY apartment?”, she shouted back at him. Grabbing her cell phone, she said,
“Tell me who you are right now or I'm calling 911!”
“Who or what is 911?”, he asked, confused, looking at her.
She had long brown hair styled in a ponytail, and was wearing pajamas depicting coffee.
Her fingernails were painted purple, and had the design of a flower on one fingernail of each hand. Her toenails had the same color and design, although the design was on her big toes. The woman was also barefoot.
She wore small hoop earrings all the way up her ears, including the cartilage, as well as small hoop earrings in the centers of her ears.
“Don't play dumb with me, dumbass! Last chance! I'm dialing 911 now. Oh crap! I can't get a signal! Hey...your internet's out.”, she said.
“Miss, I'm not dumb. I don't know what a dumbass is, nor do I know what 911 is or how you can be dialing, as you call it, on your small-screen there. What is the internet you're talking about?
”By dialing, does that mean you're sending a live stream request to someone?“, he politely asked.
”A live stream request? What's a live stream request? Is that a Zoom or video chat?“, she asked.
”What are a Zoom and video chat?“, he asked.
She looked around.
”Who turned the TV turn off?“, she asked.
”What is a TV?“, he replied.
She pointed towards the tv on the wall.
”That's a large-screen. I have no idea what a TV is, but that's a large-screen.“, he said.
She looked around. It was very stark, sterile, a completely different style than her homey, somewhat kitschy apartment.
There was a sofa that she was sitting on, but it wasn't the same sofa she owned. Her clothes basket with her clean laundry was in front of her, along with her purse, makeup collection, and laptop as well, but nothing else looked the same.
Even the layout of the apartment look different. The furniture was all different as well, compared to what she had in her apartment. There was a coffeetable, lamps, bookcases, and curio shelves. None of the curios were hers.
”Hmm...I think we've had abit of a misunderstanding. I don't know how I ended up in your apartment when moments ago I was in my apartment. I don't know how I got here. I've got no explanation for it.
“It makes no sense. I was watching TV. I see my basket of clean laundry, my purse, makeup, my laptop, cell phone and charging cord here, right where I had it, but this isn't my couch. That looks like my TV, well...slightly different.
”Maybe it's one of those fancy curved Smart-TV's.”, she said as she walked over to what he'd called a large-screen to inspect it.
”Nope, it's not one of those curved Smart-TV's. Nothing looks the same. How the hell did I get here?“, she replied as she walked around the apartment. He followed her, not knowing what her intentions were.
”I'm not really sure. Where are you from?“, he asked.
”Right here in Chicago. I was getting ready to go Live. I'm an interior designer by day and work my side businesses from my home in the evening.
“I'd just finished folding my laundry before I went live on Facebook.
”Live on WHAT book?“
”Facebook. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc.,...social media.“
”You said you're from Chicago?“
”Yes, I live in Chicago.“
”Don't you mean Chicago Earth?“
”Yes. Chicago Earth. Chicago Earth hasn't been Chicago for centuries.“
”Yes, about 5 centuries. A little over 500 years now.“
”Seriously? What happened?“
”An atomic war in 2175 decimated your planet.
“Did North Korea finally get us, or was it China or Russia? Or was it friendly fire from Washington?”, she asked.
“It was World War III. Terrans call it the Great Holocaust.”
“So it was a worldwide effort. Did President Biden get Covid under control? Did Trump and the rest of the insurrectionists finally end up in prison?
“Who? What is Covid? Who or what are President Biden, Trump, insurrectionists?
“Biden's the President of the United States. Covid's the pandemic that spread all over the world late 2019 all of 2020, and into 2021.
”I got my Covid vaccine and am fully vaccinated, for the record. I did my part to help end Covid.
”Trump is Biden's predecessor who instigated an insurrection. So...what year is this?”, she asked.
“It's the Earth Year 2675, 654 years after your time.”
“654 years....?”, Aggie asked, her voice trailing off.
“Yes. 654 years in the future.
”Forgive my manners. I'm Velyoth Choqhue.“, he said.
“Forgive my manners as well. Nice to meet you, Velyoth. I'm Aggie Winegrove.”, she said as she nervously extended her hand.
“It's nice to meet you too, Aggie.”, he said, extending his hand as well.
“Nice tats, by the way.”, she said, trying not to panic as the reality of where she was started to hit her.
“Tats?”, he asked.
“Yes. Your tats. Tattoos.”, replied Aggie
“Oh. These aren't tattoos. These are my markings. I've seen tattoos on Terrans, but these aren't tattoos.”, Velyoth said.
“Your markings?”, she asked.
“Yes. I was born with them. We all were.”
“Markings, huh? Velyoth, you're not human by any chance, are you?”, she asked.
“Not by a long shot, as I've heard Terrans say.”
“What race of alien are you?”
“I'm Targaryen.”, he said. “My home planet is Targar in the Targ system, a solar system in the Deimos Quadrant.
”Targar's the seat of the Targaryen Federation, our government.
”Earth's government is Federation Directorate. Planets from several distant solar systems are part of it. Our Federation and Federation Directorate have been allies for about 150 years now.
“Forgive me, but you don't seem to be too afraid of me. That didn't come out the way I wanted it to. It's my understanding that ancient people, people like yourself, weren't used to seeing aliens. That didn't come out right either.
”I don't want you to be afraid, Aggie, but that's my understanding.“, Velyoth said.
”Oh by that time we knew about Area 51. We knew there were aliens out there. We were making incredible scientific advances, at least by our standards they were incredible, anyway.
“We were used to seeing aliens on TV and in movies. Fake aliens obviously, but aliens on science fiction shows and movies. You know, like Mr. Spock, Data, Worf, Odo, Quark, Gawron, Garak, the Mandalorian, etc.
“Besides, if what you said is true and we're actually in 2675, there'd obviously be aliens here. And apparently you are one. I always believed there were aliens.
”I always believed that we weren't alone in the Universe, from both a religious and a practical point of view. I've always believed there were aliens out there. I just never in my wildest dreams thought I'd meet one.“
”Well I'm glad you're not afraid. And yes, it really is true. We're in the Earth year 2675.“
”Oh Lordy! Well I really do like your tats...I mean markings. My neighbor was a tattoo artist. He did excellent work.
“I designed his closet for him. He told me he'd give me a discount if I ever wanted a tat.
“I thanked him but said I'm too chicken to get a tat. I let him do my piercings though. I'd heard my daith piercing would hurt, but it wasn't that bad.
”He finished my navel before I knew he'd even started. It was completely painless.”, she said, lowering the top of her pajama bottoms just abit to show him her navel piercing.
”Nice. So what was this going Live on Facebook thing?“, he asked, intrigued.
”It was social media during my time. We communicated with other folks all around the world. It was a form of media using the internet where you could be social and talk to people.
“We'd go Live, which is what I do for work in the evening. I sell...sold products on Facebook, and I wanted to get my clean laundry folded first tonight while watching 'Wheel of Fortune' before going Live.
”I still can't believe that gal didn't know Burritos and Guacamole! I mean really! That's a no-brainer!
”What kind of work do you do?“, she asked.
”I'm in charge of maintenance and equipment orders for ships, planets, and moons in Earth's solar system. If a ship needs something, I'm their guy.
“They message or stream me, I fill their order, and ship it to them.
“Sometimes I even take the order to them. Those trips are fun. In fact, Monday I'm making some deliveries on Mars and two of Saturn's moons.”, he said.
“Cool! NASA was working on the beginning stages of colonizing the moon and Mars. I followed the projects on Twitter.
”I saw the Perseverance landing on Mars. It was incredible! Perseverance was to look for signs of ancient life on Mars.
”NASA obviously succeeded! COOL!
”Oh! Let me show you some of the memes of the landing. The Bernie, Gowron, and Quark ones are my favorites!“, Aggie replied, smiling broadly. She then showed him the memes on her phone.
”What the hell...?“, Velyoth asked.
”Bernie got around. He was a Senator from Vermont. The picture was from the inauguration this, I mean, that year. It was cold that day. The pic went viral.
“He showed up everywhere! It became this huge joke. He was a really good sport about it! His website had tshirts of it made with proceeds going to charity...food banks I think.
“I bought one. Two, actually. I gave the second one to my neighbor.
”Quark and Gowron are aliens from Star Trek.“, she explained. She reached into the laundry basket, found the tshirt and showed it to him. He laughed uproariously.
”He looks fairly...oh what's the Terran word...curmudgeonly. “
”Yep, that's Bernie alright! A loveable curmudgeon!“
”Interesting! I've actually met aliens who look very similar to the alien in the third picture. Same lack of fashion sense.“, he said as they both laughed.
“I'm assuming your planet's quite far from here. Why do you work here on Earth if your home planet's so far away?”, she asked.
“The facility I was working at on Targar posted a job notice about an opening here. I'd had a bad divorce and needed a change. I applied, and got the job.
”The money's good, the perks are great, and the hours are fairly decent. The rent's abit on the high side but, otherwise, it's in a fairly nice building in a pretty decent area of Chicago Earth.
”Aggie, I've been thinking. Would you like to come with me to Mars and Saturn?“, he asked.
”I'd love to, but don't I need astronaut training?“
”No, not at all.“
”Then yes I'd love to go with! Thanks for inviting me! Oh! I can wear my Bernie shirt!“
”You're welcome! I stopped home to change clothes, and was planning on going out to eat. Would you like to join me? I'd love to hear more about life here on Earth during your time!“, Velyoth said.
”Dinner sounds wonderful! Thanks! I should probably get out of these pajamas before we leave.“, she replied, reaching into her laundry basket for some clothes.
”Could I use your bathroom please?“, she asked.
”Sure.“, he replied, motioning to where it was.
”Thanks! I hope they have iced coffee where we're going!“, she replied, grabbing her makeup bag as she headed to the bathroom.
”Velyoth, how can I get back to my century? If I can't get back, and am stuck here, where will I live? Can I even find work in my field in this century?“, she asked as she came out of the bathroom.
She was wearing a tshirt with the caption, ”On bad hair days, there's always lipstick.“ A monkey with disheveled hair and wearing bright red lipstick was below the caption. She had jeans and sandals on as well.
Velyoth had put a casual shirt on while she was in the bathroom.
"I'm sorry Aggie. Since we don't know what caused your time travel, I'm sorry but yes, you're stranded here."
”Everything...everyone...is gone.", she said, the gravity of the situation finally hitting her.
”Aggie, I've got a spare bedroom.
“Why don't you stay here... It was your place centuries ago anyway.“, he said.
”Are...are you sure?“, she asked.
”Absolutely! I promise to be a perfect gentleman too!“, Velyoth replied.
”Alright. Thank you!“, she said.
”Here you go. Here's your room. This is your home now, if you'd like.“, Velyoth said, showing her the second bedroom.
”Thank you, Velyoth. I don't know how I'll be able to contribute to the rent, but I most definitely will once I find a job!“, Aggie replied.
”Can you cook?“, he asked.
”Yes. I'm a pretty decent cook.“, she replied.
”Great! Cook once or twice a week, and you've paid your portion of the rent! I'm a horrible cook, and am tired of eating out constantly!
“I can make breakfast, throw a sandwich together, reheat leftovers, and order zappi delivery, but that's the extent of my culinary ability!“, he said, smiling.
”What's zappi?“, she asked.
”I believe it was called pizza in your time.“
”Oh wow! I love pizza! It's one of my favorites!“, she exclaimed.
”Oh...I'm having some friends over tomorrow evening for zappi, wings, beer, and videos. You're more than welcome to join us.“, he said.
”I'd love that! Thank you.“, she said.
”Tomorrow morning, we'll go to the mega mart for groceries and other things. I need to get a new pair of shoes!“, he said as they walked out the door.
"I think you'll like this place we're going to.", he said while they walked the few blocks to the restaurant
She grabbed his arm when she saw a transport pod with passengers inside flying through.
"We have them where I'm from as well. Ours are much nicer, though, in my opinion. Terrans build good transport pods, but we Targaryens build better ones.”
“It's like the L, only in the air and not on tracks.”, she said, then explained that the L was the elevated train system in Chicago.
A few minutes later they arrived at Beefs & Things, his favorite restaurant. It was a restaurant and bar that served cuisine from Chicago Earth's past, specifically, from Aggie's century.
“They've got Italian beefs! This is so cool!”, Aggie exclaimed.
Velyoth ordered a double beef and sausage combo and Aggie ordered a beef combo. They also ordered deep fried cheese logs and baked skins of potatoes or, as Aggie called them, cheese sticks and potato skins.
Each sandwich was served with fried potato wedges and cold cabbage salad or, as Aggie said, fries and cole slaw.
The beef and sausage sandwiches were thinly-sliced slow-cooked beef with various seasonings and sausages made with similar seasonings.
They were served on a thick roll that was dipped in the cooking juices and topped with something called giardiniera. The beef was made the same way minus the sausage. They had carbonated drinks to drink.
“They've got soda! Awesome!”, she exclaimed.
Aggie ate her meal with gusto, as did Velyoth. Afterwards, they stopped at a coffee shop for iced coffees, then walked back home.
When they arrived at their building, Aggie took a good look at it.
Velyoth explained to her that the building had been torn down and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It was now a massive complex that housed many employees of the Federation Directorate facility.
Their apartment was on the 5th floor. It had a large balcony and a beautiful view of the city skyline.
Aggie liked the apartment. It was very spacious, and had a large glass sliding door that opened onto the balcony. He had a patio table and chairs, as well as several potted plants, on the balcony.
The bathroom had a full-sized tub, shower, and double vanity. The tub had jets for a spa-like jacuzzi experience. Toiletries were on one side of the vanity. He told her she could put her toiletries on the other side.
The kitchen was quite nice, but not well-stocked. She got the impression he didn't cook much.
The master bedroom was to the left as you walked into the apartment, and had a king-size bed, 2 nightstands with lamps, a dresser, and a small walk-in closet.
The second bedroom was just past the kitchen on the right. It had a queen-size bed, and had the same furnishings and small walk-in closet as the master.
The Gathering Room had a sofa with built-in recliners at each end, plus two other recliners, a polished wood coffeetable, and 2 end tables with lamps.
The coffeetable had a large jarred scented candle in the center. It sat on a lace doily. The doily and candle were gifts from his mother, he told her.
A large-screen was in the Gathering Room as well as in each bedroom. The large-screen in the Gathering Room was just outside, and to the left, of the entrance of the kitchen.
On the wall and to the left were some pictures of Velyoth's family. On the wall to the right of the second bedroom were two bookcases as well as curio shelves with both Targaryen and quirky curios on them.
Merci pour la lecture!