2. This Can't Be Happening
“Is this some kind of joke?” She responded angrily lifting the gun. “Because if it is, you had better be prepared to explain yourself.”
“I do not understand your strange words, my lady,” He lifted his hands in bewilderment and quirked a famous brow, “but I do assure you, I am Elrond of Imladris. My hunting party and I became separated in the storm last night. It was most fortunate that I found a cave just up the road beyond a wooden bridge when the fog mists descended; otherwise I would have had a most uncomfortable night. If you cannot direct me to Arathorn’s encampment, can you direct me to the nearest settlement? I fear the storm is about to settle in again and I would like to find cover before it does.”
Amanda could never explain what happened next. Why she decided he really was who he claimed to be and that he posed no danger to her.
“I do believe you…my lord,” she stumbled over the form of address. “If the storm is starting up again, then you had better stay here. I have no idea how you will rejoin your friends, but you will be safe until the storm blows itself out.”
“My lady, I suspect by your caution that you are here alone. I have no wish to cause you unease. I can return to the cave where I found shelter last evening. It provided me much need protection from the cold and it will do so again.“
“Perhaps, but you do not know how bad the storms blowing off the lakes can get. This one according to the latest forecasts appears to be one of the worst we have experienced in nearly two hundred years. If that is true you would not survive the night out there.”
“You have the ability to foresee the future?” he asked mystified as he climbed the steps.
“Foresee the future?” She saw his puzzlement then laughed, as she understood his comment. “No, I will explain it later.” She opened the door wider and stepped back. Glori wiggled a welcome and Elrond bent to hold out a hand to him. She shut the door behind them as the wind picked up."
“He is a beautiful dog, but I have never seen one like him before. What is he called my lady? What does he do?”
“His name is Glori,” she stopped embarrassed, “short for Glorfindel. My brother named him, he is a fan of Tolkien and he thought his coat was like one the character’s hair. His kind is specially bred to hunt birds.”
Elrond scratched Glori’s head and with twinkling eyes shook his head in amusement. “My balrog slayer would not be pleased, I think. If you happen to meet him it would be best to not explain the derivation of Glori’s name.”
She grinned back at him. “My name, by the way, is Amanda Cameron. My friends call me Mandy. You can put your things there in the corner on the bench. I have some hot water heating on the stove. Based on the stories I believe you drink tea instead of coffee but I doubt if I have a flavor you will be familiar with. I certainly don’t have any miruvor. ”
Elrond turned after placing his pack on the bench, a strange look on his face. “When I first arrived you didn’t seem to recognize me or any of the names I mentioned, yet now you have referred to several things that indicate you do indeed know of us. Who or what is this Tolkien and what stories are you referring to, my lady?”
Amanda looked at him trying to frame a reply he would understand and accept. “I am not sure I can explain without sounding like a crazy woman.” She finally said. “If you will be patient while I fix some tea for us I will try to do so while we enjoy it.”
He looked at her through narrowed eyes and considered her request. Finally he nodded and as she turned towards the kitchen he slowly removed his heavy cloak and a fur lined tunic, hanging both over a chair near the fireplace to dry. He sat down and pulled his boots off and placed them near the fire as well.
As Amanda bustled about the kitchen beyond his sight he studied the interior of the cabin both bewildered and fascinated by what he saw. There was nothing he recognized. The lines of the furniture were rustic and bulky, totally unlike the graceful lines he was used to. Yet it was surprisingly comfortable. The patterns of the rugs on the floor were geometric and woven in strong bold colors. There were pictures on the fireplace mantle and on the walls that bore no resemblance to anything he had seen before. He rose and studied them more carefully. They included scenes of a family as it grew and the activities they participated in along the way. He easily identified the child that was Amanda and through the strong resemblance among them, the older couple as her parents and the young boy as her brother.
He was puzzled by their strange clothing and shocked by their skimpy outfits while they played about in a lake. One picture showed a laughing Amanda holding on to a line and standing on the water behind a strange boat. It was apparent that the boat was moving and pulling her with no apparent method of doing so. There were no sails and it was too large for paddles. Another showed a strange kind of wagon but there were no horses or oxen hitched to it. Shaking his head he moved further down the mantle where he found one of Amanda dressed in a strange green tunic and leggings with a cap that covered her head. She was holding an infant and smiling at the artist.
He turned as she re-entered the room carrying a tray with tea and bowls of thick hot cereal. “I thought you might need something hot besides the tea to warm your innards. I had some oatmeal in the cupboard that should do the trick.”
He bowed his head gracefully and reached to take the tray from her and placed it on the table in front of the fire. “I thank you for your thoughtfulness.”
She smiled as Glori poked his head around her and sniffed. “No Glori, you have had your breakfast. This is ours.” The dog lifted sad, pleading eyes and tentatively wag his tail at Elrond. He shook his head and placed a hand on the dog’s head and murmured a soft word of regret. Glori heaved a big sigh and returned to lie on the rug in front of the fireplace.
“Glori must be good company for the child.” Elrond gestured toward the picture.
Startled Amanda looked at him and than at the picture. With a sad smile, “That is one of my patients. I have no children.”
“Patient? You are a healer?”
“Yes, I am a surgeon. My specialty deals with high-risk infants. That particular little fellow we had to do an in uterine repair of a hole in his heart. He is now five and a holy terror.”
Elrond looked at her in horror. “You cut into the mother’s womb and operated on the unborn child?”
She frowned, “While such surgery is relatively common now and conducted by highly trained doctors, we never undertake it without careful consideration of the consequences. Without it these children most likely would not survive.”
“Where and what have I stumbled into?” he muttered in bewilderment. Closing his eyes and shuddering, he gripped the cup of tea tightly then set it carefully down on the table before raising his eyes to her. “Will you please explain!”
“I am not sure I can,” she said thoughtfully. “If what I suspect has happened, you will not want to believe me. It certainly is not rational.”
“Try me.” He sat forward and watched her intently.
“Very well. This is not the middle earth you know, and the date here is the year 2007. There is no way to equate it because we are far in your future. Somehow you have moved through time from where you were in your world to this one.”
He studied her through narrowed eyes as he considered her words. “You are right, my lady, it is not rational.” He switched his attention to the cabin and gestured around, “Yet nothing here speaks to me of my world and I have not sensed any of my family or friends.” He became silent and tried to absorb what it could all mean.
Amanda nodded, “It is not an easy thing to accept, and to be honest, I have no idea if, in fact, the whole thing is just the other way around.”
“You mean that you and this piece of your world somehow was sent back to mine.” He paused and added that idea to the mix of his already jumbled thoughts.
“Yes, but there may be a way to find out.”
“How?” He folded his hands and leaned forward his arms resting on his thighs.
“I will call my brother.”
“He is near here?”
“No, I will use my cell phone.”
“Cell phone?” Mentally he kicked himself. Why was he only able to speak in one syllable words?
“It is a communications device that we use to talk to one another over distances.” She explained in simple words that she hoped was clear enough for him. “If it works, we are in my world. If not, most likely we are in yours.”
“How would we confirm which world is which?”
“I can’t guarantee either way until I try. If my call goes through we are in my world.” She hesitated before continuing. “The problem is that there can be interruptions caused by weather, mountains that block signals, or power outages that can prevent the phone from working.”
“I am sorry, my lady, I do not understand what you are saying.”
Amanda sighed, “I know. I cannot explain it to you either. I wish I could. There are many technical things that my people have developed or invented over hundreds of years and it would take more than a few words or hours to describe to you. We may have time later.”
He frowned, “Time later?”
“There is the possibility that the visitor to which ever world we exist in now will not be able to return to their own.”
“I could be trapped here.” He understood at once.
“Or I could be trapped in yours.” She continued reluctantly.
“Use the cell phone, my lady.”
She crossed to the table where the cell phone lay. Picking it up, she punched in the number. As it rang, she relaxed imperceptibly and turned to face Elrond. She frowned when the voice mail kicked in and rang off without leaving a message.
“It didn’t work?” he asked hesitantly.
“It did, but my brother doesn’t answer.”
“Then we are in your world.” He was dismayed.
“It would seem so.”
He shoulders slumped, “I must go back, there are many things I have to accomplish in my time and world.”
“We may be able to figure it out, so don’t be discouraged just yet.”
“You are optimistic.” He smiled wryly.
“I have to be in my work. Other wise, we would never be able to do what we do successfully.” She dimpled back at him momentarily then became serious once more.
“I should search for traces of some kind of passage between our worlds.” Elrond started to put his boots back on.
Amanda shook her head. “With the storm moving back in, you would not get far and you would die of the cold.” Her words were underscored as a blast of wind rattled the windows and shook the doors.
He paused, “You have a suggestion?”
“I think we should consider any action we take carefully. We should see if we can pinpoint when and what occurred at the time you made the move to this world.”
He rose and crossed to a window, watching as the snow became a heavy white curtain that obscured the world outside. “It would appear your suggestion has merit.”
“The storm will be very bad for the next few days. We have plenty of food and wood for the fire. We are safe here in the cabin. While we wait for the weather to clear, we can consider what to do to get you back to your world. If we should fail, we can explore how best for you to exist in this
“I could be here a very long time.” He was pensive.
“I don’t understand.”
“Elves live a very long time, my lady, we are immortal.”
She blinked, “I should have remembered the stories.”
“You mentioned them before. Will you explain what you are talking about?”
She crossed to a bookcase and searched the shelves, pulling out a couple of well-worn books and returned to hand them to him. “I don’t know if you will be able to understand these words, but if not, I can read them to you. I am surprised we can comprehend each other’s words since you speak Sindarin and I speak English. Somehow, what ever caused the connection between our worlds has allowed us to communicate.”
He took the books and leafed through them. “I do not recognize this writing system.”
She shrugged. “I expected as much. Let us get you settled in a bedroom and I will explain how things work here. After that I will give you a quick rundown on the author of the stories and try to explain what they have told us about your world. It would be interesting to hear of your world from you and compare how accurate he was.”
“Will you tell me also of your world and your family?”
“That might not be a wise idea,” she grimaced, “You might find it very frightening.”
“I do not believe any thing can be more frightening then Sauron.” He grimaced, “ He has caused untold misery for much of my world foe millennia.”
“You may be right, but we have had a few madmen here who could give Sauron a run for his money.”
“By that do you mean they are his equal?”
She nodded, “I certainly think so if the story Tolkien tells is accurate. But we have had a lot of good men as well, so it helps overcome the effects of their evil.”
“Such efforts are necessary, unfortunately.” He nodded in agreement.
“I will be interested in such an exchange of information, but I would like to bath and change to clean garments first. Three days on the trail and sleeping in caves do not encourage comfort or cleanliness.”
She studied his figured and he noted with some amusement her obvious interest. “You are about my brother’s size and there should be some of his clothes upstairs that will fit you. We can see about cleaning your things later.”
He nodded, “If he will not object, I would be grateful for the loan.”
“He would be delighted to know you wore them. Amanda chuckled at the thought of her brother’s expression when he learned of Elrond’s visit. “He loves the stories of middle earth and would have no problem of moving there if his wife would agree and go along.” She rose from the chair and moved toward the stairs.
“If he is much like you, my lady, he would be most welcome in Imladris.” He gave her a warm approving glance as he swung his pack up on his back and followed her up the narrow stairs to a small room tucked under the eve of the roof. His eyes were drawn to the trim firm bottom in front of him as they advanced to the upper floor. Turning she indicated a bedroom then pointed out the bathroom.
Catching the warm gleam reflected in his storm grey eyes as he followed her narrative, Amanda blushed. As she explained the secrets of the bathroom a picture of him first in the shower then bathing in the tub, had her babbling nervously. She barely showed him the workings of the toilet before she jerkily opened the linen cupboard and pointed out towels and soap as well as shampoo. At his nod of understanding she fled and entered her own bedroom throwing herself down on the bed.
“Real smooth, Amanda, you certainly impressed him! And how can you even be interested when you just broke off with someone else? You know he has a wife back where he comes from, so just cool it.”
Just where was this whole strange thing going any way?