The fist from a black clad man came at me. Who was he? I knew that I should know his name. In fact, I knew that I knew it. I just couldn’t remember. I strained. It was at the tip of my tongue.
It wouldn’t come.
It didn’t much matter. He was attacking me, clearly my enemy. I tried to focus on stopping that hypersonic fist, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I were the good one or the evil one in this fight. Again, however, it didn’t much matter. He was my enemy in either case. I needed to defend myself–that, currently, was the only thing that mattered.
I blasted my laser eyes at him and brought up my arms to block a blow that never came.
I blinked my eyes awake to see a chunk of burning plaster from the ceiling above fall onto my blanket. I patted out the flames with my bare hands. Had my laser vision done that? I must have missed the man in black! He must have escaped me! Damn it!
Wait! There was something else wrong! My hands!
I looked at the hands that patted out the fire on the blanket. Those weren’t my hands were they? They were old, wrinkled. Where were my hands? Why couldn’t I see them? Why could I move these other hands?
Horrified, I scrambled out of bed and looked at my hands again, turning them over. My gaze rose up my arms, also wrinkled, showing the liver spots of age. My stomach dropped. What had happened to me? It must be that man! He had hit me with some sort of aging device!
Frantic, I looked around. Where had he gone? I saw a dresser, a mirror, a wardrobe, a desk… no sign of him. It looked like I was in a home now. I felt carpet under my toes. Where was I?
I walked over to the mirror. White wispy strands of hair drifted in all directions. I recognized the brilliant blue eyes in the face. The rest was foreign. Maybe the cheekbones looked familiar. And the jaw line. Certainly not the complexion.
But it wasn’t me.
I was younger. Prettier.
Had I been teleported into the future? What had that man done to me! Bastard!
I heard a knock at my door and crept toward it cautiously, I pulled the handle, wood crackling and splintering under the force. The door clanged against the wall, a few more dangling pieces of oak falling to the floor.
A young blond girl, maybe twelve years old, stood there, eyes wide.
“Grandma!” she said in a stern voice. “You need to stop doing that! That’s the third door this week!”
I stood there gaping at the unexpected visitor, as my daughter slid around me into the room. My daughter was only three! I must have time traveled, just like when Time Stop had teleported me…
“So mom says I can start my Superwoman training this fall! Isn’t that exciting, Grandma! I want to be just like you!” the young girl said, plopping on the bed stomach first, riding out the resulting bounces in the bed spring with an exuberant smile.
“Get up from there, young lady. No daughter of mine will do such undignified things!”
“Okay,” she said, momentarily chastened. Her face brightened again as a sparkle of curiosity entered her eye. She pointed at the charred blankets.
“What happened to your blankets, Grandma?”
“Nothing. Now, did you see a man wearing black out there? Before you came in, I mean?”
“No?” she said, confused.
I looked around the room. The window was closed, unbroken. The ceiling and floor were both intact–other than the scorch marks from my failed laser vision attack. The girl had to be lying! She wasn’t my daughter! She couldn’t be! My daughter was only three years old! This girl was in cahoots with the man in black! Of course! It’s the only thing that made sense…
I grabbed the girl the shoulders and shook her.
“Tell me where he went. Now!!!”
The girl looked shocked. I shook her again.
Her shock transformed to fear, the corners of her lips fell into a frown, and water shimmered along the edges of her eyelids.
A tear fell between my arms. Then, another.
I heard a choking sob, and I released the girl’s shoulders, my heart in my throat. I didn’t know this girl, but I had frightened her. I felt terrible. Why had I done that?
I turned and walked away from her, letting out a long slow breath. I went to the bathroom and splashed cold, pure water on my face, then walked back to my room, feeling refreshed.
There was a young girl sitting there.
I didn’t recognize her.
She had bright blond hair and puffy red eyes. She looked like she had been crying.
“What’s wrong, dear?” I asked her, bringing my hands to her shoulders.
She flinched away from my touch, so I turned my palms toward her and pulled my hands back.
“I’m only trying to comfort you, little girl. Where’s your family?”
The girl said nothing, just sniffled and wiped her eyes.
“Did something bad happen to you? I’m only trying to help…”
“No. I’m okay. I’m fine,” she said. She breathed in and straightened her posture. She was trying to be brave. It melted my heart. It was so good to see such a poised girl.
“Okay, hun. I have a daughter. She’s younger than you, but I hope she grows up to be just like you.”
The girl’s expression brightened, her sadness fading quickly away. She looked hopeful now. Her blue eyes met mine. “Really?”
She popped up from the bed and threw her arms around me in a big hug. I patted her head and hugged her back.
She pulled back after a long moment, pushed up on her toes and kissed my cheek. My hand rose to my cheek as she stepped back away.
“I love you, Grandma.”
What a wonderful young girl! To show such affection to a stranger like me…
As she walked out of the room, I sat down on the bed and rested my hands in my lap.
They were wrinkled! These weren’t my hands! I turned them back and forth to examine them. Definitely not mine.
What had happened to me?