Hello everyone, for this fine Monday afternoon I shall be sharing Chapter II of my short story, From Edge to Edge. As promised, it will continue to only get better. Please enjoy the read:
Chapter II: Dash of French, Dover Call
Despite the odd looks, Joan rushed through the bustling crowd, ignoring the comments from angry women and men. She dresses as a frightful man! They whispered as she adjusted her waistcoat and checked the fob watch. Through the span of exactly eight minutes, the woman had spoken perfect French, paid an outrageous fifteen pounds for a taxi, and jumped upon a moving train to save her mission. In fact, it all started with a simple taxi coach in the middle of London.
Joan pulled out the fob watch, biting her lower lip. 8:43 A.M. She would never make it through the crowded streets in time. Turning to the roads she noticed a few spare vehicles, including a single taxicab. Of course, they were not bright yellow and black bees that she was used to in 2020, and they definitely had not developed hovering mechanisms. Taking a deep breath, Joan pushed her way to the sidewalk’s edge, raising a tanned hand in the air.
“Taxi, taxi, sir!” Joan cried in a modest voice, trying not to draw more attention. Noticing the man was quite clearly French, she added. “Monsieur! Monsieur, taxi S’il vous plaît!”
The man instantly turned his head, slowed the old vehicle, and turned it around to the curb.
“Irish ma’am speak French?” The driver asks in broken English. “And dress in oddities?”
“Monsieur, I learned a lot upon my travels. Including French and these wonderful clothes,” Joan says, motioning to the waistcoat and khakis. “Will you kindly take me to catch the express to Dover?”
“The Cheltenham Spa Express, madam?”
“Indeed. Does it not go to Dover?” Joan asks, fishing in the carpetbag for pounds.
“Not until the morrow! Rails to Dover? Express goes westward, madam. ‘Till morrow.”
“It goes to Ashford at the moment!” a man calls from across the road, tipping his hat. “There are nearly four hundred passengers from the past three days delayed down there until the morrow.”
“Thank you, kind sir!” Joan shouted across the busy path, waving. Turning back to the driver, Joan asked, “Monsieur, will you take me to the station?”
“It leaves in 8 minutes I never make it,” the Frenchman said, shaking his head. “You wait another time?”
“I must catch my friend before he leaves to travel. If we make it on time, I will pay you a handsome award of 15 pounds. You charge 1.5 pounds per mile, and it is 2.2 miles. Do you accept?” Joan asks, pulling out a mere 15 pounds for the driver.
“15 pounds? Y-Yes, get in, we must hurry!” The driver exclaims, pulling open the door.
Joan steps into the coach, pulling her carpetbag close. Before she could even buckle the Frenchman was off, putting in the max capacity of power. His hand slammed on the horn as hundreds of people jumped out of the way and the few cars swerving onto the curb. Minutes passed as Joan held her breath – 5, 4, 3, 2. The station came in sight as the driver slammed his brakes, skidding alongside the platform. 1 minute until the train left, steam already pouring from the stack.
Joan jumped out, pressing 15 pounds into the Frenchman’s hands. “Thank you so much, monsieur!”
In a flash she was off, the driver’s mouth agape at the amount of cash in his hands. He barely managed to say “No, thank you” into the air as the train started moving. With a final jump, carpet bag slung over her shoulder, the rust-red hair girl leaped, collapsing onto the train’s last cabin as it sped off. Smiling, she waved to the driver, then turned to the Ticketmaster.
“This train is to Ashford, no?”
“Cheltenham Spa to Paddington and Paddington to Dover, come the morrow. As for now, yes, it is to Ashford, ma’am.” The conductor said, holding out his hand.“It is 20 pounds for this evening’s trip.”
And it was as so the fearless miss Perk was on her way to Dover. Along the twisted tracks, the fastest train in London found no difficulties, arriving at exactly an hour and five minutes past the departure of the Paddington station. Joan looked around, tucked her carpet bag underneath her seat, and slept until the new tracks were opened. After refueling was complete and the ribbon cut to the Dover tracks, the express was on its way once more at 7:35 AM. Another fifty-eight minutes and the odd girl was on the steamer to Calais, France.
Every night Joan Perk stared up at the skies, longing to be amongst them once more. Leo, Canis Major, Lyra, Draco, Orion, Hydra, Coma Berenices, Puppis, the list goes on. Not to mention the spectacular wonders of the planets, including some not yet discovered in true time: CapiT, A40x, Triton, Quilke, Abestuthemea, Ukela, and New New York – named by New Yorkian space explorers in 2040. Of course, the Earth of 1914 was spectacular in its own peculiar way. Humans invented things quickly forgotten about, all thanks to a momentary time fold wrapping the memories deep within the Earth. 1914 invented the first flying car, microwave, television, and hot pocket. Of course, this was all lost within the time fold, only remembered by those who created it – Perk and Forkins. Of course, the matter was entirely accidental. Odd things happen to time and space when traveling five thousand times faster than the speed of sound, west, and east at the same time.
Between train and steamer, Joan Perk quickly passed through the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, and now found herself leaving Venice to Corinth, Greece on no other than the famed RMS Olympic.