Freyja stepped through the newly created door and Kink ushered us in after her. When we were all inside, the door sealed shut behind us. Jamal, Tilly, and I all stared at it as it blended into the wall. I knew we were all wondering if we had just made a big mistake. I took in the room around me. It turned out to be quite small, feeling more like an elevator than anything else. I blinked as a blue light flashed across the room. “Don’t worry,” Kink said. “It’s just scanning you.”
That didn’t make me feel any better. “Scanning for what?”
“You know,” she replied, “bugs, implants, temporal duplicates, the usual.”
“We take our security seriously,” Freyja told us.
At least I knew that was true. “Did we pass?”
“We’re all still in one piece, aren’t we?” Tilly replied.
“I wish you were joking.”
“No one is going to get chopped up,” Kink said. “Now, if you’re done playing around. Why don’t we introduce you to everybody?”
The door opened in front of them to a large multi-tiered room with thirty people arranged throughout. They seemed to be the most random assortment of individuals ever assembled. Some were dressed in old clothes like togas and renaissance garb. Others wore more high-tech gear like I’d seen Kink wear. Some looked relatively human. Others? Not so much. Every single one of them turned to stare at us as the door opened and we walked out.
“Hello, fellow Temporal Anarchists!” Kink called, raising her arms dramatically. If they weren’t all already watching us, they would be now. “We have returned! And we have guests! Be nice! I assume you’ve all met Mathilda Sampson at some point. This is the earlier, not-yet-as-fun version.”
“Not yet as fun?” Tilly repeated.
“And this is…um…”
“Jamal,” Freyja said.
“Mathilda’s father. He and Freyja had a thing.”
“A thing?” Jamal repeated “You mean a daughter?”
“I mean a passionate love affair on a romantic deserted island but I didn’t want to get too personal.”
“There was no island…” Jamal grumbled.
“Like I said,” Kink replied. “You had a ‘thing’.”
“It’s over now,” Freyja said.
“Sure, it is.” Kink turned to me. “And this is a man who most of you know, some only by reputation, Frank Clay. Yes, he is obsessed with me and can’t stop talking about me and I can’t count the times he’s proposed to me but, you know, he’s done other stuff, too.”
“I’ve never proposed to you,” I told her. “The count is zero.”
“Don’t be embarrassed, Frankie. We’re all friends here. This is a safe place.”
“We’re not friends. You and I, we’re not friends. Those people,” I pointed to the people watching us, “I don’t even know them.”
“Well, some of them have met you, so… ” Kink replied.
“So,” Jamal said, “maybe you should introduce them to us.”
“Freyja was right,” Kink smiled. “You are an eager boy.” She turned and walked toward the closest person to us, a guy dressed like a newsie from the 1920s. “This is Norlak. He often goes by the name Tim Hood.”
“Timmy-boy is fine,” Norlak said, duffing his cap.
“Timmy-boy?” I repeated.
“At your service, Quantum man!”
“This is Tam. They said they met you a while ago at some kind of party.”
I looked at the person Kink pointed to. “Did we?” The person in question was in what I assumed was a skintight green body suit or they had some kind of futuristic plastic body skin graph.
“Oh, yes,” Tam said. “Though of course this is not the body you wore. But then again this is not entirely the one I was in either.”
“These are the Roz Triplets,” Kink continued. I was surprised to see they didn’t look anything alike. Also there were only two of them.
“This is Norm.” He was a gelatinous blob.
“Nice to meet you,” he said and then offered what turned into the general shape of a hand.
I, not knowing what else to do, shook it and my hand came away covered in slime. I wanted to wipe it off, but I wasn’t sure if that was considered rude or not. So, I stood there with my hand dripping slime. “Nice to meet you,” I told him.
“This is Fount.” Kink gestured to a woman dressed kind of like George Washington. “Sadly her brides weren’t able to make it.”
“We’ll get them back, dear,” Freyja said. “You have my promise on that. The Time Police will pay for what they did to those seven women.”
“They took your wives?” Jamal was aghast. “Did they take someone from all of you?”
“We’ve all lost people,” Freyja said.
“You had people?”
“I’m not the cold, horrible person you think I am, Jamal,” she replied. “I had people I cared about and the Time Police made me pay for it.”
“I’m sorry, Freyja,” I said. “I’m sorry all of you, but what are we going to do about it? From what I understand, we’re trapped in here.”
“No, we’re not trapped,” Freyja replied. “We can get out anytime we want.”
“But that will make you vulnerable,” Tilly said. “How can you leave this sanctuary and not immediately be erased?”
“By taking safety measures,” Freyja told her daughter. “By being smart.”
to be continued…