King Stephen, the Silver man and Greta the Witch

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Chapter 25 – Coca-Cola can

He made no comment and shortly they began to move forward again. Next, they came across a plastic rubbish bin that had a wooden surround around it. There was a black plastic bag inside the bin, obviously to make emptying the bin easier. Inside the bin Keith could see metal coke cans, chocolate wrappers, plastic bags of dog waste and cigarette cartons. They stopped and the King and Greta dismounted to examine the bin and the rubbish inside. Keith could overhear their conversation.

‘What is this Witch?’

‘Looks like a vessel of some kind, Sire.’ Greta put her hand in the bin and took out a coke can that had been slightly crushed. There was some coke left inside and the stale dark brown liquid spilled out soaking her hand. She dropped the can back in the bin and then smelt her dripping hand.

‘Seems to be a coloured metal object with something wet inside, Sire’.

The King drew his sword and lifted one of the plastic bags that had been tied up, probably with dog waste inside. He moved it on the tip of his sword towards his nose, to mimic Greta’s action of smelling her hands, recoiled at the smell and dropped the bag back in the bin. Keith had to suppress a smile. The King put his sword back in its scabbard and mounted his horse. He had seen enough. Greta wiped her wet hand on the grass, stood up and moved as if she was also going to mount up on her horse. But suddenly she froze.

She turned her head so she could see the red object she had tossed back into the bin. On the side of the can she could see some writing coke. The quality of the writing and the workmanship on the metal object was like nothing she had ever seen. In that fraction of a section, the reality of her situation hit her. She realised that this was a different time, a more advanced age. She didn’t know how or why it had happened, but it explained her feelings that something significant was about to happen, and the worrying aspects of her vision. It explained the strange flying objects, the change in the landscape, the burnt smell in the air, the fine horses they had captured and the amazing saddles and bridles, and the tall stranger with his strange clothes. Also, it explained why she could no longer sense her Mistress and her Sisters, indeed this meant that they were all long dead. At this dreadful thought, her eyes filled with tears and her knees buckled. She had to cling to her horse to stop herself falling. She forced herself to hold back her tears, she didn’t want to show weakness in front of the men. With difficulty, she mounted her horse.

She turned towards the tall stranger called Keith, and was about to ask a question about the strange vessel and the red metal object with the liquid inside, when she was distracted because two pheasant birds suddenly broke cover from the undergrowth behind them. The brightly coloured birds with red heads, green blue necks and golden brown bodies were the size of large chickens. The birds flapped their stubby wings rapidly to gain height. The rapid wing movement and the flapping sound that their flying motion created, caused every human and equine eye in the group to look up as the two pheasants took flight.

In a blink of an eye, Henry shot both birds. The King shouted, ‘bravo’ and he dismounted once again to help Henry dispatch the still twitching pheasants. Henry retrieved his arrows by putting his foot on the dead bird carcases and pulling the arrows out, and then placed the two bird carcasses in a bag attached to his saddle. Keith watched blood drip from the bag, it was obviously designed for the job.

Greta used the distraction to get her horse closer to Keith so she could ask her question without the others overhearing. ‘Why is this strange vessel here?’

‘It is a rubbish bin, where people walking on the common put their rubbish and also dog walkers can discard their dog waste.’

Greta understood some of the words that the tall stranger had spoken, but the words made no sense. To test her theory further she asked one more question, ‘what was that metal object with that wetness inside?’

Keith paused before he answered. He could not believe that anyone had not seen Coca-Cola before, but then the penny also dropped with him. He answered slowly and carefully using his words deliberately, ‘you were holding a Coca-Cola can which is a soft drink that has been available for about 100 years’.

Greta looked into Keith’s eyes as she said, ‘What year is it?’

‘2012.’

Greta whispered back in shocked realisation, ‘No, it is 1136?’ But she said it without conviction, because she realised that the tall stranger was right.

Keith did not reply, he could not find the words. He was convinced this was not an act, these people really did behave as if they were from the 12th century.

Greta continued to stare at Keith in shock, until the King commanded her to follow.

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