Annie’s eyes fluttered open and adjusted to the faint light around her. She was in the sitting room lying on the long sofa. Her cloudy mind grasped for answers. Why the hell am I in here she asked herself. The sound of music filtered from the kitchen. Slowly her mind began to put things in order. She had been doing the dishes, a man came in, she grabbed a knife, and then the world had gone black. She had to get out of here. Annie quickly pushed herself up to a sitting position on the couch. Her head spun with the effort.
“Please Miss Annie, do not sit up too quickly. You have suffered quite a grievous injury,” the man said, as he rose from an armchair. Annie searched her mind for his name. He had told it to her. Oh, what was it? It started with a “C,” she knew that much. She wracked her brain for the answer thinking of then dismissing several names: Charles, Connor, Carlton, Cameron. That was it! Cameron!
“It’s Cameron right,” Annie confirmed.
“Yes. I was wondering if you would remember, especially after you swooned. I was able to stop the bleeding,” he pointed to her hand. “Unfortunately, I am not familiar with where you keep your bandages. If you would inform me as to their whereabouts I would gladly bandage that hand for you.”
Annie stared at him. “There’s a first aid kit underneath the sink in the bathroom down the hall.” Annie pointed her uninjured hand in the direction of the bathroom. “Last door on your left.”
Cameron just stared at her. “Beg your pardon, but what exactly is a bathroom,” he inquired.
Annie looked at him once again. This time she took a good, long look at him. He was tall, well over six feet, and had a muscular build. His outfit looked as if he had come straight off the field of a Revolutionary War re-enactment. He had reddish-brown hair that was tied back in the typical 18th century fashion and piercing blue eyes. His handsome face was partially hidden by a five o’clock shadow. She could not decide if it was intentional or if it was just a result of not having time to shave.
His ruggedly attractive face was contorted into a puzzled mask. He looked genuinely confused. “You know, a water closet, WC, the loo. Is any of this ringing a bell?”
“I am sorry miss, but none of those terms sound familiar,” Cameron replied.
Annie considered trying to explain it to him, but she had the feeling that no matter what words she used, Cameron would never understand. “Here, come with me. I’ll show you.” She stood up off the couch, swaying just a bit, but quickly regained her balance.
Cameron rushed to Annie’s side as she stood. He reached out for her as she swayed, then quickly righted herself. She dismissed his assistance with a flick of her hand. “I’m fine, really,” she assured him.
“Please, allow me to assist you. It would put my mind at ease. I do not wish to see you swoon again,” he said then offered his arm.
Annie looked into his blue eyes, trying to assess what exactly his motives were. For some inexplicable reason she felt that his intentions towards her were honorable; that he was trustworthy. He had had plenty of time to take advantage of her while she was unconscious. It’s not like it would’ve been hard, considering she was clad only in her swimsuit. Cameron raised one of his reddish-brown eyebrows, then glanced down at his offered arm. Her mind made up, Annie gratefully accepted then led him down the hall.
They made their way to the bathroom where Annie pulled out the first aid kit and a washcloth. She turned on the sink, waiting for the water to warm up. While she waited she removed the carefully tied dishtowel from her hand and inspected the wound. It was not too deep, but it had an angry welt to it. Once the water was warm she placed some soap on the washcloth then cleansed the cut. Satisfied that it was clean she rinsed her hand then patted it dry. She pulled out some antiseptic cream from the kit and spread it generously over the wound.
Cameron watched as Annie cleaned and treated her wound. The “first aid kit” as she had called it, was nothing like he had ever seen. Although, he thought to himself, I should be used to this by now. Ever since I came out of that cupboard this afternoon nothing has made sense. He definitely had a lot of questions to ask. But first he would help her with her wound. Then he would get his answers.
“Cameron, I’m going to need your help with this,” Annie said, interrupting Cameron’s thoughts.
“Yes, of course Miss Annie. Just tell me what I need to do.”
“Just wrap this gauze around my hand, just like you did with the dishtowel. Once you’re done secure it with this tape.” Annie showed him the two things she was talking about. Cameron nodded then began the task of bandaging Annie’s wound.
Annie watched as he concentrated on the task she had given him. His hands were large but surprisingly gentle for their size. He had a few minor calluses, but nothing out of the ordinary. She found herself gazing at his face. Even with the tight look of concentration on his face he was handsome. Despite his odd attire, he had a timeless quality to him.
Cameron finished the task and handed Annie the gauze and tape. She put them back in the kit then stashed it under the sink. He had been well aware of her inspection of him while he worked. “So, Miss Annie, do you approve of what you see,” he inquired, a mischievous smile tugging at his lips.
Annie could feel color rising in her cheeks. The double-meaning of the words was not lost on her. “Yes,” was her simple reply.
“Good.” His smile grew wider.
Annie took a few steps back from him. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go change. I’m sure you have just as many questions to ask as I do. If you’ll just wait for me in the sitting room I’ll be back in a sec.” With that, Annie quickly retreated from the bathroom and went up the stairs to her bedroom, slamming the door and locking it behind her.
This night was strange to say the least. She knew she should be frightened, but for some odd reason she wasn’t. Ordinarily, a strange man just appearing in her house would be all the motivation she needed to run screaming from the house to the police. But for some incomprehensible reason she felt safe with this man.
Quickly Annie changed out of her blood-soaked swimsuit and into a pair of shorts and t-shirt. “Oh, what am I going to do,” Annie spoke aloud, to no one in particular, expecting no answer.
“Trust him.” The answer was barely audible, only slightly louder than a whisper.
“What?” Annie’s question was full of fear and trepidation.
“Trust him,” the voice said, a little louder this time. The voice sounded familiar. She looked up and around her. The room had gone unnaturally cold. Goosebumps covered Annie’s arms and legs. Whether they were the result of the freezing temperature or the fear threatening to incapacitate her, she did not know.
“Please Annie, trust him. He’s here for a reason. He’s going to help you.” The voice was louder, and now utterly recognizable to her.
“Grandpa,” Annie called out. At that moment an image appeared in the mirror of her dresser. It was her grandfather. His skin was opaque but other than that he appeared just as she had always remembered him.
“Trust him Annie.” His statement was accompanied by a reassuring smile. Then he faded away.
Annie bolted out of the room and ran down the stairs, past the sitting room, and into the kitchen. Her body shook beyond control. Perhaps this was some sort of horrible, bizarre dream. But the throbbing in her hand, the hot tears flowing down her face, and the violent tremors of her body told her otherwise.
Annie stood at the sink taking deep, calming breaths. The incident in her room had just increased the number of questions she had tenfold. She needed to get herself under control. After several minutes, her breathing had returned to normal, her heart rate slowed slightly. She wiped the tears from her face with her hand and prepared herself to join Cameron in the sitting room.
“Is everything all right?”
Annie jumped at Cameron’s deep baritone coming from behind her. She turned around, relieved to see that he was standing a couple feet from her. “Don’t do that. You scared me,” Annie scolded.
“I apologize. I was just concerned about you. You dashed down the stairs and passed the sitting room. I wanted to assure myself that nothing was amiss”
“Well thank you. I’m fine.”
“You’ve been crying. Please, tell me what is bothering you.” Cameron took a step closer.
“I’m afraid you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me,” he replied. Annie said nothing. “Please, after the events of today I can assure you nothing is outside the realm of possibility for me.”
“What exactly happened today? Who exactly are you? Why are you here?” The questions ran off Annie’s tongue.
“Let’s sit down. I promise to answer all that I can.”
“Yes, of course,” Annie replied then walked towards the kitchen table.
Cameron sat down at the wooden table, across from Annie. His mind was reeling. How exactly was he supposed to answer her questions when he was not entirely sure what happened himself? With a deep breath, Cameron decided the best thing to do would be just to tell things as they happened, no matter how bizarre they were. “Before I begin, I must say that everything I am about to tell you is the truth, no matter how strange or inexplicable it may sound. It is my fervent hope that once we finish our conversation you and I will be able to piece the whole story together and figure out what is happening here.”
Annie nodded, “Okay. I promise to suspend my views of reality as you speak. Although after everything that has happened tonight, that won’t be too hard.”
“Thank you,” Cameron said. Then he launched into his tale. “Well, my name is Cameron Michael Evans. I live in New York City and own my own printing company. In truth the printing company is just a front. My main purpose is to uncover facts and information that will help General Washington win this war. That is what brought me to your house tonight.” Cameron could not believe the words coming from his mouth. Why, in Heaven’s name was he telling this woman about a secret mission. For all he knew she could be a loyalist, or a British informant. Cameron shook his head, dismissing the thought from his head. While Annie was mysterious, there was no way she was some sort of British spy.
“So you’re telling me that you’re a spy.” It was a statement not a question. Cameron nodded. “What information were you searching for,” Annie inquired.
“A map. Intelligence that we became privy to suggested Major John Andre would be staying at this house for a few days. Major Andre is the head of the British intelligence effort,” Cameron explained. “Furthermore, that same intelligence suggested that he had valuable information with him, information including a detailed map of troop encampments and planned movements. I cannot tell you how valuable that information is to our military strategy.” Cameron took a deep breath, then continued. “A dinner party had been planned in his honor tonight. I began my search after dinner. While searching upstairs I overheard someone coming up the stairs. I was fearful of being discovered so I went up to the attic and hid in the hidey-hole. When I came out, I was here, wherever here is exactly,” he made a sweep with his arm as he finished his statement. “I must admit that I was incredibly confused when I first stepped out of my hiding place. I’m still incredibly confused. This house is the same one that I entered earlier today, yet it is also completely different. When I went into that hidey-hole it was dark outside. When I emerged it was sunny. The walls had been painted a different color and there were odd paintings on the walls. There was one of you, looking just as you do now. I have seen and heard things today that I cannot explain. Please, tell me where I am.”
“What year is it,” Annie asked. She needed to know exactly when he came from.
“1780. Please, tell me what is going on,” he pleaded.
Annie nodded, then began. “First of all they’re called photographs,” Annie replied hollowly, then clarified, “the strange paintings on the walls are called photographs. And quite frankly you’re asking the wrong question. The more appropriate question to ask would be when not where. I assure you, you are in the same house that you entered earlier.”
Cameron stared at Annie. When not where. “Could you explain what you mean?”
“Cameron,” Annie struggled with the words she was about to say. How exactly do you inform someone that he had traveled over two-hundred years into the future?
“Yes,” his voice was a tense whisper. It was as if he knew the incredibility of what she was about to tell him.
“I honestly don’t know how to say this.”
“Just tell me the truth.”
“Fine. Okay. Cameron, you’re no longer in the year 1780. This is the year 2015,” Annie said flatly.
Cameron was flabbergasted. “How?”
“I honestly don’t know. Time travel is not something that is considered feasible right now. My only guess is that it has something to do with the hidey-hole you mentioned.”
Cameron nodded. “Does that mean I can get back to where I came from in the same manner?”
“I honestly don’t know that either. I’m sure we could give it a try,” Annie responded. Cameron did not reply. “Well I don’t’ know about you, but I could use a drink. Would you like one?”
“Yes, please,” he replied.
Annie pulled two beers from the fridge, popped their caps, and then sat down at the table. She slid Cameron’s beer to him then took a long chug out of her own. Several minutes passed in silence while each of them sipped on their beers. Cameron was the first to speak.
“This ale is like nothing I have ever tasted before. What is it?”
“It’s an Irish brewed chocolate stout. It’s my favorite. Would you like another?”
Annie got up from the table and retrieved two more beers then sat back down. Once again the room fell into relative silence, the only sounds were the hum of the fridge and the soft blowing of the AC. Once again it was Cameron who spoke.
“So this is the future then,” it was a statement, not a question.
“That explains a lot actually. Everything I have seen today would not be possible two-hundred and thirty-five years ago.”
“I know. I know this is a shock for you. It’s a shock for me as well,” Annie replied. She watched the emotions that swam across his face: confusion, fear, and finally acceptance. “May I make a suggestion?”
“Of course,” Cameron replied in a whisper.
“It’s late. I’m exhausted and I’m sure you are too. Why don’t we get some sleep then we’ll come up with a plan of attack in the morning.”
“I appreciate the offer, but it would be utterly improper for me to stay in a house overnight with an unchaperoned woman. You have been very kind to me. I do not wish to tarnish your reputation.”
“Thanks for your concern but it his hardly necessary. This is the 21st century. Social rules are not nearly as strict as they used to be.”
Cameron gave her a perplexed look. “Men and woman are allowed to be alone?”
“Oh, things certainly have changed.”
“Yes, now, will you please take me up on my offer? There are plenty of rooms. Let’s get some rest then in the morning we can assess our options and form a plan.”
“Well, if you insist.”
“Very well then. It would be nice to sleep in a bed tonight.”
“Good. Follow me,” Annie said. “I’m just going to lock up for the night then I’ll show you to your room.” Annie proceeded to lock all the doors and turn off the downstairs lights. They walked up the stairs and Annie led him to a room two doors down from hers.
“Here, this can be your room for tonight,” Annie said as she turned on the lights. “You have your own bathroom. My room is just down the hall, third door on your left. If you need anything just come get me.”
“Thank you Miss Annie.”
“Please, you can drop the ‘Miss’. Just call me Annie.”
“Very well, Annie. I actually do have one question for you.”
“Would you please show me exactly how a bathroom functions?”
Annie let out a little chuckle. “Of course. Right this way.” Annie led him into the bathroom and showed him how exactly the shower, sink, and toilet functioned. She explained to him how to operate the light switches and ceiling fan. Cameron looked utterly overwhelmed by the time Annie was done.
“This is amazing,” Cameron finally declared in an awed whisper.
“Feel free to use anything you want. I’ll go get you a toothbrush so you can brush your teeth and a change of clothes to sleep in.”
“Brush my teeth?”
“Yes, it keeps the cavities away. Wait here, I’ll be right back.” With that Annie left the room. She returned just a few minutes later, carrying a stack of clothing, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. She set the pile down on the bed then showed him how to brush his teeth. Ten minutes later she was ready to leave.
“Thank you Annie. I really appreciate all you have done, all you continue to do.”
“It’s really no problem. Like I said, if you need anything I’m right down the hall.”
“Thank you. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Annie replied with a smile then left the room, closing the door behind her.
Cameron stared at the door long after she left. He heard her enter her room, then the house went silent. Fascinated by all of the modern conveniences around him, he went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He stepped in and reveled in the hot water that fell down from the spout. He washed his hair with something called shampoo then cleaned his body with body wash. Once he was done he stood in the shower and contemplated all that had happened today, all that he had learned. His life had been thrown into turmoil and he had no idea what to do about it. The only comfort he had, he thought to himself, was that a beautiful, kind, and caring young woman was sleeping down the hall from him. With that thought he stepped out of the shower, dried himself off, put on the clothes Annie had provided for him, brushed his teeth, turned off the lights and crawled into bed. He fell into a blissful sleep moments after his head touched the pillow.