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Due North

By Katya Kolmakov All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Romance

Proper Introductions

He is. Three days later she once again comes into her flat, and there he is, in all his wide shouldered, wonderfully proportionate, long-legged glory. By the way, as a true librarian Etta has already done her research; and indeed, there was Officer Thorne on the Titanic’s sistership. John Crispin Thorne, of Leicester, six feet four, born in 1871. There's extensive archive data on all crew members of Olympic, and working in a library has its perks. One of them is apparently one’s ability to give one’s hallucination historical credibility.

Etta closes the door carefully and gives her guest a look over. He seems somewhat more corporeal this time, and his smile is wider.

“Evening, Mr. Thorne. I’m Etta Ryan.” Etta decides to take the reins. “Are you aware you’re a ghost?”

The man chuckles. And, all in accordance with the genre, it’s a warm rumble in his throat, and the tendons on the strong neck move. Etta internally praises her 'hysteria.' The details are exquisite and very much stimulating.

“I am not a ghost, Ms. Ryan. I am a time traveller.”

“You are a what?” Etta asks in astonishment; and the semi-transparent gentleman in front of her smiles.

“I am a time-traveller. Like the protagonist of novel The Time Machine,” the gentleman announces dignifiedly; and Etta quickly rummages through her 'mind palace.' Indeed, the novel was written in 1895. The timeline checks out.

“You're rather… non-corporeal. And where is your time machine then?” Etta continues her investigation.

She quickly looks around. Perhaps, a blue box could be found somewhere nearby.

“I am only present here in my spirit, while my body - as I assume - is still in 1911, in the port infirmary.”

Etta feels a bit dizzy.


“Yes, I am indeed ill with a severe case of scarlatina. But worry not!” He once again smiles blissfully, while Etta gasps. Penicillin isn’t going to be invented for another 17 years. Her Officer Totty is in danger! “I will recover. I was assured of it by Madame Katerina.”

“Madame who?” Etta asks.

“Madame Katerina. She is London’s best medium; and a few months ago I have had the pleasure of attending a seance of hers. And believe me, I was no less sceptical than you look at the moment.” He chuckles. Alright, astral projection or whatnot, this time his voice sounds almost natural, which makes Etta’s nether regions rejoice. Goodness, what a purr! “During her seance, Madame Katerina informed me of this exact happenstance. She told me I was to fall ill, and to travel into the future, into year 2014.”

Etta needs to sit down. Since they're in her hall, she just plops on the floor.

“And?” she asks in a weak voice.

“Pardon?” The gentleman tilts his head expressing polite interest.

“What else did Madame Katerina tell you?”

“She passed to me the code.”

He looks properly proud of himself. Look at these squared shoulders and blazing eyes! Etta feels a sudden craving for a nice Scotch, or maybe for a nice Northman. Officer Thorne has a wonderful accent. He sounds just like her favourite Doctor - Nine - or one of those gentlemen from Gaskell novels.

“She told me the spirits had a message for me. I am to pass it to the person meeting me on the other end.” Oh dear, why isn’t Etta surprised?

“And the message is...” she says, accepting the depth of her own madness.

“R zero A blank M two one.” Having announced the said gibberish, Mr. Thorne of Leicester dissolves in the air like a pill of Swiss Phizz, which Etta desperately requires now.

Having medicated herself, she does the only reasonable thing one can do in this situation. She googles.

R0A M21 turns out to be a postal code. In Canada. Province Manitoba. Oh poop.

Etta's feeling especially at sixes and sevens from the fact that, according to her friend Internet, a casual tourist in this area can find a lovely organic farm, belonging to a Mr. John Thorne, and the name of the said farm is none other than Olympic Greens.

There're no decent photos of Mr. Thorne, the organic farmer, but from the few fuzzy pictures she can gather that he is six four tall, of the same height but much wider than Etta’s ghost, possessing the same dark locks. She can’t tell if there's resemblance since all of the lower half of Farmer Thorne’s face is hidden under a large black beard. And yet, the almost identical silver streaks on the men’s temples make her shake her head in severe unease.

She decides to go to bed; and feeling the warm side of Mr. Thornton with her leg through the duvet, she’s lying and staring at the ceiling. What started as an innocent sex fantasy is clearly turning into a full scale delirium. Etta’s worried.

Officer Thorne doesn’t visit for a couple days, and Etta continues her research. Among other things, she investigates Farmer Thorne, as much as modern, non-stalkish means allow. He has no Facebook, no Twitter; and yet she manages to scrape some data. He’s 37; single; and has a degree in Agriculture from University of Manitoba, ‘the best University in Manitoba.’ Since there're only two more universities in Manitoba, Etta doubts that counts as an accomplishment.

He appears in some candid photos from farmer’s markets that locals are apparently very fond of; and she finds a photo of him in a small agricultural magazine, in an article about something called ‘crop rotation.’ Etta swiftly imagines Farmer Thorne, with his black beard and in a plaid shirt - three top buttons open on his muscular hairy chest, since it’s Etta’s fantasy, and she can imagine anything she wants! - swirling a giant beetroot above his head. The mental picture is surprisingly stimulating.

Perhaps, Etta has been single for too long. Or maybe, it has to do with the fact that Farmer Thorne with his log like arms and narrow hips looks like any Canadian lumberjack in an average woman’s bedroom fantasy. Once again, Etta has a session with her ‘manipulator’ and goes to bed.

And then Etta wakes up from a soft, considerate touch of a large warm hand to her shoulder.

“Morning,” a low male voice whispers, and Etta’s body - she’d like to say that the mind didn’t participate in it, but that would be partially a lie - shifts, and she nuzzles the hand. “Ms. Ryan, please, wake up.”

Etta sits up with a jerk and stares at Officer Thorne. He's only about 25% transparent now, and no less moreish looking.

“What?” Etta squeaks, and wonders if her head has its usual look of an azalea flower bed.

“Unlike during my previous visits, you were asleep and didn’t react to my greetings, Ms. Ryan. And look! I can actually touch you!” Officer Thorne announces gleefully, and the long masculine fingers brush at her shoulder again.

Etta has definitely felt this. She’s gawking at Officer Thorne.

“Have you solved the riddle of the mysterious numbers, Ms. Ryan?” he asks, and Etta nods jerkily. “Marvellous! What are your results?”

Etta is still tongue-tied, processing having been touched by a 1900s naval officer.

“The numbers are sending us to Canada, Officer Thorne,” Etta answers, while hastily trying to remember what she’s dressed in. A quick look down reminds her that she went to bed in her - sadly unsexy - tee with the picture of Spock and the saying ‘Keep calm and prosper.’

“Canada?!” His glacial blue eyes widen. At least, Etta can assume so. It’s quite dark, and the officer is still partially see through.

“Yes, Canada. Province Manitoba, to be precise.”

“What, in Lord’s name, would Madame Katerina want me to do in Canada?”

It's becoming increasingly obvious that Officer Thorne might not be too bright. He’s clearly no Sheldon Cooper, but Rassilon help Etta, what a specimen! And somewhat corporeal now as well!

“The numbers you gave me are a postal code for a farm that, as I suspect, belongs to your descendant, also named John Thorne. Unless you do or will indeed travel in time. And gain another couple stones, for that matter.”

And a grumpy scowl permanently glued to a bearded face, Etta wants to add, but refrains. It’s quite clear that her lovely ghost is here to commandeer her to travel to ‘the Land of 100,000 Lakes,’ as such is the province’s nickname according to Wikipedia. Apparently, the aforementioned Lake Land should be a pleasant enough place, since it’s also known as ‘Friendly Manitoba,’ which is also stated on the license plate of every car registered in it.

But, no matter how nice Manitobans are, and no matter how gorgeous the torsos of both John Thornes are, Etta is not going to listen to her sex fantasy and take her honestly earned vacation and spend couple thousand pounds and twenty four hours to fly in a place that is ominously nicknamed Winterpeg! All she wanted from Officer Thorne when he first appeared in her flat and looked fit and partially transparent was him telling her she was ‘fluid, and delicate, and as if made of golden light,’ and then after a bit of tasteful dirty talk she would satisfy her needs and go to sleep.

Sex fantasies are to stay fantasies.

Etta frowns and decides to finally make her displeasure known. Or should she say ‘lack of pleasure?’

“I understand how you must find it difficult and of course frustrating,” Office Thorne beats her by a second, his face concerned and considerate. “I cannot express my gratitude and my admiration in adequate words, Ms. Ryan.” He folds his hands in front of his wide muscular chest, and Etta chokes on her indignation. “You’re my hero, Ms. Ryan. To endure my visitations with such patience! I could not ask you, of course, I know how much I am troubling you, but perhaps you could write the other Mr. Thorne a letter, inquiring carefully whether he has any knowledge of me?”

The puppy blue eyes and the black lashes framing them only distract Etta for a moment; and then she claps herself to the forehead. She is a blithering idiot, isn’t she? She hasn’t even thought of emailing Farmer Thorne. It took an 1900s astral traveller to make her think of merits of Gmail! So which one of them is living in the pre-Internet era?!

“I will! I gladly will! Tomorrow!” she gleefully yells. “And these days we won’t have to wait months for an answer. He will respond as soon as he gets it!”

“Oh that is magnificent! Is it alike a teleprinter?” he asks, with the ‘boys and their toys’ light in his eyes.

“Yes, but much faster, and much more reliable now.” Etta has no idea what a teleprinter is. She will of course research tomorrow, not to look like an ignorant clot next time.

“Oh, Ms. Ryan! I’m so very grateful!” And then he delivers the line that once again makes Etta doubt whether it’s still just her bedroom imagination playing tricks on her. “I could just kiss you now!”

“Please, do!” Etta’s answer - she swears! - is completely automatic.

Officer Thorne’s thick black eyebrows jump up, and Etta decides to take matter in her hands. And Officer Thorne as well. Her arms go around his neck, and she pulls him in. It’s the twenty first century! Girl power!

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