The month went by both quickly and wonderfully slow. I got to meet and acquaintance myself with a lot of people. Some led to more intimate situations; both men and women, if you must know, sometimes at the same time. And yes, I will be fully candid now: it’s been a fucking awesome time. And continues to be now that I have come to the harsh reckoning that I will be spending the rest of my life in the eleventh century.
I got to experience the way of life in the middle ages, but with an educated mind from the twenty-second century, along with a cocktail of immunizations and vaccines to protect me from every kind of sickness I might be subjected to. While I had basic first aid training, I made sure to avoid getting in any serious accidents and suffering grievous harm. The idea of experiencing surgery in this time was not one I wished to contemplate. And for inquisitive minds, I will put to rest any thought of venereal diseases, as prevalent as they were at this time, see my aforementioned comments on immunizations. I even got a particularly painful injection against syphilis which would not begin to infect people until the horribly named discovery of the “new world” in the fifteenth century. And of course, protection against the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, even though that pestilence wouldn’t be rearing its ugly head until the fourteenth century. All to be on the safe side, which now having to spend my remaining days here, I am eternally grateful for.
You approach your own life very differently when you know you’re going to be somewhere for a short time, like say a month; a long vacation essentially; and for a much longer time, like say the rest of your life. It was necessary for those around to perceive me as one of them; as someone who had always been around, and the key to that was convincing myself. Again, being able to fall back on the essential training I went through helped a lot with this, one would even call it invaluable. So there, there is something good the Ostium Network did for me, even if it feels like with everything else I kind of got fucked over with.
Nevertheless, while I was doing my very best to look and feel a part of the eleventh century, I also was hatching other plans to discover what had happened to me and why the Ostium Network did what they did. And that begins with the day I discovered I was forever trapped in medieval England. It will not surprise you that I remember the day very well, and will continue to have a perfect memory of it for the rest of my life I have no doubt.
It was a clear day with blue skies and big wisps of cloud, and damn cold. I could’ve treated it like a different day, like the last day of a vacation before you fly home, or the last day you spend in your childhood house that has been sold and you must now leave . . . but I didn’t. I treated it just like the last thirty days I’d spent here in the eleventh century, because I didn’t want to give anyone the idea that I would be going. Tomorrow it would be a different story, but I wouldn’t be here to confirm or deny how the people I had come to call good friends over the last month would react. Tomorrow it didn’t matter, but today it did.
I was told by the Ostium Network that once the sun had begun to set would be the time for me to go through the door and return to Ostium. I enjoyed my last drink of ale, said goodbye to my friends and said I’d see everyone tomorrow and went on my way. I needed to return to Ostium the same way I had: with nothing on my person, so I did not dally or go back home to collect personal belongings, I just went on my way.
It was a half mile walk and I enjoyed every moment of it and it wasn’t too long before I saw the ruin of a building that had once been a church. As I got closer, I began scouting the area. Before it hadn’t mattered, but now it was important that I not be seen, as the Ostium Network had specifically instructed me to do. But I had no need to worry: I was completely alone.
I slipped between the cracked and warped wood of the doors to the church and was hit by the strong smell of rot and mold. I’d forgotten how pungent it was. I made my way down the aisle, the rotten wood pews on either side of me. Soon I was past the transept and the altar and through a rear door into the priest’s chambers. Again I waited five long minutes in silence, counting the beats of my heart and my very own breaths. I was still alone.
I walked over to the rotting wooden wardrobe where the priest had once kept his vestments and then pushed the whole thing to the side. Like last time, it refused to move at first, but once I applied enough force, the grating sound began and in a moment of time it was pushed aside, revealing the hidden door behind. The very same door I had opened and come through from Ostium thirty days ago. At that time, following the instructions I had been given by the Ostium Network, I had closed the door and then moved the wardrobe in front of it. I’d also scuffed the ground so the evidence of my moving the big piece of furniture was not so obvious, should anyone choose to investigate this ruin of a church.
I tried the handle of the door and pulled. It did not move. I assumed it was just stuck a little. I pulled harder. Still nothing. Then I braced myself and with both hands yanked as hard as I could. This time it did move, opening quickly and swinging wide and then before I knew what was happening, I was throwing myself out of the way as the door fell to the floor, completely detached from the wall.
After the immense amount of dust had settled, and my ringing ears had recovered, I got
to my feet and looked at the doorway and gasped. Both the door and door frame had completely detached from the wall, but there was no open doorway before me, no dark hole giving me access to Ostium. There was nothing but solid wall and no sign that there had ever been a door or doorway here.