|My Sister Katrine
Author: H. M. Longo PM
A young man from the eighteenth century meets his sister from the twentieth. This story contains long, archaic sentences; the narrator is from the 1700's so I took some liberties with the style. I can't think of a title for this, I just changed it again.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Family - Words: 2,027 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 06-12-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2684633
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"My sister loves this band", I kept thinking to myself. The phrase felt strange to me, I was still struggling with the idiom of these strange times; and the very idea of "my own sister" was still a bit baffling to me.
I was sitting in the back of a very crowded and oddly lit room. What lights there were were those incredibly bright electric bulbs which I will never be accustomed to, but they lit the room only in flashes of colour; the floor was as dark as if the lights had been out. The stage, however, was as bright as noon on a summer's day and on it men were playing a new kind of music. Emanating from the stage at a volume reminiscent of musket fire was a pretty and strange song with a delightful dance-like quality to it (although I could think of no dance which would fit that tune), the words of which made very little sense to my mind but I was already becoming used to such things. Katrine, my sister, had described to me the mechanical properties which made such sounds possible, but nevertheless it seemed strange and otherworldly to my ears. The drums pounded and the man sang and the crowd danced in a sort of reserved frenzy.
I shut my eyes and let the din and the charm of the music engulf me. How strange it was that my sister would live in a world such as this!
As I opened my eyes I saw her come whirling out of the crowd towards me, looking flushed and delighted and holding another girl by the arm. "Thomas" said she, in a voice out of breath from the dancing, "this is my friend Ashley. I thought you should meet her." I rose to shake Ashley's hand, she giggled and said she had heard much about me and would I like to come with her to try and get to the foot of the stage. Katrine smiled at me and told me that I certainly did not have to go if I did not wish to, I thought she was perhaps a bit condescending, but I thanked her in my heart for seeing to my comfort. I told Ashley I would rather remain where I was as the crowd seemed exceeding daunting, upon which she made a rather hasty excuse and ran to join a group of other girls.
Katrine pulled an empty chair next to mine and sat for a while, watching the crowd and the players.
Two weeks previous, in the year 17**, I had been sitting in my bedchamber reading a new novel by candlelight and there had been a knock at the door. I thought it strange that someone could have gotten into my house without my knowing, I had no servants but the one, and he had left several hours gone. I went to open the door filled with a curiosity untempered by reason or trepidation. I opened the door and a girl about my own age stood on the threshold. I hastily buttoned by shirt, at once asking her how she came to be in my house and apologizing to her for finding me in such a disarray. My words ran all at once and I managed to say nothing of any coherence. She stared at me, her face a picture of competing ideas. At that instant she looked very like an older version of my little cousin Flora and I thought that she must be a relation, but I quickly dismissed that thought and regained my composure. I offered her my hand, asking her politely how she came to be at my bedchamber door.
"Thomas, I'm you sister, Katrine! You remember me, don't you?" and I instantly lost any composure I had.
"Of course I remember you!" I almost shouted, embracing her. "But" I drew back and looked in her face "but you cannot be she. My sister has been gone these sixteen years."
"Come, let's sit down somewhere and I'll explain it all." she said looking about the hallway.
I led her into the parlor and offered her a chair and the whole of the night was spent listening to the most fantastical tale.
Sixteen years before that, in the Year of our Lord 17**, I had been a child of six playing with my toy soldiers of the floor of that same parlor.
My mother had been in the kitchen seeing to my supper. My father was about his usual occupations in his study with books and mechanical devices. I thought such things tedious and dull but my sister was two years older than I and found them fascinating. On this particular day she had followed our father into his study to watch him about his business. He has recently acquired a strange, transparent, glass-like sphere filled with gears and lights and keys and levers which seemed to have no obvious purpose, no combination of pressed keys or turned levers would do anything but change the colour of the lights. It had a hasp on the side and could be set open and examined. My father has been trying to discover by what means the gears turned and the lights were illuminated, but he knew nothing of it yet.
From the parlor I heard my sister scream. I left my soldiers and ran to the study, my mother had arrived before me; my father, my sister and that odd spherical device were gone without a sign of how they had left. My poor mother never again saw her husband or daughter this side of life. She was taken ill and died when I was seventeen years old. She left me alone in our house, telling me at the very last to keep my father's study dusted and the fire going on the hearth in Katrine's bedchamber against their return. I promised her I would, and I did indeed, but I was certain that on that day in the study Katrine and my father had died and I should never see either of them again. I kept good my promise to my mother for two years, but finally wearied of it and let the unused parts of the house fall to the dust and the spiders. It seems my father had had a sizeable bank account when he disappeared, and my mother being by nature a very frugal woman I was left not only the house, but also a large sum. With the means to do anything and the desire to do nothing, I grew to enjoy my solitude and eventually let go all the servants except the boy who kept my horses. I could take all my meals in town and dust my own mantle and not have a soul about to bother me unless I wished it. At times I would wonder what that sphere could have done to my father and sister or where it could taken them and I would fall into a melancholy, but most days I was happy enough and would read or visit the theatre or fence or play at chess with my fellows.
Katrine tells me that on that fateful day sixteen year gone our father closed and latched the sphere and took it up in both hands to set in on a shelf, but at that moment he began to glow as one of the lights and seemed to loose substance. Katrine was frightened and grabbed him about the waist. The next moment she had found herself lying on the grass in a park, surrounded by strange sounds, her father sitting beside her and looking just as bewildered as she herself felt. They had discovered the sphere's purpose, or at the least they had discovered what the sphere could do. They had traveled two centuries into the future and that park was where out house had once stood.
Katrine told me of the years they spent together in this strange time, for some time my father continued to work with the sphere, setting it open, pressing the keys, turning the levers, drawing out diagrams of it's workings, taking it to bits, piecing it back together, but try as he might nothing would happen. Eventually he set it aside and forgot it, concerned that perhaps it could only travel forward in time and if he did indeed find it's workings it would only take him farther away from his own time and home. But Katrine was not thus discouraged, she told me how the most of her time was spent studying the properties of mechanics and trying to discover the principals upon which the sphere operated, the age which she had been transported to made much of the study of the sciences and books on many subjects were readily available. With time she did indeed find out the basic workings and was able to travel back to my time. However, although she had found how to travel back for me, she had not yet fully discovered the sphere's workings and was not able to choose exactly the time she wished to travel to, she could travel to my time as this moment but no time else. Sixteen years to the day had passed in Katrine's time and the same sixteen years had passed for me in mine. It was as if our lives as siblings were still running parallel despite the intervening centuries.
She told me she thought she knew the purpose of the sphere and perhaps even its origins. Of the latter she would not speak further but the former she intended to test that very night. She supposed that, using the sphere, she could travel as she wished between my time and her own but the sphere could not stay the passage of time. Certainly, she had traveled the ages. The sphere's purpose, if she had correctly supposed, was merely that; to travel in time. She supposed that if she could discover all the niceties of it's operation she could indeed travel to any hour she wished in all of time itself. But for the present it would suffice simply to rejoin her brother and mother. I told her the news, now five years old, of our mother. She wept, but her gladness at finding me offset her sorrow.
So much Katrine told me that night in my parlor, and the next day I packed my bags and we set off to Katrine's time to introduce me again to my father and to show me my way in a world two hundred years from that which I knew. Katrine told me that she was not certain that she was right about the sphere, she could not be sure that we would indeed find ourselves in that park two hundred years from now. But I paid my concerns no heed and as Katrine took up the sphere I held her arm in mine and for a moment we vanished from existence.
The sphere is a strange thing, it takes you up, whirls you about in a strange minuet with the whole of existence, and drops you back at the door to the dance where you first began and centuries have passed in those brief moments of dancing.
And so here I am, the year is 20**, it is my sister's time. Tomorrow we again depart for my time. And then when we tire of 17** we'll leave again for Katrine's time. I have met my father again and he is very glad to see me, but too frightened of that horrible, that wonderful sphere to take it up again and return to his time. He has made a good life for himself here in the Twenty-First century.
Perhaps one day Katrine and I will discover how to truly operate the sphere and we shall dance through all time, the two of us, brother and sister, seeing all of history and all of things to come. And what a dance that shall be!