NOTE: To the current readers of this story, I've actually deleted most of the chapters except for the Prologue and Chapter 1. This is because I feel like I need to re-edit the whole thing, I'm just pedantic that way!
Sophie brought the rim of the teacup to her lips, poised to sip. She gazed slowly around the room, feeling strangely anxious and light-headed. The Cafe de Eros was brimming with a variety of people. Couples accumulated towards the far, back wall which allowed them better privacy than near a window or counter. Business men and women held today's newspapers in front of their faces, a gesture that probably indicated 'Do not disturb'. Mothers rocked their babies in their strollers as they conversed and drank with other mothers, colleagues discussed with colleagues the declination of our modern economy, relative to relative – everything seemed as it should be.
Sophie was seated by the floor-to-roof window that spanned nearly an entire wall, panelled with dark oak and lined with a film of dust, it held the prospect of London's raucous traffic. The tables near the windows were implicitly reserved for those who dined alone, perhaps like a pedestal of shame, it exposed the loners and weirdos who were decidedly anti-social. Sophie was one of them, but she didn't let the sting of loneliness get to her.
The mid-morning light shone through with a hazy brilliance and alighted her research papers, which she had piled in front of her. She was supposed to be revising her notes for the afternoon's presentation to the Board of Space Physics and Time Study, but she was uncharacteristically distracted. Sophie couldn't focus on her work on Time Travel, a sensitive and wholly unremarkably advancing area, to which she had been assigned Head of Research. She was to present her findings and beseech for funding, which had been sorely lacking the past two or three years (the money having been directed towards more promising avenues in cosmic radiation and terra-forming Mars).
Sophie exhaled forcefully, and the black tea at her lips rippled from her sigh of irritation. Her eyes fell on the empty seat across from her. She wasn't expecting anyone and yet there was something strange as she eyed the varnished, wooden backing of the chair. It was exquisitely designed, with curved etchings of vines and pansies. It reminded her of an overgrown garden, filled with shrubbery and weeds and blooming flowers and rabbits, beautiful despite the lack of cultivation or expert touch of an elderly gardener.
She didn't know it until it was too late, but the general clattering of the public cafe, the burps, the tete-a-tete, the whispered sweet nothings and the clinking of cups on saucers and shouts of orders, faded into a silence. No, it wasn't silence, but a dull ringing in Sophie's ears. She was faint, and the distinct sound of her thumping heart in her ears clouded any sort of comprehension of what was happening to her. Sophie was alarmed, and yet she was calm. The chair in front of her was still, as still as any inanimate object. She was still too. But perhaps it was her imagination, maybe a spontaneous delusion, or a trick of the light that caused her to see the chair move.
The teacup she had held in her hand had ended up on the floor with an unceremonious and very loud ding!!!. Flushing and feeling more than one pair of eyes prod at her skin, Sophie mustered enough effort to bend over to collect the cup. Only, she didn't come back up, correct her form and resume her tea break, and the world would go on as normal. Instead, Sophie saw a blackness beneath her. Or was it a whiteness, a blueness, a greenness? She didn't know it, but it was a depth. And this depth had a pull stronger than gravity for which she possessed no resistance against.
So Sophie fell in.