Characters in this post
View character profile for: W.A. (Wrong Arturo)
View character profile for: Sarah Arturo (nee Jenkins)
View character profile for: Mia Turner
"W.A.? W.A.?" Sarah called nervously into the phone. She couldn't hear a response. For a few minutes, she could barely hear another voice, but it sounded female and very agitated. Then there was nothing.
Sarah's heart pounded. It wasn't like W.A. to just forget about her. But then, he did, on occasion, lose his phone. He had gotten a bit absent-minded in his 40s. Maybe everything was fine. But then why did the other voice sound so freaked-out?
But, Sarah thought as she took a deep breath, the other voice didn't sound angry or antagonistic. The voice sounded more scared than anything. Maybe W.A. was handling everything. But without hearing from him, she had no way of knowing.
Well, there was one way to find out. W.A. said he was at the boarding house. If something happened, he couldn't be too far at this point (although Sarah tried not to think about how long it would take her to get over there).
Clicking off her phone, Sarah grabbed her car keys and headed out the door, praying silently for her husband as she went.
FLASHBACK (Year: 2014)
"So that's it, then? They're all gone?" Sarah asked.
W.A. nodded. "Nekka's finally moved on, too."
Sarah sat down in a chair with a sigh. "So what do we now? Do we stay here?"
"I suppose we could. Nekka didn't say otherwise. But the deed is in her name. That might raise questions later."
"So, what do we do?"
"Well, maybe it's time to settle down for a bit. Get some 9-to-5 jobs, get an apartment somewhere..."
"You want to give up on traveling? You want to just settle down somewhere and become regular joes?"
"It's been great fun, Sarah, but I'm getting older and I'm not as spry as I used to be. Besides, how many worlds have we come to where there was no problem to solve? Remember the one world we visited where the most significant change is that stamp collecting was a huge national pastime? I suppose it was silly to assume that every world needed rescuing."
"I suppose you're right. It's just rapid change."
"I hear ya. But it's not like..." W.A.'s words trailed off.
Sarah finished them for him: "...not like we were ever able to find your home world, anyway."
W.A. nodded. "And I'm just tired of wondering and worrying. I mean, if you really want to keep going, I'll do it for your sake. I just want to be wherever you are, sweetheart."
"Well, if you want to settle down, then I do, too."
W.A. smiled. "I like it when you say 'I do.'"
Sarah stood up, her heart racing. She thought this is where W.A. was headed, but she didn't want to get her hopes up if it wasn't the case. "You mean...?"
"I don't have any jewelry ready at the moment, so maybe we should wait for me to get down on one knee. But, Sarah, I wanna love you for the rest of my life...if you'll let me."
Sarah smiled broadly. "Yes, please," she replied.
W.A. smiled back. The two moved together for a kiss.
"Wow. Spider wasps, huh? They're nasty. There are at least a couple of worlds like that."
Mia looked surprised again. "Been there, huh?"
W.A. nodded. "There must be some sort of statistical likelihood of sliding to certain Earths as opposed to others. But I don't know how to figure that out."
"Yeah, I guess so," Mia muttered. Her pace kept slowing and speeding up erratically, depending on how interested she was in what they were talking about. W.A. was grateful when she did engage him more in conversation; he completely understood why she wanted to keep her distance, but the silence was awkward.
They walked on for a bit before Mia said, "How much longer?"
"Well...it's going to be a bit, still. The boarding house--the place that we were just at--isn't too far from downtown, but on foot it's a bit of a hike. Maybe, when we get to town, we can take the trolley."
"But, won't people see your weird timer? Won't that draw attention to us?"
"These days, people have so many weird electronic devices, I don't think anyone will think twice about this one. Besides, they'll be too busy playing games or reading on their own devices!"
Mia nodded. Her timer was bigger than W.A.'s, but she kept it off for the time being. She looked at how much time she had on this world, but decided not to share that information with W.A. for the time being. W.A. noticed her looking, but didn't push the issue.
After a little while longer of silence, Mia asked, "So what's your story? How'd you get here?"
"Well, my story started over 20 years ago," W.A. said. "In fact, I was about your age at the time. There were these creatures called the Kromaggs, and..."
Before W.A. could finish talking, his timer made a weird loud buzzing noise. Mia couldn't tell if he looked it at with just surprise or alarm.