The room was a bit stuffy for his taste, it wasn’t just the furnishings but the air. Something in the air seemed thick and almost wet like humidity. Odd that, especially since it was the dead of winter.
Roland slid his finger in between his starched collar and throat, as if trying to create a trench to keep the sticky heat away from him. It was no use. He grimaced.
“Roland? Roland Arlenger is that you?” An older woman with silvering hair seemed to glide across the floor towards him, her hands stretched outward as if she were going to embrace him.
Roland cleared his throat and put on a smile, extending his hand and bowing over one of hers as he clasped it in his own. The woman stuttered in her steps, obviously confused by his gesture. Roland had not a care, he didn’t approve of hugging. It made his skin itch.
“Yes, ma’am, Roland Alrenger at your service.” He stood straight and flashed the woman another smile, she only looked up at him with confusion in her eyes.
An awkward silence spilled over them like the humidity in the room before it suddenly turned chill. Sighing, giving off the outward expression that she had resigned to some truth, the woman lead Roland to a chair on the back side of the room, stationed right behind the sofa. She put herself by the window.
Her expression was suddenly grim, mournful, the corners of her mouth drawn nearly as tight as her hands that clenched one another beneath her breast.
Roland unbuttoned his waistcoat and took a seat in the chair averting his eyes from her steely, accusing gaze.
What in the world had he done to her? She surely could not have been offended by his unwillingness to hug her. If she were he would have to explain. Of course he would do so as best he could. His recent aversion to touching, was just that, recent.
How long had it been? A month…two? Roland couldn’t remember all he knew was that suddenly at the touch of anyone around him, his skin would itch and burn as if caught in the biting teeth of the sun.
He said, “Ma’am,”
“Heidi,” She tossed out her name flatly. “My name is Heidi.”
“Yes, Heidi,” He felt very uncomfortable calling her by her first name, a woman of her age, silver hair…he paused, his eyes narrowing. By the window her hair looked less silver and more…brown almost russet. He blinked deeply, the temperature of the room also felt odd, odder than the humidity that had once assaulted him.
“My name is Heidi, Roland. You know that.” She paused still staring at him. Was that compassion in her gaze. “Do you know why you are here? How you got here?”
His brow drew together, dampness collecting. He felt as if there was so much of it that he couldn’t even stand. He felt glued to his seat. If he were going to panic, if something in the room, in the air had poisoned him, it was best he not let on. At least not until he had a plan for escape. “I walked here,” He forced himself to say. “Why do you ask?”
“And why are you here?”
He swallowed down the cottony feeling in his throat. “For a job, I answered an add…” Dizziness flickered in his head. He jammed his elbows into the table top to keep himself for toppling over.
Heidi hardly moved. “What year is it Roland?”
He managed to bring his eyes to hers, fear binding his tongue. Why did he feel so weighted.
“Roland,” She stepped towards him now, this time the sound of her foot falls against the rug pounded in his ears. Her silver hair was now definitely russet. More pity carved her youthful face. “if I touch you, will it burn you? Answer, please.”
The best he could do was nod his head. It slipped down to the table. Heidi stopped in her tracks, pinching the bridge of her nose. “And the air, is it wet to you?”
“Yes,” He croaked. Why was he answering?!
“I fear the air has gotten you, but not the air in here,” She turned towards the window, “The air out there. I don’t know why it has done it, but you are not the first.”
“Wha-what?” He felt as if her were dying.
“Plucked you from time and spit you out in the future. You walked right into the future and yet you don’t remember your past…but then it hasn’t happened yet.”
I think I went over time by 10 minutes. But I still had fun. I hoped you liked it!