A Moment Between Worlds
By Violet Day
Date: December 1, 2017
Ch. 11

“Did you try turning it off and on again?”
Tessa’s client, an elderly woman, looked at the laptop on the counter between them with a confused expression.
“I’ve never turned it off before,” she said slowly.
Tessa held in her instinctive sigh. She opened the laptop and pointed to the power button. “Have you used this button?”
The woman tilted her head, still looking unsure.
A bell tinkled. Tessa looked past the woman to the doorway of the little computer repair shop she worked at. In the doorway, leaning against the glass as if he wasn’t sure how to open it, was a man in a ridiculous outfit.
He was wearing a dress shirt in two bright colors and a pair of tight, glittering patchwork pants. “My lady,” he said, nearly falling into the shop. The door swung shut behind him, the bell tinkling again. “My lady, pray tell me what land is this?”
The elderly woman looked shocked. “I…”
Tessa let out the sigh she’d been holding all day. “Don’t worry, I’ll get him out of here.” She walked around to the customer side of the counter. “Come on, leave or else I’m calling the police.”
The man just stared at her with squinty bright eyes. He had a snub nose and a large jaw.
Tessa took out her phone and started to dramatically dial. “Nine,” she said. “One…”
The ridiculous man just stared. He looked incredibly confused.
When she started to dial the second one, she realized that he wasn’t going anywhere. She didn’t actually want to dial the police. Last time she’d called them about a homeless man wandering into the repair shop, they had told her not to call again unless she or a customer was in physical danger.
And this guy was just standing there.
She put her hands on his shoulders and turned him around, giving him a shove toward the door. “Leave unless you’ve got a computer that needs fixing, alright?”
He stumbled out the door. Tessa watched him start to make his way down the sidewalk, haltingly. Maybe he was some kind of entertainer that had gotten way too drunk on the job. Whatever he was, he was gone now.
“Sorry about that,” Tessa said, coming back to the laptop on the service counter.
The elderly woman snatched up the laptop and held it under her arm. “I’m going to… I have to…” Looking a bit pale, she made her way out of the door, leaving Tessa alone in the shop.
The bell tinkled.
She sighed again. She’d have to talk to her boss about their location. If there was any way to move their shop to a nicer neighborhood, maybe a more residential area, she was sure their business would shoot up.
Even though the woman had left of her own free will, Tessa was glad to see that it had happened about two minutes before the end of her shift. She went to the bathroom and changed out of her uniform –a t-shirt with the Geek4U logo and khaki pants –into a similar outfit, except with more denim and less obnoxious logo.
When she walked back into the main room to get her bag, the skinny girl with impressive dreads that had the next shift walked in.
“Hey,” Solange said.
“Hi,” Tessa said, hefting her bag onto her shoulder. “Have fun. A drunk guy came in earlier, but he’s gone. Just watch out.”
“Oh, alright.” Solange raised an eyebrow as she got settled in behind the counter.
“See you tomorrow.”
“See ya.”
The bus ride home was pretty boring except for one moment where Tessa thought she saw a horse trotting down the sidewalk.
When she got off the bus she looked down the street. No horse.
Alright. Huh. Tessa walked towards her apartment building which was about a block away. However, she got distracted when she saw something in the corner of her eye.
Someone in a full suit of armor was clanging down the opposite side of the street, running in the direction of the horse. “Stonecrusher! You blasted mare!”
They stopped running and doubled over. After a moment where Tessa was slightly worried about them, they took off their helmet, revealing a head of thick wavy blonde hair and a rugged face. The guy noticed Tessa on the other side of the street, watching him.
"Ah! Lad!" He started to cross the street, oblivious to a car coming towards him. It came to a stop in front of him. When the horn blasted, the blonde man jumped, his armor jangling. He nearly ran to Tessa on her side of the street.
"Lad," he said again. "Can you direct me to a stable? My horse has run away and I am without transportation."
"Um," Tessa said. "Are you role playing?" She had a nerdy brother who did this -put on armor and whacked his friends who also put on armor with big wooden swords. "Because I'm not." She started to walk down the sidewalk again.
The armored man followed her, each step metallically clunking into the concrete. "I need help," he said. "Become my squire and I will pay you three gold pieces per month. And be eternally grateful. You do know this strange land?"
Tessa blinked. "I'm not going to join your game," she said. "I had a long day. I'm going home." She started to walk away.
"Do you know who you are refusing?" he called after her, his voice bellowing. "Sir Halden, son of Sir Hallen, nephew of the king?"
Tessa held in laughter. She ignored him. She heard him start to clank away in the opposite direction. Even if he was annoying, she felt a little bad for the guy, having to walk through city streets in a heavy suit of armor.
He was lucky he had decided to bother her and not someone less tolerant in the neighborhood.
When she finally got up to her apartment and shut the door, she realized how exhausted she was. She made herself a microwave dinner and sat down in front of the TV.
The movie on was a swords and sorcery type full of wizards and heroic knights. When a court scene began with a jester in bright clothes singing for the king, Tessa was reminded of the weird drunk guy who had wandered into Geek4U earlier.
She stopped paying attention to the movie.
She had seen, within the space of a day, two characters straight out of a cheesy romantic fantasy.
That wasn't something that just happened once in a while. There wasn't a convention in town, was there?
Suddenly struck by the need to explain what had happened to her, she muted the movie and grabbed her laptop.
She searched “medieval conventions in the San Francisco area.” Nothing. She searched “conventions in the San Francisco area.” There were a few results, but all business and banking related. There wasn't a convention having anything to do with fantasy or medieval times for another four months.
But there had to be an explanation, right?
She recalled seeing a glimpse of a horse galloping down 3rd Ave, past trucks and commuters in dark jackets and faded plastic signs. Maybe she had honestly, truly seen that.
Maybe it was the aspirin she had taken earlier for her headache that morning? There was a chance it was laced with DMT or some more experimental hallucinogenic drug.
No, she told herself. The most likely explanation is usually the simplest one.
Thing was, she couldn't think of a simple explanation now that she knew there was no convention in town.

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