East (Chapter Two, page 2 of 19)


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He handed me a bronze goblet of wine. I sipped it, wanting water instead. No sooner had I swallowed than the urge to vomit hit me once more. Leaning precariously over the table, I had no time to thank the middle-aged man who caught me before I fell and instead, threw up again.

More black oily stuff. I stared at it, my thoughts moving slowly. It looked a lot like the inky blackness of …

Carter's pills.

Did I really survive his poor man's stasis? I had all my limbs, too. As far as I could tell, I wasn't missing any part of my body.

Carter was brilliant, though a bit on the psychotic side to kidnap people and send them back in time. I was more relieved about his genius than his actions at the moment and hoped there were no lingering side effects.

The middle-aged man lowered me to the table once more. "When you feel well enough to eat, I will feed you," he said and then stood. Motioning whoever lingered in the shadows closer, he spoke in an excited voice. "Tell our master she has awoken."

The servant or messenger or whoever left fast enough that the door slammed closed behind him.

"Can I ask … where I am?" I managed. My body didn't quite feel right yet, so I remained where I was on the table. I was wearing different clothes. These felt like well-woven cotton - soft and light. A nightgown maybe.

"Kharan, north of Baghdad by a fortnight and a week east of Baku and the Sea."

I really didn't know where that left me. One of the Stans, maybe?

"You are in the home of the only royal blood remaining after the barbarians destroyed the city of Baghdad," he added in a sadder voice. "We fled here and have been hiding for seventy years."

I was at least seventy years in the future, then. For a moment, I was frozen between horror at being completely vulnerable in a coma for seventy years and realizing if Carter got me this far, he was able to get me farther. I could wake up every seventy years until I hit my year and resume my life.

The realization made all the difference. My spirits lifted at the idea of seeing my home again.

"Moonbeam, do you wish food?" my caretaker asked.

This time, I almost laughed at the name. It was adorable, though I didn't think the Mongol who gave it to me meant it to be.

"Yes, I think so," I replied and pushed myself into a sit. The edges of the room were a little wobbly still, but the world was starting to feel more solid. I was in a simple dress with no sign of anything else around me, like my phone. "Was there anything with me when you … wait. Did you find me? Hide me in the basement for seventy years? How did I get here?"

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