What. The. Frizzle.
Astrid shook her head and stared at her surroundings.
The dormitory room was the same, but the furnishings were completely different and Margo was nowhere in sight. Astrid found herself sprawled across the only bed in the room, which was covered with a plaid blanket.
Opposite the bed, framed photos and documents covered the wall. Gingerly she stepped down from the bed, half-expecting the floor to vanish from beneath her feet. Surely this was some sort of optical illusion created by Margo to simulate a 1956 dorm room. Wasn’t it?
Her feet landed upon a solid floor, though her legs trembled as she walked closer to the framed documents.
A newspaper clipping with a picture of a smiling teen included the headline “Local Boy Earns Eagle Scout Award.” It was dated April 14, 1952.
She covered her mouth with her hand, blood pounding in her ears, and scanned the other items on the wall. They included a photo of proud parents and their son at his high school graduation, a photo of the Wilkins College football team, and several certificates for academic achievement.
She studied the photos and determined that number fifty-two on the football team was an older version of the young man in the graduation photo and the newspaper clipping.
“Okay, Margo. Very funny. Your attention to detail is outstanding. Really, you have outdone yourself this time. Now, please turn this off and let me get back to my homework.”
Her words echoed around the room. She held her breath, yearning to hear Margo’s laugh or to see her smiling face.
No. It wasn’t possible.
She examined the frames on the wall again. Richard “Dick” Johnson. Dick Johnson? No way. This had to be part of Margo’s prank.
Speaking more loudly than before, she called out, “You win, Margo. This is your best yet. Now, quit fooling around. I’m hungry.”
The door knob rattled and Astrid swiveled toward it, bracing for Margo’s triumphant entrance. She really had done an impressive job and deserved to be proud. Astrid smiled, happy for her friend’s success.
Rather than her bespectacled roommate, none other than Dick Johnson, in the flesh, entered the room and stopped short. His eyes grew large and a flush crept up his neck and over his entire face.
Astrid’s vision blurred and a cold sweat broke out on her forehead.
And then she fainted.
* * *
Astrid blinked as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
Phew. It was only a dream.
She sat up in bed, intending to get some coconut water from the fridge.
“Glad to see you’re feeling better.” A distinctly male voice halted her progress and she froze in place. A desk lamp provided a small amount of light. In the shadows she made out the face of Dick Johnson. Tentatively she touched his arm. He was real.
“Sorry about the dim light,” he said as he sat on the bed next to her, “but girls aren’t allowed in our dorm rooms and I didn’t want anyone to see you in here through the window.”
Astrid continued to stare. She was pretty sure her lips moved, but no sounds came out.
“Would you like a glass of water? There’s a drinking fountain down the hall. Stay right here.” He took off before she could stop him. Water did sound nice.
After he left she sat up further in the bed and looked around. This was the real deal. Margo’s app worked. She smiled, imaging her roommate’s elation at realizing the app had, in fact, successfully transported her back to 1956.
Rubbing her hands over her face, she got her bearings. Although this was her first time travel experience, instinctively she knew she ought to have as little contact with Dick Johnson, and any other inhabitants of 1956, as possible. Tip-toeing to the door, she peeked into the hallway. The dorm really hadn’t changed a whole lot in the last sixty years, even if the residents had. Having spent many nights sneaking around to play tricks on her friends, she knew the path well. She crept down the hall to the staircase and slipped out the side door into the night.
She filled her lungs with the cool night air and took stock of her situation.
Assuming the app worked correctly, she had been transported sixty years into the past. Why hadn’t she brought along a sweatshirt? It was cold outside.
Because she never expected the stupid thing to work at all, that’s why. Who would?
Holy crap. This escapade made the drone flying into the library window seem like a picnic.
She sat down on a bench and looked around. In many ways, the campus was the same. The buildings were familiar, but much newer. After a few minutes, she put her finger on the most dramatic difference—it was so quiet. No students were outside. The dorms were mostly dark except for a lamp here and there, but no televisions or music were playing.
The headlights of a single car came down the road in her direction. Campus security. She dove under the bench and held her breath until the car moved on by.
“There you are.” A strong hand clamped around her upper arm and tugged her out from under the bench and into a standing position.
“Let go of me.” Astrid jerked out of his grasp and glared up into the angry face of Dick Johnson.
“I was worried about you,” he said, raking his hand through his very short hair. “Though I don’t know why. You could have gotten me into some real hot water, showing up in my room like that.”
“That’s why I left. I thought you’d be glad I was gone. So, why are you chasing me now?” Tired, frustrated and just plain pissed off, Astrid faced him, hands on hips.
“Because I am a gentleman. And a gentleman always looks out for a lady in distress. And you seem to be in distress.” His tone softened and so did his demeanor.
Astrid lowered her hands from her hips and looked into his face. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ve just had a rather difficult day. Thank you for your concern, but I will be fine.” She turned to walk away.
“Where are you going?” He touched her shoulder. “Do you have a place to stay?”
“Of course I do,” she said, hoping she sounded convincing.
“You don’t look like anyone from around here.”
No, I bet I don’t. Thinking quickly, if not too wisely, Astrid gave the first explanation that came to mind. “I-I’m an exchange student. From Canada...Eh.”
“Oh,” Dick nodded as though it all made perfect sense to him. “Well, can I walk you to your dorm? You really shouldn’t be out alone at night.”
Astrid smiled for the first time since her arrival in this alternate universe. “That’s very sweet of you, but I will be fine. Thank you. And good night.” She turned and resolutely walked away from him.
He didn’t follow. She wondered why that made her sad.
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