The Last Warship

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - One

Submitted: May 15, 2019

Reads: 136

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Submitted: May 15, 2019

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The invitation-only reopening of the 31,000-square-foot fossil hall at the Smithsonian. After nearly five years of renovation, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton provided a fitting centepiece, alongside more than seven hundred specimens including dinosaurs, plants, animals, and insects, some never before displayed at the National Museum of Natural History. Reading from a brochure, I was informed that the exhibition depicted a journey through time of more than 3.7 billion years of life on Earth.

With the use of federal funds, together with a $35 million gift from David H. Koch, I had to admit I was impressed. However, making small-talk with other guest was not my thing. Speeches over, I was thinking of making a discreet departure, hoping my absence would not be noticed, when a tall clean-shaven man, in his late twenties, made a beeline towards me.

Oh, no. What have you done now Amanda? I asked myself. This is what happens when you wear an evening dress and high-heels.

“Well; hello there.”

His accent was a blending together of prestigious American and British English. Neither a native vernacular or regional American accent, it’s chief quality being that no Americans actually spoke it unless educated to do so.The accent was embraced especially by members of the Northeastern upper class. Is that who he was? I wondered.

“I’m Barry Goldberg, Deutsche Bank Wall Street, investment banker. Quite a show they’ve put on tonight. This place must have cost a small fortune.”

I nodded in agreement, not offering to shake the man’s proffered hand. I hoped he would get the message that his overtures were not welcome.

Undaunted, “And you are?” he prompted.

“Amanda Penfold, Bank of America, Hight Street, customer,” I responded pithily.

“Customer, heh? That’s hardly an occupation.”

“It is when daddy is a multimillionaire. I spend my days counting the accruing interest or planning my next vacation to Necker Island.”

“Necker Island? Really? You know Richard Branson?” His voice had taken on an earnest tone as if I were a person whose acquaintance should be cultivated.

“I once flew Virgin Atlantic, but that doesn’t make me a BFF with the airline’s founder.” I made a show of looking at my $10 watch purchased from Walmart. “Is that the time?” I asked rhetorically. “Listen, Barry. I must be going.”

Barry pulled up the left shelve of his dinner jacket, revealing a $6,00 Rolex. “So soon? The evening has hardly begun.” he persisted. And I’ve hardly got to know you.”

Now you’re getting it, I mused. “And that’s how I want it to stay. It’s been nice chatting. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” I picked up my clutch, which I expected to exchange for a rucksack in a day or two, and made to leave.

He touched my arm. “At least tell me what you really do for a living.”

“Why?” I replied.

“Because I find you attractive.”

“How does physical attraction relate to occupation?” I asked, wondering if a knee to the groin or my screaming would dampen his ardor.

Barry ignored the question. “Humor me, please.”

I caved. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the red bow-tie he wore with his white dinner jacket bucking the norm of other gentlemen present? “I’m a paleoanthropologist.”

His face contorted as he struggled to articulate a suitable reply. I put him out of his misery. You’re a big softy, at heart, Amanda. Do you know that? “I study the origins and predecessors of the present human species, using fossils and other remains. Satisfied?”

Obviously, Barry wasn’t because he asked, “Have you discovered anything interesting in your endeavors?”

Endeavors. Did he just say endeavors? Who uses a word like that in a sentence? Barry obviously. I had asked and answered my own question.

“Okay, wise-guy. You did ask.” I had to forcefully suppress the smirk itching to appear on my face. “Near a place called Wilsall, in Montana, I came across a Paleo-Indian, name of Saka’am.

“You name your fossil finds?” Barry’s eyes went wide.

“No," he told me.

“This twelve thousand-year-old man told you his mane was Saka’am?”

“Boy actually. About ten years old, I guessing. Walked right up behind me where I working on a burial site, sifting earth and gravel, looking for artifacts dating from the Clovis Culture.”

Barry scratched the back of his head, disturbing his slicked-back hair. “This dead boy spoke to you? Are you some sort of spiritualist?”

I laughed. “Nope. I was as surprised as anyone. The youth had walked through what I believe was a time portal.”

“Barry grabbed two glasses of champagne as a waiter passed. I thought he was going to offer me a drink but, no. He gulped down the contents of both flutes in quick succession. Fortified with alcohol he pursued his questioning. “Time portal? Like a time tunnel? As in the television series?”

“Sorry; not into sci-fi,” I responded, "but that’s the gist of it.”

“And you went through this time tunnel yourself?”

“Sure did. I met Saka’am’s parents and the rest of the tribe. With gestures and sign language, we got on like a house of fire. Saka’am means moon, don’t you know. Here.” I pulled out the stone that hung from a chain around my neck, that up until now had been concealed in my cleavage. “They gave me this. It’s a moonstone.”

Barry took a cursory look. “And you come back?”

“Obviously. I’m standing in front of you, aren’t I?”

“Did you ever return to the native village? Through the time tunnel, I mean.”

“I looked for the portal the next day but it wasn’t; there. Presumably, it had closed.”

“Have you told anyone else about your little adventure, apart from me?”

“No,” I said adamantly. “Who would believe me? ”

“I’d have thought you’d have brought back something from their culture. Pottery perhaps?”

“Which would have proved nothing. People would think they were fakes or reproductions. Carbon dating would not show the items had been around for twelve thousand years.”

“I see.” Barry stroked his jutting jaw. “Can I see you again?” he asked, impetuously. “Take you to dinner. perhaps?”

“Sorry. I have a previous engagement with a fossil. Nice chat though. ‘Bye.” I ducked under his arm and pressed my way though the crowd, leaving Barry wondering if I had been pulling his leg. notwithstanding All Fools Day had been and gone over two months ago.


© Copyright 2019 James G Riley. All rights reserved.

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