This story follows on from previous tiny tales about Lauren, but can be read a a stand alone tale; after all, the people Lauren meets also have no idea what happened to her…
Nobody believed me, why would they, but I had no choice but to tell the truth. I could not just walk back into my life, not when I had brought back two people from the future.
Why me, an ordinary forty year old mother and teaching assistant? I suppose it could have happened to anyone who visited the Ladies at that busy London Wetherspoon, couldn’t find their way out and went through the wrong door into the future.
The end of the twenty first century is far from what I imagined. A perfect storm of situations led to a future that looked more like the past; humans had managed to save the planet, but not their civilisations.
I must not speculate or ramble; I am writing this letter to put down what little I do know in the hope that someone will take notice. I am sending this to experts, those with a voice in the world and the imagination to not dismiss me… King Charles, David Attenborough, the science chap that does that podcast… I just need one of you to answer my letter.
The two people I have brought back with me are an officer called Billings, who initially was most helpful and understanding, though she is still convinced I am the mythical figure Lauren of London. She is so traumatized from her experience of London in 2023 that I’m not sure she will be of much help. The man is called Doctor Chowdry and I think he is what passes for the top scientist among the Bunker People. Scraps of life from earlier decades escaped destruction and in oral tradition knowledge was passed down his family. He is certainly clever as he worked out how to get us back to 2023, though it took him a few weeks and he didn’t quite get the date right.
Thus it was that we arrived back in London on the day of King Charles’ coronation, eighteen days after I left, but in the right place. There were the three of us in the Ladies at Wetherspoon. Luckily a trio of chattering women barged in through a door so at least I could see the way out; I hustled my companions through it before the women noticed one of us was a bloke and we were all dressed strangely. I realised we were late when I saw a missing persons poster in the corridor…
Were you in this Wetherspoon on the evening of Tuesday 18th April 2023?
The flattering photo of me dressed up for the ‘do’ we went to in March looked nothing like the person I had just glimpsed in the mirror. I had exchanged my sackcloth for the bunker clothes the civilians wore in the bunker, but they were hardly flattering.
We had tried to plan how we would arrive inconspicuously, but the main problem was that I had lost my handbag during my narrow escape from the great cat attack. I had no money, no proof of identity and no way of getting home.
Upstairs in the restaurant it was daylight; the place was packed and in celebratory mood. I tried to slip us out quickly, but had time to see a chap reading a newspaper with the front page proclaiming Coronation Day. Outside were crowds of people, though I knew we could not be on the route of the royal procession. Police were everywhere, security I supposed as there were protestors. Then the full implication of my position hit me. My family must be distraught, perhaps thinking I was dead. How could I contact my husband, should I tell one of the police officers? No, they would think I was trouble of some sort, they were already arresting a protestor. I was overwhelmed with panic, but that was nothing compared with the terror I saw in the faces of my two companions.
A woman’s voice behind me spoke in a calming tone. I hung on tight to the others as they flinched at the sight of the uniform.
‘You look like you need help, or perhaps just a cup of tea, a day like this can be very overwhelming. We’re doing refreshments in the hall over there.’
The Salvation Army, hurrah, yes I did need a cup of tea and as they are used to not judging people, salvation was literally at hand. We did not look much stranger than the other people gathered round various tables and as we collected our tea I told the woman I needed help.
‘You help look for missing people and put people back in touch?’
‘Yes we certainly do.’
‘I need to get in contact with my husband.’
‘How long have you been away?’
‘Oh, that’s not long, are you able to go home or do you want a third party to speak to him?’
‘It’s complicated and I haven’t got a phone or any money so I think that would be a very good idea.’
So, good people reading this, that is how I was initially reunited with my family, who also don’t believe me. You will perhaps have heard about me on the news, but I plead with you to contact me personally and listen to the story the three of us have to tell.