There was a time in my life when having fun involved making a full bottle into an empty one; though in truth, at the worst of it, it was rarely just the one bottle. Tonight, it was the other way round. I was just about to settle down with my notes for chapter 10, so I thought a glass of rum would go well with that endeavour.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten I drank the last drop the night before and had meant to replace it. It was not so late in the evening, so I thought that there were advantages to working in a tavern and went across, intending only to acquire a bottle and return to my scrivening. It was not meant to be, at least, not for a while.
I found the bar quite busy. Well, busy for a late evening in the Lucky Leaf. Meridiana was there, resting at the end of the bar. There was a large rabbit, standing upright at the bar, wearing strange clothes and an odd-looking visor. And, there were two children, ragamuffins with their belongings in a cloth on the end of a stick. Quite normal really, save for the long tails and the vaguely rodent-like faces. They seemed harmless enough, if looking tired and hungry. I greeted them, but they did not seem to understand, speaking some strange language I did not recognise between them. Meridiana commented on this and said they did seem to know the word fish.
The rabbit spoke, hardly surprising to me any more, being apparently confused that we still drink ale. She asked what was on the menu, saying her ayvee goggles were fried. I do not know quite what this meant, but I gave her a run-down on the menu. Meanwhile, Meridiana wanted to redeem her coin. I checked the ledger and gave her the total. She paid it twice over, asking if she could continue the arrangement. I thanked her and so noted in the ledger. I did comment on the apparent age of the coin, but she didn’t respond.
The rabbit seemed distressed by the fact that we use coins still. It is not uncommon for new arrivals to be worried, as they often turn up without midari, just as I had. I told her that I was prepared to offer credit, preferably against some security if she had any. She then produced a strange style of business card with the name of some financial institution and a small square of what looked like gold. It was made of some strange substance not a little unlike celluloid. I gave it back saying I had no idea what it was for, but that I didn’t think it was of any use. Meridiana offered to cover the rabbit’s drinks and meal tab and offered the use of her room. Something in her manner reminded me of Brigitte in predatory mood and I began to wonder. I also could not help thinking that she seemed somehow familiar.
Meanwhile, the children seemed intent on curling up under the table and sleeping. Meridiana worried about their safety, given the events of the previous night, but I assured her that it was probably a full moon thing and unlikely to happen again. I did suggest that they move to the poker room where they might be more comfortable, but they didn’t seem to understand. I felt sorry for them, so I went to the kitchen and made up a light supper of bread, cheese and fruit and brought it down for them. They had a little go at it, but seemed more inclined to sleep.
The rabbit asked for a margarita. I had no idea what this was, and neither did Meridiana, although the word sounded Spanish. We managed to determine that it was a kind of cocktail, so I asked what was in it. She wasn’t sure, but knew that tequila was one ingredient. I managed to find a bottle of that on the shelf and poured her a measure. I don’t know where this drink comes from, but it smelled rather odd. I tasted it and was not impressed. It was strong, as strong as rum, but the flavour was not at all to my liking. I was prepared to admit that it might work as an ingredient, but not as a drink on its own. The rabbit seemed slightly bemused by the way that I served it, but drank it anyway.
Meridiana introduced herself, with all sorts of titles that she had not admitted when she booked in. I gave her a doubtful look, which she ignored. She seemed quite intent on the rabbit, who introduced herself as Rinni. The more I watched, the more Meridiana reminded me of Brigitte. I could see no polite way of warning Rinni, but then, it was hardly any of my business, provided Meridiana didn’t do anything overly aggressive. So far, her only intent seemed to be to get the rabbit drunk on this tequila and kept insisting I keep her filled up.
Lalla came in for a while. She looked like she had been for a walk, and asked what people do for fun here. Rinni said that she liked to go to raves, which conjured up images of some event with lots of people shouting about stuff. Lalla seemed to recognise the word though and decried raves as “so 90s” – presumably her 1990s, not my 1890s – and that she preferred hard rock. She has clearly never been in a ship that has struck one. At this point, her face fell and she indicated that Adam had turned up. I could not see anything, nor smell the cream odour she had mentioned, but I did mime a small punch in his direction, which amused her for a moment. She spoke of dancing and getting carried away with the music. I mentioned the old man who used to come and rant and rave outside the taverns where I used to drink as a student, but I guess, from her and Rinni’s reaction, that this is some meaning of the word rave that involves dancing and no policemen.
Rinni said that raves made a comeback in her time, which turned out to be 2070. This rather alarmed Meridiana, who I suspect is from an era a few hundred years before my own. I passed her a bottle of port and a glass in case she needed a drink. Lalla did not seem overly worried by this, but did ask if the earth still existed. Apparently, there was some prophecy or other that suggested the world would end in December of 2012. I don’t remember anything like that from the writings of Nostradamus, but then, I have not read extensively on the subject.
Rinni said that no, the world hadn’t ended in 2012, but that there had been the big ghost dance. This, apparently, was not something to do with raves, but a big spell to wipe out the military. That seemed an odd thing to do, even for the most ardent pacifist. Whatever it was, it seemed beyond Lalla’s experience, so I guess it happened after she left her home. She seemed a little bored now, perhaps by the lack of music and headed back to the flat, there to shower and finish mending.
I told Rinni the period I came from and Lalla’s period. She seemed very sceptical, accusing me of being a time traveller. I told her that I was not and explained my theory that we were outside time, and how people had arrived here from different times. I even showed her the newspaper clipping of my wedding. She was still not convinced. I told her how I had come to be here. She told her story, which was minimal, being only that she had been in the city and found herself by the river. Even Meridiana chipped in with her story of being on a voyage to India. Rinni was still not convinced, but said that perhaps it was some kind of magic and that this was some kind of astral realm. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but suggested it was as good an explanation as any.
Meridiana got bored and disappeared off to her room with the port. I explained to Rinni about earning currency from fishing etc and told her she could still stay the night if she wanted. She was tired, so I directed her to a room. With the bar being once again deserted, I locked up the cash box, retrieved my bottle or rum and headed back to the flat, there to resume my musings on Edmund’s next adventure.