- Title: Ghosts Alive
- Subtitle: Time Travel Transgender Romance
- Author: Yu Sakurazawa
- Category: SF, Time Travel, MTF & FTM Transgender
We are in 2030. Time travel has been made possible and become a luxurious way of tourism. The tickets cost a fortune, but temptation is so strong, that some people are willing to sacrifice all their money and belongings to buy a ticket, even if it’s one way. For those who make the jump anyway, there’s no return to their time.
The trick of future travel: it’s not your body that travels to the future, but only your psyche and you wake up in a “clean body”, in a host on the other side. Time travel industry made the experience even more exotic: the host is always a body of the opposite gender.
Lindsay and Rob have been married for seven years now, they are both in their early thirties. Their willpower and values have been in jeopardy since their son, Hadrian went missing a year ago. They have done everything in their power to find him, but no results. The couple struggles to stay sane, both of them are afraid to accept the fact: their son is most probably dead. Rob is constantly suffering from the endless doubts and guilt. Eventually he cannot cope with guilt and grief, and decides to “jump”. Lindsay is left behind, and she has to make a choice, how far she would go to keep her darling in her life.
Kiss of the Green Demon
The cincadas sang their mating song in the humid, morning heat. Myriad wings rubbed against each other, the excited clicking filled the air in a disharmonic chorus.
Lindsay woke up with a pounding head, dry lips and strong nauseas in a slowly spinning room. Her hand was groping for the familiar, strong body next to her, but only the cool bedsheet’s wrinkled bumps were on the other side of the bed.
Where is Rob? Her eyes opened in a narrow streak just to close again from the stabbing rays of sunshine. I’m so fed up with these dog days of summer . . . A memory flashed threw her mind: cold tiny feet crawling under the blanket and Hadrian’s skinny figure slightly presses her side. She sighed and rolled to the matrass’s edge to search for a bottle of water. Only an empty wine bottle tottered and fell on the side with a loud clink.
“Could you get me some water, honey?”
No answer. Where is this man?, Lindsay had no recollection of the alarm going off. She climbed out from the bed with grumpy groans and put on her wedding ring. The hour hand barely passed seven. It’s way too early for him to go to work, but she shooed the worries away and kept dreaming about ham and toast with olives and tomatoes. Fresh orange juice. Ice cold peppermint tea. A strong coffee. Until the cabinet’s open doors caught her eyes with yawning emptiness inside. The treasure trove of ancient jewels, Rob’s most beloved piece of his collection was gone.
“Where are the antiques?”
Her first thought was: robbery.
She ran to Hadrian’s room. It was untouched, the curtains closed, toys piled up in the corner, Sleeping Monkey, her son’s favorite doll was laid on the bed.
The desperate longing after Hadrian kicked her on the chest with elemental power, but she reminded herself why she came in here; to check their saved up money in a pink porcelain pig. Its tummy was empty, its porcelain eyes looked at her with a blank, innocent stare.
The door was locked. No scratches by the lock from outside or from within. All the windows were open to let in the morning breeze, but the safety bars were closed.
* * *
“Let’s calm down!” She fixed a strong espresso for herself and drank it with small sips, enjoying the strong scent and the bitter aroma. It helped on her growling stomach. She replayed yesterday’s event in her mind.
Kebab dinner for two at the bistro by the corner. Rob was stressed, as he always has been on the anniversaries. He ordered two absinths, for the two years since Hadrian went missing. He shouted at the waitress: “Light them up, bitch, let’s celebrate!” The waitress knew our story, as everyone in town. She let the insult go. “Blow the candles, babe!” He pointed at the flames on the absinths’ surface. I blew them. We both cried and drank some more. All we wanted was to forget.
Only hazy memories were left what happened afterwards. The bread jumped out from the toaster, half-burnt. Lindsay didn’t mind the smell. She focused on the fragmented memories that remained after the destruction of the countless absinth shots, kisses of the green demon.
Rob throws up by the rose bushes. He tears off my panties by the gate. I stumble on the stairs. We have wild, animalistic sex in the moonlight, smudging our tears all over our bodies. Rob is leaning over the balcony, crying out for Hadrian, “My sweet little son, my sweet son”, he wants to jump . . .
Lindsay kicked the chair behind and ran to the balcony. Her heart was pounding from the fright and cold shivers of relief ran through her. Only a lazy, obese Mediterranean cat punched a half-dead mouse with its paws by the gate. There was no sign of Rob down there.
She called his office on the vidphone. The secretary answered on the other end, munching a chocolate truffle.
“Mmm, hey, Lindsay, what’s up?”
“Hello, Chloe! Is Rob there?”
The secretary swallowed the last bite.
“Didn’t he tell you? He quit yesterday.”
Lindsay froze from the surprise. “No, he didn’t.”
“He took his last check and left around two. He left these truffles here for me as a goodbye present.”
Lindsay’s hand started to shake from clashing thoughts.
“Thanks, Chloe.” She ended the call, the screen went dark.
* * *
Lindsay spent the day with calling Rob’s mother, Hadrian’s godparents. Their closest friends. Nobody seemed to know a thing. Suzy, Lindsay’s best friend asked quietly: “Do you think he . . . did something stupid?”
Lindsay shook her head. “Don’t even go there, he wouldn’t kill himself.”
“But then, where is he? Do you think he left somewhere?”
A flyer caught Lindsay’s eyes on the kitchen table:
TIRED OF LIFE?
BORED WITH THE WORLD AROUND?
Said the ad of Time Tours, a tourist office specialized on over-prized time travel trips. A dim light of realization lit up in Lindsay.
“I think . . . he jumped.”
“You mean . . . to the future?” Suzy asked surprised.
“But that costs a fortune.”
“He took his antiques and our saved up money. He quit yesterday and cashed in his last payment check. For what else could he spend so much money on?”
“Do you think he left for a vacation? Then he can be back at any time.”
Lindsay massaged her throbbing temples.
“It was the second years anniversary of Hadrian’s missing. He was extremely depressed.”
“Hang in there, Lindsay! Let’s hope he just needed some air,” Suzy said in an uncertain tone, avoiding eye contact.
They ended the call and Lindsay was left alone with her troubling thoughts again.
Rob was spiraling into depression slowly. His mood swings became more frequent. He kept saying that he doesn’t want to be himself anymore. But he wouldn’t do it! He wouldn’t kill himself.
But would he leave me behind just so he can run away? After seven years of marriage, after losing our kid?
She hugged her knees on the sofa and her eyes wandered on their picture: Rob held the sandy-blond, four years old Hadrian in his arms, Lindsay hooked on Rob on his side with a wide smile. Rob’s huge, wondrous green eyes were shining from happiness.
Tears kept flowing from Lindsay’s face, like and enraged, tropic river during rainy season.
Can he be so cruel, so selfish to leave without saying goodbye even? Could he label our love as a collateral damage and start a new life somewhere? Maybe he doesn’t love me anymore . . . But still, he fucking owe me an explanation!
Pillows banged on the wall one by one. A vase and the vidphone followed, falling into pieces on the floor. She screamed and screamed some more. When her throat dried out, she stopped as a robot running low on battery. Only the annoying cincada chorus accompanied Lindsay.
The hour hand left three p.m.
What if he’s injured? Lost and desperate? What if he needs me?
She looked into the mirror. Her waist-long, raven black hair stuck to her face in tangled curls, and dark, wrinkled bags sat under her swollen eyelids.
I have to find the bastard! She thought and sank the Time Tours flyer to her purse.
Until Time Do Us Apart
It was a twenty minute walk through narrow streets of cobblestones and tangled water canals until the city center. Lindsay made it in ten, her worries speeding her ahead. She fought her way through the begging pigeons, ice cream minefields, cigarette butts, and chattering tourists.
The Time Tours office building was twenty five meter tall sphere of steel and glass in the middle of the main square, impressive to tourists and locals alike. Its stainless steel structure dominated the area’s architectural layout.
Lindsay was still trying to make sense of Rob’s actions when a filthy hand grabbed her arm. A hunchbacked, grey bearded man stood next to her.
“Don’t go in there! It’s against God’s will!”
“If it was against God’s will, it wouldn’t be here.”
“Nothing good awaits you there, only volatile dreams and wicked torture.”
Lindsay peeled off his hooked fingers from her arm and looked into the old man’s clouded, grey eyes, blind and mad. She saw her own blurry reflection in them. A carton board hanged on his neck with shaky pen calligraphy sign saying: predictions – one dollar.
“I’ll take my chances,” she said, and entered the building.
She hadn’t been in Time Tours before, only heard the legends of this luxurious way of conquering time. She wasn’t a big enthusiast of time travel, but Rob had always been fascinated by the concept, the endless possibilities that might wait on the other side of the portal.
The tourist officer sat behind a huge, coffin-sized table. Her alienesque, pale figure was surrounded by dozens of screens like a fly’s compound eye. Those were all glimpses of the future; different times, different places that were considered myths until time travel was invented and the tourism industry expropriated it.
The tourist officer lady shook her pearl-friseur, the pearls crashing with hundreds of thuds.
“Welcome to Time Tours! How can I be at your service?”
“Nice hair-do,” Lindsay said just to gain extra-time until she came up with words she really wanted to say.
“Thank you! I was in 2145, pearl-wig is the new fashion craze then. What era are you interested in?”
“The same as my husband.”
The officer wrinkled her blue, tattooed eyebrows.
“Could you be more specific please?”
“No. I was expecting you could tell me where he went.”
“I’m afraid I’m not allowed to share any clients’ information with a third party. Chosen destinations are strictly confidential.”
“I see, but you know . . . it’s a life or death question. My husband might be in danger. We’ve recently lost our son, and . . .”
“No, no, he’s not dead, he’s just lost . . . but my husband is the only one I have left, and you have to understand that . . .”
The officer lady was moving restlessly, her manicured nails bending a dog-ear on her notebook and managing to maintain her professional poker face. Her tone was neutral and emotionless. “Ma’am, believe me, I understand the difficulty of your situation, but please understand mine: I cannot give out any clientele information, violating our policy could cost my job.” Her eyes kept wandering to the surveillance cameras blinking red spot. Lindsay realized the officer lady won’t do anything while she was monitored.
“Do you smoke?” Lindsay asked.
“I’m not allowed to share private information.”
“Do you have a pet?”
“I’m not allowed to share private information.”
“You are like a fucking android . . .” she said and looked at the officer’s inexpressive face. Is this chick really a robot or something?
“Ma’am, please address your questions about our service or leave the building.”
“Okay. What do I have to do to ascertain my husband’s destination?”
“Ask your husband.”
Lindsay groaned from frustration and fading curses encompassed her slim figure. The automatic door slid behind her with a hiss.
We are not done yet, bitch, she thought, and leaned against the glass sphere’s cool, metal wall, shut her eyes and lit her last cigarette. The first puff eased her tightened muscles. The second puff calmed her pulsating temples. The third puff calmed her stirred emotions, and she felt an insecure tap on her shoulder.
“Do you have a lighter?”
The officer lady stood next to her, a head taller than Lindsay, wearing sunglasses, her skin dead-pale by natural light. She bent over the flame and the tip of her slim, pink cigarette lit up with a sweet caramel scent that Lindsay found irritating. The woman inhaled and exhaled casually, as if they’ve just met on a sunny afternoon at a park.
“I know you,” the officer lady said.
Lindsay turned to her with widened eyes, but she couldn’t read the officer lady’s neutral face, the sunglasses hid her ice cold eyes. “You were on the news back then. Your husband lost your kid in the adventure park. Hadrian, right? It’s a very unique name.”
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