Hesitantly she walked a few yards on the patch of grass where she’d landed. She was on an island, to her left she saw a low building looking like a sea-side café. There were benches and a few wooden tables. To her right was a flight of steps leading down to a paved walkway. She could hear the faint sound of waves in the distance and the cries of seagulls. The sky was deep blue and cloudless. Her movements were awkward, the way of actors in very old films before the digital magic of remastering. Looking at herself on the screen she laughed silently, thinking that her brother would not recognise this small creature with a funny hairdo and ridiculous clothes. Luckily there was no one nearby. Some distance away in the centre of the island she could see a few people, more like shadows. She wished Julien was here with her, to guide and protect her. Gathering her courage she decided to explore.
Julian was walking down Regent Street, his Shuffle firmly strapped to his jacket, inhaling the atmosphere of London on a spring morning. He came to the junction with Oxford Street as the flow of commuters, the early rush, was beginning to ebb. This was not his most favourite part of London, this probably was Bloomsbury rather than Oxford Street and Soho, but he had fond memories there already, an adopted Londoner of some ten years.
On the right he’d soon find the Apple store, one of his sinful places (another being the Black Market records shop behind Carnaby street), where he could long for being richer than he was, smarter and somehow younger too. An IT geek in his mid thirties his thoughts often drifted to the way technology had shaped his world and his life so far, since his beginnings as a young test engineer to his role now, as a mid rank technical manager, proud of his experience and abilities. He walked in the store, smiling at the smiling boys and girls welcoming visitors at the wide entrance…
One morning, as he was already at his desk (it must have been shortly after seven) he got a text message on his personal phone. It was from an unknown number. Julian would have deleted the unsolicited message but something stopped him: the text said I do want to meet you, you will not regret it. The number was a foreign mobile number, from a network Julian could not identify. But he never gave his personal mobile number other than to close friends. Who could have sent this?
Hesitantly she looked up towards the statue, the dark bronze of the goddess, dominating this corner of the island. Behind her she could hear the distant sound of waves. Now she forced herself to walk, her bare feet silent on the stones, smooth and ancient, polished by centuries of footsteps. On both sides of her stood statues and small temples. A torch was burning at the end of the path, below a portal. Steps led down to the beach.
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