Short Story Fiction
The Travelers
Part One: First Contact

A hiker finds himself lost in the woods. As he searches for his way out he happens across the home base of a time traveler.

As Seth rummaged through the old trunk a sudden bright white light lit up the room. As it faded, a woman stood under the lantern. “Who the hell are you and what do you think you’re doing going through my stuff?” She asked.

The TravelersPavlofox/Pixabay

Seth’s steps were slow and methodical. The new trail he had discovered called for it. This was the type of trail he liked. Unused and overgrown. It was actually a game trail used by deer and other animals. He knew the trail would take him deep into the woods where no man had set foot before him. As far as Seth was concerned, it was hard to find anything that topped the adventure of hiking deep into the woods on a virgin trail.

The overhead canopy of fir boughs was thick. The tangle of dead lower limbs were heavy with moss. Even with clear skies and a bright noonday sun the dimmed light filtering through to the ground made it seem later than it was. The further Seth hiked the more he felt like he was in another world. He was loving the adventure of hiking in this new terrain.

The trail split in several places. Seth always kept to the right. “Less confusion that way,” he told himself.

At the two mile point the trail all but disappeared. Seth wasn’t about to give up. He kept walking expecting to pick it up again within a few yards. If it didn’t reappear soon he would turn around and head back. After about a hundred yards with no luck he decided it was time to turn around.

As he headed back he somehow became confused. He had made the mistake of not marking his way and now he was having trouble locating the trail he had left behind. His keen sense of direction told him he was heading in the right direction. He was surprised he wasn’t having much luck relocating the trail. He searched for what seemed like an hour. What he didn’t realize was that the more he searched the further he moved away from where he needed to be.

The fading light was beginning to make it hard for him to see so he stopped and sat on the trunk of a downed tree. It was time to admit to himself that he was lost. Now there were decisions to be made. The first thing he did was pull out his phone. He’d call his friend and let him know where he was and that he would be spending the night in the woods. Someone would need to come and find him.

He tried to make a call but there was no reception so deep into the trees. He could try to climb one and see if his reception was any better up high. It was too late in the day to give that a go. What he really needed to do was to find a place to bed down for the night and try to climb one in the morning.

As he sat scanning the forest in front of him he noticed something odd. Something out of place. His curiosity got the best of him so he got up and walked in its direction. Sure enough. His eyes were not deceiving him. There was something out of place. He couldn’t believe what he was looking at. It was an old tree house about twenty feet off the ground. The roof was covered with moss but it looked solid. There was a staircase leading up to it. Many of the treads were rotten or missing.

He thought it might be a good place to stay the night. A place off the ground would be perfect. Maybe from the higher vantage point he could spot the trail or possibly get enough reception to make a call. He decided to see if he could make his way up the rotting staircase. Hopefully what was left of the old treads would hold his weight.

He moved with caution as he picked out each step before he placed his foot. All went well until he misjudged one of the boards and it crumbled under his weight. A quick grab at what was left of the railing was all that saved him from a nasty fall.

He kept going and soon reached the door. There was no lock. He pulled a flashlight from his pack, opened the door and peeked in.

He was shocked. From what he could see in the dim light the room was surprisingly clean. It almost looked lived in. He entered the room. An old lantern hung from a rafter. He shook it and to his surprise there was still fuel in it. Seth pulled a match from his pocket, lit it and touched it to the wick. The lamp held a flame and lit up the room. Seth began to take a closer look around.

It was the strangest thing. There was no dust or cobwebs. A clean tablecloth draped a small table with two chairs. There was a pantry with newer canned goods and kitchen utensils. A comfortable looking bed sat against the far wall. It was made with new sheets and blankets. A wooden trunk sat at the foot of the bed. Seth opened it. It was full of clean clothes and some nice jewelry. It was obvious a woman had been here. Maybe she still was.

As Seth rummaged through the old trunk a sudden bright white light lit up the room. As it faded, a woman stood under the lantern. “Who the hell are you and what do you think you’re doing going through my stuff?” She asked.

Seth jumped back from the trunk. He was speechless. He didn’t know how to respond. “I… I don’t know. I didn’t think anyone lived here. Who are you?”

“I’m the one who lives here,” she replied with a bit of hostility in her voice.

“You live here? From the looks of those stairs up to this place I didn’t think anyone lived here. I scaled my way up and found this room. I didn’t know what to think.”

“ Well I do live here. I haven’t used those stairs in years. According to my calendar I’ve been here for over ten years.”

“You live here but you don’t use the stairs. You appeared out of nowhere. You have to look at a calendar to know how long you’ve been here? I’m confused. Please explain?” Asked Seth.

“I travel a lot and this is my home base. I built this tree house last year.”

“Wait a minute. Last year? You just said you’ve been here for ten years. This place has been here a lot longer than one year. So what is it, one year or ten years?” Seth waited for her reply.

“True. Today it’s been ten years. This is what it looks like ten years in the future.”

Seth questioned the woman again. “One year ago, ten years ago. You live here but you don’t use the stairs. You just show up out of nowhere. I’m really confused. You don’t lie worth a shit. You should try telling me the truth.”

The woman realized she wasn’t making much sense so she took a direct approach. “I live in the past and in the future. I live here then. I live here now and I’ll live here in ten years. Do you follow? ”

“No not really. You’re confusing me even more. You make it sound like you’re some sort of time traveler or something?” It was a sarcastic remark.

“You’re not as confused as you think you are,” she replied.

Seth sat in one of the chairs. He wasn’t sure if she was serious or crazy. He had heard of time travelers and had even seen some of those out of place photographs that show people in the early 1900’s carrying what look like cell phones. He wasn’t a believer and suspected the photo’s had been photoshoped. At the moment he wasn’t so sure.

(Continued Below)

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The Travelers Continued

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