Bossman’s house, Urgaon told me, was in the center of the city. Urgaon led me to the train station, which, fortunately, was not too far away. My knees were beginning to hurt, as were my palms. As we got to the train station, I began to get nervous. What would Bossman say to me? What was so bad about me being from Nevada? Was I going to have to go to jail, or, rather, that place Urgaon called “Timeout”? What would happen to me?
When we got to the train station, all those worries went away and a new one presented itself. The train station was crowded, so crowded that I couldn’t even see the people’s feet. I began to instantly feel claustrophobic, but then the train came. The train was no ordinary train. It was long; it had to have at least a hundred cars. I had seen them flying by, but as we started off, I had no idea it was so fast. It seemed like we were going the speed of sound, but I didn’t hear any supersonic boom. Within a minute, we were at the next stop, and Urgaon was ushering me off the train.
We walked in silence to Bossman’s house. Urgaon had left his dog with a friend (evidently, pets were allowed neither in the train nor at Bossman’s house), so we were unimpeded. As we approached Bossman’s house, the houses that I saw began to get bigger and bigger. Then I saw the largest house I had ever seen before. To me, it looked the size of a shopping mall!
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “That’s the biggest house I’ve ever seen!”
“Pff,” Urgaon grunted, passing this statement off with a wave of his hand. “This is nothing. The mayor’s house is even larger, and the governor’s is even larger. The president’s house is the largest.”
“Oh, you have a president too?” I asked.
“Oh yes. We have for hundreds of years,” Urgaon said, matter-of-factly.
“So where exactly am I?” I asked.
“That is not my job to say, that is Bossman’s. He will tell you when we see him.” As we entered Bossman’s super-mansion, I groaned inwardly. Why did I have to wait to be told everything? Was I some dangerous criminal or something? All I wanted to do was to go home.
We entered, and a porter lead us to an uncomfortably stuffy sitting room. All there was to sit on were hard wooden benches with no backs. The porter said Bossman would be out in a few minutes.
We had waited for almost an hour when Bossman arrived. He was a big man with a bald head and a thin white mustache. He was puffing a huge cigar and in every other respect, he looked like the exact image of a stereotypical multimillionaire. Urgaon rose and took a deep bow, and I struggled to do the same.
“So,” Bossman drawled in a thick Yankee accent. “Who is this, Urgaon?”
“I am Ralfo, sir,” I replied for myself.
“Silence!” boomed Bossman. “You will not speak unless directly addressed. Do you want to be put in Timeout?”
“N-N-No,” I stammered.
“Then do not interrupt,” Bossman commanded. “I was talking to Urgaon, not to you. Now, Urgaon, who have you brought to me today?”
“This is Ralfo, sir,” Urgaon replied. “He fell down today in Kilupi Square. He claims he is from far away.”
“Does he now?” Bossman said curiously. “So Ralfo, how did you come here?”
“I was doing an experiment with this element I had discovered,” I began, “when suddenly I was zapped. I came through a portal and landed here. I do not know where I am.”
“So Ralfo, where exactly are you from?” inquired Bossman.
“Nevada,” I replied.
Bossman turned a pale shade of white. “You say you are from – gulp – Nevada?”
“Oh no, oh no, oh no,” he exclaimed, beginning to pace around the small room. “Oh my. What have we gotten ourselves into?”
“Well,” I interrupted heatedly, “will someone tell me where I am? The suspense is killing me.”
“As you wish,” Bossman said, stopping his pacing. “I will tell you, even though this may surprise you. You are currently in the Democratic Empire of Washington, DEW for short. Nevada, however, is no longer inhabited.”
“Do what?” I exclaimed. “What happened to it then? I only left it a few minutes ago. Will someone tell me what is going on?”
“Well, there was this war-” Bossman began.
“A war?” I interrupted. “There is no war.”
“There was several years ago,” Bossman stated. “It is now commonly known as World War Five.”
I turned green. “W-World War Five?” I gasped.
“That’s right,” Bossman said.
I gulped. “Um, er, can you be so kind as to tell me what year it is?”
“Certainly,” Bossman grinned. “The year is 2198.”
I must have fainted then, for the next thing I remembered was being shaken awake. I hoped I was in my bed being shaken awake by my wife after some awful nightmare, but to my dismay it was only Urgaon.
“Are you alright?” he asked impatiently.
“I-I don’t know yet,” I stammered. “I’m sorry. Your words just shocked me. Is it true that it is the year 2198?”
“Indeed it is,” Urgaon reassured me. “Today is April 15, 2198.”
“Oh my,” I gasped. “Wow! How-?” I was suddenly speechless.
“What’s troubling you, man?” asked Urgaon, raising me to my feet. Bossman looked at me inquisitively.
“Well, if you must know,” I said. “I am from the year 2046. Today is my birthday.”
The two men looked at me in disbelief. Bossman was the first to speak. “So that is where you are from. That makes your claims to be from Nevada legitimate. No wonder your actions were so odd. So you’re a real time-traveller, eh?”
“No, this is my first time,” I replied.
“Did you know we have been sending people back in time too?” Bossman asked. “There is this one element called Juvlenium that can send people back in time. Is that what you used?”
“Yes,” I said.
“But so far, we can only send people back, no one has gone forward. Nobody has returned. Everyone is afraid to touch Juvlenium, and being forced to handle it is like a death sentence. But now I see there is a way back. How did you do it?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“What did you do to get back here!” Bossman yelled furiously. “Tell me now! We’ll become rich together!”
“I can’t tell you,” I replied. “I told you, it was an accident. It would be impossible to tell you; I don’t know myself.”
“Hmph,” Bossman grunted.
“All I want to do now is get back to Nevada. Can you tell me how?” I asked.
“You can’t get to Nevada; it’s gone,” Bossman said calmly. “It was blown into oblivion when the Massertists invaded in World War Five. That was twenty years ago, but the area is still hazardous to humans.”
“Who were the Massertists?” I inquired.
“Never mind about that now,” Bossman said. “You can learn about it later. If you’re really from 2046, then you have a lot of history to catch up on. You’ll have to learn how we became the DEW, why no one can live in South America, when we put colonies on the moon, Mars, and Jupiter, all 76 presidents we’ve had and the 123 states of the DEW.”
“123 states!” I exclaimed.
“That’s right,” Bossman replied. “But now, I think we should see the governor. He will – wait, did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” I asked. “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Oh no!” Urgaon screamed. “It’s the Massertists again! It’ll be World War Six now! Run!”
We ran for our lives, but it was too late. A large explosion surrounded us and we were blasted from our feet. Electrical pulses flew through my body and once again, darkness enveloped my world.