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The Beginning

My name is Max and I was born in England, in 1980. Having joined Siemens straight from school, I spent the next fourteen years working in one of their electronics research departments.

My life was uneventful until 2012, when I chose to holiday alone, in the Highlands of Scotland.

I was sitting on a hillside in the Trossachs, watching the sun go down. Beneath me, Loch McCarrup grew black as the last glow of evening settled over the mountains opposite, when suddenly the sky above me was lit by a blinding flash.

A few seconds later, there was a whump – and I saw what appeared to be a small explosion crater the ground, a few hundred yards from where I sat. A second later, a sound like a whip-crack split the silence.

It took me another few seconds to take in what had just happened. I had witnessed the arrival to this planet – of a meteorite.

Excited, I slowly approached the small crater. It was empty. But recalling a documentary I had seen on such visitations, I began to dig into the earth at the bottom.

My unprotected hands were beginning to hurt and I was thinking about giving up, when I felt something sharp and solid. A few moments later and I was cradling a small piece of matter from outside of this world.

Wiping the dirt from it, I discovered it was unlike any meteorite I had seen on TV. Its corners were regular.

But it was definitely solid, so I would learn little more that night. Thus I put the object in my pocket and returned to the small camper-van I was touring in.

That night, I had a vivid dream – or so I thought.

In it, I found myself in the bedroom of a stately home. A man was getting ready for bed. He spun around, alarmed, as I asked him where I was. “You are in my bedroom,” he replied, angrily. “How the hell did you get in here?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “Who are you?”

“I am His Royal Highness, King Edward the Eighth – of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas. Who the hell are you?

“I-I’m sorry. Er… I’m Max.”

“Well Max, I don’t know how you arrived, but you’re leaving by armed guard…” He took a breath to summon help, so I panicked and leapt on him. He was not best pleased.

“Look sir, I promise you I’m not a terrorist… and I mean you no harm. I’m as confused as you are, by my appearance here. One minute I’m asleep in Scotland – the next I’m here in… excuse me for asking, but what’s the date?”

His face suffused with colour. “Are you mad? Did you break into my chambers just to find out the date?

“No sir… look, please bear with me.”

“It’s – it’s March the sixth, I think.”

“What year?”

“Nineteen thirty-six. And if you want to see nineteen thirty-seven – bloody get off me,” he shouted.

I quickly stood up. “Begging your pardon sir, but where I’ve just come from… it’s twenty twelve.”

“You are mad. Alright – who is King of England in… twenty twelve?”

“Er – well, actually, she’s Queen Elizabeth the Second.”

“Bertie’s child? Don’t be ridiculous.”

“It’s true, sir. Erm… King George takes over from you when you abdicate.”

Abdicate?” he roared. “Why in hell would I do that?”

“Wallis Simpson.”

All of a sudden, he quietened. “No-one knows about that.”

“I’m afraid in twenty twelve, it’s a matter of public record. I saw a documentary on it just a few weeks ago, on the History Channel.”

“The what?

“Er… it’s a television channel.”

“What, like that BBC thing?”

“Yes. Except that by twenty twelve, there are hundreds of television services – all in colour, on big screens. And in stereo.”

“What’s ster… never mind. If what you say is true – show me some money.”

Now it was my turn to be puzzled. “Money, sir?” Then I realised he was smarter than I had thought.

I opened my wallet and gave him several notes and coins. The coins were dated and both notes and coins bore the face of – Queen Elizabeth the Second.

He visibly deflated.

After several seconds, he waved me to a chair. As I settled back in the sumptuous leather, I reflected that it was good to be the King.

He walked over to a drinks cabinet and poured two large cognacs, from a decanter with a silver label on a chain.

I understood that until he had seen my 2012 money, he had just been humouring a man he thought was a nutcase – but the currency was a game-changer. To have designed, manufactured and even distressed it, in 1936, would have been next to impossible.

He gave me one of the glasses and sat down on the bed, facing me. “I have a lot of questions for you,” he said, slowly.

We talked of many things – chiefly the then-current situation in Europe.

I told him that the TV documentary I had seen had theorised his abdication had less to do with his relationship with Ms Simpson than his connections to Germany. And that it had been forced upon him by his government.

He snorted at that – but I could see there was some truth in the matter.

Then he said something that made the hair on the back of my head stand up. “Hitler’s not such a bad chap, once you get to know him.”

At which point, I told him about the Holocaust.

After that, the man grew silent. And shortly afterwards, the cognac swept me away…