“Wait! Don’t touch that!”
I froze, my hand almost touching the paper in front of me. Had some strange cursive writing and would have almost read it if it wasn’t whipped away from me.
“Can’t say I blame you folks. I mean, who knows what kind of contamination this time stream would have.”
I looked to my left and saw this strange character in a white terry cloth robe. Great big hazel eyes and a porcine snort with tusks. Neon green tufts of hair all over the place.
He must have noticed my expression because he waved a meaty paw. “Don’t worry about me, it’s you I’m worried about.” His eyes narrowed into sharp daggers. “You didn’t read anything, did you?”
Brandon looked at the creature. “The hell are you?”
The creature looked at Brandon and grinned toothily. “Just your regular time traveler. Pay me no heed.” He looked down to the paper that he still has. “It’s this paper I’m worried more about.”
He started to fold it. “I mean, it’s from twenty-eighteen. I must have taken it when I was visiting the archives. I didn’t mean to. Theresa will be fuckin’ pissed.” He slipped the paper into his pocket and grasped the robe’s lapels. “So, I’m sure you already know who I am?”
“No,” I said. “Who are you?”
The boar’s smile melted into puzzled frown. “We haven’t met?” The five of us shook our heads. The expression deepened. “What year is this?”
“Two thousand twelve,” one of the other guys said.
“Yes yes,” the boar said testily. “The date?”
Another guy gave it. “October twenty-sixth.”
“FUCK!” the boar yelled out, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation. “Fucking hell! This explains so fucking much!” He began to stomp around the forest, kicking up clumps of assorted leaves from the ground. “I didn’t mean for this to be the first time I meet you! I mean…fuck!” He glared at Brandon. “That explains why you kicked me in the balls without warning!”
Brandon chuckled and folded his arms together. “What makes you think I’m not going to do that now?”
“Silence,” another guy said, waving at Brandon to quiet him down. He moved his gun to the back. “What exactly do you do, mister…”
“McMalen,” the boar said absently, digging out a pocket watch. “Alfred McMalen.” He froze, then kicked up another pile of leaves. “Shit!”
“Let me guess,” I said. “We knew your name that time?”
“Yes!” Alfred said. “I mean, I thought that I already met you a few times before. Now it turns out that this is…! Fuck!”
“Alright, alright,” the guy said. I think his name was Rob. “What do you do?”
“What don’t I do?” the boar said. “I travel the timelines, seeing the past and future, basically touring realities.”
“Oh like Doctor Who,” I said, grinning. “Where’s your Tardis?”
Alfred just looked at me, and then shook his head. “Another reality I guess,” he said.
“No, it’s a TV show,” I said.
“Oh…” he said, shrugging.
“Anyways,” Rob intruded, “if I may ask a question?”
“Shoot,” Alfred said.
“Why are you here?”
Alfred fiddled with the watch. “I was just touring the streams. Saw you guys, and thought I would visit.”
“And you thought this wasn’t going to be the first time…?”
“Well, I wasn’t expecting it. I mean, touring the realitorical realms is bad enough.” Alfred stuck his hands in the robe’s pockets and kicked up a few leaves. “I mean, I’ve seen realties that are so far from my own…”
“Wait,” Brandon said, “Your reality?”
He nodded. “Yeah. In mine, there was a huge plague around, mutating people into animals. Ergo this.” He gestured towards his body. “Then we began experiencing various talents.”
Alfred tented his hands under his chin. “If I remember rightly, there is, on this reality, a comic known as ‘X-Men’? Where most of the people there display powers beyond imagining?”
“Well, they weren’t that far from the truth.” He leaned back on a tree that, despite its sudden appearance, looked as if it was always there.
“In my reality, a good number of people went that way. Including me.” He grinned again. “My power is instinctual knowledge of time, space, and reality.”
“You shouldn’t have said that.”
We all looked at another Alfred that suddenly stood a yard away from the other. Only thing different was a missing tusk while the other one looked to be heavily cracked.
“What do you mean?” Alfred-One said.
“Just what I said.” the other said. “You just have fixed this plane of reality into solidarity.”
“No buts!” He went up to the original and waggled a finger in front of his face. “You know the rules!” Then he vanished into nothingness.
Alfred sighed and ran a hand over his head, ruffling the tufts. “I guess. I mean, I didn’t mean to, but then that explains why I kept on meeting you guys.” He eyed all of us.
“How many times have we’ve met?” I asked, but Rob lifted his hand in a ‘stop’ motion.
“I’d rather not know of that,” he said. “I think you should just leave.”
Alfred nodded and dug his hands into his pockets again, looking rather shamed. “Yeah, I guess I will.” He looked up and gazed at a spot behind us, his face going rather goggle-eyed. We turned around and saw nothing, only a few leaves falling down.
As if they were kicked.
“Or maybe I should stay with you guys for a while a bit longer,” Alfred said strangely.