This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 985 words.
When Emily opened the front door, Roger and Delia were both taken aback. She was now around eighteen years old, and dressed like many students of the time in a short denim dress and purple tights. Her hair was loose, and rested on her shoulders. Seeing their faces, the girl laughed. “I changed up to eighteen, to be ready for university. I think it’s a good look”.
Roger carried Delia’s cases from the car. She had packed enough clothes and essentials for the first couple of weeks in Edinburgh, and had a separate overnight bag ready for that evening. Emily was bubbly and cheerful. “Yamada has gone. He returned his car to the the hire company on his way to Heathrow, and will probably be arriving in California soon. He has sent a letter to the school telling them that we both had to return to America, so I will not be back next term”.
As Roger placed his car keys on the hall table, Emily nodded at them. Just leave your car here. It may be useful if anyone else comes to live here at some stage”. Then she turned to Delia. “My new name will be Anne Fraser. I have documents stating that I have been at school in America, but want to return to Scotland where I was born. You are going to have to get used to calling me Anne before we get to Edinburgh, and there are guardianship papers for you to sign later.”
She showed them into a room overlooking the lake, containing a large double bed. Next to the bed was a strange device, a metal box about the size of a small television, with what looked like a metallic crab on top of it. “This is the robotic device that will insert your implant. It will not be painful, but will take some getting used to. I will guide you through the process once it is in place. Then you can spend the night together here before going through the portal tomorrow. Shall we start?”
Delia had been expecting some kind of farewell party and some personal time together, so she was shocked that the procedure was going to happen immediately. She sat in a small armchair as Roger got onto the bed and Emily manouvered the machine into place. When she activated it, an orange glow surrounded it and one of the crab-like arms extended out to touch Roger’s head just below his right ear. There was a noise like a high-pressure spray, and Roger flinched. Emily reassured them both. “Just the anaesthetic”.
A second arm extended, holding a long needle something like a hypodermic. It slid smoothly into Roger’s head as Emily watched. “Stay very still, it will be over in seconds. The implant is no larger than a shirt button, so you will not feel it once it is in place”. There was a whirring sound, followed by an audible click, and the long needle withdrew back into the arm, then back inside the small robot. Emily leaned forward and attached what looked like a small sticking plaster over the tiny hole it had made. But it wasn’t the skin-coloured fabric they were familiar with, more like a metallic mesh. She seemed pleased. “There, it’s all over. Lie still for one hour, and try not to move your head at all”.
With that, she picked up the machine and left the room, smiling at them from the doorway. “I am just going to send this back”.
For the next hour, Delia chatted to Roger about anything and nothing, as he stayed still on the bed. Then Emily returned. “I need to speak to Roger now, Delia. There is food in the kitchen, and any refreshments you desire. Can I ask you to please leave us alone for a while? You will have all night to say your farewells”. Delia wasn’t hungry, but she went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea. Then she crept back to stand outside the room, hoping to be able to eavesdrop through the door. But the door and walls were too solid to be able to make out specific words, and all she could tell was that Emily was doing all the talking.
Emily came to find her in the living room after a couple of hours had passed. “Roger is sleeping now. You can go back to the room and spend the rest of his time here with him, but please try not to wake him up”.
It was a disturbed night for Delia, lying next to the man she loved. Despite what she had been asked she did try to rouse him, but he didn’t wake up. By the time dawn arrived on the thirty-first, she was aching all over, and had hardly slept. Emily arrived in the room, and Roger’s eyes opened immediately, as if a switch had been flicked. The girl looked down at him, and he smiled at her. “It’s time. Shall we go to the portal?” Roger nodded, and got up from the bed.
Feeling shaky, Delia held Emily’s hand as Roger stood in front of the cascading blue light. He turned and smiled once, before walking into the light and disappearing. Moments later, the blue light disappeared, and a blank wall was left in its place. Delia gasped. The girl put her arm around her, and spoke quietly. “It’s okay. The new portal in Scotland will be activated now, and this one will cease to exist”. Delia was trying not to cry as she asked the question.
“So Roger will be able to come back and see us in Edinburgh, then?” Emily shook her head.
“Oh that won’t be possible. Two of us cannot exist in the same time frame. Roger knew that, I told him earlier”. She released her arm.
“Come now, Delia. We have much to do”.