Rome, December 5th, 1941
“When did you know you were lost?” he asked.
“Well, actually about a half an hour ago…I realized that everyone looked sort of strange and I didn’t understand the language and … ” her voice drifted off as she looked at the policeman in an evident state of confusion.
The policeman asked her to sit down.
“Why don’t we start with your name, signorina.” he looked at her carefully, she’d said she didn’t understand the language, but she’d spoken to him in Italian.
“Wilma Cummings,” she replied, again in Italian “My name is Wilma Cummings. And you officer, what is your name?”
“Mario Velasco.” he informed her. There was something a little strange about her, both in her phrasing as well as in her appearance, she looked like she’d stepped out of a history book. When did you arrive in Italy?”
“Oh! Last week. April 1st. Yes of course you’re right, we’re in Italy!”
“Yes ma’am, but we’re not in the month of April. It’s December. Do you remember if perhaps you’ve had an accident?” he asked but she didn’t look injured.
“No. I was going to visit Turin’s World’s Fair, that’s why I came in the first place. I got my ticket in March, my universal translator was installed the day before I left, and I’ve been having headaches ever since. Not to speak of a strange deja vu feeling. Maybe that’s the problem! Sometimes the translators do strange things”
Now he was feeling lost.
“Excuse me signorina Cummings, but there will be no World’s Fair as was planned, and of course it was to be held here in Rome, not Turin, but alas, the war … and I don’t understand what you mean about a universal translator.”
“Oh my … but this is 1911 right?”
Velasco shook his head, of course the woman had had some sort of accident or maybe she was just crazy … but on the other hand, she may just be a cunning spy for the English. He thought he’d better call his superior officer. And he began to pick up his telephone …
“Oh damn that agency!” she shouted suddenly “They’ve made a total mistake. Now I understand! Damn, damn, damn! I knew I should have gone to Malibu this summer!” She clapped her hands hard, activating the emergency re-entry mechanism, and she dissolved in shimmer of light.
Velasco stared at where the woman had been sitting, then lit a cigarette.