Charlie sighed and drooped his shoulders, his eyes fell on the mural of the tree. Damn, where to start looking. How he wished the tree on the wall was real. It would make this whole scenario much easier. Out of the corner of his eye, a tiny piece of something moved on the tree. A fly. He hated flies. Damn nasty things. Another one fidgeted out of the corner of his other eye. Then another and another. There had been no movement before, but now the whole tree was alive with flies.
Wait. He stood from the edge of the bed, held up his hand outstretched in front of him, and shuffled toward the mural. Upon closer inspection, the movement wasn’t flies at all. The leaves of the tree shuffled in an invisible and unfelt wind. He slow turned his head to face Tulsie. “This is it isn’t it?”
“My my, Mr. Charlie. You are a smart man after all. You’re the only human being to have ever figured out that this tree on the wall is the real thing. Why it embedded itself in this wall I’ll never know. It just showed up one day. After a while, it will move to somewhere else.”
Charlie opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t find any words. This whole thing had to be a dream. He was in bed at home in the year 2022, and this was all a bad dream. It had to be. Finally he spoke. “Where did all the others go if they didn’t figure out this was the real golden tree?”
“They simply left in search for a tree growing from the ground.” She gave him a sad smile. “They came from different years. Some from the 1800’s and others from the early 1900’s. I don’t know if they ever got home. I know there is a way to get back to your own time, but I don’t know what it is.”
He stared at the tree once more, and a thought tickled his mind. Perhaps if he touched the same leaf it would take him home. But which one? Upon closer inspection, the construct of the tree appeared different. A glance at Tulsie caused him to do a double take. A smiling leer pasted across her face. Was she messing with his mind? He dropped his outstretched hand to his side and relaxed. Hmm. Touching something he wasn’t supposed to is what got him into this mess in the first place. No. He wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
He turned to Tulsie and said, “Thank you for your hospitality, ma’am.” I’ll be going now. He looked around the room one last time to ensure he had everything then left the room, descended the stairs, and walked out of the house. He had made it to the front sidewalk and was about to turn and walk down the street when he heard Tulsie calling him. He stopped and turned.
“Don’t you want to get home?” asked Tulsie.
“Yes. That’s why I’m leaving,” replied Charlie.
He continued walking down the street. When he had walked approximately three miles, he came to a main street. The cars driving in either direction in front of him as he stood at a corner were modern 2022 models. His brows scrunched together as he scratched his head. Looking behind him the cars were models from the 1950’s. “What the hell?”
(To Be Continued)