Novella Excerpts: Miss Hawkins and the Dimension Tearers, Chapter One

Chapter One
Dreary London Days

It is yet another boring, dreary day in late 1880s London. The gray fog is wet and clings to my skin, not to mention my dress. These are the days I dislike the most, which is unfortunate, as these are the most common days in London.
My mother has sent me to the store to fetch a dress for my younger sister, Clementina. She probably hoped that I would get my own new dress, and that a new frock would clean the darkness that my favorite novels have cursed me with. She caught me attempting to write one myself, and was horrified.
“My word! Charlotte, why are you writing of such things? It is bad enough that you are writing, but you are writing of murder! Death, blood! It is simply improper, my dear. Completely improper.” With those words, she snatched the papers that I had spent hours writing from my hands, and promptly gave the fireplace a filling meal.
Unladylike anger had blazed through me, and I began to shout. I had told her that many ladies nowadays write novels, why was I any different, and although I did admit that most women didn’t write about murder, why couldn’t I write them? I had thought my mother was about to have a heart attack, she had gone so pale. Instead of shouting back at me, she had sent me on this tedious errand.
Of course, I haven’t gotten myself a new dress; it’s rather frivolous. I have plenty of dresses at home that I never use, after all.
There’s a loose cobblestone under my feet, and I trip on it. “Ah!” I gasp, and I find myself falling in a puddle that the most recent rain has left behind. “Drat,” I whisper. My dress is utterly soaked, and as I fell on my back, even my honey-brown hair is damp, and has a few strands loose. Mother would not approve. Not at all. It takes a few moments to rise: right now, my dress is heavier than usual, what with the dampness and layers and corset digging into my spine. To my relief, I realize that I must have thrown the dress box away from the puddle as I fell; there it is, lying on the cobblestones where I had been walking.
As I struggle to bend over and pick it up, a most unexpected thing happens; a bright flash of light burns into my eyes. I find myself crying out again, and I fall back into the puddle. Drat! I think to myself, and I try to rub the burning sensation from my eyes. Has someone gotten ahold of those flashlights, and as a practical joke, decided to shine them directly in my eyes? How rude!
I force myself up, still rubbing my eyes, and snap, “Come out, you scoundrel! Come out now, or I shall find you and drag you to my father, who, dare I say it, works at Scotland Yard! Out, now!”
“S-scoundrel? We’re sorry, are you hurt?”
“Eh?” I ask. This is a man’s voice, clearly, but it’s different from any other voice I’ve heard. He’s American, but pronounces words differently than any other American I’ve met.
“You can open your eyes now, Miss.” It’s a girl’s voice now; not a child, but not a woman. I force myself to open my eyes a little and squint. Black dots blur my vision, but I do see two people standing in front of me. “Who are you?” I ask.
The girl winks for some reason. “I’m Samantha, but don’t call me that. Call me Sammi.”
My eyebrows furrow. “Sammi? Isn’t that a boy’s name?”
The girl pouts, although she may be too old for it to be effective. “Oh, yeah. I forgot that Sammi isn’t a girl’s name yet. Damn.”
The swearing unsettles me less than the word yet. “What do you mean by, ‘yet’?’ I ask.
The boy gasps lightly. “God, Sammi. Slip of the tongue, eh?”
She glares at him. “I can say the same about you, Darren. You just took the Lord’s name in vain, and that’s a big no-no right now.”
He pales. “Uh-”
I wave my hand. “Just be thankful that my mother isn’t here. She’d have clapped you both by the ears and dragged you to the nearest church for confessions!”
The girl paces a little. “Oh,” is her only comment. I suddenly notice that there’s something wrong with her, something blatantly obvious. “You aren’t dressed properly! You’re wearing trousers!” I gasp. The only woman I’ve seen in trousers is my closest friend, Desireé, and that’s only when she is riding a horse.
Sammi laughs. “Ah, I knew I had forgotten something!” she cries.
“You can’t let anyone see you like this! They may have you jailed for indecency.”
She rolls her eyes. “You’re kidding me.”
“I am not. My father works at Scotland Yard. He would know.”
Sammi shuffles her feet. “Oh, that’s a big problem, then.”
I cross my arms. “Yes, it is,” I say.
The boy scratches his head a moment. “D’you have a place we can stay, then? Where we can lay low?”
I do not understand much of what he’s saying, but I understand enough. “Do you need somewhere to hide? Somewhere to learn our laws, our rules, Society in general?” They both nod. “I have the perfect place, then. But it will take a bit to arrive there.”
“Why?” Darren asks quietly.
“Because we will have to avoid the police, and people in general. No one can see either of you. They will have you arrested on sight, and who could blame them? Besides, I want to know who you are. I will not move one centimeter until you tell me who you are, and where you came from.”
Darren groans. “You won’t believe us. This time period… The people are too narrow minded.”
A flash of anger burns through my heart. “I beg your pardon? What did you just call me? I am not narrow minded. Tell me where you came from!”
Sammi sighs and pouts a little. “Okay, fine. I guess since we appeared in front of you… Wait. Oh no.” She turns around to look at Darren. “We’re early! We were supposed to have gotten here later! Darren? What the hell do we do?” she sobs, getting louder and louder.
“Hush!” I gasp. “Do you want to be seen?”
Darren glowers at me. “You’ve got all the wrong priorities. Now be quiet!” he snaps, and he turns to rub Sammi’s back in an attempt to comfort her.
My mouth falls open. No one has ever spoken to me in this way! “I-why you!” I cry.
His eyes soften a little. “I apologize. That was rude. It’s just…oh, you wouldn’t understand. No one would.”
I chuckle. “Oh, I’m sure that is an over exaggeration. Someone always understands.”
He shakes his head, and turns towards me again. “No, they wouldn’t, and I’m going to say why. Just…don’t send us to Beldam.”
I make a small, scared noise by accident. “Beldam? Why would I send you there? Nobody deserves that fate.” Beldam is the worst place someone could go; it’s a mental hospital, but it’s hell.
He sighs and glances back at Sammi. “To tell you the truth… We’re not from this time, or even this dimension. We come from the future of another world.”
I sputter. “You’re… Not of this Earth?”
He laughs. “Not in that way! No, it’s like the other side of a mirror. We parallel your world, but it’s different. Certain things are different, and others are the same.”
My head aches a little, but as I think through what he has told me, it makes a bit of sense. “Has this science… Have we discovered this yet? I’d appreciate seeing proof.”
He smiles sadly. “Oh, no. It hasn’t been discovered yet. But we look different than you. We speak differently than you. Our clothes, everything! Could you believe us? We need to be believed.”
I sigh. He makes sense, and I do not think he’s lying. “All right. I’ll attempt to believe you. But we need to get you two somewhere to stay. Good. Now get up and collect yourselves. I must be home soon myself.”
Sammi rubs her eyes. “Where are we going?” she asks.
I manage to smile at her. “You’ll be staying with my close friend. Her name is Desireé.”

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