Paris, Part III

Dear Diary,

The saga continues. You left me standing atop a tower built two decades into the future. The view was marvelous. I do not exaggerate when I swear that the odd cloud drifted by below my feet, thereby obscuring parts of the bustling city below. I leaned over the guardrail while Mr. R. stood behind me with his hand just grazing my shoulder. All was peace and serenity.

“Aww. You two look so cute,” came a masculine voice¬† to my right. The accent was simultaneously gruff and nasal. The man pronounced every syllable as if to stress it, his voice loud, entitled, and sounding rather as though it came more from his nose than his mouth.

American.

I rolled my eyes.

When I turned to address the person who had intruded upon my peaceful reverie, I discovered — to my surprise — the most strangely dressed man in all of Paris. At least to my knowledge. He wore his brown hair short and wet all over with some sort of hardening chemical. The tips were sculpted up into blondish spikes. Tall and broad of shoulder, the man appared so well muscled as to seem nearly hulking. His plaid workman’s shirt fit him so snuggly as to be nearly indecent while seeming somehow to me comprised of a luxurious material the that shone like silk. Not a spot marred the delicate fabric. His trousers, too, came in the style of the common laborer. They hung perilously low upon the man’s hips, secured by a brown leather belt and the jutting crags of his hip bones. These stiff, tight-fitting denim pants had been dyed blue of all colors. He wore them despite the fact that not even a button on his shirt matched the somewhat faded hue of his trousers. Whether it matched any other part of his ensemble, such as a jacket or a waistcoat, I suppose I shall never know; he wore only the shirt. Those parts of his skin which were visible — that being many — called attention to his nakedness by displaying tattoos like those popular with the Chinese workmen of Steelhead. A brown leather wrist-strap completed his strange appearance by holding close some sort of large and complicated wristwatch.

My eyes boggled. I believe I rudely allowed my mouth to gape.

My uncle recovered first, replying in a rather congenial (if clipped) tone that we had dressed appropriately for the season.

I wondered if this man was perhaps a pirate. I had heard that they attired themselves in decadent fabrics plundered from their victims. The tanned, rugged appearance of his skin certainly supported my theory. And who else would wear a tattoo?

To our astonishment, the man explained in a congenial tone that he was a “robot” from the future. This, he informed us, meant that his vitals were comprised of tiny mechanical parts and that his skin, however expressive and elastic and life-like in even warmth and touch, was actually as synthetic as the strange silk of his shirt. He often traveled through time, although I do not recall the reason that he gave, and he very often returned to this spot. His wife proposed to him there, he intimated with a wide, wistful smile that crinkled the non-skin at the corners of his mechanical eyes.

We spoke at length to the man, who asked after my injuries and our lives just as we asked after his. Inspired, perhaps, by his tale of romance, my uncle rather abruptly inserted into the conversation a marriage proposal.

Astonished, I felt compelled to ask him to repeat the question. He did so, confirming what I had thought my ears had heard the first time and yet felt certain that it could not be: he had asked for my hand.

He pressed his suit in the tenderest possible terms, declaring his love in the elevated language of poets. To my red faced embarrassment, Mr. Robot and a few other English speaking observers awaited my response with baited breaths. The tension in the air felt almost palpable, even as I nearly swooned on my crutches.

We quarreled mightily. I could not answer him, as we well knew, until I had at least spoken with and informed the demon. I held no great affection for Mr. Plutonian, but his suit stood under open negotiations between us. I could hardly just go and marry someone else while matters remained so unfinished. Besides, if I married Mr. Robonaught, it would be he and not I held liable by the courts for the debt owed to the demon. However lofty Mr. R.’s motives may have been, he took upon himself dangerous consequences when he proposed to stand between a known demon and his preferred partner. My vision grew blurry with tears as I bitterly reminded my uncle that he who so challenged the demon might die, and I would have no more blood spilled on my account. His ardor bade him press his suit in affectionate terms while my fear led me to reject it in practical ones. Round and round it went, with only hurt feelings and no resolution being found. The other observers drifted away, but a fascinated Robot listened. He even participated, offering advice and suggestions as the battle of words (or wills) wore on.

Somehow, and I cannot explain exactly how, Mr. Robot suggested that we travel with him back to his time. The bitter barb of rejection felt calmer with the exciting prospect of time travel before us, and so we eagerly consented. Mr. Robot pressed some levers and switches on his wrist-strap and then – bam! A whooshing sound filled my ears. Something like wind, yet not exactly wind, either, passed through my aching limbs. I blinked and opened blurry eyes to a new world, this being the chilly interior of a sparsely decorated room in a style that screamed excess with its colors while insisting upon a sort of grungy, hard worked element with its textures. The air around us screamed, too, permeated with a sort of musical shouting in time to an equally “musical” racket of machinery masquerading as instruments. The entire setting appeared as loud and as garish as the clothing of Mr. Robot. Even the smell seemed manufactured and overpowering.

“Welcome,” said Mr. Robot, “to my room in the mansion.”

I wobbled on my crutches.

I had thought the man eccentric, perhaps a harmless lunatic. But his wrist-strap had worked.

“What year is it?” my uncle asked.

Mr. Robot looked to me, his expression a mask of concern.

“Don’t faint,” he instructed.

I noted.

“It is 2010.”

Allow me to leave you here for now, dear Diary. I must needs sustenance if I am to continue with this story.

Yours,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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