This time, I’m not going to be unprepared.
In between glances up at the sky, I take another look at all of my equipment, laid out neatly on a tarp. I’ve been over the list of equipment ten, a hundred, a thousand times already, but I’m still checking it once again. I can feel nervousness curling up in my belly, a stirring, restless viper.
It’s hot outside, the air almost oppressively still. August fifteenth, two thousand and eleven. Even the bugs that normally buzz through the dusk seem to be exhausted by the heat; I can only barely hear them chirping in the tall grass outside my barn.
“Oh, I wish that I just sprouted fur and claws,” I whisper quietly to myself as I begin to wrap up the tarp of equipment, stowing each item in its own slot inside my pack.
Forty minutes later, I lifted the much heavier rucksack up, slinging it over one shoulder, testing the weight. It was heavy, yes, but not unbearable. And finally, now that I had been back in a civilized time, I’d been able to stock up on so many essentials that I no longer took for granted.
I thought back, remembering the time when I’d been stuck for four weeks in the Dark Ages. God, that had been an exercise in frustration – and only in part because I couldn’t even curse without a priest overhearing and attempting to set me on fire!
I couldn’t help but grin. If those silly men in robes had known what I actually was, they wouldn’t have ever lowered their torches and pitchforks.
I could sense the time approaching, could feel the static growing in the air. There was always this feeling as the full moon approached, the sense that I was faintly electrified. I remembered that, when this first started, I had looked forward to that feeling.
Now, it only made me sigh, waiting for it to be over.
As I understood it, I was one of the lucky ones. For some, this condition manifests itself as a child, or even as an infant. And when an infant leaps a couple centuries or further away from its crib and loving parents, it doesn’t survive for long. I at least made it through most of my awkward teenage years before the first jump.
But then, it had been almost relentless. I’d had a couple rare points of contact with others like me, others of my kind, and they told me that most didn’t jump every month. “Some of us go years without making a jump,” I had been told.
Wonderful. So I was special – or cursed, perhaps.
I’d learned to survive, that was for certain. That, it seemed, was the one thing that I could do. I couldn’t maintain any relationship, not when the woman might wake up next to an empty bed one morning as I woke up millenia in the future. I couldn’t buy a house, couldn’t settle down, couldn’t be anything but a nomadic traveler.
Some places were harder than others. As the static grew stronger, I whisper a quick prayer that I won’t be back in the middle centuries, anywhere between two hundred and sixteen hundred AD. Those were the places where I was usually forced to take to the forests, relying on hunting and a solitary existence.
I hadn’t visited Rome much, but I’d heard it was nice, especially for an enterprising young man who knew how to build steam engines.
The sensation was so strong, now, I could barely focus on anything else. All of my hair stood up on end, as if striving to point up towards the luminous white circle rising up into the sky.
The jump was coming.
Wherever I land, I pray to myself, let there be a library. Libraries are my favorite place – a repository of knowledge, more reliable than the Internet, more useful than any other building.
And once, just once, I hope that I’ll find an entry from another weretraveler, another lunar jumper, like me.
I don’t need to glance down at my watch to know that it’s time. The faint light of the moon flows down, over my body, wrapping around me in a cocoon of light. I close my eyes as the bands wrap around me, blinding me to outside. I grip my rucksack tightly, not wanting to leave it behind.
And then I’m gone, opening my eyes to a new time…