The writers of Ozarks Romance Authors have launched their own Round Robin. New installments will be posted monthly. Be sure to check back to see how the story is progressing!
The next installment of our story, HOLY FUDGE NUGGETS, is authored by Bran Lindy Ayres. If you like what you read, be sure to check out their work.
To read the first part of this story, click here.
Holy Fudge Nuggets
"This is not okay. Not okay." Roan muttered to himself as he knelt to gently lay the woman on the ground. Dirt and debris had caught in her hair and clothes rendering everything a dull brown in the amber glow from the fire.
He glanced over his shoulder at the remnants of his ship. The heat from the flames had his bare skin prickling. How had he survived that? Something to ponder another time. He turned to the woman, checking her over to make certain there were no potentially dangerous injuries. Her labored breathing was punctuated by soft coughs every few breaths.
She must have aspirated some of the debris which could put her at risk for a lung infection later or suffocation right now. Normally he would have taken her to the ship and used the medikit to stabilize her. That obviously wasn’t going to happen. Have to do this is the hard way then. Still kneeling at her side he held his left hand over her face, palm above the parted lips. A moment of concentration and a soft blue glow warmed his palm. Blue wisps flowed into her open mouth. She inhaled deeply, paused then coughed forcefully. Another cough, this time specks of mud splattered across his palm. He pulled his hand away and leaned over her, watching her face. She took another deep breath and her eyelids fluttered open. It took her a moment to focus.
"Oh. You're still here."
"Aye, still here."
He watched her gaze wander away from his face and had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning at the expression that crossed her face.
"Still naked too."
"Still naked. My clothes were on the ship, which … is currently combusting."
"I can see that," her gaze finally found his face again. The laser sharp focus startled him. "Who are you?"
He got to his feet and looked around them. Aside from the burning ship there wasn't much to see. The rocky terrain reminded him of the outpost on Mars. A couple hundred yards away sat a wheeled vehicle. From the design he guessed he'd landed in the early twenty-first century. Not as far off the mark as he'd thought. About two years too late though. Dammit.
The realization struck him. He was stranded. No ship and not even a thread of clothing, never mind his instruments and weapons. He'd never had a mission go sideways so fast. Something about that explosion had him wondering if his ship had been tampered with. If that were the case, someone had tried to kill him. They wouldn't have sent a lone operative, but a whole team if his mission was that important. He knew from reading the casefile that it didn’t have any bearing on the major historical events of this time period. It didn’t even involve saving a life, just a simple case of finding out where an author had left their unpublished works in order to settle some estate issues a few hundred years later.
The rattle of rocks next to him had him glancing down at the woman. He put out an arm to help her steady herself. What could he possibly tell her? Lying seemed the best option. If he was right about the era, then first contact had yet to happen and he could possibly get away with a fabrication. But what?
"I'm a test pilot."
"A test pilot. Flying a UFO. At night. In the desert. With no clothes on."
Okay, that made it sound really stupid. He grimaced and looked away from her. This was awkward. Almost as awkward as being completely nude. Talk about feeling exposed. He drew in a breath, held it and then blurted, "It's not a UFO, it's a quantum-temporal tunneler. QTT for short."
"Hold up, Mr. Nakie-butt. Are you trying to tell me that is-was a time machine?"
"My name is Roan Ask and yes."
"Do you always time travel naked?"
"Do you generally stand around quizzing crash survivors?" He put his hands on his hips and stared down at her. Even with all the dirt clinging to her, she was nice to look at. The shrewd dark gaze didn't waiver.
"Point taken. We should get to safety."
"And so you know, I was in quantum stasis. Normally, I would have had time to get dressed after landing." There was nothing normal about this situation at all. Stranded naked with a beautiful woman in the distant past … nope definitely not normal.
"Right. You’re no Dr. Beckett then."
"I … don't follow..." Roan said.
She turned away with a soft laugh and then bent to retrieve something from the ground. He sucked in a breath seeing the antique camera. Had she photographed him? That could be a problem. A big problem.
About the Author
Growing up in rural Missouri surrounded by dense forests teeming with giants, dogwood horses, pine castles and grapevine snakes, Bran has always had a very healthy imagination. This was further inculcated by their mother, who encouraged them to read the likes of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. Their love of fantasy and writing has never waned even as they got older, and has developed into a need to write.
They currently live in Southern Missouri with three young nerdlings and three precocious felines. When not writing, Bran can be found with their face still glued to the computer screen playing video games or reading.