Nov 19, 2019 4:06 AM
Barry Allen lands on Voice
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Barry is having a good day, all things considered.

The last dozen passengers he picked up were all on their phones, so he didn't have to make small talk and could listen to music and think about TV instead. One of them gave him a nice tip. And now it's 10am and he's dropped off his last person and he's going to flop on his bed and read comics until it's time to go visit his dad. 

And then he blinks and instead of being in his bedroom he is somewhere else.

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'Somewhere else' is a grassy hillside in the foothills of a mountain range, overlooking a small village nestled at the base of the mountains. 

It's a beautiful morning: blue skies, sunshine, birds singing in the trees, a swirling tendril of smoke rising from one of the peaks...

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Oh, man, he got teleported into another world. Portal fantasy! Screw you, people who said that there was no doorway to Narnia. 

Hopefully no one has any freefloating destinies or prophecies right now because if they do they will be super disappointed. Also, he hopes time will stop at home so his parents won't worry.

He walks towards the tendril of smoke.

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It'll take him a fair bit of climbing to make it all the way up that mountain, and there's no guarantee that there'll be anyone up there with food. Smaller and less objectively interesting threads of smoke rise from the chimneys in the village below, carrying a much more reliable promise of civilization. 

There is a rumbling from the direction of the smoky mountain. A small tremor runs through the ground beneath his feet, making a few tiny stones hop and dance. 

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...Yeah, he is not exactly athletic, probably the village is a better idea.

Earthquakes! Barry briefly lived in California when he was a kid so he is not startled by this.

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Yep, that sure is a thing that's happening. In the time it takes him to walk down the hillside to the village, there's another tremor of around the same size, barely strong enough to notice. 

The village, when he comes to it, is a collection of around twenty thatched stone buildings, none of them more than two stories with a single three-story exception. The roads between them are packed earth, marked out by nothing more complex than an absence of grass and the traces of wheel-ruts. The people in the streets look like they walked out of the pages of a book on medieval peasants, and the only vehicles in sight are wooden carts and wheelbarrows. 

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This is what you expect when you are transported into a magic world!

He finds a peasant who doesn't look that busy and says "hello! Uh, I'm Barry. Do you speak English? --I don't know why you would speak English. You're from a weird fantasy world. I guess to you I'm from a weird fantasy world, huh? Like. Cars. You probably think cars are super magic. Someone said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." He realizes he is babbling again and suddenly and awkwardly falls silent.

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The random peasant blinks at Barry in polite incomprehension, frowns, and says something that from the accompanying hand gestures probably means 'come with me'. 

Quite a few people seem to have stopped to stare at the stranger, with varying levels of subtlety. 

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"Right! Okay. You... don't speak English. That's okay. I probably should have expected that given the whole... other world thing. Is this the past? Am I in the past? Uh. Salve. Non dico linguam Latinam."

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Unintelligible reply which does not sound particularly like Latin! 

Assuming Barry is willing to follow them, this person is going to lead him to one particular house and knock on the door.

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Barry follows along with the person who is in a fantasy world, or possibly the past and not ancient Rome, or possibly the past and ancient Rome and also his accent is terrible.

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The door is answered by an older woman, grey-haired and with laugh lines on her sun-browned face. She nods along to what is presumably a summary of the situation, then stands still with her eyes closed and her head cocked for a minute or two. 

Then she opens her eyes and says, haltingly but in a perfect American accent, "Hello. I...don't speak English." As an afterthought, she adds, "Non dico linguam Latinam," with a shit-eating grin. 

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Okay, so fantasy. Or maybe it's the far future, so they know English, and everyone is pretending to be peasants for some reason. Like some kind of far-future Ren Faire. He decides to go check teeth quality. But what if their teeth are also bad as part of the simulation?

Oh wait she's expecting him to say something.

"Hi, I'm Barry! I blinked and I woke up here and I have absolutely no idea what is going on. I am from-- uh, Earth probably doesn't disambiguate, does it-- I can draw a map probably--"

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"I have absolutely no idea what is going on," she repeats, amused, still without any trace of a foreign accent. "I'm Tesni." 

She makes a 'continue' motion with her hand. 

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...Is this a situation where him babbling pointlessly about things is actually helpful?

Maybe he'll be useful to fulfill the prophecy or whatever after all.

"Yeah, okay, I guess you don't get a lot of people from other worlds. Our tech level is a lot higher than yours. We have, like, vaccines? I'm not sure if you have vaccines. I think smallpox is really easy to vaccinate against as long as you have cowpox, you need to check whether milkmaids ever get smallpox. If you have both smallpox and cows, I mean. I guess I shouldn't assume what you need. For all I know this is like some really elaborate future Renaissance Faire. I used to wish that I could go to those when I was a kid but our family never had enough money. My mom and dad set up a fake one in our backyard once with a bunch of cardboard and some toys from the thrift store and a firm commitment to talking in Ye Olde English. --But anyway vaccination is really important."

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Tesni smiles and pats his hand in a grandmotherly way. "We have cows. I'm not sure if we have smallpox. I need to check." Each sentence is perfectly formed, but with a longer pause between each than a native English speaker would normally need.

Perhaps Barry would like to come inside and sit down while they continue this conversation. 

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He does!

"Oh, good, because smallpox is definitely a thing you would know about, it kind of killed a lot of people.--When I was a kid I read a lot of books about people who went to fantasy worlds and they always had, like, a prophecy or something that the kids were supposed to fulfill? And I just want to be really upfront that I am a totally useless person and I will definitely not be able to help with any, like, Dark Lord and White Witch problems you have going on. And the books always have the kids refuse the call but it turns out they're great at it and that is not going to happen. I just suck at things."

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The inside of Tesni's house is just as charmingly medieval as everything else. It's all one room, with a sleeping area in one corner. She sits Barry down in a chair and shuffles around making tea in a pot over the hearth. 

"We don't have any, like, Dark Lord or White Witch problems," she informs him with a chuckle. It may be starting to become obvious that she's mimicking his phrasing. 

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"Is there something I should be babbling about specifically to give you better words? Like, I don't know. --I was going to give a suggestion but actually I have no idea. Uh. I guess I am going to have to give suggestions for you to be able to use my words. Food, clothing, shelter, economics, politics, technology, magic--"

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"Food, clothing..." Tesni points at things around the room and names a couple of them, illustratively. 'Table' is something like habla, 'chair' is hahdier.

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Okay. He can point to items in the room and give words for them and NOT get distracted by talking about Dark Lords.

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Tesni gives him the local translation of each word as he says it, without looking up from pouring the tea. 

When it's done, she sets a mug on the table in front of Barry and sits down opposite him, cradling her own. 

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He takes a sip and then says, "Uh. This is not, like, poison or anything, right? Or mind-altering? I guess we don't know how it's going to work with my biochemistry. Are you guys even human? I mean you look human but I don't know that that means much."

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"We're human." Tesni pats his hand again, reassuringly. "It's definitely not poison or mind-altering."

She drinks from her own cup and sighs in pleasure. "It's good."  

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"...I wonder how smart the translation is. Like, if you think humans have six toes, is it going to flag the fact that I have five toes and translate with a different word. How similar do two people have to be to both be human? I guess in principle it could judge based on whether they are interfertile. But humans and Neanderthals were interfertile and they're different species. In fact, I probably have some Neanderthal DNA. I read an article about it. Are articles a thing you have or are you too medieval for it?"

He drinks from his cup of whatever it is.

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Tesni laughs. 

"Humans have five toes," she says when she calms down, "and I don't think we have articles here. The translation is, hmm...words that are words?" 

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