|Rose scanned the search results while she gave only cursory attention to the Travel Channel show on TV.
"This place hasn't changed in five hundred years." The summary caught her eye as a voice on the TV said something about Europe's last great lowland landscapes.
She clicked on the link and turned to the TV. What was the chance they would speak of the same place?, Rose frowned. Perhaps it was a sign that she should book her vacation and see the sun again.
She eyed her dress draped over the chair. It would look well at the medieval festival advertised on the front page. A small smile of victory rose to her lips when she remembered the challenge the dress posed. She was poor with details, and she had to redo many stitches.
Rose clutched the stirring wheel of her rented car. The place did look like it didn't change in five hundred years. The road was pitch-dark; however, the map upheld encouragingly she was on the right path to the village. She recalled the tidbits she read about it.
Rose laughed when she remembered the blogger who rambled about the special electromagnetic lines covering this place. Beware of the evil fairies that walk the earth on June 24th, he wrote so she purposely booked her trip for then. The same she joined the end-of-the-world Facebook event on December 21st.
Out of nowhere a bright light blinded her, and she cursed the insensitive driver approaching her on the other lane. She pulled her car to the side of the road and waited for the obnoxious motorist to pass.
She gasped when with the approaching light, she heard an unusual song. The light spread on both lanes and before she could open the car's door and run, it engulfed her. She felt herself dissolving, and she lost consciousness.
She woke up a good distance from her car and discovered with relief she had made it unscathed through whatever that was. To her dismay, her car didn't. She looked at the pile of garbled metal sitting at the side of the road and sighed. She was happy to see the lights from the village. Was the moon brighter or the lights dimmer? The castle’s large shadow loomed over the village, and everything looked the same except her car.
She cursed, this time at herself for her idea to show up dressed in her medieval dress. So much for blending into the time, she thought ruefully.
She looked over the garbled pile of metal and realized that she couldn't recover any of her belongings. She felt for her credit card and passport in her hidden pocket, and she set to walk to the village.
The village was farther than it appeared, and she was breathing hard, two hours in her journey. She heard the sound of hooves, and she went to the edge of the road.
The horse stopped near her, and she startled when she saw the full-armored rider peering at her through his visor. He then addressed her in an unknown language. She shrugged and signaled that she didn't understand. The rider spoke, and she understood, but her mouth was agape.
He spoke in Latin.
"It is a dangerous place to be at this hour, my lady."
These people took the festival too seriously, and she was in no mood of role-playing.
She answered in Latin.
"Can you give me a ride to the village? I am expected at the Red Rose Inn."
The rider took off his helmet and looked at her with incredulous eyes.
"The Red Rose Inn is no place for a lady."
It was her turn to look at him in disbelief. Her patience snapped.
"Spare the role-play for tomorrow. I am tired, hungry and dirty and my car lies in a pile of junk. Name your price and get me to the Red Rose Inn. It is a three and a half star hotel, good enough for all the festival guests. "
"You insult me, my lady."
He extended his hand to her.
She took his hand, and he pulled her on the horse in front of him. She pulled her skirts up her legs and turned to ride astride for comfort.
"I should have thought you were no lady. I shall take you where you wish. You could hang for stealing the dress." the man behind her said and she stilled. The man was a bit loose, and she needed to play his game.
"I am lady Rose of Morrison. Why would you think I am not a lady?" she asked haughtily.
"A lady's first virtue is temperance. It's obvious nobody instilled that in you."
Rose sagged. He was wrong; her parents tried but to no use.
"A lady's second virtue is prudence. What were you doing on the road, alone at this late hour? "
"I told you, my car broke."
"A lady doesn’t travel without a retinue."
She let him be, lest her lack of temperance would show again.
"A lady's third virtue is justice. You did me great injustice by offering money for your rescue."
It was as well, she doubted he’d accept credit cards anyway.
"A lady's courage should only serve for her menial tasks."
Rose’s resolve snapped and she snorted.
"You're so medieval."
"What do you mean?"
"You think like the barbarians in the fourteen-hundreds."
"Yes, fourteen hundred and fifty years after the birth or our Lord. We're here, my lady."
"What?" Rose exclaimed and she meant it for both his statement and the run-down shack that stood in front of her. Through its open doors, she could smell the stench of unwashed bodies and cheap alcohol.
She cursed her lack of attention to detail. She could now see, the village looked dimmer as it was lit with candles, and the walls loomed over the small town because they were intact, not the ruins she'd seen in the agency's brochures.
"Jesus, the end-of-the-world event, I must go back." she whispered.