Mystery man in the mall

It was a busy Saturday at the shopping mall, but Kendra was exhausted from being dragged about by her three teenaged daughters from floor to floor and shop to shop all morning.

Now it was almost lunch time. Her feet hurt and she sank down onto a bench near the entrance where people buzzed about the mall like bees near a honey pot.

All of a sudden she realised that there was something strange. The man who was now entering the mall was dressed as though he had been acting in a play. What was more, unlike everyone else, he seemed to be in no hurry at all. He just stood there looking around.  Kendra was intrigued and started observing him carefully.

Who, besides an actor, would wear a top hat and tail coat to a shopping mall in the 21st century? Yet, he didn’t resemble any actor that she knew of. Besides, why was he acting out his part so earnestly without crew and camera around? She watched in amazement as he bowed to the security guard in a gentlemanly manner. Now he was peering through the glass-fronted stores with childlike curiosity.

Forgetting all about her sore feet, Kendra got up and walked over. She had planned to say, “Excuse me, sir, but are you an actor?” But, before she could say anything, the man
looked at her and spoke. “Which time is it?’
“Well, it’s almost one o’ clock.”

“No! No! I mean which century is this? You see it’s quite different, all so pleasant and peaceful where I come from. By the way, I’m Mr Wells,” he added, offering his hand and grasping hers in a firm handshake. “Please don’t look so worried. I’m just a time traveller from the 19th century.”

“How do you do?” said an astonished Kendra. “Oh, do be careful!” she added for the stranger was about to step on the escalator.

“Isn’t this a staircase then?”

“It’s an escalator,” explained Kendra.  Checking on her mobile that her daughters were still in the music store and likely to be there for another twenty minutes, she said:
“Perhaps I’d better show you around. Come with me.” So saying, she showed him how to ride up on the escalator.

“It’s a lazy contraption that you have invented,” he remarked when they had reached the next floor. “I’m an inventor myself, but I’d never have thought of inventing a machine that made me lazy!”

On this floor there was an art gallery. Mr Wells got really excited to see a painting of
Queen Victoria. “That’s my Queen!” he cried, “But why have they made her look so old? She’s much younger than that!”

Next they came to an electronics store. One of the LED screens had a dog in 3D. “There is a dog locked in there!”

Kendra tried to explain that it was only an animated dog.

“But, haven’t they locked it in there? I don’t support cruelty to animals! I’ll get it out,” cried the man of action from the 19th century, and seizing a chair he prepared to break the ‘cage’ that held the image captive. Everyone in the store was galvanised into action.

Someone caught hold of Mr Wells and pinned his arms behind him, while he struggled to get free to achieve his purpose.

“Oh dear!” Kendra looked around desperately, and was relieved to see her daughters approaching.

“I’m so glad to see you,” she cried. “I tried to show this gentleman around because he’s from the 19th century, but…”

“What’s the matter, Mama? You sound so upset… Which gentleman?”

“He’s in a top hat and tail coat..”

“Oh Mama, there’s no one like that here!”

Kendra looked around, but her daughter was right, there was no one there in a top hat and tail coat. Everything had returned to normal. She felt a little foolish.

“Let’s go home,” she said.

The next morning Kendra was glancing through the newspaper, when her eye caught a photograph.

“That’s him!” she cried triumphantly.

“That’s who?” her daughters wanted to know.

“The person I was telling you about at the mall. See, he’s dressed just as I described him.”

“But Mama that’s the man they told us about on the news yesterday. You were so tired that you’d already gone to bed. They said he’s a patient from the mental hospital who claims that he’s from another Time.”

“The disease has a name. It’s called Chromophelia,” said Naomi who was good at long words.

“And that’s an ambulance they’re putting him into in the photograph,” added Nikita, the youngest.

“Why don’t we read what the newspaper has to say?” Nina read aloud from the article.
‘Mysterious disappearance of patient’

A patient suffering from the rare disease Chromophelia has disappeared from the Lake View Hospital. This is a disease that causes a delusion about being from another time zone. What is coincidental is that the mysterious heavy metal ball that had appeared a few days ago in an adjacent field has also gone missing. Are the two things connected? Was the patient, known as Mr Wells, suffering from delusion or was he really a traveller from time past? Was the metal ball his Time Machine?
“Oh! I do hope he gets home safely!” said Kendra.

“So, we know what you think!” chorused her daughters.
Shilpashree,Class X, New Millennium School, Horamavu

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