Lana sat in the bar stool and waited for Mort to come to her. Unlike her other visits, she was subdued and didn’t interact with the other patrons. It was busy for a Wednesday, and there was a newcomer. Someone from Canada, in the 1800s. He was a trapper and a moose had attacked him. His gun jammed, he ran and found the door to A Bar Called Always. He had a thick French accent and was rather glad to find friends.
Mort was surprised that Lana wasn’t joining in the discussions. She loved new people. Loved history, too. He walked over to her and smiled.
She looked up at Mort and he gasped. The sorrow in her eyes was thick.
“Lana, what’s wrong?”
“I’ve been erased from history.” She spoke quietly.
He leaned in closer and matched her volume. “What do you mean?”
“When I went home after Theo killed the caveman, I didn’t exist. Or rather, my family didn’t exist. My dad had never been born, my mom was married to someone else and had kids with the other man. She had two boys, no girls. I’ve been erased.”
Mort was white as a ghost. He had too many questions, but didn’t know where to start. He looked down at his hands, which were on the bar and thought for a moment. Once he had a plan he nodded and looked up. “Would you tell me more tonight after close? There is an extra bedroom. You can stay and we can talk after everyone else is gone.”
She looked lost. “Why?”
“I want to see if there is anything I can do to help.”
She was about to open her mouth to question him, but then realized there was a lot about this bar and its bartender that she didn’t now. Lana nodded. “I would appreciate that.”
“For the moment, may I offer you something to drink? On the house.”
She shook her head. “Thanks, Mort. I can still pay.”
“I’m not offering because I think you can’t pay, my dear Lana, I’m offering because I can’t imagine what you are going through.”
She gave a soft smile of gratitude. “Thanks, Mort. I appreciate that. I’ll take a beer.” She took a deep breath. “Anything new?”
“No, but I have one of your favorites. Golden Ristrim.”
She nearly melted. “Oh, that is the best beer here. Why don’t you have it more often?”
“I don’t know. I don’t buy the supplies.”
“Right. I’ll take one.”
Mort smiled and nodded. He turned and grabbed her beer. After serving her, Mort moved away to make sure his other patrons didn’t need anything.
Lana helped Mort clean up that night, but neither talked much. Once they were done, Mort invited Lana into the second bedroom. There was a bed and a comfortable recliner. There was a also a dresser, a nightstand and a lamp. It was very simple, and not made for a long time stay. There was a bathroom in the main bedroom, which guests could use as well. Mort sat in the recliner and Lana sat on the edge of the bed.
“What happened when you left that day?”
“I went home, except it wasn’t there. My dad built it for my mom. I mean, the house was there, the address existed, but the house was different. I saw that and decided not to walk right up like I owned the place.”
“You’re living with your parents?”
“Dad has health issues. I decided to move back in after it became worse. I work, pay the bills, and help mom with dad. Or I used to.” She sighed. “Dad was a history professor. He passed that love on to me. We had our family tree, mom’s and dad’s side, on a genealogy website. I practically memorized it as a kid. I was fascinated. Dad found his lineage all the way back to the bronze age.”
Mort looked surprised. “I didn’t think that would be possible.”
“With DNA testing, it’s very easy, as long as remains were found from that era. My family originally came from Nienstedt, Germany. In 1993, they found remains of people from the bronze age near that town. My dad’s family can trace its roots right back to one of the remains. A male. The caveman was from the Bronze Age, Mort. I’ve done enough research to recognize what he was wearing.”
“You believe he was your ancestor?
“But he would have died no matter what, Lana. There was a volcano erupting nearby.”
“What if he had found a way around it without the door? What if he became so fascinated with the door to here, that he didn’t run when he could have?”
Mort held up his hands. “All right. Let’s go back to what we do know. Who do you know your dad doesn’t exist?”
She nodded. “I went back to my house after the caveman died. As I said, the house looked different. I went up to the door, knocked and plastered a lost and confused look on my face. My mom answered, and I almost said hi, except that she didn’t recognize me. Also, she looked a lot younger.” She hung her head. “I think the stress of taking care of my dad aged her. Now, she has a healthy husband.”
Lana shook her head. “I told my mom, who isn’t my mom any more, that I was looking for an address three blocks over. I live on Dubai Road. Dubai Street is not too far away. We have…had… that issue all the time. She smiled as if she understood and told me my mistake. I thanked her and left. I found a hotel, got a room and cried my eyes out. The next morning, I went to the library to research. The first thing I looked up was the archeological dig. It happened, but one less body was found than I remembered. Then tried to look up my dad and everyone in his family that I remembered names for. It was a lot.”
“No one existed?”
“No. My dad’s family is gone. My mom’s line is intact, but not my dad’s.”
“Did you have any siblings?”
She shook her head. “No, they just had me, but my dad’s brother had two kids. They’re gone now too.”
Mort sighed, thinking of Chauncy and the Time Constables, or whatever they were called. He needed to talk to Chauncy.
“Lana, what year are you from? I forget.”
“It’s 3102 when I leave that door.”
“And you were born in what year?”
“All right. Thank you. Try and rest. You’re welcomed to stay here for a while. There is someone I need to talk to about all this, but he only comes on Saturday nights. Until then, you can stay here, or not, as you please.”
“For tonight, I’ll stay here. It’s not that safe for me in my world.” She rubbed a spot on her forearm. “We have chips implanted into our arms as infants. Has all our identification. I had to avoid a few sentry points to get all the information I needed. Luckily, my dad knew a few things about computers, and he taught me. But the more I tamper, or travel in my time the more I have to worry about.”
“Understood. Stay here.” He stood. “If you care to help me here, you can.”
She smiled. “I would like that. Gives me an opportunity to earn my keep.”
Mort smiled, nodded, then left the room. He closed the door and went to his own room. He laid down on the bed to think, but did not fall asleep for a long, long time.