The Rooftop Session
She was thankful she’d remembered to wear an extra layer as she walked over the rooftops. She had heard that London was really chilly in January, but didn’t think it’d be like this.
As far as she was concerned, London had never been this cold, not when she was alive.
As she swung around a chimney pipe she kept her focus on the roofs of Savile Row. She felt a certain anticipation tingle through her long legs and fingers; she thought she could see goose flesh peeking through her green stockings as she edged her way over the dividing walls between the buildings, trying not to trip on skirting masonry.
She also thought that if she’d taken an extra second, she would have dressed with the weather in mind, not the scene.
At last, she thought she found the perfect spot. It was a straight line over to where Apple was based, giving her a good look at the roof. She checked her parabolic microphone disguised as a lipstick, and her image enhancement relay disguised as a compact, and proceeded to have a seat on the back end of a skylight-
-sitting in the lap of another woman who hadn’t been there before.
She looked at the other woman and started to knit her brow. Like her, this woman was dressed in some of the swingingest gear that could be worn in London, fitting her perfectly. Her dress was almost identical, in fact; if this other woman didn’t have blonde hair but was instead a brunette, this other woman might have passed for her sister.
Which made the woman who nearly sat on her very cross.
“Excuse me,” she said, “but I believe that’s my seat there.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” said the blonde near-seat, “because I claimed this seat first.”
“I think there’s been a major misunderstanding,” said the first woman. “I’ve come quite some distance to be here-“
“Oh, but you’re not allowed up on the roof,” said the blonde. “Don’t you know it’s an EU ruling, about running along on rooftops? You should be glad I got to you before the roofs commissioners did.”
“Nice try,” said the brunette, “but England doesn’t join the Common Market for another four years, and the roofs commissioners don’t start patrolling until at least 2074.”
“Ah,” was all the blonde could say.
“Now if you don’t mind, I came a few hundred years to get this seat for the last Beatles concert, and I don’t intend to miss this one thanks to some poor history student with rude manners who-“
“A few hundred years?” the blonde asked.
“Yes, from the year 2744. Now if you don’t mind, that’s my seat you’re-“
“I’m from 3256.”
“So?” asked the temporally wayward brunette.
“So,” said the further displaced blonde, “that means I’ve come back farther. Which means I should have the seat.”
“Of all the unmitigated gall!” the brunette replied. “You can’t claim a seat just because you’re from further in the future than I started!”
“Why not?” the blonde stood up, trying to use a height advantage to scare back a woman who might have been her great-grandmother (though had the blonde known for sure she was her ancestor, she still would have picked a fight). “It took me longer to get here, and maybe that means something in my time.”
“But it doesn’t in mine!” the brunette retorted. “Look, if I ran into a temporanaut from two hundred years before I was born, and she got here first, I would not make her move just because I was younger than her.”
“So maybe people from my time have more advanced technology, huh? And maybe we have weapons that you’d never seen coming, huh? How about that, huh?”
“Oh, let’s see… If I wanted to come to a concert in the past, I’d be packing something temporally destabilizing, just so that I could threaten someone whose seat I wanted. Oh, real smart! What was I, born before the Industrial Age?”
“Hey.” The two of them heard a man beneath them. When the two women turned to look for the source of the voice, they saw in their claimed seat a man with unruly orange hair wearing a ‘BEATLES’ sweater. “You mind? I came back from the year 2396 and I was promised a good seat here.”
“Oh no, you don’t!” the two women said in unison, and battle was joined.
Unbeknownst to the three who were temporally transposed, the Beatles had by now mounted the roof to play an impromptu concert. They started to plug in their instruments when they saw the commotion three sets of roofs over.
“Aw, cor,” said Paul McCartney with a sigh. “You don’t think…”
“Aye,” said John Lennon. “More ruddy time travelers.”
“Now didn’t I say,” said George Harrison. “Didn’t I say now, when we had to stop touring three years ago because of that lot, I did say when you suggested doing another show that they were going to find us and hound us again, Paul?”
“All right, all right,” said Paul in frustration, “you were right. Now what?”
“Well,” said John, “they’re expecting something good from us. You see them in the stands, that’s as much an omen as ravens over a battlefield.”
“Honestly,” said Paul. “You’d think they’d stay hidden better.”
Ringo Starr finished setting up his drum set and noticed the commotion. “So how many non-time travelers you think are watching us now?”
“Not so easy to tell ‘ere,” said John. “Remember the party with tees that had our names on them that showed up in ‘Amburg?”
“And the blokes at the side door in New York with those singles to sign, the ones we ‘adn’t done yet?” sighed Paul.
“Right,” said George. “Let’s get this started already.”
The fight between the three time travelers for one seat proceeded through the first number; none of them were aware enough that Paul directed the chorus of “Get Back” straight at them…
James Ryan sometimes listens to songs by artists other than the Beatles; lately he's really into "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans," "Don't Believe the Hype" and "Who's Sorry Now".... His work has appeared online at both Rational Magic and Pyramid, and in print in Dragon, Lacunae, the Urbanite, The Dream Zone, the New York Times, and some of the better men's room walls across the state of New York. His wife Susan lately sees a lot of her husband in their son Jamie; this has caused no end of worry at home.
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