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Bard Times

Part One: “I sigh’d my English breath in foreign clouds”

23 February 2018

It was 1578. William Shakespeare was 14 years old when he left school. Then he disappeared. Between 1578 and 1582, there is no documented evidence linking the bard to any job or location. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did in those four years. Until now.

His head was nested in a ruff, a sort of circle thing around his neck. Tufts of hair dotted his face, a bit like dirt. A squirrely hand patted the foreign floor, strangely soft and hard at once, an ambivalent floor, quite unlike the wooden floors at home. Sweat clung to his brow and a purple disk hung above his head, whirring like water, a sea in a storm. Before his eyes were strange glowing squares, a corridor it would seem, with boxes standing upright.

“You right, mate?”

“A strange voice doth rest upon my ears. Wherefore doth thou speak?”

“You’re in the Baillieu library.”

“Thou art a boil, a plague sore. My question thou slaughter, thy answer I disrelish. I ask wherefore, I hasn’t sought a site. More of this conversation would infect my brain.”

“Look mate, ah, did you come through that thing?”

“As its waves made towards this foreign world, so too my minutes hasten to their end.”

“Look mate, you’re not gonna die. We’ll figure out what’s happened. What’s your name?”

“What’s in a name?”

“Oh, I get it. Very clever.”

“Aye, I am cunning forsooth, thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter.”

“My name’s Wayne, alright.”

“Foul friend, wither art we bound?”

“You’re at the University of Melbourne, and it’s 2018.”

“A cursed day this has been.”

 

A bespectacled man sat at his desk, the rim floating on his nose, threatening to slide down at any moment. The young bard inspected the wheelie chair he was meant to sit on, slightly confused, unsure what to do. He moistened his index finger, firmly poked at the chair, curiously watched it roll and rattle into a filing cabinet.

“Mr William Shakespeare, my name is Professor Glyn Davis. Please take a seat.”

“Do not thou want it?”

“Mr Shakespeare, I understand this is very confusing for you, but a wormhole binding 1578 England with 2018 Australia has formed in the Baillieu library. Head of physics has examined the matter, and she estimates the quantum pull will reverse in four years, after which you’ll be able to return home. Until then, you’re stuck here.”

“Such strange words roll off your tongue. I has’t no abode, no cousins, no duty. What must I do?”

“Look, Shakespeare. I am reluctant to enrol you at the University, but if you apply for the Community Access Program you can satisfy course prerequisites with just a small upfront payment. Once paid, I’m happy for you to spend the next four years at our university.”

Shakespeare sat, frowning, eyebrows knotted. His lips were slightly parted, an asymmetrical crack. He was on the LMS. A short list of subjects sat on his screen. The bard rubbed his head and leant in close. It smelt like glass. He waved his hand and scratched at the display, curled up his finger and rested it on his lip. Hesitantly, he lay a finger on a square below the letters. A black dot ran about the screen and he screamed. He threw up his hands and ran around in a circle. A nearby student approached, ponytail bobbing as she walked onto the scene.

“Are you okay?”

“A vile creature inhabits my LMS.”

“Okay… My name’s Chloe. You okay? Why are you wearing that get-up?”

“Away, maid! Wherefore art thou in this academy?”

“I’m studying media and communications.”

“And quite unfit as a woman.”

“I’m about to kick your balls, mate!”

“Please do not harm my nuggets of life. I hath been snatched from my home, I’m all alone in this world.”

“Oh, you’re that bloke. Yeah, I got the email. Charles Dickens or someone fell through a wormhole. I mean I didn’t really read it, I was watching Masterchef.”

“Is Masterchef a play?”

“Yeah, I suppose it is Charles Dickens. Come with me, I’ll give you the tour. But call me a maid once more and I’ll kick your balls off.”


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