Pooja and the Portal Pursuer
It might be odd that Pooja P. Humphries has cockroaches for pets that travel loyally on the handlebar of her amazing time-traveling Walmart shopping cart, but she’s definitely whip-smart. She runs the Pooja Mysterium of Assorted Aritifacts and Wonders in the ancient world, after all. Oh yes, and she’s been brilliantly evading the super-bad CIA men for years. They destroyed her life’s work long ago and have been after her ever since. But when someone finally finds her time machine portal, could her reality be different than she believes?
Our Story Begins...
The old woman time traveler, Pooja P. Humphries, (who appeared to any outsider to look baggy and dirty and homeless), had finally passed through the deadly Ubari Desert alone last night under a blanket of twinkling gold stars and a warm westerly wind that smelled of baked cinnamon and rattlesnakes.
The swirls of darkness had been thick and powerful, frightening; the horizon diminished to a thin glowing chick-scratch of dusky orange.
Now, a pale pink dawn softened over the wide and warming sky, and in this utter expanse of flat nothings, far off in the distance, Pooja could see the blue sparkling wave of the Great Flat Sea as it began its quarterly high tide.
In a few minutes the cool salt water would hit her dusty toes.
# # #
Two days ago, Pooja had reentered the time travel portal just like usual; but in an unusual mistake, she had gotten disoriented in the nighttime desert and walked around in circles, (her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be), utterly lost on the vast cracked-clay plains of a pre-Egyptian earth, with her elastic head-torch from Home Depot blazing as bright as a commuter train.
Okay, not that bright.
Pooja’s progress had been as slow as, oh, I don’t know—how about a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart.
Pooja proudly pushed a heavy-gauge steel Walmart Elite.
And it was stuffed to the brim with items and covered with multi-colored tarps.
Her three pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, (Curly, Moe, and Jane) sat up front on the handlebar, their antennae waggling. Alert and watchful. Three inches long and loyal to the death, her cockies would emit a low-toned hiss when they sensed danger.
Pooja’s Elite had a squeaky left front wheel and the sides proclaimed proudly in blue-and-white English: SAVE MONEY. LIVE BETTER.
(Who cared about saving money? Just spend it; after all, we only live once. Perhaps.)
But the ‘Live Better’ part really was catchy. It was just a plain sentence but it still worked.
Who doesn’t want to live better?
The thought of all the new swag and booty and sale items in her shopping cart made Pooja smile underneath the hood of the brown bath towel she had wrapped over her head like a hoodie without the rest of the sweatshirt.
She also wore a fluffy brown dress right down to the flipflops on her feet, the cheapest ones on the rack at Payless, which she was now worried she might blow-out.
Fortunately, it had been August of the 21stcentury in the United States of America, which she had just visited through the time travel portal to do her monthly business. (So flipflops were appropriate attire in both the past and the present time.)