The rain lashed down. It bounced off the pavement with the appearance of a boiling cauldron and streamed in rivers down the window. I sipped my coffee, watching drenched pedestrians rushing for cover from the sudden deluge. I sat with a smug feeling, having entered the café moments before it commenced.
A man entered, wearing a grey trench coat and matching Trilby hat. He appeared to be very old but moved with the grace of a young man as he took off his coat, shook the water off and hung it up, his hat followed. His eyes fixed on mine.
He walked towards me, stopped at my table and sat down on the opposite seat.
“What is your name?” he asked.
My senses were already heightened before his question, now I felt distinctly uncomfortable with his presence, yet, for some reason, I gave it to him.
“Thank God,” he said, “I’ve been searching for you for a long time, a very long time.”
He withdrew a brown envelope from his jacket pocket and pushed it towards me with a liver spotted hand.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Open it and see, please.”
I looked inside and withdrew a key and a piece of paper with the plan of a building.
“What is all this?” I asked.
“All will become clear. You don’t like it here do you?”
“No, but how do you know that?”
“I have the benefit of, let’s say, future knowledge. You can’t afford to go home?”
“No, it’s out of the question. For most of us who come here it’s a one way trip.”
“But I’ve found a way.”
“Who are you?”
The stranger reached into his pocket again and produced a passport.
“Take a look,” he said.
“You have the same name as me!”
“Look closer; place and date of birth.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’ll explain. I came here long ago, in the same position as you. In time I completed my research and found a way to manipulate time and returned back here, now, to help you. That key is the way home.”
“We haven’t got long, I’ll be brief. I am you. Your future. If I can get you home I won’t have to spend my life in this God-forsaken place. The life I have led here will cease to be, a paradox I know; how can I be here now talking to you if I was never here?”
“But you have to trust me, for both our sakes. Go to the space port, there you will find a disused room, marked with an ‘X’ on the plan. The key will unlock the door and inside is the transporter I brought back from the future. I have left instructions with it, very simple, it is preset to return you home. Time is running out, you must go. Farewell.”
The man rose, retrieved his hat and coat and walked out. In the blink of an eye he was gone, he simply vanished.
What did I have to lose? I hated it here, trapped. Perhaps this is all fantasy but it wasn’t far to the space port. It had to be worth a look.
And that is exactly how I managed to return home. To leave the persistent rain, the dark skies and the dependence on imported food.
They had terra-formed Mars in 2031 giving those brave enough to risk it the promise of a bright, new future. It didn’t turn out that way. It was bliss to get back to Ganymede.