All of a sudden the King was gasping for air. The guards retreated to save their master. The King was in trouble. He stood up and started pacing randomly, straining to breathe. Then he collapsed to the ground. His lips were blue and swollen.
The room was filled with silent horror. My god. It finally sunk in. John had heard about anaphylactic shock. The King was probably allergic to the chocolate. Maybe it contained traces of nuts.
The guards rushed to the King’s aid. They tried to revive him for a few minutes but it was futile. All eyes now stared accusingly at John.
Sh*t – why had he frozen? John knew he had to get out of there quickly! The panic button was his only chance given he hadn’t requested any heavy weapons. He pressed it. It needed ten seconds to work. Stupid technology! Couldn’t they make it any faster?
The guards came rushing towards him.
It wasn’t going to be fast enough. The armor on his body was little protection when his head was completely uncovered.
Now he had weapons pointed at him. One guard lifted his weapon into striking position.
John cried out “It wasn’t me! It was the food taster. Why did he not die? This is his witchcraft!”
The guards weren’t convinced… yet.
“I saw him!” John shouted, “He put poison on the food the King ate. Think about it. Why is he still alive and the King dead? They both ate the same food.”
Now they looked confused.
“I did no such thing!” the food taster shrieked. “He is a lier and a killer!”
“Just kill both of them!” someone shouted from the crowd. One of the guards motioned and the food taster was dragged towards the group of guards that were surrounding John. He was kicking and screaming “Let me go! I did nothing! Please….”.
“Both of you will confess now!” shouted the head guard, “or your will be tortured and burned alive.”
There was a frightening silence. Then it was quickly broken. A guard grabbed John by the throat and spat in his face. “You heard! Confess!”. At the same time, another guard slapped the food taster across his face. The food taster was crying – “No… It wasn’t me. Let me go! I want to go back to my family.”
John disappeared from the scene in an instant.
The food taster would not be so lucky.
John was back in the time-holiday centre. He was handed a towel to wipe the saliva off his face.
“What a rush John! You were on the edge.” The time helper sounded excited. He was a good salesman.
“What have I done?” John said quietly to himself.
His helper patted him on the shoulder gently. He went into emphatic mode. “Don’t be so concerned. They were created far you-for your holiday. They mean nothing. It’s not as if they have lives to go to. Just enjoy the adrenaline pump.”
“What will happen to them now?” John asked.
“Well, if there’s a demand for the contents that remain, they may be used again- “recycled”, if you like. Given that the history in that copy dimension has been altered irrevocably, it will probably attract hunters or other destructive kinds of holidays. It will be held for thirty more days and then, if no one likes it, it will be archived.
“What happens when it’s archived?”
“Now you’re asking too much. That’s a trade secret.”
John couldn’t help feeling uneasy with that response.