You can read the previous post in this series here: Part 7
The duo walked west and reached the river that Sage had found. They grabbed some water and picked wild fruits for food.
“Let’s swim across that brook. It doesn’t seem too deep,” Livia suggested.
“And if there’s a crocodile?”
“I’m not falling for that! I don’t see any wild beasts.”
“I saw a leopard here yesterday!”
“Oh! Well, you saw smoke across the river. If we can’t swim there, you can make us a boat,” Livia said.
“Who do you think I am? Robinson Crusoe? Let’s swim.”
“Good! You can go in first.”
“Absolutely not! Ladies first.”
“Sage, you’re impossible! Together.”
Sage and Livia swam across and trudged through the dense jungle. Even after a few hours, they couldn’t find anyone. The pair lost hope of finding humans.
“Did you hallucinate the smoke, Sage? There’s no one here!”
“I don’t know, Livia. Maybe I did. It’s noon. We should return to our treehouse before sunset.”
“A bit more. We can sprint back.”
They walked a few steps ahead when Livia noticed a large clearing between the trees. Looking through it, they spotted something that looked like a village. Except, it barely had huts. There was something odd about it. It was full of exercise equipment, weapons, and more. It looked like some camp.
“It’s a camp! Humans,” they celebrated.
Then, Livia echoed Sage’s thoughts, “Who makes camps in the middle of a forest?”
“Terrorists! That’s the last thing we want,” Sage muttered.
“That’ll be…,” Livia started when Sage gestured her to be silent.
Several saffron-robed adults and children walked out of one of those huts. Sage stared at the place oddly. The setup, the culture, and everything seemed familiar— as if he had read about it in a book somewhere.
“It looks like a cult! We must hurry out of here. Sage, let’s go,” Livia said, looking him straight in the eye with a nervous look on her face.
Sage was about to agree when it hit him: I saw a village like this in a book of ancient civilizations, he thought.
“Livia, I think this might be a Gurukul school of—,” Sage said without taking his eyes off that place.
“Ancient India? Are you nuts? You’re telling me that the earthquake teleported us to Ancient India? Life isn’t a science fiction novel.”
Sage shrugged, not knowing what to do. After a while, he said, “Who knows? Maybe we’re featuring in sci-fi.”
“Wow! Science fiction,” Livia exclaimed.
“This is crazy! Livia, let’s sneak in there. If it is a Gurukul school, there might be a library. I’ve read about those. We can see if their books have some information about this place.”
“If this is Ancient India, how will we read their books? Our history textbook said ancient Indians spoke some Sanskrit dialect,” Livia wondered aloud.
“Oh! I never thought of that. That’s a problem. Well, we can at least spend the night hiding in their library. It’ll be pitch dark before we can get to our treehouse.”
Soon, it was nighttime. Livia and Sage carefully snuck into a corner of the school. Then, they tiptoed toward the small hut that they had identified as the potential library. When they entered, a plethora of palm leaves greeted them.
“Oh, wait! Where are all the books? I only see palm leaves,” Livia exclaimed.
“This is their library. Don’t you remember? Ancient Indians wrote on palm leaves,” Sage noted.
Livia picked up one of those “books” and signaled Sage to come over.
“Sage, this is bizarre. I can read these! And, I don’t know the basics of Sanskrit!”
“This is creepy. I can read them too. How are we reading it?”
“How did we transport here? Some things have no explanation.”
They skimmed through the manuscripts in that library. Sage located one that looked promising. It appeared older than the other manuscripts there.
“Livia, check this out! They’re talking about time travel!”
Livia peeped into that book when she heard a noise. “Sage, let’s get to some corner and sleep. We can read this later on.”
“How about we take turns to sleep? We don’t want to get caught.”
Note: This is a collaborative effort with Rishi Sridhar.
You can read the next part in this series here: Part 9