The Curse of Roberta's Purse

Chapter two

Because of the subway getting stalled, Roberta had to hustle to make it to her new job as a researcher for a new firm that manufactured encyclopedias. Her new employers were a little mysterious and did not give her very many details about her new position. They had given her an address for their supposed publishing firm, telling her that if she could not reach them by phone, then she should go to a high rise apartment on 68th street. They seemed a little distracted and agitated about something, but she did not want to pry, thinking that because of the location of the firm, it might be a fly-by-night outfit. However, because she was young and a bit desperate for cash, and the rent on her brownstone apartment was almost due, she took them up on their offer of employment, hoping that they were legitimate.

She sprinted down the uneven city sidewalk, did a little dance with an older gentleman who stood in her path, tripped and fell. She closed her eyes for a second as she landed on her backside onto…a hard wood floor. Opening her eyes, she was surprised to find out that the scenery around her had changed. She was obviously no longer in New York. It took a moment for her eyes to get adjusted to the decreased light, and it was agreeably warm in this place. A bit winded from running, she did a quick search for her purse, having dropped it when she fell. It was nowhere to be found. She looked down at herself, and found that she was dressed like a biker chick; with black leather pants and a jacket to match. She was no longer wearing gloves. Her hair felt different too; shorter, with no curl, body or bounce. Baffled, she looked around as she got up off the floor. Apparently, she was in a large, run-down old building filled from floor to ceiling with what looked like antiques and memorabilia. "Where the heck am I?" She asked herself. From behind, she heard a sound like a motor. She turned around and saw a bearded dark-haired middle-aged gentleman with beady eyes and spectacles, driving a motorized cart.

"Oh, there you are, Claudia!" He said, relief evident in his voice. "Hop on. We need to get back to the office. What happened to you, anyway?"

Roberta frowned, trying to figure out who this guy was and how he knew her. She had never seen him before in her life. She complied with his request to get on the cart, the items surrounding her suddenly, for no apparent reason, giving her the heebee jeebies.

"I'm not sure." She answered honestly. "Who are you? What am I doing here? Where am I?"

"Does that old purse cause amnesia? The story of the history of that artifact that came in the box with it didn't say anything about the curse causing memory problems. Are you all right?"

"Fine… I think. Sir, I have no idea who you are or what you are talking about. What curse? Who is Claudia?"

"You are…aren't you?" The man suddenly sounded less certain that she was that Claudia person.

"No, my name is Roberta Lincoln. Who are you and where in the world am I?"

"Oh, great. You are Roberta? What happened to Claudia?"

Roberta shrugged, as the man shook his head with dismay, knowing now that somehow a transposition had taken place. How was he going to explain to this denizen of the nineteen sixties that she was now in the year 2010, and no longer in New York, but in a secret location in South Dakota? Also, being that she looked like Claudia, he thought it was safe to assume that his new computer whiz kid now looked like Roberta, and, by now, was probably trying to adjust to the fact that she was in an era when she wasn't even born yet.

The legend was typed on a piece of paper, yellowed with age. It stated that the fictional Roberta hadn't worked out as an intergalactic secret agent. In retaliation, she had gone to a groovy, happening, far-out gypsy fortune teller friend of hers, putting a curse on the purse. The curse was that any female who came in possession of the purse would be transported to the nineteen sixties, transposed with the fictional Roberta. The curse didn't work quite the way they expected it to. Instead of the fictional Roberta being transposed with whoever opened the purse, the real one switched places with the unlucky future female. That was good in a way. That meant that the episode "Assignment: Earth" was unchanged. Every female who came into possession of the purse in the next forty-two years had to relive the real adventure of Gary Seven, Isis and Roberta Lincoln's first meeting, and each re-enactment was different, depending on the individual. Strangely enough, nobody ever had the feeling of déjà vu. Artie wondered if the actress who played Roberta, Teri Garr, was ever transposed with the character. Somehow, he doubted it, but found the thought to be intriguing.

Supervisor 194 studied the face of the new arrival, apparently named Roberta, closely.

"Miss Lincoln…What kind of work did your employers hire you to do?"

Claudia thought hard, and then remembered. She thought it was kind of a lame thing for those agents to come up with.

"Research…for a new encyclopedia?"

"I don't think so. That's not what we do here. Dog gone it, Miss Lincoln, I'm going to have to keep you here for security reasons. You obviously know too much already, thanks to me and the incompetence of my agents. Please, come with me into the next room. I have to find out where they are."

Staying in his apartment was fine with Claudia, being that she had no idea what city she was in and she would have nowhere to go. She didn't even know where Roberta lived. She then noticed a lovely black cat with a shimmering collar as it jumped onto the nearest chair. It meowed at her as if to ask who she was.

"I already know what happened to your agents." She stated plainly. He stared at her in astonishment.

"You do? Pray tell me."

"They were killed in a car accident near a McKinley Rocket Base…wherever that was…I mean, is." Her memory of the episode helped, but she also saw a map of the base on Seven's desk, near the secret entrance to his safe-like transporter.

"You're joking. For them to die in something as useless as an automobile accident…I will have to verify this with my computer. Oh, and Miss Lincoln, whatever you see in here cannot be divulged with anyone."

Claudia smiled.

"Who would believe it?"