Well, I’d wanted to travel, so I shouldn’t complain. Not that it will stop me; I’m pigheaded. The last thing I remembered was staying up to get some writing done. Then I found myself on some wreckage just off the coast of someplace or other. It was sunny, roughly mid-morning at best guess, and the coast was to my east and looking more arid than any part of Maine, let alone Somesville. A good half of my brain started gibbering, but the other half just growled in annoyance and let me start assessing my situation. I was too far out to swim to shore, but there was other wreckage nearby that I could use as oars, so that was good. And… either I was in a nightgown, which was unlikely, or I was doing some sort of Regency re-enactment. I couldn’t tell you if it was muslin or linen, but it was fairly light-weight, which was a good thing if I ended up in the water. I wasn’t wearing my watch, which was another point in the re-enactment column. In fact, there wasn’t a single anachronism on me anywhere. That could be inconvenient.
It occurred to me that it could be a dream, which would also account for the memories which weren’t mine. Apparently I had been on my way to marry some schmuck my parents, who weren’t my actual parents but were for whatever this was, had chosen for me. Joy. Suddenly the shipwreck didn’t seem quite as horrible. I felt a little guilty about that; people had died, after all. And I still could if I didn’t get my ass in gear.
I’m not really a survival expert, although I am a registered Maine Guide, but I’m also not an idiot and I did have some kayaking experience. I grabbed a bit of broken board out of the water and started paddling toward the coast, trying to watch for currents that might help and keeping an eye on the surf patterns. I’ve never surfed in my life, and I didn’t want to start like this.
The next few hours sucked beyond telling. My arms hurt, I could feel the sunburn, and dehydration was a major concern. But I got closer to the coast, and had enough luck to be doing it somewhere around low tide. And there were buildings visible, which meant people. I reached the shore, very happy not to be re-enacting a certain Longfellow poem, and headed for what I hoped would be the part of the rescue I couldn’t do myself.
As I reached the place, which wasn’t much bigger than the village I’d grown up in, I realized that I really did not blend. I mean, even leaving off the whole shipwrecked bit. I know traditional Spanish/Hispanic/Latin American garb when I see it, even if I can’t get much more accurate than that. And the people matched the garb. For the record, I can almost blend into a crowd anywhere in the British Isles/northwestern Europe. But not here. So people were staring at me for pretty much every reason imaginable.
Then someone, a woman, spoke to me and I knew I was thoroughly boned. Because, of course, he spoke Spanish. Which I do not. I took French in school because that was the sensible option when you live a couple of hours from the Canadian border, especially since our school taught Quebecois French. So I said the most intelligent thing that came to mind.
“Oh, bugger a hedgehog.”
The woman blinked at me, then turned to a man and spoke rapidly before turning back to me and speaking slowly and carefully, indicating that I should follow her. I understood “senorita”, which was me, and “taberna”, tavern, and “doctor”, because duh. Under normal circumstances I’d have told her to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, because what woman with sense would follow a stranger to a bar, but whether or not this was a dream, normal had taken a hike long ago and was replaced by get me out of this fucking sun before I pass out. So, yeah, I followed her.
The tavern was cooler than outdoors; adobe walls are good insulators and outdoors wasn’t really as hot as it felt after hours in the sun. Alarmed voices sprang up everywhere, but the contrast between the bright sunlight and indoors meant I couldn’t see a damn thing. Which is when it occurred to me that my glasses had gone down with the ship. Give me a break, I was distracted and my prescription's not that strong. But gentle hands guided me to a seat and put a mug in my hands. I took a careful sip, then a slightly larger one as I realized it wasn’t alcoholic and therefore less likely to try to kill me. I’m not sure what it was, but it felt good right then. I wanted to chug the whole thing, but I knew that was a bad idea.
“Excuse me, miss, but Don Andres said you spoke English when Senorita Escalante addressed you.”
“Prob—“ I winced at the croak that came out, took another sip followed by a few breaths, and tried again. “Probably because I did. And if I spoke anything remotely like decent Spanish, I’d thank her for getting me here and finding a Canadian to translate.”
“…Canadian?” I swear I could hear him blinking. Okay, I’d gotten that wrong.
“You sound Canadian. I’d apologize, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I have family in Canada.” Did that even make sense? Probably not; I was pretty out of it by then.
“Ah, yes, of course. Permit me to introduce myself: I am Don Diego de la Vega, and you are in Pueblo de los Angeles. I suspect we will need to have a more in-depth conversation at some point, but now is clearly not the time.”
“I'm Rusty MacDonald, and is it because I’m heading for a truly epic crash and burn sometime soon?”
“I wouldn’t have phrased it quite like that, but, now that you mention it…” My eyes were adjusting, and I could see him grin. But I didn’t need to see him to know what he looked like; my aunt was a huge fan of the show, had every episode on VHS and then DVD, and had indoctrinated me when she babysat me. So this was a dream, or I’d landed in a self-insert fic. Or I’d gone nuts. At the moment, the part of my brain that would care had shut down for repairs. Then I heard a loud voice outside the building and saw Don Diego/Zorro wince. “Oh, dear. Senorita, I apologize on behalf of the entire pueblo for what is about to occur.”
“And I apologize on behalf of the entire me for what I’ll do if that jackass keeps bellowing.”
He might have replied to that, but in barged Alcalde Luis Ramon, which told me I was in one of the early seasons. I didn’t understand what he was saying, but I remembered his character enough to guess that he was accusing me of something. Don Diego said something quiet, garnering a few chuckles. That set off another rant, and this time two words popped out: “espia” and “bruja”. Spy and witch. I am not the most even-tempered individual in the world, and just then I was hurting, headachy, and probably in the midst of sun/heatstroke. In short, I was fed right the hell up. I took a bigger sip to make sure my throat was well lubricated and stood up, cutting the jerk off mid-sentence.
“You, sir, are a rude, over-bearing, paranoid-delusional halfwit,” I said, projecting the way I had at that job where the intercom didn’t work half the time; opera training is useful in the strangest ways. “A woman staggers into your town half-dead, and the first thing you do on hearing this is to come and yell at her? Who does that? I stand out too much to make a decent spy, and if I was a witch, do you really think I’d have let myself get this sunburned? I know it’s a strain, but for god’s sake think for a change! Seriously, why are the cute blonde guys always crazy? …I just said that, didn’t I. You know, I really think I need to sit down again…”
I suspect I passed out to keep my mouth from getting me in more trouble.