March 15, 2018 CE
Pain rippled through Caesar’s head like a hot ice pick through the eye. Light blinded him as he tried to remain standing, only to collapse on the ground. Nausea overwhelmed him. He rolled to his side then threw up. People passed by him, shaking their heads, thinking that he was some drunk sullying the streets.
Consciousness tried to escape Caesar; he fought to stay awake, despite how difficult it was. Every cell in his body ached as if the fiber that kept him intact was being pulled apart. He noted how his teeth hurt the most; it felt like an invisible force was trying to pull each one out from the roots.
Caesar crawled to the edge of a building. He managed to look up at the massive structure, frightened by its height. Against the clouds, the building appeared to sway and he thought that it might come crashing down on him. The sight caused him to be dizzy again but he fought the urge to vomit a second time.
As the spinning slowed and the light dimmed, he was able to survey the area. He had never seen anything like it before. Giant buildings shot towards the sky, giant pictures littered the landscape, thousands of people walked in every direction, golden arches hung just above him. The smell of gasoline draped itself in the air. Caesar didn’t know what the smell was, he only knew that it stank.
The people spoke in a strange language. He only understood a stray word here and there, but even those words were nothing more than variations of the ones that he knew. “Auxilium requiro,” he eeked out, “Auxilium requiro,” he repeated as the realization set in that he wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone.
Without any notice, a high pitch squeal rang through his ears and there was a sudden flash of light behind his eyes. He closed them momentarily until the noise dulled. When he reopened his eyes, he tried calling out again, “I need help!”
Caesar used the side of the building to prop himself up to his feet. His legs wobbled. A good Samaritan noticed that Caesar was having difficulties and came to his aid, “Those are some nice robes you have on,” the Samaritan tried joking, believing that Caesar was just another homeless man needing a hand.
“Thank you,” Caesar accepted the man’s words as a compliment. Caesar straightened himself as best he could but the sting of fresh pain in his oblique caused him to bed forward. He rubbed his hand against the wound, where warm liquid stained his toga picta. When Caesar raised his hand to examine it, the Samaritan became deeply concerned.
“You’re bleeding,” the man examined Caesar’s hand to see the gash that ran down his palm, “What happened to you?”
“Someone tried to stab me,” Caesar let out a weak chuckle.
“It looks like they got you.”
“Yes, they did. A couple of times, I think. It could have been worse,” Caesar tried to figure out what just happened. The events were so bizarre and the pain too great for him to come up with anything reasonable. He took a deep breath. “I was also cut on my side. I don’t know how bad it is.”
The Samaritan bent across Caesar to take a look. The spot of blood was visibly getting larger, “I think you need to get to a hospital. I’ll get a cab.”
Caesar nodded. With the man’s support, he was able to take a few steps. As Caesar hobbled forward, his eyes met up with a woman who seemed to float when she moved. She had short, dark hair. The features on her face were small and flawless, with a small beauty mark under her left eye. She looked serious and moved with a determination that Caesar found attractive. She was dressed in black leather pants that clung tightly to her legs; a simple white t-shirt was covered by more leather.
Entranced, Caesar leered at her as she moved closer. He didn’t noticed when she pulled a dagger out from under her jacket, unlike the Samaritan, who caught a glimpse of the weapon as the woman swung it toward Caesar’s ribcage. The Samaritan let go of Caesar in order to shove the woman away. He managed prevent her from plummeting the dagger deep into his chest, but Caesar was still cut across his ribs. Enough to start a new fountain of blood.
The Samaritan cried out, “Help! Someone call 911. And get that woman!” But it was too late to get the woman. She was long gone. The Samaritan figured that she disappeared into the crowd. The man re-focused on Caesar who was bleeding heavily, “Call 911!”
Caesar wondered why everyone wanted to stab him today. It was only a passing thought as consciousness eluded him. He went limp in the Samaritan’s arms.
* * *
“I think he’s coming around,” the doctor said as Caesar opened his eyes. The room slowly came into focus, which was filled with gadgets that he couldn’t comprehend. This place was so strange. Screens that displayed moving images, machines that beeped, building materials that he never knew existed. It was unbelievable. He couldn’t take the time to let it all soak in, though. He was far more concerned about the assassination attempts. First the senate – but at least that made sense. He expected them to make an attempt on his life, given his continued efforts to weaken their power. That one, Caesar expected.
The real question was about the woman. Why did she try to kill me, Caesar thought to himself. He was sure that they had never met before. Caesar sighed deeply, causing a fire in his abdomen. The pain tore him away from his line off thought.
Caesar looked down to examine himself. His toga picta was gone, replaced by a white patient’s gown. The stab wounds that marked his body hurt but were no longer bleeding. This wasn’t the first time that Caesar had been injured by a blade, so the feeling was familiar. He turned to talk to the doctor, noting how stiff his body felt, “Where am I?”
“You’re at Beth Israel Hospital. You gave us quite a scare.”
“I… I need to get going,” Caesar said. He tried to sit up but the pain forced him back down.
The doctor pushed back slightly on his shoulders. She said, “You aren’t in any shape to leave yet. Plus, we don’t even know who you are. We need information first.”
“What kind of information,” Caesar grunted. He wasn’t in the mood for talking.
“Your name, for starters. And do you have any insurance?”
Caesar rolled his eyes, “Don’t you know who I am? My name is Gaius Julius Caesar. I am the First Citizen of Rome.”
The doctor nodded, “I see. Well, Caesar, we took a number of scans while you were unconscious. You were lucky that no vital organs were pierced. In my opinion, the bigger problem is what’s going on in your brain. We found some very unusual activity, which could be causing this,” she stopped to choose her words carefully, “this, belief that you are Julius Caesar.”
“What do you mean,” his lips pursed. He didn’t like the idea of someone questioning the legitimacy of his claim.
“Can’t you see how this idea of yours might be problematic?”
Caesar couldn’t see how this was problematic. He was, after all, the new Emperor of Rome; although, this land was foreign and perhaps the woman didn’t know him, “I know this isn’t Rome. I don’t know where I am. Everything is so strange here.”
“This is New York.”
“I’ve never heard of it before. I’m not even sure how I ended up here.”
“Being here is only part of the problem. While I believe you, that you think you are Julius Caesar, don’t you think that you – or he, rather – would be dead by now?”
“I don’t understand what you mean,” Caesar’s face hardened.
“This is twenty-eighteen. Caesar has been dead for well over two thousand years!”
Caesar shrank further into the bed. Her idea seemed preposterous, yet he couldn’t explain what he saw outside. Even as he surveyed the hospital room, he had never seen any of the equipment.
There was also the fact that he should be dead. Not for two thousand years, as the doctor suggested, but from the events earlier this morning. He recalled the events in the senate house once again, even though it all felt more like a dream now. Am I dead, he wondered? Was New York the afterlife? No, it couldn’t be. There must be a better explanation for this. Words eluded Caesar for the moment as he laid there, fish-mouthed.
The doctor continued, “Anyhow, we have some concerns. We need to run some more tests to look at your brain activity. I’d also like you to speak with our psychologist. We just want to get an understanding of what you’re thinking.”
Caesar nodded. He didn’t want to talk anymore, nor did he want to have some look at his brain. He did need to rest a little longer.