The mechanical ring of his alarm clock splintered his dreams, slowly and painfully dragging Charlie back to the world of wakefulness. He flailed an arm toward the source of the sound, finally silencing it with the slap of a palm.
He glanced over to check the time, but couldn’t see anything. “Stupid mechanical clocks,” he grumbled. He’d have given a lot to be able to use his phone, but it was too risky. He’d forget and leave it out, and it’d be seen. Not worth it.
He dragged himself out of bed and through the shower, which got him about halfway to wakefulness. Showers, he thought, are worth giving up the phone. And a lot more, come to it. It’d been a long time since he’d lived in a place with a functioning shower, much less one that he had all to himself.
He threw on a robe and turned on the mechanical percolator he’d prepared the night before to make his morning’s coffee. The machine plugged in to the city’s electrical grid, a luxury many of the people around him would be jealous of. It still took him some getting used to the idea that things needed wires to draw power.
Coffee perking away and filling the air with delicious scents, he opened the front door and collected the paper. It was 4:30am, according to his kitchen clock, yet the paper was already delivered. Remarkable. He returned to the kitchen and put his copy of The Herald, Saturday edition, on the table. March 1st, 1930. The headlines were full of doom and gloom about the depression. A lot of the bad effects had yet to be felt, he knew, but he tossed the paper aside. He didn’t need it.
He poured a mug of the strong-smelling brew and looked around almost furtively. The apartment was small for a two-bedroom place. The kitchen and living room were small and combined, with one bath and two bedrooms leading off of the living side of the room. It got no light even in the day, but it served his needs and then some. Considering where he’d come from, it was a paradise.
He stirred milk into his coffee and sipped, wincing at the heat but sighing at the relief of the caffeine working its way through his system. He turned and crossed the room to the other bedroom, which he’d set up as an office.
Shutting the door behind him, he set the coffee on a large flat desk next to the sole window in the room. The shades were drawn; he left them drawn at all times.
From under the desk he drew a small wooden crate and removed the top. Inside it was padded with wads of newsprint, collected from several weeks worth of The Herald. He rummaged under the padding until he found the tools of his trade; his smart phone, a larger format tablet computer, and a small but bulky temporal hub.
The temporal hub had one whole side dedicated to a status display. He tapped some controls on the display and waited for all the indicators to turn green. His tablet and phone, dormant until now, suddenly burst into life. Their screens turned on, time displays updated, notification counters ticked upward as contacts tried to get hold of him by mail or other means.
He sipped his coffee again and sighed in satisfaction. He was home again, at least virtually. He was reconnected to 2041.