This story begins the evening of the day in which the Abbe de Coulmier took the Marquis' quills away, following his incendiary play concerning Dr. Royer-Collard.
It was getting dark outside, almost dinnertime. The Marquis' candles were already lit. His room was a mess, as he had torn it apart, looking for something to fashion as a quill. He gave up, sat in his chair and sighed.
Meanwhile, Madeleine was walking towards the Marquis' room with his dinner tray, all the while thinking about how Abbe had stripped him of his quills. She stopped and said to herself, "it's not right." She turned around and headed to her quarters. Her mother was already asleep, exhausted from the day's work. Madeleine smiled and kissed her mother on the cheek. Madeleine found some ink and two quill pens and hid them within the layers of clothing she was wearing. She headed down the corridor and walked towards the Marquis' door. She saw Valcour sitting outside the door. She waited and soon, Valcour fell asleep. She snuck past him and entered the Marquis' quarters.
"Madeleine, my sweet!" called the Marquis, turning around in his chair.
"Sshh!" Madeleine whispered. "We mustn't wake Valcour."
"I was wondering where my dinner was," said the Marquis as he took his dinner tray from Madeleine and set it down upon his desk. "I wasn't expecting a personal visit. What's the occasion?"
Madeleine started reaching into her dress to find the quills and ink; she was fumbling with her skirts to find them. The Marquis' eyes widened. "What's the occasion indeed?" he asked.
"Erase those naughty thoughts from your head, Marquis."
"So you did not come here to remove your dress so that I might gaze upon your milky-white --"
"Something better," Madeleine replied as she found the ink and quills and held them out for the Marquis to see.
The Marquis gasped in surprise and smiled widely. He took the quills and ink and placed them on his desk. He then turned and looked at Madeleine. "Oh, my lovely Madeleine. There's only one gift I desire more than what you've brought me this night."
The Marquis looked at Madeleine suggestively. To her surprise, he only hugged her and did make any lewd advances or comments.
"I'd better leave now," she whispered. "Make sure you hide the ink and quills well, so neither of us is punished."
"Why don't you stay longer? Come and watch me compose my newest prose," he invited.
"No, I mustn't," she replied. "I have to leave before Valcour wakes up."
"Oh, he'll sleep for hours," said the Marquis. "You needn't worry about that."
"Mother will be wondering where I am. I don't want to worry her."
"Your mother is a grown woman. She'll be fine. Besides, you'll be back before she knows you're gone."
"Why do you want me to stay?" she asked.
"Why do you want to leave?"
"I…I just don't want either of us to get into trouble," Madeleine replied.
"You're safer here than in any other location in the entire madhouse," said the Marquis as he placed a second chair by his desk. He held his arm out towards the chair to invite Madeleine to sit down.
"I meant, I don't want anyone to catch us and punish us for --"
"Catch us doing what?" The Marquis smiled slyly.
Madeleine sighed. "Very well. I'll stay a little while."
"Have some wine."
"No thank you. What is the subject of your new story?" Madeleine asked as she sat down.
"It's the story of a doctor fellow," said the Marquis as he poured two glasses of wine. "He has a manhood the size of a bobbin…and a brain to match."
"His lovely bride is almost forty years younger than he. A mere child. To compensate for his inadequacies, the doctor can only spend his riches on material goods."
The Marquis walked over to the desk and placed a glass of wine in front of Madeleine, while sipping some wine from his own glass.
"I know who this is about," Madeleine said while giggling. "But you know what happened after your play. This won't go over well with the doctor…or Abbe. He's already taken away your quills. You don't want him to take away all your possessions, do you?"
"Abbe would never do that to me," the Marquis said as he sat down. "Besides, I won't publish it. I'm writing it for my own personal use…my own amusement." The Marquis started writing. He stopped and sighed.
"What are you thinking about?" asked Madeleine, taking a sip of wine.
"If only we could live in another place…another time. Can you imagine how things will be in only a couple of centuries?"
Madeleine looked pensive. "No, I can't. But we shall never know."
"I guarantee you, the stories I have written will be nothing compared to the writings, or whatever forms of expression exist by then. There would be no controversy about my books. My writings would amuse more than enrage. Of course, any reaction is good, in my humble opinion."
Madeleine shrugged and sipped her wine again.
The Marquis picked up the piece of parchment he had written on and crumpled it up.
"What are you doing?" Madeleine asked.
"I've changed my mind about the story I'm going to write. I'm going to write a story about…the future…"
"How far into the future?" asked Madeleine, curious.
The Marquis started writing as quickly as he could, as his ideas flowed quickly. Eventually, his wrist started to hurt from all the writing he was doing, so he dictated to Madeleine and she filled page after page with the Marquis' thoughts.
Hours later, the candles had burnt out and the sun was coming up. The Marquis and Madeleine were fast asleep, with their heads resting upon the desk.
Madeleine was the first to open her eyes. She yawned and looked around. She gasped and stood up. She was no longer in the Marquis' room. She saw grass and trees all around. She looked back at the desk she had just woken from, but it was not a desk; it was a wooden bench. The parchment, quills, ink and candles were gone. The Marquis was still asleep. Madeleine went over and shook him.
"Wake up, Marquis! Wake up!"
The Marquis woke up and looked up at Madeleine. He smiled. "It's morning already…and you're still here. Did we enjoy our nighttime festivities? I can't recall…"
"Look around, Marquis!" yelled Madeleine.
The Marquis looked around and noticed his surroundings. He stood up quickly and blinked several times, as if blinking would bring him back to his familiar quarters.
"What could it be?" asked Madeleine. "Maybe we were found last night and they moved us in the middle of nowhere, as a punishment."
"No, I don't think so," replied the Marquis.
Just then, two children rode by on bicycles. Madeleine and the Marquis screamed. The two children looked at them, screamed and rode away quickly.
"Something tells me we're not in Paris anymore," concluded Madeleine.
"I don't think we're in the same century anymore," added the Marquis.
"Don't be silly. I don't know where we are, but this must be some sort of punishment for me being in your quarters alone with you late into the night."
The Marquis closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "Ah, fresh air. What a lovely punishment." He started to walk away from the table.
"Where are you going? For all you know there are men with weapons…guillotines surrounding us. We've no idea the horrors that await us out there beyond the trees."
The Marquis turned around. "You know better than anyone that I am not one to fear such peril. I will take my chances with the world beyond the trees."
"No, don't! Let's stay here and wait for Abbe to come and fetch us."
"You may remain here if you prefer," said the Marquis. "But I look forward to whatever exists beyond those trees."
"Wait!" Madeleine held onto her skirt as she ran to catch up the Marquis.
As they emerged from the park, their mouths were wide open in shock. There were so many things they'd never seen before; most notably, automobiles. The clothing people were wearing also shocked them. They walked onto the sidewalk, which was in front of a long line of stores and restaurants.
As their mouths were wide open in shock, many people walking down the sidewalk were staring at them with mouths agape. Some people in cars on the road slowed down to look.
The Marquis spotted an attractive young woman leaving a store. He decided to ask her where…and when…he and Madeleine were.
"You there, girl. Come here."
The woman turned around and saw the Marquis and Madeleine.
"Me?" she questioned as she walked over to them.
She walked up to them and looked them up and down. "You two look great! Your clothes are far out!"
"What do you mean by that?" asked the Marquis, looking down at his clothes. "I assure you, this is how they are to be worn."
"Hey, it's cool dude," the woman said. "I get it. You're totally retro. Me too. See my shirt?"
The woman pointed to her shirt, which said, "Totally Radical!" on it.
"I'm into the 80's," she said. "Not just the lingo, like, the movies, too, and the music."
"The 80's?" asked Madeleine.
"She speaks of a year," said the Marquis. "She prefers a particular year. Is that correct, Madam?"
"Oh yeah, totally. I love the 80's. I'm all about the 80's."
"Are you referring to the 1780's?" asked the Marquis.
The woman laughed. "You're a riot. Do I look like I'm dressed in 1780's duds? I'm talking about the 1980's."
The Marquis and Madeleine looked at each other.
"But...how can you know what things will be like or look like in that year?" queried Madeleine.
The woman appeared confused.
"What year is this?" asked the Marquis.
"Oh," the woman said as she giggled. "So you two dress AND act like you're from the past. That's totally rad. OK, I'll go along with it." The woman cleared her throat. "It's the year 2003. You're in America. I'm Tracy."
Once again, the Marquis and Madeleine opened their mouths wide in shock.
"And you?" asked the woman.
The Marquis quickly composed himself. "Donatien Alphonse Francois Compte De Sade, at your service," said the Marquis as he lifted Tracy's hand and kissed it.
Tracy laughed. "Woah, dude. That's some name you got there."
"You may call me Marquis," he said. "Most people do."
He smiled at Tracy. Madeleine still appeared a bit frazzled by the experience.
"Oh, and this is Madeleine LeClerc."
"Pleased to meet you," Madeleine said.
"Likewise," said Tracy.
"I must write this down," said the Marquis to Madeleine. "I must record everything I experience." He turned to Tracy. "Do you happen to know where I could procure some quills?"
"What?" replied Tracy.
"Do you know where might I be able to purchase some quills?"
"You mean like from a porcupine? What do you want that for?" Tracy replied.
"What the devil do you mean, child?" asked the Marquis. "I need quills to write with."
"Why don't you just get some pens or pencils?"
"Yes, a quill pen, that's what I need."
"I don't know about any quill pens," replied Tracy, "But I know where you could get Bic and PaperMate pens."
"Then, by all means, child, lead me to them."
"Why don't you just type up everything on your computer?" asked Tracy. "It's faster...and easier to fix typos."
The Marquis seemed confused and did not respond.
Tracy sighed and rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, I guess you don't know what I'm talking about, right? Never mind, we'll just get you some pens. You got any moolah?"
"What?" asked the Marquis.
"Dough, bread, bucks, dinero…any of this ringin' a bell? Money!" said Tracy.
"No, I'm afraid I don't. Madeleine?"
Madeleine shook her head.
"Hey, it's cool. I'll spring for it and you can pay me back. There's a store right over here --" Tracy said, starting to walk towards a store.
"Oh," the Marquis interrupted, "be sure to purchase some parchment as well."
Tracy appeared confused.
The Marquis sighed. "Something I might compose my prose upon."
Tracy thought for a moment. "Oh, like a diary? I don't know if they sell 'em here. You might have to go to Wal-Mart or something. I can probably find a notebook, though. You two wait here. I'll be right back."
Tracy went to the nearby shop, as Madeleine and the Marquis waited.
"This is extraordinary, is it not?" the Marquis asked Madeleine.
"Yes, but…if it is truly the year 2003, then everyone we know is --"
"Gone!" said the Marquis, smiling. "Doctor Royer-Collard, gone! The emperor, my imprisoners, gone! Those halfwits and pinheads --"
"Abbe…" said Madeleine with tears in her eyes. "And Mother…oh, it must've been just awful for them to have discovered us gone…and we'll never see them again."
"I suppose they presumed you decided to run away with me. They must've searched all of France, just to find us," the Marquis said while smirking.
"Do you think that's what they thought? That we escaped Charenton to be together?" asked Madeleine.
"Perhaps. What other reasons could explain our disappearance?"
"Then Abbe must've…if he truly thought…" Madeleine started sobbing and put her head on the Marquis chest. The Marquis put his arms around her.
"There, there, Madeleine. At least we've got each other. Better to have one another to be alone in…unfamiliar territory."
As Madeleine and the Marquis hugged, two men in their twenties walked by and looked at them. One laughed. The other said, "Get a room, freaks!"
"Why I have never been so insulted," said the Marquis. He turned to Madeleine and they both started to smile. "Yes I have," he said, while he and Madeleine laughed. Madeleine wiped her tears away.
Just then, Tracy returned. "Well, here there are, a pack o' pens and a notebook," she said while handing the bag to the Marquis.
"Tracy, what are those?" asked Madeleine, pointing to cars going by.
"You mean the cars? People drive 'em to go places."
"Oh, they must be like our horse and carriage, but without the horse," said the Marquis, intrigued by these new inventions.
"Look, you guys," said Tracy, appearing impatient, "I love the retro thing, I really do, but your little shtick is getting' kinda old. Maybe you could lose it for just a while, k?"
"I'm sorry? Shtick?" asked Madeleine.
"Well, it was nice meeting you. Totally rad. You can keep the stuff, dude, it's on me. See ya." Tracy started to walk away.
"Wait, Tracy. Might we trouble you for some shelter tonight? Even a barn would be fine," Madeleine said.
"You really don't have a place to stay?" asked Tracy.
Madeleine and the Marquis shook their heads.
"Well, I guess I could let you stay at my place tonight. My roommate's out of town. I live a couple blocks from here. Oh, but there's only one bed. Are you two…I mean, can you two stay in the same bed?"
"Yes," said the Marquis, smiling. "That will be just fine."
"There's also a couch. One of you could sleep there, and one in the bed," suggested Tracy.
"That will be fine," said Madeleine. She smirked at the Marquis.
"Oh, must you be such a prude?" joked the Marquis. "I mean, it is the year 2003, after all!"
Madeleine and the Marquis walked with Tracy to her place, to spend their first night in a new country...and a new century.