"Ausland" by Alison Moore
This story comes from the anthology "Dead Letters." The anthology is edited by Conrad Williams.
This is a story that had me scratching my head at the end. I wasn't sure what exactly happened in the story. There were a couple indicators throughout the story that lead me to a couple conclusions, but nothing was concrete. At least that I could tell.
An old woman, Karla, was taking holiday in Spain. In the lobby of the hotel she was staying at, she spotted a childhood friend she hadn't seen for decades. During childhood they were very good friends, but grew apart after she moved to England with her mother. Her childhood friend, Lukas, was a very intelligent and curious person. He was always fooling around with building gadgets or doing experiments.
When Karla sees Lukas in the lobby they decide to get together and catch up on all the years they've been apart. She finds out Lukas became a physicist and has a lab at home. One of his projects that he has consistently dreamed of, and worked on, since childhood, to adulthood, was a time travel machine.
During their conversation Karla tells Lukas of some old photographs that showed her father. Now that Karla has seen Lukas as a man she is sure that Lukas's father was also shown in the photos. She has her daughter send them from England to Spain so she could look at them with Lukas. By the time the photos arrive at the hotel Karla finds out that Lukas left without even saying goodbye.
Karla finds out he went to hotel in another country that was mentioned during their conversations and in the photos. She then sends the photos to him care of the hotel he was staying at. She finds out that he has been moving large pieces of equipment and luggage into the hotel room he is staying at. Then the next time she calls upon him at the new hotel she finds out he is gone. Where ever could he have gone?
I wasn't a big fan of this story. It held my attention, but there was too many huge gaps that weren't filled in the story. I don't mind a story that leaves me filling in my own story here and there, or even a story that leaves me wondering. If that story does it right. I don't feel this story did that correctly. I felt lost during the story, and even more so at the end.