Tom awoke with a start.
"Ah, at last." an old man said, "You're awake."
Tom looked over at the old man, his confusion obvious on his face.
"In ascending order of relevance: it is October 31st, 2012 by your calender; you are in the home of Master Longfellow, an old friend of mine; you are not dead, and this is not the fevered delusion of a man in the process of dying either- this is as real as the firefight I rescued you from; you are, however, nowhere near the life you formerly led, as will soon be apparent."
The old man handed Tom a revolver. Tom took it, and gave it a thorough inspection; it was the same Smith & Wesson Model 19 he inherited from his uncle all right. Then Tom looked around, and he saw his lodging as something out of a European travel ad, one catering to history buffs- and now he saw that he wore a shirt straight out of a Renaissance faire.
"You're not in Kansas anymore, Tom." The old man took the revolver and handed Tom a bowl of broth. "Drink up. You've been asleep for a week straight."
Tom slowly drank the broth. As he did, he took in a look at the old man, wearing a black cossack as if he were a Jesuit priest. He finished his bowl, and put it aside.
"This Longfellow friend of yours," Tom said, "does he think you're a priest?"
The old man shook his head. "No, Thomas. This outfit is from the world you know, an outfit I had to appropriate before I could rescue you. I wore it so you wouldn't have too many shocks to absorb at once."
Tom now sat up straight. "You've earned that 'Wizard' nickname out of shocking people, but somehow I get the feeling that this isn't a little lesson on perspective."
The Wizard chuckled. "No, Thomas, it's not a little lesson at all."
Just then, the door opened. In walked a tall, thin young man with long red hair, snow-white skin and blue eyes. He wore a formal-looking green uniform, complete with a cape, with gold trim.
"Master Wizard, Master Longfellow will be with you and your ward presently."
The blue-skinned man then left. Tom picked up the revolver and put it in his lap before he looked up at the Wizard.
"That wasn't someone doing a Space Battleship Yamato cosplay, was it?" Tom said.
The Wizard smiled. "No, Thomas."
"This could be Scotland, but probably isn't, certainly not where I'm most like to be."
"The latter part is correct. The former, not so much." The Wizard said, "That said, we're not on Earth."
Tom gave the Wizard his "Go on." look.
"Not to worry, Thomas. We are not on Earth, that is to say on its surface. We're in it."
"Seriously? Hollow Earth?"
"Indeed, Thomas." The Wizard said, "You see, Master Longfellow is a dear old friend and he came to me asking for help against a bunch of well-organized invaders from the surface. I said that I would help, but the sort of help needed is not my strong suit, so that is why you are here- and a good thing it is! Otherwise, you would have died in that firefight."
"Much appreciated, Wizard." Tom said, "But I find it hard to believe that you need me for this. All those times you've been on my case for 'thinking with my fists' and 'just blowing it up'-"
"-and you've taken my admonishments to heart, though not as I would have hoped, but it is what it is and you are what you are, so I would think that you would also appreciate me respecting you for who and what you are by doing this."
"I'll go with that." Tom said, and just then the door opened. In walked an aged, but fit, man with blue eyes and faded red hair cut short in a fashion suggestive of military practicality.
"Master Longfellow!" The Wizard said, embracing the man, "Well, I assume?"
"Indeed, old man." Longfellow said, and then looked over at Tom, "This is the man you promised?"
The Wizard gestured over to Tom. "Master Longfellow, this is Mister Thomas Stone, one of my many friends from the surface and a long-time companion."
Master Longfellow approached Tom and shook his hand awkwardly. "This is the usual greeting fashion for your people, still?"
Tom nodded. "It is." he said, "Good to meet you. So, what's the problem here, Nazis?"
Longfellow grimaced. "You are a quick study, Mister Stone."
Tom looked over at the Wizard, stunned.
"Well then." The Wizard said, "Let's get started."