Volunteers needed for time travel
Interested in learning about other times? Experimentation
now to experience
the life of common men in history. No special skills
necessary. Observations of
all underclassmen welcome.
Compensation for participation: $50.
Apply University, South Campus,
Science Arts Building, Room 313.
Denver showed the crumpled paper to her friend and roommate Susie, and the girl
had laughed. “Time travel? Who believes in that stuff?”
“I know, right?” Denver agreed.
Susie read the ad over again. “Still, fifty bucks might be worth it. Besides,”
she said, handing the flier back, “maybe they’ll let you keep the costumes. If there are any.”
Denver wondered why they were asking for volunteers, but fifty bucks was hard
to ignore. So she drove that afternoon to the university. The map the guard at the front gates gave her showed her a route to the campus tram stop. Once Denver reached the Science Arts building, she
took the elevator to the third floor, where she found a brightly lit reception area. A line of chairs filled the carpeted room. Behind the welcome desk to the west, a slightly overweight receptionist
read something on a computer screen. Several people sat in the chairs throughout the crowded room, many filling out applications, children, old men, and young adults in, possibly, their late teens. A
few of the people looked like businessmen and some she knew were other students. She recognized them from a required class or two. It didn’t seem to matter to the researchers what walk of life the
applicants came from.
There’s no way they’ll pick me. Still, Denver approached the
receptionist’s desk and stated her business. “I’d like to apply for the experiment I saw advertised.”
She showed the flier.
Beside the receptionist, another woman stood looking through some files,
student records, Denver supposed. She wore a white lab coat; her dark hair was pulled back in a bun. Glasses perched on her nose. The woman paused in her search and blinked at Denver. Her
nametag said Dr. Greeves. “You’re interested in participating in the study?”
The woman looked her over, then glanced to the receptionist. “Fantastic. Mylie,
give her an application.”
Mylie offered Denver a packet of paperwork and assured her she would receive
the allocated stipend for her participation in the experiment, if they chose her.
What could it hurt? Denver picked an empty chair, sat down, and flipped through
The second page of the packet contained a long paragraph explaining the
She read it, but still wasn’t convinced. Time travel doesn’t really
work—or exist, for that matter. Does it?
Still, she checked the box asking if she had any objections to said-time
travel, and filled in all the appropriate spaces. As she did so, she noticed, at the far side of the room, a man in a lab coat peeking out a set of double doors. He saw her looking and shut the door,
keeping her from seeing more.
Curious. She dismissed the incident, signed, and submitted the
application. She felt sure they’d pick someone else over her. She was studying fashion design. Not rocket science—or any science, for that matter.
But they were offering participants $50.
She never dreamed they’d pick her over a scifi fan.
Who else believed in time travel? Friday morning, she’d opened her email to
find the news:
Congratulations Denver! We’ve chosen you for the
experiment. Be at the university on Windham Drive, in room 4b at 9:00 AM Thursday.
Thursday morning? Damn. She had an appointment on Thursday afternoon. Lunch
with a certain high-powered fashion designer. He wasn’t a household name yet, but she counted the possibility of working with him as a kick-start to her own career in fashion design. That might
result in never having to participate in another scheme like the one she considered with these college quacks.
“Yeah,” Susie said. “And he might send you home with nothing, rather than with
a check. At least the geeks will pay you?”
Attached to the email was an information sheet.
Costumes fitting the period we’re studying will be provided
for you. But you will need to keep in mind:
Electricity and modern conveniences didn’t exist
Political and religious tensions were high, and religion
was paramount to the group in question. You will become part of the community, so, best avoid those topics. Blending in is better than voicing your true thoughts.
Thank you for taking the time to apply to
participate in our study. We look forward to meeting
Signed, Dr. Floyd Hall
“Right, so they’re saying I need to keep my mouth shut.”
Susie winked. “I wouldn’t disagree.”
Denver balled up the printout and tossed it at her.
The experiment kept rolling through her mind. Tuesday, she re-read the email,
hovering over the reply button. Fear ate at her. What if they did succeed in sending her back? Where would they send her? Would she be the same when she returned?
Would she like it … wherever—or whenever—she went? Would she want to
Would she hate it and wish she’d never agreed to participate in the study in
the first place?
“I bet you won’t go anywhere,” Susie said. “It won’t be more than a light show,
and some spiked coffee. Or hypnosis. Yeah, I bet they’re going to hypnotize you into thinking you went on this time trip.”
Part of her mind agreed with Susie. I shouldn’t do it. I should tell them
I’ve changed my mind.
Between the crush of her classes and homework, she decided to let her decision
slide one more day. Then another.
Thursday came and Denver made her way to the campus and the correct room. Here,
Denver approached the receptionist. “I’m here for my appointment with Dr. Floyd Hall.”
“It’ll be just a moment,” the receptionist said. She handed over a pile of
papers. “Fill these out please?”
“More forms?” Denver asked, flipping through them.
For insurance, or indemnity, she supposed.
Denver complimented the woman on her purple fingernail polish and sat down to
read the forms. Age, name, phone number, address, she filled all those in and moved on to the multiple choice portion:
Are you afraid of spiders? Y/N
She circled yes.
She circled no.
What do they think I am, a toddler? She circled
Claustrophobic? No. Not much, anyway.
Are you allergic to any of the following:
Bee stings? No.
Any other food allergies? No.
Are you allergic to cats? No.
Wool? No. I hope not! Wouldn’t that be harsh
if she ended up someday designing a line of winter clothing?
Do you suffer any of the following:
Hay fever: No.
High blood pressure? No.
Denver laughed to herself and added: (Unless when panicking
over a test counts. :)
Family history of same? No.
Seasonal Allergies? No.
Does the sight of blood make you queasy?
Denver pointed the last question out to the receptionist. “Why is that one
important?” she asked.
“The medical community wasn’t up to snuff until about the mid-1900s,” she said.
“It’s just a precautionary question. If you’re a fainter, we need to know. I don’t think you’ll encounter anything gory. Are you, though?”
Denver cringed. “A little. Does that disqualify me?”
“I don’t think so. If you were going to faint if you cut your finger, that’d be
a different story.”
“All right.” Denver took her seat again and returned to the
Are your inoculations up to date? To that, she answered, As
far as I’m aware.
She went down the list of questions, answering each, but wondered if she should
answer the question about her weight, how critical the truth was. She filled in all the other lines, and turned the forms over to the receptionist. Soon after, Dr. Hall, a tall, African-American
gentleman, handsome, with a little gray splashed through his dark, close-cropped hair and some in the beard lining his pointed chin—stepped into the waiting room. He introduced himself and ushered
her into a room lit with fluorescent lights that she was sure gave her skin a sickly pallor. Here, he showed her a drab brown dress and white apron. “Change into this please?” He pointed to a row of
doors behind him. “The dressing rooms are right there.”
“Uh—” Denver eyed it skeptically. “—sure.”
He nodded and exited. Denver chose a dressing room, locked the door
behind, and smoothed the fabric out, studying it. The outfit had very little shape. Just goes to prove these geeks have no fashion sense at all.
Once Denver was dressed, Dr. Greeves (the woman from the other day, Denver
realized) had her braid her hair and tuck it up under a matching white paper-thin cap.
“Is this necessary?” Denver asked.
“Yes. It’s part of the costume.”
She eyed the cap skeptically. “So, what you’re saying is, we’re really setting
up for a production of The Scarlet Letter.”
“It’s not a play.”
“Then, what? I’m time traveling to the day Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet
“Something like that.”
After another look at herself, the skirt landing at her calves, she smirked.
Glad I shaved this morning. “How long is this going to take? I’ve got an appointment later with a fashion designer.” That last revelation seemed to go right over their heads.
“Not long,” Dr. Greeves said. “You’ll be finished in plenty of
Dr. Greeves asked Denver to remove her necklace and rings. As she did, the
woman made a notation about them and placed the items in a small box for safekeeping. “Two silver, one gold.”
“That’s a sapphire,” Denver said, tapping the stone in the ring. “My foster dad
bought me that for my sixteenth birthday.”
Dr. Greeves scribbled, nodding. “Don’t forget to remove your earrings. The
places you’ll visit don’t allow girls like you to wear them.”
“Girls like me?”
“To be honest, they don’t let any woman wear jewelry. They barely allow lace.
Or much, for that matter. The community we’re studying is … restrictive, to say the least.”
She didn’t like the sound of this. “Are you sure it’s safe?”
“Of course.” The researcher blinked at her. “We’ll be monitoring
She removed her earrings and placed them in the bin. “I wish I knew a little
more going into this.”
“How’s it work … and what do I say when I get there?”
“We’ll answer your questions momentarily.”
**** If you'd like to see more, the synopsis and buy links are
Denver’s one goal in life is to become a fashion designer. Unfortunately, she needs rent money. Why not volunteer for an outlandish time travel experiment? It could be fun and spark new fashion
But the experiment takes her places she never expected, cutting her off from her dreams and dropping her into the world of a woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials. No promised
stipend is worth a death sentence and bargaining for her life.
(A Time Travel Novella)