1759 was not her year.
Her own wheezing breaths almost overwhelmed the sound of the angry mob behind her as she ran. Ran like she had the devil on her heels. She clutched the front of her damp, mud stained skirts in front of her.
Cold rain was pelting down on her. Thick drops of water dragged her otherwise neatly done hair into her face. She had enough trouble seeing here she was going as it was – it was night and the pitch black clouds blotted out what little light the moon and stars could provide. All there was, was a faint orange glow behind her.
A root here, a badger den there. All in all she was lucky she hadn’t broken her ankle yet. Although… her ankles were the least of her worries now. The picture of torches and pitchforks was more urgently flooding her mind. Huh. She laughed humorlessly. So that didn’t just happen in cartoons.
She briefly took refuge behind a large oak. Leaning back against it, her quaking knees almost gave out. She looked down at her hands. Shaking. This couldn’t go on much longer. She needed to go back home.
“Burn the witch!”
“She can’t have gotten far!”
Right. They were gaining on her. She took a deep breath and soldiered on.
If only she could find it. Go back home. But every tree looked the same in the dark and so did the ferns under which she may or may not have hidden it.
Wherever it was. She had to find it. And quickly. The shouts grew louder. The faint orange glow on the trees around her grew stronger.
It was then that her toe hit something. A hollow, metal thud sounded through the woods as she tumbled down into the foliage in front of her. Hope bubbled in her chest as she turned around on her knees to unearth the device. She pushed her hair out of her face and felt around for the buttons and the knobs in a frenzy.
She glanced up, now facing the angry mob. They couldn’t be further than a hundred paces away at this point. Her fingers fumbled blindly, yet purposefully over the device until she found the button. She had never thought the bright, concentrated shine of LED lights would make her homesick, and yet here she was in 1759. Not her year. Not even her century.
The crowd was only fifty paces away when a beep called her attention.
The beep, quickly followed by a mechanical whirring, signaled the full activation of the device. Her fingers reached for the small keyboard.
She mumbled as she typed: “April seventh, 2020, 3.14 AM”
She glanced up again. Ten paces. Nine. Eight.
This better work.
At three paces distance between her and the mob, she pushed the button.
A blinding light engulfed her. She briefly wondered what it looked like to the townspeople that chased her all the way into the woods, until she didn’t. As the last thing she heard before the deafening silence, were screams and curses. Furious that their witch got away.
The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes again, was her ratty dorm room. Spare parts and bits of wire were strewn across the carpeted floor. She glanced at the alarm clock that sat on the floor in front of her and the device. To the unsuspecting rest of the world, she had been gone for only a minute. In her reality, she had been away for five days.
Shaking fingers picked up the old tape recorder just next to her – exactly where she left it – and pressed ‘record’.
“Time machine version 126.96.36.199. Our first human test has been a complete success.”
She couldn’t help but glance down at the dress she had procured at her destination, and hope that the original outfit that she’d traded for it hadn’t caused too much of a stir in the past. She smiled.
“Note for future testing: keep interaction with locals to a strict minimum.”
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