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First pages

Chapter 1

As I sat at the bar on the first floor of my guest house in Dores, taking in the local culture, I felt certain I could have spent the rest of my life in Scotland and been perfectly content. I had decided to take a page out of Daphne’s book. Whenever she traveled to the past, she explored for weeks at a time. Similarly, I had spent the past three weeks touring Scotland. I had seen dozens of castles and ruins and pubs and still could have explored for weeks.

 

Being a wealthy woman in the 1930s in Scotland meant people had little expectations of me. It was a relief to have no one relying on me after the weight and responsibilities I had been carrying around before I left the lab for my trip here. Most people I met in Scotland found it unconventional that I was traveling on my own but given my dress and attitude they afforded me a distant respect. Once they got over that impression, people were incredibly warm and welcoming and eager to tell me their stories.

 

I had spent the last three days in the village of Dores, touring Inverness and the Loch Ness area. Yesterday I had hired a local man to take me across the loch to explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Jimmy, the man who sat to my left now, thought I was daft for wanting to see what he referred to as “a pile of old stones”. From what I observed, Jimmy’s profession was town drunkard.

 

To my right sat Angus Agnew. If Jimmy played the town drunkard, Angus played the town instigator. The proprietor, John, claimed Angus hated his name and acted out because of it. When I asked why Angus didn’t just change it, John said he liked having his parent’s poor sense of judgment as a reason to be surly all the time. At the moment, Angus was lamenting the recent joining of the National Party of Scotland with the Scottish Party into the newly formed Scottish National Party. I struggled not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the party factions’ naming conventions. I tried to play the uninterested woman card, since I knew it took another century before Scotland finally achieved independence. Of course, I wasn’t allowed tell him that.

 

“Those NPS bastards are completely daft. They’ve been around for much longer than us and they’ve not accomplished shite!” He yelled this opinion across me to Jimmy, even though he sat just a few feet away.

 

“And what’s the Scottish Party got done then, Angus?”

 

He took a healthy swig of his beer. “Well we’ve not had the chance to do much have we? Just a few months in and we’re really getting ourselves nice and organized and then this shite comes along. That craven bastard Graham just bent right over and invited MacCormick to take him up his—”

 

“Angus!” John broke in. He gestured toward me with the glass as he wiped it dry. “A lady’s present.”

 

Angus looked me over as though I hadn’t been sitting next to him for the last twenty minutes. “Ah, right.” He raised his glass to me. “Sorry, lass.”

 

I beamed and raised my glass in return. “No need to apologize. I hear Graham likes it up there.”

 

It took him a moment to grasp my joke, but he rewarded me with a hearty laugh and a back slap. “Ah lass, you’ll surely be missed. Where is it you’re to next?”

 

“I’ll return to Glasgow, then home to America.”

 

“Glasgow! A damn shame. Drink up then, the next is on me. We’ll make your last night one to remember!”

 

“If I drink much more I certainly won’t remember it,” I said as I put my empty glass back on the bar and pushed it toward John. “But I won’t say no to the offer of a drink from a handsome gentleman.”

 

“Handsome, you say?” Jimmy asked. “You must be blind, lass. He’s as grizzled as my mother’s arse!”

 

The two of them bellowed with laughter again, and I gave a polite chuckle as I accepted another scotch from John. He shook his head in apology to me, a wry smile on his face. “What time’s your train, lass?”

 

“Not until three o’clock. I thought I might enjoy one last walk along the loch before I head up to Inverness.”

 

“Another?” Jimmy asked. “It’s not that spectacular a loch.”

 

“It has its charm.”

 

“Charm is it?” asked Angus. “Or are you keen on finding old Gray’s monster then?”

 

“Monster?” I feigned ignorance.

 

Jimmy broke in again. “Ah, Gray’s a daft old fool. Took a photograph of some log in the Loch and says it’s a monster. The bastard was probably drunk off his arse. Usually is.”

 

Jimmy calling someone else a drunk was a rather severe critique. “So you haven’t seen it?”

 

“Oh there’ve been sightings to be sure. Mostly by people stumblin’ home from a pub. I’ve never seen anything but boats and logs floating in that water. But Hugh Gray’s got himself a picture that he says is the monster. Hardly! I’ve seen it. Looks like a fish thrashing about a stick.”

 

“It’s the monster, I say!” Angus smacked the bar in finality. “I’ve seen it myself. And Gray swears he saw it on his way home from church.”

 

“Gray’s never set foot in a church in his life! On his way home from the pub, more like. Couldn’t stand up straight to save his life I bet. How else do you get such a rubbish photograph? Even your drunken arse could do better.”

 

“Don’t listen to him lass. You go out there and you watch.”

 

“Really, Angus, a monster?” I chided him. “Jimmy’s right, the man was probably drunk.”

 

“I’m telling you lass.” Angus set his beer back on the bar and looked me straight in the eye. “There’s something out there.” He pointed past me out the window, toward the loch.

 

His gaze held me for a moment. In the three nights I had spent drinking with him, I had never seen him look so serious. I imagined it took quite an effort in his current state. For a few moments, I believed him. Then I smiled and shook it off. “Of course there is, Angus.”

 

I planned to dive into the loch myself tomorrow to find the object in the photograph Robert Wilson claimed to take. Hugh Gray's photo was easily explained, but Robert Wilson's photograph, the most famous photograph of the supposed Loch Ness Monster, had been exposed and reaffirmed so many times it was hard to believe anything about it any more. A small, excited part of me wanted it to be real, but my logical engineering background knew a rational explanation of some natural phenomena existed. Tomorrow I intended to find out for sure.

 

Noah had to talk me into doing this mission. Part of me had wanted the mystery to remain. I enjoyed the aura surrounding the history, and felt bad that I might be taking that away. Noah appealed to that little part of me that thought it might be true, tugging me to this place. I spent a week reading everything in existence about all the evidence for and against the Loch Ness Monster. My scout verified the location where Robert Wilson took the photograph and projected the SPS coordinates of where the “monster” was swimming in the loch. My scout also swore that whatever it was that was photographed, moved. When I pressed him for more details he refused, claiming he didn’t want to give me undue bias for my mission.

 

It was a smart move. I often felt that one of the reasons Jim considered me one of the best librarians was my ability to approach a mission with the cool detachment of my engineering mind. I rarely let my emotions interfere with my missions. There were three contradictions to that, and all three occurred during my most recent missions.

 

It was hard to keep my cool, calculating exterior when living with William Shakespeare. It was such an honor to be in his presence, let alone someone he confided in. He had often reduced me to feeling like a giggling, starry-eyed schoolgirl. The missions following that were the ones where I went back in time to find out what happened to my best friend, Noah. I couldn’t imagine a more personal reason to be sent back in time. Then there was my current mission. Although the legend of the Loch Ness Monster wasn’t as near and dear to my heart as Shakespeare, the time I’d spent in Scotland convinced me that I belonged here. These people felt like my kinfolk.

 

Angus and Jimmy were back to arguing about the merger of the Scottish parties. I sensed a scotch haze settling in, and felt quite content to just sit and listen to them argue around me. Since I already knew how the merger and upcoming meetings and campaigns wind up, I was able to tune them out. The sound of their voices became a gentle hum, mingling with the heat and crackle of the fire and the occasional chink of glass on glass as John put each newly dried vessel to sleep. I almost felt lulled to sleep myself, right on that bar stool.

 

I was pulled out of my haze by Jimmy asking, “Am I right, lass?”

 

“Oh yes, of course.” I wanted them to continue their argument, and I found that agreeing with Jimmy was the best way to keep Angus talking.

 

“You’re daft, girl. He’ll never amount to anything!”

 

“He’s amounted to more in one week than you’ve managed in your whole lousy life sitting on that bar stool!”

 

That did it, and they were off again. I settled back into my haze and reflected on the last three weeks I had spent touring the country. One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the library designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the Glasgow School of Art. I had spent an hour just sitting in the space, marveling at the design. The library had burned in a fire, a few decades before I was born, and was rebuilt a few years later. Critics often claimed that though the builders aimed to replicate the style of the original library, they failed. I hadn’t been to the rebuilt version, but as I sat in the space I, found it hard to imagine that anyone could replicate it with satisfaction. It was like sitting in a forest of wood and colored glass and books. It was a foreign yet relatable feeling of artificial nature. I was in awe. Even if it hadn’t been a library, the space still demanded silent contemplation.

 

The country was gloomy and rarely sunny. It reminded me of my rainy afternoons, sheltered by the dome and enjoying the pattering drone of the drops on the glass panels while sitting in the grass with Noah, enjoying a bottle of wine and friendly banter. Not unlike this moment, in this bar. I smiled, realizing I looked forward to getting home finally.

 

I finished my drink, and pushed away from the bar abruptly, before anyone tried to buy me another. “Excuse me gentlemen, I must retire.” Both of them rose from their seats, something they had not done any night prior. I was touched by the show of respect. “It’s been a pleasure.”

 

Jimmy nodded to me. “The pleasure’s all ours, lass.”

 

I turned to Angus, who gave a slight bow. “That’s for sure. You’ll be missed, lass. Without you, I’ll have to go back to arguing with this daft old fool.”

 

“You’ll manage somehow, I’m sure, Angus.” I laughed and smiled in appreciation. “Good night.” I nodded farewell to both of them and grinned at John on my way to the staircase. I made my way up to my room with a heavy heart. The act reminded me greatly of my last day in Stratford. In that case, I had no choice but to return to the future immediately after completing my mission. Here, extending my stay would not be an issue. It was unlikely for Daphne to be alarmed by an alteration in my planned trajectory. The fact that Noah hadn’t shown up to find me implied I’d make it home just fine even if I did stay for a few more days. But the instinct to get home once the job was done was strong.

 

I set my hair in pin curls and tied a scarf around my head to keep it tidy, and changed into my nightgown. I climbed in to bed, my mind a jumble of emotions. I was sad to leave, nervous about tomorrow. I had been oddly content to curl up under the covers of my bed for the past few nights. The quilt was soft and warm with gentle colors, and the tiny room was cozy. The heat from the fireplace in the room below kept the floor and the space pleasantly warm. I tried to distract myself with thoughts of my friends back home, who I would be seeing in less than a day. I imagined the different conversations I would have with Noah, depending on the outcome of my dive tomorrow, and fell asleep dreaming of the grassy courtyard I knew so well.

Chapter 2

I awoke to a dreary morning, a fairly common occurrence for the past three weeks, so it did not surprise me. It did make me want to roll over and snuggle deeper under the warm quilt, but since I only had a couple of hours before the infamous picture would be taken, I had to start moving. I dressed and went down to breakfast. As I sat alone at a table in the breakfast room, John handed me a bowl of porridge without my asking. Since I was his only boarder for the past few days we had settled into a familiar routine. He brought me a pot of tea without a word, then left again to cook some sausages for me.

 

He returned with a plate of sausages and beans when I was halfway through my porridge, and laid a photograph on the table beside me before sitting down. "It's from Angus. He stopped by early this morning. Wanted to leave you with something to remember us by."

 

It was a picture taken at the bar. Angus and Jimmy sat where they had every night during my stay here. John stood at the bar, a glass and towel in hand. I was touched. "Angus was here already?"

 

"Yep, says he was on his way to church, so he couldn't stay."

 

I snorted. "Church, right."

 

"Didn't want to make a big deal of it, I imagine. He did have a soft spot for you."

 

I blinked back a stray tear. Photographs weren’t exactly easy to come by these days, and film was expensive. I wondered who had taken it, and how much it had cost Angus. Perhaps he knew Robert Wilson, and the same camera that was about to make history today had produced this memento for me. "Tell him I appreciate it, and I'll come back some day."

 

"I hope that's true, lass. You'll be welcome."

 

I sliced into a steaming sausage and held it up in a toast. "I'll miss your cooking and your company, that's for sure."

 

He raised his coffee mug in return. "So one last jaunt along the loch is it then? Shall I bring your trunk down while you're gone?"

 

"I'd appreciate it. Thank you, John, for everything. My stay has been delightful."

 

"Happy to oblige."

 

We sat in comfortable silence while I finished my breakfast. John read his copy of The Scotsman as I ate. I especially appreciated the hearty breakfast today since my morning was sure to be physically challenging. When I finished, I nodded to John and rose from the table as he started to clear the dishes. I went upstairs to prepare.

 

I removed a thin wetsuit from the trunk. Since it was only April, I expected the water in the loch to be quite cold. The material was thinner and lighter than normal wetsuits, and dried in seconds once out of the water, eliminating the need for a towel. I put on the wetsuit and concealed it with my period appropriate clothing. I put my SPS navigation unit, small flippers, micro tank and mask in my day bag along with a head cap to keep my hair dry. After a moment of thought, I put the sphere in my bag. I didn't worry about John rummaging through my things, but I had learned on prior missions it was always better to have my sphere with me as often as possible.

 

I placed the photograph of my three friends gently on top of my belongings before closing and securing the trunk. Prior to my overthrow of the lab, I would not have been allowed to keep it. It would have been removed upon my return and probably destroyed. I smiled, knowing that not only would I be allowed to keep it, but also that my return would be unfettered by the vomiting and disorientation that used to accompany my trips. The simple changes we made to the rules made our trips much more enjoyable.

 

I donned a coat, buttoned the bag shut and tossed it on my shoulder before heading downstairs. "Enjoy your walk." John said as I passed by. I waved and went out the door.

 

I knew vaguely where I needed to be from a map my scout had drawn, and headed toward the north end of the loch. Less than one mile from the guesthouse was a large gathering of bushes and shrubs the scout suggested I operate from. It would keep me concealed from both boaters along the loch and walkers along the road. I still had an hour to get in position, more than enough time to swim out across the loch. I moved into the middle of the bushes and pulled my gear out of the bag. I undressed, putting my clothes in the bag before securing it again and hiding it under a particularly dense bush.

 

I put on the remainder of the suit and clipped the micro-tank to my chest. It removed oxygen from the water around me and kept the small reservoir filled. If for some reason it failed I still had twenty minutes of reserve oxygen to use to surface. Since I didn’t plan on going very deep it would be more than enough. I clipped a flashlight to one wrist, the SPS device to the other wrist, and shoved the sphere into a small mesh bag clipped to my waist. Noah and Daphne had done a waterproof depth test before I left. I knew the sphere worked in fresh or salt water up to twenty meters deep.

 

I waddled in my flippers to the edge of the water and took a deep breath, looking around to make sure no one was within visual range. I pulled the mask down over my face and crouched down, laying into the water. I gave myself a moment to adjust--I hadn't been diving in several years--then shoved myself forward into deeper water.

 

The darkness of the sky and the murkiness of the loch made it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of me. I kept myself a few feet below the surface so I still had some light from the sky, and started swimming forward across the loch. The shallow banks were filled with weeds that tugged at me slightly as I moved past. As I got further out into the loch the weeds receded with the bottom. A sense of vertigo hit me as the bottom disappeared into darkness and I looked up to verify the surface was still there. I swam forward for another 15 minutes before checking my SPS. I was still 100 meters away from my scout's suggested viewing site. It was close enough to see whatever was in the water, but far enough to keep from attracting the attention of the photographer, or anything else I needed to avoid.

 

I continued forward until I reached the spot, then swam to the surface and carefully lifted the top of my head out of the water. It was just enough to see above the surface, a few inches of my head. It was still a few minutes from the moment when the picture was taken, but I already saw the famous silhouette moving across the surface of the lake. My heart rate sped as I watched it bob slightly and continue to float forward. I tried to calm myself since accelerated breathing emptied my reservoir faster than it converted oxygen to refill itself.

 

I saw the neck and the body and the shape of the head as it swam. It looked away from me, toward the shore. It swam in a jerky movement, gliding along then bobbing suddenly, as though it was floating on inertia then pushing itself forward for another burst of energy.

 

There was something eerie about its stillness, even in motion. The head did not move around, it continued to stare to shore. My courage rose as my excitement plummeted. It was a log. I was sure of it. Animals look around, surveying their surroundings.

 

I dropped a few feet below the surface again and leisurely swam toward the object, certain now that it presented no threat. I used my flashlight to illuminate the water in front of me, and eventually the object loomed into view.

 

It was indeed a log, mostly submerged. A branch rose up above the surface of the water, giving the impression of the neck and head, and a curved part of the trunk rose just above the waterline, growing slightly with each bob and accounting for the hump back that had been sighted. It must have fallen into the loch from an overhanging tree on the shoreline. The back end of it was cracked as though it had broken there. A net was caught on one of the off shooting branches underwater. In that net a rather enormous fish was struggling to break free.

 

I watched, disappointed but also amused by the amount of hysteria a simple fish had caused. It thrashed in the net for a moment, pulling the log down repeatedly, then swam forward again, building speed. It thrashed again then stopped, seeming to take a moment to gather a bit of strength, before plunging down below the surface, tugging the log down with it. I watched as it disappeared into the depths. Things were still for a moment, then I saw the branch, which had broken free from the log, slowly rise to the surface again. I watched as it floated away, caught by some slight current.

 

I wondered if Robert Wilson had seen that branch as well, or if he had run off immediately after taking the picture to go develop his film. I stayed still for another minute, but nothing else floated up, and the fish had disappeared. There died my belief in the Loch Ness Monster.

 

I turned and descended a few feet again to swim back to shore, wondering how to handle this information. I couldn't exactly give an account of being a scuba diver in the loch on this day. Even disproving this one photograph—admittedly the most prominent in the history of the legend—didn't necessarily prove there was no monster. It felt like my Shakespeare mission all over again. Only a single piece of evidence had been disproven. Skeptics would revel, believers would point to the rest of their proof.

 

I was so distracted with my train of thought that I almost ran into the large black shape that loomed suddenly in front of me. I stopped, startled, then froze in terror as I realized the shape was not stationary. I turned on the flashlight and slowly shone it toward the front of the object, but all I saw was the large black bulk of its body. I couldn't see the top or the bottom of it. The curved, black wall of flesh glided past me. I reached into the mesh bag at my waist and pulled out the sphere, ready to push the button in case I needed a quick escape.

 

After a few more seconds the shape finally tapered abruptly into a thick, black tail that slowly wavered back and forth as it passed me. Just as the end was passing me, it flicked toward me suddenly. I gasped and lost my grip on the sphere. I cursed myself and panicked as it quickly sank below me. A beep alerted me to the fact that my reservoir was half empty. I cursed again; I didn’t have enough air to go after it now, especially when my breathing was already so accelerated.

 

I pushed a button on my SPS unit to mark my position. Then adrenaline kicked in and I swam back toward shore as quickly as possible. I didn’t care about my reservoir anymore. I just wanted to put as much distance as possible between myself and whatever it was that I had just seen. I relaxed slightly when I found myself back in the shallow weeds and I failed to check for observers as I pulled off my flippers and staggered back onto shore. I flung myself into the circle of bushes, yanked off my mask and gasped for air, sitting on the ground and looking back at the loch.

 

It had been the size of a whale. But a whale wouldn't be living in the loch, nor have a tail like that. Had I really just seen a prehistoric creature in the loch? My mind tried to find a rational explanation, but the best I came up with in my still panicked state was a large black snake that had just swallowed an enormous rock.

 

My breathing finally returned to normal. I had to retrieve the sphere if I was going to leave, but I had no idea how deep the loch was at the point where I dropped it. I stood and looked back at the loch, silently pleading for something to show itself above the surface again. A few minutes ago I had been sure the legend of the monster was simply that: a legend. Now I was once again convinced that something was living in the loch that was not meant to be there. I didn't want to go back in there and possibly run into whatever it was again, but I didn't have much choice.

 

"Really, Addy, you ought to be more careful with these things. It's not like they grow on trees."

 

I laughed in relief and turned to face Noah. "How did you know? Did I stay for longer than you would think past my return?" I pulled the head cap off, stuffed it back into the bag and shook out my hair.

 

"No," Noah said as he walked toward me. "The sphere path ended, a few minutes ago. Daphne knew something must have happened to it and that you'd be stuck here."

 

"I dropped it in the loch."

 

"Why would you try to travel from inside the loch?"

 

"I panicked," I paused. I didn't really know what to tell him. "There's something in there."

 

"So the photograph was real?" He sat down on a nearby rock, intrigued. "The monster exists after all?"

 

"The photograph was a log, just as some of the skeptics speculated. But after I verified that, I ran into something—big. It swam past me in the water. I was startled when it flicked its tail at me at the last moment and dropped the sphere. I marked the spot where I was before I swam back to shore. I'm amazed I had the presence of mind to do so." I looked back at the loch and again wanted something to show itself to prove I wasn't crazy.

 

"Any idea how deep it is?"

 

"That's all you have to ask?" I was unjustifiably angry with him. "I just told you I've seen a monster, and your only concern is the sphere?"

 

"I don't know what you saw, Addy. A monster? I doubt it. But I think it's perfectly reasonable that some rejects from the Cretaceous era got trapped in the loch and have been swimming and breeding happily ever since."

 

It was my turn to think he was crazy. "For 100 million years?"

 

He shrugged. "Seems plausible."

 

His matter-of-fact nature calmed me. Going back in after the sphere didn't seem like such a frightening prospect any more. I looked back to the water again. "I guess I should go after it then."

 

"No point it seems. The sphere won't work anymore. Even if someone were to find it, years from now, it wouldn't do anything for them. Daphne would have seen it."

 

"Unless it shows up in our future, or some other timeline."

 

"Some other timeline, it will be some other Daphne's problem."

 

It bothered me a little how easily Noah threw things off as not mattering since they were in some other version of time. Even though I had done the exact same thing in returning to 2073 and taking over the lab, it had been a major decision. Noah seemed to regard ideas as simple as ordering something different for breakfast as enough cause for creating another split. "Well, thank goodness Jim had the forethought to keep the second sphere around."

 

"You mean the box," Noah said, and produced it from his pocket.

 

I rolled my eyes at his nit picking. "Thanks for the rescue. I suppose I’ll get dressed and collect my things."

 

"I'll wait here then?" he asked.

 

"My trunk's a bit heavy. Best wait for me outside the guesthouse, out of sight."

 

He nodded and packed my diving gear up for me as I dressed again. He walked with me back to the guesthouse, taking my silence as cue that I was deep in thought. He did not press me with more questions. I was thankful for Noah’s innate understanding of my habits.

 

It was an enormous loch, I reasoned to myself. Certain creatures grew larger to better fit their environment. It might have been a very well fed newt. I tried to push aside the thoughts of frustration at another mystery left unsolved as we approached the porch. Noah stood to the side of the house, out of view of any windows, as I walked up the steps back to the front door and entered.

 

John greeted me in the parlor. "Nice walk?"

 

"Lovely. Could I ask you to carry that out to the porch for me?” I asked, pointing at the trunk. “My ride will be here any moment."

 

"With pleasure, Adelaide."

 

I held the door for John as he heaved the trunk out to the porch. He shook my hand and bid me farewell again before retreating back inside. I watched from the window as he walked into a back room out of sight. I called softly to Noah and he joined me on the porch. I placed one hand in his and the other on the handle of my trunk. As Noah and I arrived in the newly designed return chambers, I wondered if John had noticed the lack of car noise when he realized I was gone.

Chapter 3

Jim's voice greeted the two of us over a loudspeaker in the return chamber. "Glad to have you back, Adelaide."

 

"Thanks Jim," I said to the room. "Sorry about the sphere."

 

"Anything to note?"

 

"There's a picture of three men in my trunk, on top of everything. I'd like to keep it," I reported.

 

"I'll make sure it makes it to your quarters. Sounds like an eventful trip, can't wait to hear about it. Noah, hang back and let her through first."

 

Noah nodded and gestured toward the door for me. He went to sit on a couch next to a fake plant, and browse the news on the reader. Daphne had decided the return chamber needed to be more like a comfortable waiting room, in case we had to remain in there for any reason upon our return. After the doctor finished with my exam, Noah would follow and the room would be gassed to kill any possible lingering pathogens. He hid behind the reader as I undressed to offer me some privacy and I put on one of the hospital gowns sitting beside the exit.

 

It felt strange to be doing this process again after such a long absence from missions. Though the hospital gown was certainly more comfortable than walking around without clothing, it still left me with an unnerved feeling. I was never a fan of hospitals.

 

Certain protocols had been left in place, because they made sense given some of our past experiences. One was the doctor's exam. Doctor Crebbs had left the lab, unable to remain in the shadows of some of her less than ethical deeds. Doctor Jonas Whitfield, a trusted friend of Jim’s, had replaced her. He had a pleasant bedside manner and was not confined to the strict role Doctor Crebbs had been. "Welcome back, Adelaide."

 

"Thanks, Jonas." I appreciated that he used my first name, and that he encouraged others to do the same.

 

"Anything to report?"

 

I shook my head. "Nothing out of the ordinary," I said as I climbed up onto the exam table.

 

"Let's get started then." He went through the usual blood test and physical tests, scanning me for any foreign bodies. He was not as quick as Doctor Crebbs had been, but he filled the time with small talk and joked with me about the food in Scotland and his concern for my cholesterol levels. Three weeks had not done much damage, and I was given a clean bill of health and permission to move on.

 

I still looked forward to the cleaning process. Instead of rushing through I would have been allowed to linger in the bath and enjoy the massaging bristles of the tub as others had done before me. Since Noah was right behind me, I didn’t want to linger and keep him waiting. I moved on as soon as I was clean.

 

Vanessa had also left, eager to get back to practicing as a normal psychologist. I had been sad to loose her, but thrilled with her replacement. Caroline Stonington was a costumer and make-up artist for the theater. Daphne had found her on one of her many trips into the past. Jim had not been thrilled that Daphne decided on her own to hire Caroline, and bring her back with her into the future, but she had proven to be incredibly useful and trustworthy. I agreed with Jim that Daphne had overstepped her bounds, but Caroline’s skills had come quite in handy.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Michelle McBeth started writing fiction during NaNoWriMo in 2012. She published two books from her series, “The Sphere Saga” and is working on the 3rd. She has a handful of short stories and is thrilled that one was recently chosen to be published in an anthology for the Virginia Writer’s Group. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her family where she spends her days working as an engineer for the Navy, and her nights engaging the other half of her brain as an author, actor and creator.

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
"The Sphere Saga" is about a secret lab that sends researchers back in time to solve mysteries. "The Sphere" introduces Adelaide who travels through time to escape the tyranny of the lab's director, Doctor Lancing. "The Children of Doctor Lancing" explains Lancing's past and the origins of the lab.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Time travel is a difficult genre to work with. Establishing the rules of how travel works and how changes in the past affect the storyline can haunt you later if you're not careful and strict about your canon. More than once I have argued with my story editor about how certain events are possible.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
All the covers in this series have some variation on a spherical object and a wire-frame construct. The obvious choice for this sphere in this cover was the Moon. Since there's also a bit of an identity crisis involved in this book I wanted to also convey the sense of a known constant falling apart.

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