We weren’t going far. Ten minutes forward, just to test the machine without incurring any paradoxes. We were past the mice and bunny stages by this point. Carla would step into the field, I’d flip the switch, and she’d step forward into ten minutes from now while I had to go the long way.
Carla had won the right to do it. She threw rock.
I got behind the Lexan shield and turned on the cameras. “Ready?”
Carla stood before the arch of metal wires and supports that defined where the field would be. “Ready,” she said.
I flipped the switch.
It started slowly, which surprised me. I was expecting sudden, explosive special effects, thank you Hollywood. Instead it built slowly. First it was a haze, as if we were staring out over a highway on a hot day instead of standing in a rented lab in Longwood.
Then color developed, little wisps of darting, swirling colors like a rainbow washing down a drain and reforming itself, over and over.
It expanded gradually, almost imperceptibly, increasing its size with every pulse so that field appeared to be dancing itself into being. The colors were deeper, richer now. Carla was barely a silhouette in front of them.
She wasn’t moving.
Well, no, she was moving but she wasn’t stepping forward the way she was supposed to. She was swaying, back and forth, and letting her arms move gracefully with her movements. It was disturbingly erotic.
I touched a switch. “Carla?”
Her voice seemed far away, but not in time. “Yuh?”
“Everything all right?”
“Only you’re not actually doing the experiment.”
She turned toward me. Color reflected off her shoulders and neck, leaving a constantly moving glow on her skin.
“It’s beautiful, Jimmy.”
“It is, yes, I’m videoing it, only you’re supposed to be stepping through it now.”
“I will. But–”
“But? Look, I don’t know how much longer we can keep this open…”
“I know it’ll work. It already did.”
“I can see through the field, to ten minutes from now. And I’m there already, looking back at me. We’re dancing, Jimmy. Give me a minute.” And she turned back.
I didn’t really have an answer for that, so I waited. Finally she stopped dancing, took a deep breath , stepped forward, and vanished. I hit another switch and the field instantly stopped.
It was a long ten minutes.
Even counting down, I was still startled when the field fired up again. It came up quickly even as Carla came through it. She waved at me, posed for a quick picture, and then spun on her heel to stare back into the field.
“Quiet, Jimmy. It’ll last as long as it did before, it’s just going backwards now.”
“And you know this because…?”
“I can see me from before. Ima dance for a bit, if it’s all the same to you.”
“Sure, fine, whatever, I’ll just be over here doing science.”
She laughed. “Hey, Jim? We did discover something today?”
“That we can send a human being through time without ill effects?”
“No. That I’m TOTALLY my type.”
And past and future Carlas danced on.