I finished brushing my hair and checked my lipstick. I looked businesslike and professional, an advantage in case the time machine went wrong.
It was ready. For months the physics department had been secretly working on a time machine, reluctantly working with an English major in order to test the proficiency of the machine. The general idea was that I could go back and consult with a major Literature contributor.
I stepped in, and with a trembling hand, spun the dials.
The machine whirred, which I had been assured was normal. I felt dizzy and wondered hazily if I’d remembered the seatbelt.
A immeasurable length of time later, I staggered to my feet from where I’d been curled up on the ground.
Feeling returned to my limbs and I confidently walked through the street, noting the chatter of German that was both familiar and unfamiliar. The streets were busy and I caught sight of a sign: Christmas Eve, 1847. I scanned my memory, and fairly screamed with delight when I realised this was the year in which Jane Eyre was published. Perhaps I’d have to pop over to England and wrangle a meeting with the Brontes – though I’d have to be careful to not alter the future. I’d had enough Dire Warnings and Stern Looks to last a lifetime on that particular subject.
I checked into a nearby inn and retrieved my notebook. 1847 was too early: I’d been aiming for very early 19th century, so as not to make myself too conspicuous. Even now, my pencil skirt and blouse stuck out.
A few days later I found myself whirring through time and space again, and this time landed hard on my shoulder. While I tried not to shriek and curse in pain, a hand made its way into a line of sight and pulled me up.
My saviour was a young looking man with dark eyes and I felt my eyes growing wider, until it was almost painful.
This man was Franz Kafka.
My word. I’d found him, so quickly.
This would make a killer piece of research for my essay! How many people could go back in time and ask people what they were thinking when they wrote something? Don’t get me wrong, I loved the library, but one day I’d found myself glazing over as I flipped dry and dusty pages.
Turned out, newspaper was really hard to wash out of a white shirt.
He stared at me.
Gathering my wits, I pretended to be lost and slightly sick. He brought me to a cozy inn where I could take lodgings and gave me his address, telling me quite firmly to visit for tea one day.
I didn’t sleep that night.
Two days later I was over my fake illness and making my way through the street.
Kafka seemed pleased to see me and invited me in effusively.
He told me all about his new work in progress, and I found myself scooting forward further and further on my seat. He looked delighted by my interest, and I was hard-pressed to remind myself to not change the future.
Back at the inn that night I took all the notes I could remember, and made note of my adventures within the time-travel realm.
Three mornings later I was visiting Kafka again and we were quite pleasantly drinking tea when I felt a strange whirling sensation, and if his expression was anything to go by, he felt it as well.
Not long after, we found ourselves in an English world. I could hear and understand it all, grateful for the times I’d studied or read Victorian era literature. It appeared we were now in 1847 – though for me it wasn’t the first time. Kafka didn’t take it in stride like I’d hoped, but then again, moving the others through time was never a part of the deal.
He glared at me and I was sure I could make out something about stupid scientists, which I resented. I wasn’t a scientist. I’d pin it on the physicists.
I sighed. “All I wanted was to research my essay and get a bit more information.”
He clearly understood me.
The scene began to shift and whir again and before I knew it, we were now in 2013. Now he looked out of place and I looked perfectly at home.
He glared at me.
“I didn’t mean to time-travel you all over the place! There must be a glitch in the system! I just wanted to experience the environment in which you wrote!”
Hoping to appease him, I handed him a stack of books with his name on them. They were all written by him and I distinctly heard him mutter something about witchcraft.
Ich bin nicht eine Hexe!
And that’s when he tried to hit me with a forklift.