Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and various other anthologies and e-zines.
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Elise Morley is an expert on the past who’s about to get a crash course in the future.
For years, Elise has been donning corsets, sneaking into castles, and lying through her teeth to enforce the Place in Time Travel Agency’s ten essential rules of time travel. Someone has to ensure that travel to the past isn’t abused, and most days she welcomes the challenge of tracking down and retrieving clients who have run into trouble on their historical vacations.
But when a dangerous secret organization kidnaps her and coerces her into jumping to the future on a high-stakes assignment, she’s got more to worry about than just the timespace continuum. For the first time ever, she’s the one out-of-date, out of place, and quickly running out of time.
“Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech.” —Unreliable Narrators
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“The spinning slows. Suddenly, everything stops.
My legs flail, searching for solid ground, until I plunge abruptly into dank, smelly water. I gasp, and my mouth fills with brine. I’m being dragged in one direction, but instinct pulls me the opposite way. I kick against my heavy skirts and break the surface. For one dizzying moment I’m utterly confused. The concrete slabs of the nearby docks sharpen my fuzzy memory.
I Extracted while on the gangplank—a gangplank that doesn’t exist in 2012. This is exactly why our travellers are encouraged to use pre-approved Extraction locations. The Wormhole dumps travellers at the same place they’ve left from, which can make for some awkward (or dangerous) entrances.
Across the way, Marie does a frantic doggie-paddle towards the steel rungs leading up to the dock. With labored strokes, I swim after her, clutching the sphere in one hand. When I reach her, she’s still clinging to the bottom rung, too exhausted to climb to safety.
“Hang on.” I slip my Wormhole Device into my handbag and pull my dripping body up to the dock. Water streams out around me, forming a dark puddle on the concrete. The evening sun, balancing on the very edge of the horizon, casts an eerie glow on the water.
“Okay. Come on up—”
My encouragement is drowned out by the sound of retching. Lovely.
I clench my jaw to stop my teeth from rattling and focus on retaining my professionalism—not easy, considering the mucked-up circumstances.
Finally, Marie starts up the ladder, ascending tentatively, with gasping breaths. When she’s close enough to grab my forearms, I pull her up with much grunting and tugging. Her eyes widen as she takes in the industrial warehouses, giant cranes, and sprawling parking lots that seem to have appeared instantaneously.
“What have you done?” Her voice rises in pitch with each word.”