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Awards & Prizes:
🥈 Second Place in the Green Exchange Awards, WIP Category (2023)
🥉 Third Place in the the Green Exchange Awards (2023), Overall Category
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The Time Trilogy:
~ The Archaeologist [complete]
~ The Artifact [complete, editing]
~ The Time Traveler [work-in-progress]
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© All Rights Reserved.
This book is copyrighted by Gwen Thames.
Use of any part of this book without express permission from the author is prohibited.
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Ministry of Science (Time Travel Division)
United Republic of Europe
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“I need this sample tested immediately. And both Dr. Everson and I need our blood and urine tested for bacteria, viruses, and anything else you can think of.” Armas presses a vial of murky liquid into the lab technician’s hand as he hurries to take off his leather pack.
“What is it?” the young woman asks with surprise, eyeing the sample with speculation.
“Water. Now go. People are dropping like flies, and we need to make sure we’re not next.” The senior time travel scientist and researcher’s voice is gruff but unemotional.
The tech dashes out of the Time Portal Room and soon, two nurses in white lab coats rush in. “What happened?” the one approaching Armas asks, looking him up and down for outward signs of injury or illness. It was abnormal for travelers to come back unexpectedly, demanding to be tested.
Armas rolls up the cream-colored linen sleeve of his Neolithic blouse without a word, then finds a stool, sitting sideways so she can take her sample. Adrenaline and worry race through his heart, though he’d never show it. “Whatever’s been ailing the locals for the last couple of weeks is killing people, young and old. Starts with stomach upset and pain, then turns into a fever. The only thing everyone has in common is the drinking water. So, that’s what we brought back.”
Daniel, the project’s anthropologist, takes a seat of his own, wiping his brow as he tries to catch his breath, his face turning paler by the second. His stomach had begun bothering him the day before, but after the jump back to their own time a moment ago, he feels much worse. It isn’t unexpected though, as time jumps always give his stomach a bit of a whirl. The nurse attending him swipes his sweaty forehead with her vitals meter before pulling out a blood kit, seemingly unaffected by his unsteady appearance.
“When we figure out what this is, are we going back?” Daniel asks Armas, wincing at the tiny pinprick stabbing his forearm.
Armas nods while watching the vial at his own arm fill with crimson blood. “Yeah, we need to get back as soon as possible.” Then to the nurse at his arm, “How long will it take to get the results?”
“Not long. About fifteen minutes.” Detaching the vial, she pockets it before sliding the needle from Armas’ skin. Then, leaving two urine sample cups on the stainless steel table, she turns to leave. “Fill these to the line and put them on the shelf by the sink. I’ll get the results back down here as soon as I can.”
Both men relax a bit—they hopefully made it back in time, and the rest is out of their hands. Daniel lets out a long breath as he retrieves the sample cup with his name on it. But before he can head to the latrine, the main door swings open with an angry force.
Like a tornado, Dr. Abernathy’s high heeled footsteps signal her fury, matching her angry, red face. “What the bloody hell’s going on?” the Minister of Science bellows, scowling at the two weary-looking men dressed in worn, somewhat dirty rawhide breeches, linen shirts, and shoes resembling moccasins.
“Ma’am,” Daniel replies, standing nervously. “We caught a bug or something.”
“It’s bad,” Armas interjects, his cold eyes meeting the equally intimidating woman’s glare with defiance. Knowing her stance on breaking from a mission’s schedule, he’d prepared for her interrogation in advance. “We’re doing labs now and brought back a sample of the water the locals are using. The entire group is infected and the death toll is only climbing. Dr. Everson and I need to be diagnosed and treated so we can get back to the mission—Minister,” he adds the cursory title with a hint of defiance. He didn’t like it when she stuck her nose into his organized affairs.
The tall blonde eyes both men in silence, nods tersely, then turns. “I expect you back in the field as soon as possible. And your report had better explain everything thoroughly, Dr. Falco.” She’s gone, slamming the door behind her before either man has time to respond.