The Tests of Time (Book 1) ✔

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Understatement of the Year

September 28th, 1924
Arnis, Germany

“Wells is an interesting man,” the woman Carter bumped into, Elinor’s mother, explained as she led the four time travelers into the secrecy of her house.

She had introduced herself briefly as Anneliese, after she dropped the bomb on them about Agent Simone, somewhat revealing that there was a more sinister side to her story than any of them were aware of.

“Understatement of the year,” Brackston grumbled, earning a glare from Layla.

Layla had been intensely listening to the woman’s story, intrigued by the details. She was especially interested in the woman’s story because it provided some insight to Elinor. Layla was still figuring out the peculiar daughter of Wells, and since there was very little Elinor remembered about her mother…

“You know, Agent Simone never mentioned you,” Carter interrupted, glancing over the woman skeptically.

“Homeland Security doesn’t always share the gory details with outside contacts,” Anneliese explained. “Since I am not with Homeland Security, and neither are you, she has no reason to debrief us on every moving piece she has in place.”

“She could have at least warned us she planted another person in history. If Whittaker is here, you would think mentioning the year and place would have at least made her realize that the bad guys are after one of her contacts,” Carter acknowledged, watching as Anneliese frowned at his statement.

“Agent Simone was not the one to send me back in time. Whittaker needed someone to get close to Wells,” she admitted, glancing between the four of them intently. “Tell me, what year did you travel from?”

“2019,” Brackston responded firmly, shrugging his shoulders.

“Ah,” Anneliese replied, her eyes lighting up. “You’re the first contact Agent Simone hired. She spoke highly of you but I’m afraid things weren’t going nearly as planned so she needed another contact working within enemy lines,” Anneliese confessed.

Anneliese glanced quietly over at Brackston from where she stood after she had made her way into the kitchen, her piercing eyes making the man squirm slightly. “And you’re all probably questioning why I allowed myself to end up in such a compromising situation,” Anneliese guessed, gesturing to her stomach. “Let’s just say Wells is very good with words and knows how to make his women feel special.”

Brackston gagged slightly, the rude reaction causing Layla to slap his shoulder softly. He gave her a dirty glare, which in return encouraged Layla to roll her eyes slightly at him.

“So, you made the mistake of hooking up with H.G. Wells for information and ended up pregnant with his kid,” Carter recounted, crossing his arms over his chest as he gazed at Anneliese coldly.

Ivan gave Carter a dark glare, his jaw clenching slightly. He wasn’t thrilled that Carter was judging the poor woman, though Ivan had a suspicion that the only reason Carter was being so cold towards her had to do with the fact that this woman’s mistake exposed this poor child to a life of hell. Seeing that the unborn child was clearly Elinor, Ivan was surprised that Carter was even worried about the child. As far as he knew, Carter only saw Elinor as a Whittaker target and a threat.

Thankfully Layla decided to pipe up, bringing the woman’s hard eyes off of Carter’s judging glare. “Why aren’t you with Wells now? Why face this alone?” Layla inquired, her eyes wandering to Anneliese’s stomach.

Anneliese parted her lips the same way Elinor parted hers when she was in deep thought. Her eyes narrowing slightly, she let out a heavy sigh. “Because I told Wells about Whittaker, about their plan to use me to get answers from him. The best plan we could come up with was for me to hide until we could figure out how to solve the Whittaker problem,” she explained, shaking her head. “But from what you’re telling me, Whittaker already knows where I am. That’s the reason you’ve been sent back in time, am I correct?”

“I didn’t think it was possible for our lives to get any weirder,” Brackston groaned, running his hands over his face as Anneliese finished her story. “But yes, we followed Whittaker here. We weren’t exactly sure why they came here but I think it’s safe to bet that they’re after you.”

Anneliese shook her head, her eyes growing sad as she glanced at the four time travelers darkly. “No, I don’t think it’s me that they’re after,” she admitted somberly, her gaze falling to her stomach that she was cradling, a look of pain crossing her face. “I think they’re here to take away my Bright One.”

Present Day

“Easy now, easy,” a familiar voice with a funny accent calmed Elinor as she bolted up suddenly, her eyes wide and her breathing panicked. She gasped softly, her head spinning as a piercing pain flared up. Groaning, she rested her head in her hands, her ears picking up the sound of the voice speaking to her again.

“You need to lay down,” the voice encouraged her, a gentle pair of hands coaxing her back into the bed.

Elinor whimpered softly, her eyes squeezing shut as she kept her hands on her head. “Where’s Ivan?” she asked weakly, her voice cracking from how dry her throat felt. “I need to make sure that he’s okay.”

“He’s on a mission,” another voice spoke soothingly, a hand gently stroking her hair.

Elinor forced her eyes to open and turned her head slowly so that she could take in the two voices that were speaking, her vision blurry for a couple seconds before it finally cleared.

Professor Altman was sitting beside her bed, a serious expression on his face as he watched her intensely. Agent Simone was standing off to the side a bit, a mixed look of relief and concern in her eyes. Lula was sitting on the bed right by her head, her pale face slowly regaining some color at the sight of Elinor being okay.

Elinor wanted to ask them about their unusual closeness and concerned faces but the dark memory of something she had seen just moments before she woke up crossed her mind, shifting her focus. “I had an awful nightmare,” Elinor started, groaning softly as she recounted the vivid dream. “Brackston and Ivan were in some strange house, holding off some men from getting into this room where this woman just kept screaming.” Elinor shook her head, her eyes flooding with tears as she drew in her lower lip. “I’m pretty sure that one of the men used a knife on Ivan’s arm, hurting him.”

Lula’s face darkened as she glanced up at Agent Simone with concern, before flicking her gaze over to Altman.

Elinor noticed that the three of them were having a secret conversation. She could see it in the way their eyes darkened, their eyebrows would raise, or the way their lips pressed tightly together or twitched. She could tell that they were keeping something from her.

“What’s wrong?” Elinor asked finally, bringing their attention back to where she laid. “What aren’t you telling me?”

Lula frowned deeply, her eyes darting between Elinor’s questioning glare and Altman’s serious expression. Sighing softly, Lula opened her mouth to speak before Elinor could question them again. “Do you remember how you said you were having some pain in your head?” Lula questioned, her gaze locking with Elinor’s eyes.

Elinor nodded slowly, her eyes squinting as she stared up at Lula. “I do. Though, I don’t remember anything after that.” Elinor frowned, her eyebrows furrowing together. “In fact, I don’t remember anything other than that horrible nightmare.”

“Right,” Altman piped up, nodding his head slowly as Elinor turned her attention to him slowly. “About that...”

Elinor stared at him expectantly, waiting for an answer to come from the man’s mouth. She could tell he was struggling to find the words to voice his thoughts into the air, it was obvious from the way his forehead creased and his jaw clenched slightly.

“I don’t think you had a nightmare,” Altman stated, his eyes lingering on Elinor as Lula and Agent Simone stared at him questionably. “I have a theory. You all are going to think I’m mad, so you’ll have to bear with me.”

“Enlighten us, Professor Altman,” Agent Simone responded impatiently, tired of the theatrics of the professor’s ways.

Altman pointed towards Elinor, his eyes unwavering. “She was the first subject to ever travel through time in Wells’s machine. At such a young age! They say that the young mind is delicate, so let’s say that Wells’s machine did have some sort of effects on young Elinor’s brain.”

“Wait a second,” Elinor sat up slightly, groaning as her head spun lightly. “What does traveling through my father’s machine have to do with my nightmare? I’ve been having nightmares every time I sleep.”

“I don’t believe what you just went through was a simple nightmare,” Altman explained, his eyes locking with Elinor’s. “Lula found you in the middle of the lab’s kitchen floor, after you appeared to slip out of your chair. Lula thought you were mildly seizing when she screamed for us to come in.”

“No offense, Professor Altman, but you’re not really making your point clear,” Lula groaned, shaking her head.

“What if Elinor can time travel without a machine? What if she can time travel with her mind?” he suggested, looking between the three of them.

“I’d say that my suspicions about you were true, Professor Altman,” Agent Simone confessed. “You’re as batshit insane as Homeland Security suspected you to be.”

“She’s not literally time traveling, of course,” Altman snapped, ignoring the disturbed look he was receiving from Elinor. “I’m just saying from what Ivan has told me about the nature and details of your nightmares, you’ve predicted future outcomes before they’ve happened.”

“Ivan told you about my nightmares?” Elinor asked, nervously clenching her fists. She had shared the details of her nightmares with him, confident that he would keep it between them.

Altman’s face softened when he noticed her pale expression, his voice lowering. “Don’t be upset with Ivan, my dear. He knew I had conducted research before on nightmares, so he was hoping I’d have answers on how to help you overcome them. Unfortunately, I fear my suspicions are true. A couple of the nightmares he shared with me were events that happened not too long after he shared them with me, leaving me to believe that they’re actually visions of the future.”

Elinor scoffed softly, shaking her head. “You think I’m having... visions? That I can see the future before it happens? How is that even possible?”

Altman raised his index finger as a way to stop Elinor from talking, carefully pulling something that was sitting on the floor at his feet.

Elinor paled slightly at the sight of Wells’s journal in Altman’s hand.

“Did you ever give this a read?” Altman asked, pressing his lips together at the sight of Elinor shaking her head. “Wells talks about you a lot. One would say, these are his letters to you. He even touches on how he sent you forward through time.”

Elinor wasn’t thrilled that Altman had taken the liberty to glance through her father’s journal, the very journal she had left untouched since she had gotten to the lab. There was something keeping her from reading the damn thing. She couldn’t place if it was because of her fear of what was inside the pages or if it had to do with it unlocking the grief she had been running from over the last couple of weeks.

“Brackston explained to me that you opened up about how the machine had affected your mind, wiping every single memory you had of your life before you left 1931 in Wells’s machine. I’m willing to bet that not only did your father’s machine wipe your memories but it gave you this ability as well, and the slow return of your memories is only going to trigger more of it,” Altman theorized, unaware that Elinor was staring at him blankly, a slight glint of fear in her eyes.

“So what does this have to do with my nightmare?” she asked softly, a nauseous feeling returning to her stomach as she braced herself for what she had already suspected.

“It means that your nightmare was actually a vision of what’s about to happen,” Altman decided to respond, his eyes glaring seriously at Elinor. “It means that this mission our team is on is going to go south. We need to assume the worst and prepare for Ivan Hayes and possibly the others to return back from this mission severely hurt.”

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