The Tests of Time (Book 1) ✔

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Memory Lane

Present Day

“I have a mission for you all,” the voice of Agent Simone echoed through the time machine’s control room as her gaze lingered on the tired faces of her team. “Altman has discovered the location of Wells’s time machine.”

Agent Simone watched as Lula and Carter turned to look at each other with surprise, Brackston glancing around with the same level of shock on his face. She wasn’t surprised that Elinor and Ivan seemed unbothered by this bit of news, knowing that they were there when Altman made the discovery. She was a little thrown off by the sight of Layla being unsurprised by this bit of knowledge but decided to not read into it too much.

“I am sending you all to Germany to check it out since Homeland Security is dragging their feet and has yet to give me a team to send out there,” Agent Simone explained, her eyes lingering on each member of her team. “Secure the time machine and my team will be along, hopefully shortly, to relieve you.”

Everyone nodded slowly, amazingly quiet considering the details of the mission.

Pressing her lips tightly together, Agent Simone gave them all a firm glare. “And whatever you do, do not mess with the time machine. Who knows what kind of dangers it might hold.”

Present Day
Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

“It feels so good to be out of that stupid lab,” Lula groaned, taking in the atmosphere of the little German city around her. “And in Quedlinburg, of all places. Are you all aware how great this is? This is one of the places that was pretty much untouched by the events of World War II.”

Carter smirked softly at Lula’s excitement, her brown eyes taking in the beautiful details of the houses they walked by, the sound of their feet slowly walking against the brick streets adding to the relaxing vibe.

Brackston rolled his eyes slightly, glancing at Layla as he mumbled something in her ear. Layla chuckled softly, the two ignoring Carter’s dark stare.

Lula was sure that Carter would have called them out on their behavior had it not been for the sound of another voice catching their attention.

“You should have seen this place before World War II, Lula,” Elinor’s voice drew their attention to the back of the group. Elinor was standing next to Ivan, casually walking alongside him as he kept his arm around her.

Lula noticed that Elinor was wrapped in a brown leather jacket that hugged her frame snuggly, beneath the jacket was a dark black sweater that matched with her dark pants and boots. Agent Simone had gotten the woman a change of clothes before they left so that she wouldn’t be walking Germany in sweats and a t-shirt.

Everyone had forgotten that Elinor was a woman out of time until she made her statement. They waited for a couple moments before moving on to see if Elinor would continue but her gaze had hardened slightly as if she were remembering something unpleasant.

“What’s on your mind, El?” Ivan’s voice whispered softly, his hand squeezing her shoulder reassuringly. He could see that something was bothering her from the way her eyes glared at her surroundings seriously, her lips pressed tightly together.

Sighing deeply, Elinor forced herself to tear her gaze away from the buildings as she looked into Ivan’s eyes. She could see that there were hints of concern in his expression as he watched her carefully, a small smile forming on his face to try and mask it.

“The last time I walked these streets, my mother had just been strangled by some man. My father and his friend, erm, Tesla… They were leading me to the place they hid the time machine,” she explained, shuddering at the thought. “I can almost still see this place just as it was back then. It’s like nothing changed, even though I know it has.”

Ivan almost frowned at her explanation but decided it would be best not to. He didn’t want to add to her distress of being here, especially since they were so close to being done with the damn thing. As far as Ivan was concerned, after today, Wells’s time machine would be a thing of the past. He was looking forward to focusing on whatever the future had in store.

It took some time to figure out the location of Wells’s hidden machine. The closer they got, the more Elinor’s expression seemed to pale. Ivan could tell that she was struggling with whatever memories were plaguing her mind and it pained him to know that there was nothing he could do about it. He wanted to ease her raising thoughts, to bring her back to the here and now before her memories swallowed her whole. He was about to check up on her again when Carter’s voice quickly caught their attention.

“Guys… I found it.”

Staring back at them from the end of the brick road was a magnificent, two-story house with an extraordinary design despite its flaws. Its bricks were covered in a thick layer of green ivy, a few windows were broken in places but the loveliness of its character was still visible. An old clock rested above the front door of the house, tying everything together.

“Wow,” Lula breathed, a small look of amazement on her face.

Brackston chuckled slightly, jabbing Carter on his side. “Looks like Lula found a home for you two, Carter,” Brackston pointed out, ignoring Carter’s dark stare.

Elinor’s stomach churned uneasily at the sight of the building, her breath getting caught in her lungs. A faint memory of her father walking with her up the stairs into the once magnificent house crossed her thoughts. She tensed uncomfortably as they started up the stairs, her eyes glancing around nervously as Carter picked the lock to the front door. She wasn’t for sure if at this point her discomfort was from the fact that she was about to enter into the last place she had ever seen before she was sent forward or if it was due to the fact that Carter was breaking into the house.

“I swear,” Brackston muttered under his breath, watching with an alarmed expression as Carter continued picking at the lock. “If we end up in German prison for this, I am going to officially stop tagging along with you all on these missions. My ass is going to sit on the sidelines from now on.”

Lula scoffed at Brackston’s words, opening her mouth to respond but the sight of Carter slowly opening the door slowly stopped anyone from speaking further.

Without wasting any time, everyone quickly shuffled into the building, holding their breaths until the door was shut behind them. What sunlight was left from outside shined through the windows of the vast, rundown entryway. Papers were littered everywhere, followed by the strange sight of different parts of machinery lying around.

“Well,” Brackston muttered softly, his nose scrunched up at the sight around them. “This place is a dump.”

Elinor frowned, glancing around at the place around her. Aside from its age and a few differences, things looked pretty close to the same as what she remembered.

“It’s always been a dump,” she admitted, shrugging herself out of Ivan’s arm around her shoulder as she slowly made her way out of the foyer.

Everyone looked at Ivan quizzically, their eyes flicking back to Elinor as if they were trying to gauge if Ivan had any clue as to what was going on.

Shrugging his shoulders slightly, Ivan followed after Elinor without a word and he assumed that the rest of them would, too.

The house was eerily quiet, other than the occasional groan from the house that softly drowned out the sounds of their footsteps on the floor. Elinor wasn’t for sure if the tense feeling that washed over her was from the general spookiness of the building or the vivid memories that haunted her as she made her way towards a room on the far end of the house.

It felt as if the room had been calling out to her, begging her to come find it. As she poked her head into the room, peering past the slightly ajar door, it became painfully clear as to why.

Her heart leaped slightly, a frightening chill running down her spine as she slowly stepped into the room to get a better look at what was making her feel so uneasy.

A spherical chamber stood at the center of the room, the door to the metal chamber propped open slightly. Her eyes lingered over the strange machine, a hint of recognition crossing her face as her eyes landed on the rounded panel. She swallowed hard as a lump formed in her throat, the faint memory of Tesla standing at the control panel. She had almost forgotten that she wasn’t alone until the gentle sensation of a hand touching her back startled her.

Jerking her head around, her eyes wide and her breathing labored, she was surprised to see Ivan standing behind her. He had a worried expression on his face as his eyes wandered over her pale face. Before Ivan could respond, another voice had piped up in the empty room.

“What the hell is that?” Brackston exclaimed, bounding into the room with a speechless expression on his face. “Holy shit, is that what I think it is?”

Elinor tore her gaze away from Ivan’s, her face remaining pale as the thought of Wells’s key to the time machine weighed heavily on her neck, concealed from the rest of the team underneath her black sweater. Nodding slowly, Elinor turned back as the rest of the team slowly entered into the room, a somber expression on her face.

“Yes,” she started weakly, her eyes falling back to the chamber before them. “This is the time machine, the one Wells used to send me forward in time.”

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