"I don't remember anything", said Kimberly. George heard her and tried not to worry. He reached out to touch her arm. She instinctively jerked and stared at him, agitated and wide-eyed. He retracted his hand and said, "You need to rest, Kimberly. We will talk when you are a little stronger."
Before she could protest, he walked out, gesturing to Jorge to get out too. Jorge followed him and went to check the condition of other machines in the lab. The sprinklers were now off, and the fire caused by the intense power surges had been extinguished, with damage inflicted on some minor equipment. But George had more important things on his mind.
He stood outside the observation room and watched Kimberly's blank expression as she looked around her. He quietly shook his head. He and Kimberly had been working for so long to combat the side-effects. It had been seven years since he had contacted the brilliant American psychologist to help him. And they had worked day and night to create what they thought was the ‘perfect' system. But had he failed, again?
He had discovered a way to travel into time a long time ago, work that had taken most of his adult life. However to deal with the effects of time travel was what he needed help with, the very effects he now watched Kimberly go through - the pain and injuries, the confusion and finally the amnesia. Thankfully he had still not seen yet another common effect - death.
He had watched all this happen before. Many had sat on the chair and failed to survive the journey. It worked so well in theory but the human mind was weak and convoluted, except this time she had a solution, and they had spent the last few years working on it.
He had watched her squirm and scream, and watched her bleed. He knew that her mind was going through a lot of trauma. She had bled because her mind thought she was actually bleeding, her body at the whims of a contorted and confused mind. Would he ever now get to know what experiences she had in her journey through time, events which could affect her mind and her body in such a way?
He looked at the machine, layered with the quantum transducers that were his design. Using these, he had been able to tap into residual emotional energy from significant events in the past, or future. It wasn't possible to send a body through time, but strong human emotions in time could be tapped and converted by these transducers to recreate actual experiences. The subject would go through time, experiencing events and their corresponding emotions as he or she went through them.
Sometimes it would be great joy; sometimes it would be great pain or sorrow. And sometimes the events would be too traumatic for a weak mind to withstand, the mind destroying itself rather than go through the trauma of experiencing it. It is why Kimberly had chosen herself, and he had agreed. She was much stronger than him emotionally, and she had faith in her methods. She had spent a lot of time and effort incorporating her method of neuron reorganization into his machine and this journey through time was a risk she had been willing to take to prove its effectiveness. He admired her bravery for believing in their work, and risking her mind and body for it, something he had never been able to do.
He looked at her lie, alive and breathing and for a moment was glad that he had not lost her. Not like the dozens he had in the past. He found himself watching her face, beautiful despite all the agony she had been through. Seven years they had spent together, trying to deal with this problem, seven beautiful years. He almost smiled at the memories.
He had hoped that she had created the perfect system. It looked so great in theory, so flawless. It wasn't just the trauma of the experiences that you had to deal with; it was also the return to the real world. The human mind was often unable to make these quantum leaps through time without returning muddled up. Her method dealt with both.
But had she succeeded? He watched Jorge enter the room and take down her readings, trying to make conversation with Kimberly. He heard her say, "Tell me what's happening here," and heard Jorge trying to explain to her, the little that he knew.
The Swedish medical engineer did not know of all the side-effects that this sort of travel could have. He did not know of the large possibility that a person will go through traumatic events; he only thought the transducers caught onto random moments in time. However Kimberly knew, or rather had known, although he had intelligently kept all his previous attempts a closely guarded secret that only a selected few would know. He had hoped that Kimberly's method of reorganizing neurons would work and no one would ever need to know of the many negatives that had haunted his work for so long.
He sighed. Seven years and still nothing. She didn't even seem to remember what work she had done. Will he now have to find someone else, or will she work with him again? Will he now need to work seven years more?
But before he dealt with Kimberly, he had to first tell the man who had made all this possible, tell him of yet another failure. The man who had through all these years, arranged ways for him to travel from country to country, finding people to work with, and getting away with failed experiments.
He dialled the phone.
"Ferrell?" he said as he walked towards the next room.
Kimberly lay still, hearing the beep of the machines around her. She saw George standing in the distance, watching her, pensive and concerned. Was he always like that around her? Then why did she feel oddly uncomfortable by his presence now.
She saw him take out his phone and then she heard it. It wasn't loud, but she was sure she had heard it right.
The name sent chills down her spine, and she did not why? She looked around her, hoping to anchor her mind to something. Everything seemed alien and yet familiar. Every explanation slipped from her mind like sand in a sieve. She had felt lost, but she was now slowly able to think more clearly. Things made sense once again. She took a deep breath and looked at Jorge, and she remembered who he was. She looked at the machine she lay in, and slowly she was able to remember it.
In the back of her mind, thoughts were being recreated. She could recall what she had been doing, what she had done for seven years now. But something more was happening. Every event that she had been through in her journey through time was now slowly becoming a distinct memory. She recalled the night of the DoD dinner. Then she recalled the dam and that name.
Her research had not failed. She now remembered.