Monroe’s first journey into the machine had been more than unsettling. As she should have expected, she’d spent it nude, walking from room to room in a house full of religious paraphernalia while her grandmother preached the Holy Bible to her and her uncle shouted his praises to the televised Billy Graham special playing on PBS.
“Sit in the corner,” her ever timid Aunt Ada had told her, pointing to a broken wooden chair hidden in the shadows of the sitting room. Monroe did as she was told, her body cold, her heart fearful even though she knew it was a dream. Sort of a dream. More of a dream than reality at any point, yet it was also a journey to the past. It was the point of the machine, of Lucidity, but the bugs hadn’t been worked out. Lucidity’s inventor had disappeared before he’d even safety tested it. Monroe had taken a huge chance in what she’d done, but there’d been no choice. The lives of two people were hinging on what she could find.
He’d done a good job with Lucidity, and Monroe had entered it several times in the six months since Booker had disappeared, finding nothing wrong with it really except that he hadn’t allowed for true time travel. “Dreams are easy to penetrate,” he’d said the last time she’d asked him about it.
He’d been up all night, messing with the machine, and she’d been in the office, working on the computer, her own projects close to being done but having been put on a backburner by Paige and Denny for the machine that Booker had promised them all. Monroe might have been irritated by this, but the thought of time travel excited her just as much. She had unfinished business in her past, and Booker’s machine would have made it possible for her to take care of everything she needed to.
“Are you ever going to sleep?” she’d asked, handing him a cup of coffee to match the one she’d been sipping on most of the night. He’d taken it gratefully, wiping the back of his hand across his forehead. The room was a bit warm, but Monroe hadn’t thought much of it considering her body temperature always seemed to rise slightly in the presence of Jon Booker. She’d been attracted to him since they’d started working together a year ago but she’d never said anything. Paige had made it clear that they were there to work, not flirt, date, screw, or anything of the like. Luckily, Monroe took her job very seriously and wouldn’t jeopardize the benefits and great pay no matter how much she fantasized about Booker on her time off.
Jon Booker grinned at her and took a sip of his coffee. “Yeah, at some point. There’s a few more things I want to fix on Lucidity.”
“Oh, she has a name now?”
He nodded. “Yes. This is just her first stages, but she’s workable. You can visit the past, now, but only through dreams.”
“Mine or someone else’s?”
Monroe raised an eyebrow. “Then you really can’t change anything can you? I mean, if I wanted to do something twenty years ago, a dream state wouldn’t be effective.”
“Not physically,” agreed Booker. “But think about it? Did someone piss you off in the past? Invade their dreams. Give it back to them. Haunt them for a few nights and if they’re weak willed you can get them to do anything.”
“That sounds scary.”
“It is.” Booker sighed and took another drink of coffee. “I don’t actually want Lucidity to be used for that. I don’t even know how safe messing with the past is. But I’ve always wanted to know. Now I’ll be able to.”
Monroe watched as he worked for a bit longer. “Who’s dreams do you want to invade?” she finally asked, knowing that he’d be too engulfed in his work to have any sort of real conversation with her. She could have swore she saw his cheeks turn bright red.
“No one really. My own maybe. I’m doing this for the good of….mankind.” He grinned and went back to work, leaving Monroe shaking her head and heading back to her own office. She wasn’t sure what good mankind would reap out of a dreaming time machine, but if anyone could do it, it would be Booker.
And then he’d gone missing.
That had been six months ago. Paige and Denny had been killed two months ago and it was only after their demise that Monroe realized that everything had been a chain reaction. Her only hope now was Lucidity. She had to find Jon Booker and she had to bring him to the time when he could save the couple.
When Booker and Monroe had hired on to this job, neither of them had the slightest idea what they’d contracted for. Now that Monroe knew, she had to fix it before the whole world paid for their mistakes.