Time travel can be a useful resource, but what if something unexpected goes wrong?
In the year 3236, the government uses time travel to document the mistakes of the past. It’s a way to gain power in the present by learning from history.
During a leap back to WWII, Astro-archeologist Julie finds her safe projection hasn’t gone as planned. Instead of the ethereal presence she’s supposed to be, she’s actually visible. What will that mean when she stumbles upon a small village being raided by German soldiers?
Faced with death all around her, Julie has to find her way back to the future. But when she returns, will she be the same person she was? Or will the paradoxes of time travel change her life forever?
From Karen J. Mossman
The Sci-Fi programmes I watched as a teenager in the seventies influenced this story. The invention of the microchip was something no one predicted. Reality turned out differently and we no longer needed huge mainframes.
Time Lines pays homage to that, and when flat screens didn’t exist. It recalls a simpler version of science when large buttons and handles seemed high tech. However, there’s still modern theory involved.
A noise woke me from a deep sleep, and it took me a moment to come round. When I did, the first thing I noticed was my simple bedroom, which had no personal touches. I didn’t recognise it, and for a moment, I racked my brain.
Am I on holiday?
A deep rumble vibrated the room, quickly followed by an explosion.
I leapt from the bed, suddenly wide awake. Racing to the window, I hardly believed what I saw.
Soldiers poured into the village, firing guns. They shot at anyone in their path.
People ran, screaming in terror, and smoke spread upwards from a burning building.
My apartment shook from another explosion. It called my attention back to my situation, reminding me I needed to get out fast.
It was then I realised my apparel. Despite having been in bed, I stared down at my dark trousers and plain top.
“What the hell? I’m fully dressed.” Confused, I looked around the room. Spotting shoes tucked slightly beneath the bed, I shoved my feet into the flat conventional style footwear.
Where am I, and how’d I arrive here? I wondered.
Running out of the bedroom, I barely noticed the sparsely furnished lounge as I darted for the hallway. I threw open the apartment door and legged it to the stairs. A burnt smell followed me through the corridors.
The crackling of fire fed my fear, which only intensified when I stepped outside and saw an unfamiliar village. What’s going on?
The sky was a vibrant, clear blue. There wasn’t a cloud in sight as the morning heat rose. The brightness made me squint until my eyes adjusted to the light.
Cows and goats wandered around unattended, baying in bewilderment. They sounded just as perplexed by the noise and frantic activity as I was. Bellows of protest added to the chaos as another explosion shook the surrounding buildings.
The old structures appeared aged and somewhat dilapidated, like you’d expect from a historic town. Built in a valley beneath the mountains, the village would be beautiful at any other time. However, at that moment, it was just a war zone.
I moved from the doorway to a building across the street. My survival instinct was on high alert, so I kept close to the wall.
Please don’t let me die here – wherever this is.
As I turned the corner, I came across a woman on her knees with a dead child in her arms. The mother wailed, an awful bereft sound that tugged at my heart as blood from the boy’s crushed head pooled on the ground. She looked at me beseechingly, but what could I do?
I kept on running, hiding, and dodging.
With every nerve in my body on fire, my heart thudded uncontrollably, and I could hardly breathe. I was about to run into the open when a soldier aimed a gun at a man on his knees, stopping me dead in my tracks. It shocked me when he fired his weapon, causing the victim to collapse while his distraught family screamed and cried out helplessly. My stomach lurched, and I turned to vomit behind a wall.
Dropping to the ground, I retched, and then crawled into a space between outbuildings. As the scene unfolded, tears streamed down my face. What kind of hell did I wake to?
Tanks rolled through the village, bringing further destruction. They crashed into buildings and ran over fences. The machines demolished anything in their path.
Some villagers were being killed indiscriminately; shot on the spot by the invading soldiers. Others became prisoners, herded up like animals for slaughter. Their fates were unknown.
Fear fizzed in the air, and the noise of terror was deafening.
Crouching down, I screwed my eyes shut. My hands covered my ears. I wanted no part of this, yet here I was with no idea of what to do or where to go. Things weren’t looking too favourable that I’d escape safely from this nightmare.
“Du!” an ugly voice, too close for comfort, yelled. “Hure!”
It took a moment for the words to translate as I opened my eyes. You, whore!
About 10-feet in front of me stood a German soldier in a World War II uniform. My heart seemed to stop as he aimed his gun in my direction. My stomach hit the floor, and I thought I would vomit again.
Climbing out from behind the wall, I rose to my feet with my hands up in surrender. Please God, no. I don’t want to die.
Suddenly, the soldier’s eyes flicked to the right, and he looked confused before fear coloured his face. As his rifle lowered, I turned to see what startled him.
Standing there watching us was… me.
“There are a few short stories that have gone on to become full-length novels, some have even spawned a series. It’s exciting to read something and realise that it has the potential to be so much more.
This is one of those stories, it’s perfectly formed yet at the end, it makes you desperate to find out more. It has a fantastic idea behind it and just enough backstory to be intriguing.
I want to know so much more about the world that’s been created. I love the idea of time travel as a basis for storytelling, there really is no limit to where you can take the narrative. You can have parallel universes, paradoxes and so much more.
Time Lines is set in the far future. It’s a world where time travellers visit the past as an invisible presence. To watch and record. Until the day when it all goes wrong. Julie is such a traveller and on one trip, she realises that, in the time she is visiting, she can be seen. On returning to her present, she can tell that things are different.
What is going on? Has Julie changed the course of history?
Of course, there’s only one way to find out.
There’s a lot of good description and believable science, which adds to the realism and backstory. A cast of solid characters all chip in, providing a growing sense of unease as the story develops. They all have solid personalities and a range of emotions. That adds to the enjoyment.
To sum up, without giving anything away, this is a very nice short story. It packs a lot into its length and throws up all sorts of possibilities, which I think need exploring.
Now I want the novel. Or the series.”
“The year is 3236, and time travel has been perfected. Travelers go back in time in an ethereal form, just observing and learning from history and not altering events. Julie is a seasoned traveler who has learned to separate her emotions from the events she witnesses because the past is past. On her latest mission to Poland during WW2, an anomaly happens and Julie becomes more than an observer. She is physically present in a small village when German soldiers invade and begin a massacre. The reality of living in such troubled times hits hardest when she faces the receiving end of a German rifle. Time Lines by Karen J. Mossman is a unique story about blurred timelines.
Action, suspense, and a drizzle of quantum physics are the spices of Time Lines. Narrated from Julie’s perspective, the plot begins with a heavy air of suspense and unfolds swiftly with just a few characters, a couple of quantum physics theories, a thrilling climax, and a promising resolution. I especially liked the characterization of this story; I experienced two opposite versions of each character, and neither was aware of the other. I liked the exciting conflict caused by a mix-up in parallel universes. I also enjoyed the seemingly logical explanations for the inventions and events in the plot as they made the story more realistic. This was a quick read, and it held my attention for every minute. Karen J. Mossman produced a great short story and I recommend it, especially to adventurous readers who fancy time travel and parallel universes.”
— Reviewed by Ann Linus for Readers’ Favorite