Amy’s back stiffened at the sound of Mr. Colby’s voice. She stopped and spun around. The coffee she was holding sloshed in the uncovered cup. A few drops landed on the front of her blouse.
“Shit!” she swore under her breath. She looked up and smiled.
“You’re late again!”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Colby, I didn’t realize they were repaving the parking lot today and…”
“What are you talking about? We sent out the memo last month!”
“I must have forgotten to write it down,” Amy said meekly. It wasn’t worth the battle with Colby, who was thin-skinned and prone to giving lectures. But really? Last month? You couldn’t have sent out a fucking reminder?
The words stayed unspoken on the tip of her tongue. Mr. Colby walked up the hallway toward her, staring at her chest.
Amy looked down. She’d spilled more coffee than she thought.
“Wenders, your shirt’s a mess.”
“I know… the coffee just kind of—”
“Hm,” he interrupted. “Never mind. Dennis is already waiting for you in the lab. We’re supposed to be aligning the polyflux capacitors today. Now get moving!”
Mr. Colby stole another glance at her ample chest before pushing past her and moving into his office. He slammed the door shut behind him. The sound made her jump, sloshing another dash of coffee onto her blouse.
“Fuck!” Amy hissed. She took a deep breath before turning around and heading toward the lab.
“Hey, beautiful!” The nasal sound of Dennis’ voice drilled down into her even before she’d stepped into the lab.
“I told you not-to-fucking-call-me-that,” Amy sang.
She was working on not cussing so much, because her boyfriend Dale, of all people, had pointed out that it made her seem abrasive. It was a tough slog. She found that if she cussed cheerfully it made the best of the situation.
“Wow! Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” Dennis mocked. “Or is it that time of the—”
Amy spun around and pointed a finger right between his eyes. “Don’t you fucking dare say it!” she growled.
You had to call these guys out about this kind of thing. Otherwise the lab would turn into a 1950s-era boys’ club faster than you could find a girdle and start typing. There were numerous times during the day when she wondered if it was actually 2017.
It all made her so tired.
“Excuse me,” Dennis said solemnly, stepping back, palms up in the air. Amy rolled her eyes. There were at least fifteen more period jokes where that came from.
“Anyways,” Dennis continued, “we’re supposed to be aligning the…”
“I know, Dennis,” she mumbled, suppressing, with great effort, a huge sigh. Dennis was a nice enough guy, but he seemed to think Amy couldn’t find her head with both hands.
There was also the matter of his voice. It got under her skin, almost like someone had taken a cheese grater to her sinuses.
It wasn’t his fault. Not everyone could have a pleasant voice. But she often wished he’d use it less.
The sigh remained in her chest, but she couldn’t help adding, “It’s been on the calendar for weeks.”
Amy dumped her purse by the desk, looked down at her stained blouse again and sighed. “Fuck,” she whispered. There was no time to do anything about it now. Besides, it wasn’t as if someone other than Dennis was going to lay eyes on her today. They were two of only a handful of people who even had clearance to be near the lab.
“Should I put the suit on?” she asked, moving across the bright white tile of the room to the giant plastic wardrobe on the other side.
“Nah,” Dennis said, waving a hand. “We’re not running an actual test. I just need a body in there to line up the lasers.”
Amy turned back, picked up her coffee, and took a swig. With one final sigh, she set the cup on the control console and marched over to the machine they’d been working on for the last three years. She paused for a moment before stepping inside.
“Do you actually think this thing will ever work?” she asked softly.
“Hmmm?” Dennis said, largely disinterested.
“I mean…” It felt silly saying what she was about to say, given her job here. “Do you actually think time travel is possible?”
Dennis shrugged. “Who cares? We’re making money. We’re not out on the street. We’re doing what we can. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, well, fuck it! I’m going to be long retired and not giving a flying fuck about this place or any other—”
“Okay, Dennis. It was sort of… rhetorical.” She shook her head and regretted asking the question.
She had been working here so long with such little real hope for the project to ever function, that she sometimes wondered if she shouldn’t move on. It was a job, just like Dennis said, and it was well-funded.
So many of her illusions about science had been shattered by working here, though. Illusions about women being taken seriously in science, illusions about what she would accomplish, illusions about how her life would be.
She closed her eyes.
Life had not turned out like she had expected. Not really.
“Hey.” Dennis broke through her musings.
Amy turned to see what he wanted. “What?”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Oh. Right.” She walked slowly over to the wall and picked out the smallest communications device she could find. It was shaped like a bobby pin. She tucked it gently into her hair next to the pin she used to keep her hair neatly pulled back in a severe bun. She had hoped the bun would give off the impression she was meant to be taken seriously. Now she just wore it out of habit. “Not that there’s much point. It’s not like this thing is going to send me back in time.”
Unfortunately, she added silently. She could go back and tell herself not to take this job, for one thing.
Dennis had started twisting knobs and punching numbers into the keyboard on the console. “Rules are rules. No one gets in that thing without a communications device. What if it did suddenly work? You’d be stuck somewhere in a different time with no way to get in touch. That would be sad.”
She turned again to see his wide, toothy grin.
She wondered if it would actually be sad. For Dennis, or for herself. She gave him another eye roll.
“Alright, honey, step inside,” he said cheerfully.
Amy swung the door of the machine open just as it started to glow and hum. She always liked getting into it. The soundproofed walls shut out Dennis’ nasal drawl, and if he was there, Mr. Colby’s loud and constant barking.
The comm tucked into her bun crackled to life. Almost soundproof.
“That’s a 1-2-3 test. You read me?” Dennis’ voice sounded even more annoying through the tiny speaker behind her ear.
“I read you loud and all too clear,” Amy answered, turning to face him through the Plexiglas of the machine.
As soon as she saw his hand come up to the top of the console she realized her mistake. He’d told her countless times not to leave anything on the control panel. Fear clutched her stomach as she saw his fingers graze the coffee cup she’d left sitting there.
“Dennis, no!” she screamed, her voice filling the tiny compartment with sound. Time seemed to slow down.
She watched in terror as the coffee cup teetered on the edge of the console. Dennis noticed it too. His eyes went wide. She saw him reaching for it, trying to save it from falling. The tips of his fingers just managed to graze it before she watched it topple, spilling its contents onto the console below. She screamed again.
The machine began to rattle. The hum grew louder. Suddenly, the world went black.
The image came into focus slowly: the coal gray of roughhewn stone; rustic wood in slabs; a large, cool shadow. Disoriented, Amy stared at the image in front of her, trying to make sense of it. It was an impressive stone structure with a giant wooden door that wouldn’t have been out of place as the entrance of a castle.
She felt her head spinning and she reached an arm out to steady herself on a wrought-iron railing near her. When her balance had returned, she looked up toward the sky, wide-eyed.
“What the actual fuck?” she muttered, not knowing what to make of what had just happened. She shuffled through her mind, trying to pull the most recent events from the thick sludge in her mind.
Stepping into the time machine.
The coffee spilling.
That damned coffee! Why had she been such an idiot?
She heard the crackling sound again. The realization of what it might be worked its way through the fog of her thoughts. With frantic hands she pawed at the back of her head, where she’d tucked the tiny bobby pin before stepping into the machine.
“Amy? Amers?” Dennis’ nasal voice sounded even more nasal through the tiny speaker in the comms device. He sounded like a mosquito, buzzing around her ear.
“Dennis?” she asked, her voice filled with disbelief at what had just happened.
“Holy shit, you’re there!” he buzzed.
“What the hell is going on?” she asked, looking up at the towering house she was standing in front of in wonder.
“Amy, I think it worked!” Dennis sounded ecstatically terrified. “I think you… actually just made a jump!” This disbelief in his voice helped anchor Amy’s own confusion.
She stared at the stone building. The bottom dropped out of her stomach when the enormity of it all crashed together in her mind.
Was it possible?
Had she just jumped?
But quickly, her scientific mind began casting doubts on her conclusion. How did it happen without the polyflux capacitors properly aligned?
“Oh, shit…” she whispered.
“Yeah!” Dennis said, taking her statement for one of awe, to be agreed with.
“No. No. Dennis, no. Dennis, we haven’t aligned the capacitors. Without a proper polyflux reading…” Her voice trailed off, and she felt ready to cry. Keep it together, Amy.
But she lost it. “How the fuck are you going to get me back?!” she screamed.
The silence on Dennis’ end did not sound reassuring.
“Okay,” she heard him say softly—a change in tone that under ordinary circumstances would have been welcoming. In this situation, it was terrifying. “Okay, don’t worry. There’s a way to retrace those readings. It’s just… it’s just going to take some time. I’ll get Anders and Colby up here and…”
“Dennis, no!” she cried, her voice echoing up the stone facade of the building in front of her.
“Whaddya mean, no?” he asked.
“If Colby finds out I left my fucking coffee on the console he’s going to fire my ass!”
More silence. “Ummm… Amy…”
Amy’s breath was beginning to turn to ragged, short gulps. She was hyperventilating.
“I mean, he’s going to find out one way or the other,” Dennis was saying. “You… just jumped in time. No human’s ever done that.” He added, optimistically, “I’m pretty sure you’re not getting fired for it.”
He did have a point.
Suddenly, the sound of the giant door swinging open startled her and Amy let out a shriek and jumped. Two very large and very handsome men stood on the other side. They were both impeccably dressed in black pants, perfectly ironed. Gray waistcoats covered white shirts that were tied at the neck with cravats. Gold French cuffs glimmered in the light. Black tailcoats, the color of their pants, rippled in a light breeze. One was light-haired, his eyes an icy blue. His sensual mouth formed a slight smile, clearly a resting position for his face. High Nordic cheekbones and straight lids gave him a pretty, but still masculine countenance. His companion was a dark opposite of him: wild black hair, thick eyebrows over deep-set eyes, a stern mouth, and a jaw that was square and seemed to be permanently set. His eyes were the color of dark beer and seemed to look thoroughly through everything, incinerating it.
Including Amy, whose jaw fell open slightly as the dark man’s eyes seared right through her.
“Good, you’ve arrived,” the dark one rumbled. His voice was deep and he spoke with a lofty British accent. He reached out to take Amy by the arm. She shrieked again and tried to pull away but he caught her easily and pulled her inside.
“Okay, hold on,” she said, breathless. “I can explain.”
“Explain?” the blonde asked. “What on earth would you have to explain? You’re exactly what we sent for.”
Amy’s heart skipped a beat. Sent for? What the hell were these guys talking about?
Her thoughts, already in a disarray, went flying about like paper in a windstorm.
“Umm, okay, I’m not sure who you think I am,” she explained, “but I’m pretty sure it’s not who I actually am.”
They furrowed their brows and looked at each other. A smile cracked on one side of the dark-haired man’s mouth.
“Ah, I’ve heard about this, Andrew,” he said, looking at the other man. “It’s a state in which the patient has an inner conflict about beginning treatment. Nothing the correction therapy won’t solve.”
The word ‘correction’ turned Amy’s heart to cool liquid, and a shiver traveled through her. In spite of her predicament, she found herself gravitating to the idea.
“C-c-correction therapy?” Amy stammered, her jaw dropping. Then she remembered where she was. She looked behind her, as though to assure herself of the way out. “I’m sorry. You have really got the wrong gal and I really need to not be talking to you at this point. I’m sorry I was on your steps and I’m sorry I was yelling. If you’ll just let me go, I promise I won’t bother you again.”
“Let you go? Nonsense. You’ve only just arrived. We have a room prepared.”
“A what?” Amy asked. Things had gone from confusing to absurd pretty quickly. She felt her impatience start to build. She needed to get out of here. She needed to talk to Dennis. She needed to think of a plan.
“What’s your name, child?” Andrew asked.
Amy looked down at herself, as though to confirm that she had not, in fact, become a child. Seeing her own body, the coffee stain from earlier in the day, she was reassured. She peered at the man in confusion.
“Look,” Amy began, trying not to let her fear get the better of her, though it was becoming more and more difficult. The pressure of getting back to the lab was nagging her, as preposterous as it might have been given what appeared to be happening. “I really don’t have time for this.”
Andrew let out a guffaw. “Oh, my! You’ll be perfect! An excellent candidate! They couldn’t have sent a better one!”
Amy tried to wriggle free of the large man’s grasp. It was useless. His massive paw was holding her arm tight.
“Now there’s nothing to be scared of,” Andrew began. “We are being rude though, aren’t we, Richard?”
“I suppose we are,” the large man holding her replied.
“My name is Doctor Andrew Chambers and the man detaining you is Doctor Richard Stevenson. We’re very happy that you’ve elected to help us test our hypothesis and as I mentioned, we’ve a room at the ready for you.”
“Hypothesis?” Amy repeated. Science. Scientists. A trickle of relief ran through her. Perhaps she could reason with these men after all.
“Yes,” Andrew answered cheerfully. “Using the female erotic response mechanism as a cure for…”
“Whoa whoa whoa… Hold on a second,” Amy interrupted with a chortle. “The what?”
Andrew cleared his throat. “As I was saying, using the female erotic response mechanism as a cure for the phenomenon of female psychological dissonance due to inappropriate gender roleplay.”
Amy felt her fear boiling inside her, turning into her notorious temper. This was all crazy, but this last part was too much. There was no way she was sticking around to find out what crazy experiments these guys had in mind.
“Alright, that’s it,” Amy said, wrenching her arm and yanking it free of the large man’s grasp. “I’m walking out of this house and there’s no fucking way you guys are going to keep me here. If you do, I’m gonna scream like you never heard a lady scream before. You fucking got that?” She drove home the point with her pointer finger.
Richard scowled. “You’ll do well to watch that mouth of yours,” he rumbled.
For some reason, that was what sent her over the edge.
“Listen, you big fucking thug,” Amy screamed. “I’m not here to take advice from you or your fucking boyfriend, you understand? Now I’m walking the fuck out of here and you are going to leave me the fuck…”
The wind left her lungs as she was yanked through the air. For a second she couldn’t believe he actually had her over his shoulder. She wasn’t a small girl and there weren’t a lot of men she’d ever met who could do that. As soon as what he’d done dawned on her, she started pummeling her fists against his back.
“Hey, fuck you, you fucking bully!” she screamed, hammering against his hard muscles. He seemed completely unfazed. He carried her across the large hall to a settee, where he flipped her easily forward. Sitting down, he pinned her over his knee with one hand.
“Such a dirty mouth,” Richard said. “We can’t have young ladies using such naughty words.”
Amy’s rage crescendoed as she realized her bottom was up high in the air.
Memories stirred inside of her. This was… was this what she thought it was? Was this man about to give her a spanking over his knee? Like a child?
Her disbelief was further inflamed by the fact that the idea was stirring something inside of her, a twisted feeling in her abdomen. Something even lower; an ache.
Was she…? She didn’t dare confront the idea, and a red stain of humiliation crept across her cheeks.
Was she getting turned on?
Cool air wafting from the darkened hallway caressed the cheeks of her ass and made her gasp.
What the hell was this guy doing? A hot swell of shame washed through her as she realized he’d just pulled off the skirt she’d been wearing.
That meant that they were both staring at her ass. She writhed and wriggled over his knee, trying to escape but the man’s solid forearms pressed against her thighs like hot steel, impenetrable and unrelenting. He had her completely at his mercy.
The first searing sting of his palm on her ample rear cheek took Amy by surprise like nothing else ever had. She gasped and a wail escaped her that sounded like a child crying. She didn’t have time to protest. The first spank was quickly followed by a second, crashing over her other cheek. Then another. And another.
Her bottom started to burn. Having been caught completely off guard, the realization of what was happening sank into her. She was getting a spanking! Dr. Amy Wenders, PhD was pinned over some thug’s knee with her ass up in the air and she was getting a fucking spanking!
She knew she was supposed to resist this. She knew she was supposed to scream and kick and fight. But there were two things that made that difficult. One was the burning feeling that was growing hotter each time his rough hand crashed onto her ass. The other, much more embarrassing reason was the wetness that had started to well up between her thighs.
Amy tried to remember what color of underwear she’d put on that morning, wondering whether the moisture coming from inside her would make a hot, dark stain. She whimpered as the pain in her butt became almost unbearable and all the resistance left her body. As soon as she did that, the spanking stopped.
The sound of Amy’s heavy breathing was all that could be heard in the dark hall. She lay there, her exposed ass still up in the air, wondering what was going to happen next but not daring to say or do anything, just in case it would make him start spanking her again. Finally, she heard Andrew’s footsteps moving toward her across the cold stone floor. She looked up to see him standing over her.
“Well, I’m happy to see that you react well to discipline,” he said softly with what seemed to be a genuine smile.
Somewhere inside her the urge to fight stirred again but the burn in her bottom made her push it back down.
But she was unable to stop herself from saying, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means, my dear, that you’ll find we have very little patience for those sorts of outbursts.”
“Or crass language of any kind,” Richard rumbled over her. She felt his booming voice as it traveled through his body into hers. She flushed red again as his voice vibrated inside of her, turning her to a hot liquid from the inside out, making her core ache and gush in ways she hadn’t felt for… well, ever. She wondered if they could see the wetness yet, or if they were even looking there. A fiery heat traveled over her skin as she realized she was turned on by the idea of that humiliation as well.
She squirmed again, feeling out the solid muscle that held her against the heavy, equally muscular thighs. Her breasts reacted to the mass beneath her by pebbling into excited balls.
She was helpless.
“Look, guys, just let me explain?” Amy said meekly, realizing that she wouldn’t be able to extract herself physically from the situation.
“Explain what, exactly?” Andrew asked.
The question made her unsettled and a moment later she realized why. She had spoken before thinking. After all, what would she explain? If she did tell the truth, that she was a scientist from the future who had accidentally traveled through time, there was no way they would take her seriously. What if they thought she was crazy? What if she ended up stuck in some mental institution in the past?
The thought simmered inside of her, and she enjoyed the electrifying sensation for a moment.
Pull yourself together, Amy. Get out of here.
“Well?” Andrew pressed, when she remained silent.
Amy’s mind started to race. What could she say?
What she really needed right now was some time to talk to Dennis again. Maybe he’d figured out how to get her back. The best thing to do, then, would be to get some time alone.
“Okay, you got me,” Amy sighed. “I’m from… you know… the agency that you guys wanted me from.”
For a few seconds it seemed like they might not believe her. Then Andrew smiled.
“There. I knew you’d come to your senses. Let’s take her to her room. We’ll explain everything this afternoon.”
A shot of adrenaline coursed through Amy at the thought of what that might mean. It didn’t matter. She would hopefully be gone by then.