Shank’s Nightmare

Action Wormhole

Forget what you’ve seen in the movies.

Traveling into the future was too expensive and risky.  The equipment had to go with you, so like you, it could never come back.  There was also no guarantee people wouldn’t find themselves in the middle of an apocalypse.  The future is a one-way trip, because you can’t physically return to the past.

So when researchers discovered there was an incorporeal means to visit former times, we historians hailed it as a momentous achievement.  At long last we could settle matters of dispute about what actually happened, and imagine the benefits our society would gain.  You’ve surely heard of Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We should have taken that statement to heart.

Academia had to wait its turn.  Officials considered crime investigation was a more practical use for the application, and then the lawyers got involved and challenged the veracity of these interdimensional forays.  Time travel needed to prove itself, and we were more than happy to help.

The method involved in unconventional.  You relax on a reclined chair with electronic attachments fastened to you while psychotropic drugs are administered.  By focusing on the event you wish to visit, the electrodes and pharmaceuticals cooperate with the synaptic pathway you’ve laid down.

You pass into a dream state where you feel like you’re falling in slow motion, and at first your vision becomes hazy, like you’re passing through the corona of an eclipsed sun.  Then you arrive at the time you set for destination.

Although the edges remain fuzzy and your hearing is a bit muffled, the details are all there, proving this is no mere flight of fancy.

You can walk wherever you want, but this is your only means of progression.  After all, you are immaterial, so you can pass through walls and people but also any means of conveyance.  Shank’s mare is an archaic term for walking, and we “lucky” few historians who were finally able to participate joked how modern technology left us with shank’s mare to get around.

I have witnessed colonial traitors sign the Declaration of Independence, ragged soldiers tromp through snow at Valley Forge, and the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.  Our excursions can only last up to thirty minutes, however.  Any longer, the researchers warned, might cause irreparable damage to our neural physiology.

Some of us returned with reports that contradicted cherished beliefs.  We were accused of being liars by one faction, but there was also the camp that feared truth being brought to light.  The only thing the opponents agreed on was that these temporal excursions should be brought to an end.

And now something has gone terribly wrong.

I have been here for days.  While I suffer no thirst nor weariness, I am trapped within this agrarian society where people believe bloodletting is good for what ails you.  I have no means to communicate with them about my adversity.  I have no failsafe measure to draw me back to my own time.

I am a living ghost.  At least, as long as I’m here, my body must still be able to circulate blood and respire air.  But what happened?  Did a technological failure leave me stranded?  Did an inattentive assistant administer the wrong dosage?  Or did zealots invade our facility and interfere with my transference?  I may never find out.

Part of me fears I really did die, but this conscious part of me survived.  Have I been condemned to history, doomed to wander through eternity as a wraith with no purpose?  All I can do is keep walking, continuing my trek across the landscapes and through villages.  I have no effect upon history, and nothing here can harm me.

I am safe in this cage, but I would rather face the dangers inherent to freedom.

There must be a way to escape this situation.  There must be something I can discover that will help me to get back.  I have grown weary of existing in despair.  I have grown weary of not quite existing.

None of us know what time we have left, but I will take what I have and try to discover the way back to when I belong.


This month I decided to play around with a different style for the #BlogBattle prompt.  Be sure to check out all the other stories that were inspired by the word “corona.”  Is it me, or are the words getting more challenging each month?  But that’s what makes it fun…!

7 thoughts on “Shank’s Nightmare

  1. I love this, and want to comment more thoroughly, but I’m late to work, so I will be back. 😁 In the meantime, I think you short-changed yourself a word; this sentence needs one more:

    “So when researchers there was an incorporeal means to visit former times, ”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shhh, don’t tell anybody, but I went back and fixed it. Thanks for catching that! I was also under a time crunch when I posted this, so I skipped proofreading it. At least I didn’t do anything even more embarrassing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent take on the prompt. I was thinking that engine in Assassins Creed, was it the animus? Very similar concept although that was more person specific. In your version all “ghosts” might well be future trapped in the past. Lovely twist there too. A ghost truly in the machine. Really enjoyable to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a mom with sons who play Assassins Creed, I was indeed aware of that concept but was glad my version had a different ‘spin’. Ah, there is nothing new under the sun…. As writers we take ancient ideas but explore new concepts! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought the movie based on the game wasn’t a bad effort too. Same here wrt the games tough. I quite like it myself, but it’s a time soak due to the size. Made a conscious decision to stay away! Always new slants on old ideas. I think of it like, say, a piano. Fixed number of notes but innumerable ways to slot them together! Takes talent to make them sound good!

        Liked by 1 person

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