The year was 2371, the day somewhat warm and the rain outside only slightly acidic. Jarusc stepped willingly into the bath. The lukewarm cauldron of high molarity salts circulated at 37 C and conducted just the slightest tingle of electrical current.
Afan adjusted a few nuts on the plumbing and began warming up the chrono-engines. “I’ve locked on.”
“Yes. I’ve found a body the timelines will let you inhabit. You shouldn’t be able to cause a paradox even if you tried.”
“I’m ready.” Jarusc pulled down the dark mask and squeezed the electrical pads closer to a shaved head.
Afan hit the button.
Jarusc felt dizzy for a moment, but soon everything was just overcome with utter pain. A look down and Jarusc realized what the pain was. The body Afan had placed him in hung from rafters, wrists chained to the ceiling and toes barely sweeping on the ground. The body’s flesh was torn to bits, destroyed to a point where Jarusc couldn’t tell if it were male or female.
All Jarusc could tell was that the body had dark skin.
A black man with a whip stood nearby, and a white man smoking a pipe just beside him. The white man pointed at Jarusc with the bowl of his pipe. “Get ‘er. Righ ’bout there – I think I see a bit of ‘er nekkedness.”
The pain of the whip didn’t register beside the rest of the hurts all over her body. “Get me out!” Jarusc cried. “Get me out of this body!”
The white man chuckled. “I think she’s had enough. You reckon so, boy?”
The black man, his eyes wide and filling with tears, shook. “Yessir.”
The white man opened a door from the barn, allowing the sweet smell of fresh air to penetrate the dank, shit-filled barn. Jarusc could only whimper in the darkness until Afan noticed what was happening and pulled off the connecting lines.
Pulled by Afan from the pool, Jarusc touched the places where the slave had been whipped. The skin had returned, the wounds no longer present. Only the memory of pain still stung.
Afan set Jarusc’s back against the tub. “Did you get the info? Did you find out where the artifact was buried?”
Jarusc’s head shook. “No. I was just a slave girl being beaten in a barn. Give me someone else to inhabit, someone who isn’t dying. Someone with more freedom.”
“You sure you don’t need a break?”
“I’m sure. Do it again.”
With a nod, Afan replaced the neurotransmitter and re-booted the chrono-engines.