Time Travel Test 1A001

[The following test was completed by the Time Travel Panel in collaboration with the Panel on Psychological Anomalies. This transcript, presented in full, represents Time Travel Operational Test 1A001.]


Doctors Leo Fitzgerald and Michael Juengling

Test Subject Tomas L. Sorens

(Mr. Sorens’ volunteer waiver is attached to his file.)


Time Travelers Liam Samel and Cris Higgens


The object of this test is to establish how, if at all, memory might change when events are altered. Mr. Samel’s and Mr. Higgins’ role is to travel to major life moments of the test subject and reconstruct them. The Test Subject’s role is to tell, in detail, his life’s story. For the purposes of this test, the test subject has no prior knowledge his life may be altered. The Doctors act as facilitators, providing questions to the test subject.

[Everything said by the Doctors is restated in italics. Everything else is in Mr. Sorens' own words.]


Test Subject, Tomas L. Sorens, is a man. He is fifty-five. He is married to Paula Sorens (née Rife). He has three children: Liza, Paula, and Duke. He claims, on his initial forms, that he is happy with his life.

Please begin, Mr. Sorens.

I was born on July 5, 2035. The year the war started. My father was the eldest of three siblings. He and his younger brother both fought in the war. My father went MIA on my first birthday and never returned. So many MIA’s stayed in England, so that, for a long time, an embarrassingly long time, I believed my father might someday return home. He never did.

My mother started my education young. I learned to read when I was three. Which is why I decided to teach my children how to read when they were young. My wife might not have agreed, but since it hadn’t done me any harm, I figured, why not?

And what was your mother’s name?

My mother’s name was Liza. Which is why I named my first daughter that. My wife didn’t like that either, which is why we named our second daughter Paula, after my wife. And it must have been a curse ’cause Paula is exactly like her mother. The two of them together is almost unbearable.

Though, don’t get me wrong, I love my family. The best times of my life were spent with my family. We traveled everywhere, until, of course, that became illegal. I taught my son how to play hockey and golf. And if he hadn’t fallen in love with sculpture, he could have been a professional hockey player. Even so, I have some of his sculptures around the house. He’s very good.

What are the names of your children, again?

Liza, Paula, and Duke. I was glad we stopped at three. Paula insisted on four but I put my foot down. Then that mandate went through saying we couldn’t have any more kids. Which, of course, is when I started thinking a fourth might not be so bad.

There was this one time, while Paula was going through menopause, that Duke asked what a period was. His words were ‘stop telling me it’s not at the end of a sentence, it’s at the middle of a girl!’. Which no one had told him. He hid in the closet for the rest of the night we laughed at him so bad. That was also the night Liza met her first boyfriend, Jim. He was the only boyfriend of hers I absolutely hated.

Gosh, raising two daughters was the worst. I always worried that if we’d had more than two children the third might be a girl. That would’ve been tough.

So you were happy to have Duke around?

Who’s Duke?

Nevermind. Tell me more about your wife.

Oh, she’s a trip. We met in college. She was studying physics, and I was a grad student in astrophysics – so dumb. Neither of us ever used our degrees. She went straight to work for the government and I got stuck writing technical journals. Because we didn’t have any kids we both rose rather quickly. My wife was instrumental in creating the Department of History in Congress.

The Department of History? Oh yes. Yes.

Yeah! You know, the head of the department just got assassinated by that hippy group – jerks keep trying to prove history is interpretable. Idiots don’t know what they’re talking about.

I’ll tell you one thing, if I hadn’t spilt coffee on her thesis I would never have met her. As much as I complain about my wife, she really is my one and only. Spilling coffee, you know, it’s like it was meant to be. I couldn’t imagine life without her. Like, I hope I die first so I don’t have to live without her.

One time, while I was in graduate school, I went to a coffee shop. There were three beautiful women all making eyes at me. It was the first time I ever really thought of myself as attractive, like movie star attractive. I was fed up with school. Really, fed up with life. And here it was: a chance to be somebody!

That’s when I dropped out of college and moved to New York. The plan, as I’d seen it, was to join a theater company, get some plays under my belt, get on broadway, and eventually do a movie. I also started doing cocaine. Everybody was doing cocaine, since they legalized it and all. I mean, how else would one work during the day and then perform throughout the night? I certainly didn’t have the natural energy for it.

My friends, the ones I met in New York, were all so smart. They knew more plays and playwrights than I’d ever imagined there were. It showed too. I never found the right monologue. Hell, ‘the right monologue’, ha, I never found the right apartment, the right car, or the right girl either.

I was in one play. A play about the government. That was around the time they started mandating everything: how much coffee you could drink to how many babies you could have. I had to have my coffee, you know!

But yeah, just the one play.

See, I never managed to join a theater company. And I lived in the same studio apartment for ten years. I felt stuck. I was stuck. It stunk.

I lost a lot of friends. I’d get drunk or high and they’d just leave. Eventually I was kicked out of my apartment. No one wanted me.

Then my mother died. I didn’t go to the funeral. I just didn’t want to see her.

I started to try other drugs. Heroine is my favorite. God I love her! Heroine is a god, you know? I mean, I hate every minute of it afterwards but I can’t imagine doing anything different. Life without her, heroine, is unbearable. She’s the only girl that sticks around, you know?

So, when am I getting paid again?


[This transcript demonstrates the first successful test of the Time Travel Panel and its associates. More tests to follow.]

The Watcher

The wiretap played through my head phones:

“I only told Angela, so you can’t tell anyone else, okay?”

“Sure. I promise.”

“Okay. So, we went to the movies, right? And then, instead of going straight to his car, he’s like ‘wanna get some ice cream?’ and I’m like, ‘of course!’ So we go to Finnegan’s, you know right by his office – and I’m like ‘you work there?’ and he’s like ‘yeah, you wanna see my office?’”

“Dude! He’s like twenty-four!”

“Yes! I know! Don’t interrupt my flow! Besides, I’m eighteen, it’s perfectly legal.”

“Sure is.” I said.

I turned off the wire and let the darkness fill in the silence.

The darkness of a wiretap room had originally contained a solitude I loved. Even when the occasional car drove by I felt as though the entire world was lending itself to my life and my life alone.

But that was when I was in Jalalabad. Now the darkness of my attic apartment was stifling. For fourteen years I gave my life to the CIA. And now, thanks to Homeland Security and the mandate that all American citizens above the age of eighteen be surveiled, my mission is to sit in the dark in a small attic in an LA suburb with four Walmarts, listening to the conversations of an eighteen year old high school girl.

And let me say, for the record, that not all Americans who reach the age of eighteen are worth listening to.

Shirley ‘Mary Mae’ Bronson may be the most incompetent female on the planet. In fact, I might hazard a guess that the only two things she does well are dial a phone and use the word ‘like’ in every sentence.

I clicked on my digital recorder and attempted not to sigh into it. My boss once claimed to hate when I sighed into my notes.

“Log 4192 on date October 9, 2006,” I said calmly, “nothing new to report. Bronson family undisturbed.”

My thumb clicked the recorder off and I sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Time for coffee,” I said to myself.

My attic room consisted of a bed, TV, small bookshelf which I used to stack my booze, and a tiny kitchen. I got up from my desk, coffee cup in hand, and headed to the kitchen.

Sirens reached my ears. Slamming my mug on the counter I raced back to my desk and turned on my headset.

“So big! Like, so big!” Shirley’s voice reached my ears.

“But like how big? Should I be impressed?”

“Like, oh my god, you could fit two hot dog stands in there!”

The two girls giggled. I sighed. Nothing at the Bronson’s. Though, the sirens hadn’t stopped yet. They were getting closer. The flashing lights reflected off the houses. I watched from my window: an ambulance and two cop cars pulled up in front of the house my attic was enclosed in.

Perhaps the old lady who lived below me passed away.

“Oh my god! There’s some police outside my house!”

I checked out the window again and saw Shirley’s bedroom blinds move.

Two medics rushed out of the ambulance into the house next door. One carried a stretcher. The cops jumped out of their cars.

“Like oh my god! They’ve got guns! Guns pointing at Mrs. O’Leary’s house!”

It took a few minutes until the medics returned. My heart leapt to my throat as I moved closer to the window for a better view. The cops kept their guns trained on the man in the stretcher. The medics moved quickly. The man’s wrists were handcuffed to the stretcher rails. I started to sweat.

“Oh, like Mrs. O’Leary has another man in her life! But, like, I wonder who he is!?”

I didn’t sleep at all that night.

The next morning I grabbed the paper from the front stoop. Scanning it I found no trace of what had happened the night before.

I considered: the old lady didn’t know that I lived in her attic. Nobody knew I was there. But somehow Klepinger got caught, which meant I might be next. But then, no one ever identified my stint in China. And at six-foot-three and blonde I stood out rather firmly there.

Then I received a phone call from the Los Angeles CIA branch. They wanted to review my case. My heart leapt with joy at the thought I might be transferred to a different, more interesting, individual…or out of the wiretap business all together.

I jumped in my car and was on the highway in less than five minutes.

Instead of pulling into my usual spot, I drove to the loading docks as I had been instructed. As a good employee, I listened to the rest of my recordings of Shirley on the way. Just as I was pulling in, the recordings finally got good:

“But Shirley! What if Carmeron’s right? What if the government is spying on us? They could if they wanted to!”

“Come on, Margret, like, why would they spy on us? Here, I’ll prove that, like, nobody is listening. I’m going to blow up the White House.”

“Don’t say that!”

“But see, Margret, nothing happened!”

I smirked as I turned off the engine.

When I got out of my car a bag was placed over my head. Before they could cuff me I punched the guy in front of me and elbowed the guy behind.

Then I ran, pulling the bag off my head.

Another guy grabbed my legs. I fell forward landing on my chin. One of the guys managed to get the bag back over my head as the other two held me down and cuffed me.

“You’re in big trouble now,” said one of the men.

Entering through the loading dock I kept track of how many steps we took before turning right. Then there were stairs up one flight, then a door, then to the left. The light grew dimmer as we walked. It also became colder.

We stopped and stood for a moment. I assumed we were waiting for an elevator.

A short ding informed me I was right. The elevator doors screeched open and I was shoved inside. During the ride up, I counted each ding in my head. When we reached the thirtieth floor we got out and walked down several more hallways.

The thirtieth floor I knew belonged to research. At least, that’s what they told us. Except for your mission it was always best to assume only half truths from your superiors.

The room we entered was brightly lit. Beethoven’s third symphony played gently in the background.

“Sit him down.”

It was a voice I knew all too well and when the bag was lifted from my face I couldn’t hide my surprise. Shirley Bronson’s father stood in front of me.

“Mr. Chakins,” Bronson smiled.

I looked to my three assailants. They stood menacing around me.

“Mr. Bronson,” I said.

He clapped his hands, “congratulations. You know who I am. Which means I was right. Oh yes, I was right. You sir, are spying on me.”

I rolled my eyes.

“You find this humorous, Mr. Chakins?” Bronson asked, eyebrows raised.

“No. I don’t,” I said. I shifted my wrists in the hand cuffs, my skin was starting to chaff.

“I can make those tighter if you’d like,” Bronson nodded to one of his minions. He made them so tight I thought I might lose circulation.

“You’re a bastard,” I said.

He chuckled, “and yet, you’re the one spying on me.”

I rolled my eyes again, “I wasn’t spying on you. I was spying on your daughter.”

Immediately the doors to his office swung open. Two men dressed in full SWAT gear, complete with automatic rifles, entered the office. Behind them strode in a sixty-five year old woman wearing a pink suit.

“Mr. Chakins, or excuse me, Barry Loughen, you are hereby charged with treason,” she said.

Her’s was another voice I knew so well. She was standing up straight so I hadn’t recognized her, but she was indeed the little old lady whose attic I lived in.

“I beg your pardon?” I said.

“Yes, beg all you want, but the pardon would have to come from the president, I’m afraid,” she smiled.

The two men in SWAT gear pulled me from the chair. As we marched out of the office the little old lady explained, “We’re in the middle of a purge. Bad economy, you know. Your assignment was to listen and log. Never to disclose to a third party. You just failed your assignment. Like you failed in Afghanistan and Turkey. In fact, it seems like the one thing you keep forgetting is that we are always watching.”