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Pandora’s Pillbox

Gerrie Shamba, Keeper of The Pandora Pillbox, shimmered into Siberia on June 29th, 1908. She removed the time-traveling hat from her head, reached into it and withdrew a handful of infected ticks. She sprinkled them onto the ground before returning the hat to her head. In twelve hours, an asteroid would explode over the region and–Gerrie hoped–destroy the ticks. She hustled back to 2018.

Back in her acarology class, she suppressed a giggle as the professor frantically searched the lab apparatus for missing ticks. She had prevented him from discovering the cure for tularemia, a nasty bacterial infection that causes lesions and pneumonia. Her mirth faded as she tuned in to the babbling professor:

“Y’all don’t understand! I was set to test the efficacy of doxycycline. We have to find a cure before the California resurgence spreads!”

Resurgence? What the hell was he talking about, Gerrie wondered. She flipped through her textbook to find tularemia. She re-read the description of the origins, which she knew was in a county in California. Aghast, she noticed, for the first time, that the disease was discovered in 1911! Her time-line alteration was off by three years!

Oh, dear…

What else had she missed during her other expeditio tempus? She slipped out of her seat and left the classroom. The only other class where she had indulged in mischief was Oenology 101. This silly elective was designed to promote responsible interest in viticulture, an important field of study here in the Napa Valley. Gerrie had been bored with the professor’s lecture, which he pompously had entitled, “In Remembrance of Bacchus.”

During the droning monologue, Gerrie had shimmered into the Prohibition-era Napa Valley and deposited a beakerful of the phylloxera root louse into the compost heap used by the Charles Krug winery. She was certain that she had gotten the date right, because the history books that traced the development of the region mentioned the combined effects of the ruined vines and Prohibition.

Gerrie had no idea what to make of the 1908/1911 resurgence of tularemia, as there was no corresponding resurgence of the root louse. She decided to try another experiment. This time, she would deliberately “warp” into 1896 Russia, to interfere with Alexander Popov’s discovery of radar.

She shimmered right into Popov’s kitchen, where he was enjoying his breakfast crepe. He was scribbling notes on scrap paper. As he got up to place his plate into the sink, Gerrie ran over to the table, scribbled out the words, “interference beat, detect object?” and hastily returned to 2018.

She found herself in a different world. In a nearby shop window, she looked at the scrolling text beneath a newscaster:

“King Adolph Hitler III vows to end ethnic cleansing; cites pressure from Wal-mart Global, whose employment rate has been in decline since November.”


Copyright © 2018 by Mitchell Allen Originally appeared on CreativeCopyChallenge #546.