TW: dereality, death. Implied blood in the inbetween segment
“...I’ve got my research to keep me busy, at least. If any of those taking part still remember me. This has been a pretty big setback.
And I have Animal Crossing. God, I’m going to have a lot of weeding to do.”
Penny gives the log one more once-over, eyes scanning the text for any mistakes- awkward wording, typos, anything of the sort. Once she’s satisfied with it, she hits Submit, leaning back in her chair and making a quiet sighing noise when it successfully uploads. Things are starting to go back to normal after, the blackout… Yesterday? Two months ago? Maybe she shouldn’t use the phrase “back to normal.” “Normal” hasn’t been a thing for… ugh, she should really stop thinking about time so specifically. It’s allegedly 2020, and she’s allegedly been here for 5 years. That would make it so it started in 2015, right? Back when the year was something she could be certain about.
No, it didn’t start in 2015. It was only noticed then, a mould growing just beneath the surface for about a decade. That’s probably a big and vauge enough measure of distance for her to feel confident using it. Probably.
The one who made all this happen- some reclusive physicist who’d practically set the Barros Boxes down and then scurried back into the shadows, didn’t take any credit or register any patents besides leaving their surname, which got made into a nickname for the little devices. They quickly became all the rage, and never really stopped being it- who wouldn’t jump at the chance to right old wrongs, prevent tragic accidents, see old friends one last time? They wouldn’t have had as much of an impact as it was commonly said, but capitalism finds its ways and its scapegoats. Curtains are easy to draw around companies reusing old stock by going back to before it was used, magnitudes more trips back and forth than anyone else ever could. Penny hadn’t really trusted them if she was honest. Weren’t most plots in TV shows or whatever with time travel focused on not changing the past? Not that her apprenticeship with one of the biggest companies working on spacetime-bending projects kept her too far away from them, but she could manage.
She’d been close to the end of her second year in her apprenticeship, and she’d say it was going well. They paid her in room and board, alongside the prospect of a degree and definite employment at the end. In retrospect, she hadn’t been exactly sure why they took her on- her interests liked more in journalism than science. But there was need for PR folks- interviews with reps from satisfied partner companies, investigation into public opinion. They found her a place. The apprentice dormitories were close enough to visit home when she needed to, and her fellow staff members were friendly and genial.
On the 4th of February, 2015, a flight making its way across the Midwest seemed to... vanish into nothing. All communication with ground control ceased, witnesses saw the usual white line in the sky stop in place. Although investigation teams were sent out, most rescue efforts seemed to only cause more problems- none came back beside a single team of six, 5 of which died within several days of recovery. Kismet took part in the investigations, and so the last remaining investigator was kept in their medical facilities. Penny had been staying up later than usual to get a report finished and was pulled from her office to speak to him. They wanted answers, and time was running out.
Penny tries not to think about the interview now.