The burning is the worst part. That is what everyone told me before I volunteered. It feels like someone takes every piece of your skin and lights it on fire with 20,000 different cigarettes. Each burn is distinct. Each feels like the flesh is slowing peeling away one tiny circle at a time. Even when my eyes open and I am completely intact, my skin burns. It doesn’t stop for hours. I bite a hole through my tongue in attempt to refocus the pain.
Time travel is not the giant ball of kicks our ancestors imagined it would be. There aren’t any old autos or giant circles to protect us. There’s just our bodies being ripped apart and coming back together one cigarette burn at a time.
The screams almost overtake me once I arrive. I let out a long, loud yelp that pierces almost as much as my skin. Opening my eyes is difficult. We lived in darkness for so long. The sun died long before man did. We are apparently more like roaches than we cared to admit.
I feel around for my clothes. I look down and see the leather jacket and black pants that survived the trip, but only just barely. The pants are tattered.
Breathing is easier. I never knew noticed how hard it was to breathe before. You don’t notice what’s been there your entire life.
“Scanner?” I whisper to myself.
“Yes, Samira,” the voice is my head answers
I exhale and try to stand. “Shade my eyes.”
The contacts in my eyes immediately go dim. The glare of the sun is taken down to the level of dim blue artificially light I am more accustomed to. I pick myself out of the alley. I take out the pain pen that has made the trip and jab it into my neck. The burning numbs to a sharp pricks. It still hurts like hell, but at least I can move with feeling like my flesh will fall off at any moment.
I walk out of the alley and towards a street. The sound of laughter grows louder as I approach the street. I step out into glaring daylight and I am met with children running around in a park. I walk into the street.
And that was the last thing I remembered before waking up in a white room surrounded by—I think they’re doctors. I am slow to open my eyes.
“She’s waking up,” the voice sounds distant.
“Miss—Do you know your name?”
I try to sit up but am forced back down onto the table.
“Samira Riley. It’s 2016. I am 19.”