Ancilla – Teaser #1

She’d listened to her dad’s strange theories. Even with her minimal knowledge of physics, she knew going forward in time would be more easily achieved than going back.

Dad figured it out.

Moisture gathered in her eyes, and before she knew it, she tasted a salty liquid on her lips. It couldn’t be happening; everything must be a mistake. A dream. But she knew what she had seen and heard. Those men were Roman– even her rational mind nagged at her to believe it.

She thought of the man’s face. He’d said his name was Lepidus, and with what little research she had done in one of her first history classes at Northwestern, she knew there were many male children named after their fathers. Which was he? What year was it? If he was the Lepidus who was a part of the second triumvirate, he was important to history. He ruled right alongside Marc Antony and Octavian. His time would be the end of the Roman Republic.

Whoa. Stop. You’re already accepting this?

“Why are you so quiet?” Brandy muttered.

Nicole tried to discreetly wipe the tears from her eyes, then sniffed.

“I’m thinking.”

“You’re crying too,” Brandy said.

Nicole slanted Brandy a look from the corner of her eye. Leave it to Brandy to call her out on it.

“Hey, what happened out there…” Brandy shifted her focus to the opposite wall. “It could have been… could’ve been worse, yeah?”

Nicole didn’t need a reminder of the humiliation, even though she wanted to scrape the stares of everyone’s eyes off her skin. No, there were far worse problems they needed to talk about.

“Let’s not talk about that ever again, okay? And that isn’t it.” She sighed.

Brandy leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes when pain creased her forehead. “All right.”

Nicole knew everything was a million miles—no, a million minutes—from all right.

“What then? We’ll get outta here. If we can find out where we’re at, we’ll get some help and go home. I might even have military contacts here,” Brandy said.

How was Nicole supposed to tell Brandy where she thought they were without sounding as if she’d lost touch with reality? She slowly pushed herself up the wall to stand and intertwined her arms deeper in the blanket.

Turning away from the bars, she filled her lungs and said, “I think I know where we are.”

Brandy popped open her eyes and shifted slightly, sitting up a little straighter. “Where?”

“What do you know about what our dads do?”

“Uh, physics, science shit. My dad didn’t talk shop.”

“Well, mine did. Most of it I didn’t understand. They’re studying dark energy, gravity, and quantum level physics. Who knows what else.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, you saw the men out there and the house. Where do you think we are? Because I hope I’m wrong.”

Brandy shrugged, seeming awfully calm—a little too calm. “Some shithole third world country. I’ve visited damn plenty of them. Somewhere in Africa? Or Iran? Where else could we be?”

Africans who speak Latin? No.

“Then how do you think we got here? You have any idea what happened after we ran in the stairwell?” Nicole questioned.

Brandy went quiet, then she shifted again, clearly uncomfortable, the first real sign of her fear. “Someone drugged then kidnapped us? Trying for some ransom cash? To get some money out of our dads?”

Nicole had initially thought the same thing. But if she was right, it was worse. Much worse.

“That doesn’t explain how we woke up on the street. What about the suction and pulling?”

“Drugs, Nicole.” Brandy’s patronizing tone rolled off each word.

“How? We didn’t eat or drink anything.”

“It’s obvious. The door locking before it should have. Some kind of gas was pumped into the stairwell that made us hallucinate and pass out.”

Nicole had to admit that scenario sounded remarkably logical and smart. Still, not even those in third world countries wore gilded leather–chest armor. To be fair, Brandy hadn’t been able to see straight when they were taken to the men—she couldn’t even stand. She might have seen them, but pain didn’t always allow for a clear head.

“No, Brandy, I… don’t think that’s what happened.” Nicole trembled, making the blanket vibrate. “Listen. I… I think we’re…” She searched for the right word, only one coming to mind. “Displaced.”

“What the hell’s that mean?”

“I mean, whatever happened to us in that stairway didn’t have anything to do with drugs. Or being kidnapped. Something sent us… An accident.” Nicole rubbed her lips together, and her eyes filled again as she looked down at Brandy’s lifted brow.

“What do you mean sent us? Sent us where? Spit it out.”

“Sent us back in time. Or we fell through time, I don’t know,” Nicole rushed.

Brandy didn’t blink. “Fell through time?”

“Yes.”

A choking sound came out of Brandy’s mouth. “They hit your head too, bitch. Sit down.”

Brandy bent her finger and pointed to the dirt floor, half her mouth cocked to the side. It did sound ridiculous, saying it out loud. But Nicole wasn’t joking, far from it. Her frown deepened.

Brandy’s mouth fell open. “Shit, you’re serious.”

“There aren’t any other explanations.”

“Nah, you don’t know for sure.” Brandy gave Nicole an expression like she smelled shit. “Where, then?”

“I don’t know the year, but we’re in Rome.” Nicole pulled her arms tighter together, hugging herself. “Ancient Rome.”

“Time travel isn’t possible, and you fucking know it,” Brandy gritted, yet now her voice quivered.

“What do you think happened in the stairwell? Can you explain the way these people dress or their speech? They think we are escaped slaves.”

Brandy didn’t say anything as she looked away, then swiped her hand across her mouth. “Come on. Slavery still exists, and I know I can’t understand them, but it could be any langua—”

“It’s a rough Latin. And the Greek they speak, I don’t fully understand,” Nicole said.

She couldn’t make out Brandy’s face that clearly, but the white of her eyes moved fast as her gaze rushed around the grungy prison walls, finally stopping at the chains bracketed into the bricks.

Shaking her head back and forth, Brandy said, “You’re wrong. We need to get out of here…” She tried to stand but fell back on her ass.

“With you like that? Where would we go? Huh? If I’m right, there isn’t a US Embassy or anyone we know. We have no food or clothes.”

“Okay, you stay, then. What you’re saying is bullshit. I’m getting the hell out of here the motherfucking second I can.”

“I hope to God I’m wrong, but you know what our dads are. Is it really that impossible?” Nicole paused and made sure she had Brandy’s full attention before she breathed, “A wormhole. I think our dads figured out how to create a wormhole.”

THANKS FOR READING! RELEASE DATE COMING SOON!

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