Crime Time (Chapter Five, page 1 of 4)

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We resumed the same stations as earlier except Martha joined Betsy outside the lab room door. They looked like two seated sentinels guarding the castle gate.

Howie showed no signs of the anxiety he displayed on round one but his eagerness kept him awake. I could easily tell from his breathing patterns sleep was illusive. Finally, after a half hour of tossing and turning he gave up. Martha, a come-lately convert to our experiment, offered to fix Howie a hot chocolate in hopes it would induce a snooze. The two women went below to prepare the cocoa, leaving Howie and me in the darkened lab.

"What do you think, Ben? Am I seeing a real place?"

"As fascinating as that would be, I have to say no. Personally, I don't buy into the paranormal. However, you're obviously experiencing something bizarre. I'm as curious as you to find out what it is."

The hot chocolate did its job, but not until well after five o'clock. Once Howie succumbed to slumber, his sleep was anything but peaceful. His thrashing was the signal he was in the throes of dream. He twisted, turned and moved his arms constantly, a determined look painted on his face.

True to my assignment, I recorded movements and time until Quinn's voice from below broke the silence.

"Three minutes," he yelled. Howie woke with a start. He rubbed his eyes and a smile broke across his face. I opened the door to the questioning looks of the ladies. His look radiated success.

Quinn burst past us, anxious to perform what tasks were necessitated by the deadline that signaled the termination of his experiments. The four of us retreated to the first floor, amid a rain of questions while he remained upstairs. Howie kept us in suspense until we assumed our seats around the table.

"It was fantastic!" he pronounced.

Betsy bounced up and down like a kid on a trampoline while Martha looked in awe. "Tell us!" I said.

Howie took a deep breath. "I was in a small town, on the main street with cars and people all around. Two horses were tied up and there was a wagon and mule at the end of the street. The sidewalks were wooden and the street was dusty and unpaved. I just stood there for a moment or two, taking it all in. I looked down at my body and like before, I wasn't there! I tried to touch a hand rail next to me but I just passed through it! When I tried to move I found I could!"

"God!" Betsy exclaimed. "This is terrific!"

"It was like walking in water and I almost lost my balance but after a few steps, I could control my motion pretty well. A car was parked in front of me, an old Ford. I read the license plate." He paused for affect and announced, "It was West Virginia, 1932!"

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