Author : Grant Montoya

Everything was prepared. My satchel carried all the tools. They could not be too advanced; I would not have access to gas or electricity, and batteries would only backfire my intentions. I checked my watch, which said it had plenty of life left for the week I anticipated needing. I looked at the technician. “Activate.” The cold, clinical office melted away, and I was on the outskirts of a seventeenth-century village.

Hurrying to the center of town, I pressed through the crowd and entered the church. “Mister Danforth, I have evidence that will acquit the accused. May I be allowed to speak?”

I expected mayhem, but I also expected the judge to be a good man, and to carry the day. He did; I was given the floor. I stepped to the sacramental table, which had been cleared for the proceedings.

“My lord Judge,” I began, “I know you are concerned that these people cannot be tested through natural means because their affliction appears supernatural. However, the methods of Galileo can demonstrate to you that they are indeed natural, albeit dangerous afflictions.”

“Continue, sir, but first tell us in God’s Name, who you are!”

“I am a scientist. My work descends from medieval alchemy and while we have not found the philosopher’s stone, we have found many wonders, including a liquid that will show you what afflicts these girls.” I spoke quickly, setting up a series of test tubes, some of which hung over candles. “This yellow liquid has a substance in it that reacts in a most extraordinary way. If you add a chemical which in Latin is called lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, it will turn blue. Observe.” I took a small dropper and added a few drops to the first vial. It immediately turned a bright blue.”

I spoke over the gasps and murmurs. “I assure you, my lord, this is no witchcraft. The response of this liquid is purely natural.”

“This rye came from Boston.” I dropped a few grains in the next vial. Nothing happened. “This rye came from Reverend Parris’ stores.” The liquid turned a bright blue, to the amazed gasps of the men around me.

“If you test the grains of the other afflicted girls in Salem, you will find the same. The rye in this village is contaminated with a fungus that produces LSD. If I am permitted to bleed the girls, you will also find their blood is contaminated. The substance causes hallucinations—wild visions, my lord, as well as seizures and catatonic behavior such as afflicted young Betty Parris.”

It was done, and the girls were tested. John Proctor was saved from the hangman’s noose, and it was time for me to go. I left the village with my tools and deactivated the field which kept me in 1692, and saw again the cold, clinical laboratory in front of me. My research partner greeted me with a question. “Well, John, did you save your great-great-great grandfather?”

“Yes, yes I did.”

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