Author : James McGrath

“I know you’ve all heard it, but you have to hear it again…”

We’d heard the guide’s speech six times, so Kirstin and I stood at the back joking around as usual. He’d recite the dangers of leaving the tunnel, how we’d be guarded and eventually he’d tell of our destination.

Hastings, 1066. Was Harold shot through the eye like the Beaux Tapestry depicts? As history undergraduates we’d seen it firsthand many times, but it drove the tourists wild. We wanted to see the other side; William’s side.

As the guide fell silent I adjusted my little red backpack and prepared to go in. Nine others walked from the museum’s silver halls into the white oscillating bubble ahead of us, and we followed impatiently. I felt that strange quiver of stepping into what felt like nothingness. This was the tunnel. 2080 stayed clear at first, though slightly faded through the now transparent bubble behind me. The tunnel walls wobbled around us and as we walked our time slowly faded. Our surroundings became a pale grey.

This was an English Autumn sky.

We walked for five minutes until 2080 had been replaced by a birds-eye view of a field; the soldiers scattered across it like toys in a young boy’s bedroom. I spotted Harold and his Housecarls within minutes and pointed them out to Kirstin.

“Look for William this time!” she replied and began barging her way to the front.

She passed the guide, a look of horror formed on his face, and two guards ran from the end of the tunnel to meet her.

“Step back,” one ordered.

“Can I please just see the Normans?”

“No miss, please step back.”

Never one to give up, Kirstin changed tactics and took out her phone.

“What are you doing!? Please step back!” the guard continued.

“Take my phone,” she said, “Film some instead.”

“Filming is against company policy! If you don’t step back I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Kirstin had had enough, she ran to the side and tried to charge past the guard but he grabbed her arm.

The phone flew out of her hand and careered towards the exit.

The guide had told us at the beginning what would happen should anything enter 1066. It’s nothing like Hollywood where you have to stop your parents meeting to make an impact on the future. Someone spotting a time traveller would have their life take a completely new direction, and even the slightest change in the winds could drastically alter the future, if done far enough back.
The phone touched the other side and we saw a ripple appear in the exit, but the guards were quick. One stuck out a hand and wrenched it back in.

“I’m sorry,” began the guide as battle raged down below, “but this session is over, you can get a refund at the service desk. Please exit the tunnel at the opposite side.”

Nobody wanted to leave; that’s when we’d find out what had happened. Sheepishly, we all walked back to 2080 and watched 1066 fade around us, once again feeling the tingle of changing times.

The silver halls appeared before me and I grinned widely. He was wrong! He’d said a change in the air could affect anyone back in 1066, but clearly nobody had felt it. I let my little white handbag fall onto my elbow and beamed at Stephanie.

By the time we’d got the refund I’d already forgotten the problem. I looked at the other members of the group, and the six of them looked equally confused.

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