In a mall there’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it shop, wedged in between an always packed Auntie Anne’s and a vape lounge. The unprofessional sign reads Time Adventures. It seems that the store is run by one guy, who waits from open to close for a customer. Today, he got one.
“How are you all?” He says to the timid couple walking in.
“Well, we’re planning a vacation so I guess pretty good,” The man chuckles. The wife appears nervous.
“Always a good thing.” The agent dances his fingers upon a keyboard to an obsolete computer. An ancient printer starts running.
“So,” The agent continues. “What did you all have in mind?”
“We want to go far away.” The man says.
“No bugs,” The woman says. “I don’t want to see any bugs.”
“We did an excursion last time. Our tent was nearly carried into the jungle by a centipede,” The man shivers.
The agent begins crossing off things in pen. “We offer a Cretaceous Cruise. You’re sealed in a pod, separated from the elements. An A/C keeps the temperature down to a balmy 90 degrees.”
The woman shakes her head harder this time. “No bugs.”
“Right. No bugs.”
The agent ponders for a moment. He reaches into his desk for several brochures.
“We have several packages. Where do your interests lie? Do you want to see history? Nostalgia value? Do you want to see a disaster?”
The couple studies the brochures, pruning their options. “We’ve seen Kennedy twice,” The woman says. “I don’t see any value in going again.”
“It’s the grassy knoll tour though, baby.” She is unmoved.
The options are essentially unlimited. A Five Day Titanic Cruise. Groundling tickets to Shakespeare plays, The First Thanksgiving, New Year’s 2000, and many more. Specialty trips cost extra. That and a hefty fine dissuade most people that try to kill or become their grandfather. But the time-travel vacation business is waning. Partly because everyone has traveled everywhere they want to go and partly because of dread, and the inability to tell anyone about the bad stuff that is coming their way. Disasters were some of the first places people went to on their time-travel vacations. Everything is fun until it has a face.
The couple chooses Philadelphia, 1776 as their destination of choice. They choose the hotel options, arrival and departure dates, and meal vouchers. The man jokingly asks if there’s an old-timey cheesesteak.
“And do you want to leave here now or another time?” The agent asks.
“Does it matter?” The couple says in unison.
“Cash or credit?”