tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Magic Elixir Ch. 02

The Magic Elixir Ch. 02


The three of us, Hetty and Professor Gibberne and I, entered the Professor's cottage in the early afternoon. Our ramblings and the excitement about the new ideas advanced by Hetty had enervated us, and as soon as we entered the Professor's lab we all sat down to make ourselves comfortable. The ideas which Hetty had advanced concerning the changes which would be wrought by the potion ran through my mind like scampering insects, and I could scarce contain my excitement and chagrin. Excitement from the events which we had witnessed today, chagrin due to my failure to see the full import of what the Accelerator would mean to society.

Hetty was the first to speak once she had collected herself. "How enthralling! I don't believe there is anything like as exciting as to go unobserved through the world. Just think of all that can be done with this invention. Professor, we must quicken the pace of our researches so that its benefits can be spread as soon as possible."

I did not fail to note the use of 'we' and 'our'. Without any formal declaration we had suddenly acquired a new partner in our enterprise, a partner moreover who assumed her place at the table as a matter of right and assumption, without discussion or approval.

"It was so funny seeing the bathers on the shingle beach and on the sandy beach. I cannot believe that such a separation by social status or in the modes of dress can endure when the Accelerator reaches the general public. That is why we must hurry in order to bring about this social change. Just think what change this will bring. A society wherein each individual, no matter their sex, is free to chart their own course. George, as a Fabian you must be excited about the prospect of such an upheaval in the running of society."

"Upheaval and massive change is not what we need, for there lies Anarchy. Gradual and enlightened change for the betterment of man in general is our goal, and we Fabians wish to change the current order through education and a general uplifting of the minds of men. I can see no benefit in throwing our society into chaos merely for the sake of change."

"But George, it is not merely change for change's sake. When all men and women are judged not just by their sex or their class but by the qualities of their minds and hearts, why then we will have a real flowering of freedom and justice and commerce."

I could see that she was a hopeless optimist, but a dangerous one, in that she wanted to overthrow all that we are in order start afresh. She was naïve, for which I could not blame her because such is the has the temperament of her sex, but my own more studied analysis told me that in Anarchy lies death and madness.

Professor Gibberne roused himself, for being of an amiable disposition he loathed personal disputation and disharmony. "Come, we must have a supper, for our internal clocks tell us that we have spent too long without sustenance." So saying he led us into the kitchen, where we prepared a cold meal, including a delicious joint left over from dinner the night before.

I do not know why we all stayed in speeded time, for we all had the Brake on our persons, which would have returned us to regular time without problem. I suppose that we all felt freed by the effects of Accelerated time, and were loath to end it. I acknowledge that I felt quite free from responsibility or hurry, with no appointments to keep or urgent tasks to consider or letters to write. For the first time ever I felt free of all of the social responsibilities which a man must undertake, and this feeling was one I did not want to lose.

The silence of the meal was broken by Hetty who, putting aside her utensils, brought up what we had all been thinking. "I feel much refreshed now and there is much left to do. We should continue our experiments now, especially as it is as good a time as any to determine the effects of long term use of the Accelerator. We all took a dose that would last for an hour, which means we have over eight days of accelerated time still left to us."

Gibberne and I agreed, perhaps too readily, and we all made plans for the long adventure. We decided that food would not be a problem, since it was the middle of the day and we could obtain such from any street vendor as needed. We were already dressed for a ramble, and there was no sign of inclement weather coming, so we would not need extra clothes or raingear. So off we finally went, happy as schoolchildren going on an outing.

We were drawn as if by a magnet back to the shore and in particular back to the beaches on the east end of the town. Still feeling somewhat abashed, Gibberne and I deferred to Hetty and followed where she led, until we finally approached the shingle beach again, with its nude bathers. The Professor and I were not terribly interested in the sight of the nude men on the shore but we followed with alacrity, knowing that our turn would come. I don't know how it happened, but of a sudden I realized that Hetty had taken command and that we were but followers to her compass.

We spent some time among the various groups, with Hetty closely observing what she could, without betraying any sign of discomfiture or unease. She approached one strapping fellow who was in the process of taking off his pants, and without warning she reached out and put her hand on his buttocks. You can imagine how shocked the Professor and I were, but she took no heed of our incredulous looks and continued to rub his bottom as we stood and watched. Turning back to us with a wicked smile on her face she left off her unseemly groping.

"Well, as you can see there was no immediate effect of my touch on that young man, and I can inform you that the flesh felt firmer than is the case in real time, but that except for that firmness I it felt no different than flesh does in regular time. Now we must sit and observe if there are any long term effects." As soon as she said that she sat down on the beach.

Shock would be too mild a term for my feelings, but the Professor sat down in rapt attention like the scientist he was. I finally sat too, knowing that I really could not say anything about these events without getting into an argument with Hetty, and I discovered that more than ever I wanted to stay in her good graces.

We watched the man for some time as a look of puzzlement crept into his face, and then as he brushed at his buttocks as if to dislodge a sand flea. "See, the touch was too short in duration to arouse more than annoyance. I can assure you that I did touch him quite firmly, and yet he felt no more than the gentle brush of an insect. Come, let us proceed and not flinch from finding out what we can." And so saying she rose, brushing off some dirt that clung to her frock where she had sat.

I confess that I was entranced by her motions, and could not help but wish that I could aid her in her lavage, gently rubbing the dirt from off her backside and continuing . . . ;but no, I abandoned my fantasies and rose to follow her.

After walking only a little further along the beach we came upon a group of men lying on blankets and sunning themselves dry, for the water on their bodies still glistened. Hetty made a cursory inspection and judging, I presume that these would be good specimens for study. Turning to Gibberne and me she said "I told you we could not shirk from our experiments. George, Professor, no scientific experiment is valid unless it is replicable by another observer. I said my touch was firm, but you cannot believe me until you have seen for yourselves, especially as I am a woman and may have very different notions of pressure and firmness than you. So you must confirm the experiment for yourselves."

Brooking no objection she took us by the hand and led us to the group. Choosing the nearest one, she placed my hand on his buttocks and pressed it there until she was sure I would not retract it as soon as she left. She did the same with the Professor, though I saw that he kept his hand on the man's bottom with no hesitation as she withdrew to a perch on the beach.

I felt the flesh beneath my hand with some fascination, and agreed that it was indeed like the feel of flesh in real time save for the firmness. The drops of water which had collected on his body had a slightly soapy feel, and I moved my hand up to the small of his back to where a small puddle of water had formed and confirmed that it did indeed have a more slippery texture than ordinary water. The pressure I applied kept growing firmer as my hand moved, as I was determined that I should test out Hetty's contention regarding the firmness of her touch. I moved away after a short while to join Hetty and watch for the results of our experiments, and so did the Professor.

So we watched and waited until we finally saw the early signs of reaction from our subjects. It appeared to be no different than before, with only the cursory moves and twitches of someone brushing away an insect. In the case of my subject, he did not even raise his head while doing so, showing that he had noticed nothing but a feathery touch on his body.

When we were all satisfied that we had seen the complete reaction we headed off again.

"Gentlemen, it is getting quite late by our internal clocks, even though the world around us is still in a bright noontime. We can continue the experiment after we have all had a sleep and all will be here and it will still be noon when we return. Professor, can you accommodate us at your house, as I do not wish to be discovered sleeping at noon by the staff at my hotel."

The Professor and I were no longer surprised by Hetty's boldness in suggesting that a woman might sleep in the house of a single gentleman, in fact with another single gentleman present, so we all ambled back to the Professor's house content with our day. It is remarkable how quickly the human mind adjusts to any situation, and whereas previously I would have been aghast at the thought of touching the back of a naked man or sleeping in the same house as an unchaperoned single lady now such circumstances seemed perfectly logical, if not entirely normal.

Some discussion occurred while we were walking about how the sleeping arrangements would be made. The Professor, of course, would sleep in his usual bedroom, but there was only one other bedchamber in the cottage, and one of us would have to sleep on the couch. I gallantly insisted that I would take the couch while Hetty just as insistently demanded that we should allot the sleeping accommodations by a wager. She remained adamant until we arrived at the Professor's house where a toss of the coin resolved the matter in my favour.

Retiring for a sleep under a blanket on the couch in the Professors parlour, I spent a restless time thinking about the events of the day before falling asleep. Not the least of my restlessness was caused by thoughts of Hetty sleeping in the same house, and my mind kept worrying over endless questions as a dog worries a bone, until I finally fell asleep.

Since time had so little meaning for us we did not fix a time for rising. Be that as it may, when I finally arose to a still-noon brightness I discovered that Hetty and the Professor were already up and in the kitchen eating a light breakfast.

"Good morning. Or rather good waking. I suppose we shall all have to learn a new language to describe what happens in real time as opposed to Accelerated time. Come George, there is still some bread and jam for you, and we shall consider this breakfast no matter what the sun says."

She smiled at me as she said this, and I discovered that I was really glad of that smile. She sat there looking radiant in her walking dress, and I could not help but compliment her.

"You are looking extremely fine today, Hetty. Your dress looks as if had just been ironed, and you look well rested."

"Why thank you. I feel marvelously rested, as the Professor's guest bed was remarkably comfortable. As to the dress that is no wonder, as I took off my clothes before retiring, and everything stayed unrumpled."

I made no reply to this, as I was shocked by the thought that a single lady had slept in the same house as me without wearing a stitch of clothing. And not just any lady, but Miss Hester Pringle of Knightsbridge, whom I discovered I was admiring more with every passing minute.

Noticing my confusion the Professor quickly jumped in. "No lingering over breakfast, George. As soon as you are done we must get out and continue our researches."

The rest of the meal went remarkably well, considering my agitation, which I hid behind an exaggerated attention to my breakfast. Finally we all finished and went out to meet the day.

I will not say that we had all become bosom friends, but there was an easier air to us as we set out. The Professor had been my friend for some time, of course, but now it seemed that we had all achieved an easy camaraderie, something I had ever experienced with a woman. We chatted gaily as we walked, and I felt more closeness to my companions than I had ever experienced.

"So, where are we going today? Shall we extend our researches to the City?" In truth I spoke in jest, since any journey, even by the fastest train, would have been unbearably tedious.

"Not at all for we have barely scratched the surface of what we may observe here." replied Hetty. "Surely even in a seaside resort we can find all the exemplars of what we wish to observe and there is no need to make a long journey into town, for at our present pace we will find enough to engage us to last a lifetime. And paraphrasing Doctor Johnson, he who is tired of Folkestone at accelerated speed is tired of life."

Our banter as we went along provided us with much amusement, and we willingly followed in the path in which Hetty led us. It was no mistake that we happened again on the sandy beach, and no accident that we again approached the bathing machines. It was, however, my own fault that I confused an easy disposition and adventurous spirit with a complete turnabout in attitude.

Let there be no mistake: during the course of our acquaintance I had become increasingly fond of Miss Hester Pringle. Her quick wit and easy camaraderie had won me over, and I had even entertained the thought that being with her rather than continuing as a bachelor would be a most exciting and interesting mode of living. Although I did not know her feelings for me the easy friendship we shared determined me to press my suit as soon as I might.

As we approached the bathing machines our mood turned gayer yet. After the events at the shingle beach the day before I had no question about our purpose here, and soon my suppositions were confirmed as we went down the row of machines and Hetty opened the door of each to see what was inside. This took longer than the previous time we had done this, as if she were looking for something special, but at last she bade us come up the steps to the one she had selected. Inside was a young lady of comely face and body, standing up naked in front of a mirror. She was of much more interest to me than the woman we had espied the other day, as her youthful skin and cared-for body were much more exciting to me. We came in and made ourselves comfortable while gazing at the young woman. Even Hetty seemed entranced, observing her toilette with great care.

"It is such a shame that a woman as handsome as this must cover herself completely with an ugly bathing dress before she dares to go out into the world. How much better would she feel if she could enter the water in her natural state, and then rise from the sea like Venus, covered only by her long hair."

Hetty's comment emboldened me, and I reached out my hand to the woman and touched her side. Her skin felt like that of the men we had touched the previous day, firmer than ordinary skin yet still soft to the touch. I moved my hand from her waist to the side of her breast, and continued until I had one breast in my hand. The feel of it moved me to transports of delight, and the feel of the nipple between two of my fingers was quite extraordinarily exciting. I moved my hand down her stomach and approached the hair between her legs and gently felt it. The hair, like the skin, was a bit rougher and harder than in ordinary time compared to how my own hair felt, and yet it excited me nonetheless as I ran my outspread fingers through it.

"She is quite pretty, George, do you not think?

As I touched the woman and felt her intimate parts I could not help but compare her body to that of Hetty, who had been part of our first venture into the Accelerated world.

"Of course Hetty, but not as handsome as you, and her body lacks your refinement."

I had meant, of course, to give Hetty a compliment, and with all that we had seen and done in the past few days I was very bold in my words and deeds. I could see in an instant that Hetty did not take this in the way I desired. She started at my words as from an electric shock.

"What do you mean it is not as good as my body? On what basis do you make this comparison?"

Like a fool I kept on talking, when I should have left well enough alone. "Well, Hetty, when the Professor and I started on our outdoor experiments we happened to go down to the strand and peer into some of the bathing machines, as you already surmised when you first came with us. You happened to be in one of those machines, and I must say your body entranced us. With that comparison it is easy for me to say that this woman has nowhere near the beauty of body or face that you display."

"You were watching me? And pray what did you think about skulking like Peeping Toms at a woman engaged in a private moment? When I first came to meet you face to face did you think you had an advantage over me because you knew what I didn't? Good day gentlemen, though I am loathe to call you that. I do not think that we should continue or acquaintance any longer."

At that she walked out the door. The Professor and I sat there stunned for a little while, and then silently headed out the door and along the road to his cottage, feeling a mixture of shame and guilt. I too felt the despair of never seeing Hetty again, and these thoughts consumed me along the way. How could I have been so wrong? And why was I fool enough to tell all? It became suddenly quite apparent to me that I was still a bachelor because I did not deal well with the various reactions of women, preferring instead the scientific mind of someone like the Professor to the emotional irrationality of women.

As we approached the gate of the Professor's cottage Hetty suddenly appeared before us. Startled, I was taken aback by the fact that she was now wearing an afternoon dress instead of the walking outfit she had been wearing when she left us.

"George, Professor, I owe the two of you an apology for my earlier behaviour. I would like to be welcomed inside so that I can explain it all to you."

"Of course, you are most welcome." The Professor's lifted spirits showed in his smile and a courteous way he waved her inside. When we had seated ourselves in the parlour Hetty began speaking.

"I know my sudden appearance must startle you, so I think the best way is to go through from beginning to end. After I left you at the bathing machine I was very unhappy and upset. Although I knew the potential of the use of the Accelerator I had never considered its use on me, and I felt most used. When I had gotten some distance away from the beach I was determined to no longer take part in these experiments, so I found an out of the way place in the park in which I could take the Brake and not be noticed. After I took the Brake I was very much surprised to find that instead of again being part of the throng of ordinary people everything seemed slower than before I took the draught. One tenth as slow, in fact, as I discovered with some experiment. Instead of giving us vials of the Brake the Professor had made a mistake and given us the two thousand strength Accelerator instead."

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