By: Gabriella Balcom

Thinking of Ralph, Gertrude bit her lip, her eyes tearing up. If old age didn't steal him from her, the Alzheimer's would. He was her husband, the love of her life, and the only family she had left, but he didn't recognize her half the time. Even so, she shuddered at the thought of him dying. Living without her soulmate would destroy her.

She wasn't any spring chicken either. At sixty–nine, Gertrude was six years younger than Ralph and had health issues of her own, but he was her main concern.

His doctors had tried everything they could think of, but he'd continued to deteriorate, both mentally and physically. She'd racked her brain, researched Alzheimer's, aging and the latest medical advances, but couldn't find a solution either. She'd prayed for him to be healed or at least improve, but that hadn't happened.

By the time the intriguing new patron walked into the Las Vegas library where Gertrude worked, she'd almost given up hope.

The woman seemed quite ordinary at first, as she mentioned misplacing her car keys. While rummaging around in her purse, she'd dropped something on the ground. Gertrude had picked the object up, planning to return it, but she'd read the words "Area 51" and realized she held an ID card.

That was yesterday afternoon. Thoughts had swirled around in her head since then, mostly the rumors about aliens. She'd reasoned that any alien culture capable of traveling through space was bound to be advanced in other ways, including medical ones.

Gertrude sat in her car, breathing labored, feeling like she'd pass out. She forced her mind back to the present and made herself breathe normally, trying to focus on the reason she'd called in sick to work today and traveled two and a half hours.

When a guard appeared at Area 51's gate in front of her, she smiled at him, her heart racing, and handed over the woman's ID she'd pocketed. She'd replaced the employee's picture with her own and relaminated it. After looking at the card, the guard allowed her through the gate.

"I haven't seen you before," a man in a white lab coat commented after she entered a building.

"Oh, I'm new," Gertrude replied.

"You'll like it here," he offered. "The shock of seeing them wears off after awhile and we're constantly learning new things."

"That's amazing." She tried to infuse just the right note of wonder into her voice. "What are the latest discoveries?"

He rambled for a few minutes while she nodded periodically. Gertrude only cared about one subject, but when he mentioned something that sounded too good to be true, she forced herself not to laugh.

"Shoot!" he exclaimed. "I've gotta go but we'll talk more later."

"I can't wait." As soon as he was gone, she hurried to look for the room he'd mentioned.

Getrude found it, entered, and gasped. "Jumping Jehosephat."

The portal swirling in front of her looked like something from a science fiction movie. Her new acquaintance had spoken of aliens who'd refused to reveal information about their planet of origin, themselves, or their knowledge—until more extreme measures were used. Afterward, they'd shared many things, including their ability to move backward through time, and how changes made in the past would impact the present and future. The key to traveling successfully into the past, according to the loose–lipped employee, was to pick a specific incident, replay it in one's mind, concentrate on it, and step through the entryway.

Taking a deep breath, Gertrude imagined being with her beloved, but with both of them younger and healthy. Then she focused on a happy memory and walked forward.


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