Marketing expert Alexander MacMillan, known as Mac, mourns his murdered wife, wishing he could have intervened to save her life and prevent his toddler son from being injured when an intruder attacked them nine months ago while Mac was away from home. Mac’s cousin, Bob Craven, urges him to consider working for Craven’s new employer, Time Travel Corporation (TTC). TTC executive John Wriggens entices Mac with the incentive that he will eventually be allowed to experience time travel. Mac realizes if he could travel to the day his family was assaulted, perhaps he can achieve spiritual peace. He agrees to publicize TTC’s debut “Time Lottery.”
Before announcing the three winners’ names, Mac explains how they will be medically supported while temporarily comatose for immersion into their memories. Scientists manipulate the brain loop, which stores and processes memories, with electricity to initiate dual consciousness, the phase during which time travelers are aware of both their past and their present and choose whether to stay unconscious and die or awaken to resume their lives. Mac stresses that the time travelers’ decisions made while experiencing what TTC refers to as Alternity will not affect their present situations but notes that their awareness of their time travel experience enables them to reevaluate and possibly alter their perceptions, which will shape their futures.
One winner, Phoebe Winston Thurgood, a San Francisco housewife in her fifties, is eager to return to memories of her early twenties in 1969, when she met affluent executive Colin Thurgood and was employed as his secretary. Although she enjoys a luxurious lifestyle, Phoebe wonders if she could have made better career and personal choices instead of settling for marriage with the emotionally cold, unethical Colin, who mistreats her and constantly denounces her as unworthy. Greedy Colin pressures Phoebe to give him her winning ticket, insisting that he deserves to time travel more than she does.
Another of the winners, Dr. Cheryl Nickolby, a forty-seven-year-old Colorado surgeon, is professionally successful but emotionally unfulfilled. Promiscuously indulging in brief flings with colleagues, she yearns for a long-term commitment. Nickolby hopes...
(The entire section is 924 words.)