As a scientist, she was two centuries ahead, and it was quite
a shock when her mid-Victorian love life caught up
"Journey fo Lucia"
by Glenn Llewellyn
Vol. 2 No. 2, 1958
LUCIA NORTH SWORE with
a proficiency that belied her appearance and manner of innate, fastidious
gentility as the screen she was watching exploded in a confused kaleidoscope
of zigzag lines and blinding flashes of light. Then, blushing as she regained
self-control, she turned to the two men in the laboratory with her and
said, "Sorry…but it's so damned frustrating. I really thought we had it
"You were great," said Allan Franklin warmly.
"Just great, Lucia. You held the beam on for almost thirty seconds." Franklin
was administrative chief of the department of Earthconductivity, of which
Lucia was currently the star scientist. He was a rather stocky, chunkily
handsome man in his late forties, who coupled a sunlamp tan with loud sports
clothes and a let's-not-break-eggs attitude toward Lucia.
Dr. Dwight Philbin, director of Carteret General
Research Laboratories, a tall, distinguished gentleman with large dignity
and a small mustache, frowned and said, thoughtfully, "What caused the
interference, Dr. North?"
Lucia ran strong, feminine fingers through
her trimly short-cut, dark blonde hair and replied, "I wish to heaven I
knew, Dr. Philbin. Actually, what do we know about the core of the earth?
The interference factors are limitless." Then, again, "I'm sorry. Perhaps,
"You'll hit it, Lucia," said Allan Franklin,
"I hope so," Dr. Philbin remarked, still frowning.
"I've got to have a sound progress report for our board meeting next month.
This project is eating up a large portion of our budget."
"Any suggestions?" Lucia looked up from the
match with which she had just lit a cigarette. She felt suddenly very much
a woman, rather than a scientist, very much a woman and very much alone.
She wished either of these men would look at her, talk to her, or at least
think of her as a woman instead of a scientific project.
"I wish I could offer you something constructive,"
said Dr. Philbin, thoughtfully tugging at the left end of his mustache.
"Unfortunately, my duties as director of this institution forbid my spending
as much time as I'd like in the laboratories. All I can tell you is to
go ahead and keep plugging, Dr. North."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed, Lucia," said
Allan Franklin. "Better luck next time. Be seeing you."
The two men moved through the door, leaving
Lucia alone with her imperfect machine. She sat on a tall stool, puffing
her cigarette and thinking dark thoughts. It began very much to look as
if Project Earthworm was going to prove the Waterloo of what had, until
recently been a brilliantly promising scientific career.
Lucia had been something of a child prodigy,
whizzing through her university's undergraduate courses in two-and-a-half
years, and emerging at seventeen with Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi keys,
to boot. Her line had been structural geology—study of the earth—to which,
in postgraduate courses, she had added learning and original research in
the semi allied fields of seismology and communications. Her current project,
the one for which Carteret Laboratories had hired her two years before—tele-radar
penetration of the planet's core through a combination of her specialties.
Its purpose—increased knowledge of earth, with ultimate ability to chart
future earthquakes and continent-drift.
Results, to date—zero.
Now 26, Lucia considered her life as a human
being to date, and came up with the same total—zero. Her preoccupation
with her career—the preoccupation that had advanced her so far, so swiftly,
had cut her off from the usual interests of women—namely, men.
Like most persons of genius, contrary to popular
belief, Lucia was possessed of comeliness both of feature and body. Her
face, innocent of makeup as an Italian movie star's, was fair and clear
of skin over interesting, broad bone-structure that verged on the exotic.
Her eyes were green-hazel, her lips well cut, full and expressive. Her
figure, beneath its tight girdling and tailored suit, was a near-perfect
35-24-35. She was five feet four inches tall in her nylons and weighed
a trim 120 pounds. Lucia had never had a man.
She thought, Either I scare hell out of them
with the old I.Q., or this job keeps me too dammed busy. She wondered why
it was usually the least intelligent girls who got happily splashed over
the tabloid headlines, and wondered how a girl with brains went about landing
herself a sex-life. She considered Allan Franklin—certainly, he would be
willing, since he fancied himself as smarter than she, and he certainly
enjoyed running after her little lab assistants. But Lucia was unable to
work up much of a head of steam over him—Allan was too hearty, too beefy,
too much the loud laughing party boy for all of his undoubted abilities.
She wanted an adult male, not an overgrown college sophomore.
Dr. Philbin—now there was another kettle of
bouillabaisse. Dignified, of the highest intelligence and, if the rumors
about his divorce were true, capable of high romantic amour. But he moved
on such a stratospheric plane of society women, top movie folk and top
scientists that he was miles out of reach. Still, she thought with a sigh,
if she only could get him to look at her as a woman…
She dropped her cigarette to the concrete
floor, ground it out with a sensible, medium high, square heel, and gave
up vaporizing. Approaching the instrument that had played her false, she
eyed the turned-off geoscreen balefully. Before consenting to the morning's
showing, she had tried hundreds of combinations of the score of delicate
volume and tuning and selecting knobs that were banked along its right
side. She had been sure she would be able to produce at least a two-minute
record of earth-core activity some three thousand miles down—and then the
interference had arisen, as usual.
Again she ran fingers through her hair and
glared at the instrument of her betrayal. What else, she wondered, could
she equip it with? It had everything from magnetic amplification for the
flicker of time required for its waves to reach their destination and return.
Once it achieved its destination in the heart of the planet, it had quadruple
power-amplification to maintain it against the vagaries of the dense unknown
masses its beam was intended to pierce.
"Bitch!'' murmured Lucia, glowering at it.
"You did it to me again!" Then, on impulse, she flipped every button. The
box whined a rising complaint, and, to complete the crescendo. Lucia snapped
the quadruple power amplification on full.
The screen, which had been registering a cacophony of leaping, zany
patterns, suddenly blazed into blinding brightness. The shrill whine snapped
off as if cut with a sharp knife. Then patterns again leaped, formed a
vague shape, leaped madly again and coalesced into—a woman's face!
It was a delicate, beautiful face that looked
exotically Un-American, Un-African, Un-Asiatic—but, rather, a blend of
all three. It was framed in dark hair, short as Lucia's own but without
curl. The shoulders exposed with it appeared absolutely minus clothing.
Believing that she had somehow tuned in on a routine television entertainment
program, Lucia uttered a short, very sharp curse-word and moved to turn
Then the delicate lips of the woman on the
screen moved, and an odd, husky feminine voice said, in strangely accented
English, "Hold it, Dr. North. I want to talk to you."
Lucia could only stare her disbelief and gulp,
"Who the devil are you?" Her name was Mei-ling Dupuy, and her identity,
as stated, proven even more incredible to the scientist. "I'm what we call
a student," she said. "My time is almost two centuries in your future.
I've been waiting weeks for you to put more power on your temporal-control
"What do you want?" said Lucia, becoming increasingly
convinced she was the victim of a practical joke, but willing to go along
with it for the moment.
What Mei-ling Dupuy wanted was even more unlikely
than her talking across time. She was anxious, she said, to do some first-hand
research on certain facets of twentieth-century communications techniques
that had not reached her age with complete records. Lucia was about to
tell her she'd send her a package of birdseed in the morning, when Mei-ling
added, "Apparently you seek a means of screening the mineral composition
and motion of the earth's core—right?"
"It's hardly a secret," Lucia admitted, grudgingly.
"According to our records, Dr. North," said
the face on the screen, "you found it, and more—but, from my observation
over the past weeks, you need help. Well, we have all the facts and records
you need in our laboratory files—the North-Philbin Research Complex."
"That's dandy," said Lucia. "But how do I
get at them?" Then Mei-ling's conclusion got through, and she added, "North-Philbin?"
"Correct,' said Mei-ling. She went on to explain
her proposition. Although physical time-travel was out of the question,
there was a means, newly-developed in her own era, of personality transference,
by which the two women could exchange bodies for a designated time. "A
month should do it for both' of us," she stated.
A bemused Lucia agreed, and listened with
partial awareness while Mei-ling briefed her on conditions in the future.
Then Mei-ling said, "If you'll just sit directly in front of the screen
and try not to think of anything for a moment, I'm' sure transfer can be
effected. One thing, though—whatever happens, don't let anyone know about
it. This is still strictly illegal. But I need this information for my
thesis if I'm to be upped a level next year. Remember, just make your mind
a blank, doctor."
"That should be easy," said Lucia. She pulled
over the stool and sat on it, trying to make her mind empty. It was impossible,
looking at the alien face—if it was an alien face—in the screen. She closed
her eyes, and, for a moment, let relaxation creep over her. She felt something—something
quick and indescribable—pass through her, and then she opened her eyes
to shake off the joke or whatever it was…
She was looking at a much larger screen—one
in which she saw her own image in a color, sharpness and richness not yet
known on television screens in her own era. She decided, not for the first
time, that she really ought to do something about her hair—and then her
"Signing off now," she said. "Try to communicate
at this same time in two weeks. Good luck, doctor…"
The image vanished, and Lucia, in a daze,
looked down at herself and gasped. This body was not her own. It was slimmer,
browner—and nuder. Save for a sort of clout about her middle, which was
gaily embroidered in blue and silver, and a pair of soft, comfortable sandals
of some material whose nature she did not know, Lucia was naked. Her breasts,
she noted with alarm, were smaller and, mercifully, quite firm. She turned
around, found a mirror on the wall, moved to it and peered at Mei-ling's
exquisitely delicate face.
There were other differences. This body into
which she had been transferred so incredibly was a far more vibrant, if
less effulgent, instrument than her own. She was aware of a heightened
sensitivity, of a sensual awareness of scent and color and sound that made
her feel like a tuning fork. Yet, within her new chassis, she remained
Lucia North, brilliant, frustrated, a little dull outside of her chosen
Panic swept over her as she realized she knew
next to nothing about the world into which she had been projected—for there
was no doubting the reality of the amazing experience. She wished she had
really listened to Mei-ling's briefing before the transfer was effected.
She found the tiny pocket in her clout, with its incredibly compact and
efficient makeup kit, noted in the mirror the smooth, creamy, coating of
dark red that covered her lips. Experimentally, she ran her tongue over,
it discovered she liked the taste—a sweet, fruity flavor.
Spotting a couch, she lay down and concentrated—for
Lucia had a total recall memory, and it was all at once vital for her to
recall every syllable of a briefing she had ignored as merely part of a
practical juke. She was still putting the final fragments together in her
mind when Dr. Ivan Juarez walked into the room and said, "Crack out of
it, honeycomb. We've got to take the readings."
She knew it was Ivan, because Mei-ling had
described her immediate superior at the laboratory—tall, dark and ugly.
She rose, not speaking, and went through her paces, pushing buttons as
ordered to registered recordings of various geological densities—not only
on earth, but on the other planets of the Solar System. As she followed
orders, she felt fascination beginning to overwhelm her. So this was where
her work was leading into a complete core-through study of other worlds!
She gawked so long at the registration of
the composition of Saturn's rings that Ivan said sharply, "For Guiseppi's
sake, honeycomb. You've looked at it often enough before. Crack out of
Lucia cracked, although it was not easy as
she began to get an inkling of some of the techniques employed in the lab.
They were as far ahead of the twentieth century as her own time was ahead
of the Crusades. She thought, if it was a dream, it was certainly going
to be a profitable one.
Then Ivan punched a final button, clearing
the various screens on which the figures had registered. His officious
attitude vanishing, Ivan said, in friendly fashion, "Well, that's that
for today, honeycomb. How about an energy tablet with me? My frau won't
be home till late."
"Okay," said Lucia, too busy wondering whether
that expression was obsolete to be concerned at the nature of the energy
tablet. Ivan from a small, transparent case from his clout pocket, rolled
out a couple of pills and handed her one. She managed to swallow it, as
he did his, without water, after which he got out a couple of cigarettes
and offered her one. She was about to ask for a light when she saw that
his had ignited merely by his inhaling it. She did likewise and sat down
on the sofa. There Ivan joined her, causing her to be acutely conscious
both of her near-nudity and his. He was, she noted with alarm, a well-muscled
"They're making better tablets these days,"
he informed her. "No flashfires or fizzle-outs any more. Just a slow built
that stays with you the right length of time."
"Right," she said, wondering what in hell
he was talking about. She let him chatter on while they finished their
smokes, and was about to ask him for another cigarette when the tablet
She could not remember feeling as she now
felt since schoolgirl adolescence—the sensual, tingling warmth that spread
through her, from her loins to her fingertips, slowly, delightfully, implacably.
Helplessly, she looked at Ivan, saw by the glow of his pale eyes and the
flare of his nostrils that he was feeling a similar reaction.
He dropped his cigarette to the floor, where
it vanished in a tiny puff of smoke. She did likewise. He rose and stepped
out of his clout, and, when she was hesitant, motioned her impatiently
to do the same. There was not even so much as a kiss between them before
they were locked on the sofa in what Lucia could only think of—as much
as her hyperstimulated feelings allowed her to think—as the ultimate intimate
embrace. For a moment, the unviolated spinster in her inner being strove
to assert itself - but then the wayward body of Mei-ling Dupuy, abetted
by the energy tablet, had its way and took full control.
Dr. Lucia North, wearing another woman's body—Dr.
Lucia North, B.S., D. Sc., Ph.D., Fellow of the North American Academy
of Science, Endowed Special Project Research Officer of the Philbin Research
Laboratories—Dr. Lucia North cohabited for the first time in her twenty-six
And Dr. Lucia North, wearing another woman's
body, enjoyed it immensely!
When it was over, Ivan looked at her quizzically and said, "You've
been working on it, honeycomb. Where'd you get the schoolgirl approach?"
"You liked?" an appalled Lucia heard herself
"Refreshing," was the only reply. Ivan dressed
himself, stood up and said, "Tomorrow…same time, right?"
"Right," said Lucia, reminding herself that
it was neither her own era or her own body. She found her apartment house
without trouble, thanks to the directions of Mei-ling which she finally
remembered, and discovered certain short-comings to pushbutton living.
Feeling ravenously hungry, she pushed what she thought was the steak-button
and emerged with a cereal mixture that barely answered the hunger in her
stomach. However, she managed to get straightened out and wound up with
a tolerable chicken Marengo. A young man named Nils, about whom Mei-ling
had forgotten to brief her, turned up after dinner and shared another energy
pill with her—with the same results as at the lab. When it was over, he,
too, said, "Sugarbett, you're different tonight somehow."
And again, Lucia heard herself ask, "You like?"
"Bloodyright," was the reply. "I'll have to
tell Sonya about it…she's been promising me some new kicks."
Who Sonya was, Lucia never found out, for
she never saw Nils again during her four-week stay in the future. But evidently,
sex, in the twenty-second century, was something people took as easily
as they did their meals. Little by little, she acquired some understanding
of what lay behind the morality, or lack of it. With the development of
anti-pregnancy shots, plus the banishment of venereal disease, plus the
anti-frustration attitude of an ever-growing body of psychiatric opinion,
sex had simply become a pleasure and function as necessary and as little
regarded generally as food or drink.
Yet, romantic love of a sort still existed,
being marked by kissing, petting and the other amorous approaches of a
by-gone day, including the Eskimo nose-rub. Otherwise, it was direct, simple,
marked only by subtleties in the act itself. Before two weeks were out,
Lucia found herself savoring men as variously as she savored various dishes
in a restaurant menu in her own era.
What was more, the system worked, for there
was virtually no crime on earth, When a couple fell honestly in love and
wanted children, they had them—though the reduction of sex to a mere amusement
had, with the anti-pregnancy shots, solved the teeming overpopulation problem
before the planet was inundated with people.
Their science was, to Lucia, incredible. Much
of it, even with her background, she was unable to understand. But she
learned enough, in two weeks, to solve the problem facing her at the lab
back in her own time, and to acquire both a vision of and some practical
knowledge of other key scientific developments; the basis of space travel
through heat-proof alloys and atomic-current generators that could work
in a vacuum without producing dangerous rocket flares; rhodomagetics, the
untouched—in her era—science of the attraction of non-iron minerals for
one another and its uses in industry; inverse gravity, which enabled conveyors
to fly without propulsion.
She also received enough sex to make up for
her twenty-six barren years. At the end of two weeks, she made contact
with Mei-ling as promised. The woman inhabiting her body reported, "I've
got your problem straightened out, Lucia. It was the internal-drift effect
that was blocking you and only needed reliable polarization to cut through.
I've also added a surprise for you. I'll leave a memo in your pocketbook…clumsy
contraption…so you can pick it up when we switch bodies again." Lucia thanked
her and reported briefly on her own progress, mentioning the men. Mei-ling
laughed and said, "If I'd had any idea of what it was like at this end,
I'd have warned you. You must have been shocked."
"I was…a little," said Lucia. "How about you?"
"It's wonderful," said Mei-ling, her eyes—Lucia's
eyes—glowing like the eyes of some large jungle cat. "You don't know what
it's like to have to go out and trap a man, after having everything so
"Don't tell me…I can guess," said Lucia. Only
after the contact was broken, did she feel a pang of worry over what her
opposite number might be doing with her body. Then, in the press of study,
lab-work and sex, Lucia forgot all about it.
She remembered, two weeks later, when she found herself once more back
in her own lab, in her own time, in her own body. For there had been some
changes made. Her hair had been curled, her face was coated with makeup,
her body was unfamiliarly scented, her tailored suit had been replaced
by a dress that clung with persistence to every good point of her figure.
Furthermore, her body tingled with the same vital awareness that Mei-ling's
had felt. She was still Dr. North—but several degrees nearer the equator.
She was still adjusting herself to her reflection
in the wall-mirror when chunky Allan Franklin burst in, red of face and
waving a lurid exposé magazine in his hand.
"I warned you, Lucia," he shouted at her.
"I told you there'd be repercussions from the way you've been behaving
lately. Look at this…!"
He thrust the opened magazine at her, and
she found herself looking at a picture of herself in a most revealing neckline,
sitting between two leering, important looking males, in what was obviously
a New York cabaret. The headline read, in sixteen-point red type—
IS AMERICA'S ANSWER TO MADAME
The rest of it was in kind. Thanks to her month
in the twenty-first century, Lucia read it with more interest than horror.
Apparently, Mei-ling had been cutting up capers outside the laboratory
as well as inside it. Her swath of male conquests, if the story was accurate,
included a top movie star, two Texas oil billionaires, an undersecretary
of state and a college president. Mei-ling, it appeared, had not found
twentieth century males too difficult.
CURIE A FLESHPOT SEXPOT ?
She was also interested in the adjectives
the magazine story applied to her—luscious, glamorous, devastating—and
even more in the label they gave her as the woman who had, "opened up whole
new fields of scientific discovery in the past few weeks."
She looked up at Allan, who was regarding
her with working features, and said, "Hey! I'm doing okay, aren't I?"
Allan Franklin collapsed on the couch and
put his head in his hands and groaned. "I feel as if it's all my fault,"
he said. "I should have sensed what was coming the day you and I…well,
the day you changed. But I was worried about Jeanne and the kids. I should
have let everything go and stayed with you."
"Oh, come on, Allan," said Lucia. "It wasn't
as bad as all that."
"It was wonderful…the most wonderful thing
that ever happened to me!" he cried, lifting bloodshot eyes to look up
at her. "And to think I let you slip through my fingers after we had kissed
the lips of Venus together…right on this couch!" He hammered it resentfully
with the flat of his hand.
"You're getting your metaphors mixed," said
Lucia lightly. "Now, Allan, I've got work to do."
He rose obediently, then paused to say, "But
have you thought what you're doing to the Institute, Lucia? This sort of
scandal—he rapped the magazine she was still holding "can ruin us."
"I don't see how," Lucia replied. "I have
enough new material ready really to put Philbin Labs on the map. So how
can what I do in my own time hurt us? If the trustees get difficult, we
can simply sell some of my discoveries."
"But it's not…it's not nice!" was all he could
manage. He faded out of the room as she motioned him to leave.
Alone, Lucia headed for her pocketbook and
Mei-ling's promised memoranda. As she studied them, thanks to her research
in the future, she was able to understand what her opposite number had
accomplished with little trouble. And what she saw made her raise her newly
penciled eyebrows and purse her bright vermilion lips into a silent whistle.
Mei-ling had done far more than solve the
problem of measuring the content and movement of earth's core. She had,
incredibly, used Lucia's research, plus her own knowledge, to come up with
an invention that was certain to put Philbin Research on the wings of prosperity
forever. She had discovered a simple, eminently practical method of transmitting
television long distance by beams through the earth itself, instead of
merely through wires around the curve of its surface!
Lucia was digesting the subtler points of
Mei-ling's invention when Dr. Philbin himself entered her lab. He looked
a lot younger than he had a month earlier, if a great deal more harassed.
He said, "Lucia, darling, I've come across that magazine article. Have
you seen it?"
"Oh, yes," said Lucia. "Allan was kind enough
to show it to me just now."
"It's not funny," said Dr. Philbin, sinking
in his turn on the couch. "The trustees are making things damnably hot
for me. I wish I knew…I mean, I can't understand…what's come over you.
You were always a fine and valuable person, but recently…" He stopped,
looking at her with a sort of wistful helplessness.
"…but now," she finished for him, "I'm a lot less fine and a lot more
valuable, is that it, Dwight?"
"I didn't say that," he said doggedly. "I
only said I can't understand it. It's as if you'd…er…expanded, both personally
and in science. Where do you, suppose it will stop?"
Recalling that in two centuries the Philbin
Labs would be the Philbin-North Labs, Lucia decided there was no call for
worry. So she said, enjoying the thought of this man and hating Mei-ling
for having enjoyed him with her body, "Isn't that really up to you?"