Penny was almost in a trance as the music washed over her. Reading about or listening to a recording of this performance could not reproduce or explain the emotional and physiological reaction she and the rest of the audience were having. It was fortunate that the stream had carried her here.
The ‘here’ was the Fillmore East, ten PM, December thirty-first nineteen-sixty nine. Penny was one of the privileged few that could ride the stream back and forth creating, for a short time, what the experts called a ‘time-space anomaly;’ but she and her fellow travelers called it a ‘time slip.’ These lucky few could slip into another time and spend a few hours or days there. The universe did not allow this without a price first: if you stayed an hour in the past, you came back an hour after you left. There also seemed to be a limit of a hundred years, and no traveling into the future.
On this night Penny had traveled to one of the storied points in Rock n Roll history: the one and only concert by Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies.
Hendrix had an undefined ability to cause his audience to achieve a higher mental state only seen in a few Zen masters. This effect was so powerful that a few of his recordings could almost produce it as well. The Fillmore East recording of “Machine Gun” was one. You could also feel this power on the “Are You Experienced” track off his first album.
Penny was sent by her employer, Global Media International, to see if she could discern how he did it and if it could be reproduced by one of Global’s prepackaged pop bands. She was also discreetly recording the concert in 3D and surround for later release to the small-but-growing virtual history market.
Penny was already a rising star in GMI, and the public at large. She was being paid in the range of seven figures for this job; she would have come for free. The performance was all that it was said to have been.
The inexpensive entertainment that the modern media companies produced was starting to lose its hold on the general public and GMI’s market share was slipping.
A way was needed to stem the flow of internet independent bands now appearing, actually playing their own instruments, singing their own songs without digitally enhanced playback at live events in small venues, and selling their songs at a dollar a download.
Global and the other multimedia giants wanted to be in on this shift by the public, unlike the time back in the late nineties people stopped buying compact disks and started downloading just the one or two songs they wanted. It had taken almost a decade to reestablish control of the music scene. It still was a point of contention that Jobs and his company had to be brought in as a middleman for the industry.
As the session ended, Penny walked out wondering what it would have been like to live in these freer times. Once back on Second Avenue, she started to think of home and 2019. This should bring her back to where she’d started a few hours ago to her, fifty years into the future for the people around her. Before she had a chance to come home, a dart with a neural toxin stuck in her neck.
She started to move as if high or drunk. She stumbled into an alley off of East Sixth Street. Penny Goldman died in a dirty alley in the Village early January First 1970 NYC.
Thomas O’Rourke stood in the alley off East Sixth; it was still dirty with debris that could have been here fifty years ago. He was a Detective Sergeant in the NYPD’s time crimes squad. Early on the first day of 1970 Penny Goldman died, the death was ruled a drug overdose, which was common in those times in the Village. Back then, the NYPD could not have detected the neural toxin or the biodegradable dart used to deliver it.
Both the toxin and the dart fired from an air pistol were products of the end of the Cold War. They were developed by both sides, so tracing it was near impossible as officially manufacture of such weapons was banned by the UN. If it was not for a tissue sample saved by the coroners office (because Goldman had a cancer unknown at that time) the murder would have been written off as a