Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chapter Twelve

It had been the shopping trip to end all shopping trips – a jaunt across many centuries. But their work was done. They were back safely in Polly’s laboratory/workshop approximately 15 minutes after she had last left them with a pile of sandwiches. But for Drood and Bryan, they had been away for just short of three weeks. Drood had quite a bit of beard-growth on him now, so that would have to go otherwise people might be a bit perplexed as to how he’d managed to get so hirsute in just fifteen minutes. Bryan didn’t look any different at all, and seemed totally unfazed by all the time travelling and surprising turns that his life at this moment was taking. Drood flopped into a chair and ran his hand through his now unkempt mane of hair.
“So, did we do everything we needed to do?” He asked. His voice was cracked and hoarse, sounding dry and tired. Bryan slid into a chair next to him and produced a small rather battered looking notebook from the inside pocket of his leather jacket. He opened and began reading through some hastily scribbled notes.
“Groovy Converter purchased from a Mr Moffat in Hulke Antiques in the year 2154, alongside a genuine still in it’s original box Textya Flayva machine from Hulke Auction House in 2282. Both items then taken back to 2010, disassembled by a brilliant electronics expert called Noel Grimwade, who produces stupendous blue prints of the workings of these two amazing machines. Mr Grimwade’s assurance on his silence in both of these matters is secured through giving him a cheque for £250,000 from your personal bank account…” Bryan slowly turned the page over and continued to read his own notes, while Drood listened intently with his eyes closed, gently nodding his head from time to time. “The said blueprints with our names on them, are then patented with the Intellectual Property Office. Two new machines are made by the company Sherwin & Lloyd Manufacturing on the Hulke Industrial Estate from the blueprints. Both work perfectly.” Bryan paused again briefly to turn over one of the pages. “We manage, through some simple time travelling tricks to blag a slot to present our new inventions at the Royal Society’s Annual summer science exhibition in Edinburgh – we become an instant hit and in the only example ever on record, we are invited back on stage after our presentation for an encore…If you remember we waved the machines about and sang a rather moving rendition of “Love Shack” by the B-52’s.” Bryan’s eyebrows waggled triumphantly at this fine memory. “Our newly formed and registered company, the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation is immediately swamped with orders for the new units…” Bryan slowly closed the book and sighed happily. Drood shook his head slowly.
“It feels so wrong…” he began. Then a huge grin spread across his face. “But we can’t fight history, can we?” The two of them sat in silence for a while, gazing down on the vast highways below them as the sun began to lower, casting huge shadows across the slopes of Silston Hill. “There is one thing we never worked out…” said Drood all of a sudden. Bryan half turned his head towards him, his eyes narrowed against the lowering sun.
“What’s that then?” He enquired.
“That million quid in my bank account. Where did that come from?” Drood sat forward a little. “I mean, I admit it came in very handy for bribing Mr Grimwade…” Bryan waved his hand to get attention.
“Ah, ah!” He snapped. “Remember, we don’t use the ‘B’ word. I like to think of it less as a…” here his voice dropped to a theatrical whisper, “’bribe’ …and more of a helpful greasing of the slipway of our careers as internationally renowned planet saving Professors and household names…” Drood snorted with laughter.
“You are absolutely loving this, aren’t you?” He guffawed. “But that million quid. It never really became clear. Was it Holly do you think?” Bryan slumped back in his chair, his hands behind his head.
“I think you think too much sometimes. Perhaps we did the money at some point, and put the announcement of it in the paper ourselves. Perhaps we didn’t. It’ll all work out eventually.” Just at that moment there was a gentle sigh from one of the doors and Polly entered the room again.
“Is everything alright, gentlemen?” She began. She paused in mid sentence and stride and looked at Drood’s suddenly rather full and scraggy beard. “Where did that come from?” Drood’s hands shot up to his face and he stroked the rather obvious beard with some embarrassment.
“Er…I forgot to shave this morning…” he began slowly, shaking his head even as he said it, knowing that this would not be taken seriously. “It’s a condition...?” He stumbled to the end of this pathetic explanation.
“Good heavens.” Said Polly, slowly slipping her glasses on for a closer look. “That is the most remarkable case of hirsutism I think I have ever seen…”
“Yeah, I’ve suffered with it for a while. Do you have anything that can help me tidy myself up a bit?” He fluffed up the hair on his head as well as if to make the point a little more believable. Funnily enough, Polly had just the thing for a situation like this.

Several floors down from her laboratory, Polly led Drood and Bryan into another gleaming white room, this time with ranks of what appeared to be display cabinets, and in each one there was a single item of very hi-tech looking technology. Polly cast her hand around her.
“These are just some of the items Professor’s Hinchcliffe and Camfield will bring to the world.” She walked slowly to the first cabinet. “From the Groovy Converter and the Textya Flayva, through the Alcohol Neuro-Tazer, and all the way through to the Lard Neutralizer, which allows you to eat as much fast food as you like, by turning the fat in the food into water as soon as it passes into your throat and before it reaches your stomach.” She stopped by one glass case and removed a small object which she lobbed almost carelessly at Drood. “Here, you’ll need this…” He caught it somewhat awkwardly. It was another typical advanced looking piece of clever technology with the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation logo splashed across the side.
“What is it?” He asked. To him it just looked like an ice hockey mask, but mainly for the lower part of the face. It would cause the wearer to look a little bit like Hannibal Lecter.
“We market it under the name of ‘Bye Bye Beardie’ as it neutralises the beard hair follicles and stops them growing for a week at a time. Here…” She helped Drood hold the mask to his face. Her hands felt lovely – soft and cool. There was a brief tiny buzzing noise, then when Drood took the mask away his beard had gone, replaced with a smooth soft skin – like the closest shave he’d ever experienced.
“Wow…” he breathed. He proffered the item to Bryan. “You should try this man!” Bryan took an immediate step back.
“No way, the beard stays…” He involuntarily stroked his own beard with something akin to affection. Drood looked round this impressive room, and a thought struck him.
“Should you really be showing us all this stuff? I mean, won’t Professor Aldred get a bit snotty about it?” Polly was gently placing the ‘Bye Bye Beardie’ in it’s display case when Drood said this. She paused momentarily, before closing the top of the case. She took a deep breath and then turned towards Drood and Bryan.
“Yes, you’re quite right. He would go berserk if he knew I had shown you all this but…” She stumbled in her delivery of the words.
“What’s the matter, love?” Asked Bryan.
“But…how can I put this…” Polly was really struggling. “Oh sod it, I’m just going to have to say it.” She pointed to the display cases all around them. “You two never invented a single one of these items, did you?” Drood and Bryan looked at each other like naughty schoolboys caught midway through a daring apple raid on an orchard. Polly folded her arms. Her voice came again, only this time much more forcibly. “Did you?”

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Chapter Eleven

The cave was very large, but had been lit beautifully, almost something akin to a Jean-Michel Jarre concert. There were admittedly some faintly neon-ish washes to some of the corners, but the rest was pure mood. Craggy rock surfaces abounded to the top and sides, but the floor was smooth – far too smooth to be natural. Something man-made had carved out this chamber, made it suitable for use. The ceiling rose to an almost cathedral height from the smooth flooring and stalactites pointed accusatory fingers at the ground below, glistening with gently dripping moisture. Small pools of intensely clear water sat with perfect stillness, their effect heightened once more by strategically placed mood lighting. Seeming to almost grow organically out of this rocky world was a row of screens and monitors. In front of these was a large black leather chair into which was slumped a cowled figure. The hood of the cowl was pulled down, obscuring the majority of the face, but the lips were clear to be seen – small, wrinkled, some would say sharp looking. These lips opened and the voice spoke in a low sinister whisper.
“Contact.” There was a brief pause, and then a large paper thin screen in the wall shimmered into life.
“Please state your name and password, so I can log you on!” The computer’s voice was annoyingly bright, distinctly west coast USA and sounded female and jaunty.
“Nemesis, 63-23-1147, confirmed.” The cowled figure whispered. The screen shimmered slightly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that. Please repeat your name and password so I can log you on and you can fully enjoy your experience!” The cowled figure groaned softly and put a hand to his head. His voice came again, only louder this time.
“Nemesis, 63-23-1147! Confirmed!” Once more the screen shimmered.
“I’m sorry, that name and password has not been recognised. Please ensure you have the correct details to hand so we can get you online and enjoying the benefits of this system as soon as possible. Have a nice day!” And the screen subsided into darkness once more. The cowled figure sat for a moment, then spoke again.
“Computer…” Nothing happened. “COMPUTER!” The screen shimmered slightly.
“Please state your name and password, so I can….” The cowled figure butted in, he spoke slowly and quietly, his voice initially calm.
“Computer. I am the only user who ever logs onto this system. I designed you and built your memory banks, interfaces and servers with my bare hands. All the knowledge of the world, past and future has been placed in your memory banks for my own personal utilisation. I spent nearly 20 years perfecting your operating parameters and access integration codes. You are possibly the most powerfully advanced computer that has so far been known to mankind and you are my pride and joy, however if you don’t log me in immediately I shall lose no time in shoving a fucking big stalactite up your electronic JACKSY! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?” The voice rose to a maniacal climax that echoed through the dark cavern. The screen shimmered once more.
“Please state your name…”
“NEMESIS, 63-23-1147! CONFIRMED!” There was a short pause. The screen shimmered.
“That’s not actually right, is it?” The voice was almost apologetic from the computer. The cowled figure stood up slowly.
“What?” He hissed, dangerously. The screen shimmered to what it hoped was a nice calming shade of institution green.
“You’ve got your password wrong. It’s close, I’ll give you that. It’s a very good effort and you should be very proud. But it’s not right.” The screen shimmered again, almost like an embarrassed giggle. “Sorry!” There was a long heavy pause.
“What IS my password then?” Demanded the cowled figure, dangerously.
“Actually, I really shouldn’t tell…” The cowled figure leapt sideways, grabbed for a nearby stalagmite and began ferociously tugging at it, trying to break it off. “Ah, now look…” babbled the screen. “Not wishing to sound pedantic or anything but to be fair that is a stalagmite and you did actually threaten me with a stalactite and I…” there was a loud crack as the thin rock at the base of the stalagmite surrendered to the cowled figure’s assault. He moved threateningly towards the screen, breathing heavily and barely able to hold the weight of his improvised rock weapon. “Oh gosh, tell you what…!” began the screen brightly. “Why don’t I just tell you that stupid darned old password and we’ll call it quits, yeah?” The cowled figure stood there for a moment, his chest still rising and falling heavily. The stalagmite slipped from his gloved fingers and then fell with a loud crack to the cavern floor. As the echoes died away the figure once more sat in the capacious leather seat.
“Contact.” The screen shimmered softly.
“Please state your name and password, so I can log you on… and your password is 63-32-1147 by the way.”
“Nemesis. 63-32-1147. Confirmed.” The screen shimmered brighter than ever, a gentle synthesised moody chord played.
“Welcome, Doctor Nemesis. What can I do for you first?” The cowled figure snuggled down comfortably in the big leather chair.
“Information retrieval” he hissed. “Tell me about…” he paused. “Tell me about…the offside rule in association football.” The screen shimmered and the voice became quite smug and assured.
“According to the rules of association football, a player is deemed to be in an offside position if he or she is in his or her opponents' half of the field and is nearer to his or her opponents' goal line than the ball, and fewer than two of his or her opponents are in front of him. This would normally be expected to include the goalkeeper. A player at equal distance from the goal line as the second to last opponent is not in an offside position.” The screen shimmered back to a faint background glow. The cowled figure nodded slowly.
“Fascinating, fascinating…” He stroked his chin softly. “But I need more. Much more. Information retrieval…” the screen shimmered again at this request. “Tell me about… the greatest association footballer that has ever lived.” The screen shimmered unsurely.
“Er…isn’t that just a personal preference?” The cowled figure began reaching down to the floor and the discarded stalagmite. The screen shimmered alarmingly. “Oh! Er….PELE!” The cowled figure slumped back away from the stalagmite.
“Continue…” he whispered. The screen shimmered softly again.
“Pele, originally known as Edison Arantes do Nascimento was born on the 23rd October 1940 in the city of Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais in Brazil. He rose to international prominence at the 1958 association football World Cup held that year in Sweden…”

A lot of time then passed…

“…and stayed in America for a number of years, briefly becoming the Minnesota Kicks' coach in 1981. However he never pursued a career in management and eventually returned to England; later he ran a public house in his native Cheshire…And that is the career of Geoff Barnett” The screen shimmered back into silence. If a computer could actually sound arsey, tired and pissed off then this one did at the moment. The cowled figure was hunched over with an old fashioned pen and paper, scribbling notes silently. The screen shimmered softly, but the cowled figure ignored it. There was a pause. The screen suddenly strobed violently. The cowled figure looked up in alarm.
“What is it?” He hissed. The strobing stopped.
“Do you require any more information retrieval?” The cowled figure looked down at his scrawled notes.
“This is utterly fascinating. Finally my plans are coming to fruition. All the pieces are moving around the board, finally coming into position, ready for the coup de grace, the final thrust, the check mate. The stars are aligning my friend… the stars are aligning!” He threw his head back and laughed, a cracked strained laugh. The screen glowed softly.
“Is that a yes or no?” The cowled figure laid the pen and paper in his lap.
“No, my friend. You save your circuits. Let them cool. I have so much information to sift through. So many marvellous plans to formulate just dancing round my brain. And all for one goal…” He pointed his old withered hand at a painting hanging in one unlit natural alcove to his right. “Light the alcove!” With a soft hum the lights in the alcove faded up to reveal a painting of Neil “Drood” Hinchcliffe in a heroic pose. “To eradicate all record, memory or thought of this obnoxious idiotic fraud from history for all time!” His voice rose to a cackling crescendo once more and echoed round the dark dank chamber.
“Sounds great.” Said the computer, showing admirable sarcasm, and switched itself off.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Chapter Ten

The sun shone brightly on the green next to Hulke Priory. Several pensioners stood on the High Road and looked down with disbelieving eyes to the scene laid out before them. Never had Hulke seen anything like this before. A couple of bewildered looking Policemen stood silently by. Down at the lower part of the Green there was a stage set up backing onto the stark ruins of The Priory, and amassed in front of this was a sea of, for want of a better word, hippies – nearly 1,000 of them to be precise. They were listening intently to the group currently on the stage – local Hulke favourites Rory Derbyshire and the Cult of Delia. Even here, in the smallest of West Country backwaters, by this summer of 1968 the “alternative culture” had taken root and people in large groups were happily sitting in the sunshine, listening to deep meaningful self indulgent music, and even some were partaking in vaguely illegal substances. This was the first of what was hoped would be many Hulke Festivals. The first one took place in 1968 and as we are still waiting for the next one to occur you can guess that it wasn’t exactly a roaring success.
On the stage, Rory was intently clutching his Fender guitar and was wringing every possible nuance and squeal out of this basic blues number they were rumbling through.
“Shriek twiddly twiddly waaaaah!” Went Rory’s guitar.
“Wow, man…” went nearly 1,000 hippies, all nodding and swaying in time to the beat.
“Krang blang twiddly twiddly weeeeeeeeeeah!” Went Rory’s guitar.
“Far out…” went the hippies. And so the afternoon progressed. Rory was well into the 20th minute of this solo when he heard a strange sound. A crackling static sound. He looked down at the fold back speakers in front of him on the stage, then intently to his left towards his roadies, but they were slouched around on various chairs, heads lolling back, clutching unfeasibly large spliffs in their hands. One made a “peace man” symbol before falling off his chair. Rory continued playing, but the noise came again, louder this time, much more intense and focussed. The air, just to the front of the stage area seemed to shimmer and blur, there was a bizarre backward popping noise and then two very strangely attired men, who appeared wet through as though it was raining, materialised before Rory’s very eyes. The music stopped. Several of the hippies in the crowd stood up, Rory moved to the front of the stage. There was a long and quite dangerous silence.
“Far fucking out…” breathed Rory, straight into his microphone and with that, the audience erupted into whoops and cheers. Drood and Bryan looked at each other for a second in total bewilderment.
“Where the fuck are we, Bryan?” Asked Drood, suddenly feeling stifled by the unexpected heat of the English summer they had come across. Bryan was studying the palm top machine in his hand.
“Where ever you fancied going, mate.” He said. “It seems to be focussing on your brain waves…” Just at that moment Rory Derbyshire started playing again, drowning out any chance of conversation. Drood and Bryan moved away from the front of the stage and away from the speaker stacks. Their sudden unexpected appearance out of nowhere had apparently already been forgotten by the hippie crowd who were by now busy back grooving along to Rory’s guitar licks. Bryan looked up at the High Road. “It’s Hulke again. So what were you thinking about?” He asked Drood.
“I just wanted to be somewhere calm and peaceful. I had no idea something like this had ever happened in Hulke.” Drood gestured round at the assembled crowd. By this time Rory’s guitar solo had reached its screeching climax and enthusiastic applause was coming from the stoned hippies.
“Yeah, the Hulke Free Festival.” Said Bryan, matter-of-factly. “We were promised Hendrix, Traffic and Fairport Convention, and all we got was Rory Derbyshire and the Cult of Delia, and Gravy Boat.” Drood looked round at the crowds around them. He stopped at one particular group and peered closer at them, focussing on one particular figure seated in the middle. It was a sallow faced youth, aged about 12, dressed all in black and with dark hair down to his shoulders. He was sitting with a very serious look on his face, intent on what he was doing and wasn’t really talking with the others around him, all of whom were a lot older and flamboyantly dressed in kaftans, paisley and head-scarves. Drood suddenly realised this young person was rolling spliffs for the rest of the group. Then something else dawned on him.
“Oh shit…” He looked from the solemn faced joint roller and then back to Bryan. “It’s you, isn’t it?” Bryan hardly looked up from the palm top controller he was working on.
“Yeah. Mum was a big fan of Gravy Boat, God knows why.” He tapped impatiently at the palm top unit. “The most exciting thing that happened at the whole festival was when…” Just at that moment, one of the bass amps in the stack burst into flames and began sparking loudly. “…when the bass stack blew up…” finished Bryan, rather lamely.
“But isn’t it supposed to be really bad if you meet yourself in your past?” Asked Drood. “You know, like space and time continuum’s being torn apart and the end of the universe?” Bryan snorted derisively.
“You’ve been watching too much Stargate Atlantis, mate.” He said, while tapping a few buttons on the palm top. The unit beeped loudly, Bryan peered closely at the screen. His face paled. “Actually…” he began. “You might be right. Universal cataclysm is a pretty bad thing, isn’t it?” Drood grabbed his hand and began pulling him further and further away from the hippie hordes.
“Let’s not end the universe, just for today, OK Bryan?” Drood had finally managed to get Bryan halfway up the green towards the High Road. “We still don’t even know how we got to be here.” Bryan slipped the palm top into his jacket pocket.
“Most likely explanation is that you just wanted to get away from rain soaked Roman Hulke and just thought of home and something peaceful. There was a big peace vibe at this festival, and even if you didn’t know about it, the unit obviously did.” Bryan smiled brightly at the end of this and let the eyebrows waggle a little. Drood looked at the Chrono-Displacement helmet, still sitting at a jaunty angle on Bryan’s head.
“So can it really be as vague as that?” He mused. “I didn’t even know about this event, and yet the unit found it.” Bryan tapped the helmet.
“Seems likely. Just think though. We can sort out all our problems…” Bryan was suddenly full of enthusiasm. “We need to invent some pretty serious shit very quickly and we haven’t got a clue. Agreed?” Drood nodded silently that, yes, Bryan had a point. “So why don’t we just have a little jaunt back to 3596, purchase ourselves a Groovy Convertor and a Textya-Flayva, then back to sometime in our lifetimes and patent the bastards.” Bryan waggled his eyebrows alarmingly. Drood stared at him for quite some time, before placing a fatherly hand upon his shoulder.
“Bryan, sometimes you can be such a…” he struggled with the right word, “…such a…total fucking genius!” Bryan grinned widely. He checked the palm top again.
“Chrono-Displacement field opening very shortly…” Bryan and Drood looked round to find it; the crackling static sound was faintly heard nearby. “And now, we have all the time in the World…” said Bryan in his best James Bond voice. And with that, they left 1968.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Chapter Nine

It was raining. Well that made a change, didn’t it? It was always raining in this “Britain”. What’s more, this particular night it was pitch black, foggy, freezing cold and it was raining. Sign up, they said. See the known World, they said. Lucius was a legionary, he’d been called up to the Roman army from his nice family home in Umbria. Where his upbringing had been in sunshine, with red wine, olive groves and dappled shade and warmth, he was now on this fog shrouded island where if it wasn’t raining it was blowing a gale and if the gale stopped blowing long enough the locals would turn up and try and either sell you something, or kill you. To be brutally honest he was sick and fed up with this backward stupid country and the natives who lived here. He couldn’t wait to get back to civilisation – central heating, slaves and people being forced to fight to the death for his entertainment. Now THAT’S civilisation. All these Durotriges seemed to be interested in was farming and fighting him and his colleagues. And so this particular evening, here was Lucius, some miles from Lindinis, in the middle of nowhere, standing as watch outside his cohort’s encampment as the rain hammered down on his helmet. The decurion had shouted at him to keep his eyes peeled for treacherous Britons. Well the decurion needn’t have worried, Lucius would have his revenge for this awful night, next time he ran into some local savages. He’d give ‘em what for, like they did at that last hill fort the other week. Admittedly it was quite small and only a farming community, but it had the capacity to have weapons of mass destruction (OK, pebbles) ready for an attack on unguarded Roman heads within 45 seconds. The World was now a safer place that they had massacred all the old people and sold the rest off into slavery. Lucius wasn’t scared of these barbarians. He was a Roman soldier, armed to the teeth and trained to the highest level in ways of killing and upsetting people in great quantities. Just to re-assure himself, Lucius practiced a couple of half hearted thrusts with his gladius sword at imaginary invaders. He’d like to see the barbarian swines who could get past him!
He blew in his hands to try and instill some warmth and stamped his feet. The wind howled once more round his bare legs and he cursed the day he had been brought to this island. Lucius supposed it was better than some of his colleagues who had ended up in the forests of Germanica with large spears stuck up their bottoms. But no one really spoke about that set back, or any of the other set backs the army ever encountered, the Roman Empire just liked to talk itself up, and so only victories were allowed to be mentioned.
Just at that moment, Lucius heard a noise. A crackling noise, slmost like someone moving through very dry foliage. He knew this couldn’t be true as there was nothing that could possibly be dry in Britain with the weather they were having. There it came again. Lucius drew his gladius from it’s scabbard and his eyes darted around him, but the surrounding darkness merely loomed back at him.
“Who goes there?” He yelled in the deepest, most frightening voice he could muster. He swallowed loudly and re-doubled his grip on the gladius. “Come on! Who’s there?” He shouted. Lucius thought he could make out a glow in the semi distance, a sort of ethereal glow, somewhere near the distant horizon – or was it just two inches from his nose? He just couldn’t tell, but it was getting bigger and the crackling sound was coming through constantly now. He was just about to call for the decurion when there was a loud buzzing sound and a distinct backwards popping noise and two figures suddenly hurtled out of nowhere and bumped into Lucius. One of them was wearing a large white helmet with wires coming out of it, and as they stumbled into Lucius, the white helmet connected heavily with Lucius’ chin and knocked him out cold. Drood looked down at the recumbent figure of the unconscious Roman legionary.
“Oh, nice one Bryan! You’ve managed to make us travel in time, but you’ve twatted a Roman.” Drood reached down and felt Lucius’ pulse, just to make sure he wasn’t dead. Bryan pulled the helmet off his head with some difficulty. Drood had his head back and was drinking in the falling rain, trying to get rid of the inevitable dehydration.
“Bloody hell!” Whispered Bryan, looking around. “We only bloody did it!” He whooped with delight. Drood looked round the darkness, but it was so foggy, wet and miserable you really could not see a thing.
“So where are we?” He looked towards Bryan, who was now similarly drinking in the rain water.
Hulke” said Bryan, eventually. “Well, I assume that was where you were thinking of when you visualised somewhere in Roman times.” Drood nodded.
“I tried to visualise the green near the Priory which I suppose is this, but…” he gestured vaguely around him, “I’m just not used to seeing it without the Priory being here.” Bryan was looking at some of the readings in the small palm top information unit.
“Do you remember earlier, when we were at my house and you had a look at the Lethbridge book?” He asked of Drood. Drood nodded. “Well this little beauty of a time machine only seems to have picked up on some of the subconscious stuff in your little brain. Remember the first bizarre event at the Priory site mentioned in the Lethbridge book?” Bryan’s eyebrows were beginning their inevitable waggling session.
“Yeah, some legionary got spooked by an apparition and…” Drood’s voice tailed off as he realised what he was saying. His hand moved involuntarily to his mouth. “Shit!” He exclaimed. “Do you mean WE are the apparition that scared the Roman?” Bryan was nodding eagerly and the eyebrows were on full waggle mode.
“Seems inevitable!” he roared with laughter. Drood looked down at the figure of Lucius on the ground.
“Should we help him?” Asked Drood, softly. Bryan took a cursory look down at the Roman.
“Nah! Fuck him. Bloody Romans. Just the ancient world version of Tesco’s really. Don’t matter where you go you’re bound to find some evidence of them and they’re all the bloody same.” He began reading some figures from the information unit under his breath. “To be honest, the way his lot with Vespasian carried on down here I think we’d be right justified if we gave him a proper leathering while he’s down there.” From the darkness there was a bark/cry of something nearby. Possibly only a fox, but it could just as easily have been a wolf. Drood looked round nervously.
“I think I’ve seen enough of Roman Hulke to be honest, Bryan.” He shivered slightly and suddenly realised how cold and wet he was. He looked over at the information unit in Bryan’s hand. “So how do we get back?”
“Good question…” said Bryan, softly. “I’m not entirely sure, but if I put my helmet back on…” he did this as he mentioned it, then went back to intently studying the information unit in his hands. “Yep, we should be due for a chrono-displacement field opening up in the same place any second now…” They stood there in the rain and darkness. Nothing happened. Bryan tapped the information unit. Still nothing happened. Unknown to them, behind them on the wet ground, Lucius started stirring.
“You haven’t got a sodding clue, have you Bryan?” asked Drood bitterly. Bryan shrugged his shoulders.
“Theoretically, the chrono-displacement field should re-open the portal in the exact same spot it occurred in…” Bryan tailed off as he looked in shock over Drood’s shoulder. Drood turned round very slowly. There was Lucius, still obviously groggy from the impact with the helmet, but now upright, swaying slightly and brandishing the gladius sword at them. He shouted something at them in Latin. Drood and Bryan looked at each other and then back at the Roman.
“Please tell me you speak Latin, Bryan” Hissed Drood out of the corner of his mouth. Bryan wracked his brains for a moment.
“Er… Non crapito san janitorum!” He yelled. Lucius looked at them in astonishment. Drood looked back at Bryan.
“What did you just say to him?” He asked. Bryan beamed back at Drood.
“It’s the only bit of Latin I can ever remember. It’s from Carry on Henry where Sid James explains Henry the VIIIth’s motto to Cardinal Wolsley.” Drood groaned.
“So what did you just say?” He repeated urgently.
“Non crapito san janitorum – don’t shit on your own doorstep.” Lucius was looking at them as if they were from another planet, which to be honest they might as well have been.
“We’re confronted by an irate violent Roman and you start quoting Talbot Rothwell scripts at him!” Shouted Drood. “God I wish the bloody chrono thing would fucking open right now…” just at that moment, with a loud crackling sound, the ethereal light spread around Bryan’s shape as the displacement field opened. Bryan offered his hand to Drood.
“Come on! Hurry up!” Drood ran so he was right next to Bryan. Lucius took a slight pace toward them, but the weird light and noise was obviously frightening him. Bryan waved at him and shouted “Arriverderci, Brutus!” and with a loud backward popping sound, Bryan and Drood vanished infront of the legionaries astonished eyes. Lucius stood in the deafening silence, looking toward where the men had been, but of the weird people there was not a hint of any evidence they had ever been there. He looked round himself two or three times, just to make sure they weren’t playing some joke on him. But they had gone.
“Non crapito san janitorum?” He repeated to himself. These Britons were crazy. He could hear the decurion approaching in the gloom. He would explain all to him and seek advice from his many years of service in foreign lands. Within two minutes of starting the story, Lucius was on a charge of being drunk on duty and was given three days field punishment as a consequence. And serves him right.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Chapter Eight

Drood and Bryan had been left on their own for a while now. They gazed out in silence at what Hulke had become. Drood was perched on one of the laboratory stools, Bryan sat cross legged on top of one of the work benches. Polly had brought them some food, mostly sandwiches and fruit, but they weren’t particularly in the mood for eating. She had long since disappeared to a meeting, but had promised to return as soon as she possibly could.
“Look at it…” breathed Bryan, slowly shaking his head. “England’s green and pleasant land.” Drood began resting his chin on his hands, his eyes looking away from the endless urban sprawl of London.
“What I’m worried about is that within the next few months, you and I have to become brilliant scientists, invent all sorts of clever shit and become heroes to these people.” He sighed heavily and rubbed his eyes. “I really don’t feel up to doing all that today.” Bryan climbed slowly down from his perch on the work bench and listlessly toyed with the sandwiches for a while, but he soon lost interest and wandered to the back of the laboratory. He tested several walls by waving his hand in front of them, pretty much like Polly had earlier, but none of them seemed to be willing to clear. But then one did…
“’Ere, Drood!” He called. “Come ‘ere and look at this!” Drood sighed and slowly got up.
“What now? Don’t tell me – they’ve put crazy paving over the Amazon rain forest and stone clad the Andes…?” His voice tailed away as he stood next to Bryan and they stared through the window Bryan had just cleared. “Is that what I think it is?” Drood breathed softly. Bryan nodded and even allowed his eyebrows a quick waggle.
“Drood, my dear chap, I rather think it is.” The other side of this wall was another laboratory, but far less cluttered. There were two control consoles to one side, but in the middle was what appeared to be a large shower cubicle. Cables ran from the base of the cubicle to the consoles and, directly over wherever any person wanting a shower would have stood, were dazzlingly white apparently plastic pen nibs, six of them. But these were big pen nibs, at least half a metre long and a good 100cm in diameter. Emblazoned across the front sliding door of the cubicle was the words “Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation” and then just below that the words “Chrono-Displacement Model SH101”. Drood and Bryan looked slowly at each other.
“Do you think we should?” Asked Bryan eventually. Drood looked back at the machine in the laboratory for a moment, and then glanced back to Bryan.
“Should what?”
“Get in there. Have a closer look.” Bryan was eager. Drood leant back from the glass and sighed.
“If, and I mean IF we go in there, we are just going to look at it Bryan. We are not going to start randomly pressing buttons, are we? We could end up anywhere.” With this affirmation from Drood, Bryan was straight away trying to find the doorway in. This was no easy feat as all the walls seemed exactly the same with no obvious entry point. “Did you hear me, Bryan?”
“Oh yes!” Said Bryan loudly, moving along the wall and sweeping his hand over each and every inch, trying to find anything that might trigger a door to open. Inevitably, he found it. With an almost heartfelt sigh, a door shape materialised in the seemingly solid wall and then retracted into the ceiling. Drood and Bryan stood in the doorway, gazing across at the machine in the darkened laboratory.
“How do you get any lights on in here?” Whispered Drood. Bryan looked up at the ceiling.
“Computer! Lights!” He called. Drood was about to sneer that this wasn’t Star Trek, when the lights, as if some Lothario was testing his dimmer switch before a big date, glowed up to a reasonable brightness. They both took slightly tentative steps into the room. Drood moved forward and finally found himself close enough to the machine to almost touch it. He reached out a hand, paused for a moment lost in a mixture of thought and awe, before he finally made contact with it with his hand. He moved his fingers up and down the outer shell. It felt disappointingly like a food mixer or a microwave oven.
“How on Earth did we invent this?” He whispered, hoarsely. “How does it even work?”
“It connects to the synapses of your frontal lobes and helps you to focus on the era, date or event you wish to visit with the use of the visualiser circuits.” Bryan seemed remarkably well informed on how this contraption worked.
“How does it connect to your synapses?” Asked Drood, slowly turning round. His eyes soon proved that Bryan had found all the answers.
“With this I guess!” he cried, cheerfully pointing to his head. Bryan was wearing what appeared to be a glitzy hi-tech crash helmet with various strands of fibre optic cables snaking out of the back and leading across to one of the consoles. He was also clutching a thick book entitled “The Hinchcliffe-Camfield Chrono-Displacement SH101 Operators Manual”.
“Bryan! For Christ’s sake take that bloody thing off!” Drood moved sharply towards Bryan, who backed away defensively.
“Hold hard!” Shouted Bryan. “It’s not even turned on! Nothing can happen!” Drood calmed slightly. He would still be happier if Bryan wasn’t wearing the crash helmet.
“Just be careful, alright? Don’t touch anything else.” Drood implored him. Bryan tapped a salutary finger to his forehead and nodded slightly. Unfortunately he didn’t notice the tiny red light flicker on at the back of the helmet as he had tapped the front. Bryan inclined the manual towards Drood.
“It seems pretty simple to operate, if these instructions are to be believed.” He laid the book open on top of the nearest console as Drood leaned in next to him for a closer look. “All you do is make sure the helmet and the booth are fired up, visualize on the exact place and time you want to go to, the Chrono-Displacement circuits select an undisturbed piece of space and time where you wish to go, and enfolds them in a singularity.” Drood looked at his friend wearing the daft helmet.
“What the hell does that mean?” he asked slowly.
“A singularity is, approximately, a place where quantities which are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite. Such quantities include the curvature of space-time or the density of matter. Space and time are eventually distorted enough for the continuum to exist in its whole in one place, and the chrono-displacement can take place.” Bryan reeled this off in a very matter-of-fact voice. There was a long pause as Drood just stared at Bryan.
“How in the name of fuck do you know THAT?” Drood squeaked this most indignantly. Bryan held up the small smooth remote control-looking unit that Polly had been using earlier.
“You would not believe the weird shit Wikipedia has listed in the year 3596…” His eyebrows waggled tremendously. Drood went to snatch the unit from him.
“Did you steal that from Polly?” He shouted. Bryan held it up as high as he could, and seeing as he was a good foot taller than Drood at the best of times, easily fought off any chance Drood had of getting it back.
“I have been leant this by the fair Dr Fielding. I asked her if she had anything I could read before she went off to her meeting. She gave me this.” Bryan lowered the unit as Drood’s attempts to snatch it ceased. Drood was looking flustered now.
“Come on Bryan, lets get out of here before someone comes in and finds us…” He reached up to remove the helmet from Bryan’s head. It was only then he realised the door they had entered this laboratory through had vanished, and they were faced with another long faceless row of a wall. Bryan was trying to pull away from Drood.
“Hold on! Hold on!” he yelped. “Just stop and think for a moment, will you?” Drood stopped momentarily.
“What now?”
“You’re worried about not becoming a great inventor? But we know you DID become a great inventor, because it says so in all their history books. So who is more likely to be wrong?” Bryan looked imploringly at Drood. “Drood-bloody-Hinchcliffe, or the Encyclopaedia Britannica?” Drood sighed dramatically and slumped onto the small stool next to the console.
“OK, but Bryan, how are you and I going to invent all of the things we are supposed to invent and patent, between now and Christmas?” He let out another dramatic sigh for good effect. This dented Bryan’s confidence not one jot. He held up the information unit Polly had lent him.
“We have all the information of when, what, why and how in this little beauty…” he announced, before moving over and stroking the outside of the Chrono-Displacement Unit. “And here we have the ability to make dreams come true…” Bryan lent across and grabbed Drood by the hand, he yanked him into the shower cubicle part of the machine and stepped in next to him. “We decide where and when we need to go, put our minds to it, so to speak…” There was a slight pause. “So, where do you want to go first, Professor Hinchcliffe? VE Day? England winning the World Cup in ’66? Far off into the unimaginable future, or back to Hulke in Roman times!” Bryan was quite a salesman.
“Roman times would be cool…” breathed Drood. “The Roman’s bore the arse off me, but it would be great to see what Hulke was like then. Before the Priory.” Bryan beamed at him, like a teacher who’s particularly dim-witted pupil had just managed to solve a simple bit of artithmetic.
“OK, so you just close your eyes, imagine exactly where you want to go. Visualize it…” Unknown to Bryan, on the console opposite them, lights began snapping on as the system began talking to the helmet on his head. “Visualize it, Drood…! Want it!” There was a sudden deep rumble of power units kicking in, a crackling badly tuned radio sound filled the air, and with an ear-drum pummelling backwards popping noise, in the blink of an eye both Bryan and Drood snapped out of existence.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Chapter Seven

There was a bright light shining in Drood’s face. He was lying on his back on a cold hard floor as arcs of light above his head flooded the room. His head hurt and his mouth felt very dry. He could hear Bryan groaning next to him. Just then Doctor Fielding appeared before him again, squatting down beside him where he lay. She had a plastic drinking bottle which she handed to him. It was water, icy cold and with a mild citrus taste to it. He drank it down eagerly.
“One of the first things we ever noticed about Chrono-Displacement is that it causes dehydration. We’re not even sure why.” Said Doctor Fielding. Drood handed the bottle back to her. “You also probably have a thumping headache as well…” she said. Drood nodded dumbly. “I thought so. There was a mild pain killer in the water as well.” She handed the bottle to the figure next to Drood. “Here, Professor Camfield, drink this…” Bryan suddenly levered his large torso into a seating position next to Drood and poured water into his mouth. Drood looked round the room they were in. It looked like some sort of hyper-advanced technical laboratory – the sort of thing you see in toothpaste adverts where tremendously attractive looking people in white coats look at enormous 3-D images of plaque, while a tiny piece of writing at the bottom of the screen says “Dramatisation”.
“Where are we?” He asked eventually. Doctor Fielding stood up.
“You’re in a hyper-advanced technical laboratory in the central HQ of the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation.” Drood was sorry he asked really. “And yes, before you ask, you are in the year 3596. You were caught in the Chrono-Displacement field…” Doctor Fielding didn’t seem best pleased by this turn of events.
“Shit!” Bryan suddenly spluttered. “3596!” He seemed genuinely distraught at this news. Drood put an arm round his shoulders.
“It’s OK, man. We’ll be OK…”
“Yeah, but I’m gonna miss ‘Top Gear’ now.” Bryan blew his nose on a distinctly dodgy looking handkerchief. Drood managed to stand up on somewhat wobbly legs; Doctor Fielding gave him a supporting hand.
“What happened, really?” He asked with a slightly pained voice. Doctor Fielding led him over to a couple of chairs and sat him down gently. She sat down next to him.
“You and Professor Camfield were caught in the Chrono-Displacement field.” She began. Drood nodded.
“Yeah, you said. Now explain again in words I can understand. What IS a Chrono-Displacement?” Bryan shuffled over at this moment and pulled up another chair. Doctor Fielding took a deep breath – the sort someone takes before relating a very long story that they’ve heard many times before.
“Mankind had strived for the goal of time travel for many years. The closest anyone got was with the abandoned Seagal-Sax Project. Then you and Professor Camfield had hypothesized the use of a quantum accelerator attached to a home baking machine and we were off and running.” Drood looked at Bryan who just shrugged in a non-committal way as Doctor Fielding continued. “Another one of the senior employees within the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation, Professor Aldred, used your notes from the archives to continue the project and finally made the big breakthrough. Whereas other experiments had looked at projecting a capsule through time and space, the Hinchcliffe-Camfield premise was that to visit a specific place in time you needed to think about displacement. Physically removing a portion of space and time and replacing it with an identically sized portion of space and time from your own era. And it worked!” She beamed at them. “There is your proof!” She pointed eagerly at the floor where they had both been laying. In a neat circle was a small patch of grass cuttings. “From the lawn of the beer garden at The Meeting Place.” Drood peered down at the small green clippings.
“Couldn’t someone just have walked those in from outside?” He ventured. Doctor Fielding laughed with quite astonishing gusto.
“Outside?” Again she laughed more than is reasonably expected of such a lame statement. “Come here!” She beckoned Drood and Bryan over to one of the gleaming white walls. She waved a hand in front of it and it immediately shimmered and turned clear. They could see the outside world of 3596. They must have been at least 50-storeys high, and as far away as the eye could see there was a sprawling white conurbation. Everything gleamed as if new, but not a spot or jot of green could be seen. Vast sixteen lane highways hovered just above most of the buildings, and vehicles screamed past at bewildering speeds. There only seemed to be two makes of vehicles – vast monstrous tank like units that powered along looking solid and rugged, and small apparently one-person units that were long and thin, and if Drood was being very uncharitable would probably say looked like some sort of large scale version of an Ann Summers sex-toy. Here and there enormous screens floated serenely in the sky and pumped out ever changing images of adverts, news and what appeared to be weather reports about the Moon. But it was all eerily quiet despite so much action and movement.
“Dr Fielding, is this room sound-proofed?” asked Drood, indicating the vast amounts of traffic outside. She shook her head.
“Hydrogen engines with Hinchcliffe-Camfield Dampers. Both pollution and noise-free.” She said, and added “And please call me, Polly.” Drood and Bryan looked out on this white gleaming world of wonder.
“Where are we?” Asked Bryan, softly.
“You Sir, are in the London Borough of Hulke.” Came a voice from behind them. It was male, elderly, quite clipped and gave the impression that the owner of this voice was a short-tempered self important little shit. Drood, Bryan and Polly turned round. That assumption seemed quite correct.
“Ah, Professor Aldred…” Polly ushered Drood and Bryan towards the man. “This is Professor Hinchcliffe and Professor Camfield…” Aldred didn’t wait for them to reach him.
“I know who they are, Doctor Fielding.” He snapped. “What are they doing here?” Polly began to look flustered.
“During the last expedition, on return unfortunately the Professors were within the Displacement Field and got brought back here…” Polly was being politeness personified. It cut no ice with Aldred.
“This shows an alarming lack of professionalism, Doctor Fielding. I trust you de-contaminated the specimens?” He uttered the words with annoying clarity.
“Naturally.” Polly half turned and smiled apologetically at Drood and Bryan. Aldred moved closer to them and looked intently at Drood and then Bryan.
“I find it almost impossible to give credence to the idea that these two…” here he struggled to find the right word, “…gentlemen, are responsible for our glorious present.” Bryan’s face flushed with anger. He drew himself up to his full height, towering over Professor Aldred.
“Careful, granddad. Some of us ‘gentlemen’ take exception to being called a specimen.” Aldred removed his glasses and looked intently up at Bryan.
“Fascinating.” Said Aldred. “This one seems to think it can threaten me…” Bryan seemed to relax a little, smiling broadly and patting Aldred on his bald head.
“You ever speak to me like that again, Granddad, and you’ll have to shove a Steradent up your arsehole to clean your teeth…” Polly dashed forward at this point.
“Professor Camfield, please. Professor Aldred is…just…” She wasn’t actually sure what Professor Aldred was. Being a curmudgeonly old wanker to be honest, but she couldn’t say that. “Professor Aldred. I shall be returning these gentlemen as soon as possible. No protocols have been breached.” Professor Aldred returned his spectacles to his face. He looked from Drood to Bryan and then over to Polly.
“The Chrono-Displacement Field is off line for general checks. It will be off line for 12 hours. Keep these two under supervision until then.” And with that he stalked off out of the laboratory. Polly turned and smiled apologetically at Drood and Bryan.
“Sorry. He’s a bit stuck in his ways.” She sighed. “Wants everything done by the book, you know?”
“Yeah. I know.” Said Drood. “One thing he said did puzzle me, though. Surely he was wrong – The London Borough of Hulke?” Polly shook her head.
“Nope, Hulke became part of the Greater London sprawl in about 2800.” She said. Drood was astonished and horrified.
“Hulke can’t be part of London. London’s about 150 miles away!” He cried. Polly turned to the walls the other side of the laboratory from the previous window she’d opened. Once more her hand waved in front of the white screen and once more it clarified. More urban sprawl disappeared off into the horizon – but there, right in the middle, still mostly free of buildings, was the stark unmistakeable ridges and lines of Silston Hill.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Chapter Six

The look of wonderment and amazement on Bryan’s face was something to behold. The dazzling lady had just used the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Neuro-Tazer on him, and he now sat, slack-jawed in the darkened beer garden, very gently shaking his head.
“Bloody hell…” he breathed. “You could make a fortune out of that thing…” The lady smiled and slipped the Neuro-Tazer back into her pocket.
“You did.” She said. “Or you will…er…well, it’s did for me and will for you, if that makes sense.” But Drood and Bryan were still looking at each other with astonished looks on their faces. They had been out of their boxes together on many occasions, whether through drink or more chemical means. But this was something else altogether. From smashed to sober in a matter of a second or two. After what seemed a lifetime, a very good question presented itself to Drood.
“I don’t wish to sound rude, but who the hell are you and what the fuck is going on?” He asked in a voice slowly rising with indignation towards the end of the sentence. And admittedly he’d lied; he didn’t care if he had sounded rude or not, and as it was he had been pretty rude after all.
“I think we should all sit down. This might come as some surprise.” She gestured toward the spare seats on the bench where Bryan was sitting, with a still somewhat spaced-out look on his face. Drood lowered himself down onto the bench and the lady sat next to Bryan. “My name is Doctor Fielding” she began, “Doctor Polly Fielding. I am one of the senior research developers at the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation.”
“Wow…” breathed Bryan again. “Can that Neuro-Tazer thingy go in reverse?” He asked.
“Please, there isn’t much time.” Doctor Fielding’s voice was raised slightly, but it had the desired effect. “I have come here from the year 3596 – your future, and we need your help. The future of planet Earth is in your hands.” There was a long pause.
“Bugger me! You don’t half tell some whoppers, girl!” Shouted Bryan, slapping his leg and laughing. “What do you do for an encore?”
“Professor Camfield, I expected so much more from you…” She looked at him with earnest eyes.
“Professor?” Asked Drood. Doctor Fielding nodded. “And you say I’m a Professor as well?” Again Doctor Fielding nodded. “What in?” Drood hadn’t even managed an “O” level in any of the sciences at his school.
“Let me see if I can remember…” Doctor Fielding tilted her head as she thought deeply. “Professor Drood Hinchcliffe, Senior Fellow of Alpha University and head of departments including Pan-Dimensional Engineering, Chrono-Displacement Technology, and Zero-G Sexual Techniques.” She smiled brightly at him. “And you were knighted in the New Year’s honours list in 2010.” Drood slowly raised his hands to his head, rubbing his fingers gently against his throbbing temples. He suddenly looked up sharply at Doctor Fielding again.
“OK, what about Bryan? You said he was a Professor as well…”
“Indeed he is. Professor Bryan Camfield, Senior Lecturer at Beta University and head of Advanced Experimental Herb Testing and it’s effect on Carbon Based life forms.” Drood looked closely at Bryan, who returned the gaze with a slow waggle of his normally very active eyebrows.
“Far out, man…” Breathed Bryan, slowly. Drood shook his head again. This was wrong, very wrong. This mad woman must have the wrong people. He and Bryan weren’t scientists, far from it. They had never done anything like this at all. OK, Bryan could just about be said to be an Advanced Experimental Herb Tester, but then go to the Glastonbury Festival and have a look round and you’d find hundreds of equally well qualified people. And as for himself now being a Pan-Dimensional Engineer and a…what was it? A Chrono-Displacement Technology specialist? She was taking the piss, surely?
“Are you sure you’ve got the right people?” Asked Drood. Doctor Fielding nodded with immense patience.
“Yes, definitely.” She affirmed.
“What do you know about me?” Asked Drood, sharply. “What’s my background, my history?” Doctor Fielding once more fished into her pockets and produced what appeared to be a wafer thin piece of smooth metal with a smoked glass veneer on its upper half. She stroked her fingers over the dark glass top, and it suddenly illuminated while text and pictures appeared on the screen. Doctor Fielding read from it.
“Professor Neil ‘Drood’ Hinchcliffe was born in Plaistow, East London on 15th July 1974. He showed little sign of his future greatness in his early education, but blossomed somewhat late in life, when in early 2009 he and his colleague Professor Bryan Camfield patented their revolutionary Groovy Convertor. This brilliantly simple machine, capable of converting basic ingredients such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen etc into primitive nutritious food stuff was a major breakthrough. That combined with the almost simultaneous patenting of their legendary ‘Textya-Flayva’ unit, capable of instilling the basic food stuff with whatever flavour and texture the user wished and in limitless quantities, was the major reason for the end of famine, war and disease on planet Earth and was the first major stepping stone towards the tolerant peaceful society we now all enjoy…” Doctor Fielding lowered the small wafer thin unit and the screen lapsed back into darkness. Drood chuckled dryly.
“Well, at least you got my birthday right.” He ran his hand through his hair and leaned towards Dr Fielding. “How can any of this be true? You say I am a great scientist who in approximately six months time is going to invent a machine that is going to change the course of human history. HOW?”
“What I have just told you is true. It is history. My history.”
“Fine, and much as I don’t really want to piss on your chips dear, but Bryan and I are not scientists. I couldn’t tell you a Bunsen burner from a van der Graf generator. And all this running around Hulke this morning with your mad clues in the paper. What the hell was that all about?” Drood suddenly realised how disturbed he had been by today’s odd events. Dr Fielding smiled sympathetically. She held his hand gently across the table, something Drood enjoyed very much.
“Yes, I am sorry about the skulduggery, but we couldn’t just turn up in your front room and tell you we were from your future. You might have gone mad.” She patted his hand gently and let go. “We had to get you to a place that is permanent in our time as well as yours – The Priory.” Drood agreed this seemed a plausible idea. Then another thought struck him.
“OK, but who put that vast amount of money in my bank account?” Dr Fielding looked blankly at him.
“Vast amount of money?”
“Yes, over a million quid got paid into my bank account.”
“I can assure you that was nothing to do with us…” Just at that moment there was a sharp bleep. Dr Fielding jumped up and reached into her pocket. “Oh no…” Drood and Bryan stood up as well.
“Something wrong?” Asked Bryan. Dr Fielding nodded as she again checked the smooth metal and glass thing.
“The Chrono-Displacement Field is deteriorating. I’m surprised it’s lasted this long. I must go.” She jogged down the beer garden to the area where she first arrived and turned back to face Drood and Bryan. “I’ll be back in contact soon, I promise. Everything will become clear to you.”
“Good, cos at the moment, it’s as clear as mud…” began Bryan. Drood moved towards her.
“You can’t just clear off again. We need to know more…” Dr Fielding put her hand up.
“Stay away! Don’t get too close…” There was that loud crackling untuned radio noise again. It seemed to be coming from all around them.
“What the hell is that?” Asked Bryan loudly. He moved towards Dr Fielding and put his hand on her shoulder. “What is it?” Drood jumped forward to pull Bryan away.
“Careful Bryan…” he began, but suddenly with a blinding blue light the air around them crackled and split, the entire universe seemed to spin on its head – and they both passed clean out.