Thursday, 21 March 2013

A sample of "Did we see them?"

A sampler for the new book "Did we see them?" which starts at the end of the story "Did we see him?"

I was only out of the club a few minutes, during which time a strange fog appeared. On my return I found I could not open the doors and had to be admitted by a fellow member.  Up on entering I was informed I may hold the answer to a mystery.
“What mystery could my return solve?” I pondered as I climbed the stairs of my old club, so changed I hardly knew it.
The mystery was a locked door, to which nobody in the club could open. As I looked at the lock, I fumbled in my coat pocket and found my old room key; this key did open the locks to my astonishment. I found myself standing in front of a swirling energy mass focused to a series of bulbs. On my bedside table lay an envelope marked “Did we see them?” Beside it was a note I had written, my hand clearly legible despite the obvious shaking. The note said, “If you are reading this, you have passed through a temporal energy mass. The mist you were in has transported you, ten years forward, signed Charles Q.”
            Even though being an adventurer and having an enquiring mind and after years of seeing strange lands, I found this hard to believe. Yet, here I stand as evidence in my own equation; my keys had opened a door locked for ten years. In part, therefore at least some my theory was true. Which parts I had yet to find?
            I stood transfixed by the beauty of the colours before me, as the machinery whirred away and energy mass throbbed and hummed, we stood looking at this for some minutes in total awe of its powers before my new found friend commented.

             “What is the machine?”
“The machine is a time portal and the mass of colour is a time mass. The colours you can see; are the ages flying through the air like bubbles.”

 “Are you serious?” my friend queried not sure if I was trying to tell him some wild ruse.

   I was amazed as my friend, but replied, “I am serious, I stand here as the proof myself. Your keys were unable to open these locks as they are linked to the mass; if you had opened them, there would be a time paradox of enormous dimensions.”
            “Now, you are joking! A time paradox, what in the good Queen's name are talking about?”

 “No, I am deadly serious. A paradox is when something happens which should not; like you meeting yourself.”
“Another variation would be killing a relative, so I won’t be born.”
 I began to realize the theory of the experiment was being read by my friend, so I continued, “Exactly, this would involve people from all ages meeting people they would not have met and taking back all kinds of things to their time.”
            With a face which bordered on the incredulous my friend said, “The effects would be catastrophic on the world we live in.”
             “Far worse than that, this world may not exist. A new dominant species may evolve to replace man”
             “How did your keys worked after all this time?”
            “The only reason, I can think; the keys absorbed some of the energy. When my keys are placed in the locks, the lock reads the energy signature-time keeps in its place.”
            My friend commented, “Sounds a bit far fetched to me!”
            I replied, “I admit, the idea does sound a little farfetched to me as well. Yet, here I am ten years on from when I walked out of the doors only minutes ago. I am sorry I didn’t introduce myself, I am...”
            “Charles Palmerston,” my friend answered before I had the opportunity to finish, “I had an idea, when we met outside; and because your keys opened this door; you confirmed my thoughts. My name is Jeffrey Hollings, sir.”
“It is nice to meet you Jeffrey, no need for the sir though, Charles or Charlie is fine.”
 “I cannot do that, sir.”
I became a little flustered with the adoration, so I asked, “Why not for heavens sake, Jeffrey?”
 Still looking at me in awe, Jeffrey said, “Your theories on time travel became essential reading for scientists, philosophers and theologians.”
 “They are estimations without any real research. Jeffrey, I can't see how they may have been close to correct. I was so rushed off my feet back then, with the Glove asking me to try and find Fawcett and the need for money to finance this project. I had no chance to verify my findings or publish the work.”
 “Sir, your calculations are only slightly out. I took time to check, re-check and triple check the tiny adjustments before I published the work last year. I got the final credit, but I told everybody your work which had piqued my curiosity.”
 “Jeffrey, that was kind of you, as I had to do the work in secret, the glory would have been easy to claim and may have been a boost to your credibility within our circles.”
            He glanced at me and said, “I realize, but for a couple of reasons I couldn't.”
 “Oh, what reasons, if I may ask?”
Jeffrey said, “Firstly, I think it’s wrong to claim glory, for something I did not do. I was never sure if your calculations would work in practice. The theory proved correct on small items, travelling small distances in time, but people? Transporting people is different, sir.”
 “I am grateful for the thanks you gave me, Jeffrey. Yes, it is wrong to claim false credit. What if somebody had asked you to explain something about my work?  If our colleagues found out you knew only the brief outlines of the work; you would be banned from the club.”
He fidgeted nervously as he asked, “Are you going to the Society to claim your rightful honours, sir?”
I looked at Jeffrey and replied, “I didn't do this for the honours and money, Jeffrey. I did this for scientific curiosity. I hope to prove the theory of time travel.”
“Sir, for this work you should be honoured by the Society.”
The society would never consider my theory, even though I'm here as proof. The members are a bunch of out-dated humble-bums, Jeffery.”
“What do you plan to do this the invention, sir?”
I laughed and said, “First of all, I wish to get you to call me Charlie from now on. I haven't been honoured and don't wish to be. I am a scientist, not a Lord. I won’t deny, the money and status would help our project immensely.”
Jeffrey blinked and replied, “Did you say our project?”
I smiled and said, “Yes, unless you don't wish to be a part of the experiments I will be running.”
Jeffrey didn't take long to answer, “I'd be very honoured, Charlie. To think a mere student could be invited on such a trip is beyond imagination.”
 “Jeffrey, I hope to show you how travelling in time is rewarding in itself. The things and people we can see.”
“Can we talk to them?”
“Sadly, we can't interact, Jeffrey.”
Jeffrey watched me with a puzzled face and said, “Why can’t we talk to them, Charlie?”
My reply was, “The laws of causality will be tampered with if we do, Jeffrey. Any contact we make may possibly alter time and events beyond our understanding.”
“What is the point of doing it?”
“Even if we can't interfere, we can at least try to understand why things happened.”
Jeffery exclaimed, “Solving mysteries, sounds like fun.”
I remained calm on the outside, yet inside was all a buzz as I replied, “We won’t be able to leave for a few days; I need to get a plan sorted out and the time portal needs to be rested and charged again.”
 “What happens if it isn't charged up Charlie?”
I glanced at his puzzled face, and with a serious face, I said, “Jeffrey, believe me. You do NOT wish to find out the results.”
 “Are thing that bad, Charlie?”
            “The results are far worse than your worst nightmare can imagine, Jeffrey.”
 “By jove, that is serious.”
            “Yes, the last thing we need is to stretch the portal beyond its capabilities, Jeffrey.”
 “How do we know when we reach the limit, Charlie; if we haven't fully explored its capabilities to the limits?”
 “Once the portal is over stretched, like a band the images around us twist.”
 “Then what happens?”
            “We start to pray for a miracle, Jeffrey. At this point reality and nightmare mix.”
            Jeffery was clearly shaken; he had to hold onto my table as he said, “I can’t imagine something as awful as you explained, such a terrible thought, I hope we don't get too far, Charlie.”
“We wont, I always err on the side of caution and stay well short of the limits I found are safe.”
“You say the limits you found, Charlie.”
 “Yes and those are well within the safety limits; limits I tested with a number of experiments and judged as best I can.”
Jeffery asked excitedly, “Have you an idea when the portal will be ready?”
            I paused to view my timepiece and saw the chronometer was showing Monday, 15th March, 1930.  “We'll meet here on Friday, Jeffery. I told you the portal needs to re-energise and I have to see an old friends tomorrow.”
Excitedly he asked, Who are they? Will I get to meet them Charlie?”
“All will be revealed on Friday, Jeffery. Until then, I need to be alone, as I have to write up the notes for The Glove. And I need a rest after the ordeal in the Amazon.”
Jeffrey looked at me sheepishly as he said, “You never did tell me about that, Charlie.”
“Everything will be going in the log entry of the portal. You can catch up when we return from our trip.”
“I still can't believe you invited me on your next journey, Charlie.”
“You will Jeffrey; time travel can be a bit off putting at first. I'd make sure you eat a meal before we leave, time travel drains your energies.”
Jeffrey was hopping from foot to foot as he asked, “Will I need special clothes, Charlie?”
I viewed his suit with the watch chain showing over his red waistcoat with the gold embroidered dragons, his tweed jacket and baggy trousers, and said, “You'd be wise to bring a hat or a cap, Jeffrey.”
“The effects of time travel can cause a loss of body heat; the head is most susceptible to heat loss.”
Jeffery was getting excited and asked, “Do the effects get worse the further back we may go, Charlie?”
“No, Jeffrey. It isn't the travel that causes the effect but entering the streams of time. We could travel ten days or a hundred years back and the effects would be the same.”
“How far have you travelled, Charlie?”
I replied, “This was my first trip, Jeffrey. I am still shaky and need to write my journal of the events in the Amazon up for the Glove. They needed vital information from Fawcett and counted on his return to generate interest to fund a new expedition.”
“Where are they going, Charlie?”
“They never said. As much as I don't want to write up the log entry for the Amazon trip, doing so will just bring back horrible memories; which I would rather not think about. This journal is required to be done, to keep my funding by the Glove.”
Jeffrey turned to go out as he did I called to him, “You can't tell anybody about this!”
He turned in the doorway and asked, “Why not? My family will need to know where I am going.”
“You can tell them we are going on a scientific expedition, if they ask. The less people we tell, the less chance of you being ridiculed. People are not ready for big ventures like this, many have not even been on a ship; so time travel is too much to expect them to understand.
“All right, Charlie! I won’t say a word about our trip until Thursday night when I leave to join you.”
“Thank you, keeping silent is for the best, Jeffrey. There are as some nasty people who would like to get their hands on this knowledge.”
Jeffery turned back to leave and called to me, “I will leave you now, until Thursday night, Charlie. I'll wish you well.”
         “Thanks, Jeffrey. I will be out of town for a few days, don't worry about the doors. You saw only my key can open it now.”
           Jeffrey turned and walked out; he closed the door behind him and I heard the time locks slide into synchronisation. I was alone, with only my work for company. I was required to write up the Amazon journey first; before I started I poured a good shot of whiskey, more to calm the shakes I could already feel than for any pleasure in the fluid. Hard as I tried to stop thinking of the horror of the trip, the more I wrote, the more images came flooding back. Fawcett been beaten half to death and staked over the nest of ants, those creatures leaping through tress and my dear friend Tommy dying in my arms; I will never understand how I survived.
I had pulled the drapes over the window the night I left and though the years had passed, they remained pulled across, cutting out what dull light tried to come through. The gas light glowed and the flickered to remind me of the jungle and the drums, not that I needed reminding. Would I ever escape these memories?
Time ceased to exist for me. I wrote hard and kept an all night vigil, thinking the sooner it was wrote, the sooner I had the chance to move past this time of grief for lost friends. I lost the sense of time, with the drapes pulled light couldn't penetrate my room. Apart from the dim glow of the lamp in the corner my only source of light was the portal as it throbbed and changed colours; a means to recharge, “Where are you taking me?” I muttered.

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