I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but I’m breaking tradition because I think this is going to be something special.
I’d like to present the first chapter to my new book, out in the Summer 2014, The DAYS of LEXI DRAKE: TEMPUS FUGITIVE.
It tells the story of 14 year-old Lexi Drake, who discovers that she can manipulate the flow of Time whenever she feels angry or threatened, allowing her to revisit any point in her own personal time-line, using her memories as markers. But her memories are both good and bad in equal measure, and she cannot control where her future may take her.
Identified as a threat to the integrity of the mother time-line, agents from the TIC (that’s the Temporal Irregularities Commission, to you and me) are dispatched into the time-line to contain Lexi. But there are other forces at play, such as Lord Cyrus Rexor, who would much rather that Lexi was eliminated, thanks all the same.
Lexi Drake is about to discover that having an awesome power to travel up and down her time-line comes with consequences…and it’s about Time.
I’ll be posting again a bit nearer to the release date in August 2014 so do pop back!
The DAYS of LEXI DRAKE:
Stuff You Need To Know
Professor Albert K. Ross
Technical Solutions Advisor for the Temporal Irregularities Commission
If you travelled to the ends of the Earth, took an abrupt 73 degree turn to the left and then looked directly up, you might see a star shining a little bit brighter than all the rest. And if you were to map this star’s celestial coordinates in relation to your postcode and then cross-reference it against last week’s winning Lottery numbers, factoring in your shoe size and date of birth, you might be able to decipher the longitude and latitude of an unassuming wooden shack in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Inside the shack there are three rooms, not including the bathroom (which, incidentally, does not contain a bath, but it does have a rather nice washbasin). Fixed to the wall above the washbasin there is a mirror with a gilded frame, and if you were to walk at pace past this mirror without looking directly at it, you might just catch a glimpse of a white-painted door in the corner of your eye. Beyond that door lies the dimension of Elsewhen; a place where Time has no meaning yet is the meaning of everything.
With me so far? Excellent. I do so hate dumbing down.
Now here comes the important part (needless to say that a bit of applied concentration on your part would be greatly appreciated). Without the universal constant that is Time, things would get terribly confusing, let’s be honest. You’d be constantly late for appointments (except you wouldn’t, as the concept of being late, or indeed early, wouldn’t really exist). You’d miss all your favourite TV programmes (except you wouldn’t, as the television companies would have no way of working out their broadcasting schedules so they would probably show nothing but repeats). You’d miss your best friend’s birthday party (except you wouldn’t, because with Time out of the picture, none of your friends would have a clue when their birthdays were, so there would be very little point in having a party to celebrate it). Without Time, the Universe would be a very confusing place to live, which is why it’s such a useful thing to have around.
But just as with anything in life, you have your good eggs and you have your bad eggs, and what if one of these bad eggs decided to muck about with Time for their own needs? Maybe they’ve done something idiotic like rob a bank, or maybe they’ve just missed the bus to work and it’s tipping down with rain, I don’t know. The point is, whatever the thing was, whether it was Earth-shatteringly big or insignificantly trivial, what would happen if the bad eggs began to manipulate the time-stream whenever they felt like it?
Top marks if you said: “Probably something bad.”
Back when time-travel was first discovered, everyone thought it was a bit of a laugh. It was used to great effect at dinner parties, family gatherings and various other social functions where you’re forced to spend time with very distant relatives that you’ve probably met literally, like three times in your whole life. When it first came out, time-travel was voted “The Most Fun Thing To Do…Ever!” by those with an opinion about such things, knocking Twister off the top spot and relegating naked knife-throwing to third place.
And soon it was all: “Oh, no, I’ve just locked myself out! I know, I’ll just go back in time five minutes and remember to pick my keys up from the kitchen table. Sweet.”
“I just remembered that dear Auntie Mabel is coming for tea and I’ve got nothing in the larder. I’ll just pop back to last Thursday when I was in ASDA to put an extra tin of corned beef in the trolley.”
“I’ve had a fabulous night tonight, Janet. I wish we could do it all again.”
“We can, Brad, haven’t you heard? Some bright spark has invented time-travel.”
“So we can do over any moment of our lives whenever we want?”
“Why not? It’s a Bank Holiday weekend so I’m not back at work until Tuesday.”
And so things go.
And so things went.
Things got so bad that the population of the Earth wasn’t getting up to much because everyone was too busy doing stuff they’d already done before. People became addicted to things they’d already done, and “re-living” was soon more popular than “actual-living”. Birthdays and Christenings, weddings and receptions, bar mitzvahs, the birth of their first child, the day they passed their driving test, the day they lost their you-know-what. The most popular one was “First Love”, until some husbands and wives got a bit upset that their other-halves were spending more time with their past-partners than their present ones. And you know when old people say, “Ooo, it wasn’t like this in my day”- well, the good news is they didn’t bother saying that anymore, because all the kids were like: “Go on then, Granddad! Fire up the time-pod and let’s prove it!”
On the whole, “a flipping mess” would be an extremely appropriate description of how things had got, and if any non-specific denominational deity-type figure had been looking down from above or up from below they would probably have thought that the world had gone crackers. And who can blame them? They would have seen that because so many people were constantly rewinding moments of established events, the time-line was being put under ever-increasing strain – a bit like when you used to watch VHS tapes (Google it) too many times and it would go all warped (ask your parents). And if these beings looking upon the Earth had seen how adept mankind had become at side-stepping its evolutionary destiny, they would probably have recommended that time-travel was something to be strictly regulated by an objective and independent, self-governing body. But such an organisation did not yet exist (which is why no one got sued for copyright infringement when the Temporal Irregularities Commission was formed).
“Wait,” the people cried, “Who could be trusted with such a responsibility? Wouldn’t staffing this organisation with human beings create a conflict of interest?” but then someone in senior management said, “We’ll staff the TIC (such as the Temporal Irregularities Commission became known for the benefit of lazy people) with quirks!” to which most people (quite understandably) went: “What’s a quirk when it’s at home?”
The answer to that was a relatively simple one, as it goes. Even so, the bloke from senior management insisted on drawing a flowchart on a whiteboard, and then his department drafted several policies that were immediately deployed into general working practices just to spell it out for the benefit of anyone who wasn’t invited to the initial meeting (or stupid people).
These other-worldly types would have seen that whenever someone altered things to prevent stuff from happening, tiny fractures began to form in the structure of Time. The fact was, after so much mucking about with the time-line, each “hop” created a divergent strain of umpteen possible futures. Billions upon billions of brand new time-lines were birthed every second of every minute of every single hour; each one disconnected from the original Mother-line. Strange anomalies began occurring throughout history. Evolutionary hiccups, if you will (you will, won’t you?). Most were genetic oddities that should not exist (and in many cases, could not exist); species that represented a significant deviation from the natural order of things. And so to make sure that the Earth was kept clean and tidy, Father Time and Mother Nature had a bit of a chinwag and came up with a solution.
These anomalies, or “quirks” as it was deemed politically correct to label them, represented a totally unbiased species, yet one with a vested interest in Earth’s survival. And so, whenever a quirk was detected, the TIC leapt into the time-line and took them off to the parallel dimension of Elsewhen where they wouldn’t be any bother. And so things went, with the TIC effectively policing the time-line.
Most effectively, in fact.
There are actual graphs to prove this, if you’re in any doubt. Just ask that bloke from senior management and he’ll bore the pants off you with all sorts of metrics. But as Time went on it became clear that there were still a few bad eggs trying to spoil things for others, and soon the staff at the TIC found themselves swamped with paperwork. It became impossible to get all the work done in time (or should that be “Time”). And so, to help ease the burden, the Temporal Order Corps was born.
The TIC was the brains of the outfit and the TOC was the brawn, held in reserve only for the really big jobs; when someone – or something – had ruptured the time-line to such a degree that it was in danger of collapsing. If Time was the casualty, the TIC would isolate the cause of the injury and treat it with dignified medical care until it was back on its feet again – whereas the TOC would just charge in chopping off limbs all over the place in the hope they got lucky. No finesse, no skill.
The TIC and TOC were sanctioned by the big guns in Elsewhen’s Temporal Citadel to ensure that Time was always protected, even if some agents in the TIC often felt that the TOC did more harm than good, but that’s a digression (or potential plot point, take your pick).
But then came a day unlike any other that had come before (or even after) it – a day when the structure of Time was in danger of disintegrating, a day when a temporal anomaly was detected with the potential to destroy all of history.
For the sake of argument, let’s just say that day is today…