A story of time travel and mysticism, with a dystopian shade.
Lydia and her girlfriend Moona are classical musicians with a strong interest in the esoteric. Lydia encounters a time travel current which can change her destiny, and her destiny is also linked with a past life in pre-historic times.
When true love and her time of death are in the mix, it becomes vitally important to learn how to manipulate the timelines.
Excerpt from Chapter 1, On The Track:
I’ve sat here so many times, waiting for events to start in the next street. Meetings, a theatre play, a works Christmas outing. I always arrive early, because of the bus timetable. Today, I’m waiting for a shop to open.
This low wall is ideal to sit on. The building behind it seems deserted; in fact, the whole street is quiet, a contrast with Alfred Road where all the events take place, which is always so vibrant. It has its own street festival every summer.
I study the building opposite, to pass the time. It’s empty and run down. Faded lettering on the yellow bricks proclaims ‘SCHOOL’. I wonder about it-when did it close?
If I could run all the times together when I’ve sat here, I wonder how long it would last? Several hours? Imagine if I were to do the same with every time that I have cleaned out the living room? Days, weeks even, of doing nothing else but clean a living room. It would feel like being in prison. Yet spaced out, one room clean at a time, it feels all right.
A week ago yesterday, I took the train to my hometown, London. First a British Rail train, then some local metro lines which had changed completely since I had last used them, till I reached the district where I grew up. I had been wanting to revisit it for so long.
On the way back some signals failed because of the heat wave, and there were several hours of chaos: changing trains, crowded platforms, going the long way round two or three times. When a journey takes much longer than expected, it’s like travelling for a week - lots of different journeys all joined together into one. It’s like cleaning out the living room for a week, or sitting on this low wall for many hours.
It must be my thoughts that make the timelines cross over. The familiar buzzing sensation starts in my fingers; I look to my right and the public toilet is gone, and there’s a cottage made of sweets and gingerbread there instead. It’s the witch’s cottage from Hansel and Gretel.
In the other timeline, there are still ten minutes to go until the shop opens. In this one I have no idea of the time; all I know is that it is static. As soon as I walk through that gingerbread door I will be standing by the living room window for years, looking out into the garden, waiting for Hansel and Gretel to arrive. When they do arrive, I can choose whether to eat them or walk them home. Yet whichever of the two I do, the waiting will still be interminable, and I’ll be stuck here for years in a frozen cameo of chocolate truffle windows and fresh green lawn outside.
I don’t want to walk through that door. I want to escape, back to the quiet street behind Alfred Road. I’m still sitting, but now I’m on the white trellised seat by the front door of the cottage. If I keep still and remain calm, perhaps this will all fade away. But I’m still having the thoughts that started this off, about my trip of the previous week.
In my mind it is the day of the trip: the 23rd, the day of Eris. The train coming back from London is just gathering momentum when suddenly the opposite happens, and it begins to slow down until it is standing still. Everyone stares blandly out of the window at the criss-crossing rails, or else becomes absorbed in a book or newspaper.
After twenty minutes, the passengers begin to fidget and glance at their watches. One makes a phone call to say she will be late. An announcement tells us that something is wrong with the signals; we will have to go a different way round that will take longer, and we will be missing out some of the stops. I don’t have to worry about that because I’m going to the end of the line.
At the next stop, another announcement reminds passengers to change here if they want one of the destinations that is now going to be skipped. Some people from my carriage get out, but a lot more get in and it becomes crowded. I feel anxious; I might have to go to the toilet and then it will be difficult to squeeze past those other passengers. Sometimes I worry about that, which is one of the reasons why I sit near that toilet block behind Alfred Road when I am too early.
The train starts up, but soon it stops once again. After ten minutes we are told that another signal has failed, and we must go by a different route altogether. Passengers must stay on until Bognor Regis and then double back to where the line branches off.
This time, it WILL affect me. I clutch the handles of both my bags, even though there is quite a while to go before I will have to carry them. It seems to take many hours to reach Bognor Regis, and by then there are a lot of people standing, some of them leaning on the backs of the seats. I could swear there is a dent in my seat where a man is leaning against it.
At last Bognor Regis is in sight. We taxi in painfully slowly, and when we finally stop, everyone rushes to the door.
On the platform, the crowds are so dense that I can’t see past them. I realize that I should have got off at an earlier stop and changed there; some people did that, but I was confused by the instruction to stay on until Bognor Regis. Now I’ll have to travel back through multiple stations that I have already passed through, so I’ll be home very late.
Some people are climbing the stairs to another platform. Am I on the right one? I push convulsively to get to the front, my bags swinging. A thickset man in a tweed jacket staggers beside me. He catches my eye briefly - his look says he doesn’t want to cry out or swear. He’s got this- all he has to do is regain his footing after the clumsy lady barged into him.
He fails, and falls headlong against me. Unbelievably, I’m flying through the air - how it that possible in this crush? Then my face smashes against the hard rail.
I’m face down and I can’t see - there’s just this endless metal bar. For a split second I think I’m safe, as there was no electric shock. But how will they lift me up? Then the train hits and everything goes different ways: parts of my body, my bags….
That’s the other timeline. It didn’t happen. It can’t happen at all now, because I’ve lived for a week past that date. There was never that mention on the News:
“When someone falls on the railway line it’s usually a suicide. An accident is very rare, so British Rail will be holding an inquiry.”
I’m back now. The old yellow-brick school is back, and the toilet block, and the shop that I’ve been waiting for in Alfred Road is about to open.
Bognor sounds such a forlorn place to die.