A brief word before we start this story: The places are real. The incidents are inspired by things that have happened in my neighbourhood. But the names are all made up, as with any fiction. Some names I have chosen to honour people I know, others as a good fit. The core scifi elements of this story are inspired by musings about science, astrophysics and the nature of the universe. Enjoy, more may come of their adventures later. x EMF
“In this case I am satisfied that you were not driving whilst on your mobile phone or carrying out other activities. It seems that you merely neglected adequate safety checks and I am hereby setting your penalty at £2200. ”
He looked down at his hands. They were shaking with anger. He opened his mouth to shout, then abandoned the idea, closing his throat around a little aborted sound. It was as if he was saying ‘hub’. His lawyer gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. “I think we’ve been let off there,” he breathed as he packed away his folders. “Could have been much worse.”
“Worse?!” Allan grated out from the back of his throat. After Menzies Gilchrist L.L.B’s fees he would be looking at nearly double that.
“You kept your license, Mr Glendig,” Gilchrist returned somewhat frostily. “Didn’t you say that was the most important thing?”
They filed down the corridor towards the rather depressing atrium of the Sherriff’s Court, shoes tip-tapping on the linoleum tiles. He caught Gilchrist’s shoulder as they entered the waiting room. “Well, what can we do about this? It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that she came out of nowhere. People her age shouldn’t be driving. They mistake the brake for the accelerator and I’m the one who has to pay for it.” Gilchrist’s demeanour made him turn to see Irene standing there, lips pressed together. “Well, it’s true!” he spat as he strode for the exit.
“I’m very sorry for what I said, Irene, it was wrong” he mouthed to himself as he fiddled with the bouquet. “No, wait. I’m very sorry Mrs Feagie…” The door opened. Her demeanour changed from welcoming West of Scotland hospitality to flat-faced West of Scotland hostility in a split second. “Irene,” he began.
“You’d better come in I suppose,” she said and toddled off into the house before he could get out anything else. Irene Feagie could certainly put on a turn of speed for a woman with a cane, he thought with bitter irony. He hesitated for a moment on the doorstep, considering laying the bunch of tea roses, chrysanthemums and baby’s breath on the stoop and making a tactical retreat, but his mother’s final words before she hung up in disgust still rang in his ears. He forced his foot to move over the threshold.
She was waiting in the front room, enthroned with both hands resting on her stick and a glint in her eye the equivalent of any Mafia don’s challenge. He proffered the bouquet lamely. “Put those in the bath,” she said nodding across the hall. “I’ll deal with them later.” He complied, clenching his jaw muscles which were beginning to ache. He put the flowers in the old fashioned tin bath and as he stood up, caught his reflection in the bathroom cabinet mirror. He hunched his shoulders and spun on his heel, ready to do battle.
“Now, listen Irene,” he began as he re-entered the front room, “I know what I said was rude, but you really were going at quite a clip when you hit me the other day. So I feel like I was somewhat justified…”
“And in my own house, too,” she cried. “Been your mother’s neighbour, been YOUR neighbour for nigh on thirty years and this is what I’ve come to receive! Well, I never…” She continued on for quite some time. Does she read up on these phrases from an old lady book? he mused as he felt certain his ears were turning traitorously red. Do they get issued with it on the start of menopause?
“But Irene, you came out of nowhere,” he said hopelessly in one of her rare pauses for air. “I know what they said in court but I checked and the road was empty when I turned off at the Stobs.”
“Easier to blame the old lady, isn’t it,” she said, a crafty glint in her eye. “Oh no, it couldn’t be because you were the one speeding, could it? There I am, backing carefully out after the number ten goes by and creeping into the road, the road I have taken to lunch with Mavis for twenty years when YOU appear out of nowhere right in front of me! I could have been killed!”
He clenched his fists in frustration. “I should have known this was a bad idea,” he muttered. “Well, Irene,” he said loudly, “I’m very sorry for what I said, it was wrong!” He was nearly shouting as he marched for the door.
He was striding along the road, planning revenge of all colours when he passed the bus stop. “Number ten!” he exclaimed, quite close to a pregnant woman with push-chair-and-toddler. She almost took the cigarette out of her mouth as she took a coughing fit. He ignored her angry scowls and pored over the timetable strapped in to the bus stop sign. His finger scanned down the list… “Gotcha,” he hissed as his finger stabbed the offending entry and gave the frankly unimpressed mother double finger-guns as he jogged back to his courtesy car.
“Eleven minutes,” his solicitor said while sighing heavily down the line. “I don’t know…”
At the far corner of the tarmacked break area, casting suspicious glances back towards the door in case of smokers, Allan replied in an urgent stage whisper. “But she said she’d just let the number ten bus go before backing out of her drive! And I remember the news had just come on. Even allowing for the bus being a bit late and me listening to a couple of headlines, say, that still leaves a good few minutes between the time she says she left the house and the time it took to get to the Cross Stobs. Even driving like a pensioner, she couldn’t have made that trip so slowly. It’s thirty yards from hers, max.”
“Listen to me, Allan,” Menzies Gilchrist L.L.B. said, “this is going to be difficult for you, but we just have no interest in pursuing this case. It’s beginning to look like you’ve got something against this woman and courts do not tend to hang little old ladies out to dry, as a rule.”
“But it throws doubt on her evidence, it makes her…” he struggled to dredge up the wording from his memory of courtroom dramas, “…unreliable!”
“I’m sorry Mr Glendig,” said Gilchrist. “It’s simply not enough. Goodbye.” Allan took his mobile away from his face and looked at it. Call ended, it said. He raised his hand to dash it to the ground, shaking. He held it aloft like a modern Statue of Liberty for a moment, then slowly lowered his arm and put it away in his pocket. He glanced up to see Susan from Accounts’ face at the window, smirking. He stalked back into the office.
“Mrs Feagie says you’ve to stop lingering around her house, Allan” his mother’s weekly phone call began. He could hear the disappointment being rendered into electrical signal just so it could dribble into his ear.
“It’s a public footpath,” he replied, trying his best not to sound like a ten-year-old.
“It’s harassment, is what it is,” she rebuked. “And anyway, what about your job?”
“I’m doing it in my breaks, no harm.” This, while technically true, was a result of his ability to stretch the definition of “breaks” beyond most employers’ bounds.
She sighed, a sound designed by nature to automatically activate a man’s toe-curling nerves. “What are you hoping to achieve? Mrs Feagie is a family friend and here you are ghoulishly loitering in hopes to, what, see her have another accident?”
“No, no, that’s not it at all,” he said, wondering how she always managed to work things out. She was a psychic. That was the only explanation. He should put her up for the Randi prize. “It’s just a bad corner. You know that. How many accidents have there been over the years? I just want to highlight the problem so that the council will do something about it.” At least that was the story he had concocted for the police, should Irene wind herself up enough to call them. She’d already called his mother, which was pretty much one step below.
“Look, I’ve got to go mum, I’m due back at work. Bye, now, bye.” He pressed the call end button and threw the phone onto his dashboard to settle back into his vigil. He’d parked far enough back that he couldn’t be seen from his mother’s front windows but he had a clear view of Irene’s drive, smart phone video cam at the ready as soon as she backed out again. He would catch her at it and clear his name. It was the only acceptable option.
It was good to have his own vehicle back but he almost missed the courtesy car. It seemed strangely clean in here. There wasn’t even a flat can of Irn Bru in the cupholder. He thought about going up the road to the corner shop but it would mean letting the old witch remain unwatched for an unacceptable period of time. Chewing a fingernail he looked over to the Cross Stobs, the pub he had known all his life, full of such strong memories such as his first pint, and three years later his eighteenth birthday party; his first awkward fumbling round the back of the bottle bins with Melanie; Melanie’s very public dumping of him in the bar. His breath was beginning to mist up the windows so he looked down to reach for the key to turn on the electrics. As he did so, a bowel-looseningly loud bang made his hand jump off the ignition like he was stung. At first he thought his electrics had blown as he switched on, but gradually, through the breath-misted window he noticed a car in front of the pub had spun round so much that it faced the wrong way down the street and a bus was stopped with its hazard lights just coming on. He grabbed his phone and got out.
After taking a few quick snaps just in case, he crossed to the driver of the car, sitting there, clearly unsure of what to do. He tapped on her window. After winding the window down, she gave him a look of utter exhaustion. “He came out of nowhere,” she said through white lips.
“I believe you,” he said, with conviction.
She stared at her ginger beer. “You know there is a difference, between ginger beer and ginger ale?” she said, vaguely. He understood these symptoms of shock. He’d felt them quite recently himself.
“No, is that right? Don’t drink it myself.” The barman of the Stobs had looked at them with undisguised contempt as he’d ordered, in succession, two tap waters, two cups of tea and now this ginger beer. He’d heard something about sugars being important after a shock but she hadn’t wanted it in her tea so this was the compromise agreed. She seemed unduly fascinated by the cloudy beverage and he decided it was time to bring her back to the present.
“Listen, Claire,” he began tentatively, “You know how you said ‘he came out of nowhere’…”
“Oh god, I must be on something,” she said. “How could I have repeated that to the police?” She leaned her face into her hands. After a pause, she looked up as if suddenly realising she wasn’t alone. “Look you’ve been super nice but…”
“I know it’s true,” he cut her off. “It happened to me too.”
She was silent a moment. “So,” she said slowly, “You’re telling me you saw a bus appear out of a strip of wobbly air just before it crashed into you?”
“Well, not exactly.” She made as if to leave and he caught her arm. “No, just wait a second. Please, sit down and just hear me out.” She stopped and stared at him and he felt his ears reddening again. “I didn’t see it happen but I had a car crash too, here, right on the corner by the Cross Stobs and they must have come from the same place yours did because I could swear on the holy book that there was nothing there. And then there was.”
“So you’re telling me,” she said as her lip began to wobble, “that I’m not crazy.”
“No,” he said. “I mean yes, you’re not crazy.” She burst into tears, flapping her hands and apologising as she dug a tissue out of her handbag.
“Mission HQ,” Claire said as she brought their drinks back to their table. They’d taken to meeting every lunch as a default since both of their accidents had taken place around then. “Brian has started asking me if I want ‘the usual’. I’ve never been to a place where I had a ‘usual’,” she trilled. He’d been drinking here for years and didn’t know the barman was called Brian. “I’ve made a FOI request to the local council about any similar incidents in the local area,” she continued, sitting down. “I have to confess I felt a little bit stupid doing it.” He laughed gently into his pint of orange and lemonade.
“We can’t be the only two nut jobs in the world,” he replied. “Anyway, I’ve been on with the Googling and I’m working up quite a list of candidates. Teleportation, DARPA, SETI, you name it. If there’s a mad scientist out there, or a secret government programme, I’ll find it.”
“Yes, but what would they want, hurling buses at people along the Paisley Road?” Claire looked perplexed and Allan was entranced as usual by the way her brows wriggled into little S shapes. She was a primary school teacher and he was finding it harder and harder to meet with her like this. It wasn’t the time they spent together, as such, more the fact that they had to leave for work again after. He gazed out the window at the mentioned road.
“Maybe they’re experimenting somewhere they don’t care about.”
“That’s a depressing idea.”
“No one gives a crap about the Paisley Road, Barrhead,” he said with feeling.
“Yes, but surely if you were going to cause mayhem, you’d take it to a third-world country. God, that sounds so callous.”
“Probably true, then.”
After some more chat, she gathered her things. “Got to get back to the little ones, we’re doing papier mâché this afternoon,” she said, draining the last of her ginger beer and reaching out to pat his hand. “You off too?”
“No,” he said, “I’m just going to sit here a while longer, think a bit.”
“Why have your ears gone red?” she asked guilelessly.
“Feeling a bit of a cold coming on,” he lied weakly, “Don’t let me give it to you.”
“Feel better soon,” she said cheerily, waving as she turned to go.
He breathed a sigh of relief as she left. He wouldn’t be able to stand up for a few minutes. And she’d only touched his hand.
His car was parked up Neilston Road, the road that passed the side of the pub. Its intersection with Paisley Road was where all the excitement was happening lately. He’d taken care to park well back from the junction. As he approached his spot, he heard a loud sobbing. It was nearly theatrical in its volume and nature. Might be a cat, he considered as he glanced around the low wall to the back of the pub. A woman in fancy dress stood bawling with her fists in her eyes among the empty beer barrels. She’d been crying so much there were wet stains all down her front.
“You alright, love?” he asked, startling her out of her sorrowful display for a moment. Then her eyes screwed up once more.
“He’s gone,” she cried. “My baby, he’s gone. I can’t find him anywhere.”
Allan mulled over the comfort / sexual harassment conundrum for a few seconds. She was dressed in a high-necked, Victorian looking thing and decided there were probably a few layers of safety before approaching and putting a hand in a “there, there” not-at-all-erotic way on her back and rubbing bracingly. The woman threw her face onto his shoulder, pulling his arm with her and immediately began wetting his jacket. After some more presumably consensual soothing he pulled her away enough to hear actual words and not just vowel sounds that ended in mournful squeals.
“Were you at a party?” he began trying to decrypt the outfit. “Where did you last see your baby… son was it? Are you a cosplayer?”
“What? No,” she sniffed, rubbing at her face with a linen handkerchief. “I was taking him for a walk. And he’s not my son, he’s my employer’s. I shall be flung out into the streets!”
“You’re a nanny? A real one?”
“I’m his wet nurse,” she replied and he locked his gaze rigidly above her shoulders. Some of the dark patches on her front were not tear stains, he belatedly realised. She seemed unfazed by the confession. Getting back to the important part of the story, he asked where they had been when she lost him. “Just here,” she replied gesturing around. “By the Stobs. I was holding his hand when the light around me just went all sort of … fuzzy. Like when the gaslight starts to hiccup.”
“And here you are,” he breathed.
“You’re not wearing a hat,” she suddenly noticed. “Are you not a gentleman?”
“I am,” he said trying to avert the panic in her eyes, “I’m very gentle, but look, there’s something you have to know…”
Her name was Isabella, and he had wrapped her in his coat before bundling her up to one of the rooms above the pub. Brian the barman given him a hard time. “Two on the go, eh?” he said with an unpleasant leer as Allan had begged for the accommodation. He’d let it go, after all an illicit humping was easier to explain than a Victorian wet nurse suddenly materialising.
“You can’t be in here,” she had protested as he shut the door behind her. “I need a chaperone. I’m not that sort of girl!”
“Listen, love, trust me, I’m not interested in a…” he almost strangled as he held back the words ‘wet nurse’. “Look, rules are a bit different now. You don’t need to worry that you’re soiled goods just because you talked to a man behind closed doors.”
She looked a little affronted at that, as if he had insulted her by not attempting to have his way with her. “You drag me in here – when I should be looking for Wee Angus – shoving this cock and bull story down my throat and expect me to swallow?” she said without a shadow of self-awareness. His throat contracted involuntarily.
“Isabella, strange things have been occurring here. I don’t yet know why. But I’m afraid Wee Angus is the least of your worries now. You’re here, now, and we’re going to have to make the best of it.” He didn’t know why, but the words future and time travel just refused to come out his mouth, probably due to how they sounded in his head.
Hey, can you come to the Stobs after work? Something’s come up. Urgent.
everything ok hun? x
Yeah, just get here asap. But don’t worry. Just something I need to show you. Meet me at the back stairs.
They were absolutely glued to the telly. They’d all gather into one room to watch it during the day, except Hez, who would sit in the corner, pretending she didn’t need to be there.
“….And due to this “big crunch”, spacetime as we know it has stopped expanding outwards and has started contracting inwards. It’s the anti-big bang if you will.”
“So why aren’t we going backwards in time?” the reporter asked and the scientist raised one eyebrow.
“But how do you know you’re not?”
The reporter stuttered a little. “Because one thing follows another. Because the sun is coming up in the east and going down in the west…”
The scientist pounced on this with glee. “Ah, but you see, if you reversed the flow of time, you would also be reversing your perception of time. Understand me? Things wouldn’t seem different to you, even though we were going backwards.”
“No, no,” the second scientist broke in, “I have to say I couldn’t disagree with your analysis more. Now let’s imagine spacetime is this sheet of paper. If you fold it, like this, see, a few times, you get these creases and they are where past time and future time is meeting. It’s a kind of time origami.”
“Origami. That sounds like wog talk,” Tommy said around a cheekful of food that he was eating from his mess tin. Allan had tried explaining to the man that it was unacceptable to talk about people from other cultures that way, but it was no use. Tommy was demob happy, having just got home from the trenches of World War I France. He’d also tried to talk the man out of wearing the toothbrush moustache, but that was a losing gambit as well. “Nobody gets offended by facial hair,” he had said. Allan grudgingly respected the man’s simplicity and self-belief but it was getting harder to deal with these people up here in the Stobs’ only two bedrooms. Something was going to have to change and soon.
Longinus was probably the worst of the bunch so far. They could hardly communicate with him and he’d nearly smashed up the place when Allan had brought his laptop to try to translate some greetings into Latin. It seemed that he’d been with Agricola on one of his campaigns when the Caledonian witches had cursed him and flung him into one of these time ‘folds’, a word which also translated to ‘sheep pen’ or ‘polling booth’ – which might have been a reflection on how Longinus felt about modern life. Allan didn’t doubt that there was a belief in magic amongst women back then but wondered how much of it was PR and how much actual pointings of bones. Since Longinus had found the telly remote control he’d been a law unto himself.
Hez Costmon was in some ways the easiest in that she had no future shock to get over. In fact, quite the reverse. She was constantly bitching about being unable to access information with her built in ‘aug’, whatever that was, and would sit there typing queries into the search engines on the laptop keyboard with the air of a Michelin-starred chef who had been given flint tools to cut the roast.
When she had turned up, loping along the Paisley Road with a laser carbine they had thought she might have at least some answers about the future but apparently without her aug, separated from the rest of her ‘hunt team’ she was pretty much just another dumb grunt. She’d been following the train tracks that were supposed to exist in 2117 and had fallen into the present much the same as everyone else. No unusual events had occurred in her time that might have explained their current conundrum, no scientific breakthroughs that she had ever heard of. They were just as in the dark as before. Allan had made special efforts to keep her off the government radar.
Hez and Tommy had made a strangely strong bond, given Tommy’s attitude towards the female sex in general, but perhaps it was something about soldiery that allowed him to ignore her gender. Besides, her gender wasn’t incredibly apparent underneath her baggy fatigues and body armour that she insisted on wearing, apparently even when asleep. Hez had snorted when Allan had suggested she sleep in the females’ room, dossed down on the floor next to Tommy’s bed and that had been the last anyone had said about it.
The rooms were getting too full and Brian the barman, who by now had been roped into the situation by necessity was starting to complain. There was never enough hot water and Isabella could not be got out of the shower. She would apparently also whack the central heating up to full whenever she could in an apparent act of revenge on her old employers who would keep her in a cold and damp basement when she wasn’t on Wee Angus feeding duties. She’d begged Allan to find out about her missing charge, apparently the only one in the family she’d had any affection for and so he’d used his lunch break to look for any records in the local library. He had searched for any news on an Angus Ferguson and a missing nurse but papers hadn’t been digitised from back then apparently. “It’s not exactly the New York Times,” the librarian had said when he’d asked about papers from 1886.
On his way back from the library he’d passed a vintage Ford Cortina and was admiring the nick it was in when he got a sinking feeling. The driver wound his window down and said, “Hey cool cat, what’s the word on the street?” Allan gently bumped his head off the chrome window flashing with his eyes screwed shut a few times before answering. The Stobs’ bills were mounting up and Brian had made it clear he was no kind of a crisis shelter.
At least now the world was starting to cotton on to the problem of people being stranded in time. Of course there were a few social media groups pouring hate on these “time immigrants” and asking for “solutions” in rather ominous manners, but overall things were starting to happen. Barrhead local council had no protocols in place for accepting time refugees so had not yet opened options on housing and benefits, so for now they were staying at the expense of Allan at the Cross Stobs. Health care was another problem currently exercising current politicians. After all, how could you account for the taxes of someone who wasn’t even born yet or should have died when the country was just a bunch of tribesmen living in a river valley?
Claire was talking earnestly to Hez, leg hitched up on the bed. She was ignoring the tutting from Isabella about ladylike behaviour. She had done so ever since the first day they’d met when she’d been wearing trousers. “But you can see her… Ugh!” Isabella had shouted while Allan tried to calm things down. Claire had given him all sorts of funny looks when they’d met at the pub after his summoning text. Looking back on it, he could see there was room for misinterpretation. When he’d told her he had a woman up there, her look could have cut knives. Her eyebrows had shot up even further when he’d mentioned her profession. He got the impression that Isabella’s workplace assets were part of the problem.
“So there isn’t an end to conflict,” Claire was asking Hez – who so far was the one from the furthest future – with a kind of forlorn shadow of hope in her voice.
“No,” Hez answered in her usual laconic fashion.
“Oh,” Claire said softly, crestfallen.
“What do you expect? Shiny spaceships? Prime directives?”
“Well, yes, actually,” Claire replied. “Or at least something nice for the kids to grow up in.”
“Huh,” was the only response to that. Hez hadn’t vocalised any opinions on Claire’s profession but hadn’t really had to. A veteran of the multitude of combat scenarios that had popped up over the next century, she looked on Allan as a weak and ineffectual being. Mainly because he didn’t know how to fire a gun or eviscerate his enemy with one flick of a gutting knife. When around her, he kind of agreed with her evaluation. It was probably why she and Tommy got on. He had professed that he absolutely loved killing Germans and seemed very disappointed in the current European situation re: peace.
“We probably won’t have any future at all,” Allan said despondently, sitting on the floor in the corner of the room. “If what they’re saying is true, it’s all just folding up on itself. And everything is getting dumped into now. I wonder if there’ll be a cutoff. If we get so far forward and are sent tumbling back, to relive the same stupidity over and over again.”
“Quit the jive talk, man,” said Fraser, the Cortina owner who had been a copper in the seventies.
“Oh shut up, you’re not American, so stop talking like one.”
“Aye, right, eh, coming fro’ you pal? I least I don’ sound English!”
Allan let out a gasp of frustration. “This is what I mean by stupidity. Racism is stupid! This is probably why humanity is doomed! I wish you’d all stop talking now.” There was silence for a moment.
“Oooh,” came from Hez in a mocking tone. “Get the flapjack over there.” Hez’s insults didn’t always make sense but Allan was getting the picture with this one. Allan got up and left with what dignity he could muster. He paused at the doorway.
“Well, I guess one of us has to get to work and earn some money. So some others of us can eat!”
“Money!” was Hez’s disdainful snort. “Now who’s the idiot?”
He slammed the door and heard tittering from the other side. Even Longinus had joined in and he didn’t even speak English.
The road to work was a nightmare. Roadworks and potholes from other times would suddenly appear, meaning travel was fraught and very, very cautious. He spent the day at his desk, punching in supplier’s orders in a desultory way and finding it very difficult to not see the whole process as pointless due to the temporal collapse of the universe. Five o’clock insulted him by taking even longer than usual to come, after which he returned to the pub. The rugby was on in the public bar above the pool table. Another Roman was apparently in the crowds along the terrace chanting “neco, neco, neco” with glee whenever a fight broke out among the players. Longinus had been banned from being in the public areas during opening times.
Fraser the copper was propping up the bar with a pint. “It’s funny, isn’t it,” he said with an unusually pensive lack of accent, “you and me, well, we’re nearly the same, but the further you get away from the here and now, the more we… fear each other.” Allan knew that as an unreconstructed seventies policeman, that had been particularly difficult for him to say. “That Hez, she scares the pants off’f me.”
“I understand,” Allan responded feelingly, without actually saying, me too.
“But what’s it all mean if everyone ends up here? We’ll run out of food first, probably. Then we won’t be able to move. Then I guess anyone who’s left will just end up suffocating under this mass of people and stuff.”
“I guess we never really knew what time was for, before this,” Allan said, philosophically. “It’s a separator, like space. Keeps us from getting in each other’s way.”
“Do you think we’ll ever find a way to stop it, turn it back?” Fraser asked forlornly. Allan was reminded that Fraser had found his wife still living in Barrhead. He’d watched her from a distance, seeing that she was living in their house with another man. And she’d not aged well. He’d not revealed himself to her.
“I don’t suppose so. I mean, if anyone could have done it, it would probably be someone in the future. But that’s not going to be an option now.”
“I guess it’s time to face ourselves,” Fraser said, in an odd tone as he watched Brian go around the bar picking up pint pots.
“What do you mean?”
“All the things we’ve done to each other. All the things we will do. All the things we’ve done to the planet. There was acid rain the other day. I don’t know if that’s from my time or Hez’s.” He sighed. “We can’t forget about it anymore, or pretend it won’t happen in the future. It’ll hit us in the face.”
“I guess that was another function of time,” Allan said, “allowed us the luxury of ignoring stuff and hoping it would go away…”
As he spoke a screaming metallic sound erupted outside and the wall of the pub collapsed in an explosion of dust and masonry. Belatedly, he remembered that the train from Hez’s time had run right through where the Cross Stobs stood. Allan reflected in the eternal moment before death that he was probably one of the lucky ones as the gleaming train from the future’s tracks slowly settled onto his chest in a plinking of cooling metal. He wouldn’t be doomed to be thrown about in time, to face what was happening to the world. As darkness descended, he felt the weight of responsibility lifting, leaving him light as a feather.
He sat, stunned as the shattered glass refracted crazily in the sunlight. There was a policeman tapping on his window. “I know her,” he said muzzily. “Irene from next door. She came out of nowhere.”
If you want to know more about some of the concepts in this story, please take a look at some of these links.