Today is the fourth excerpt leading up to Read Tuesday, and we’ve completed the trilogy, starring Fred, George and Kira in a sequence that took us from the time tunnel to the introduction of a revolutionary new source of energy. The rest of the series sees us through the changes in society that accompany or are directly related to the introduction of new technology. First, though, we step back and discover how Lord Mariusz of Castle Hattan came to discover the time tunnel in the first place.
The Traveler in Black and White (book 4)
I’ve changed my mind about the extract here at least three times. This piece shows Lord Mariusz (the narrator), aka Hugo, on a visit to Willow, his trusted representative, at the Inn of the Seventh Happiness. He’s setting up the cola product on the other side of the time tunnel, approximately 12 years earlier than their own time. Mariusz/Hugo is getting an update on progress at dinner. Argon is the landlord and Victor his very young son. This piece has my favourite word picture of Victor in it.
From Chapter 8: Time and Again
We had a good meal that night, and as it was quite slow at the inn – stagecoaches not in yet and nobody much about on a cold night – Argon came over and sat with us and chatted about places around and about. I asked him about places within a day trip that I hadn’t been to yet. He thought about it and said that there wasn’t really anywhere apart from the rest stops, unless I wanted to think about going overland. Willow mentioned the rest stops he’d been to. It was interesting watching him and Argon chatting. It seemed like he fitted in and had become almost one of the locals already. You need that sort of adaptability.
I had just suggested one more round of drinks when Willow asked casually if Argon could smell smoke. Argon looked up, on full alert, then got to his feet as if to go to the kitchen, but was stopped by a flying bundle of young person screaming “Daddy Daddy! Fire fire!”
Argon picked up his son and handed him to Willow, telling us to get out and take Victor with us, so we did, running over to the office and settling ourselves there. I felt we should help but had no idea where water was or what the procedure was here. And Victor was jumping up and down wanting to help too.
“What’s the best thing we can do, Victor?” Willow asked, trying to calm him down.
“How can we do that?”
“Don’t know, don’t know.”
Willow told him to stay with me and went out himself to see what help he could give. I held Victor still on a chair so he could look out of the window in the door and see what was going on. There were flames leaping from the back of the inn, licking up the outside of the chimney. People were throwing buckets of water at the flames, and the square was filled with people running here and there in the darkness, silhouetted by the light of the flames. A wagon was pulled into the square, and people started levering something on top of it. One person pushed down on one side as the second person came up, then the second pushed down as the first came up. They got into a rhythm, and I started to see that they were directing water onto the flames in a continuous stream.
It was probably less than five minutes but it seemed like hours. The water engine got the flames under control, then put out, and left just hissing noises and smelly smoke. Victor got down off the chair and curled up under the desk. He was asleep in minutes, and I admired his pragmatic approach. Nothing to do, so sleep while you can. I wondered where I’d be sleeping that night, and whether any of the stuff in my room could be salvaged. There was nothing important there, though. I’d kept the important stuff in the office.
Willow came back, dragging a couple of blankets over his shoulders.
“I pulled these off some beds, boss. I’m afraid we’re not going to be staying in the inn for a while.”
(c) 2012, 2014 J M Pett
You can buy the Traveler in Black and White at full price ($2.99) at the following websites:
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If you use Amazon, you can buy the paperback at full price and get the ebook free, if you like. Or give someone the paperback and keep the ebook for yourself! There may be other offers available for Read Tuesday, but you can get the ebook in all formats at half price now, if you use coupon code ZE65P on Smashwords (until 16th December 2014).