Towards the end of 2015 I set myself a major task and gave myself a specific goal. I decided to re-work the first two sci-fi stories that I wrote and prepare them for print publication.
Both are inspired by contemporary cosmology and deal with the idea of the multiverse and the possibility of parallel worlds.
The revision of the first MS is completed, and I feel more than happy with the result. It has taken me three full months of very hard work but now I’m ready to roll.
I have not quite decided whether to publish it online or, as I first intended, send it into the print market and hope that it is accepted by a publisher or agent. I will let a couple of weeks go by before I decide finally.
Here is the first chapter.
by Judith Rook © 2014
Peter Williams swore. It helped. There were no children or women around, and if any men heard him, it was their bad luck. It was either swearing or kicking something, and a man in his sixties should not be seen laying into a baggage carousel. What was the point of business class if you had to wait for your luggage? It had upset the airline people. It had upset him! How could travelling cases just disappear? Two of the airline staff had gone off to enquire. That was twenty minutes ago, and nothing had happened since. At this hour of the morning, the international arrivals lounge was just about empty.
But what else could he expect? A trouble-free journey from Western Australia to Leeds/Bradford in the UK? Not bloody likely! Grayne, the alien leader, wanted Peter back, to become his helper again. Once more the other dimension was pushing its way into his life, stirring things up. He thought he had forgotten – no, he had forgotten – Grayne’s headquarters, the Place of Connection; he did not believe in it now, thank you very much! Whatever had happened there, if it had happened, had been a fantasy, a twist of the mind, although thirty years ago it had got him out of England and across to the other side of the world for the rest of his life.
Here came his luggage, on a trolley pushed by an apologetic airport official, and a Customs window was still open. But he could put the bags into overnight storage and go back to Australia tomorrow. Why was he here? Just because he remembered making a promise? But at the time he had been desperate and when Grayne, his master, had asked, Peter had given his word willingly.
He would spend the night in a city hotel. It didn’t commit him to anything.
The intense golden radiance dimmed. Paramax, First of the Governing Council, took shape briefly and addressed the most mature and complex of his offspring.
“Your helper has moved. He is making for the controller’s portal. He will be available to you again.”
The custom was that subordinates remained silent, but the scion’s energy surged.
“You have called him back. You may speak.”
“You know the danger. He will be hunted.”
“I am prepared for the adversary; I wait only for the controller. She will return soon.”
“Your helper is not prepared. He must be protected until the maker joins you.”
“I will protect him. I will not meet him.”
At his time of life, Peter could adjust to change, but the new face of the city centre was startling. Sixty years ago, when the Clean Air Act had come in, the buildings, blackened with the soot of a hundred years, had been blasted to their original golden sandstone. That had been good enough but now those buildings were reflected in a wide sheet of water. A mirror pool? In Bradford? Good grief! Peter turned from the hotel window. No distractions. He needed to think, he needed to decide.
Terror was always sweet, and so much fear could be extracted from the human mind. The makers who served him did not enjoy the taste. They found the vibrations of despair too disturbing, too rich for their capacity, but he forced the absorption on them, anyway. It was amusing to watch and bound the makers to him even more firmly.
It was unfortunate that lately one or two of the weaker ones had returned to chaos.
“Great lord, there is a message.”
He dropped the half-drained material body. “Take this for distribution. What is the message?”
“Master Grayne’s human helper has emerged again. Its pattern has been detected. It may be moving towards the Place of Connection.”
“Is its location exactly known?”
“No, great lord, only the pattern has been sensed.”
At last! The proto-master heaved his vast power out of its resting field, preparing to enter the flux which would take him into the human world.
“Instruct the Madon to join me.”
In this matter, his lieutenant would be needed. He would find this human helper and through it he would destroy his enemy.
Across the square was the railway station where thirty years ago, early in the morning and with no-one to see him leave, Peter had taken the train south, cutting himself off completely from the incredible events which he had experienced. Events which, buried deeply in his memory, had lately been wrenched back to the surface of his mind. He did not want them there. He wanted them to retreat, to subside, and that could happen if he returned to Australia immediately. Would it matter if everyone thought he was in the first stages of some mental problem? He could bear that. What he might not be able to bear was to see Grayne again.
Five weeks ago he had received the press cutting from Alexander, and the carefully suppressed memories had welled up and flooded his mind, taken him over, dominated him. Peter’s comfortable semi-retired life in a leafy Perth suburb became shadowy and unsatisfactory, and three weeks later he booked a flight to England.
“Why are you suddenly going to England?” asked his sister, Madeleine. “There’s nothing there for you now; you’ve always said that.”
“I think I need a break from here, that’s all.”
“Will you contact Alexander?”
Peter did not say that Alexander had already contacted him.
“Are you coming back?”
“I should think so, but there may be a couple of things I have to do first.”
And that was as close as he came to telling Madeleine that he was not going to England for a holiday but to act on the promise made years ago; the promise which meant that, when he saw his sister again, he could have lived thirty . . . fifty more years, although Madeleine would never know it.
It would happen, because now Peter grimly accepted that he could not run back to Australia. He admitted finally that he needed to see Grayne again, wanted to speak to him, wanted to join him in following the strange plans that his alien mentor believed in, whatever they might lead to.
The controller had returned to her ingathering for renewal. Grayne could do nothing until she emerged, refreshed and powerful again. The years spent in the human world had wearied her, although she had learned so much more about the troublesome and recalcitrant race. She had made no human friends, as he had, but she had watched and thought.
“The controller will assist you in this matter?” His genitor’s query was bland but it hid knowledge. “If a confrontation with the enemy becomes inevitable, will you face him, joined with her once again?”
“She would never agree. She gave up too much in our first bonding.”
“Ah, then, the risk will be great. I do not wish to lose my scion. Is the human so important to you?”
“Nothing could be more important than Peter.”
“I remember the helper; he has courage. Do you also remember; he will be pursued.”
Soon after breakfast, Alexander rang. Coming down the line were half-distant noises of animals and machinery. Alexander owned High Leylands, a substantial farm holding given over mainly to the rearing of sheep and cattle, and Alexander was preparing to hand the farm on to his son, Michael, who had been to agricultural college and had modern ideas about diversification and the possibility of producing bio-fuel mass.
Now, by telephone between farm and hotel room, preliminary arrangements were made. Alexander would collect his cousin around six-thirty that evening; they would be back at High Leylands by eight, and Peter would settle in before a late supper.
On the subject of where Peter would sleep, Alexander was a little surprising. “We thought you may like to stay in the old cottage at the top of the field behind the main buildings,” he said. “You’ll probably remember it as a bit of a ruin but over the years we’ve renovated it. It was where Michael lived before he got married but it’s too small for a young family and Michael and his wife have gone to live in Oldwick, still convenient for the farm, but nearer to his wife’s people.
“Everyone’s happy but the cottage stands empty. It would warm it up a bit to have someone living there again, even if only for three or four weeks. The place isn’t what I’d call stylish, but it’s comfortable enough and you can be completely self-contained, if it would suit.”
It would suit very well indeed. Could it be that Alexander realised that his cousin had things to do, and he was offering a base where Peter could be independent and come and go without much remark?
“It’s an excellent idea, Alexander, and thank you both for the offer. I hope we’ll be able to come to some financial arrangement, but I deeply appreciate your hospitality. After all, I’m practically a stranger.”
“Well, in the sense that I haven’t seen you for sixteen years and I’ve about forgotten what you look like, yes, you’re a stranger. On the other hand, you’re family and I remember that we got on very well when you lived with us and we were young fellows in our early thirties, before you disappeared to Australia.”
Alexander paused as though he might be gathering his thoughts for something further but then continued: “Well, we can talk about all that once you’re settled in, but there’s something else. I haven’t told Fiona that you’re here because of that piece from The Advertiser. She seems to have the idea that you’re thinking of coming back permanently and this visit is in the way of a preliminary survey.”
“There could be some truth in that,” replied Peter. “I’ll have a good look round the district while I’m here, and if I find a house that I really like I might decide to stay.”
“Right, then; expect me around half past six,” said Alexander, and rang off.
The proto-master stared out into the human world.
“It is not to my liking. There are many troubled energies, but not enough. There is too much strength of self; too much hope for goodness. I can change that. But what does Grayne of the Gold seek here? He cares nothing for goodness.”
He turned to his lieutenant. “What does the maker desire?”
“This one desires revenge on the human. This one desires to find the Peter and torment him.”
The dark lord showed him a place, high-lying, earth-fast and strong, a group of human buildings with one standing apart.
“Watch here. When you see the master’s helper, inform me with no delay. If you wish, you may contact him, but do not reveal yourself. You will enjoy his fear.”