Back to main page

A twist in time

Authors: Pinkskin
Categories: Adventure
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG
Date: 2018

Story 4 in the "Journey back where" series +
1 - Journey back where
2 - Remaining back where
3 - Trouble back where
4 - A twist in time
A very old man from the far future must travel back to the ancient past to prevent the Alphans' timeline from berin wiped out.
Average Rating: No reviews.

Bearsden, Glasgow, Scotland, July 2017

John Spears was just about to pick up his keys to leave for work when the phone rang, he assumed it would be his elderly mother-in-law, with yet another request for assistance. Eldercare was becoming a big issue, and both he and his wife Sophie were beginning to resent the constant calls, usually on totally trivial matters. He thought for a moment and answered it, getting ready in his mind what he was going to say, and settled on a brisk “hello”.

“Good morning John” a female voice replied. He recognised the voice immediately; it was his ex-boss Caroline Sterling. “Hello Caroline, how’s it going?” he replied, surprised to hear from her. “Things are good” Caroline replied, in a tone that John recognised. She was after something. Their relationship had become somewhat distant since he left his job at the university to become an archaeological consultant to a multi-national land development company eighteen months ago. He couldn’t say no, the pay was almost twice what the university paid him, with a company car and foreign travel. He had been head-hunted no less, and his wife had been very impressed.

“Something’s come up” Caroline continued, “something odd” John had a queasy feeling in his stomach and he paused briefly before replying “what is it this time? More ancient text?” he had barley thought of his involvement with the alien artefact and book of ancient text at all in the last eighteen months, what with the hectic schedule of his new job and all. “Not exactly” Caroline replied “can you meet me this afternoon at the site of the new dig at the battlefield?” John thought quickly “is it really that important?” he said. “Yes” Caroline replied.

John arrived for work in his smart Mercedes and had little trouble clearing his diary for the afternoon. He knew about the “dig” of course; it was on the TV, the Channel 4 programme Time Team had got back together for a five-day one-off special at Bannockburn, timed to coincide with the opening of the new visitor centre, he again felt slightly uneasy. What if they dug up another out-of-place artefact on live TV? He had a sandwich at the cafeteria and set off for Bannockburn at just after midday.

The place was bustling. There were a number of very large transporters, a huge generator, satellite uplink vans, and even a large catering trailer. The whole thing was cordoned off, and there was security checking everyone entering. He made his way to the entrance and showed his driver’s licence and work identity card. An official rummaged through a box of security passes, and issued him with his. Caroline had been very diligent, although the picture was the one he had when he was working for the university and was quite old. Caroline was waiting for him just beyond the entrance.

He greeted her and they hugged briefly and uncomfortably. “Ok, what is it?” he sighed. Caroline looked him in the eyes and announced “They have excavated a number of sets of remains, and have set up a large tent for them to be examined” John butted in “Yes I have seen that on TV…and?” “Well there are one set of remains that has got everyone talking, that’s why they sent for me.

You see they thought it might be the body of someone who had been murdered recently, hidden within the old archaeology, as the man’s remains were very noticeably taller. Well it’s not – I know what I am looking at, even before the carbon dating gets back, but this man was very old indeed when he died, perhaps over one hundred and he had perfect teeth, with little wear to his bones, except for a leg injury that appears to have happened late in his life, and of course that is impossible for someone who died some six hundred and eighty years ago, isn’t it?” John still had the uneasy feeling and replied “perhaps he was just a freak, really good genes or something?”

Caroline looked at him, wearing a condescending expression and shaking slightly “I think you know something I don’t and there’s something else for you to see, I took it from the remains, after photographing its position within the skull. I made sure I was not seen.”

Caroline made her way to the catering trailer that was empty as the programme was live on air again. They took a seat opposite each other at one of the tables, and Caroline carefully took a bag out of her jacket and placed it on the table. The clear sample bag contained what appeared to be a medical implant of some kind, hundreds of bright platinum coloured wires as fine as hair bristled from the tiny implant that had corroded almost completely from the demise of its ancient power cell. One thing could still be made out clearly through, a Texas Instruments logo. The two of them were silent for a long minute, and Caroline said quietly “well, is there anything you want to tell me about this?”

John was incredulous, and something else showed on his face. Quick witted Caroline caught the expression and continued “so you do know something” John replied truthfully, though a little too quickly “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about” “so you would have no problem at all with me asking the producer if Time Team’s frontman Tony Robinson would have a look at the unusual remains that have been unearthed then?” Caroline replied. Even as John’s jaw dropped she continued “and I have a hunch that carbon dating would show that the Texas Instruments device is the best part of 700 years old at least”

“Ok” John replied “Ok, I do know something, sort of” Caroline’s expression changed to one of satisfaction “I knew it” she said, “And you know something about the disappearance of that strange pendant with the inscription in an unidentifiable language too I’d wager” John looked very uncomfortable “It’s complicated” he replied.

London England December 1837

Oliver crouched in the shadows, the cold London night air heavy with the smog from thousands of chimneys, everything blackened by soot and grime, and the stink of poor sanitation, his breath misting in front of him. He tensed as he heard footsteps, a well-to-do gentleman and his lady, taking the night air, the carved silver end of the stick he was carrying tapping confidently on the cobbled street.

He moved from his hiding place and followed them, his rag-bound feet not making a sound; this was it, the skill of his craft making the familiar excitement, tinged with a little fear flow through his veins. With deft hands barely perceptible to his victim he relieved him of his pocket watch, and sank silently back into the night. His heart hammering in his chest he made his way back to Saffron Hill, enjoying his youth and fitness, looking forward to the camaraderie of Jack Dawkins and the others, soon he would be warm again in front of the big fire, singing the well-known rousing songs with a full belly as he did most evenings.

He made his way through the streets as quietly as possible, merging with the shadows, a wraith in the night; the hubbub of the city muted, distant barking of dogs rolling in on the wind. Soon he reached the southern end of Saffron Hill, and he made for Fagin’s den in Field Lane, a narrow muddy backstreet.

Oliver rapped on the door three times, a pause, and twice more, this being the signal used by Fagin and his lads. He expectantly awaited the door to open to admit him to the smoky, dimly lit abode, where he would be praised highly for his “takings” this evening; he would get light headed on ale, and eat well from the bread, butter and salted meat that the younger lads had stolen that day. This time though there was no answer. That shouldn’t have happened, a small voice in his head told him. He repeated the knocking, much harder this time, the noise echoing down the street. Still nothing.

He pushed on the door, and it gave with a groan, it was pitch dark inside and it smelled of rot. Nobody had lived here in a long time. Come to think of it the street looked wrong, different somehow, though he could not place exactly what had changed. He called out, but there was only silence from within. He felt a chill through the pit of his stomach, at the same time as his memory returned with a rush.

Little orphan Oliver reached for the hair on the back of his head, grabbed hold of it, and yanked it backwards as hard as he could.

Texas City former USA 2218

Brandon Logan’s sudden uncontrolled disconnection almost killed him. Blood spattered the pallet where he lay from a tear in his scalp as the connection to his cortical implant had been broken off, and several of the IV lines that maintained his body had also been torn out by the convulsion the disconnection had initiated. But he had survived, and he knew what he had to do, in vivid terrible detail. History was being changed and for some reason he, Brandon Logan was aware of it. The total immersion version of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist had started to change, in small subtle ways, and there could be one reason only, the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha that he had sent back into the ancient past were beginning to unpick the timeline. He knew what he had to do, he had to go back and prevent the Alphans from doing whatever it was they did.

Even as his surroundings were beginning to subtly change, Brandon began to review files from old earth’s history in the archive computers, comparing them with what he could remember. There had to be something specific, he reasoned, clutching a large mug of nutrient soup, he must find it, and he didn’t have long. On the third day he thought he had found something, mention of a John O’Conner being a central force in Scotland, his legacy maintaining Scottish independence well into the 21st century and beyond. He remembered no such man, and he had been a keen student of European history in his younger days. So that had to be it. Something the Alphans did catapulted O’Conner into great prominence in medieval Scotland and he had to stop them.

He would have to go back himself and set things straight, or his very timeline would be erased, though this meant a one-way trip and his likely demise, due to age and infirmity. Not only that, he would most likely have to wait, whilst surviving in the difficult conditions of the time, somehow observing what transpired until O’Conner showed up, and it could be years, as his Father’s experiment would only send him back to exactly the same time as the Alphans.

He did have an edge however, as historical records mentioned O’Connor was saved from the Black Death by a healer by the name of Heather McCoy, though unfortunately no date was recorded. There was no mention of a Heather McCoy on the Moonbase Alpha crew roster, but survival from the Black Death was rare and it seemed too much of a coincidence. There was no further association between O’Conner and McCoy recorded either, but Brandon thought that was a good place to start.

The next morning Brandon had used the replicator to create clothing and supplies for himself, as close as he could get to authentic for medieval Scotland as he could reasonably manage and set about reactivating his father’s experiment for one last time. He knew his pale wraith like appearance would be conspicuous, but there was little that he could do about that, he would just have to keep himself concealed and hope that he would acclimatise. He had considered simply speaking to Koenig and explaining the position, but he figured his appearance at the exact same time as the Alphans would likely reduce the impact of what he had to say, and anyway he was convinced that whatever happened was not Koenig’s doing anyway, and probably not any of the other Alphans either, they all knew what was at stake should the future be altered at their hands.

Alpha Village, Scotland, June 1st 1330

The terrible cold that Brandon Logan felt was the most difficult thing he had ever endured in his long life. He crouched down in an area of long damp grass and tried to stop his teeth chattering. All around him was commotion, with the Alphan crew being organised into groups tasked with various different duties. He recognised Koenig’s voice in the distance, barking out orders and tried to keep as still as possible. He waited for nightfall when he forced his freezing and uncooperative body to silently crawl away.

Life for Brandon was a living hell, used as he was to a sedentary life of pleasure and in his later years most of his time hooked up to life support and mind linked electronic entertainment, he almost died. Only his iron will to complete his task kept him going. He was living in an old tumbled down shack, around half a mile from the aptly named Alpha Village, and after five long hard Scottish winters his health was giving out; he was half starved, his lungs were full of infection, and a badly healed leg injury had given him a limp. Still he observed the village every day, waiting for O’Conner or McCoy to show up.

Eventually his patience paid off, a new face appeared in Alpha Village, he was sure of it. Could this be the Heather McCoy who had saved O’Conner? He had to find out and if she was he had to stop her.

He observed her for some months, she appeared to be settling in to village life with the Alphans. He resolved to approach her when she was alone and ask her who she was, although if, as he suspected she was Heather McCoy he didn’t have a clear idea what to do.

On his way back to his shack towards the end of a meagre afternoons of collecting fruits and berries Brandon heard the sound of a horse galloping along the track that he was following, quickly catching up with him. He searched for a place to hide in the undergrowth to allow the rider to pass without him being seen, but either side of the track at this point was lined with dense brambles, so he decided to run as quickly as he could, hoping to dive into a more forgiving area of cover. Unfortunately, his bad leg did not exactly obey his brain and as he tried to run he stumbled and went down hard.

Heather and Dave Reilly thundered along the track towards Alpha Village, rounding a bend when suddenly they saw what appeared to be an old man dressed in rags on the ground in front of them. Although Maya had been quick to act, constrained by the horses’ instincts to some extent and still somewhat elated about the rescue of Heather that she had just pulled off (thanks to Dave Reilly’s very clever thinking) she jumped over him, but her rear hoof made contact and sent him sprawling. Quickly she stopped and Dave and Heather dismounted. There was a clatter as Dave’s improvised saddle fell to the ground as the horse became a ball of light, then a very breathless Maya.

The three of them rushed back to help.

Brandon was just picking himself off the ground as a thundering of hooves became a searing pain in his shoulder and he went down again. He looked through a mist of pain to see what appeared to be a young couple and, as luck would have it the woman was the newcomer to the village - dismounting a large white horse. He thought he had been struck in the head rather than the shoulder when the horse then vanished into a ball of light and became a tall read haired woman.

Heather’s first instinct was to check the man for a head injury and broken bones, she introduced herself and her companion, as it dawned on her that the man had just watched Maya transform. Although he appeared shocked and somewhat wide eyed, despite the pain he was in, he had not lost the plot as she had done when she saw Maya transform for the first time. “I am Brandon Logan” he began, “and Maya, that trick would appear to confound the law of conservation of energy” Maya looked shocked and exclaimed “Brandon, what are you doing here!”

Brandon struggled to his feet, brushing off Heather’s ministrations and looked at the two of them, he began in earnest “I need to speak to Koenig, the timeline has been changed. I have been waiting and watching you all for the last five years, trying to work out when Heather here saves the life of a certain John O’Conner son of the Earl of Dunsmoore”.

“I already have” said Heather, her face ashen.

“Then what are we to do?” Brandon replied. The three of them were silent for a few moments as the impact sank in. “Firstly, we need to get you back to the village and get Doctor Koenig to look you over” Maya replied.

A meeting of the council was convened to discuss the situation and after a day of rest Brandon Logan attended, along with Heather Reilly. Koenig paced up and down, too agitated to take his place at the centre seat of the table that was his normal place as head of their small society.

Brandon calmly explained the situation to the Alphans from his point of view, his voice still somewhat shaky from his ordeal. Heather was ashen and held her head down weeping softly.

“We are going to have to assassinate O’Conner” said Koenig “we should have done so before but everyone talked me out of it, our very future depends on it”.

There was a very heated debate, but in the end, there was reluctant agreement that Koenig was right. “We need to make it look like an accident” were his final words.

Bannockburn, Scotland, July 2017

John Spears thought fast, he really didn’t know what to do, though he had a feeling he could not let Caroline take the “evidence” to the media. He would call Jane Spellman and see what she had to say on the appearance of the strange implant.

“I will call an acquaintance” said John, “and arrange for us to meet up in a couple of days. You can’t take what you have to the media, the consequences could be catastrophic” he finished with a slight tremor in his voice.

Caroline looked triumphant “I can’t take it to the media why” she said. “I have a feeling the implant originated in the far future, not the past, even if it is nearly 700 years old” John replied, enjoying Caroline’s baffled look “I said it was complicated, my acquaintance knows far more about this than I do, you will just have to take my word for it”

Caroline stuffed the bag containing the brain implant that hadn’t been manufactured yet back into her jacket “you have a week till I personally present it to the Time Team crew” she said, pushing her chair back with a groan. She walked off without another word.

John Spears didn’t really remember the drive home and was on his second glass of bourbon when he pulled Jane Spellman’s card from his wallet and reached for the phone. She took a while to answer and from her tone he got the impression that he had interrupted something. Jane’s breathless voice sounded irritated. “Yes John,” she said. John was slightly taken aback; clearly, he had made it into her contacts list. “Something else has happened” he said. “Can you call me about it tomorrow” she replied. John thought he could hear a man’s slightly agitated voice in the background. “No” he said “it’s important, my ex-boss is in possession of a seven-hundred-year-old brain implant that hasn’t been manufactured yet and is threatening to make it public – big time”.

That got her attention “what?” she said, the irritation in her voice had vanished and was replaced by what John though was a note of panic.

Two days later John and Caroline were sat at the Tartan Arms having said little more than a terse greeting to each other, to await John’s friend Jane Spellman, who John hoped would be able to talk Caroline out of her course of action. “What does she know that could possibly change my mind” she had said on her arrival. John had no answer for that, in fact he didn’t really know what the outcome would be.

Jane was a little late, greeting John with a friendly smile, who introduced Caroline Sterling as “his ex-boss from the university”. Caroline turned to Jane and came right out with it “I remember the name now – you were John’s assistant a while ago and never did get any joy deciphering that book of ancient text. Well there’s another mystery for you, I am sure John has told you about the artefact that I found within the seven hundred odd year-old skull of a man that despite having died in the thirteen-hundreds had almost no signs of having lived out his life in that time. And there was his brain implant, what do you have to say about that young lady?” Jane was taken aback somewhat, and before she had time to frame a reply Caroline continued with “I think this man has somehow travelled back in time. And there was a strange pendant with an unreadable inscription in the same ancient script that has conveniently disappeared” she finished, looking at John accusingly.

Jane stared at Caroline for a long moment before replying “Firstly” she said “Thank you for the pendant, it belonged to my ancestor and has now been returned to me. Secondly, I don’t know anything about an ancient time traveller with a brain implant, or how he met his death in the same place and era as my ancestor. Though I do find the coincidence troubling I have to admit”

“And I suppose you can read the inscription on the pendant” Caroline snapped back. “Yes, actually” said Jane somewhat irritated by Caroline’s manner, and remembering John’s reply when she read out the inscription to him the first time said “It’s just the address of a jewellery factory on another planet, don’t worry about it.”

Caroline didn’t know what to say.

Alpha village, Scotland, June 6th 1330

Finally, they had a plan. John O’Conner would suffer a riding accident, and incur a fatal injury. A team was chosen, Tony and Maya Verdeschi and John Koenig. They camped in the forest about half a mile from O’Conner’s large stone built manor house that was again bustling with activity from the many cooks and servants that had returned once word that the plague had left reached the community, and the Earl himself was said to be again residing there. After a few days they had an idea of the routine of the denizens of the manor. John O’Conner, it seemed, liked to take a ride just after dawn in the mornings, regular as clockwork.

They would arrange for him to be thrown from his horse. Maya would take the form of a larren and appear in his path. O’Conner would be thrown and hopefully killed. If not, John Koenig would finish the job, as Maya had stated she would have a problem with killing an injured man in cold blood, even in another form. John Koenig did not have any such inhibitions. Tony would keep a watch and make sure nobody was nearby, giving a signal that it was safe to proceed with the plan.

John O’Conner took a deep breath of the cold morning air, and dug his spurred boots into his horses side, enjoying the sensation as the powerful animal surged forward, galloping along the track that lead away from the manor towards the forest, where he would push his horsemanship skills along the narrow forest track. He was feeling elated and overconfident when a demon from the depths of hades itself appeared in his path. With a loud cry of fear his horse reared up and threw him high into the air before galloping off back towards the manor. John O’Conner lay on the forest path and did not get up again, with a thin trickle of blood, bright red in the morning sunshine flowing from his right ear.


Alpha village, Scotland, June 1st 1330

Heather and Dave Reilly thundered along the track towards Alpha Village, rounding a bend when suddenly they thought they saw something, just for an instant lying on the ground in front of them, but as they looked again there was nothing. They could not have stopped in time anyway, and two minutes later it was forgotten.

London, England, December 1834

Oliver rapped on the door three times, a pause, and twice more, this being the signal used by Fagin and his lads. He expectantly awaited the door to open to admit him to the smoky, dimly lit abode, where he would be praised highly for his “takings” this evening; he would get light headed on ale, and eat well from the bread, butter and salted meat that the younger lads had stolen that day. Suddenly the simulation seemed to stutter, for just an instant, before the door opened to the rowdy banter of his friends. “Dammed computer is playing up again” the part of Oliver that was Brandon Logan thought in the back of his mind. Two minutes later he had forgotten.

Bannockburn, Scotland July 2017, Site of archaeological dig

Catherine Wheeler picked a the remains that lay in the dig some four feet below the surface, excited to be a part of the major event, her first serious job after leaving the university. A number of sets of remains had been uncovered and she was keen to do a good job and make an impression with the agency she was working for. A set of remains that did not appear to belong had been found, of a much taller man who had none of the usual damage to his bones. A forensic specialist had been summoned, as they thought it could be a murder victim hidden within the old archaeology. Catherine took a picture with her phone, even though there were stern warnings about such action. She would show it to her boyfriend this evening to see what he made of it.

She left the compound to get lunch and half an hour later she was back with the rest of the team. She mentioned to one of her colleagues whether they knew when the forensic people would arrive and got a blank look like she was out of her tree. She turned to look at the area where the tall skeleton had been and it was gone. Nothing out of place, no sign of digging, just nothing.

She decided to keep quiet; perhaps the ‘recreational weed’ that she partook of from time to time was having an effect. After her shift she sat in her car and took out her phone, one of the latest from Apple with a very high definition camera. She selected the picture she had taken, and gasped when she saw the remains of the tall skeleton. There appeared to be something reflective within the skull, encrusted for the most part with dirt. She zoomed in to the maximum resolution of the picture, and thought she could make out a medical implant. The murderer had been very good, but not good enough. She resolved to visit the local Police station with the evidence in the morning.

This is the last story in the "Journey back where" series. Previous story
Copyright (c) 2018. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

Database last modified in 2018.

If this page does not display correctly, switch to the Plain Text layout