Tempus Frangit
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2012 by Denham Forrest

Suddenly, I was struggling into consciousness. I'm not one to wake quickly at the best of times. All I was aware of, was, that something had stirred me. I had no idea of exactly what; just that something had disturbed my slumber.

Then I became aware of my wife's voice from beside me – I do believe possibly accompanied by an elbow jabbed in my ribs -- demanding, "What?"

"What?" I echoed in return.

"Well, really!" Sylvia added.

Still not fully awake, I had no idea of what was going on, or why Sylvia had woken me. It certainly wasn't for any ... er fun and games. We were way past that stage in our ... er relationship. You know, for Sylvia to wake me at all times of the day or night just to tell me, or prove that she still loved me. Or, because she was overcome by the sudden urgent need to ... Yeah, lets leave that subject, shall we? Sylvia and I had been married for about ten years by then, and the "youthful exuberance" had long left our marriage bed.

Where was I? Oh yes, I was just struggling back into full consciousness, wasn't I?

Hey yeah, you have no idea what an apt question that is going to turn out to be.

Christ, stop wandering all over the place, George, and get on with the story, or we'll be here all bloody night.

"What do you want?" Sylvia demanded.

Right, there I was, lying in the pitch dark -- the moon was not due to rise until just before dawn that night -- trying to come to terms with the fact that Sylvia had woken me to demand that I explain why I had woken her up. Yeah well, that was about the gist of the situation, I think.

"Sylvia, I didn't wake you!"

"You did!"

"No I didn't; you just woke me!"

"You must have ... Well, something woke me, it must have been you! Didn't you just go to the bathroom?"

"No, Sylvia. I'm not at the age where I have to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night, just yet!"

"You did last Friday night."

"So did you, Sylvia. And I believe that had more to do with whatever we were eating at the Drury's party, than the quantity of alcohol we had consumed. I hate all that foreign food they dish up."

"Yes, very iffy wasn't it. I wonder if any of the other guests had the midnight runs?"

"Not something I care to discuss in the middle of the night, Sylvia. Now, why did you wake me?"

"I didn't, but something woke me. The bed shook, or there was a loud noise ... or something. Do you think we've got burglars?"

"Sylvia, we live in the middle of bloody nowhere. Unless you think one of the holidaymakers is going to come all this way, just to rob the people across the road. How would a burglar find his way here anyway? Besides we've got sod-all worth stealing."

"There's the car ... and the TV."

"The car's only got three wheels on it, Sylvia! You know that Doug and I didn't finish fitting the new brake calliper, because of the rain yesterday afternoon. And who the hell would want that bleeding old telly of ours. 'bout time we bought one of those Trinitron do-what's-its anyway; they're supposed to be much smaller for the size of the screen. Besides, it would take two people to carry the bugger we've got at the minute."

"Well, you wanted the big screen TV in the first place; I hardly ever watch it."

"No, only every damned soap opera that is ever on, and all the damned repeats."

"Well, I have to..."

"Yes, Sylvia, and I'm not complaining about what you watch on the television. But can I get back to sleep now, please? I have to get the car finished tomorrow so that I can get to work on Monday."

"Well, no. Something woke me and if it wasn't you..."

"It was probably distant thunder, Sylvia. It was very close last evening ... still is actually. Those rain clouds probably developed into a thunderstorm inland somewhere."

"Or, I suppose it might have been Concorde, of course." Sylvia ventured.

"Sylvia, Concorde, doesn't make sonic booms around here at this time of night. It flies down the Bristol Channel during the afternoon."

"And around seven-thirty."

"No I think that's the French one flying down the Channel and we only heard that one when the wind was in the right direction. Anyway, take my word for it, Concorde does not make its sonic booms at this time in of night ... or should I say morning? What woke you was possibly distant thunder. Now can we please get back to sleep; it's..."

I was going to tell my wife what time it was, but when I looked, I saw that the bedside alarm clock was repeatedly flashing 12.00 back at me.

That gave me two pieces of information. Firstly, that there had been a power cut, a not unusual occurrence out in the sticks, where we lived. And secondly, that the damned back-up battery in the clock had run down, again.

I reached over to switch my bedside light on, and it took a few milliseconds to reach full brightness. "Bugger," I thought, "the power is still off; we're running on back-up power.

At this point, I suppose I should explain here that we lived in an isolated coastal community, some way off the beaten track. Our mains power had the habit of failing, but our cottage still retained a complicated -- and somewhat old – Lister generator and battery back-up system from way back before mains power had even been laid on to the locality. Mind you it might have been an old system but it was an efficient system too, that had been adapted so that when our mains power did fail, it cut in and supplied just enough power to run a couple of light bulbs from the batteries. And then, it automatically started the generator, if and when anything requiring more power was switched-on.

Well, it was better than nothing, when the frequent South-Westerlys that roar in off the Atlantic Ocean, took down the overhead power lines during the winter. As I said, a pretty frequent occurrence.

Community, did I say? That's a misnomer if ever I heard one. Maybe I should have said, it had once been a community, or small hamlet at one time. However, just after Sylvia and I had purchased our beautiful little cottage, the whole damned place was condemned to suffer from what is euphemistically known as "Planner's Blight!"

The powers that be -- far away in London -- had announced that our little bit of coastline was the perfect spot to site a nice new efficient nuclear power station, along with an offshore wind-farm and possibly wave-energy installations to boot. Early in the environmentally sustainable energy frenzy they were covering all the bases by talking about such things. But as politicians are wont to do, just talking, nothing in the way of actual actions appeared to be happening.

Net result, the equity in our lovely, and rather expensive, little old cottage all-but evaporated overnight.

No one, and I mean absolutely no one, relished the thought of buying a house next door to a proposed, possibly (no matter how vaguely) nuclear power station construction site. Especially when the beautiful sea views were more than likely going to be scarred by giant wind turbines. God alone knew what the suggested wave energy installations were going to look like.

So, because no one wanted to buy houses locally, they no longer had value on the open market. Well not the kind of value we, and the other householders, had ploughed into the buggers anyway.

Of course the power station was only a proposal. It might never get built. So until it was decided whether the thing was actually going to be built or not, there would be no compensation for any of the homeowners in our little hamlet. No compensation and nobody interested in buying the houses either, because no bugger had any idea how much compensation the government would pay, or even when. That ball was apparently in the Treasury's court, and everyone knows what those tight-fisted ars ... No, lets leave it there, shall we? Me, politicians and civil servants, we don't go together well.

The point I was trying to make is that spending serious money, upgrading our houses was a definite no no; so for the last eight years we'd been kind-a patching things up on an ad hoc basis. Our unique power system worked, and that was all that was really important.

"The mains power is out, Sylvia. It must have been a clap of thunder from a lighting-strike, that woke you. Go back to sleep. I'm sure it will be back on by the morning."

"Humph!" she replied, turned over and went back to sleep.

I switched the off bedside light again. Pondered for a moment why it was apparently so dark that night, and then remembered that the moon wasn't due to rise until just before dawn, I also concluded that the clouds were blocking every trace of starlight; then I went back to sleep myself.

I knew something was odd the moment I struggled to open my eyes the following morning. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what at the time, but I now realise that the daylight streaming in through the bedroom window was somewhat brighter than I'd expected. On reflection, our bedroom was much lighter than it had ever been before; but I had just awoken, all I really noticed was that the daylight seemed bloody bright.

Screwing up my eyes some, I slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom, taking a glance at the sky through the window as I went. I was hoping for good weather that day so that I could get the car's brakes finished. Yeah, and maybe get in a bit of surfing later.

Actually I got halfway through the bathroom door, before what I had seen through the bedroom window fully registered in my brain. I sort-of stopped in my tracks, and then took a few paces backwards, so that I could see the view once again.

Yep, that's what I'd seen all right; a clear pale blue sky, running down to the horizon where it met the blue-green sea. In the foreground was the long sweeping beach in the cove below.

I have no idea how long I stood there – rooted to the spot -- staring at the view.

"What are you doing; are you going to use the loo? I want to get in there."

I suppose my climbing out of bed, had woken Sylvia.

I didn't reply, I was effectively struck -dumb by the scene before me. I think I just raised my arm and pointed out of the window.

Sylvia struggled out of bed herself and began to walk towards me. Asking, "What are you staring at?" and "Is the power back on yet?" as she did so.

But when Sylvia's eyes saw what my eyes could see through the window, she stopped and gasped. "Oh my God, where's..." and then she fell silent.

Now I'll have to explain to you why we both found the view from our bedroom window that morning so surprising.

Well, I've told you ... well, mentioned it anyway, those winter gales that blow in from the Atlantic. Our cottage sat on the gentle slope of a hill; that side of the cottage facing almost due west. At the bottom of the hill sits most of the rest of the village -- or hamlet, I really think it should be called -- only ten houses in all. Beyond them was the cove with its slipway that the fishermen used to use. At one time the hamlet had been a fishing community, but there were no professional fishermen left in the village.

In the years since the plan for the Power Station had been announced, most of the former residents had moved out, and turned their onetime homes over to holiday lets. It was a way of making as much cash as possible out of the houses until the "powers that be" either built the bloody power station, when they would be able claim compensation; or abandoned the plan completely, when they'd possibly sell, or move back in.

From our bedroom window, usually, we could not see the village below, or the shoreline at all in fact. Many years before we'd bought the cottage, trees had been planted along the garden boundary to shield it from those vicious winter south-westerlys, I mentioned.

But that morning, those trees were not there. Neither was the fence that just a few hours before had stood at the end of our garden. Nor the other houses down in lower part of the valley, nor the hedgerows, nor anything else, that should have been there. Three quarters of the way along our rear garden path ... the garden just stopped. Everything stopped, path, lawn, flowerbeds, side fences ... everything! It was as if someone had come along with a giant bulldozer and obliterated it all during the night, and then replaced it all with ... well, a sort-of stunted very dry looking prairie grass.

There was not even a hint of the stone jetty and its associated slipway, that crossed the beach to the sea. And what's more, the beach looked far wider than I remembered.

"I don't think this is very funny, George!" Sylvia eventually commented. Her tone implying that I had something to do with the sudden change of the environment.

Regretfully that was my wife's wont. If something went wrong -- or was not as it should be -- then surely George – that's me by the way – must have had something to do with it.

"Neither do I, Sylvia!" I replied.

"But how?" she asked.

"Buggered if I know, kiddo. It must be a bloody dream!" A reasonable and logical assumption, I thought.

"Don't talk nonsense George! We both can't be having the same dream."

"That, I will grant you, Sylvia. But you could be a vision in my dream, or alternatively, I a vision in yours."

"Humph, now you're being silly, George."

"No sillier than the fact that the rest of the world has suddenly vanished overnight. This has got to be a dream."

At that point Sylvia dashed out of the bedroom. I was still staring at the scene before me, trying to relate it to the landscape as I remembered it; albeit without the trees, shrubbery and the neighbouring houses. Basically it was close, but not quite the same.

To my mind the headland was ... well slightly different ... maybe shorter. I've already said that the beach looked bigger than I expected it would from up there at the cottage.

But then a slight scream emanated from somewhere else in the house, and Sylvia came rushing back into the room.

"It's the same out front, the Drury's house is gone." She blustered.

I opened the window and stuck my head out. From what I could see, just about everything, except the Sugget's cottage next door and most of its curtilage, was gone. Whatever had happened, there appeared to be a rough circle around the two cottages that remained as it should be. Everything outside that circle looked like a sort-of wasteland.

"Well, I'll be buggered; this has to be a dream." I said, almost disbelieving my own eyes. "These things only happen in those bloody TV shows."

"Sorry?" Sylvia asked.

"The Twilight Zone; this is like being in one of those fantasy TV show episodes."

"Don't talk rubbish George, how could we be in a TV show."

"Sylvia, I didn't say that we were in a TV show. I just said, that it's the kind of thing that happens to people in those shows. Completely inexplicable, and totally unbelievable! I'm going outside to see what's what."

"You'd better get dressed first, just in case there is a TV film crew hiding out there somewhere."

I looked at my wife, but didn't actually reply; although I did throw some clothes on ... Yeah well, sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. But well ... Jesus wept, was that a stupid statement for her to make or what? Film crew, my bloody left foot!

Besides, there was nowhere left out there big enough for a bloody film crew to hide in anyway. There was no way in hell that ... Oh come on ... you know what I'm trying to say.

However, as I said, I did get dressed. I wasn't expecting to find a TV film crew outside, but, because Doug and Rose's cottage next door was still there, then odds were that they would be as well and ... Well, not that I'd mind Rose ... No, lets keep this as clean as possible shall we... ?

Outside, I inspected the front garden and then went out of our front gate and along the lane -- what was left of it -- until I came to the spot where everything changed. For some reason, the idea of stepping inside the Drury's garden gate opposite -- where the line of demarcation would have been closer, although their house wasn't there anymore -- felt tantamount to trespassing.

As I got near to the line, I bent down to take a close look at the dried-out looking grass on the other side of it, and promptly bumped my head on ... nothing; but fortunately only gently.

Reaching out with my hand, I found that just before me was an invisible wall. Slightly vibrating to the touch, and even maybe, a little warmer than the ambient temperature; well it felt warm to my touch anyway.

It was also apparent that it physically cut into the soil; the ground level on either side of the invisible wall did not exactly match. For what it's worth, my brain went into over-drive; instantly concluding that everything on the side of the wall I was on was inside some kind of sphere made of pure energy

"A ball," I found myself musing out loud. "We're inside a ball of impossibility!"

"A what?" Sylvia demanded. Making me almost jump out of my skin; I had no idea that she'd followed me outside.

"Look, it's round, like a ball. It must be dome shaped above us; most likely a complete ball beneath as well, because it cuts the into the ground, and ... well, it's impossible!" I replied.

I must admit that I was somewhat happier, once I'd managed to find a label for the thing ... phenomenon or whatever it was.

Sylvia though, obviously had little understanding of what I was talking about.

"What is... ?" she began to say, as she made to step forward onto the rough grassland. But then promptly bounced off the invisible wall and fell flat on her ... er jacksie.

For an instant, she looked up at me with a surprised and somewhat perplexed expression on her face; but there was real anger in her voice when she spoke.

"What was that? Why didn't you warn me?"

"I thought you'd seen me..." I began to say, bending to assist Sylvia to her feet.

"That's your trouble George! You're always thinking, and never doing. You might have warned me that ... well ... that it was there. What is it anyway?"

"A ball of impossibility!"

"What, in heavens name, is that?"

"Buggered if I know sweetheart, but that's what it is. Damned impossible if you ask me, but we're inside the bugger anyway. Maybe we've been shifted into a different dimension somehow. Yeah, that must be it, something, somewhere, somehow, has shifted our little bit of the world into a different dimension. Only here..."

"Oh my god, all that science fiction rubbish of yours again. I told you those stupid fantasy TV programs would addle your brain eventually. If you're not watching your stupid videos, your nose is stuck in those silly novels. What next, is Dan Dan the Spaceship Man, going to come riding to our rescue or something?

"Sylvia, it was Dan Dare, he was a character in comic books, not a TV character and what's more he didn't ride a horse, he flies space ships. Only I think they made a TV cartoon series about him once. Anyway, it has nothing to do with him or any other fictional character; I'm trying to make some logical sense out of what's going on here."

"Well, I'm going to see what Rose and Douglas, make of all this. Perhaps they can think of a sensible explanation."

Then she stomped off towards the Sugget's cottage, still rubbing her head.

I kind of wandered along behind to watch the fun. I was pretty sure that the Sugget's wouldn't be up yet – as in out of bed, that is. Our neighbours tended to keep late nights -- as far as actually sleeping went -- on Saturday evenings, with all that that might imply. Well, Doug was always bragging that they did anyway, and usually neither of them surfaced much before about eleven on Sunday mornings.

Rose answered the door dressed in nowt but a housecoat, and demanded of Silvia, why she had "Disturbed them at this unearthly hour!" And then promptly fainted when she saw the scene beyond her best friend's face.

I got more than an eyeful, because Rose had been holding he wrap closed about her and as I said, she was wearing sod-all else. Mind, nothing I hadn't seen before when the very delectable Rose wore her bikini (and sometimes not all of it) down on the beach. An advantage to living in a small community in the middle of nowhere, dress is optional – sometimes -- when the holidaymakers aren't about.

Silvia had covered Rose's embarrassment, by the time a very weary looking Doug appeared on the scene, demanding to know what all the noise was about.

"What the..." Doug said, ignoring his prostrate wife as he stepped over her, while staring at the hill over my shoulder.

I'll skip over the next ten minutes or so, because it is a little repetitive of what I've already told you. Only Doug took a little more logical view of situation than Sylvia had.

I kinda gave Doug I quick explanation of what had apparently happened, it didn't take very long to me to get to the – what I thought – intelligent sounding, " ... A bubble of impossibility, Doug. We've been shifted into another dimension!"

Douglas, having surveyed the hill above us, nodded and then walked to the side of his cottage, from where he could study the valley and the beach bellow. Then he ventured.

"No, I don't think so mate. I reckon we've been shifted in time somehow. Look, the headland and the shoreline. They have both been eroded away. If we were just in another dimension at the same instant in time, then they'd be the same wouldn't they? Or near enough!"

"Good point, Doug. But maybe we're in another time, in a different dimension."

"Yeah, that's an idea."

"Will you two stop wittering on and help me get Rose back inside the house," Sylvia interrupted our deliberations.

With only slight difficulty, Doug swept his young wife into his arms and carried her into their lounge. Silvia headed for the kitchen to make the ubiquitous cup of tea. Sylvia's panacea for all ills.

Maybe at this point I should tell you a little about Rose ... and Douglas, as they were back then.

Rose was ... is Sylvia's best friend. A very shapely twenty-four-year-old (or near enough) at the time; she was eight years younger than Sylvia and I, and some sixteen or seventeen years younger than her husband, of four years. I don't know what Doug has, but he'd hooked himself a real little ... um yeah.

Whatever, they enjoyed a somewhat avant-garde and rather exuberant -- and remarkably noisy -- conjugal life. Despite his age, Rose's only complaint about her husband was, that he hadn't managed to get her with-child at the time. Rather ironic really, when I look back at it now

I might add, a complaint that Sylvia had also regularly echoed concerning her and myself, by the way. Er no, not me not getting Rose with-child, me not getting Sylvia pregnant of course! Oh come on, you know what I'm trying to say.

However, both Douglas and I placed the blame for that situation squarely on our spouse's shoulders, or rather on their metabolisms. Douglas assured me that he was firing on all cylinders in that respect. And, I knew for sure I was firing live rounds, due to a rather unfortunate (and untimely) incident with one, Mary Coplansky when I was a still a teenager. I wasn't exactly ecstatic about the abortion, but it had been Mary's decision, not mine.

Whatever, it did bring an end to a beautiful relationship. Yeah well, and I was persona-non-grata with all of the Coplansky's after Mary discovered she had bun simmering away in her oven. Damn shame that; Mary's brother Bill Coplansky had been a good mate of mine ... at one time!

I must admit that Doug had his mind on the logistical side of things even while his wife was recovering. I was still pondering on exactly what had happened and why; whilst Doug was calculating all sorts of things I hadn't thought of. Like, how much oxygen there might be inside the ball or dome, and how much food and drinking water we had available. Not things they usually tend to discuss in Sci-fi books and TV programs. Even though they do in disaster movies.

After Rose had recovered from her faint, we were all outside again while Douglas tried to calculate the volume of air within the sphere, (Doug thought that sphere sounded a little more intelligent than my ball or bubble) when Rose called our attention to two small specks high in the eastern sky.

I'll point out that, we'd seen nor heard a single bird, or any other living creature, outside the dome ... sphere, up until that point. So we watched intently as the two specks grew larger as they approached.

Eventually it was clear that they were two craft of some kind, and that our location was their obvious destination.

Once they were close enough we could discern that one was about the size of a single-decker bus only lying on its side, the other that of a delivery van. All shiny flat surfaces, with rounded corners and ends, and no apparent windows. No wings, jet exhaust outlets or whirling rotor blades ... or anything like that.

The larger craft came to a standstill about two hundred yards from the sphere and the same distance from the ground. The smaller craft came in much closer and circled round and round the sphere until we all began to feel dizzy watching it.

Then it settled near to the ground, further along the slope of the hill. Actually, had the lane still been there, right in the middle of the bugger and maybe fifty feet away from the invisible wall of the sphere. The second larger craft then also closed in and settled down near to the first.

As I said, we had heard no sound of engines and could see no evidence of propulsion units of any kind; the two craft just appeared to levitate unsupported, even when at ground level.

"Checking us out, do you think we'd better go get the shotguns?" Douglas suggested, "We have no of idea of these guys ... or whatever they are, intentions."

"Doug, what bloody good are a couple of old rabbit guns going to do us, against the kind of technology those folks appear to have?"

"Good point, George. No sense in rubbing the buggers up the wrong way, is there!" Doug agreed, changing his mind.

At that moment, a door opened in the side of the smaller craft, and two men ... two very tall men, climbed out of it. They had a short discussion with each other, while studying the four of us standing there, gaping back at them. Then one of them – doing a pretty convincing impression of a John Wayne walk -- strolled over towards the invisible wall and stopped maybe ten feet short of it.

Big, I'd thought at first sight. When he was closer, I realised the guy was at least six-foot-four, maybe even taller, towering over me, anyway. Actually, there was no mistaking the fact that he was some "'andsome bugger". Well, no mistaking the fact that Sylvia and Rose thought he was good-looking anyway; from the appreciative noises and comments that reached my ears from their direction.

Broad of shoulder, and narrow of waist, with rippling muscles clearly visible through his sheer -- bright yellow – shirt; he sauntered closer to the sphere's wall, studied us for a few seconds more then spoke. But we could hear nothing.

I cupped my hands to my ears, and he seemed to understand, because he nodded and smiled. Then he paced up and down for a few minutes apparently talking to himself.

But when he turned to his left, we could see that he was wearing a device attached to his right ear, somewhat like the gadget Lieutenant Uhura used to wear in Star Trek, only a little smaller. Actually more like the older blue-tooth mobile phone units, posers took to sporting when they first came out. Anyway eventually we confirmed that these were personal communicators, and discovered that all of the two craft's crews wore them.

For some considerable period of time, the guy was (apparently) in a heated discussion with someone; that was clearly discernable by his body language. But then he suddenly smiled at us again and gave us a thumbs-up sign. Then stepping close to the invisible wall, he placed a small device no bigger than a mobile telephone against it, studied the unit for a few seconds and then spoke to whomever he was communicating with yet again.

There are times in your life when you really wish that you'd bothered to develop the skill of lip-reading when you were younger, that was one of mine.

Another thumbs up came from the guy. Then my attention was taken by door opening in the side of the larger of the two craft, half a dozen or so, men climbed out of it and began unloading some equipment. I assume that the first guy must have looked or gestured towards the larger craft and that had caused me to transfer my attention to it.

When I looked back at the first guy, he had stepped away from the wall again and was looking around for a spot where the ground inside the sphere was on the same level as that outside. I worked that out from what happened next.

The four of the six new guys carried a ... well, a large door -- complete with frame -- over and placed it against the invisible wall at the spot the first guy had chosen. Then they all stepped back and signalled for the four us inside to retire to a safe distance as well.

Once the four of us had moved back behind my garden wall, there was a bright blue flash that ran around the edge of the doorframe, accompanied by a loud bang, that all-but deafened us, which was further followed by a whistling sound.

The big guy after looking perplexed for a few seconds began frantically gesturing to his ears, and kept taking hold of his own nose. Then they all started to do the same.

Their behaviour confused the hell out of us, until Douglas suddenly shouted, "Pressure differential! Hold your noses and keep swallowing!"

The penny dropped quickly in my brain. Possibly because I'd flown in some old un-pressurised aeroplanes when I was younger. But Douglas and I had to spell out to the girls what was about to happen and what they should do.

The whistle or more precisely a clearly audible hiss, was air evidently escaping from inside the sphere to the outside world as the pressure equalised. Once the hissing had stopped, the first man put his thing-a-me-what's-it ... bugger, lets call it a tri-corder, almost everyone knows what they are, even if they have no idea what a tri-corder is supposed to do actually. Does anyone? Yeah all right, everything except lay eggs!

Anyway, having apparently taken another reading, the guy smiled once more, then reached over and opened the door, which was by then, part of the invisible wall.

"Well, none of you is Professor Pemberton, that's for sure," were his first words.

"You speak English?" Douglas replied, sounding somewhat surprised.

"Not exactly as you know it, but close enough I should imagine. My name's Adona, you are... ?"

To be completely honest with you, Adona's 'near enough', wasn't really! Much to his confusion. It was like having a conversation someone who spoke a version of Pidgin English for the first time. However it didn't take us long to ... understand the general gist of what was being said. As time passed it became very easy for us to understand actually. However there was some confusion to start with, and for clarity's sake here I've edited out those kind of confusing parts. And I've taken the liberty of translating all the dialogue between us into English from our own time. The colloquial British version that is.

Douglas introduced the four of us.

"Unfortunate, but as we surmised. You're not who we were hoping to find here!" Adona said, (somewhat unconvincingly I thought) and then he asked, "What year do you come from?"

"1988," Douglas replied.

"Hmm!" Adona mused, then as casually as you like, continued, "There's been an almighty great cock-up somewhere. Almost seventy-five years out of sync, some idiot's got their sums wrong. It might have been a computer foul-up, but I somehow doubt it. Only as good as the idiot punching the numbers into them, are those things. There's a lot of maths involved, this could take weeks to sort out."

Adona was rambling on, as if to himself; but I somehow got the impression that the whole speech was for our benefit. And possibly even that there was something not quite kosher about what he was saying. I can't tell you why, possibly an innate distrust I've always had of people in authority. And Adona appeared to be the "Big Cheese" with these new arrivals.

Annoyingly, Douglas interrupted him, "What date is it here?"

"Ah, now, you see ... that's the problem really," Adona replied. I thought, somewhat evasively.

"We kind-a started again a couple of thousand years ago, after the ... anyway, I'm afraid that there's no real definite correlation between your time scale and ours. Various parts of the world recovered at different rates and all continuity was kind of lost along the way. Eventually we settled on an arbitrary start date for our calendar, but it doesn't mean much in relation to your own. This little exercise was supposed to help us put all that right. Seems the boffins were at least sixty or seventy years out in their calculations before they started."

"Bullshit!" was the word that jumped to the fore of my mind. "After the what?" Adona was being very vague about something that was going to happen in our future; only at the time I could not comprehend why. From that instant onward, I was ... well, more than a little cautious and sceptical of our visitors, and everything they told us. And well, there could well be an error in their calculations but that was no reason to avoid telling us what their date was. Adona's obvious refusal to inform us about that, just didn't make any sense ether.

Our conversation was somewhat longer than that repeated here. Actually it was for a considerably longer period of time that Adona kept Doug and my attention off of everything else that was going on. I've taken a little artistic licence here and kind-of whittled it down a little, to give you the essence of what was said.

Anyway, whilst Doug and I had been talking to him, Adona had moved further inside the sphere, and he'd evidently been followed inside by at least four of his compatriots. Who were, by the time I had became aware that they were inside the sphere ... Well, there was no mistaking the fact that they were chatting-up Sylvia and Rose, or at least making a bloody good show of trying to.

Hey look, I didn't get off the bloody boat yesterday; I can spot a randy letch trying to chat-up my wife, a bloody mile away.

Whatever, and as they were all extremely handsome looking guys; at least as tall as Adona, if not bigger. What's more, from where I was standing it looked like Sylvia and Rose were hanging on their every word. More alarm bells started ringing in my head.

"Er." I said gesturing towards the six of them. "That's our wives your friends are making-up to, over there!"

I figured that one look would tell Adona what was going down. But his reply totally shocked me, and Doug.

"Hmm yes, I'm sorry old boy!(sic) But we no longer have the institution of marriage in our time. Haven't had it for a couple of thousand years now. Sorry, I realise that monogamy was standard practise in your time, but it isn't here. There's nothing I'm allowed to do; we believe in free choice ... er association nowadays."

"Well, we believe in free choice as you put it, in our time as well." Doug interjected, "But once partners are mutually chosen then monogamy is the rule. And it just ain't done, old boy, to ... well, to come-on-strong to a married woman, that is! When a woman is spoken-for, it's just not cricket mate! I think that you'd better send us back home a bit sharpish-like, or things are liable to get a little intense around here!"

"I wish I could gentlemen, but we've got to find the root cause of this date cock-up first. Never-mind, you won't be here longer than is necessary."

"The way they're going at it over there, it looks like we might have been here too long already," Doug replied, then he stormed off calling to his wife as he did so.

"Rose, a word in private, if you can spare the time?"

As Rose -- reluctantly -- broke away and the four guys closed in around Sylvia.

Come on, they were like moths around a bleeding candle flame, or maybe more like jackals circling around an injured animal. That led me to call out almost exactly the same words to Sylvia.

Reluctantly Sylvia also broke away from her admirers and came over towards me.

"I'll have a word with my crew, but I can't promise you anything." Adona said as he moved off to where the four guys were standing. I led Sylvia into the house, where we could to talk in private.

"Jesus Christ, woman, what the hell are you playing at?" I demanded.

"I don't understand, what are you so upset about, George?" she replied, all innocent like.

"Don't come all that old 'how's your father' with me, Silvia. You know full-well what I'm annoyed about. You, pandering to those bloody freaks out there!"

"What do you mean, I was just being sociable. They're very nice guys."

Sylvia sounded annoyed at my outburst, and it could be that had some influence over what she said after that. It had more than a little influence over what I subsequently said.

"Randy arseholes, chaffing at the bloody bit, you mean!" I found myself ranting. "Christ woman, I'm surprised ... no, I won't say it. But they're tongues were hanging out the moment they clapped eyes on you and Rose."

But what she said then, really shook me to the bottom of my boots.

"Can I help it, if strangers find me more attractive than my husband does? Besides, one of them might be able to do the job that you don't seem able to do."

On hearing those words, I became all-but ... well apoplectic.

"Sylvia, are you claiming that I haven't kept you satisfied ... er sexually, for the last ten years?"

Her expression softened a little. Maybe she realised that her last statement had been pushing the envelope a little too far.

"No, no, George, you've been a wonderful husband." She said hurriedly, but then she added. "But you have to admit, that you haven't managed to get me ... well, you know. And, my biological clock is ticking, you know."

Battling with myself to get my emotions back in check, and not let our disagreement spiral completely out of control; I resorted to my usual reply when Sylvia started on the biological clock thing.

"I've told you before Sylvia, that is none of my doing. It has to be a problem with your ... er, you know. I know that I don't fire blanks."

"Rubbish George, after all the trying we've done over the years, I should have had ten babies by now!"

Yes, yes, I was tempted to tell Sylvia about Mary Coplansky; but once again, I didn't. Sylvia had always been a little ... er, well delicate, whenever I mentioned my experiences with old girlfriends. I figured that telling her about Mary Coplansky ending up in the family way, would have been like pouring petrol onto a fire; to wit, explosive! I didn't need that kind of grief in my life.

Anyway, I warned Sylvia to be careful and reminded her that she was my wife. And that there was no way I was going to stand for any kind of nonsense. Then we went back outside to join our guests again.

Sylvia did look a little chastised for a while, as did Rose. I assume that Doug and Rose's conversation had gone something similar to Sylvia and my own. However it didn't take the girls long – with those handsome guys flattering them -- to start getting out of hand, and silly again.

Whether the two girls did it on purpose or not, I really do not know. On reflection, I think they probably just got carried away with the occasion, and honestly did forget themselves.

Look, as far a looks are concerned, Sylvia and Rose were nothing to be sneezed at. And they were well used to receiving "the treatment", or fending-off the young hopefuls down on the beach.

However these guys weren't your run of the mill "would be" Casanova's; these guys were ... Film Star Heartthrob material; every damned last one of them. And, being perfectly honest with you, they put Douglas and I to shame.

What's more, Adona and another guy (who had appeared from somewhere), kept Doug and I pretty well occupied for most of the day. This other guy was a historian or something, and he bombarded Douglas and me with questions about our recent history. You know WW1 and 2, and just about everything else up to the present. The present I'm referring to at that time being 1988 of course.

For some inexplicable reason they appeared to be under the impression that the USA was a colony of the UK – or so they claimed -- and were quite surprised when we informed them that it had been an independent republic for a couple of hundred years. To our surprise they didn't appear to be able to comprehend what a republic was, and insisted that there had to be an all-powerful hereditary head-of-state. On reflection (and knowing what I do now) I very much suspect that the two of them were ... Yeah well they were distracting us, and I have no idea whether I now believe much of what they said that day.

At one time Doug, Adona, the history bloke (can't recall his name) and I, went into our cottage so that I could make us all some tea. That's when some fun started.

By mistake I filled the electric kettle instead of the gas one from the hot water supply of course, there was no mains water anymore. And then I switched the bloody-thing on.

Net result, my old Lister diesel generator, sprang into life out in it's little shed, shattering the piece and tranquillity, when it began its repetitive thump, thump, thump.

The sudden noise -- about the only sound that had been breaking the silence up until that time, had been the childish giggling of Sylvia and Rose – grabbed all of our visitors attention. They (even the guys who'd been trying to chat up the girls) all crowded around the door to the generator shed while I explained how it worked. The historian guy, was the only one amongst them who appeared to have any conception of what an internal combustion engine was. Generator, they did understand; but the Lister's regular thumping completely fascinated them.

Mind you, Doug and I were pleased that the episode separated the wolves from the girls for a while, and Sylvia ended up making the tea.

Whilst we drank it, we discussed with Adona our immediate needs, especially as he was indicating that it would be some days -- or even weeks -- before they would be able to return us to our correct moment in time.

Firstly, a supply of freshwater, and then, of course, food. Adona talked into his communicator do-what's-it and within an hour, yet another large craft arrived and a huge tank of drinking water was unloaded from it. The crew came over to stare through the invisible wall at the newcomers for a while, and then left again.

Shortly after that, Adona rounded his guys up, and, telling us that they would be back the following morning, left in the larger of the two craft.

However, two other men stayed with the smaller craft, and it wasn't long before they came into the sphere and were hovering around Sylvia and Rose.

"What is it with these guys, haven't they got any women of their own?" Doug asked me on the quiet.

"Don't look like it mate, not gullible ones anyway! I got a good mind to sort that geezer out."

An expression of horror came over Douglas's face.

"Now, take it easy, George. They are big boys, and that looks like a weapon of some kind they all have on their belts."

"Yeah, I noticed they all seem to be wearing them. I'm going to have to have a long talk with Sylvia later."

"Don't worry, I intend to put that wife of mine over my knee when I get the chance. Rose knows better than to play silly cows with me."

"Hmm!" I thought to myself, "what have I been missing about Doug and Rose's relationship?"

"What do you make of these guys anyway, Doug, and why have they ... well brought us here in the first place? What's their game do you think?"

"Not sure, George. They say that didn't mean to bring us anyway; they were after that bloke ... Pemberton, didn't they say?"

"Can't recall, but yeah, they said they were expecting to find someone else here, not us."

"Why in heavens name would anyone in the ... shit, we still don't know what century we're even in," Doug mused.

"To change their history, I should imagine," I suggested, "What other reason could there be for bringing someone from the past. There's that weird historian bloke. Perhaps he's studying the twentieth century."

"Studying something, alright. But if you ask me, there's something fishy about him, he claims that he's been researching that Professor bloke."

"Then I'll bet the professor invents something that's really significant in the future, and these guys want to stop him," I suggested. "I read a sci-fi tale that ran along the same lines once. Someone came from the future to stop someone inventing something that changed the future."

"But then again, maybe they want to make sure that Pemberton does invent something significant. Supposing the bugger is a distant ancestor of one of those guys or something," Doug suggested.

"Whatever, the results of these guys fiddling with the past could be really catastrophic. Well, that's what they say in all the books."

"What books?" Doug asked.

"Well the science-fiction books. Only logical, when you think about it."

"Er yeah, 'tis when you think about it!" Doug echoed, but sounding distinctly unconvinced. "I suppose that we'd better try to discover what they are really playing at. But be careful, George. I somehow don't think these guys are as ... nice, as they appear to be."

"Nice! They're arrogant tosser's. Look at the way they behave around other people's wives."

"Well, hold your temper on that one, George ... at least until we find out exactly what is going down here."

Luckily that evening the two guys took the hint quite early and went back to their craft. I'd say they weren't as ... desperate, as the four guys who'd been hanging around the girls earlier.

I did wonder if it had anything to do with Doug asking them how the rabbit hunting was around there. Mind you, they appeared to have no idea what a rabbit was, or a shotgun come to that. Mention of shooting and then eating rabbits flesh made one of them look distinctly off-colour. That was when we discovered that their diet was completely vegetarian.

Shortly after that, we realised the reason we hadn't seen any animals around, was because basically, there weren't any, or many. Well, not to speak of anyway. The two guys – with more then a little trepidation apparent in their voices -- mentioned a few names that we assumed referred to wild animals of some kind, but they assured us that they were few and far between in the neck of the woods we were in.

Definitely there were no domesticated animals, farm or otherwise, possibly that was why they were veggies; there weren't no meat to be had anyway. Apparently, not even rats or mice.

Later, outside the sphere, we did spot just a few rather large spiders that scuttled away when they saw or heard us coming, and some beetles. Yeah beetles ... very big beetles, or maybe cockroaches; whatever man had done to the world, he hadn't been able to kill-off those buggers. Well, stood to reason, didn't it?

That night Sylvia and I had a real good old ding-dong. And apparently Rose and Doug did the same next door, as well. We heard them going at it hammer and tongs. As I'm sure that they must have heard Sylvia and I ... exchanging words.

For some reason that I couldn't get my head around, Sylvia seemed to have come to the weird conclusion, that whatever she did in that time zone, would have no ... well effect -- consequence or meaning -- when we returned to our own time.

Apparently one of the tosser's had told Sylvia that we would be returned to our own time at the exact same instant that we'd left it. Well, a couple of milliseconds later I kind-of gathered. Some twaddle about two things in the same place at the same not being possible. I'm willing to bet that Sylvia had had little idea of what he was really talking about.

Anyway the gist was – as Sylvia had it -- to everyone else in our world ... time zone -- or whatever you like to call it -- we'd never have been gone. So, whatever happened while we were away ... could not have happened! Get the general idea?

Anyway, consequently -- from the way Sylvia and Rose's saw things -- that meant they could do whatever they liked during the time we were away, and that didn't exist in our time, so it would be of no consequence. A kind-of "time out" from their ... our, usual lives, if you understand Sylvia's interpretation.

Sounds fine in theory. But do you see any logic in it? Well, I bloody-well didn't!

"Look here, Sylvia, you are my wife. In our time, or anyone else's bleeding time, come to that! You're my wife and don't you go forgetting it! You do anything you shouldn't be doing ... with any of those freaks out there ... and I'll be down the divorce lawyers the instant we get back. If we get back, that is! I'm not too sure any of those fruitcakes know exactly what they are doing anyway."

To my astonishment Sylvia's tone was ... Well, she sounded smug -- I suppose you'd call it -- when she replied.

"And pray tell me, on exactly what grounds, George? Exactly when are you going to tell the divorce court that I could possibly have stepped out of line with anyone else? Especially someone who hasn't even been born yet ... and won't be for god knows how many years. And when will you tell the court ... or anyone else, that I had the time to do such a thing anyway. The Drurys will testify that they saw us together yesterday and they will see us together again this morning, which hasn't happened yet ... only it has, but not to us in our time anyway. Sod-it, George, you know what I mean!

"Do you really think that a court is going to believe any of this? No, this is all a great big dream, George. A flight of my own imagination. Probably brought on by your fascination with all that science fiction rubbish."

"Don't talk stupid, Sylvia!"

"George, none of this is really happening. And even if it is, I won't believe it is and you won't be able to convince me otherwise. And even if it really is happening, you won't be able to prove anything, George, and I will deny everything. Hey, are you really sure that you're not dreaming all this right now, anyway?"

"Well I..."

"See, all a little far too fetched isn't it. Relax George, go with the flow and enjoy yourself while the goings good. I'm not taking any of this seriously, so why should you?"

The source of this story is Finestories

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