The Wrong Time
© 2008 by
An Anthology, containing some flash fiction, a novella
and three short stories:The short stories:• A
filmmaker of the future, using a new untested medium, gets tangled
up in his story in The Filmmaker and the Scepte
works in mysterious ways in The Last Shall be First,
as a home for orphaned children is being moved to an uninhabited
literally finds himself, in The Wrong Track,
a multi-universe ghost story.
The novella: In Wrong Time,
Sean O'Riley walks home from work, stumbles through a vertical
whirlpool, and finds he's married to an ex-girlfriend instead of his
wife.The flash fiction: From a physics class of
the future: what is a "flong"? in The Flong
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"Well worth reading, wish
there was more...Good description of habitat and alien animals.""...Thoroughly
entertaining, retains interest, and had a great grasp on scientific
theory. …""...this was a nice quick
read over lunch and I am looking forward to reading more from this
guy!""...prose that flows
easily, making it a pleasant but quick read. I will look for more
works by this author.""...straight forward good
sci-fi with the focus on a scientific consequence... I'll look out
for more by this writer."
from The Filmmaker and the Sceptre (first few paragraphs):
Sir Gossabel mounted his steed, then beheld his opponent from across
the field. What was going through the mind of that wretch, he could
only guess. And what did Princess Gertrude see in him? He didn't want
to think. This duel would settle the matter.
At the signal, the opponents goaded their horses, and they galloped
towards each other, their swords drawn and ready.
Gossabel knew better than to glance at the spectators. That could be
fatal. The hazy image at the extreme periphery of his vision still
showed the curled blond ringlets of the princess's head next to the
grey locks of King Redbert's, surrounded by those of all the
important people of the kingdom. No doubt she was tense -- as she had
been when Gossabel had taken the liberty of looking.
Her father looked solemn, though some of the lords took the whole
affair in a light hearted manner:
'Let's see which of these two upstarts will be left standing!'
'I could have told you it would come to this!'
'Ten Ducets says Norbert's blood will flow...'
'I say Gossabel's...'
The peasants were also gambling what few Ducets they had, calling out
their favourite champion. But those who cared which one lived and
which one died, weren't so jovial.
Gossabel now approached Sir Norbert. Their swords clashed...
* * *
So far so good, thought Mark. This new medium had a special
feel to it. They had said this would render images in greater than
100 percent reality. Mark had wondered how that could be so, but now,
as he was creating the cinema footage, he could tell it. Re-running
it, he could even feel the flippant attitude of the lords who were
being entertained by the potential fate of Sir Gossabel and Sir
Norbert, the deadly vibrations of iron sword clanging against iron
sword -- he almost didn't know, himself, who would be left alive at
How could he not know? He was creating the story! He was the expert
who had been commissioned to test this medium on a feature length
Yet, why was he telling himself he might have to end up making Sir
Norbert the hero of the story in place of Sir Gossabel? In his whole
career of film-making, he'd never experienced that thought.
For goodness sake -- if a story took a wrong turn, he could always go
back and re-edit it! No, it just didn't feel as though he could,
that's all. Every action reverberated with a seriousness that made it
This medium was powerful.
For the last 65 or so years, the film-viewing public had been
satisfied with 100 percent reality 3D. Home theatres were equipped
with 3-D screens taking up one whole wall of a room. Every home had
one. But because of this new advance, everyone would now have to go
out and spend money on a new one. This would be good for the home
theatre industry. Mark Snobbel felt privileged to be on the cutting
edge of the new technology.
Dr. Marvin had retained him for this job. He was the head of the team
that was researching a new medium, based on recent research into the
Iota Particle, a sub-atomic particle that had shown some amazing
properties. It probably didn't do anything like warp time and space,
or send ships to other galaxies -- or maybe it did. Dr. Marvin's team
wasn't concerned with that. They were interested in the effect it had
on imaging. They called them four-dimensional images. His team
included nuclear physicists to develop the channel of energy,
computer developers to adapt the existing computer animation programs
to deal with the new medium, and Mark Snobbel, to test it.
Mark was the right man for the job. His family had been
in cinematography since the days when making a film required a team
of actors, camera men, technicians, film editors, not to mention the
screenwriters and authors of the stories the films were based on. It
cost millions to make a film in those days. Now, it was a
one-person-job. Mark had distinguished himself as the best
'one-person' in the field. He was a film-maker...
Excerpt from The Last Shall be First:
Sarah heard the announcement over the intercom and waited for Aunt
Molly to come and unstrap her.
She was undoing Benny just now. The rest were already floating about,
getting dressed and enjoying their weightlessness.
'Why am I always the last one?' she asked, when Aunt Molly finally
got to her.
'Cause you're the smallest, that's why,' said Benny, floating past.
'Shut up Benny!'
It wasn't so much the obvious fact, but the tone of voice in which he
said it -- that coming from the second smallest kid in the home.
'Now, now, Sarah,' chided Aunt Molly. 'There's nothing wrong with
smallness, and your time will come. "The first shall be last,
and the last shall be first."'
'Yeah, yeah. But why do I have to wait so long?'
'Well, doesn't it stand to reason that the last one waits the
longest?' said Rodger, the oldest.
'Very funny,' said Sarah, pushing herself out of her cubicle.
She pushed too hard and went spinning into the wall opposite.
'Aunt Molly! I bumped my hip!'
Aunt Molly had already floated out the hatch.
'Aunt Molly I bumped my hip!' mimicked Benny.
'Oh! You poor wee soul, let me kiss it and make it all better!'
mocked Rodger. His towel was floating strategically spread out in
front of his midriff. He had decided a year ago that he was plenty
old enough to not allow the others to glimpse his body while changing
'Aunt Molly! Benny and Rodger are tormenting me!' Sarah began crying,
'And my hip really hurts!'
'You guys, can't you leave her alone for once?' said Sandra.
'Yeah,' seconded Johnny.
Sarah was drifting in the direction in which she had bounced, which
was towards Rodger and his carefully place towel.
'Hoi! Watch where you're going!'
A quick shove from Rodger sent Sarah floating to the very middle of
the room. Along with her, went the towel, revealing Rodger in the
awkward transition between his pyjama bottoms and his underpants. The
resultant panic to retrieve his towel had the whole room laughing --
all but Sarah, who moped in the middle of the room, crying for the
The house parents, Molly and Joe were with Peter in the bridge.
'What do you mean, we're still at near-light speed?' said Joe.
'A technical failure,' answered Peter. 'The flex co-modulator didn't
kick off as we were leaving hyperspace. By the time we've slowed this
thing down, we'll be too far beyond the Iota Seven star system to
consider coming back to it.'
'You know what this means?'
'We can't get to our destination?' asked Molly.
'Not unless you use the emergency landing pods,' said Peter.
'How will we unload everything we need into those?'
'There are ten of them,' said Peter. 'Put one kid in each one, and
then you two, that's nine. There should be enough room in them to put
essential supplies. I'll send the remaining one with as much stuff as
I can fit in.'
'But that's all your life pods,' said Molly.
'The least of my problems right now. By the time I get
this slowed down, twenty years will have passed in normal time. By
the time I return this ship to base, probably a hundred. But if you
want to land in Iota Seven, we've no time to lose.'
from The Wrong Track:
A few mental snapshots, starting with my earliest memory:
I'm five. My dad takes me to his laboratory on Saturday mornings.
It's a couple of rooms on one end of a long brick building in the middle of the university campus, surrounded by lots of big
trees. Later, when I can read, I see that the letters etched in the concrete over the main door say 'Science'. Everyone we
meet on the way calls him 'Dr. Hughes', or 'Professor'. In the lab there are a lot of contraptions they use for their
experiments, mostly metal boxes with stuff clamped to them, like glass tubes and lead objects. Theodore is usually there,
wearing a white coat. I like Theo. My dad's partner is there as well. We call him Alex, but to everyone else, he's 'Dr. Henry'
and he knows everything. That's what Theo says, anyway.
Theo has lots of small jobs
to do, but on Saturday mornings his job is to mind me. He takes me
around to look at everything. 'That's a particle splitter,' he says.
'It takes little things that are so small you can't see them, and
makes them even smaller.'
'What's a particle?' I ask.
Theo gives me my first
science lesson. 'Everything you see is made of things that are even
smaller. Some of the smallest things are molecules, and they're made
of atoms. The atoms are made of particles that whiz around and round
each other. What we do with this big contraption is to get a particle
to stop going around and round the centre of the atom, so that it
goes zooming off in a straight line and hits that target over there.'
He shows me the sheet of
black film from the target. 'See these tiny dots, Geoffrey? Each one
is where a particle went through this film.'
Though no earlier event
would qualify as a snapshot, the big wooden house on Birch Street is
an ever present reality, casting its shadow to the furthest reaches
of my subconscious. I don't remember it ever having a proper paint
job, except later, when it was let out to tenants. It really did make
an ideal 'haunted house'.
But in my young days, it
was simply 'home', spacious, places to hide, a place where friends
and cousins loved to come over to play.
I also remember my mother
only as a vague shadow. She died when I was four, leaving me with my
dad. I do remember that my dad created a warm and loving environment.
It's important that I say that here, because many people insist that
he was a horrible, cold, abusive parent, and that I should have been
removed from him much earlier. My memories of him are mostly good.
Besides taking me to the lab, I remember us having ice cream,
watching kids programs on the telly, going to the seaside, telling me
stories, patiently helping me with my homework, even playing
hide-and-seek with me and my friends in that big house. We also had
this game we'd play when my cousins came over, called 'sardines', the
opposite of hide-and-seek. Just one of us would go and hide, and then
the rest would go to look for him. Whoever found him or her would
slip in and hide with them, until everyone found them. The house was
perfect for those kinds of games.
I'm six years old: Alex and
Theodore come over to the house a lot. They and my dad are excited
about an experiment they've been working on. They think it proves
something, but they have to do something else to show that it's
Theo pops into my room
whenever he's there, and looks at my stuff. I've drawn lots of
pictures and things, and he thinks they're cool. He also plays with
my train set.
He can be funny sometimes.
'So, you turn the switch
this way to make the train go down the left track, and you switch it
that way to make the train go down the right. What happens if you put
the switch in the middle, like this?'
'It'll just get stuck!' I
'Not the train set we're
playing with at the lab. We can make it go down both tracks at once!'
Theo is full of weird
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