Adventures of the Time Brigade is an idea for a novel which I had one Friday night down the Plough and Harrow. Even though it was winter, and snow was on the ground, we were sat outside, as it was impossible to get a seat inside the place. My friends and I were clustered around a wood-burning stove, trying to keep warm, when I suddenly had the idea for the novel which would become Adventures of the Time Brigade.
I knew immediately the basic premise and the beginning of the novel: that it would be about time travel, but viewed as though from somebody writing about the future when they were in the 1950s. Back in the 50s and 60s some people had a vision of a gleaming future, with flying cars and people taking pills instead of food. I wanted to start my novel in that big, shiny world, in some great metropolis that was almost a utopian society. The novel would begin with our square-jawed American hero, one of the leading policemen of his day, being inducted into the secretive Time Brigade.
Once in the Time Brigade, our intrepid hero, Ballantine, is sent on his first mission, and he finds that time travel is not what he had hoped that it might be…
Extract from Adventures of the Time Brigade.
The year is 1999, the distant future. It is a world of marvels, where people go to work in their personal flying cars, designed and built by the mighty Detroit Aeromobile Corporation. Families take their protein pills, having abandoned the time wasting pursuit of sitting down to ingest raw, unpurified food. The world is at peace, ruled by the World Government of Elders. And little threatens the paradise that science has created for this Earth, this blue jewel in the cosmos. Yet threats exist, in the dark corners of the world, those who would threaten the status quo.
His name is Captain Connor Ballantine; and, until this day, he has been serving as a captain in the World Police, that esteemed body of lawmen, who are charged with seeing that the rule of law is upheld from Johannesburg to Paris, Space City to New York. But today is the day in which everything changes, although Connor does not realise that as he gets into his DAC Goshawk that morning, and flew the short distance from his home in beautiful Queens, New York, to the aeromobile park on top of the New Jersey police station where he worked.
The morning skies were full of other pilots, each in their bubble-like aeromobiles, their flying cars. The sun glinted off the windscreens of their nuclear-powered vehicles, their aeromobiles in all the colours of the rainbow. The aeromobiles flitted safely in between the towering skyscrapers of New York and New Jersey, their pilots waving happily to other motorists of the skies. These clean-fuelled inventions had revolutionised travel, with honest working souls no longer reduced to crawling along the ground.
Captain Ballantine lands his bright pink Goshawk on the roof, its retro-jets carefully aligning him with his own, personal, parking space. He gets out of his car, and gently closes the clear, plastic door. He stands there, on the top of the hundred storey skyscraper which is his place of work, and breathes in the clean, fresh, morning air into his mighty lungs.
He breathes deeply, a smile on his cleft, lantern-jawed chin, his teeth sparkling white, that sort of white which can only be achieved by scrubbing away with PerfectoTM toothpaste. As the sun caught his teeth there was a sudden glint, as though the Star of Bethlehem briefly inhabited his spearmint mouth. Ah, yes, Captain Ballantine thinks, as he looks down on the clean and beautiful streets of the city, life is good. Life is very good indeed!
Captain Ballantine strides purposefully towards the left which will take him down the twelve floors to the office where he works. He summons the turbolift with but one press of his strong yet gentle fingers. He walks in, and the doors shush closed behind him. He presses the number 88 on the panel, and waits for the lift to complete its brief descent. Hands clasped behind his back, he hums Morning Has Broken to himself as the lift whooshes downwards.
The lift takes but a few seconds. The door opens, and Captain Ballantine walks out into level 88 of the New Jersey World Police headquarters.
“Good morning, Captain Ballantine.” Mavis, on reception says. Mavis is a platinum blonde for whom the word pneumatic had been invented. She looks like a cross between Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe.
“Good morning, Mavis.” Captain Ballantine says, flashing her one of his PerfectoTM smiles. His teeth glint, another perfect four-pointed star.
“There’s somebody waiting for you in your office, Captain Ballantine.” Mavis says, batting her eyelashes winsomely at him. She uses Black CatTM mascara; and, when she applied it each morning, she made sure that she used it to its full effect, just like the girl on the adverts on her Holo-TV.
“Somebody for me, Mavis?” Captain Ballantine asks. He is a little puzzled, as he has few visitors. Crime is down for the thirty-seventh month in a row. He does not usually get visits from other officers – and they would arrange any important meeting through Mavis first. He certainly does not think that he possibly could have done anything wrong, anything to warrant an intrusion by his superiors. So why did Mavis show this personage, whoever he was, into the sacrosanct chambers of Captain Ballantine’s inner office?
“It’s an Elder, Captain.” Mavis says. “From the World Government.”
Captain Ballantine’s lantern jaw opens in surprise. To be visited by one of the most important people in the world? To be visited by those who had steered the world into a halcyon era of peace and prosperity? What could one of these Elders want with a humble law officer like himself?
Ballantine strides purposefully into his office, his jaw firmly set. Each stride covers more than a yard, as Ballantine, like all officers of the World Police, stands over six feet tall, the minimum entrance height.
The door to Ballantine’s office opens automatically as Ballantine approaches, shushing sideways into the wall. A man stands in the centre of Ballantine’s office, besides Ballantine’s tidy plastic desk.
The man is in his sixties, and is wearing the blue and green robes which mark him out as one of the Elders of the World Government. This Elder has long white hair, and a long beard. He salutes Captain Ballantine as he enters the office. Standing to attention, Ballantine salutes this august personage back.
“Good morning Captain Ballantine, and salutations to you.” the man says. “My name is Elder Wyzer.”
“Salutations. Elder Wyzer.” Captain Ballantine says, still standing to attention. He has never met an Elder before. The Elders are the most powerful beings in the United Solar System, ruling over the mother planet of Earth. None of the Elders of the governments of the colonised planets, Venus and Mars, possesses a fraction of the power of the Elders of the World Government of Planet Earth. They are chosen to become members of the World Government by those few beings who are wise and intelligent enough to appoint them: their fellow Elders. This is the way it has been for decades, as they, with each year, under their stewardship, improve conditions on Earth.
“At ease, Captain Ballantine.” Elder Wyzer says. “This may be a long discussion.”
Captain Connor Ballantine visibly relaxes, his chest a fraction less puffed out. It still resembles a barrel contained in a police uniform, though, the red uniform with white piping only just containing his mighty frame.
“You may be aware that we have all but eliminated crime in the twin cities of New York and New Jersey.” Elder Wyzer says, smiling at Ballantine. “In fact, thanks to heroes like yourself, crime has all but disappeared all over Earth, only existing in a few isolated, intractable areas.”
“Yes, sir, thank you, sir.” Captain Ballantine says, not quite sure what was the correct etiquette for speaking to an Elder.
“But a new threat has arisen which threatens the peace of the citizens of the world.” Elder Wyzer says, his voice betraying the seriousness of the matter.
“Is it the Martians, sir?” Captain Ballantine asks. The pesky Martians had been a threat when people from Earth had first colonised Mars, but Ballantine understood that the brave warriors of the Terran colonisers had all but exterminated the Martian natives.
“No, Captain.” Elder Wyzer says, and smiles. “It is not the Martians. They will never be a threat again. No, the threat to the security of Earth does not come from Space. It comes from Time.”
“Time?” Captain Ballantine asks.
“Yes, Captain.” Elder Wyzer says. “We have recently discovered how to build Timeships. But, in our first experiments, we found that there are villains from other realities, both in alternate futures, and in alternate pasts, who seek to invade our perfect society. We believe that these villains are showing an attention in our Utopia not due to any happenstance reason, but because some unknown villain, from our own world, may be the mastermind behind these potential villains.
“We must stop these threats before they happen, Captain. We cannot allow the way our world is run to be disrupted by these miscreants from beyond the walls of Time.
“We have managed to construct one working Timeship so far, Captain. We want you, our leading law officer in the World Police, to pilot this ship, as the first officer of our new organisation: the Time Brigade. Will you do this, Captain? Will you save the world, all that we hold dear?”
“Of course.” Captain Connor Ballantine says. How could he possibly refuse?
Adventures of the Time Brigade is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.