Two books of a series
1. ‘Danger of the Fifth Dimension’ details the catastrophic events caused by Emily’s Uncle George as he seeks to reassemble a machine built by two of his students. Uncle George tries to recreate a missing mechanism that became lost with the students when they travelled back in time. When he re-makes the mechanism, time within the big old house is folded, resulting in past occupants mysteriously appearing. Can the machine be stopped? Will history be altered by the events? Will there be a world left at the end of the book?
2. ‘A Rip in Reality’ continues the series. When a time anomaly is located, Uncle George retrieves a piece of his old machine. Something fundamental has just been broken. The continuum of time is ripped to reveal a void ready to consume everything. The destruction of the world is at hand again.
3. ‘Parallel Shift’ details the race to secure the rip voids and the parallel realities that are ready to go to war over one man.
It’s at the end I begin my story. But it’s not a work of fiction, I am certain of that. Pieces came back to me in snippets that had neither rhyme nor reason. These clouded thoughts, oddly realistic flashbacks, wisps of dreams could not be seen in their entirety. But I was patient. And my family worried for me in silence as these nightmare pieces began to slot together to become my history.
I remember everything.
If I’m not making much sense you’ll see why. Time has a way of wiping your memory when you’ve moved to a different reality. You desperately want to grasp on to the present as if that would stop it changing. We weren’t meant to live where our own dimension is bent to breaking point. Sorry, that’s too much too soon. Where do I start? My Uncle. Probably the only place to start. It was because of him………he ruined everything. But no, let me tell it from the very beginning!
My Uncle had been expelled from the Institute of Science. This was not the first time he had been thrown out of an important organisation. But this time he was meddling with science more dangerous than anyone could have imagined. The evening before he arrived at our house, my Father sat me down with Gran’s old photograph album and told me about him. I knew I had an Uncle but why had I never met him? My Father prepared me for his stay by explaining everything. He told me that there was nothing else in his brother’s life except science. He explained how this effected the way Uncle George lived. The event my Dad seemed most put out over was his wedding. Uncle George had arrived two weeks early for the event but when it came to the actual day he didn’t turn up.
My Dad explained that lethal substances had always fascinated Uncle George. As a child he had demolished the garden shed and nearly killed himself, experimenting with a chemical he had made. We would call it gunpowder. I remember one of the few photographs of Uncle George as a child. In it was a large crater alongside which stood a rather puny child grinning madly with half of his blackened and smouldering hair missing. The right side I think.
I was told about so many other dangerous antics that I began to wonder whether there had been any time in his childhood that could be described as ‘normal.’
My Father told me that his brother had always wanted to be an Astro-Physicist and work for N.A.S.A.; to develop space travel and reach the stars. He ended up teaching G.C.S.E. Science to the bottom sets in a Comprehensive in Grimsby.
He had encouraged all of his science students to investigate matters that interested them. This they did whole-heartedly. It led to three serious fires before he was sacked. On the day he left, his sixth form tutor group had prepared some homemade fireworks. As he drove away they let them off in the car park and made a large crater where the head master’s car had been parked.
He then, by some amazing oversight on the part of the governing body, became a lecturer at a renowned University in London, just a couple of miles down the road from us. His students soon became interested in rocket motors and quantum physics. After the mysterious disappearance of two of the students in a home made experiment, Uncle George was thrown out of there as well.
He finally had nowhere to go and so he arrived on our doorstep.
He managed to convince my Dad to allow him to stay. Dad took out an extra insurance policy on the house right away and said he was ‘waiting for the day it would go up in smoke’. It only took a day or so for Uncle George to settle in before he started his experiments again, in our attic!
Our house is old, and I mean old. You would call your Grandfather old. Well, in house terms he was only built last year. Our house dates so far back that even the town we live in wasn’t there. We live in a large country mansion that is now surrounded by houses. Developers have wanted to knock it down for years. They say it’s unfit to live in and should be ‘condemned’, pulled down and permission given for twenty houses to replace it. Dad said the new houses would look like a load of concrete boxes and refused to contemplate it.
You had to get used to the tumbledown nature of our house, the windows that wouldn’t shut and doors that wouldn’t open. The paint hung off the woodwork like baggy over-sized clothes. Mould visibly crept up the walls. The floors were so creaky that Dad always knew where I was even. I knew every step that didn’t creak and there weren’t many of them. The walls leaned and the floors sloped. It was like being on a ship in a stormy sea walking through our house. We were like sailors who knew where each pitch and slope of the floor would fling us. When we walked on normal floors it was strange because we always leaned and it looked like we were dizzy. Our house was unique and I wouldn’t have lived in any other.
When my friends used to come round, we made up wonderful games, imagining we were in faraway places. The attic was the best playground anyone could wish for. Up there the discarded remains of forgotten families lay under a thick layer of dust. When we played, the boxes were like presents waiting to be unwrapped. I would study each one, fancying which one was for me. But to open anything was forbidden and all I could do was try and imagine what filled the mysterious boxes and crates in our loft, a cargo of secrets lost.
A room adjoined the attic; a small room with angled ceiling and dormer window, which overlooked our gravel driveway. It was from this window, my window, that I watched Uncle George arrive. I had never met him before but I could tell it was him. From this distance I could see his hair, or what was left of it, sprouting out at scientific angles. He passed the one working carriage lamp along the driveway. This lit up a small, thin man marching along swinging a short cane. He seemed to be in conversation with someone. As I craned my neck to see who it was I realised he was alone. Only his words accompanied him. He disappeared from view as he approached the front door.
I lingered there, my favourite spot, on the seat in the window. The curtains closed behind me and the night spread out before me. It was a place I often retreated to. It was here that I had sat on the night of the great blizzard. I had watched the first few flakes fluttering around looking lost and helpless. Then millions blotted out the view until all I could see was white. I had slept and dreamt that night of being an Eskimo and fishing through the ice using my toe for bait. Upon waking, I found that I had fallen asleep in the window seat and my sock and toe had frozen to the pane of glass. Memories of other evenings clouded my eyes with tears as I heard footsteps on the stairs, odd heavy footfalls, rising to claim the prize that I called my own. Uncle George was to have my bedroom while he stayed, to work and to sleep in, to be as far from my Dad as he could be.
It was behind the curtain that I first met him. From my hiding place I heard him, out of breath from carrying his case up two flights of stairs. I didn’t want to see him, meet him, have anything to do with him. I kept quiet and waited for him to go down to dinner. What I didn’t expect was the curtains to part and Uncle George to squash into the window seat and sit facing me, quite unperturbed at finding me. That’s how our acquaintance began. He spoke quickly, pronouncing each word precisely, without a pause between breaths, “The fourth dimension provides us with time, the fifth . . . What do you think that one is Nephew?”
At first I was annoyed that he should mistake me for a boy but then my mind raced silently. His statement had made me think – 2D, I had heard of that, that was flat; and 3D, that was solid; but 4D and 5D, what was he on about? My blank expression must have disappointed him and dried up any conversation that might have happened.
So, he moved into the attic. My bedroom had become his bedroom; my secret playroom was cleared out to become his laboratory. I had been given one of the large unfurnished rooms on the first floor. With a camp bed to sleep on and all my toys around me, I had to call it my bedroom. For how long I wasn’t told, I don’t think anyone knew. It was hard to call the room mine since I only filled a corner of it. The rest of the room spread out, I won’t say as far as I could see, but it felt like it. I was put out. Evicted. I knew my toys felt the same way with no nooks and crannies to feel comfortable in, just floor and walls in large bare expanses. I lay on my bed listening to my Uncle making repeated journeys to the top of the house with boxes of his old lab equipment. Uncle George was here to stay.
The arrival of Mrs. Shanks
Talk around the dinner table was different that night and every night after. Uncle George detailed all the discoveries made during the Mars rover landings; his theories of travelling at light speed; the obvious likelihood of life visiting us from other planets; the exhausting topic of nuclear fission, the structure of the atom and how everything seemed to have the building block of three. The talk flowed from one mouth. It wasn’t until Dad piped up about ‘3’ being God’s fingerprint that talk ceased. “Ah-ha, life at last,” Uncle George boomed, “And how do you make that out? What do you mean by God’s fingerprint? You’ve got me curious.”
Dad was a vicar – a good one too. He didn’t just wear a collar and say prayers and stuff on Sunday, he actually did things. The sort of things you’d get awards for if you were anyone but a vicar. But because he was, people expected him to do things for them. The more he did, the more people expected. What I liked about Dad though was that he knew when to say “No.” It meant people criticised him, but he never seemed affected. He always knew what he had to do and gave his time wisely.
When Dad started to talk, people listened because he had a wonderful way with words. He wove his answer intricately, adding his own observations and known scientific facts and figures. It wasn’t the type of thing you could listen to and then tell a friend. My Dad believed what he was saying. He talked about three being the number of perfection, that God was three parts: Father, Son and Spirit. He mentioned there being three building blocks to all elements: protons, neutrons and electrons and three elements in nature: earth, wind and fire. He mentioned the triangle being the strongest shape and finished off talking about life being lived in three dimensions: we all have length, height and breadth. He marvelled at the way everything had order and said that if you looked at anything closely enough you couldn’t help but see God’s fingerprints on it. He’d made it all and it fitted together perfectly.
I was convinced from the start. Well, he is my Dad and I believed in him. Uncle George sat quietly until Dad mentioned the three dimensions. At this point Uncle George was away again, and he didn’t stop talking for the rest of the meal. He started rambling on about his experiments but by this time we weren’t really listening. I wanted to know why Science made you so full of long words. What did he mean by fourth and fifth dimensions? I was soon to find out.
What was about to happen in our house was way beyond my understanding. Supposedly it was beyond the Laws of Science too. I didn’t know what was going on; I can only tell you what I saw. Later Uncle George tried to explain, but it was like trying to understand a foreign language. This was why we never spoke much at mealtimes when Uncle George was there.
As the weeks passed, more and more of Uncle George’s equipment kept arriving. It was then that Dad began inquiring about the extra insurance in case things started to go wrong. They did. But not in the way my Dad expected. In fact an explosion or a fire burning the roof off might have been preferable. The first we knew of anything happening was when we saw Mrs. Armitage Shanks walk across the landing and into one of the deserted upper floor bedrooms. Dad recognised her immediately from pictures that used to hang in the house. We rushed to investigate the room she had walked into but found no trace of her. Mrs. Armitage Shanks had been the eccentric old lady who had owned the house before it became the vicarage. Dad told me she had been relatively young when she’d died. She had lived in one room upstairs for a lot of her lifetime; the room next to mine. So, was it a ghost? I felt uneasy. She had looked so unlike a ghost to me. And didn’t ghosts drift through walls rather than opening doors and leaving them open? It made me feel a bit nervous about sleeping in my room. I’d never been scared before but now I had a good reason.
School the next day was a blur of teachers speaking and children doing and there I was in the midst thinking hard. How could someone who we knew to be dead suddenly appear in our house? Well, it had been her house too but that was years ago. I wanted to know why she had appeared now after all these years. She hadn’t haunted us before so why start? I had my suspicions that her appearance and Uncle George’s presence in the house were no mere coincidence. My Dad didn’t have a clue. He was quite nervous that a spirit of someone dead should turn up in a vicar’s house. I joked that maybe she hadn’t been buried properly and he scowled at me as if to say, ‘You shouldn’t joke about such matters.’
Mrs. Shanks revisited
As I climbed the stairs to bed the following night, my mind conjured with the shadows. I was creeping across the landing when a sudden whooshing sound made me sprint to my room, slam the door and lock it. The room was dark. I knew there should be no furniture between me and my bed. But as my feet reached out for the reassuring feel of the floor, they also felt the worrying comfort of a carpet. Had Dad had a carpet laid today? I stood there, unsure of myself while the blackness slowly receded and my eyes adjusted. Large white shapes loomed out of the darkness. I flicked on the light but the white sheets that covered the furniture in the room didn’t disappear. They stood in front of me like cartoon sheet ghosts. When I peeped under the white sheets it was like looking at a forgotten room, a reminder of the children who once played there. The toys spoke of a yesterday long ago. My fear turned to wonder as I looked under each cover. I soon discovered a rocking horse and my excitement soared as I climbed into the saddle of my very own stead. I rocked wildly as the wooden stallion bucked and plunged galloping to nowhere. When it all suddenly vanished it was not fear or excitement I felt, but pain as I dropped from the saddle on to the floorboards. It was a terrible way to find that everything was back to normal. All the sheeted humps that had been there a moment before had disappeared.
The appearance of strange items had happened all over the house. My Father had been watching T.V. when furniture had materialised all around him. “It was like an episode of Star Trek,” he said, “All this furniture beamed down and then, as if a mistake had been made, was pulled back up again.” He’d missed the News because a large Chesterfield sofa had engulfed the television. He could still hear the newsreader reading the everyday events of the World, while our house was being visited by furniture from the past. He’d also missed my scream, as he himself had been relaxing in the leather Chesterfield when it had disappeared.
We held an ‘all night vigil’ in case there should be another visitation from the past, and as we sat Uncle George’s snores seeped down from the attic to accompany our lonely guard. Nothing else happened that night. Whether it did during the time we were asleep at our post, huddled together on the settee, neither of us knew.
During the next morning I helped Uncle George with some new deliveries; equipment he needed for his experiments. As usual we had our routine one-sided conversation for the day about his theories and research. I kept quiet. I wasn’t sure where Uncle George stood with ghosts and the supernatural. Being a scientist, he had an explanation for everything. This had the effect of making you sound like a complete fool if you mentioned anything out of the ordinary. I listened to him talking about his recent experiments completely lost amongst the long words and deep physics. I was In a short pause while he was examining a strange dial he had unpacked, I blurted out about Mrs. Shanks and her ghostly appearance. I was suddenly aware that Uncle George was listening to me intently. Having shut himself in the attic for the past few days, he’d heard nothing of our visitation by Mrs. Shanks and her furniture. His eyes lit up with an intense excitement that frightened me. For once he didn’t utter a single word. It was as if his brain was sucking in every minute fact and making sense of the puzzle. As soon as I had finished he ushered me out of my old bedroom and down the attic stairs. The attic door slammed, and the metallic click of the lock told me we probably wouldn’t see him for another few days.
Mrs. Shanks and her furniture appeared quite regularly after that. But this wasn’t the strangest thing. Unbeknown to us, Mrs. Shanks was having a visitation of quite the opposite kind…. from the future. I met her just outside her room, or what had been her room decades before. One Saturday afternoon we came face to face. She called me Rosamund and seemed quite unperturbed at meeting a complete stranger in her house. She scolded me for my close-cropped hair and ridiculous clothes and how I looked more like a boy. This visitation of the past lasted far longer than the previous fleeting glimpses. It gave Mrs. Shanks long enough to notice the many strange objects from the future appear amongst her own things.
A puzzled look came into her eyes and she shook her head as if she had just remembered something important. “You’re not Rosamund at all are you?” she said, “That would be impossible anyway because she’s dead. I remember now.” She spoke to herself here. She turned back to me and asked pointedly, “How did you get in here? Were you scrumping at my apple trees and got too nosy? I expect that’s the truth. What’s your name since you’ve got no tongue to answer me? I should think they’d not given you a nice name looking like a boy.” She paused here, giving me an appraising look. “But you’re not so plain are you because I can see a pretty face there. Well young lady, talk to me.” I hadn’t answered any of her questions since she had spoken without pause. She stopped, startled a photograph she had spotted on the wall behind me. Her eyes were transfixed and her tongue frozen. Slowly she scanned the landing and noticed the staircase to the attic and took a step back. Mrs Shanks was obviously confused by what she was seeing. It was all a bit much for me too but at least I had seen Mrs. Shanks and all her household items before. What I was not prepared for was that she could see me.
I introduced her to my family who stared unblinking with wide grins on their faces from the photograph on the wall. My Dad, who was probably at that moment reclining on a leather Chesterfield, my Mum… who was no longer alive, and me. In the picture I was sitting on my Mum’s lap with long braided hair, wearing a beautifully flowered dress. Her mind was not slow, I could see it in her eyes as she realised that something extra-ordinary and exciting was happening.
During the next ten minutes she gave me the briefest glimpse of her room (the only one she used), she met my Dad and we decided between us that we would share the house and furniture when it pleased the workings of time to throw us together. With that all settled she vanished.
Seeing us disappear did wonders in allaying any of Mrs. Shanks doubts. She had understood everything we had told her about the future and the past. Although she hadn’t completely believed us, her initial impressions of us being escaped lunatics or conmen after her enormous wealth were extinguished after seeing two very real people vanish along with a house full of possessions.