Although my most popular books (sales wise at least) are the two Silent tales, I do have a couple more that don’t feature the youthful first-person narrator, Felicity Goldsmith; but instead has a middle-aged writer as the third-person central character. His name is Peter Wozniak, and he reluctantly stars in this duo of literary thingies…
Here’s an excerpt from the latter tome…
Wozniak hadn’t taken a moment to think when he realised that his ‘phone had fallen silent. He grabbed the key from Wallace’s grasp and raced from the pavement. In an adrenaline-fuelled leap that wouldn’t have disgraced an Olympic hurdler, he threw himself over the hedge into the field beside Number Eight.
“Peter. Peter.” Wallace called into the darkness as he heard Wozniak’s ragged breathing as the big man picked himself up from the damp grass in the field beyond, “What are you doing?”
“Got to find Jan, Wal.” Wozniak called back. “We’ve lost contact. Maybe I can’t travel in time, but I can still move in the remaining three dimensions.”
Wallace then saw a small penlight illuminate his friend’s handsome features.
“You used to live here, Wal.” Wozniak swung the feeble beam around in an arc. “Where would you estimate the garden shed should be?”
“What?” Wallace cried in confusion. “How the hell can you expect me to remember that? And what if I get it right: what do you propose to do with the key now? You can’t hand it over to her.”
“I’m using a kind of reverse logic, Wal?” Wozniak tried to explain. “I know it won’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the only thing I can think of. Shit, Wal – I’m a science-fiction writer: it’s my job to come up with crazy ideas!”
“Jan.” Wozniak called into his ‘phone. “Answer me!”
He was relieved when he heard the muffled scratching sounds of a telephone being removed from his lover’s cleavage.
“I’m thinking!” Janice’s voice crackled from the device in Wozniak’s hand. She sounded both irritated and worried. “I was getting nowhere with the bench, so I decided to come back, but when I stepped through the gate – you and the twenty-first century had gone. Peter, I don’t mean to alarm you, but at this precise moment I’m stuck in the nineteen-fifties!”
Wozniak fought down panic. He took a few moments to author his response. He hoped that the fear in his voice didn’t travel well through time.
“Are you near the garden shed, Jan? It’s important.”
“Where do you think I am?” Janice’s annoyance certainly traversed time without dilution. “I’m trying to pick the padlock on the door – with a rusty nail.”
“Good girl.” Wozniak replied – somehow certain that whatever predicament Janice should find herself in, she would think her way out of it. But he also realised that she could use all the help she could get. “I’ve been thinking – it’s now doubly important that you complete your task. Whether you like it or not, this is destiny, Jan. You’re there for a reason – I’m sure of it. All that God-stuff? I’m with you all the way with it. And that reason includes saving the life of Mavis and George Courtney.”
Janice’s mood hadn’t lightened any. “Thank you for stating the bloody obvious, Wozniak: I’d managed to figure that out for myself. I’m not a complete idiot you know. Damn it, I’m getting no where with this arse-holy lock!”
“Well stop then.” Wozniak commanded her. “I have a better idea. Now tell me – how far from the house are you?”
It took a few seconds for Janice to reply. Obviously she was trying to make sense of Wozniak’s question. Her faith in him soon overruled her questioning mind.
“About twenty metres.” She replied.
“Stay right there.” Wozniak instructed her. Then turning to Wallace, who now stood upon the opposite side of the hedge, he said, “Best estimate, Wal: Where’s the front door?”
“Wait right there.” Wallace replied.
He then quickly scrambled into his four-wheel drive vehicle. After starting the motor, he crashed the machine into gear, and mounted the kerb with the front wheels.
“Step back, Peter, dear heart.” He called out. “I’m no off-road expert.”
Then without further warning he revved the large diesel engine, released the clutch, and in a second had driven the huge vehicle straight through the hedge.
Wozniak stood in the glare of the headlights. “What the fuck?” He mouthed.
Wallace cut the motor and jumped from the driver’s seat. “And he said ‘let there be light’ and there was light, and the light was good.” He cried. “Darling, you can’t go stumbling about in the dark: If you’re going to try to reach Janice, the least you need is to be able to see properly.”
Wozniak could have hugged his friend, but this was neither the time nor place.
“Nice one, Wal, Right then – the front door? From there we can calculate the location of the garden shed. Make it quick: someone’s bound to have called the police.”
It took a couple of minutes, and some comparisons with the neighbouring houses, before Wallace was reasonably certain that he and Wozniak now stood in a position that was adjacent in time and space to the garden shed of his childhood.
“Right, now try to find something solid that’s survived since the collapse of your home.” Wozniak instructed Wallace.
Wallace looked at his friend with disbelief. “You’re taking the piss, right? The house blew up. It was demolished, and the ground became a farmer’s field. It’s had cows shitting all over it for decades: How are we going to find ‘something that’s survived’? Peter, I love you dearly, but sometimes you talk bollocks of the highest order.”
Wozniak realised that perhaps he was being a little over-optimistic with his request, but he also discovered in that moment of introspection that he actually believed in the idea that he was a Causality Merchant.
“Trust me, Wal.” He grinned. “The shed was wooden right? It must have sat upon some sort of slab. Concrete: Flag stones: Something like that.”
Wallace shook his head as he cast his mind back to his formative years.
“Concrete blocks I think. Raised up about six inches. The ground ‘round here was always boggy.” Then another recollection impinged itself upon his consciousness. “With a fucking great stone step leading up to the door. I fell off it once, and had to be taken to the surgery with a tooth through my lip.”
Wozniak cast his gaze and his penlight to and fro as he began searching through the thick, tussocky, grass. His foot came up against something hard that was buried in the soft, moist soil beneath the grass.
A huge smile spread across his hairy face. “What, like this, you mean?” He said.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014