Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mackenzie Mortimer Takes an Unexpected Detour in Time

An Excerpt from The Tomorrow Paradox (Book Two in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

Mackenzie found himself standing beneath a lamppost. It was night, which surprised him because moments before it had been daytime. The streetlight illuminated the curb on which he stood and a portion of the cobblestone paved road running parallel to it. The road curved at a 130-degree angle and there were rows of two and three-story buildings on either side. Even in the dim light, Mackenzie could tell the buildings were far older than any he was used to seeing in Serenity Valley. Wherever he was, he realized, it wasn’t home.

Mackenzie perused the unfamiliar setting. The street was deserted, the shops closed, and the lights turned off in the apartments above the darkened stores. “I don’t understand. This isn’t Serenity Valley. I’ve never seen streets made of stones. But I set the watch exactly as Alex showed me.” Mackenzie ruminated. “The Morse code left behind by Gramps in his diary! What if those numbers were coordinates? When Alex entered them into the watch, they might have been stored in its memory, waiting for the time travel controls to be activated. Since we never deleted the entry, the controls homed in on those coordinates when I activated them, because Gramps’ coordinates had been entered before mine. Whenever I am, Gramps must be here, too. Gramps’ coded instructions must’ve been set to work only when the watch was set to travel through years, not minutes. When I tried to go back to my own time, it took me to whatever time Gramps was in. I’ve got to find him.”

A girl crouched in the shadows by some large wooden packing crates called out softly to Mackenzie. At first, he couldn’t understand what she was saying. Then, the nanoelectronic implant in his head activated its universal translator. Language recognized: Dutch. “Get out of the light, you fool. You must be addled to be standing out in the open under a streetlight after curfew.” Mackenzie’s universal translator had translated the foreign language into English in his mind.

“What do you mean?” Mackenzie asked. His translator automatically verbalized his thoughts in the same foreign language. In his mind, Mackenzie was asking next, “Where am I?” but the sentence came from his lips spoken in Dutch.

“Keep your voice down,” she whispered. “Loud voices travel far at night. Come here, away from the light.”

Mackenzie took a few steps in her direction. “Who are you?”

Before she could reply, two armed soldiers, one driving an Army motorcycle and the other riding in its attached sidecar, barreled down the street, stopping a few yards from them. The soldier in the sidecar shined a mounted spotlight on them. The driver shouted at Mackenzie: “Halt!”

Language recognized: German. Mackenzie frowned. First Dutch, now German? Where am I?

“Run!” the girl called out to him, turning to flee.

The soldier jumped from the sidecar and ran after her. He returned a moment later, having captured the struggling girl. He gestured with his gun for her to stand beside Mackenzie.

“Why are you out after curfew?” the driver asked Mackenzie.

“I didn’t know about the curfew.”

The German soldier snarled. “Everyone in Belgium knows about the curfew. If you are going to lie, at least make it a plausible lie. Show me your papers.”

“What papers? I haven’t got any papers.”

“And you, girl. Do you have a better excuse for being on the street after curfew?”

Her hand trembled as she reached for her identification papers. “I work at the bakery. Our shipment of wheat arrived late.”

“Surely, you were not baking bread in the evening? It would be stale by morning. I do not believe you, either. Your friend cannot tell us who he is and neither of you has an acceptable explanation for being out after curfew. I suspect you are with the Resistance, although you could be spies. No matter. I’m sure you’ll be more talkative at Gestapo headquarters.”

“Hertz,” his companion said, “I can ride behind you on the motorcycle, but the sidecar will only hold one of them.”

“That is not a problem,” the German soldier replied. “The Gestapo has ways of getting all the information it needs from either of them, so we need only bring back one.” He pulled his Luger from its holster and fired a single shot.

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Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

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