Wednesday, September 14, 2016
You Don't Belong Here by Tim Major
Release date: September 1, 2016
Subgenre: Time travel
Daniel Faint is on the run with a stolen time machine. As the house-sitter of a remote Cumbrian mansion, he hopes to hide and experiment with the machine. But is the Manor being watched by locals, his twin brother or even himself? Daniel is terrified about what the future may hold but, as he discovers, there can be no going back.
The time machine in the back of the van shifted as Daniel pulled off the motorway. He grimaced as the contents of the vehicle scraped and lurched before settling.
The sky had only begun to lighten during the last hour. Daniel’s jaw ached from the effort of concentration. He coughed and cursed himself for not bringing water and being too afraid to stop and buy a bottle.
The journey north from Oxford had been close to unbearable. Having avoided the toll road—which would have been far faster, but cameras surrounded its toll booths—he had taken his place in a procession of truckers cursing roadworks. At Lancaster the traffic had melted away, but on open roads Daniel had discovered that speeds above fifty produced horrendous noises from the rear of the van.
Was it safe back there? He pictured the straps and buckles holding the tarpaulin-wrapped panels of the time machine. Everything had seemed secure when he had set off, but with so little time to prepare, who could tell? He should have planned ahead, should have brought pillows and duvets to pad the sides.
His legs ached. His bladder, too. He stretched in his seat, and jolts of pain shot up his spasming right leg. The van kangarooed forwards as his foot jabbed the accelerator. He flinched at a flash of light from the roadside.
Shit. Was that—?
He swung onto a narrow grass verge. The time machine moaned, pushing against its restraints as the van juddered to a halt.
As he placed one foot onto the road, a passing truck screamed at the intrusion. Daniel retreated back inside the driver's cabin. His fingers skittered across the dashboard and finally located the button to operate the hazards. He crouched in the footwell, breathing deep, forcing his heartbeat to match the steady tink-tink of the indicators before he reopened the door.
The cold air stung his skin. It had been warm when he had left, even though it had been late at night. It was as if the journey had taken weeks, not hours, as if the seasons had changed while he had been trapped in the driver’s cabin. He hurried to the safety of the verge as more cars passed. Drivers craned their necks to see what was the matter.
The sky had turned the same dirty grey as the road. Daniel rubbed his eyes, and sparkles danced at the edges of his vision. Thirty metres behind the van, the yellow box of a speed camera hovered, visible only in the on-off illumination of the hazard lights.
Abruptly, bile rose up in his throat. He dropped to his haunches, retching. When the feeling passed, he remained there for a minute, rocking back and forth with his arms coiled around his knees. After all those hours he had spent driving, putting hundreds of miles between himself and the lab, he had been caught out. And he had been so close, too.