SandboxThe characters and the concept of the "Tomorrow People" are the intellectual property of Roger Damon Price, references to "Blithe Spirit" such as the description of the character Elvira Condomine, are the property of Noel Coward, references to Star Trek are the property of Gene Roddenberry. References are made to real people, Kay Hammond and Noel Coward. Additional characters are the property of me. No money has or will be made by the production of this work, which was created purely for the amusement and entertainment of the reader.
Janice got out of her car and walked towards the main road, just in time to see Ed's car approaching. She waved to attract his attention, and then pointed towards her own car, bonnet open, parked on the supermarket car park. Ed pulled his car alongside and got out.
"The temperature gauge went into the red. That isn't right is it" said Janice, as Ed took a closer look inside the engine bay. He felt the radiator. It was cold. He took the cap off the expansion tank and took a sniff. Then he spotted the cause.
"You've got a split in your rad hose. You've lost all your coolant."
"Is that serious?" asked Janice.
"Depends" replied Ed. "You might have got away with it. On the other hand, it could be a head gasket, and that's megabucks. So what are you going to do now?"
"I'll have to get Clive to look at it tomorrow. I've already explained myself to the manager of the supermarket. He said it'd be okay to leave it there until tomorrow, but at my own risk. Clive should be back from his fishing trip in the morning, so he can deal with it. That'll cheer him up" said Janice as she got into the passenger seat of Ed's car.
This had been the end of a month of upheaval for Janice and Ed. A month in which they had both found that some closest to them had come to reveal themselves as something more than ordinary, and although Ed and Janice themselves were the same as always, their lives had changed forever. The Tomorrow People were back, but after their first fraught reunion, it was agreed that they should spend time allowing their families to become accustomed to their circumstances. However, today, the holiday was over, and the first mission was one of housekeeping. Janice and Ed were to make their own ways to the Lab, when Janice's car broke down. Her husband Clive was on a fishing trip with their son Lyndon and Janice's brother Richard, and so she had to phone Ed, who was also on his way to the Lab, for assistance.
"I don't know how to thank you for this Ed, you really saved my bacon" said Janice.
"Think nothing of it. I was on my way anyhow" said Ed.
"Of course, if I were like my sister, and you were like Elizabeth, I wouldn't have had to have phoned you, you do realise that, don't you" said Janice, with a hint of bitterness.
"The old mind talk thing, you mean" said Ed.
"Yes. And come to think of it, I wouldn't have had car trouble, would I? I mean, I wouldn't have had a car, would I? Do you know what Carol said to me when she came home at last? She said that was the reason she never learned to drive! Talk about rubbing it in!" Janice said irritably.
"Well it's hardly Carol's fault is it" said Ed. "I mean, she didn't ask to be a Tomorrow Person any more than my Liz did. It just happened."
"I just don't get it, Ed" said Janice. "Carol's ten years older than me, yet I'm the Sap. I don't expect you to appreciate it. You and Liz and John and Carol are all about the same age, so I suppose any one of you could have ended up as either a Tomorrow Person or a Sap, but it's just not fair, Ed. Why am I a Sap?"
"Nothing you can do about it" said Ed. "In any case, it's not that bad is it? I mean can your sister drive? No! Well there's one advantage straight away. Besides, John seems like a nice enough bloke, and the others seem sound enough, don't they?"
"I don't mean anything personal. Of course I don't. It's just that they make me feel like I belong in a museum" said Janice.
"That's exactly how they feel about themselves" said Ed. "That's why they try to maintain a low profile. They don't want to be paraded as some sort of sideshow for the Great Unwashed."
"See how you'd like it if your big sister lived on Mars" said Janice, just as they drew up in the side street leading to the entrance to the Lab.
Inside the Lab, the Tomorrow People were busying themselves carrying out routine maintenance, cleaning and decorating where they felt it needed. John was replenishing TIM's fluids while Elizabeth and Rachel emulsioned the walls a delicate magnolia colour. Anthony and Helen had arrived with a van full of new furniture, and were about to try to get it through the door when Ed and Janice arrived.
"Perfect timing, Dad!" said Anthony.
"What kept you?" asked John looking at his watch. "We said seven o'clock."
"Car trouble" said Janice coldly "not that I suppose you know much about that sort of thing." John looked at Ed. Neither needed to be telepathic to communicate what they were thinking. John had found Janice particularly difficult to get along with. It was strange for him, looking at her and realising that the resemblance she bore to Carol, even for sisters, was remarkable, and to have someone so close to Carol who was both younger and older at the same time, was odd. John could tell that Janice didn't really like him that much.
"Right" said John, "before we go any further, let's stop for a nice cup of tea, then you can tell me all about your car trouble. Seven teas please TIM, and a bowl of sugar. You can add the sugar yourselves." Seven cups of tea and a bowl of sugar, together with a selection of tea spoons appeared the telepathy table. The others broke from what they were doing; each took a tea cup, sweetened their tea as required and found their own space in the lab. Except for Janice.
"Can't you just get a kettle?" she said.
"Come on, Janice" said Elizabeth picking up a cup and offering it to Janice "it's only tea." Janice took it and sipped from it while standing close to the now closed door. Although she had recognised her familial connections with the Tomorrow People, and had become a frequent visitor to the Lab, she was still unsure of these strange people with their peculiar gifts. Ed eventually broke the ice and began telling of what he found when he arrived to pick Janice up. Janice followed on recounting how her car had started to overheat and break down. She began to loosen up and feel more comfortable, especially with Helen, who she particularly got on with. Helen was probably the least "freaky" of the Tomorrow People, and probably used her powers less than the rest. They discussed their day, and talked about the events that had brought them together. The discussion of Carol's visit gave Janice a warm feeling.
"Oh, I nearly forget" said John getting up and going towards a cupboard "I've got something for you two." He opened the cupboard door and produced two wristbands. "These are for you" he said as he offered one each to Ed and Janice.
"What are these then John? Jaunting bands? We can't make them work" said Ed.
"Not exactly" said John. "They're matter transporter bracelets. You can use them to teleport."
Janice suddenly saw the potential, and started to take notice. "So we can use them to jaunt, just like you?" Her tone and attitude seemed to change.
"Well, not exactly, but probably the next best thing. It's a security measure. There are cameras all over the place these days, and sometime sooner or later, one of you is going to be seen coming through the front door and be captured on video. We can't have that. These allow you to teleport between two fixed points. The first is this Lab, and the second is your own home. As well as that, if you use them at the same time one of us jaunts, you can piggyback onto our signal and come with us."
"So all I have to do is wear the band and touch the panel on the back, and I can get home?" asked Ed.
"That's all you need to do" said John.
Ed took the band and examined it before offering it back to John "No thanks, Johnny Boy. I think I'd rather take my chances out there with the dead dogs and used curry containers."
"Don't be such a baby" said Elizabeth. "We're going to have to work doubly hard to stay secret nowadays. Put it on!"
Ed put the band on his wrist. "And all I have to do is touch this panel" and as he spoke, he touched the panel and dematerialised, much to the surprise and amazement of Janice.
"I hope he's going to be all right" said Anthony. "I mean, he's not going to end up in the middle of a lake is he?"
"I'm sure he'll be okay" said Rachel. "There's nothing to go wrong. Those things are idiot proof, aren't they Dad?"
"Pretty much so," said John.
"It's only a pity you can't make them Ed proof" said Elizabeth.
"It's only a pity we can't get in touch with him to see how he's getting on" said John.
Suddenly, the sound of a brass band playing "Liberty Bell" could be heard. Elizabeth's mobile phone was ringing. She went over to her handbag, and extracted the phone. "Don't look at me like that" she said to the others. "I still have to be contactable by Saps!" Janice shuddered at Elizabeth's use of the term "Sap". She pressed a button on the keypad and put the phone up to her ear. "Hello? It's Ed. What? Well get back here then you daft sod! Just press the panel!" She hung up and addressed the others. "I'll let him explain when he gets back.
Ed re-materialised in the Lab. As he did he took the band off his wrist and offered it to Janice. "I think you took the wrong one, love. I've just been to your house!" They exchanged wrist bands. "Oh, and by the way, you'd better get off there now. I've set your burglar alarm off. I don't know the code, sorry!"
Janice shot Ed a dirty look, and pressed the panel on the band and disappeared.
Janice materialised in the kitchen of her house. How typically sexist, she thought. John had programmed the band to materialise in the kitchen. The burglar alarm was sounding. She went to the hallway, approached the panel and tapped in the code. The alarm silenced. This gave her time to think. Firstly, a proper cup of tea, not that synthesised stuff TIM made. She went back into the kitchen and switched on the kettle, got her favourite mug down from the rack and dropped a tea bag into it. I won't be missed, she thought, not for a while anyway.
As the kettle boiled, Janice thought about what she'd just experienced. Disappearing from one location only to rematerialise in a totally different one. So effortless. These Tomorrow People certainly have the life. This was fantastic - thrilling, something she was eager to try again. But first the tea. She made the tea, added some milk then went to sit in the lounge. Imagine it, no more travelling expenses. No more waiting in the cold for a bus or a train. No more burst radiator hoses and garage bills. Life just isn't fair.
The phone rang, and Janice answered it.
"You are coming back aren't you?" It was Anthony. Janice couldn't be short with Anthony. She had a soft spot for his cheeky ways, and in any case, he did save their lives.
"Yes. Sorry Anthony. Just something I needed to deal with right away. I'll be back in a minute, don't worry".
"Glad you could join us again" said John as Janice rematerialised.
"Sorry, I'm sure" she answered. "What are you doing?"
"I'm reinitialising TIM's vocal subroutines. They sounded a little muddy" said John from a ladder in the centre of the Lab. "Didn't anybody notice how quiet it was?" Ed was at the foot of the ladder, handing tools to John. "Make the most of it while you can."
"Here, you can help me in the store room" said Elizabeth. "I have to check all our equipment. See what's working and what's not, and what needs charging or servicing."
Janice followed Elizabeth up the spiral staircase into the store room. Amongst the racking were various stun guns, life detectors, AE suits and other pieces of equipment that hadn't seen the light of day since the seventies. All had to be checked, inventoried, assessed and either repaired, recharged or replaced.
"If I hand these to you, one by one, can you put them in a pile for me?" asked Elizabeth.
"Yes, okay" said Janice, making a space on the floor.
"You're not keen on John, are you?" said Elizabeth.
"Not mad about him. Does it show?"
"Does it Show! Jan, you've got to give him a chance." Elizabeth handed a piece of equipment to Janice. "Recharge pile. I've known him a long time. I know what he can be like. He can sometimes be full-on, but he means well. And I know that this animosity you're showing towards him is cutting him up inside."
"Well he doesn't show it."
"That's just his way. I suppose it's one of his strengths . . . or weaknesses, however you want to view it. Recharge. Anyway, he doesn't need to show it, not to me he doesn't. He can't hide much from me, you know that" said Elizabeth, handing over another piece of equipment. "Just . . . try to like him."
"Elizabeth! Your phone's ringing!" Rachel shouted from the main room of the Lab. Elizabeth walked out of the store room, and gave Janice one last knowing look as she drew the door closed and descended the staircase. Janice looked round at the shelves of unfamiliar equipment. How was she to know what was charged, what was okay and what was scrap? She decided to have a delve amongst what was there, out of curiosity as much as anything else. Amongst the equipment were a number of items which seemed to have no place amongst the equipment, probably artefacts collected by the Tomorrow People and kept as souvenirs. Then she found something which she recognised. Tucked away in the corner was a large burgundy rucksack. Janice immediately recognised it as the one brought into the Lab by Jedikiah when he posed as Colm, the Irish down and out. She looked towards the door, opened it a crack and saw everyone else busy, and Elizabeth was still talking on her phone. Janice went to the rucksack and zipped open one of the side pockets. She withdrew a small leather-clad box from the pocket and opened it. Inside it were a number of individually sealed sterile hypodermic needles, a syringe and four small ampoules of the yellow liquid that Jedikiah had injected himself with.
"Everything okay in there?" said Helen, pushing the door open. Janice immediately thrust the box into her pocket and back-heeled the rucksack back amongst the accumulated junk.
"Er. . . yes . . .that is, I've done as much as I can, but I haven't a clue about al this stuff" replied Janice.
Helen looked at it all. "Well I wouldn't really know where to begin. Probably best to wait till Liz finishes her call." Helen approached a large wooden trunk and sat on it. "You know, we're not that different from you. You remember what your sister said – hardly any difference. I know it's difficult, and you see yourself on the outside, but you're as much a valued part of this outfit as anybody else."
"I just feel. . . primitive - left behind, like I'm on the outside looking in" said Janice.
"Take it from me, that's not the truth. Why do you say that?" asked Helen.
"Well, look at all the things you can do, all the things Lyndon and Carol can do. I just feel excluded" said Janice.
"So what's happened today to make you feel excluded? Look around. We're all here, except Lyndon who's out doing boys' stuff, and we're grafting away doing the kind of stuff anybody else would be found doing in exactly the same way. Nobody's using telepathy or telekinesis, Liz is using her mobile like a 'normal' person, and the only people who've done anything like a jaunt are you and Ed" said Helen. "So pick the bones out of that."
Just then, the door opened, and Elizabeth walked through.
"Yes, fine" said Janice. "I'm just at a bit of a loss as to what all this stuff is, that's all."
"Why don't you take a break, and I'll take over" said Helen to Janice. "After all, I'm going to have to get to know what all this stuff's for."
Janice went back down the stairs into the main part of the Lab. John had just finished up the ladder, having replaced TIM's inspection panel.
"Okay TIM, are we fully functional?" asked John.
"Fully functional and refreshed, thank you John" said TIM.
John looked very pleased with himself. Janice approached him and gave him a big hug.
"Hey! What's all this about?" said John.
"Me. I've been a cow" said Janice.
Saturday morning. Janice went into the bathroom, still dressed in her bath robe. Even after her conversation with Elizabeth and Helen, she felt at a disadvantage. Then she remembered the box she took from Jedikiah's rucksack. She went back into her bedroom and took the box from the pocket of the hooded top she had been wearing the day before. This could be the key to it. It worked for Jedikiah, why shouldn't it work for anybody else? All it needed was a course of injections, and as a trained nurse, it should be child's play. She opened the box, and looked at the strange yellow liquid. Surely, it wasn't right, but wasn't teleportation a thrill? The best feeling ever. But what would she tell the others if she suddenly started reading minds and all the other things? Easy, she's just broken out, that's all. She went back into the bathroom and looked at her reflection in the cabinet mirror for a minute, as if her reflection were going to stop her. She took one of the needles from its packaging and attached it to the syringe, before filling the syringe with the yellow liquid from one of the ampoules. She flicked the syringe to release air bubbles from the syringe before depressing the piston, releasing a little of the liquid out of the end of the needle. She eased the needle into her left arm. Suddenly, she took in a sharp breath of air and closed her eyes.
When she opened her eyes, she was not in her bathroom. In fact she was not in her home. She was in no place she'd ever seen before. The immediate environment looked much like a tropical wilderness, with trees, vines and swamps. She looked in the distance and saw some people. She couldn't make out who they were, and she tried to call out to them, but couldn't. She walked to the edge of a pool, and caught sight of her reflection, but it wasn't the reflection she expected. Her blonde hair looked dark and matted, and the shape of her face also looked unnatural, with protruding teeth. What had happened to her? She looked round. Again, she saw the people on the horizon, and again she tried to call out to them, without being heard. She ran after them, but no matter how quickly she ran and how slowly they walked, they remained ahead of her, oblivious of her presence. She became aware of another presence. This time a man, unlike the others, more primitive looking, like herself, with hunched shoulders, kneeling over a dead animal. Was he a hunter, and was he preparing the animal as food? She called out to him, but could only grunt. This time, she made herself heard. He turned sharply and looked at her. She recognised him. Although he had the same general features, such as the matted hair, and the protruding teeth, she could recognise that the man was her brother Richard. He grunted at her as he lifted himself to his full height. Then she heard a familiar voice.
"Jan!" Janice turned to look behind her to see her sister Carol standing there, not as a primitive, but as her old familiar self. Again Richard roared, and Janice turned just in time to see him hurl himself towards her.
Janice opened her eyes again and found herself lying on her bathroom floor. Her head was aching, and feeling her forehead, she felt a pain. Gradually, she got to her feet and looked at herself through the bathroom mirror. The Neanderthal look she carried had gone, and she looked more like her old self, apart from looking very pale. She brushed her fringe back with her hand and saw a bruise on her forehead. Obviously she had banged her head when she fell. "That'll come up like a golf-ball" she said to herself, realising how lucky she was that she hadn't split her head open when she fell. She opened the bathroom cabinet, took two paracetamols from a packet inside the cabinet, and swallowed them dry, without a drink.
She remembered what she had done, and why. Had the injection worked? Was she about to become a Tomorrow Person? She listened for voices in her head. Nothing. She tried to send a telepathic message. *John? Elizabeth? Helen? Anybody?* Nothing. Maybe it hadn't worked, or maybe it needed time to kick in.
Sunday morning was spent working at the Lab. Janice looked round at her friends and tried to send and receive telepathic messages with no apparent success. Maybe it just didn't work, or maybe she hadn't taken enough. That would be easily remedied.
John looked at his watch. It was nearly one o'clock. "Pub?" he asked. "The Grapes does a really nice Sunday dinner, and very reasonable priced too."
"Pub" said Ed.
"Pub" said Helen.
"Pub" said Anthony.
"Pub" said Rachel.
"Pub" said Elizabeth.
"Pub" said Janice.
"Pub" said Lyndon.
"No!" said Janice.
"But Mum!" protested Lyndon, but it was no good.
"You should know better. You're too young. I'm not seeing you turn into a lager lout!" said Janice.
"Besides, I think it's better you stay here and keep TIM company" said John. "Someone's got to stay behind to make sure the species continues."
"But you're only going to the pub. What could happen there?" protested Lyndon.
"Never you mind" said Janice, joining the others on the jaunting pad. "And less of your cheek . . ." her voice fading out as the group dematerialised.
"Just not fair" said Lyndon. "Don't even get a decent meal."
"We'll have to see what we can come up with" said TIM. "What would you like? I can give you quite literally anything you want".
"I'm not hungry. Not at the moment anyway" said Lyndon. Lyndon paused for a minute, deep in thought. "TIM, I've been thinking about what that old man said, and what Auntie Carol said. About us and Saps not being that different. Is that right?"
"It's all a matter of interpretation" said TIM. "They say that 90% of chimpanzee DNA and human DNA is identical, and that genetically, there is no difference between a domestic dog and a wolf. If you were a dog, would you think yourself as a wolf, or if you were a wolf would you consider yourself a domestic dog? There's more to it than that."
"So we are the same?" asked Lyndon.
"Take into account the context of what was said and who by" said TIM. "Carol said there was 'hardly any' difference between Tomorrow People and Saps. That is not the same as saying that there is no difference, and without being disrespectful to her, she is not a biologist or a doctor and can only reinterpret information she may glean from other sources. Jedikiah, however, was a clever manipulator of words. He exploited a situation to his own advantage and attempted to undermine the cohesiveness of the group."
"But I killed Jedikiah. Does that make me a Sap?" asked Lyndon.
"There's more to being a Sap than the ability to kill, and more to being a Tomorrow Person than the inability to kill. Again, it's down to interpretation. Jedikiah was given human form, but was he really human? If one considers that the form he was given was merely an illusion, to him a prison if you like, then he never really lived. And if he never really lived, then you never really killed him. How many fish did you kill on your fishing trip" asked TIM.
"Oh, we never kill them, we just weigh them and let them go. It's not about killing them" replied Lyndon.
"Would it make a difference if you had to kill them" asked TIM.
Lyndon thought about it for a minute. "To be honest, I think it'd make me sick just thinking about it."
"I think you've just answered your own question" said TIM.
"So are we different or not?" asked Lyndon.
"Different enough" replied TIM. "Hungry yet?"
"A bit" said Lyndon.
"A bit?" asked TIM.
"A lot" replied Lyndon.
TIM produced a healthy helping of a roast beef dinner on the telepathy table, followed by tiramisu. "Would this satisfy?"
"Satisfy?" said Lyndon. "It's wicked! And better than they'll be getting at the pub! And it's free! Thanks TIM."
Lyndon tucked into his dinner, and talked to TIM about his interests, discussed the past adventures of the tomorrow people, and potential future projects. After dinner, he played some video games against TIM for an hour. He and TIM were becoming good friends.
"Tell me about your music" said TIM. "You play guitar?"
"Yes. I've just joined a band at school" said Lyndon.
"That's good" said TIM. "What kind of music do you play?"
"Mostly progressive rock" said Lyndon.
"Progressive rock?" said TIM. "Nobody plays progressive rock these days!"
"That's the point" said Lyndon. "Lots of people still listen to it, but hardly anybody plays it any more. It's our angle."
"And what are you called?" asked TIM.
"Minshara" replied Lyndon.
"Minshara?" replied TIM.
"It's Paul's idea – he's our singer. It's something to do with Star Trek. Paul's a bit of a trekkie" said Lyndon.
"Min-sha-ra" said TIM, playing with the word.
"Well it was either that or the Tribbles!" said Lyndon with a laugh. "We're starting small, but I'm hoping we get a decent amount of success and earn a bit of cash. I'm saving up for a new guitar."
"Is there a problem with your old one?" asked TIM.
"No. It's just that I've seen one in this music shop. It's a bit special. It's a White Fender Stratocaster with a maple fingerboard" explained Lyndon. "It's just that it's so expensive, it'll take me ages to save for."
TIM took the broad hint. "Would this be anything like you had in mind?" said TIM as a guitar like the one Lyndon had described appeared on the telepathy table.
"Wow!" said Lyndon, picking the guitar off the table and examining it.
"It's not a perfect replica" said TIM. "I've studied the specification for the guitar you mentioned and I've got it as close as possible, even to the markings on the headstock, but of course, not being of original manufacture, it has no serial number."
"That's okay TIM" said Lyndon, sitting on a chair, examining and plucking the guitar. "It's great. Thanks."
Janice appeared on the jaunting pad.
"Hello Janice. The others not joining us?" asked TIM.
"No, TIM. I have to get home to see to Clive when he gets home" said Janice. "Where did you get that guitar?"
"TIM made it for me" said Lyndon.
"Well, he can jolly well unmake it" said Janice.
"Mum!" protested Lyndon.
"I can assure you Janice, it was no trouble" said TIM.
"That's not the point" said Janice, taking the guitar from Lyndon and placing it on the telepathy table. "Clive and I have always tried to show Lyndon that anything worth having is worth working for. We can't have everything we want. Life's full of disappointments. Get rid of it, TIM."
And with that, the guitar disintegrated.
Monday. Janice was preparing for her shift at the hospital. She sat on her bed, putting on her shoes. She was alone in the house. Lyndon was at school and Clive was at work. She thought about the yellow liquid she'd injected herself with and how it had had no effect. She was still as normal as ever. She opened her handbag and took out the box with the three remaining ampoules left in it. What if she were to take all three at once? Without thinking too long about it, she filled a syringe with the contents of all three ampoules and injected them into a vein in her left arm. She screwed her eyes tight shut with the shock to her system. When she opened them again, she was back in the tropical wilderness, but instead of the primitive Neanderthal, she was still herself; normal and erect. She walked confidently through the undergrowth until she came to a clearing populated by a number of Neanderthals. She stood for a few minutes, watching them, until she decided that she found them boring. She turned to go back the way she came and found herself confronted by one of the Neanderthals. He stared at her and let out a long grunt that attracted the attention of the other Neanderthals. Janice began to panic, as her heart rate began to race. She turned round to find herself surrounded by the Neanderthals, who closed in on her. At last she could see their faces, which suddenly became familiar to her. The first one, the man who firstly confronted her, resembled John. The others also resembled her friends and family, Carol, Lyndon, Elizabeth, Anthony, Rachel, Helen, Richard, Clive and Ed. Her panic stopped, to be replaced by a feeling of confident superiority.
The phone rang. Suddenly she found herself lying on her bed staring at the ceiling.
She picked up the phone. "Hello? Kim! It's what time?" Janice realised she was two hours late for work. "I'm sorry, Kim, I'm not going to be able to make it in today. I think I've picked up some kind of bug. Well let's just say I daren't risk straying too far from the toilet. Should be fine tomorrow, I'm sure. Bye." She put down the phone. It was not her style to pull a sickie, but under the circumstances, she felt she had little choice. She couldn't tell her shift manager that the reason why she hadn't turned up for work was because she'd injected herself with a substance with a view to gaining ESP. She stood up and looked round. The colours in her bedroom, the blue wallpaper, floral curtains and the chocolate brown bedspread al seemed more vibrant than before. Cognitively, she seemed more alert and together. She thought about testing her telepathic potential with a brief message to one of the others, but which one? Maybe Helen. She was closer to Helen than the others. But no, not yet. Maybe in time. She'd try telepathy out, but not just yet. Best to keep this quiet for now, because John would have something to say for sure. So how about a jaunt? Just a test. The matter transporter band was on the bedside table. It can stay there. Lyndon had told her that all he needed to do to initiate a jaunt was to think himself in any chosen location. Okay then, the conservatory. Suddenly, she was standing in the conservatory. Success!
She decided to keep a low profile. She jaunted back to the bedroom and placed the matter transporter on her wrist. She couldn't wait to go to the Lab to check out their reactions.
Janice had found some old family photographs, and took them to the Lab to show around. Her parents were keen photographers, and had documented their three children excessively. She placed the shoe boxes containing the photographs on the telepathy table.
"Here's one of Carol when she was three, a long time before I was born" said Janice.
"Oh, how cute" said Elizabeth.
"A pity she had to grow up" said Janice jokingly. "This is Richard with Granddad Bill."
"Your brother?" asked John. "A lot like your Granddad."
"Yes, mum always said Richard was a miniature of Granddad" said Janice.
"Lyndon's a lot like Richard" said Rachel, picking through the pictures. "Look at this one." Rachel picked up another picture showing Janice aged six, her parents, her brother Richard and sister Carol.
"I've seen this one before" said John. "Carol had a copy when we left her on the Galactic Trig. She kept getting it out of her pocket and staring at it."
Janice picked out another picture. "I remember this one" she said. But as she looked up, everything had changed. Everyone, except Anthony had disappeared. He stared at her in amazement as if she'd just appeared out of thin air.
*John,* he 'pathed, *Janice has just reappeared in the Lab. I think you'd better get back here.*
*On my way now* John 'pathed back.
*I'll meet you both there* Elizabeth joined in.
Janice heard every word in her head. This must be what telepathy feels like. But what had happened to everybody else? And what did Anthony mean "reappeared"? John and Elizabeth appeared on the jaunting pad.
"Jan, where on earth have you been?" said John.
"Where have I been?" said Janice. "Where have you been, you mean. We were all looking at my photos, then all of you bar Anthony just disappeared. And where are my photographs?"
"We've put the photos away" said Elizabeth, approaching Janice, "but that was a week ago. You just . . . vanished!"
"Oh pull the other one Liz" said Janice, refusing to believe what she'd been told.
"I'm afraid it is true" interjected TIM.
"Come off it!" said Janice "You're winding me up!"
"TIM, could you show the video footage please" asked John.
"Certainly" replied TIM. The video screen flickered into life, and showed the group gathered round the telepathy table looking at Janice's photographs. Suddenly, to everyone's surprise, Janice faded out of view.
"But that's impossible" said Janice. "I haven't budged an inch! I haven't moved from this spot."
"It's quite possible that you haven't" said TIM. "At least, not in space"
"I don't follow" said Anthony, sitting next to Janice.
"It is just possible that Janice has travelled in time" said TIM.
"How?" said Elizabeth.
"I cannot offer any explanation at this time" said TIM "other than . . ."
Janice suddenly felt a sharp head pain and let out a cry, clutching her head in her hands and screwing her eyes tightly shut.
"My head's banging like you'd never believe!" she said as he opened her eyes to find only John in the lab. Again he appeared surprised to see her. "Where have the others gone?"
"Looking for you. You've been gone about . . . forty minutes this time" said John looking at his watch.
*It's alright everyone, she's back* John 'pathed. Janice could hear this in her head.
"John, I feel sick. My head. It hurts. I can't stand it" said Janice as she tried to stand up. John caught her and carried her over to a bed. He lifted her up and placed her onto the bed.
"Okay TIM, give her a scan" said John. A line of light scanned over Janice as she lay there.
"The problem appears to be in her psychic synaptic cortex" said TIM. "In Janice, as in all Saps, it should be under-developed, but in her case it appears to be over-developed. It is already twice the size of a Tomorrow Person's, and is still growing."
"But, that's impossible!" said John approaching the bed.
"Nevertheless," said TIM, "her cortex is pushing against the base of her brain and it is this pressure that is causing her discomfort. Effectively, she is out-evolving you!"
Janice came round. "I'm feeling better now John. Probably best if I go home" she said.
"Not so fast, young lady" said John. What exactly is going on?
"I don't know what you mean" said Janice.
*You know exactly what I mean. You've been up to something, haven't you?* 'pathed John.
"No I haven't" said Janice, giving the game away.
"Janice," said TIM "the scan shows that the part of your brain that controls psychic functions has swollen to five times its normal size. If something isn't done about it, you risk brain damage or maybe even death."
"But . . . I didn't see any harm in it" protested Janice sitting up on the bed. "I just thought it'd help me to fit in."
"You thought what would help?" asked John.
"You're going to go off your head with me" sobbed Janice.
"No I'm not" said John sympathetically. "We just want you back to normal."
"I took the old guy's drugs" said Janice.
"You did what?" said John. "Jedikiah's drugs? How much?"
"All of it" said Janice.
"All of it!" exclaimed John.
"I know I shouldn't have, John, but I just got this idea" said Janice as she got down from the bed.
Suddenly, the bed was no longer there. Neither was TIM and neither was John. She was still in the Lab, but this time it looked quite different. It looked more like an Underground railway station. Also, it was crowded with lots of people, mostly women and older men. Near to where the jaunting pad should have been was a man playing an accordion. Janice turned and found herself facing an attractive platinum blonde haired woman, dressed in a flowing grey dress. The vision startled her.
"You look like you've just seen a ghost" said the woman. "Sorry, it's too obvious a joke, isn't it. Couldn't resist it darling. My name's Kay."
Janice listened for telepathic voices in her head. There were none. "I'm Janice" said Janice.
"Damn this war" said Kay.
"War?" asked Janice.
"Yes, it's been in all the papers, you know" joked Kay. Janice looked round at the other people, particularly at their fashions. Had she moved through time again? Had she gone into the past?
"Why are you dressed like that?" asked Janice.
"I'm an actress" said Kay. "I was just about to make my appearance towards the middle of the first act when the sirens sounded. I was with my friend Noel. I'm sure he followed us down here?"
"I don't think I know anybody called Noel" said Janice. "I don't think I know who your friend . . . oh you don't mean Noel Coward do you?"
"Yes, we're doing his new play . . ." said Kay.
"Blithe Spirit! I love that film" said Janice.
"Janice, darling, it's not a film" said Kay.
"Oh, of course not" said Janice, realising she was in a time before the film was made. "You're playing the ghost aren't you? Oh what was her name . . . don't tell me."
Kay looked genuinely surprised. Janice didn't look like the type of audience member she would have expected. "Look, Janice darling, why don't you let me sign something for you?"
"Would you?" said Janice, searching her pockets. From her hooded jacket pocket she pulled out the photograph she was looking at before her time travelling began, and a ballpoint pen with "I've seen the lions at Longleat" printed on it, and handed both to Kay.
"Interesting pen" said Kay. Kay looked at the photograph. "Pretty girl."
"My sister" said Janice "You can sign the back."
"Strong resemblance" said Kay, who turned the photograph over and autographed the back before handing it back to Janice. "You know, I'll be glad when this war is over. So senseless. One would think that mankind would have more sense than to lay waste to itself like this. Wouldn't it be nice if there were no wars, if people were incapable of killing? That'll happen one day I know it, but not in our lifetime, more's the pity."
"Thank you" said Janice, "and good luck with the play."
"Oh no darling, you mustn't say that. It's bad luck. You have to say 'break a leg'" said Kay. "Come and see the play again."
"Oh I will, don't you worry" said Janice, thrilled at meeting a celebrity.
Kay disappeared amongst the crowd, possibly looking for Noel Coward. Janice became aware that people were looking at her. Some were eyeing her suspiciously. A woman approached her, wearing a dark green, knee length coat and a black hat. The woman spoke.
"And what exactly have you come as?" she said, looking Janice up and down.
"I beg your pardon?" asked Janice.
"I said" said the woman, pointing at Janice's attire "what have you come as?" Another woman looked round and spoke.
"That's what I thought" said the second woman. "She's a strange one."
"Bet she's a fifth columnist - German" said a third woman. "Look at her blonde hair."
"Oh that's ridiculous!" said Janice. "Just because I'm blonde? Would you call Ulrika Jonsson a German? You might as well say the hair makes me a moron!"
"We don't know about any Jonsson woman" said the first woman "but you don't look like you're from round here."
"Well I am!" protested Janice.
"Just look at her clothes" said the second woman. "And what's that written on her cardigan? 'Nike'"
"Is 'Nike' a German word" said the third woman. "Mr Graham, have you got a minute" the woman called to a man in an ARP uniform.
The man in the ARP uniform approached.
"It's just a logo" said Janice, beginning to feel like a victim as the crowd around her got bigger and angrier.
"And is logo another German word" said the third woman.
"Oh don't be so bloody thick!" said Janice.
"Don't you use language like that in front of me!" said the third woman. Janice began to feel the pain in her head get stronger.
"Now then fraulein" said the ARP man, "sprechen sie deutsch?"
"Of course I don't speak German!" shouted Janice.
"So, how did you know what I said?" asked the ARP warden, approaching Janice closely.
"You don't have to be German to know what that means . . . Oh my God!" Janice could see the ARP man more clearly in the dim light. "Granddad Bill!"
The ARP man seemed shocked by this address. "Just how much have your superiors told you fraulein?"
"It is you isn't it, Granddad?" Younger than she remembered, she was definite about the identification. "You are Bill Graham, aren't you?"
"I think we'd be giving just a bit too much away, don't you?" said the ARP warden.
"Careless talk costs lives" said the second woman.
"It's Janice! Brenda's daughter" said Janice.
"I don't know what you're implying fraulein, but let me tell you, my Brenda is not yet married, so if you ever get back to the fatherland, advise them to get their facts straight for once" the ARP man said, annoyed.
Janice felt her headache getting worse. She rubbed her eyes, and when she opened them again, what was the Underground railway station had changed. The people had gone. The station had become the Lab again. She looked round and saw TIM, the furniture, the staircase going up to the store room, the jaunting pad. Although the Lab was deserted, she was satisfied that she had come home.
Janice approached TIM. "You're a sight for sore eyes, TIM" she said. TIM did not reply. "I said you're a sight for sore eyes." Still no reply. "Where are the others?" No reply.
*John? Liz? Helen?* No replies.
Suddenly, she heard voices coming from above, as a door leading to the store room. The door opened, and she heard a man's voice.
". . .was discovered seventeen years ago and is believed to be one of the earliest, and quite possibly the earliest of its kind" said the man as he led an entourage of about a dozen people down the staircase and into the Lab. Janice hid from view and observed. The man, obviously a guide, appeared to be in his mid-thirties, dark haired, clean shaven and very tall. Janice looked at the other people. They too were very tall.
"And this is a non-working replica of the computer at the heart of the cell," said the guide.
"What happened to the original" said a smartly dressed woman.
"The remains are presently in the British Museum. It is presently under restoration and it is hoped that it will be fully functioning by the Spring of 12,059" said the guide. This alarmed Janice, who came out of her hiding place.
"12,059?" said Janice.
"Yes," said the guide "in time for the 20th anniversary of its discovery. This cell is believed to have been occupied, on and off by up to a hundred early telepaths in the 21st Century who hid here from the non-telepathic race who dominated the planet previously."
The penny dropped. Janice had travelled ten thousand years into the future. Homo sapiens were a distant memory, almost a nonentity, a footnote in the development of man, and here were a group of people, obviously telepathic, judging by the psychic output she was witnessing, observing the world of the people she had come to view as the future of mankind, as a museum curiosity.
"Over here" said the guide walking towards the main door "is the original pedestrian entrance to the cell, which is actually more than seventy feet below modern day street level. It is theorised that, although in general, the early telepaths didn't need to use this door, being able to teleport in and out at will, that it was used by the small number of non-telepaths who they fraternised with."
*Janice* Janice felt a telepathic cue, but who from? She didn't know anybody here. She looked round for familiar faces but saw none.
*Janice* It came again. She looked round. Behind her she saw two youths, both around seventeen years old, a boy and a girl. This time the boy walked over to her, put his hand on her shoulder and spoke directly into her ear.
"Janice" he said.
"How do you know my name?" said Janice.
"My name's Dmitri" he said. "My friend here is Bethany-Christine."
"I asked you a question, young man" said Janice.
"Step over here please" said Dmitri, guiding Janice over to where Bethany-Christine stood. Janice regarded them both. They were tall, like all the other people. Maybe this was the norm for people of this age. After all, they say every generation gets a little taller. Janice did as Dmitri asked. Suddenly, the guide's voice stopped. All activity stopped. The people stopped moving and all were frozen. All except for Dmitri, Bethany-Christine and Janice.
"What's going on here?" said Janice. "Why have they all stopped?"
"We're within a temporal envelope" said Bethany-Christine, a pretty, dark skinned girl with short red hair. "We call it a sandbox."
"Sandbox?" said Janice.
"Something we create to take stock of things" said Dmitri, a handsome young man with jet black shoulder length hair. "When we interact, we step out of the sandbox. It's an area of neutrality."
"And what creates the sandbox?" asked Janice.
"We do" said Bethany-Christine. "It's one of our abilities, and one of yours too."
"One of mine? What do you mean one of mine? I don't get it" said Janice.
"We're not like other people. We're a step ahead" said Bethany-Christine. "Like a new generation."
"Oh I think I've been here before" said Janice.
"We're small in number" said Dmitri. "To our knowledge, including yourself, there are only four of us. Our friend Dror makes up the fourth."
"What do you mean, a step ahead? And what abilities?" asked Janice.
"We're a new breed of people" said Bethany-Christine. "We can travel in time, not like the old people using machines and devices. We can do it by pure concentrated thought."
"So that's what's been happening to me?" said Janice. "Wait until John finds out about this. It'll wipe that self satisfied smug look off his face!"
"John?" said Dmitri.
"A friend" said Janice. "A telepath. You might call him one of the Yesterday People!"
"Whatever you do, you mustn't tell John about us" said Dmitri.
"Oh, because of the time travel?" said Janice.
"Not exactly" said Bethany-Christine. "We can't abuse our gift, not like the old people do."
Janice looked at them both puzzled.
"Old telepaths have become corrupt. The prisons are full of people convicted of temporal crimes, altering history, using knowledge of present events to influence the past. We don't do that, because we can't" said Bethany-Christine.
"Why not?" asked Janice.
"We just can't" said Dmitri. "Something in our biology prevents it."
"So I couldn't visit myself in the past and give myself winning lottery tickets?" said Janice.
"Lottery?" asked Bethany-Christine.
"An old game of chance where people could win money by predicting the emergence of a series of numbers" explained Dmitri.
"No" said Bethany-Christine. "I can't explain exactly. Just to say that you couldn't bring yourself to do it. Now, you must come with us."
Janice sensed that she was not where she was meant to be. So far in the future, these two teenagers had mistaken her for something she was not. Should she reveal her true nature to them? Well, if she did, what would they do to her? The prisons were full of temporal offenders. What would the authorities do to her? No, she had to get away.
"Can I just stay here for a bit? I mean I find ancient history very interesting, and I'd like to know a bit more about the early telepaths.
Bethany-Christine and Dmitri looked at each other for a moment.
"Why not, you're not a prisoner" said Dmitri. "Step outside the sandbox.
Janice took a few steps towards the replica of TIM, and the people sprung to life again.
"This of course is a very early example of a biotronic computer, and even five hundred years ago, people had pocket computers with thousands of times more power than this one" said the guide.
Janice looked round to Bethany-Christine and Dmitri, but they had disappeared. She looked round in the direction of the guide, but then everything changed again.
Janice was still in the Lab. In fact she had always been in the Lab, never having moved out of it. This time the Lab was in darkness, only the faintest glow coming from TIM's tubes. She could feel the presence of somebody else in the Lab, but couldn't see who it was. As her eyes became accustomed to the dim light levels, she could make out a shape lying on one of the beds, covered by a duvet.
"Hello" she said softly. No reply. She went over to the bed. The figure was wrapped completely in the duvet with their head completely covered. Janice touched the figure's shoulder and repeated. "Hello." The figure grunted, then moved, pulling the duvet down.
"Carol!" exclaimed Janice. "What are you doing here?" Carol drowsily lifted her head, struggling to focus through her sleep-ridden eyes.
"What time is it?" said Carol drowsily, trying to focus in on her wrist watch.
"I don't think there's any point asking me" said Janice.
"Nearly half past . . .three" said Carol.
"What's happened to TIM?" asked Janice.
"Sleeping. Biotronic" said Carol, still struggling against the urge to fall asleep. "I've been waiting for you."
"For me? How long for?" asked Janice "And why? Why you?"
"Had to be me. You said so. Came here for my birthday and I've been here all week" said Carol, getting off the bed "and I've not had a decent wink of sleep since I arrived."
"Carol, something's happening to me, and I don't know how much I can tell you" said Janice.
"Yes, yes I know what you did, and I ought to box your ears for it" said Carol, reaching for a shoulder bag under the telepathy table. "Take this and don't lose it for heaven's sake."
"Why? What's in it?" asked Janice, about to unzip it and look at it before Carol put her hand on it to prevent it.
"Don't look at it now" said Carol, placing the strap over Janice's head. "If you knew what it was you'd never take it, but it's your best hope. Just don't lose it. Give it to John when you get back to your own time, he'll figure out what to do with it."
"So I'm not back in my own time?" said Janice.
"You're tucked up in bed with Clive right now. Anyhow, you know when my birthday is, don't you?" said Carol.
"Oh, of course" said Janice. Janice wondered if Carol was quite with it. She had obviously been deprived of a lot of sleep and was exhausted. Janice sensed Carol's psychic emissions. They were confused and fuzzy. "Are you sure about all this? I mean, you're okay aren't you?"
"Janice I know about Dmitri and Bethany-Christine" said Carol, getting back into bed.
"How?" asked Janice.
"John told me" said Carol testily as she pulled the duvet over her head.
Janice tuned around to see the Lab change again. Carol had gone, and the lighting levels were more like daytime levels. TIM was active, and Ed and Elizabeth were in the Lab.
"Hello stranger" said Ed.
"I've done it again, haven't I?" said Janice.
"Not good is it love?" said Ed.
Elizabeth took hold of Janice's wrist. "I'm not letting you go this time. At least this way if you pop off you'll take me with you" she said.
Janice lifted the shoulder bag over her head and handed it to Elizabeth. "Carol gave this to me. She said that John would know what to do with it."
"Carol? When did you see Carol?" asked Elizabeth.
"She was here, wasn't she? A few days after her birthday" said Janice.
"Well I haven't seen her" said Ed.
"When is her birthday?" asked Elizabeth.
"January" said Janice.
"That's months off" said Ed. "Anyway, what's in the bag?"
"We'll look in the bag later" said Elizabeth. "In the meantime, if you'd just lie on the bed we'll see how far your condition has advanced." Elizabeth led Janice over to the bed and Janice climbed on board. "So how do you feel?"
"The headaches seem to get worse with each jump" said Janice.
"Jump?" said Elizabeth.
"I've been travelling through time. Not in space. Every time, I've been right here, but at different times. I've been back to the forties, and I've been forward ten thousand years. You'll never guess what's going to happen in ten thousand years, Liz" said Janice, just before Elizabeth interrupted her.
"Don't say any more Jan. It can be dangerous to disclose the future. Can you give her a scan now please TIM" said Elizabeth.
The light scanned over Janice's head, and TIM reported.
"Her psychic synaptic cortex has now enlarged to ten times its normal size, and some tissue damage is apparent. Unless we act immediately, she may die" said TIM.
*John, did you get all that?* 'pathed Elizabeth.
*Yes, coming in now* came a 'pathic message from John, just as he appeared on the jaunting pad.
"Oh God no John!" cried Janice. "You've got to do something!"
John came down to the bed to take a close look at Janice.
"The bag. Carol said what you're looking for is in the bag" said Janice.
"Carol?" said John.
"We can discuss Carol later John" said TIM. "May I suggest you look in the bag?"
"Of course" said John, regaining his composure. He unzipped the bag, and recoiled as he pulled the item out. It was a silencer band, as used by Jedikiah.
"Is this some kind of a sick joke?" said John. "Just wait until I see your sister!"
"Wait John" said TIM realising that John had reacted badly to this discovery. "This might be just what Janice needs. A device that absorbs psychic energy and attenuates telepathic growth. It may aid in reducing the swelling."
"So although Jedikiah may be blamed for all this happening in the first place, he may also have provided us with a solution?" said Elizabeth.
"The hair of the dog" said Ed.
"A good analogy" said TIM.
Janice sat up on the bed as John placed the band on Janice's head. Immediately it began to glow, eventually glowing so brightly that it was uncomfortable to look at.
"Just look at that!" said Ed.
"It shows how much energy is being absorbed" said John. "I just hope it doesn't overload."
"How long have I got to wear it? I mean I can't go out with it on can I" said Janice.
"There's no way to tell. By the looks of things, you might be looking at a few hours or even days" said John. "Whatever you do, don't touch it."
"Why not?" asked Janice, just as she was about to touch it. "Ouch!"
"That's why" said John. "What's the progress, TIM?"
"The rate of expansion has diminished. The amount of psychic energy it has absorbed is massive" said TIM. "There's no way of knowing how long it will take to return Janice to normal, but it is safe to say, she'll have to stay overnight."
"What am I going to tell Clive?" said Janice.
"Well cross that bridge at the right time" said John. "In the meantime, we'll have to draw up a rota to keep an eye on you. You've just been booked into Hotel TIM."
Janice woke up the next day. She focussed her eyes and saw Rachel.
"Morning" said Janice. "Sleep well?"
"I've had better, and I've had worse, but not much worse. I know what Carol meant now" said Janice, swinging her legs off the bed.
"Breakfast?" asked Rachel.
"I don't think I could stomach it right now" said Janice, "but a cup of tea would be nice, thanks."
A cup of tea appeared on the table.
"Sorry I don't have a kettle" said TIM.
"That's all right" said Janice, taking the cup and sipping from it, just as John appeared on the jaunting pad.
"How's the patient?" John asked.
"My head feels like Buddy Rich has been living in it" she said.
"But the band is almost cold" said John. "Up on the bed."
"Just let me finish my tea first" said Janice.
"That can wait. Up on the bed" said John. Janice put her cup down and lay down on the bed. "This won't hurt a bit. Okay, begin the scan please TIM."
The beam of light passed over Janice's head.
"I am pleased to report that Janice is now back to normal. Her psychic synaptic cortex has returned to normal size and there is no sign of any psychic activity above that of a typical Sap. You can consider yourself recovered" said TIM, as the band fell from her head.
"What do we do with this?" asked Janice, with the band in her hand.
"Destroy it, like we did with the others?" asked Rachel.
"Destroy it" said John, placing it on the telepathy table.
"I think before we do such a thing, we should think things through" said TIM. "Janice was given the band by Carol, and as Carol hasn't been here since she returned home, she obviously met Janice in the future. Correct?"
"Seems like a reasonable deduction" said John. "So what's the point?"
"All Jedikiah's silencer bands were destroyed. Correct?" said TIM.
"Correct" said John.
"So where did Carol get this band from?" asked TIM.
"Her home planet?" asked Rachel.
"I doubt if Carol could lay her hands on anything like this" said John.
"I know it sounds stupid" said Janice, "but could it actually be this band that Carol gives to me? I mean, do we take this particular band, give it to her, she gives it to me, we use it then give it back to her? Like it's going round in circles?"
"That's exactly right" said TIM. "We cannot destroy this band."
John looked at the band for a moment before putting it back into the shoulder bag. "So we have to hold on to this until you make another appearance, Jan. Al we know is that it was January. We don't know whether it was next year, the year after or even five years after" he said. "Okay, it'll have to be done. As long as one of us is here to hand it over."
"But it was Carol who gave it to me" said Janice.
"The important thing is that you get it" said John. Just then Janice noticed him freeze. She also noticed Rachel freeze. She turned around and saw Dmitri and Bethany-Christine standing opposite.
"You certainly gave us the runaround" said Dmitri. "Nobody ever goes earlier than the 22nd Century.
"Too dangerous" said Bethany-Christine. "More chance of getting killed. Are you coming back with us now?"
"But I don't belong with you?" said Janice.
Dmitri chuckled. "We have to stick together Janice. We're new, and the old people would think us strange."
"But I'm not one of you. I'm not even a telepath" said Janice.
Dmitri and Bethany-Christine looked at each other puzzled.
"That doesn't make sense" said Bethany-Christine. "You've time travelled. You can do everything we can."
"It's a long story, Bethany-Christine. I just did something I shouldn't have, that's all" said Janice.
Dmitri looked closely at Janice. "I can't feel anything. Can you, Bethany-Christine?" he said. Bethany-Christine tried to reach into Janice's mind without success.
"Her mind is closed" said Bethany-Christine.
"Told you. I was born in the 20th Century. I belong here" said Janice.
"Then I need to know what you have done on your time travels and who you met and what you might have changed" said Dmitri.
"Do you think I might have made changes?" said Janice.
"I don't know yet. You'll have to tell me when you've been and what you did and who you met" said Dmitri.
Janice told Dmitri of her time journeys, including her visits to the 1940s, and her meeting with Carol.
"I don't see a problem" said Dmitri. "All that remains is that you keep your appointment with your sister, and you don't divulge anything about the future to your contemporaries."
"Does it have to be Carol? I wouldn't ask, but she lives on another planet, and it'd be a lot of trouble for her to get back here. Couldn't one of the others see me?" asked Janice.
"It must be Carol" said Bethany-Christine. "There is a slight temporal disturbance, but it is contained and controlled. It's what we call a bubble. If the bubble is intact, then it can't interfere with other events. That's the explanation of the silencer band. It keeps going round and round and round, because it's trapped in the bubble, and because it's trapped in the bubble, the anomaly can't do any harm. Once something is changed, the bubble will unravel itself, and the anomaly will be allowed to contaminate the timelines."
"We'll have to convince John" said Janice.
"John? You mentioned him before, or was it later?. Is he here?" asked Dmitri.
"The tall one" said Janice.
Dmitri approached John. "Tall?" he said, dwarfing John. "I suppose he is to you."
"He'll take some convincing" said Janice. "I don't know how I'll talk him round. He doesn't see why it has to be Carol."
"We'll have to bring him into the sandbox" said Bethany-Christine
"Yes, but can we trust him?" asked Dmitri.
"I think you can trust him to keep a secret" said Janice.
Dmitri, Bethany-Christine and Janice stood within the temporal envelope, the sandbox and observed the Lab. Janice could see the group sitting around the table, including herself, looking at the photographs she had brought in. Dmitri shuttled the time forwards using his mental powers to a point where Janice was on the point of making her first temporal jump. He slowly rolled time forwards until she vanished.
"Okay Janice. Just step out there and take your seat and everything should continue as if nothing ever happened. And please for goodness sake, don't say a word about what happened" said Dmitri.
"Not a word" said Janice. "And thanks for everything" she said as she hugged him before turning to Bethany-Christine and hugging her. "It's nice to know the human race has a future."
Janice stepped into the Lab and took her seat, sitting between Elizabeth and Rachel.
"I remember this one" said Janice. It's Carol outside Uncle Martin's house. I think she was about thirteen or fourteen.
Elizabeth took the photograph from her. "So it was probably about the time she broke out" she said, turning the photograph over. "What's this on the back 'To Janice, see you when the war is over, regards Kay Hammond.'"
Janice looked at Elizabeth. She had forgotten her meeting with the actress in the 1940's. It's a long story, Liz. I'll tell you one of these days.
Anthony was in a good mood. He'd received some good news and was eager to share it with his friends.
"I've been offered a trial with Macclesfield Town! I'm going to be a professional!" said Anthony.
"That's great news Anthony, but does that mean you'll have to move away from home?" said John.
"I think I know how to cut the journey time down" said Anthony. "I just need to find out where Macclesfield is, that's all."
"John, Janice is at the front door" said TIM.
"Okay TIM, let her in please" said John. "Why didn't she use her transporter band? I've told her often enough."
The door slid open and Janice came in.
"How's everyone?" said Janice.
"Fine" they all said, almost in unison.
"Why didn't you transport in? asked Elizabeth.
"I'll come to that later" said Janice. "John, I've had an idea. A date for your diary. January the 8th. Carol's birthday."
"And what makes this year any different?" asked John.
"We're going to make it different" said Janice. "We're going to make it special for her. We're going to invite her to spend it with us."
"I can't see her coming all that way just for her birthday" said John.
"Oh, but she must!" said Janice. "You'll see my point of view before long, trust me."
"Is it a special birthday?" said Rachel.
"No, not particularly. I just thought it'd be nice. We could arrange a few events for her"
"So how old is she then?" asked Anthony.
"Anthony!" said Elizabeth. "That's not very gentlemanly!"
"Sorry" said Anthony. "So how old is she then?"
"Anthony I shan't tell you again!" said Elizabeth.
"It's just that . . ." said Anthony, " . . . it's just that she must be nearly as old as John and he's ancient."
"He gets it from his father" said Elizabeth, giving up.
Lyndon got up and made his way to the jaunting pad.
"Got to go you lot. See you later, I've got band practise" said Lyndon.
"Just a minute, Lyndon" said Janice. "Don't go yet. TIM, could you latch on to my transporter band and bring it in please? I've got it wrapped round something in my car."
"A pleasure, Janice" said TIM. The transporter band appeared on the telepathy table, wrapped around the neck of a white electric guitar.
"This is for you, Lyndon" said Janice. Lyndon approached it in awe. He picked it up and looked at it.
"It's just like the one in the shop! Did you make it TIM?" said Lyndon.
"This has nothing to do with me" said TIM.
"It is the one in the shop!" said Lyndon. "I've been looking at this for weeks! It's a proper Fender – even with the serial number! Thanks Mum. How did you afford this?"
"Well, I took a bit of money out of the bank to repair the car, and Ed was right, it was an expensive repair. But then I had a bit of help, didn't I TIM? I mean, what's the point of having access to a biotronic computer if you can't take advantage" said Janice.
"So TIM repaired your car?" asked Anthony.
"A very simple procedure I assure you" said TIM.
"Obviously I couldn't tell Clive how I'd got the car fixed for free, not without letting the cat out of the bag anyway. But that left me with the problem of what to do about the money I hadn't spent, so it all worked to Lyndon's advantage" said Janice.
"Won't Clive wonder how Lyndon could afford an expensive new guitar?" asked Elizabeth.
"He doesn't have a clue about anything like that. Anyway he'll probably not even notice he's
got a new one" said Janice.
"Anyway, what say we get in touch with Carol and ask her if she's any plans for the second week in January?" said John. "Okay, let's get round the table and make contact. I'm sorry, you won't be able to participate Jan, not being a Tomorrow Person."
"That's okay, John" said Janice. "I think I could live with that."
- The End -