Extract from Chapter 4
The Voyager had been parked nose-
He waited on the doorstep, thumbs hooked into his waist band, wondering what was taking so long. Madeline, the next door neighbour, walked past the end of his driveway and spoke as she turned to walk up her path. “Vicky locked you out again?”
He gave her a disapproving look. “Ha, ha, ha, ha,” he sneered.
The door opened and Vicky appeared. “Hi Madeline. Coming in for tea later?”
“Might just do that. When he’s gone.”
“Derek. My name is Derek, if you don’t mind. And it better had be after I’ve gone.”
Madeline entered her house scowling, leaving the pair at their own front door.
“Well let me in then, for God’s sake.”
They went to the living room, which was empty except for the furniture. Derek looked around. It hadn’t changed much since his departure. The pictures on the walls were slightly different; the ones bearing his face had been removed. The sofa was a bit ruffled and he was surprised to see some silvery grey hairs on the cushions nearest the window. Long and fine, they wavered, ghost like, in the heat stream of a nearby radiator. Derek walked over and lifted one, holding it up to the daylight. “Has your Mother been sleeping here, then?”
“Oh, no. I’ll tell you what, though; he’s a bit weird.”
“Him,” she shrugged, “the bloke that stayed here last night. He’s got grey hair. Well, silver more like.”
“No, he looks about thirty-
“Outside and confused.”
Vicky led him through the kitchen and out to the garden as if he was a new visitor. He’d lived in that house for several years and now he was being treated like he’d never been there before. Heck, she must have forgotten all about their time together.
At the back door she said, “There he is look; on the bench.”
Derek was glad of the directions; the garden was huge and full of bushes and shrubs. He had often enjoyed wandering out there in the evenings and losing himself in the greenery after a hard slog at work. Rathbone was occupying the furthest of three benches in the garden and was almost out of sight of the house. Derek could just see the blue denim clad legs that poked out from behind the clematis.
“You’d better introduce me then, hadn’t you,” he demanded.
They strode over almost casually. Rathbone remained motionless until they were upon him. He arose with a start before realising it was Vicky. He eyed Derek with apparent suspicion. “Who’s he?”
“This is Derek. Remember? I told you about him. He should be able to sort out your problem, he’s a superintendent.”
“Lavatory or police?”
“Police, of course,” Vicky replied.
“You never mentioned you were married to the fuzz!” Rathbone stepped backward, only to bump into the bench and find himself in an enforced sitting position.
“I’m not. He’s the one married to his job.”
“Don’t start getting offensive,” said Derek, ignoring Vicky’s jibe. “This happens to be my garden you’re sitting in, and my house that you slept in last night. We had better talk.”
They sat at the kitchen table. Rathbone looked at his glass of scotch and sighed. He thought he had better start to explain, but how could he? A police superintendent was even less likely to believe his tale than Vicky. He sipped and tried to start. Derek prompted him. “Your hair’s very grey.”
“Yesterday it was fair.”
“And what happened yesterday? Vicky tells me you think you’ve lost thirty-
“I don’t just think it; I damned well know I did.” It was not going to be easy to talk about this. How could he persuade a cynical copper about something he couldn’t rationalise for himself?
“So how’d it happen then? Get into Dr Who’s Tardis and flit through time?”
“Dr Who? Is he still on?”
“Oh yes. Better than ever, as well,” answered Vicky. “They even show all the really old episodes on satellite and cable.”
“Satellite? Cable? Fuck, this is getting like the States.”
“Oi,” snarled Derek, “less of the language. There’s a lady present. Just tell me how you think you lost thirty years.”
“It’s not straight forward. It’s not just like, one day I’m there, the next I’m here. I mean, well, it was, but I’ve switched countries and everything.” He put down his glass and looked pleadingly across the table to Derek. “Maybe I should start before the drugs bust.”
“Drugs! I bloody knew there’d be drugs in it. I suppose you better had start there, then.”
“I need to check-
“Yes, Derek, I think we should phone the hospital for him; it’s the least we can do.” Vicky was on her feet and on the way to the phone in the hallway before Derek could respond.
“I thought you knew how she is: in a coma.”
“Yeah man; that was two hours ago. She could‘ve pegged it by now.” He was genuinely
worried about her. There was no love lost between them but she was his only link
with 1979. If she died who would believe any of this? He’d just be listed amongst
all the drug-
Rathbone knew he’d have to start his story. He took a deep breath and began. “Well,
I’m a singer in a rock band. Well, in nineteen-