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Although Lloyd Hopkins has been writing creatively for most of his

adult life, this is not only the first creative effort for Fleur Lind but
also their first collaboration.
Fl e ur Li nd & Ll o y d Ho pki ns
A T I ME L Y DRE AM
Dedication
Lloyd Hopkins and I dedicate this, our first published book, to our um
!argaret", our Dad !Alfred", our oldest brother !#eter", our youngest
brother !Denis" and our $ncle %ohnny...all of whom are no longer with us
and greatly missed. &hey have been a huge inspiration to us as we have
crafted this novel. 'e know they would be immensely proud of our creative
effort and hard work.
(urs has been, and continues to be, a )uite uni)ue collaboration. *ot only
are we brother and sister with a +, year age difference who work together in
harmony with completely different writing styles, but we are also from
opposite sides of the &asman sea. 'e have loved every minute of it, happy
in the knowledge that we-ve only .ust begun our .ourney in the literary
world.
Fleur Lind !nee Hopkins"
/opyright Fleur Lind 0 Lloyd Hopkins
&he right of Fleur Lind 0 Lloyd Hopkins to be identified as author of
this work has been asserted by them in accordance with section 11 and
12 of the /opyright, Designs and #atents Act +322.
All rights reserved. *o part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthori4ed act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for
damages.
A /I# catalogue record for this title is available from the 5ritish
Library.
I65* 312 +27389 279 :
www.austinmacauley.com
First #ublished !:;+7"
Austin acauley #ublishers Ltd.
:, /anada 6)uare
/anary 'harf
London
<+7 ,L5
#rinted and bound in =reat 5ritain
Acknowledgements>
Fleur Lind
&his book represents a couple of huge firsts for me. It?s not only my first
novel, but in the literary field it?s also my first collaboration with my oldest
brother, Lloyd. 6o my first big thank you must go to him for his
encouragement, faith and belief in me as a new writer, especially on those
days when I needed a good nudge. His metaphorical @cattle prod? was worth
its weight in goldA
y husband, Bevin, is well deserved for a mention, as I balanced our busy
family life and working life with my passion for writing. As the story
developed so did my addiction for writing the neCt paragraph.
&hanks to my family and friends who have .oined us in our eCcitement and
anticipation of our story?s first print. &hose who have been right behind me
from the first chapter when I told them I was writing a book.
However, the biggest thank you of all must go to our publisher Austin
acauley, for seeing value in our story and taking us on. As our story @A
&imely Dream? goes to print, we are @unknowns? in the literary world.
However, it is our dream that the characters in our story will become much
loved and remembered and that you, our reader, will en.oy reading it as
much as Lloyd and I en.oyed writing it.
Lloyd Hopkins
I am eCtremely lucky because in purely philosophical terms, I am among the
most 5lessed of men because Austin acauley?s publication of DA &imely
DreamE is the realisation of a lifelong ambition. An ambition I wasn?t even
aware of until I was about +: years old when my father !A./. Hopkins
:8F+F+3+, G :,F,F+31," said to me, Dson, there?s no greater honour for a man
than for him to write a story that a publisher thinks is so good, he is prepared
to put it in print for the world to share.E And so my hobby of writing
creatively began and by the decade ending +381 my works included poetry,
short stories and a novel. In +312 I migrated from *H to Australia where for
a decade or so I concentrated on poetry.
&hen after a break of a few years, in +33; I was inspired to write my second
novel, D*o =ame For AmateursE in the romanticFthriller genre. However,
working on it was different to all before it because of one very special
reason> I collaborated with my dearly beloved younger brother, Denis
!2F,F+3,9 G :8F9F:;;1". 'ith every chapter I wrote, I posted it to him, he
read it, made deletionsFamendments and posted it back. In his view, I was
the @principal writer and he was the @wordsmith?. 5y +339 we?d finished
what we both agreed was a story that was, in the least, worthy of gaining a
publisher?s attention.
&ime ticked by until early :;+: when my dear sister, Fleur, sent me an email
about something she?d seen. /all it a @<ureka moment? but that singular
email set alarm bells ringing in my mind and I suggested it had enormous
potential to be transformed into a work of fiction. 6he was at first reluctant
but after some gentle @cattle prodding? she agreed and DA &imely DreamE
began its gestation. 6ince that moment, I have been for Fleur what Denis was
for me.
And if there?s one thing that both collaborations personify...it?s that @two
heads are better than one?.
And now, thanks to Austin acauley, everyone in the world has the
wonderful opportunity to read our uni)ue story...and maybe even the se)uel
D*o &ime For IulesE...which we?ve recently finished then maybe even the
trilogy that we?ve .ust begun to write. /heers, Lloyd.
Ieaders are cordially invited to comment on DA &imely DreamE by using the
following link>
www.facebook.comFA&imelyDream&rilogy
All correspondence will be respected, and where re)uested, the authors will
respond personally.
Chapter 1
DBeep calm and resist chocolate.E *ot only was it a contradiction in terms of
epic proportions, her words weren?t anywhere close to commanding. 'ith a
DalekJlike voice chanting in her head...?<at chocolate, resistance is futile?, there
was no hope and she knew it. Her desire was far too great and could not be
ignored. 'ith a shrug and a sigh of resignation, she reached into the basket.
D'hat the hell. &omorrow is a new day,E Felicity was angered at her weakened
will power. 6he had been wanting to try the new flavour since the advertising on
&K had been so enticing. &he way the chocolate crackled when teeth met with
the hard outer chocolate shell to reveal a creamy centre. And it was champagne
flavoured. 6o it was far too sensual to pass up. As her lips closedJin around the
cold chocolateJcovered outer layer and all her guilt evaporated with the sheer
indulgence, the doorbell rang.
DI?ll get it,E 6teph called from the hallway.
Felicity was en.oying some down time with her long lost cousin, who had
recently returned from two years travelling and working in <ngland and <urope.
DFundraisers,E 6teph said as she reappeared in the kitchen, Dit?s hard yakka,
that. &he girl was selling chocolate bars for her netball team. 6o as weak willed
as I am, I bought four. &wo for you, and two for me.E
Felicity groaned inwardly and rolled her eyes as she reached out to accept
the two bars being handed to her. Her diet was getting shot to hell.
Although 6teph was five years older than her, they had en.oyed a close bond
since they were kids. &hey had spent most summers together as their families
converged on the huge holiday home in the winterless north of Beri Beri. &hey
had really en.oyed their long la4y summers at the beachL swimming, fishing,
diving or .ust talking about their hopes and dreams as they lay beneath the huge
#ohutukawa tree where the grass met the sandy beach.
&he summers and the years passed, the girls became women and 6teph got
itchy feet. 6he had big plans for travelling and true to her word she saved up
then followed her dream of living and working in the $B and <urope. &hen
when she had had her fill of the cultures, flavours, colours and pace, she would
return home to Fernglen to recharge her Biwi roots. And Felicity, knowing
6teph only too well as a person who could decide to take off on a whim, she
fully intended to make the most of her globeJtrotting cousin?s company.
DDid I tell you I went to that new eChibition in unich about a month agoM
Fantastic collection. It would have made you drool. ind you there was some
stuff there that left me wondering what the artist was on when he put brush to
canvas. Like, some of the work, you had to look at from a few different angles
to try and see what it was. Nou know what I meanM 6ome paintings you can .ust
look at them and identify with them straight away but there were others that I
found very confusing. &here I was standing there with what could have been
misconstrued as a frown on my face. 5ut to the admirer of fine art,E she
remarked as she pulled a silly face and began imitating a hoityJtoity voice, Dit is
simply the look one gives as one attempts to absorb the colours and compleCities
of what the artist was trying to eCpress or portray. And on that note, I think we
need a glass of wine. &here?s a bottle of central (tago =urwert4 in the fridge.
DAhh, now you?re talking,E 6teph remarked as Felicity set two glasses on the
table, retrieved the wine and poured a hearty drop of her favourite fermented
grape .uice into them. 6he could see any hope of getting to the gym today
)uietly evaporating.
D/heersA As you were sayingME
DNeah, anyway, it was fabulous. &here was a good miCture thereOyou
know, /laude onet, #icasso and also some really abstract stuff. &o me it didn?t
look any more than a splash and a dash of colour than a five year old could have
done. 5ut you should have seen the price tags on themA 6ome were so abstract
that I found myself doing a s)uint while I tried to figure it out.E
DNeah, I know what you mean. HeyA Do you remember that painting that
used to hang up in the lounge of the bach when we were kidsM It?s probably still
there. $ncle %ohn?s one. I spent years trying to figure that out. It had contrasting
black and flame orange. It was a profile of a woman?s face. Ieally striking.E
DNes, I know the one you mean. I didn?t know what it was either to start
with. It hung there for donkey?s years. I remember when I figured it out though.
'e were having a drink before dinnerO$ncle %ohn?s home brewA an alive,
that stuff was good.E
D6ure was. He could make wine out of anything. If it had .uice, he could
cork it. Do you remember the label he made up when he was ready to bottleM It
was so coolO@Father %ohn?s 5oysenberry 'ine. #roducer of distinctive fine
wines and many children. 5ottled eCclusively for friends, family, visiting royals,
the mafia, KI#?s, dignitaries and spies.?E
DNep, he was a legend.E
D&o $ncle %ohn. 'hen they made him, they broke the mould.E
&he glasses clinked in salute to a fondly remembered, sadly missed relative.
As 6teph topped up their glasses, she continued.
DIt?s good to be home, though. I might stick around for a bit, make the most
of the warmer weather. How?s work goingME
D=reat. *ever a dull moment, busy, fun. 5est kind of .ob, really.E
Felicity was a caregiver at /arrisbrook <state Iest Home. 6he had walked
through the doors :: years earlier en)uiring about work and had never looked
back. 6o as they drank their wine, Felicity shared some funny @laugh out loud?
anecdotes from her shifts.
&he afternoon continued in its mellowing way, catching up on family
gossip, and sharing secrets and memories as only two close cousins can. 'ith
the last drop of wine s)uee4ed from the belly of the bottle, Felicity rang for a
taCi and left her cousin to carry on with her unpacking. 6he hoped that 6teph
would be sticking around for )uite a while this time as they made a formidable
pair.
Felicity was up early the neCt morning to start her shift. 6he was a morning
person, so when the alarm went off at ,.9;am, her brain was ready for the day
ahead. Her shift started in the usual way, with sleepy residents making their way
to their respective seats in the dining room and the clatter from the kitchen as
breakfast was being organised.
For those who paused in the library and glanced out of the eCpansive
windows, they were graced with a lovely view. &he residents and staff alike,
could glance out at any point and see what the weather was doing, or how the
building was progressing on the ad.acent property or how the newly laid lawn
was growing on another nearby propertyOall sorts of observations could be
made from a )uick glance from the windows in the library. It was a huge bonus
to have /arrisbrook <state positioned on a slight rise overlooking a small valley
of suburbia.
As Felicity and the team were clearing up after lunch was over and walking
frames had been issued to their owners, she made her way through the library to
start her tasks and glanced out the window when something caught her eye. It
appeared to her that a hugeJwindowed house in the distance across the valley,
had their &K tuned into the cricket. At this time it was early spring and cricket
was often an option for viewing on the 6ports channel.
D(h, someone is watching the cricket over there,E she remarked and
promptly thought no more about it and carried on about her tasks. A bit later in
the morning she went past the window again...it was still the cricket.
D5oring,E Felicity thought. 6he found cricket to be a very good sedative.
6he did, however wonder at that point, that it was indeed a long time to keep
that view of the cricket pitch. &o all intents and purposes, it looked to her like it
was one of those long distance wide angle views the cameraman did at cricket
matches when there was a lull in the actionOlike they were changing batsmen
or having tea...or whatever it was that cricket teams did when they weren?t
rubbing the cricket ball against their crotch. 6he knew that it was something to
do with keeping one side of the ball shiny, to help it spin. 6omething like that,
anyway. 6he wasn?t the slightest bit enticed by the sport of cricket and she was
)uite comfortable with her ignorance of the game.
6o the view remained the same. 'hat looked to be a beautiful hot sunny day
somewhere during a game of cricket.
%ust before Felicity finished her shift, she looked out the window again. 6he
was both ama4ed and curious to see it was the same view as before. 'hat was
the camera man doingM It was fuelling her curiosity to irritating levels.
Although she was the first of the staff to have her interest aroused by the
view, gradually the other staff on her shift become intrigued as well and soon
adopted the same pu44led eCpression. &hey stood, arms folded, a frown starting
to crease their otherwise fairly relaCed faces.
&hey were doing @that s)uint?. It was the same s)uint that Felicity?s cousin
6teph was talking about at the art gallery in unich. (nly this wasn?t the work
of a master. (h no. &his was local and intrigue was building by the hour.
&he neCt day, after the breakfast cleanJup was complete, Felicity pulled
back the curtains in the library hopeful of some sun pouring through the
window. 5ut something was amiss. &he view across the valley was differentO
very different. 'hat she saw threw a new, completely different angle on the
already annoyingly curious scene across the valley.
&he curtains in the window were shut...they were sleeping inOlucky them.
5ut the &K...the flat screen...was still visible. *ow, how could that beM =iven
that it was still early for even the most astute brain to be firing on all cylindersL
this was a most confusing scenario.
It was a busy shift, so no time was available for the confused staff to ponder
upon the compleCities of this situation. It was business as usual and the tasks of
the day were duly completed and no more thought was given to what was
happening through the window, across the valley.
Later that morning, during her break, Felicity took a moment to have
another look. =eorge and /lem, residents and brothers in arms, not blood related
but thick as thieves, were also looking out the window.
DHey Felicity, what are you looking atME
DHi, =eorge. &hat window over there. It?s pu44ling me. I can?t work out
what it is in the window.E
=eorge followed the finger Felicity was pointing and peered in a very
concentrated fashion, through his smudgy bifocals.
D/ripes, I haven?t got a clue. &oo far away for these old eyes to see. 'hat
do you make of it, /lemME
D5uggered if I know =eorge, I?m as blind as you are, mate.E
DIt looks like it might be a &K.E =eorge said after a moment of deep
thought.
@Neah, that?s what I thought too, to start with. 5ut it .ust doesn?t add up. It?s
annoying me.E
D(h, no, we can?t have that, can we /lemM 'ell, you could trim my nails
for me if you like. &hat will take your mind off what?s annoying you and my
nails will be tidy. It?s a winJwin.E
Felicity laughed.
If there were two people in the entire compleC that was /arrisbrook <state,
who could instantly change a mood to the positive, it was those two.
DIight you are thenA y break?s almost over, let?s take care of those claws
of yours, ehME
DarvellousAE
And with that, the happy trio set off to tend to =eorge?s manicure. As they
did, Felicity looked over her shoulder, a wistful eCpression on her face as she
considered the possibilities as to what her eyes couldn?t fathom on that window
across the valley.
As Felicity?s shift drew to an end, she took a minute to pause and again
study the window across the valley. It had occurred to her, after her second cup
of coffee, that it must be a poster stuck to the window, facing out into the street.
&hat penny had dropped .ust before lunch. And now it had caught the attention
and curiosity of a number of the staff.
D'hat is that over thereME
DIt?s a poster stuck onto a window.E
D'eird how it?s stuck facing out, thoughE
DNeah, but what is the poster ofME
Felicity, and fellow carers aC, =emma and /hef Helen admitted they had
been )uietly but actively guessing what it might be, as it was .ust far enough
away to be really annoying.
DIt still looks like a &K.E
DNeah, but obviously it can?t be.E
D6o what do you reckonME
DDunno.E
&hen Helen took a punt.
D'hite puffy clouds on top or maybe white snowJcapped mountainsME
aC .oined in.
DAhhOa river or a streamME
Felicity gave it a go, D=reen pastures, a word or a phrase or some kind of
writingME
5etween the four of them, the ideas were bubbling up enthusiastically.
D(h, I?ve had enough of thisA 'here?s 'illiamM He?s got a pair of
binoculars, hasn?t heM Let?s ask if we can borrow themAE Felicity said with a
hint of grump in her voice.
D=reat idea, off you goAE
aC took the helm and headed off on a mission to find 'illiam. He was
found in the lounge reading the paper.
D'illiam, mateA I have a favour to ask.E
'illiam, a tall solidly built 6cotsman with dancing eyes and a smile that
could light up a room, looked up from his paper. DAye, and what might that be
laddieME
D/an we please borrow your binocularsME
D'ho?re ya spyin? onM 6ome shapely lassieME
D*ot so much who, as what. A poster of something is annoying us because
we can?t figure out what it is. &he irritation value is )uite high.E
DA posterME 'illiam was intrigued, Dwhere is itME
DAcross the valley. /ome and have a look but bring your binoculars.E
'illiam folded his paper and lifted his tall frame out of the armchair, Dright.
I?ll go and get them for ye then.E
aC returned to the others, standing in the same spot, eyes focussed, faces
doing that s)uintJfrown.
D'illiam is on his way.E
D=ood.E
A few minutes later, 'illiam sauntered up beside Felicity.
DHere ya go, lassie.E
Felicity fiddled with the dial but despite her best efforts, the view was no
clearer.
'illiam had a go, still no success.
D'ell, that didn?t do much good eh,E 'illiam grunted.
DI?m finishing now, I?m going to do a drive by and have a look. I?ll take a
photo on my phone and teCt it to you, aC.E
D/ool, do thatA &hen we will know once and for all. It?s been driving me
nutsAE
DNeah, me tooAE
6o, on that note, Felicity grabbed her bag and .acket from the staff room and
headed for the car park. As she drove, she couldn?t help feeling a sense of
anticipation. A few days of s)uinting, frowning, frustration and intrigue was
about to reach a conclusion.
6he pulled up outside the house in )uestion. &he garage door was up and a
car was parked inside. &hat suggested someone may be home, so she did her
best to be discrete. 6tanding on the edge of the property, she ga4ed up at the
window. &here it was. 6he raised her eyebrows as she took in the poster. Her
eyes scanned the detail. Nes, she could see how their thoughts of snowJcapped
mountains, wording across the middle, green pasturesOcould all have been
interpreted from a distance. 6he raised her cell phone in camera mode to take in
the poster. &aking two photos J one from where she stood and one on 4oomL she
added the teCt before sending it to aC and the crew. And as she wasn?t one for
abbreviating teCt, it read> DHey aC, we were so off the mark with thisA It?s the
All 5lacks standing in a row in the centre of the field doing the Haka. *ight
lights above a packed stadium. &he field is faded blueyFgreen from the sun.
aC came back almost instantly.
D*o wayA IeallyMA 'e wd neva have pikd thatAE
Felicity smiled.
'ith the mystery solved, she put her phone back in her pocket, her keys in
the car door and set off towards home. However, as she drove, she couldn?t help
but be curious as to why the poster was facing out into the sun. It would be
interesting to find out why that was. 6he guessed that was the one piece of the
pu44le she would never know. It could simply be that whoever lived there were
avid All 5lack fans and were proud to be supporting their team so much they
wanted the whole neighbourhood to know. 6o many streets had gone the whole
hog at Iugby 'orld /up time, dressing their houses in flags and all manner of
party fare. It still would have been interesting to know though, she mused.
Felicity had no idea .ust how interesting the answer to her )uestion would
be.
Chapter
Although the staff knew from Felicity?s teCt message what the poster?s picture
was, it continued to hold their fascination. As they passed the window they?d
look across at it simply because it was there. 5ut now they looked across with a
wistful smile. And as new staff .oined the team, they too would look across the
valley to that house and wonder what it was that was in the window.
&he rest of her day proceeded as it usually did. And the sun rose the neCt
day in the usual fashion. 5ut today was different. <ach &hursday she had the
pleasure of working with a group in their day care centre.
For the clients that attended day care, it was a day away from their regular
grind and a chance to socialise where they might otherwise have had a fairly
)uiet, lonely time. &he /arrisbrook /ourtesy /oach, also known as the @funJ
bus?, especially when aC was driving, picked them from their homes to the
centre where they were entertained, eCercised and stimulated with social
intercourse, before being driven home at the end of the day.
&hey were a bright bunch, all with a story to tell, a .oke to share and ready
for a good laugh. &hey all had a wicked sense of humour and did their best to
shock Felicity.
6o as she dressed for work she decided she was going to tell her group about
the poster. &hey loved a good story, whether it was true or notA &here was
something else about her &hursdays at Day /are that was special. It was
something she had developed, something that had evolved over the time she had
worked there. It was her trade mark, uni)ue to her group.
It was a rock and roll track from a /D of +38;?s music that worked perfectly
for her rendition of a Biwi classic. 6omething that was internationally
recognised and a familiar stance to every *ew Healander. It was Felicity?s own
interpretation of a haka, made into a fun eCercise.
After her group settled, Felicity started to tell them about the saga of the
poster in the window across the valley.
6he hadn?t got past her first sentence when illy, the most senior of her
group, stopped her.
DI know where you mean. I know that house. &hat?s where my nephew 6am
and his wife <mma live. He?s such a fine young guy. He was in the army you
know. Did his :; years and now has his own very successful security business.
y sister /laire married a aori chap. 6am is their only child.E
Felicity looked .ust like someone had pointed the remote at her and pressed
the pause button.
All the mystery that had prevailed for days as they had looked across the
valley, wondering and s)uinting, illy had known all along who lived there and
no doubt knew what the poster was. Had she known, Felicity would?ve asked
her and saved all the bother.
DIeallyM 'ow. Fancy that, it?s a small world indeed. Have you seen the
poster illyME Felicity asked incredulously.
DNes, 6am showed it to me .ust after he was given it. It?s pretty faded now
but he said it has to stay in the window. &hey take it down to clean the window
but they always stick it back on.E
Felicity?s eyebrows raised as she listened. @IeallyM &hat was the one thing
that was pu44ling me. 'hy it was facing outwards.E
DI don?t know, but 6am says it has to be facing the sun.E
Felicity couldn?t )uite wrap herself around the logic of a poster having to
face out into the sun but accepted that everyone was different. aybe 6am liked
passersJby to see the poster and be reminded of his passion for the All 5lacks.
6he shrugged, had a look of resignation on her face, but she had to say she had
suddenly grown more fascinated since illy?s little snippet.
DIeallyM 'hyME At this point everyone was looking very alert and leaning
forward on their arm chairs, hinging on illy?s answer.
DI can?t remember the whole story but why don?t you ask him yourselfM I
haven?t seen him for a while. 'hy don?t I invite him over neCt &hursday to our
group and we can all find outM 'e can show him our haka too. He?s mad on his
rugbyAE
&he group erupted with applause making the collective decision unanimous.
D&hat sounds like a plan, illy,E Felicity was making mental notes to self.
However, she wasn?t so sure about showing off their haka because it was .ust a
little something they shared as a fun, inJhouse activity. Net with a little
encouragement maybe they would agree to give a performance to a stranger.
&he neCt week rolled by in the usual fashion. 'henever she looked out of
the window in the library at /arrisbrook <state Iest Home to see the poster
across the valley, for some reason she felt there was a whole lot more to it than
met the eye. Little did she know how much more.
'hen the day arrived for 6am?s visit, the group honoured him by putting on
a special morning tea. 6am was a solidly built and over 8 feet tall. His capable
frame suggested he would look )uite at home in a rugby scrum. Felicity
introduced him to everyone and after they had had a brew and a bite, they settled
down in the lounge for a yarn.
Felicity asked 6am about his poster. 6he was keen to hear the answer about
the poster?s need for sunlight. 6am?s reply was eCtraordinary.
DI think it will be best and make more sense to you all if I start at the
beginning,E 6am said as he settled in his chair. As light was shed on all the
)uestions, he went on to say how he came by the poster to start with.
5eing a keen rugby man, 6am played for his local club. He was on his usual
training run through the park and stopped by a seat to stretch. As he was
stretching, an elderly man came up to him and sat down on the seat. &hey talked
for a while as you do when it?s a nice day and people are out and about en.oying
the sun. &he elderly man, who introduced himself as %ames, had a very
intriguing story to tell. He said he had been looking for )uite some time to find
the right person to tell his story to.
6am looked sceptical in his response. After an eCemplary military career
spanning :; years, he was neither naPve nor gullible but out of respect.
And so %ames?s story started to unfold.
As a child %ames had been keen about all sports. &hen in his youth at school
he?d played Full 5ack but due to an accident, any hope of playing at an elite
level in the future had vanished. 5ut that didn?t dampen his enthusiasm and
passion for Iugby. He was a spritely, agile looking man for his senior years. He
had also lived a very colourful life. ost blokes of his age had seen a war or
two, done their bit but %ames had done more than that, much more. As a scientist
he had devised a formula, applied it to a poster that had unlocked an incredible
world to him.
As %ames? story developed, 6am?s eyebrows raised. &his chance meeting
was not the average chat that two strangers have when passing in the park.
D6o, the posterM 'hat?s so incredible about itME
DAhh, the poster,E %ames remarked )uietly and looked very thoughtful. &hen
he looked 6am fair and s)uare in the eye, took a foldedJup piece of paper out of
his coat pocket and handed it to 6am, DI want you to have this. I have had my
time with it. &ake it home and stick it on your lounge window, facing the sun.
It?s impregnated with my formula and that?s what gives it special powers. &reat
it with respect and it will serve you well. Nou are a keen rugby man, 6am. &his
poster will allow whoever is meant to make the .ourney to travel back into
another time of rugby greats. It must go up on the window as soon as possible
though. &hat is crucial. He sighed and looked out across the park, DI have to go
now 6am. It was nice meeting you.E
And then %ames got up to go and while standing, he reached down and
shook 6am?s hand. 6am then lowered his head in thought, feeling perpleCed as
you would having .ust been offered a poster that ostensibly would unlock secret
powers.
D6o, does this poster come with instructionsME 6am had a few hundred
)uestions on the tip of his tongue for %ames, but when he looked up he had gone.
How did he move so fastM 6am wondered as he saw there were )uite a few
people going this way and that through the park but %ames was nowhere to be
seen.
All eyes were on 6am in the cosy lounge at Day /are, as he paused with his
story.
He and Felicity looked around at the faces, all fro4en in motion waiting for
his neCt sentence. &he silence was deafening. &his was the best Day /are
session her group had had for agesA 6tory telling at its best.
D6oOwhat happened neCtME
DNeah, you can?t stop there, mateAE
D'hat?s the goM 'hat was the story with the posterME
DDid you see %ames againME
DI need to peeE
D'hen?s lunchM I?m hungryE
And the )uestions didn?t stop there. 6am must have felt he was under a
barrage of siege proportions. Felicity thought she should have warned 6am
about her &hursday group. &hey loved a good yarn. 6he had been doing a )ui4
one day, forgot to give them the answers and nearly had a fullJon brawl to deal
withA Her group were sharp as a tack. And you could bet your last .et plane lolly
that they weren?t going to let 6am off so easily.
@&ime (ut,E Felicity yelled as she was on the verge of handing out red cards,
but the lunch gong saved the day. 6am .oined them for lunch and afterwards the
group treated him to a five star performance of their haka. 6am thought he had
seen everything until the group of 4esty octogenarians went through their pacesA
DIitchie c/aw should see this new groove and maybe get some fresh
ideas for the rugby fieldAE 6am laughed.
After the haka, 6am was )ui44ed by Dorne and a few others, asking about
the neCt chapter in his yarn, but as he had a tight schedule he needed to leave.
&hinking it would be a good parting gesture, he invited those from the group
who were interested to visit his home and see the poster for themselves. A date
was set for a future gathering.
6am and his wife <mma had gone to a lot of trouble to make their visit as
comfortable as possible. After all they?d never had a small number of aged
people descending on their home, so when the /arrisbrook <state /ourtesy van
pulled up outside, he was waiting on the curb to greet them. &he eCcitement
among the group was at fever pitch. &he men were ready to talk sport while the
women were pleased to be a part of this curious caper and away from their
crocheted cushion covers. &hey aged from late 1;?s to mid 3;?s all boasting a
healthy disposition, apart from the medication common in that age group, but a
very competitive group none the less. And they all liked to win.
After the meet and greet, 6am gave the whistle for everyone to go inside.
&he men remained in the small lounge which was soon abu44 with eCcitable,
lively chatter. <mma had placed an array of homeJmade treats on the dining
table including a few sausage rolls, some pikelets, Afghan biscuits and a good
strong brew of tea. 6am had pulled out some DKDs from his Iugby 'orld /up
collection for anyone who was keen. In hindsight, something stronger than tea
wouldn?t have gone amiss had they known what was to follow.
'hile the men chatted about their favourite All 5lack test match, <mma
invited the women to take a leisurely stroll around her garden which she tended
to with much the same passion as 6am did his rugby. 6he grew practically
everything suitable for their climate and was happy to wander around with the
engaging group of ladies, show off her garden and share their enthusiasm. 6he
had a nice selection of refreshments ready for them in her @summer house?
which was a covered area of 6am?s design. 6o, all in all the ladies were well
catered for and they felt absolutely no rush to return inside to be bored senseless
by boys and their rugby. <mma kindly offered to run them home in her car
afterwards, as knowing the men, they would be on about their rugby for hours.
&he summer house overlooked a nice water feature and also, tucked away
discreetly in the corner of the yard, was an outside toilet. It was a perfect
addition for the effect water features had on elderly folk including 6am?s parents
who visited from time to time.
eanwhile, back in the lounge, while <ddie was watching the recorded
highlights of a game, Ioy and Ben were perusing a bookshelf packed with gritty
reading and %oe was reliving his bygone rugby days with 6am. 6tanley, a retired
army officer and a real character in the group, devoured the last sausage roll and
felt it was time to be bold.
He decided to go outside and have a look at the poster.
His curiosity had got the better of him and all the talk of special powers,
well it was probably, almost surely in fact, a load of complete rot, but you never
knew.
He stood close to the window, a s)uint forming on his lined face from the
glare of the sun, despite his tinted glasses. His eyes roved the poster. He was
looking for something, anything that would give him a clue, the tiniest hint that
this poster held some kind of concealed technology. He didn?t know what he
was looking for, but he was determined to discover what was so special about it.
After a few minutes he decided it was a load of bunkum. 6o he shrugged,
ad.usted his glasses and went back inside.
D<verything all right, 6tanleyME 6am asked as he saw 6tanley come back
into the lounge.
DNeah, I .ust had a closer look at that poster of yours. I remember you
saying something about it having special powers. 'ell it .ust looks like a normal
poster to me. Nou?ve had it in the sun a while though, otherwise it?s pretty
normal,E he concluded, and shrugged again and went to sit down.
6am could see the disgruntled look on 6tanley?s face. 6o not wanting any of
his guests to feel like their visit had been a waste of time, he made a suggestion.
DI?ll go and get it and put on the table for you to look at, out of the sun.E
After all, 6am thought, the poster was one of the main reasons they had
called by, apart from his good looks and charm, he kidded to himself.
Felicity continued to do the cleanJup after everyone had had their fill of the
spread, making herself at home in their kitchen. (nce done, she returned to the
lounge. &hose who had been watching rugby highlights on DKD had suddenly
lost interest, despite the score being a nail biter. And the bookshelf had lost its
fascination. Felicity was as curious as the men as 6am went to the window and
carefully peeled the corners of the poster away from the glass.
6am was careful, but pretty relaCed, unlike his audience who were watching
every move he made. He hadn?t bothered to mention the fact that he hadn?t had
any firstJhand eCperience of the soJcalled special powers of the poster. &o be
blunt, he had .ust thought %ames, the old man, was in his own world. He had
taken the poster to humour him, not wanting to offend. He had stuck it in the
window facing the sun as instructed, because, if he was honest with himself,
deep inside, there was a kid who wanted to believe in magic, and 6am was
curious. /uriosity can cause trouble, and he was about to get knee deep in it.
Felicity stood beside the men huddled over the poster on the dining room
table while the women were still touring the garden with <mma. &he men stood
there, )uietly watching and roving the surface with their varying degrees of
vision. Like the intense concentration in a good game of chess, they eCamined
the faded face of the poster.
DHey, did anyone see thatME Ioy asked in a whisper.
D6ee whatME %oe asked.
D&here it goes again, didn?t you see thatME Ioy asked again.
&he others shook their heads, all the while fiCed in focus for anything
unusual on the poster.
DLookA Here, try my glassesAE Ioy suggested.
DI don?t see, oh, hang on, what was thatME <ddie asked enthusiastically.
DNeah, that?s what I saw. 6am did you see that shimmery thing happen .ust
thenME Ben asked )uietly.
6am, unable to find words that weren?t obscene, .ust shrugged.
&hen numbers, years, decades, started to come into view then fade and
disappear.
D%ust what the hell is going on hereME asked 6tan in an unmistakably
military tone.
6am thought this was either the product of very clever electronics or the old
man wasn?t pulling his leg after all.
&hen, without warning, 6am grabbed the poster and eCamined the back,
thinking there must be some very fine, minute hidden wiring somewhere that
was generating the images. If there was, it was very clever indeed and be a huge
commercial success due to its massive marketing potential.
&here was a hint of disappointment as they concluded after a thorough
eCamination that there was in fact no wiring, no image trickery, no batteries or
solar power panel to make the shimmer happen, so he put the poster back on the
table.
Felicity?s mind was in a fren4y trying to figure out what was going on or
how it was happening.
6tan waved his hand over the poster, right across the middle, clipping young
Iitchie c/aw?s head.
/onvinced his glasses needed a darn good clean, Ioy reached for his hanky.
5ut everyone else fro4e.
'hat they saw had no valid, logical eCplanation.
6am wasn?t sure what to do.
6hould he run off and get <mmaM *o, better not he thought as he didn?t
want to start a panic.
His visitors were elderly, not up to a big fright.
*o, he would stay put. He waved his hand from the top left corner to the
bottom right. A shimmer of random dates in history followed his hand. +3:3,
+391 and +393 appeared without being in any particular order. &hey were .ust
popping up randomly all over the poster. &he shimmering seemed to create the
illusion that the image of the All 5lacks doing the haka, had momentarily come
to life.
&his was indeed a sight that left the men speechless. 6trangely enough, they
didn?t feel the least bit threatened. &hey weren?t fearful at all. If anything, it had
a calming effect on them as they stood around the table.
D&his is better than my drugsAE 6tan said with a hint of a chuckle. ost of
the blokes in the &hursday group were on medication for one thing or another.
Ben reckoned that taking multiple medications was the price of growing old.
DNou?re not wrong there,E was the unanimous response murmured by the
others.
6lowly their confidence and fascination grew as each took a turn to wave
their hand over the poster. &hey were all beginning to wonder the same thing,
although they had no idea why it was happening. <ven with their combined
ages, life eCperiences and education they could not fathom the reasons for the
poster?s behaviour.
&he group stood there, eyes bright with wonder, minds frantically searching
for answers. 'as the poster beckoning them to be boldM 'as it inviting them to
take a leap of faithM 'as it their time for a new adventureM
&hey were also wondering what else the poster could do.
'here would it take them, if anywhereM
'hat were those years about, glowing in to light and then dimming awayM
As they watched, another year appeared left of centre, +3,;. Ben
remembered that year well. He was a young man in his prime. He remembered
those good old days when there was 8 o?clock closing and you could buy a
round of , ounce beer for two shillings. He was also top of his game in footy.
It was fair to say the poster had put them in a trance. 6o when <ddie, a
normally shy reserved bloke in his late 2;?s, reached out to touch +3,: as it
came into view, the look on the faces of the men standing like brothers in arms
around the poster was more than one of disbelief, it was utter astonishment.
&hey saw <ddie?s form turn into a rainbow of colours that lit up the room,
contort and disfigure, twist and then gracefully flow, as if being poured, into the
poster.
&he remaining men looked up, blinking, eyes and minds searching, glasses
came off, eyes were rubbed, foreheads were scratched but not a word uttered
from their mouths. &hey were too dumbstruck to speak. &here was no point
asking the obvious, like, Dwhere did he goME
*o one knew.
He?d .ust gone.
It felt like time stood still.
After what felt like forever, but was only a moment in time, 6tan blurted
out, DI?m going in to make sure he?s ok.E
'ith nothing short of mayhem in full swing around the dining room table, it
was far from good timing when %oy, oana and Dorne returned.
D'hat?s up guys, anything interesting going onME oana asked cheerfully
as the trio stood neCt to 6tan.
DNou have no ideaE 6am groaned )uietly.
DIt?s fabulous outside 6amA <mma has done a fabOE
DNou three, hold my hand, nowAE 6tan ordered as he reached out with his
left hand.
D'hat?s got his goatME oana )uietly asked Dorne.
%oy reached out. D/ome on girlsA It?s not every day we get asked to hold the
hand of a good looking man.
6tan felt the trio clasp it. Looks of complete confusion were passed from
face to face. *o one argued. &he women hadn?t yet made the observation that
<ddie was missing.
D(k, 6tan. 'hat nowM Nou have our attention, hook line and sinker. 'hat
are you doing with the posterME
&he men stood wideJeyed, mouths agape as they stared at the poster. &hey
were sure 6tan would have to wait for the same year to appear again. It was
worse than playing Housie when you had all but one number to go to win the big
oneA And this was much bigger than any big one they?d ever known. *o amount
of money could e)ual this eCperience.
D6o guys, is anyone going to tell us what?s going onME oana asked )uietly.
5ut no one answered because suddenly it seemed as if there was a problem.
+3,: didn?t reappear. &here were years either side, but that year had probably
been taken by <ddie.
6tan had to think fast.
He knew he had to do this, but the numbers were so erratic. &his was far, far
more thrilling than a game of housieA After a million )uestions had gone flying
through his head, including doubting his sanity, he suddenly saw +3,+ and with
lightning refleCes he thrust his right hand onto the glowing numbers. And .ust as
had happened to <ddie, 6tan?s form along with the three women holding his
hand, turned into a kaleidoscope of colour, swirling, twisting and then poured
delicately into the poster.
Felicity, 6am, Ben, Ioy and %oe looked dumbfounded at each other. 6am
knew he wasn?t going anywhere right now or anytime in the future. He was
adamant this wasn?t to be his .ourney. He?d done some pretty brave things
during his army career, but what was presently happening defied all reason. He
glanced at the other men, all in their 3;?s, and it )uickly became evident to him
that they were so agitated they?d probably start a riot if they didn?t go. &hey
didn?t know where they would end up or what would happen but the thrill of the
unknown was too great a temptation.
&hen Ben yelled, D'hat the hellM Let?s do itAE
6o, with a spontaneous sense of camaraderie, they linked arms as if in a
rugby scrum, stood tall and strong. &hen Ben reached out to commence what
would be the finest time of their lives. A brilliant glow of light filled the room as
they merged a single swirling mass of tiny colourful particles that spun
furiously. And then like pouring a steaming mug of tea, they went into the poster
.ust as <ddie, 6tan and the women before them. &his left 6am and Felicity
standing speechless, staring at the poster for a while, then looking at each other
and then back at the poster.
It took a few minutes before either of them was capable of speech and
eventually, as their brains struggled to process what they had .ust witnessed,
their mouths tried to utter sound. 5ut nothing came outL nothing coherent or
clean, anyway. 6am could?ve let rip with a stream of eCpletives. And as for
Felicity, well, she also knew a coarse word or two. 5ut when she turned, she
saw 6am?s face was an ashen grey colour. And she didn?t need a mirror to know
she probably looked the same. &here was something else she knew, as did 6am.
It was a given that they were in a shitJload of trouble.
&his was bad, eCtremely bad.
6am, an eCJarmy man with a security business that only hired his eCJarmy
buddies, well respected and liked, had invited a group of eight elderly people to
his home. Felicity had arranged transport so they could visit for a nice cup of
tea, cake and a chat about a *H sporting institution and for those that were
curious, they could have a look at the poster. &hen somehow the 2 guests had
become absent. 5ut they were not only absent, they were absent without the
faintest, remotest idea or notion as to where in the hell they were going. 'ithin
little more than a blink of an eye they?d completely disappeared off the radarA
&he situation was not good at all. &here wouldn?t be a lawyer in the land, no
legal beagle in their right mind, not even if 6am and Felicity had bottomless
pockets of cash, none would take this on.
In their own minds 6am and Felicity felt they were almost certainly going to
.ail.
&hey imagined themselves in court and the prosecutor saying, DNour
Honour, the defendants are charged with reckless and careless use of a poster
with special powers to transport a traveller to somewhere. &hey allowed eight
aged persons to embark on .ourneys to unknown destinations with absolutely no
idea or guarantee of how, where or when they would return. If indeed they
returned at allE
D(h yes,E Felicity thought, Dwe?re cactus. History. Finished.E
However, being the person she was, there was only one way of looking at
the situation. 6he thought she?d .ust press the pause button, get their
circumstances in perspective and .ust try very hard to think positive. 'as there
any way out of their messM
%ust at that moment, Felicity saw <mma bree4e inside from her garden. 6he
looked radiant, completely relaCed and perfectly satisfied with her afternoon,
having had a splendid time with %oy, oana and Dorne. &he many hours she
had toiled in her garden had paid off tenJfold. &he 9 women were delighted and
impressed with such a spectacular display of colour and design, and were keen
to return at some point during another season. %oy was a keen, selfJtaught artist
and was inspired to return another day with her easel and capture the many hues
on canvass.
&hen 6am followed Felicity?s ga4e, saw <mma, looked back at Felicity, and
as if they were communicating psychically, they simultaneously groaned. &hey
certainly didn?t share <mma?s look of relaCed radiance. &hey were too busy
being knee deep in it. 6am then decided to return the poster to the window and
then walked back to the table where Felicity was still standing in a rather
numbed state.
D'hat a fabulous idea inviting those people round to visit, 6amA? <mma
remarked from the kitchen, Dthe three women had such a good time and I got so
many compliments about my gardenA How was your afternoonME 6he asked as
she entered the lounge and then stood )uite still in the doorway for a moment
before walking very slowly towards them. D6am you look terribleA 'hat?s
wrong sweetheartME 6he?d instantly lost her relaCed, radiant look and a deep
frown was carved in her forehead as she )uickly went to his side.
&hey groaned again.
D6am, whatever it is, don?t worry, we will sort it out, tell me what?s
happened, loveE
(h my =od. How do we eCplain this one, Felicity thought.
@$h, it?s kind of complicated <mma. I don?t really know where to start,E
6am replied as his guts tied in knots as the nausea remained in the pit of his
stomach.
DDid one of our guests fall illM Did something happen to themM Nou got
them all safely home ok, yesME 6he asked as she looked out the window to see
the miniJbus still parked outside. D&he courtesy van is outside. 'here is
everyoneM &hey can?t all be in the loo at the same time. 'ill one of you at least
say somethingME <mma felt she was getting uncharacteristically agitated.
(h yes, something has indeed happened to them, <mma, you got that part
right, Felicity thought.
6am finally broke his silence, still looking terrible and sighing heavily.
DIight. (B,E 6am began, D&his is going to sound insane and halfJarsed. In
fact you won?t believe us, but here goes. Nou know that poster on the windowM
&he one we got from that old guy, %amesM Nou know, when I was in the parkME
<mma nodded, straightJfaced but with en)uiring eyes.
D'ell,E 6am rolled his eyes and looked up to the ceiling, biting his lip, DI
got the poster down off the window for them to look at,E he remarked, then
paused to gather his neCt sentence out of his terribly confused thoughts, Dand I
put it on the table. &his table.E
DAndME <mma prompted, her eyes searching his face to see if she could
glean from his eCpression where his story was going.
D$mm, well, D he began and then .ust blurted it all out at once with words
tumbling out of his mouth and falling over one another in a fren4y of
eCplanation, Dit was cra4y mate, there were lights, bright lights and the poster
was shimmering and there were numbers and dates and we waved our hands
over it and it was really hypnotising and they put their fingers on the dates that
were glowing and then they turned into a bright light, really bright light and then
they kind of got poured into the poster and it was really, really, I don?t know,
.ust really,E he shook his head as he hadn?t a clue what to say neCt, but hoping
that if he said it all very fast, it wouldn?t sound so bad, all the while his hands
and arms animated eCcitedly.
<mma looked at him with a strange intensity.
It was as if she was looking at him so deeply that she could see the back of
his eyes. 6he didn?t say anything for a minute, but it felt like a lot longer. &hen
she took a deep breath.
D6o let me .ust get this straight. &hose lovely people touched some dates that
lit up on the poster and,E she pulled a face of complete confusion, Dthey turned
into bright colours and sort of poured into the posterME
DNep,E 6am groaned again and held his head in his hands.
From Felicity?s perspective, <mma was an intelligent woman but how in the
hell could she possibly comprehend the enormity of this situation without
having witnessed what had happenedM
<mma then looked at him with an amused eCpression, which given what he
had .ust said, wasn?t too surprising. &hen she turned her ga4e over to the poster,
all the while having a wistful eCpression on her face. &hen she slowly got up and
walked over to the window. Her mind was frantically searching for answers to a
most peculiar situation. &he poster was either serving out some very @heavy shit?
or her husband was going out of his mind. 6he highly doubted the latter, as at
times she knew him better than he knew himself. 6o 6am going cra4y wasn?t an
option by her way of thinking. 6he remained at the window, arms crossed then
she turned and looked back at the hapless pair.
D6o you saw all this tooME she asked Felicity.
DNep,E Felicity answered as calmly as she could.
D6o did they all go into the poster togetherME <mma asked in a matter of fact
way.
DAh, noL <ddie went first,E 6am remarked meekly.
D6o you watched <ddie disappear into the poster and you let the others
follow himME Her voice suddenly had a tinge of hysteria in it.
DNeah, but they wanted to. &hey all really wanted to go,E 6am answered in a
weak display of selfJdefence.
<mma sighed.
(k, <mma thought, both 6am and Felicity are saying the same thing so they
can?t both be losing their minds.
DAnd it was .ust tea you were drinking, ehM *o one had a sip or two of your
high octane home brewME
Neah it was tea, but something stronger would not have touched the sides,
thought Felicity.
DNeah, of course,E 6am replied a little firmer.
6atisfied with the )uestioning, as <mma carefully began peeling the poster
from the window, she remarked, D(B. Let?s have a closer look at it shall we.
&here must be some way to eCplain all this.E 6he then carried the poster over to
the table where they all stood and stared at it.
Felicity began thinking that maybe there was something 6am had missed
when he got it off the window the first time. 6o, with the poster on the table, the
trio stood over it, scanned it thoroughly, concentrating so intently that their eyes
and heads almost hurt.
/ould there be something on the surfaceM Felicity wondered.
D(h, this is hard work,E <mma sighed, feeling like an eCplanation was going
to be beyond them. &hen she made a gasping sound, DHey, what?s thatM D
D'hat?s whatME Felicity asked as she bent over to get a closer look.
D&hat, right there, seeME <mma stated, DDamn, it?s too tiny to read. 6am, go
and get the magnifying glass. It looks like numbers but I can?t be sure.E
Like a rocket, 6am took off to the drawer in the lounge cabinet, and fished
the magnifying glass out, returning it to <mma.
DHere, I?ll show you. Look, right there. 'hat?s thatME <mma said as she
pointed to what seemed like a line of numbers.
DLooks like a phone number eh. Nou read them out and I?ll write them down
because it might be important,E 6am offered as he scratched it down on the
nearest available piece of paper being an envelope for the power bill.
D(k. I?m none the wiser as to what that number is but what say we ring it
and see if anyone answersME <mma suggested.
&hey all looked at each other. &he neCt obvious )uestion was going to be
who would make the callM 6am was still in no fit state to have a coherent
conversation with anyone, least of all whoever might answer the other end of
this number. And <mma had really come in at the end of all this so she wasn?t
really a good candidate, so it fell to Felicity.
DI?ll make the call ehM Let?s see if we can get to the bottom of all this.E 6he
may have sounded overly assertive but she wasn?t feeling the slightest bit brave.
It seemed a logical thing to have the speakerJphone on so they could hear the
response from the other end.
&he phone rang in the usual way. &hen they heard the voice of a young boy.
DHello, is this the policeME he asked very )uietly.
D*o, my name is Felicity,E but before she could get the neCt word out from
her .umbled thoughts, she was interrupted.
DHow did you get this numberM? And then they heard him whisper to
himself, Dplease don?t tell me you have one of =randdad?s All 5lacks Haka
postersE
DI discovered it on a poster of the All 5lacks,E Felicity answered.
D(h =od, is anyone missingME He asked in a voice trembling with anCiety.
D'ell, yesOkind of,E and again she was interrupted.
D6omeone has sort of well, kind of vanishedME He asked with slightly less
anCiety in his voice.
D'ell, yes, I guess that?s what you?d call it.E
DIn that case please don?t be scared. If anyone?s touched the poster when a
year has been visible and they were drawn into the poster, well, they will come
back soon, maybe in an hour or so from the time they left.E
6am immediately changed colour, back from the washed out grey
compleCion to one of a healthier tone. He rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. He
also gave a huge sigh, like he had been holding his breath for )uite some time.
He was clearly starting to feel relieved at hearing this welcome information.
Day I ask how you know thisME <mma asked in a matronly tone.
Dy =randdad told me. It?s a formula and he impregnated some posters
with it. y =randdad?s a brilliant scientist and one night he had a dream about a
formula, woke up early and wrote it down. &hen he started eCperimenting with
the formula. 6ometime later he told um, Dad and me he?d dreamt of a formula
which could send people through time. (f course um and Dad thought he was
losing the plot and thought his dream was a load of rubbish. 5ut later in the day
when he came home from shopping, he asked me to help him in his shed. (ver
the neCt few months he perfected the formula into +; slightly different strengths.
&he strengths somehow worked for +; different years. &hen people could
choose what year they wanted to visit with each trip lasting .ust about an hour.
He trialled all +; strengths himself to make sure his formula was safe and fool
proof. &hen he put a few drops of each strength on different sections of the
posters.E
&hey were all reeling with this information. For a young lad, he was well
informed and had a surprising knowledge about what his =randdad had been
doing.
D'ow. How old are youM Nou have a very good understanding of all this,E
<mma said in a kindly way that she hoped would encourage him to relaC and tell
them more.
DI?m +:. Nes, I love scienceL it?s my favourite sub.ect at school. And I have
grown up with my =randdad living with us after my grandma passed away, so
he has taught me a lot too.E
DHow many posters did he impregnateME 6am asked )uietly as he slowly
became a little more relaCed himself.
DFive and yours is the last one still in use. It broke his heart when the others
he gave to his old mates, took them but ignored his instructions. &hose guys
probably .ust tossed them in a cupboard where they perished and were later put
out with their rubbish. He told me he gave it to some young guy in the park.E
D'hy do the posters need to have sunlightME &his was the 87 billion dollar
)uestion Felicity had been wondering about and .ust itching to ask.
DIt?s got something to do with how the sun keeps the formula working.
=randdad said without the sun for .ust a few days, the formula disintegrates.?
And at that moment there was a faint crackling sound in the lounge and
<ddie materialised in eCactly the same place he?d left. He was closely followed
by 6tan, the three women and seconds later by Ben, Ioy and %oe.
<mma, 6am and Felicity, who were suddenly all looking dumbfounded,
.umped and swung round to see their guests safely returned. However, from
their normally calm composed stature, they looked decidedly @wired?. &heir
glasses were a bit skewJwhiff and their hair looked like a few +;;; volts had
been shot through it. 5ut their eyes were sparkling, their grins were broad and
they had never looked more alive and vibrant as they did at that moment.
DHoly shitA? <ddie eCclaimed. DNou?re never going to believe where I?ve
.ust been.E
@(h my =od, was that .ust the best eCperience ever,E added 6tan as he stood
neCt to three bewildered women.
D'here?s the looME oana asked urgently as %oy and Dorne nodded.
DDown the hall, second right,E 6am answered and could hardly keep the
relief out of his voice as the women walked briskly away.
A moment later Felicity again heard the young boy?s voice, Dand another
thing, =randdad said his only worry about the trips was to make sure that the
eCact place where he left never has anyone or anything put in their place because
they return to the eCact spot.?
At this point, Felicity thought it would be a good thing to know the young
fellow?s name.
D'hat is your nameME 6he asked as 6am tried to calm down all their guests
for fear their eCcitement might overwhelm them.
D&imothy. I can hear in the background some people have .ust returned from
a trip and they?re very eCcited. &hey sound .ust like my =randdad after his first
trip. =randdad also said never to tell my dad that the formula actually works
because he?ll want to make a shitload of money from it. 6o if you call this
number again and by some chance he answers, .ust say it?s a wrong number,
okM?
D(k &imothy. 5y the way, can you tell me a little about your =randdad, I?d
love to meet him one dayME Felicity asked.
DNeah maybe. He?s not really...oh, hold on, I think he?s .ust come home.
=randdad,E he yelled, Dthere?s a nice lady on the phone and she?d like to talk to
you about the poster you gave the young guy in the park.E
&here was a brief silence and then she heard a shaky voice.
D&his is #rofessor %ames #emberton, how may I help youME
D#rofessor #emberton...E and suddenly behind Felicity there was open chaos
as the women returned from the loo and they all .oined in and started babbling
hysterically, eCcitedly, about the last hour of their lives. As relieved as 6am,
<mma and Felicity were to see everyone back again, safe and sound, clearly no
worse for wear for their .aunt back in time, right now she needed )uiet. 'ith the
raucous reunion going on, she couldn?t hear %ames at all, D'ill you guys .ust
keep it down for a bit. 'e?re talking to the guy who actually invented the
formula that makes the poster work. 6orry about that #rofessor. y friends and I
are )uite bewildered by your poster. A few of them tried it out and by the ruckus
in the background you can probably assume that everyone?s ok.E
D&hat?s very gratifying...rs...ME
D(h sorry, my name is Felicity Hardcastle. I?m a carer at the /arrisbrook
<state rest home and Day /are centre nearby 6am?s place. ay I ask how you
invented the formulaME
&he ruckus had died down to happy grins on the travellers and all ears were
now on %ames?s reply.
DI really have no idea,E %ames answered reflectively. He had no idea what it
was but there was something in the way Felicity spoke or the timbre in her voice
that made him feel )uite at ease talking with her, Dstrictly speaking I didn?t
invent it, I dreamt it. Like most people I?ve been dreaming stuff all my life but
with me there were some cases where the dreams became reality. I was only +8
when I went to university where I studied Applied 6cience and /hemistry. After
graduating with #hD?s I became an industrial chemist and then spent 7; years in
the field. I managed to get a score of patents and the royalties from them have
given me a very comfortable life. 5ut being a diedJinJtheJwool science fiction
fan I always wondered if time travel was possible. I guess my subconscious
worked overtime for years and years until finally it produced the formula. &he
brain is really a wonderful mechanism.
&hat reminds me of an occasion many years ago when I was at a chemical
engineer?s conference in 6ydney. I met an Aussie bloke there who had an
astonishing ability similar to mine. He told me how he had .ust returned from a
brief holiday and when he was back in his lab there were about +; of his
colleagues all gathered around a blackboard that was covered in chemical
symbols. (bviously they asked for his help to brainstorm the formula they were
racking their brains to work out. He )uietly walked to the blackboard and using
his pencil, noted everything on the board. As it was almost closing time he said
he would go home and sleep on it. &he neCt morning as he arrived at the lab his
colleagues were waiting with great anticipation. &hey watched in disbelief as he
wiped the board clean and then proceeded to write the formula. &hey were
absolutely stunned and when they asked him how he did it, he replied, @I have
no idea, it .ust came to me in a dream.?E
D(h yes, oddly enough &imothy asked us not to say a word to his fatherME
D(h 'illiam, my son,E %ames remarked and sighed heavily, Dfrom when he
was .ust a young boy of maybe three or four it was clear he had some sort of
mood disorder. 'e took him to various specialists and their lame advice was
that he?d probably grow out of it. 6adly he didn?t, well, not completely. As time
went by there were more specialists for more tests but whatever it was that
bothered him, it wasn?t bipolar but apparently eCtremely difficult to treat. 'hen
he got to his teens he was a nightmare of unpredictable behaviour. He was
eCpelled from several schools. y poor wife Louise, bless her, she had such a
tough time with him. I was working all the hours there were in a day and she?d
be home with him. Although there was no science to backJup my ideas, it would
seem that he was born with a genetic predisposition to la4iness and as such has
always looked for the easiest way to make his fortune with the least possible
effort. Don?t get me wrong, he?s clever enough to spot an opportunity when it?s
in front of him, but so far he?s .ust been too bone idle to do anything about
anything. Actually, maybe that?s unkind. aybe it?s not that he?s bone idle, it
could be that he .ust simply doesn?t want to be anything but average. &hat?s
partially why we decided years ago to not mention anything about our lifestyle
or finances to him. 'e hardly believed it when #eta agreed to marry him. Louise
said she must be a saint. #eta .ust took him as he was, warts and all, so to speak.
'hen he was a boy, friends of mine would visit. &hey and their kids were high
achievers. &hey teased 'illiam mercilessly with names like @dumbo? and @fat
head?. y guess is that by the end of his teens he was of the mindset that he
wasn?t going to make any effort whatsoever. He?d get the least responsible .ob
and stay there for life. #eta is so different. 6he?s bright, attractive and works
hard maintaining their home. &hey know that when I pop off they?ll inherit my
home, which has been leased since I moved in with them. 5ut they know
nothing of my patents or the royalties thereto. He?s told me that when I?ve gone,
he?ll evict the tenant and sell the place because having the place leased is .ust
too much effort. &he sale will fetch them at least Q:.2 million, which means
he?ll never have to work again. He currently works for a local council in traffic
control, which means he holds a stopFgo sign. #eta works as a receptionist for
the glossy maga4ine, @An Adventurous Life?. &o my mind apart from all his
behavioural shortcomings, 'illiam?s main fault is that he kills stone dead any
initiative from &imothy. If &imothy had an idea to try something new and asked
'illiam for help, he would tell &im not to get big ideas about himself or some
such remark. &hat?s why &imothy loves being with me because we bounce ideas
off each other all the time. =iven another few years of life to help build the lad?s
confidence, I can see him eCcelling during his last few years at school and
maybe going on to university.E
Felicity and the rest of the group listened intently to %ames. He was not
holding back with information.
D6o why an All 5lack posterM I would?ve assumed that as you are a sciJfi
fan maybe a poster of Dr 'ho would be more to your likingME
D'ell, in my first year at high school I was thought to have a future as an
All 5lack. I had good stamina, great accuracy with my kicking and could pot a
goal from almost anywhere on the field. &he sports master made me Full 5ack
with the +
st
+,. 6adly in my second year I was riding my bicycle and was hit
from behind by a drunk driver. I had eCtensive in.uries and many broken bones,
so much so that I was ruled out of ever playing rugby at an elite level.E
DAlso I?m a bit curious about when &imothy answered the phone, he asked
if I was the policeME
DNes, he would have said that. Although he is +: years old he?s )uite
nervous. &his phone is actually my first mobile and so that I didn?t forget the
number, I wrote it on a piece of paper and put it in my wallet. (ne day I .okingly
said to &im that if ever the phone rings it?ll probably be the police saying
they?ve found me wandering somewhere and would your um or Dad pick me
up from the police station. He obviously took that remark very seriously. 5ut
because I didn?t want him to worry about who I gave the posters to, I showed
him how I?d written this number on each of the posters so if an old mate wanted
to share their time travel eCperiences with me, they could do so. Nou may also
be interested to know that your poster was the only one activated, so to speak.
At this point, the group were all thinking the same thing. 'hat a complete
waste for those that had disposed of their posters. How sad that they didn?t have
the first clue of what they were missing.
If anything %ames?s news only made their grins even broader as they
considered themselves very fortunate indeed to have the only active poster.
&here would be no congestion with traffic so to speak, if theirs was the only
active poster in use. &hey could .ust imagine what it would be like if those other
posters created travellers. &heir minds boggled with visions of people 4apping in
and out of posters, creating havocA
DNes, &imothy told me that the poster we have is the last one.E
DNes it is. I had five to begin with and gave the first four to some of my
mates who thought I?d gone potty. &hey graciously took them home but didn?t
follow my instructions so the formula disintegrated. 5it of a shame but there you
are. As long as you keep the poster where young 6am put it, in the window, the
formula will keep working and could provide years of time travel.E
At that point everyone looked up and all eyes met, minds thinking the same
thing. 'ithout a word, <mma grabbed the poster and carefully placed it back in
the same spot in their window. 6he )uickly returned to the table where the
others were waiting, with the phone in the centre, and listened as %ames?s
colourful detail issued through the speakerphone.
@5ut isn?t it .ust a bit risky having it in public viewM I mean, if it should fall
into the wrong hands the chaos that could follow doesn?t bear thinking about.?
@Nes, I must admit there?s a risk and that?s eCactly why I haven?t gone
public with it. If the reaction from 'illiam is any indication of a wider
community reaction, then it?s better to keep the knowledge to ourselves.E
Felicity was thinking of the serious implications.
DIt?s terrifying to think what would happen if the formula?s very eCistence
became known among the criminal gangs. 'ho knows what lengths they would
go to, to secure the formula for their own endsME
%ames was on the same page, well aware of the possibilities.
DAnd that?s precisely why I must ask you and your friends not to talk to
anyone about it. I suppose it?ll be ok to talk to their friends back at their facility
as they probably won?t remember anyway. I shudder to think of the prospect if
the word got out and a long )ueue of people began waiting outside 6am?s home.
And that?s not even including business opportunists and the criminal elements.
I?m 29 and I know how eCcited I was after my first trip. I was .ust bursting to
tell the whole world but later, on serious reflection I knew I?d be opening a
#andora?s 5oC if I told anyone other than family or close and trusted friends.
5ut even they thought my mind was going gaga so I simply shared some of it
with &imothy but kept the bulk of the knowledge to myself.E
As Felicity processed all of this information, it reminded her of a literary
classic. @Nou know something, as we?ve been talking I?ve been reminded of H=
'ells story @&he &ime achine?.E
DNes, I read that book as a child and saw the movie in +38;. 5oth the book
and movie were highly en.oyable. And I think I can guess what you?re going to
ask neCtME
6am, <mma and the others looked at Felicity with a )uestioning look.
/ould she know something that they didn?tM
D(k, guess awayE Felicity said with a smirk in her tone.
D/an the formula be further developed so that a traveller can choose either
the past or the futureME
D'ell, can itME
DI?m pretty sure it could. I?ve been working on refining the formula so a
traveller can dialJup so to speak, any time, date and place in the past. #ersonally
I have no desire to know the future so I haven?t included such an option in my
calculations. Anyway, I?m too old to travel solo. I don?t suppose you?d like to
assist me in my endeavoursME
Felicity was caught completely off guard.
DAh...nuh...not for me,E she said as she gave a blank @IJhaveJnoJideaJwhatJ
he?sJonJabout? glance to the others, who were looking e)ually bemused, DmeM
&ime travelM *ah, no way, no, not me, no,E she remarked and thought that
should cover it.
D'hy notM Nou?ve seen firstJhand that the formula works and how safe it is.
'e could combine our strengths.E
D/ombine our strengthsAE Felicity wasn?t feeling strength in any form .ust
then. &he thought of tripping through time was more unnerving than her fear of
wetas. 6he wasn?t a thrill seeker by any stretch of the imagination. 6he was a
downJtoJearth woman, en.oying her .ob at the rest home. 6he was her own
person with both feet firmly on the ground. &here was nothing eCtreme about
her lifestyle and she was happy that way.
DNeahOI don?t think so. I think my weaknesses far outweigh my strengths
as far as time travel goes.E
%ames changed his tack.
D(k Felicity, let?s get down to the nittyJgritty. 'hat is the weakness that
could preclude you from being humankind?s first ever female to regularly travel
back in timeM?
(h, Lordy, talk about being put on the spot, Felicity thought.
DFelicity, are we going to be late for teaM (ur meals will be ready soon,E
6tan asked, as they were all recipients of meals on wheels.
D'ell, #rofessor, it looks like our time is up. &hank you so much for sharing
all that with us.E
DNou?re very welcome. It was absolutely wonderful to find a kindred spirit
to talk to. As you are no doubt aware from your work, when you are in your 2;?s
and live virtually on your own, you relish the opportunity of being able to share
your thoughts and ideas with someone prepared to listen. If you like we can
eCchange mobile phone numbers so we can keep in touch, if you?d like thatM
And please give my suggestion some serious thought. I have .ust had an idea, a
solution.E
DIt won?t make any difference, I?m not doing itAE 6he said firmly, feeling a
bit awkward.
%ames was insistent, D5ut at least hear me outME
D(k, go ahead,E Felicity didn?t want to appear rude after the professor had
been so helpful.
%ames realised that this was not going to be an easy sell. &his lady, whom he
had had the good fortune to enter conversation with, seemed to him to be the
perfect candidate for his proposal. 6he was however, and had every right to be,
very cautious and reluctant. 'hat he needed to do was convince her she would
come to no harm and she would never regret the opportunity he was about to
offer to her.
D'ell, try this for si4e. Nou?re in aged care and you love your .ob.E
DNes, absolutely love it,E she answered with a big smile.
D6o why not come and care for me and while you?re at it we could travel
wherever we want to goME
D#rofessorOE she replied with determination.
6he was listening but she had reservations. 6he couldn?t deny however, that
it was indeed a very interesting, tempting proposal. 6he had to weigh both sides
up. It definitely re)uired more consideration. &here were the small details like
what about her .obM 6he and her partner Leo had not long returned from
overseas to see his brother in Kancouver. 5ut they had travelled by more
conventional means like planes, a bus and a taCi. He was certainly the
adventurous, sporty type but she would have her work cut out trying to eCplain
this to him. D&here is a lot to think about #rofessor, you?re putting a lot on my
plate here.E
D6o what about itME %ames asked a little more firmly. 'as it his gut instinct
that told him that she would be great company for time travel or was it
something deeper in his psycheM 'ould he at least admit to himself that .ust
hearing her voice made him think of dear Louise and the daughter they never
hadM
&he rest of the group were staring at her, open mouthed, eyes wide with an
@ifJyouJdon?tJacceptJthisJofferJyouJmustJbeJcra4y? kind of look.
Nou could have heard a pin drop as they all waited for her decision.
&hen another obstacle bubbled up for her, D5ut what about my .obM I have
to earn a livingME
DI can pay you the same fullJtime wage as you get now eCcept I won?t
re)uire you full time. I?ll continue living with my son and only when I wish to
travel will your service be re)uired. (n those days when I?m not travelling, you
are free to do whatever. Nou could become a casual employee at /arrisbrook if
that suited you. Nou?ll be caring for me on days when we travel, only in our case
instead of being a global .etJsetter, you?ll be travelling beyond your wildest
imaginings.E
6uddenly Felicity began to see a positive outcome of working for %ames
while still being able to work at /arrisbrook.
DI?d need a properly drawnJup, legally binding, absolutely waterJtight
contract,E she remarked because she had to agree it was an offer that was .ust
too good to turn down. It was true that she had an adventurous streak and during
her younger years had been on a few intrepid .ourneysL she also, albeit only
occasionally these days, liked to push her boundaries. Net perhaps all that
amounted to nothing much at all compared to what %ames was offering.
%ames was respectful of her re)uest.
DI wouldn?t eCpect anything less. Do you accept the .obME
Felicity drew a huge breath.
At this point, nothing less than a few hundred )uestions and doubts were
flying around in her head but she had to give an answer and fairly )uickly.
(pportunities like this certainly don?t often land in your lap, she thought. It
might .ust work. Leo?s work regularly took him on various global locations, so
he wasn?t home a lot anyway. And if he was home at the time, why not ask him
if he?d like to go with her.
6he looked at her friends, all of whom were .ust about fit to eCplode with
their eyes wild in eCcitement. <Ccluding 6am and <mma, they had already been
there, done that and had a pretty good idea they knew what she was in for if she
accepted. And now they were all looking at her, waiting, as %ames did patiently
on the other end of the phone.
D(h, far outA I need time to thinkA And .ust how the hell am I going to tell
my partner about my new employerM =ot any suggestions on that minor detailME
6he didn?t want to sound difficult but it wasn?t a clear cut decision, like, @NesA
(f course I will put every normal part of my life aside and cruise around in time
with you as your carer while we do the groove with your time machine posterA?
It wasn?t actually as simple as that. &his wasn?t an episode of Dr 'ho on &K
where in an hour a .uicy plot thickened while being stirred with all manner of
weird and wonderful elements from a clever writer?s imagination. &his was a
real offer. &his was a real deal. 6o she had some seriously heavy duty thinking
to do and a decision to reach. FastA D(h =od, please give me time to think.E
%ames could hear the turmoil in her emotions.
D'hen my darling wife Louise was alive and I had to share eCtremely
difficult news, I always found that being totally honest was the best way
forward.E
Despite the tension and eCcitement in the room and decisions pending,
stomachs were also rumbling close to a growl. Iegardless of what Felicity
decided to do, the group were going to miss out on their meal if they didn?t get
moving. &ime, tide and mealsJonJwheels waited for no one.
DFelicityAA DinnerAE Dorne stated so firmly that everyone snapped out of the
trance they were in because they suddenly realised how late it was getting. It had
indeed been )uite an afternoon. (ne hell of an outingA
And now it was time for her to get back into some kind of normal train of
thought. And so .ust before her conversation with %ames ended, they eCchanged
numbers and then Felicity also wrote %ames? number neCt to &imothy?s on the
power bill envelope. &hen it was time to begin organising their return home.
First she had to drop off <ddie at his temporary accommodation at the rest home
then take the others back to their respective homes.
6o after they all said farewell to 6am and <mma, Felicity herded them back
into the minibus.
6am and <mma were still reeling after everyone left but it was most
satisfying that they had found out what had happened and how. &he afternoon
had had a most surprising outcome, but at the end of the day everyone was
happy and unharmed. And all the information was the key to repeat visits. 'hile
6am remained stoic that he wasn?t going anywhere, <mma had to admit she was
curious and thought it would be good to go on a trip with 6am at her side.
Despite how mind blowing the concept was of being able to slip through a
poster, an unassuming poster that looked like any other one they would buy in a
shop, this poster was their ticket to time travel. And it was theirs. All theirs. And
no one else knew about it, eCcept those who had been at their home that day.
Although in hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to have bound
and gagged <ddie and locked him in a cupboard as he could singleJhandedly put
the kibosh on their very big secret. %ames had said to keep the knowledge of the
poster and its powers close and tell only their families and close friends. 5ut in
<ddie?s eCcitement, his talk had the potential to not only open up a can of very
slippery worms, but he could also easily open the gates on the entire worm farm.
%ust by observing the group Felicity reckoned everyone was so lost in their
own thoughts they probably half eCpected the van to grow wings with massive
.ets able to produce bloodJred fiery flames that would propel them at @warp
factor , r 6ulu, if you please? back to their respective houses.
Instead, when Felicity turned the ignition and the engine purred into life,
there was the simultaneous @click? as their seatbelts were securely fastened
around their bellies. &heir chariot then set off )uietly down the road back home.
'ell, almost )uietly because <ddie never shut up as he repeatedly relived his
trip and vowed he would be doing many more.
6o it came as a welcome relief to the others in the van when they
approached that part of the trip at /arrisbrook Iest home where <ddie was
dropped off at his temporary digs .ust a few minutes? drive from 6am?s place.
And although it had indeed only taken a few minutes, in fact boiling an egg to
perfection would have taken longer, <ddie had done nothing but talk. He had
talked incessantly, in an eCcited, feverish pitch, .ust like a kid that had had a
very big afternoon at the fairground and had ridden on every ride that was going.
'ell, that afternoon, <ddie had indeed had the ride of his life. *o one doubted
that. 5ut the rest of the happy group had had an earful. &o no one?s surprise,
when the minibus arrived outside the main entrance, <ddie couldn?t wait to get
off. He was staying at /arrisbrook <state for three months while his son &om
and his wife Bate were over in the $B. <ddie had lived with them for nearly
five years, so it was peace of mind for &om that his dad was in care, while they
were attending to business interests in London.
&he only one aboard the bus that was yet to eCperience time travel was
Felicity. 6he didn?t have all the facts lined up yet and until they were, she wasn?t
going anywhere. 6he thought to herself that it would be good to have some )uiet
time to reflect on everything and it probably wouldn?t be a silly idea to discuss
all of it with Leo. 6he had never been any good at keeping secrets and the
adventures of the afternoon were going to be no eCception. 6he knew that she
was going to be so preoccupied with the decision she had to make, that Leo was
going to smell a rat pretty )uickly. He would know that something was up and
he was going to want to know what it was.
&hat was another thing.
How and what was she going to tell himM
oana, %oy and Dorne were neCt off as they lived within a short distance of
each other. &hey had decided to get together in the near future for tea and a chat
as there was much to talk about. Although they were still bu44ing about their
.aunt back in time, in dayJtoJday matters they were level headed women. &hey
fully intended to return, should they be invited, however they were going to put
more planning into their trip. As the boys had gone back to see some of the
greatest rugby ever played, they wanted to go back and chase up @lost
opportunities? with old flames. &hey were widows, so they were going to play
their hand to their advantage.
Ben, Ioy, %oe and 6tan were the last off and took a while as their homes
were scattered through the suburbs.
'hen all of the daycare group were safely delivered to their homes, she
gave a huge sigh of relief, turned the minibus around and drove back to work.
Net inasmuch as she tried to concentrate on her driving, she was also still reeling
from the day?s events. 6he had all the )uestions and eCcitement still locked up
inside her head like a bubble when she arrived back at work to park the minibus,
find her car and go home.

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