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Timebomb – Introducing Lord Sweetclover

Timebomb – Introducing Lord Sweetclover

Cornwall, England, 1645 Lord Henry Sweetclover was woken by Sarah’s cries. There was a dull ache in his head, his bones felt heavy and old, his mouth gummy and foul. He reached over to the other side of the bed, but found it cold. This wasn’t unusual. His wife was an early riser and normally left him to sleep away the morning. Last night’s revelries had been particularly drunken and energetic, so he had expected that she would break her habit and lie in with him as she sometimes did on those occasions when the wine flowed freely. She had proved herself immune to most things, but a hangover was not one of them. He rubbed his forehead, which made bright flashing lines appear behind his eyes, so he stopped that, groaned and rolled over, burying his face in the pillow, trying to blot out the noise. He wondered what could have made his wife rise early after such a night. He thought back, trying to recall whether she had given any indication as to her intended business this day, but he could bring nothing to mind. Except, now he thought about it, she had seemed slightly out of sorts earlier the previous day. Her demeanour had worsened throughout the afternoon such that he was sure he was due a long evening of silent reproach and frosty disregard. He was pleasantly surprised when she produced the cards and the wine as the sun was setting, and even more pleased at what followed after. But on reflection there had been an edge to her revelry. A hint of determination, recklessness,...
Timebomb – Introducing Kaz

Timebomb – Introducing Kaz

Cornwall, England, 2014 Kazik Cecka was cold, wet, tired and hungry when he finally decided to stop running and find somewhere to rest. The cloudless night was full-moon bright, the raindrops picked out in flashes of silver, and the air was fresh with the first chill of autumn. Kaz pulled his tattered jacket tight and considered his options. He was miles from the nearest town, in open countryside. He could see a copse of trees on the other side of the field, a dark interruption in a horizon which stretched away as far as the eye could see; undulations of ploughed fields and pasture. He had hoped that by now he would see the welcoming orange glow of a small town or village, but there was nothing; if there was a town nearby, the clear skies and full moon were swamping its light pollution and keeping its location a secret. Sighing, he decided that the copse offered his best chance of shelter. He trudged across the field, avoiding the sleeping cows. At least he was wearing the new Gore-Tex boots his father had bought for him before their fight, so his feet were warm and dry. Unlike the rest of him. This was not the adventure he had been hoping for when he’d run away from home. Not for the first time he replayed the afternoon’s events in his head, questioning his actions, wishing that just this once he’d managed to keep his cool and not shoot his mouth off. But even as he chided himself for his temper he found his pulse quickening and the sense of injustice...
Timebomb – Introducing Dora

Timebomb – Introducing Dora

Cornwall, England, 1640 Theodora Predennick failed to stifle a yawn. She wasn’t accustomed to rising so early. Being dressed and busy in the pre-dawn gloom felt unnatural. All her life, summer and winter, she had been woken by the first rays of the rising sun, and had retired to bed as the skies above her village turned black. Her grandmother had warned her about the things that walked abroad after dark: goblins, werewolves, fair folk, and girls with wickedness in their hearts. Good girls were safely tucked up behind stout wooden doors come sunset. Dora had always been a good girl. Her new dress pinched at her ribs. She adjusted the wretched thing to try and reduce the chafing as she worked the lump of dough on the table before her, kneading and pounding the mixture into submission. The logs on the huge kitchen hearthstones crackled and spat as the damp bark was scorched away. The newly dried wood began to catch alight, billowing fresh smoke up the chimney and casting a warm glow that lightened the gloom. When Dora was satisfied that the dough was ready she set it by the fireplace in a cloth-lined wicker basket so it could rise in the spreading warmth. It was time to light the fire beneath the baking oven. She had just lifted the iron tongs, intending to prise a log from the main fire and use it to spark the smaller one, when she paused. Had she heard something? No. Not at this hour. The master was still abed and cook wasn’t likely to rise for some time. She’d only...
Timebomb – Introducing Jana

Timebomb – Introducing Jana

New York, America East, 2141 It was only when she reached the top of the staircase and burst through the door on to the deserted roof that Jana decided to die. She’d died once before and it wasn’t so bad, but she’d hoped to avoid doing it again for a while. She scanned left and right, searching for some sliver of hope; a skylight, a fire escape, some form of cover, a discarded crowbar to use as a weapon. There was nothing. All she could see were the flat, featureless slabs of reconstituted rubber that formed the skyscraper’s top seal. At the far edge of the roof was a small concrete lip beyond which rose the skyline of New York, shimmering in the heat. The skyscraper was an old twentieth-century construction, forty storeys high. Once it had dominated the skyline, but now it was dwarfed by the looming organic skytowns that twined sinuously up into the cloud base. Even so, it was quiet on the roof. The noises of the city didn’t reach up here. Jana knew the membrane windows of the skytowns masked hives of furious activity, but here it felt tranquil and deserted. She was easily visible from a thousand offices. Should anyone glance down at the city for a second, they would be able to see Jana, hands on knees, gasping for breath, sweat-drenched, scared and alone in the middle of a flat, black roof. Would anyone spare her a second glance?    She was standing at the heart of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, but she felt entirely alone, just as she...