free tracking




I organised a writing group at Blitz for a while. Each month we would pick a theme and write to that. One month we picked a speed-paint done by Daz Watford (then one of Blitz's concept artists) in his lunch hour, and that led to the chapter Kate +9 below.

     Daz is a good friend, brilliant artist and intuitively spot-on about most things game and movie related. He's also fast - the image was created in an astounding 30 minutes. You can see more of Daz's work here: Or enjoy his unique take on life at:


A few months later we used another brief with a storm theme and I started another time traveller story (Ishmael) with no thought at all that they were linked.


But I couldn't get Kate out of my mind. I kept having visions of what happened next. Did she succeed? How long did it take and what happened to get the technology to the state where she could see the plesiosaur in the first place? Before I'd finished writing I'd already joined up the two in my head and rationalised a complete history of the Tempus project and how it all fit together, and what Ishmael means to her.


I had the idea that every chapter would be 'time stamped' with it's relationship to Kate's day of Birth - and Kate would become central to the story in a similar way to how Susan Calvin appeared in Asimov's Robot books.


I'm well into it now - I merely have to finish it!



A couple of short chapters from Tempus


Kate +9

'Can he see us?.

Katie asked quietly in the blue-tinged darkness. She hadn’t taken her eyes off the plesiosaur since it first swam into view several minutes before.

It was a magnificent creature with a dusky mottled pattern reminiscent of whale shark. At the end of a long neck it sported a large-eyed goofy head with a mouth that seemed overstuffed with needle sharp teeth designed for capturing fish, but which nonetheless sported a friendly air with a baked-in toothy smile that remined me of a dolphin.

‘Yes – almost certainly’ I said, trying to sound like I knew what I was talking about, although to be honest my knowledge of the science behind it all was somewhat hazy. All I knew, and this was half remembered from the company manual, was that it was a trick of amplifying photons that were quantum tunnelling across a tethered M-brane.

What all that really meant though was simply that it was a window to the past.

‘He’s beautiful dad,’ she said, her face clearly enraptured by the creature that drifted in the water before us. Katie was nine years old and clearly smitten.

‘Thanks for bringing me’

‘No problem Katie’ I said staring at the beast myself. ‘I know how much you like dinosaurs.’

‘It’s not a dinosaur dad.’ She said condescendingly, her gaze never wavering while the plesiosaur looked back, four huge paddle-shaped fins slowly scything through the water and keeping the creature static in what seemed to be a mild current.


It had been coming to the wall every day now, so obviously lived nearby. The M-brane was of course invisible, tethered in place by massive superconducting magnetic coils somewhere out of sight. The visible part, the wall, was really a mass of independent light sensors and amplifiers, almost 5 million of them. Their one task to amplify that one photon in a billion (or less) that made it across the brane, and convert it into a meaningful image. Inevitably that amplification meant loss of resolution and close to the wall the image became fuzzy and indistinct, like pressing your face up against a television screen.

Bizarrely quantum physics demanded that the amplification was symmetrical, so there was little doubt that it could also see us.


‘He looks so alive’ Katie said excitedly sidling over to give me a hug.

‘She, it’s a female, is alive from her perspective; we’re just temporal ghosts to her.’ I hugged her back, ‘The brane is locked to somewhere near the Jurassic and Cretaceous boundary, probably a hundred and forty million years ago’. It was a rough time period, I could have told her exactly to the second how long ago it was, but in truth the exact date and time was meaningless as both day and year length, not to mention the orbits of the earth and moon had changed significantly over that period.

Katie nodded and gasped as the plesiosaur swam towards us and through the wall and its inner organs were briefly glimpsed in cross section like a bizarre animated MRI scan that took us from its head to the tip of its tail.

For a few moments it was gone, and then it swam back and we saw the whole thing in reverse.

Katie giggled.

‘Wow that was impressive’ she whispered barely audibly.

‘If she does it again watch out for her belly,’ I said pointing out a bulge in the creature’s lower abdomen, ‘plesiosaurs were livebearers and there’s a baby in there, must be about 3 feet long, she’ll give birth soon I think. If she’s slow you can clearly see it.’

Katie radiated pleasure and we stood in silence for several minutes as the beast scrutinized the wall from its side of the temporal divide.

‘She’s long dead now isn’t she’ she said at last. I looked at her and she suddenly seemed incredibly sad, and I could see her eyes beginning to water.

‘Couldn’t we just reach through the membrane thingy and pull her here – she’d be safe.’ she asked biting her lower lip in uncertainty.

She is safe,’ I said hugging her again, ‘its millions of years before they became extinct, the comet’s not due for a long time.’

I stroked Katie’s hair.

‘Besides,’ I said trying to sound scientific, ‘it’s impossible – only the occasional photon can cross that barrier – nothing else.’

Katie sniffed and wiped her eyes and nose with the edge of her sleeve.

‘But dad, until the membrane thingy was discovered. It was also impossible to see them alive like this wasn’t it?’

‘True, ’I said nodding.

Katie leant forwards and touched the surface of the wall briefly, gently sending up a myriad interference stress patterns radiating out from her fingertips.

‘Then I’m going to find a way she said simply.’



Ishmael -5.8x10 to the power 8

Ishmael awoke and shivered. The storm had played itself out just before midnight and with a clearing sky the temperature had dropped overnight. Now his every breath condensed onto the cold dead metal inner surface of the temporal shunt, leaving it running wet and slick with a strange oily sheen.

He stretched up, pushed open the hatch and stiffly clambered outside into the greying dawn, just as he had now for almost a week and leapt down onto the damp sand.

Rubbing his hands to get the circulation going he wandered down to the water’s edge, his footsteps crunching across the long white-shelled beach.

Halfway there he turned back to look at the craft that had protected him as he’d hurtled across almost 550 million years. The temporal shunt lay partially on its side just above the stormline like a gigantic metallic egg. Whatever had gone wrong had torn the main chrono-displacement mechanism out from within a sealed unit probably scattering it across time. It had got him here safely, but it wouldn’t be taking him back.

He turned again back to face the sea. The storm had abated, but the wind was still strong, at least a gale force 4, and there were whitecaps as far as he could see.

Down by the surf half meter high waves broke against the shore sending a cascade of crystal clear water swirling up the beach heavily laced with the scattering fragments of shells, seaweed, small strange dead creatures and debris so recently torn from the sea bed.

Ishmael licked his lips and breathed deeply savouring the salty taste and the deeply familiar smells of the ocean. He always liked the ocean after a storm, it prompted fond memories of his childhood in Pembroke. His scientific training then re-established itself identifying the distinctive odours of dictyopterene and dimethyl sulphide, good indicators of the existence of certain types of algae and bacteria in the Precambrian. Ishmael knew he would have got a paper out of that if he ever made it back.

He turned to walk along the shore. Ishmael had walked this stretch down to some low sandstone cliffs and back several times now.

To his left and inland a great jagged mountain range lay some ten or more miles distant. Above it glowered a much larger, but familiar, orange hued full moon. It was definitely closer, but he didn’t know how much. The days were shorter though, that was obvious, slightly under 20 hours. Sleeping took some getting used to.

Apart from a few small bright green rod-like seaweeds growing scattered around the storm line the land was bare. There was nothing. No trees, no plants, no mosses. But it was the mournful sound of seabirds and gulls he missed the most, they wouldn’t appear for at least another 350 million years, not until the middle cretaceous. For now the only living sounds were the gurgling of small chitinous creatures and worms in the sand as they sealed up their burrows awaiting the next tide.


A few meters ahead a larger than average wave crashed against the shore sending a tongue of water far up the beach. As it receded something about the size and length of his arm was left stranded and writhing on the wet sand. Ishmael quickened his pace, he’d not seen anything that large before.

It was hard to tell what it was. It sported a blue green carapace fringed on both sides with large feathered overlapping plates each of which was fringed in deep turquoise and orange hairs. It’s head had two well-developed compound eyes on stalks below which were two large segmented appendages that seemed to have evolved for grasping prey. It had to be an Anomalocaris, or a close relation, but it was so unlike the reconstructions. This was alive! Beautiful and yet at the same time so alien compared with anything he’d seen before. One of the great failed experiments of the Precambrian.

The creature was trying to swim through the sand and failing.

Without thinking Ishmael knelt down and picked it up, carrying the sand-encrusted creature carefully as it flexed and turned in his hands. For all anyone knew they could be poisonous. Briefly he got a clear view of a vicious-looking circular mouth like a cigar cutter, and kept his fingers well clear of it. At the water’s edge it squirmed violently causing him to half-drop it into the water and he watched as it clumsily began to swim away trailing clouds of sand until the water became deep enough for its fins to ripple properly and it suddenly became once more a creature of predatory elegance.

For a brief moment he wished he’d not released it. There had been enough meat on it for a whole day. But the feeling soon passed. The small shrimp-like Marrella were plentiful and he’d survived on them well enough so far. Besides, for some reason he’d felt a distinct affinity with the stranded creature and was rather glad it was back hunting through the depths again. It proved there was always hope.

There lay the paradox. He could eat the creatures here, but he had to stay by the sea for there was nothing on land. But he also needed fresh water if he was to survive, and he’d found none so far. Every story Ishmael had ever read about survival always said to remain at the crash sight for help. But did that really still apply when you were stranded over half a billion years in the past?

If help was coming shouldn’t it have arrived by now? Hell, even if they’d taken a hundred years to plan a rescue they could in theory, at least from his perspective, have turned up within hours or even minutes.

But they hadn’t. He was on his own.

Ishmael looked around at his new home. Despite its arid severity it was rather unspoilt and beautiful. He was trapped and knew it. He was the first here, the first to see so much that no other eyes had ever seen. Maybe nobody would ever come this way again.

Tomorrow he’d head down the coast looking for freshwater, perhaps he’d find a stream or rainwater pool.

Tomorrow he’d explore, after all that’s what he’d come for in the first place.

How many discoveries would he make? How many theories would he overturn or confirm?


An unexplored world lay before him, who knows what he’d find.

Terry Greer