Present Day: 2015
Jackson and Chloe, both aged 15, had taken the day off school deciding to find something more interesting to do. They’d take care of ‘consequences’ tomorrow. Mooching along through Bristol City Centre they headed down past the Watershed, and on towards Pero’s Bridge. Leaning over the side of the docks they stared at the colourful boats moored below.
“Wouldn’t it be great to live on a boat..” Chloe’s eyes were shining “We could just take off and, like, disappear!”
Jackson took Chloe’s hands and kissed them both lightly on her knuckles. “Would you really like to do that? With me?”
Chloe laughed, saying shyly “Only with you!”
The teenagers grinned, thinking how their parents would go mad if they weren’t back in time for tea – taking a boat and disappearing was out of the question!
They walked hand-in-hand across the bridge ambling around towards the S.S. Great Britain. Reaching Princes Wharf in front of the M-Shed they stopped as the ancient fire-float Pyronaut caught their eyes. Jackson and Chloe edged to the side of the dock and gazed down. They glanced briefly at one another, turned, jumped.
“Oh God! I can’t believe we did that!” Chloe stifled a gust of laughter as she looked around to see if anyone had seen them. No-one seemed aware of the two youngsters crouched on the deck of the old fire boat. “Jack!”..
Jackson was creeping toward the helm, a determined look on his face.
Jackson gunned the engine of the Pyronaut as Chloe looked on in amazement.
“How the…how did you do that? Are you mad? The pigs will be after us now!”
“My old man taught me about boats. We’ll go a little way down the river – jump ship, maybe walk to the caves, have some time together!” Jackson grinned, “Hey, y’know they used to hide the slaves down there, don’t you, and it’s supposed to be haunted!”
Chloe grinned back at him. “Liar!” She trembled with pleasure as she imagined the day ahead – Jack and her, alone, wrapped in each others arms. His kisses……
Jackson pulled her close to him and licked her ear. Chloe blushed scarlet and punched him “Get off!”
They both laughed, then “What was that?” A sound of chains rattling and deep, soft murmuring filled the air. Chloe screamed as Jackson struggled in vain to control the fire float, now travelling at speed along a path of its own. The friends threw themselves to the floor in terror as the boat left the water and continued towards the locked iron gates of Redcliffe Caves!
They came to a stop in total darkness. Pyronaut had gone through the locked gates and had now stopped alongside a low wall, unharmed. The gates were intact. Jackson and Chloe scrambled desperately from the boat as a dim green light lit up a passageway ahead. An eerie voice echoed around the cave “Come!”
The Future: 2115
Jackson shouted “Who’s there?”
Sounds of breathing and murmuring filled the air. The teenagers felt themselves crowded on all sides and roughly pushed and pulled along the dimly lit passageway by unseen hands.
“Hold on, Chloe!” Jackson felt blindly around the heaving, invisible mass. Suddenly Chloe clutched his hand strongly, shouting “I’m here Jack!” as they were lifted off their feet and hauled rapidly towards the light.
They emerged into strong sunlight, outside the familiar North door of St. Mary Redcliffe Parish Church .
Below them stretched Redcliffe Way, where hundreds of skyscrapers now stood, served by a network of roadways which rose into the sky, crossing and re-crossing in a bewildering tangle. Hovering above these roads, uncountable numbers of bubble-like pods travelled at frightening speed, stopping silently outside entrances on all levels of the towers. Distant figures disembarked, disappearing swiftly inside. Jackson and Chloe stared in disbelief.
A tall figure approached and passed a tiny camera over their bodies.
“You have violated the Time-Laws! This will not be tolerated!”
Jackson and Chloe tried to run. Immediately a pod stopped and they were pulled aboard by the muttering, unseen crowds which were once again surrounding them. The terrified friends clung together as the pod hurtled skywards, stopping silently outside a door labelled “Government Time Enforcement “. The door opened slowly, drawing Jackson and Chloe into a vast empty room. Once inside the door closed and a lock clicked into place.
“Ohmigod! We gotta get out of here!” Chloe was trembling.
Jackson tried the door. Unexpectedly it swung open. Freedom beckoned.
“It’s gotta be a trick!” Jackson, peering outside, beckoned Chloe to follow him, whispering “Don’t make a sound.”
Creeping along the pathway, they realised it sloped towards the streets below. Gathering courage they broke into a run, eventually reaching ground level in the centre of Queen Square, mercifully unchanged. The tall figure appeared before them.
“Congratulations Primitives. You have reached level 1”
“What do you mean? You are seriously creepy, man” Jackson drew himself up to his full height. “You gotta stop messing with us!”
“This is Twenty One Fifteen, Primitive,” snarled the creature, “You have much to learn!”
Jackson and Chloe stared at the figure before them.
“Twenty One Fifteen? It can’t be, we’d be one hundred and fifteen years old!” Chloe gasped. “Where is everyone?”
“All personnel are in Government sponsored activity.” The Creature intoned. “We removed the tyranny of Plebeian choices, evils you Primitives still suffer! You are tainted by wrongful choices. You chose to violate Time Laws. You will be eradicated.”
Looking across the deserted green space of Queens Square, Jackson saw the glint of the river beyond what appeared to be the historic Llandoger Trow Inn in Bristol! Jackson glanced at Chloe. She was weary, her hair turning grey.
Chloe, noting the shadows on Jackson’s face, and deep lines from nose to mouth, said “Jack, we’re aging. We must get away before it’s too late!”
Jackson lunged towards the sneering creature and punched with all his strength. It fell back, shrivelling in the force of the furious anger that blazed from Jack’s face.
Joining hands the friends sprinted towards the river. “Have to find the time tunnel!” gasped Jackson, as they kept running.
They ran through King Street, where the road had been widened and skyscrapers fifty stories high now stood, continuing running as they felt the breath of the unseen hordes, the cold touch of grasping hands coming closer.
“There!” Chloe shouted pointing to a rainbow which appeared just above Bristol Bridge. They ran until Jackson shouted “Jump!” Holding tightly to one another they jumped, reaching the rainbow’s end. Scrambling and crawling they hung onto the colours, kicking at unseen fingers trying to pull them back. The Rainbow started to fade and the two friends looked at each other. The signs of ageing were fading.
“We’ve done it, Jack, we’ve done it!”
The sounds of chains rattling and the breathing of the unseen died away, as the teenagers clung to the disappearing edge of the rainbow.
They fell, landing safely in the gardens of the Quakers Burial Grounds close by St Mary Redcliffe Church. All looked familiar. Church bells chimed. Chloe looked at Jackson, then at her hands. There was a wedding ring on her finger, and her stomach swelled with pregnancy.
“What have we done now? We seem to have jumped ten years too soon!”
They laughed, and strolled together up Redcliffe Hill, back to the future of 2025.