First Chapters – Chronicles of Time by J C Allen

Today’s First Chapter is from Chronicles of Time by fellow author J C Allen.

ChroniclesofTime

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Chronicles of Time Trilogy by J C Allen:

Imagine…  What would you do if you found the key to a time machine?  A twelve-year-old girl on her way home from swim practice, did just that.  With her family and friends, she must solve riddles and travel back through history to find missing pieces of the time machine in order to save the world in the future.

Will they have enough time?

PROLOGUE

March 21, 1756, 8:47 PM, Appalachian Mountains.

Branches, bushes and trees flew by on the amazingly stable video display. The man’s labored breath was exceptionally clear. You could almost hear his heart pounding out of his chest. Occasionally, an upside-down glimpse of his face came into view. He appeared to be quite young, perhaps thirty, but had a look in his eyes, the eyes of an old man. A wise old man. The video oddly seemed to be recording from a camera mounted on a chain around his neck. His dirty complexion and half-inch beard growth gave hint that he had dwelled in these woods for days. The perspiration on his face and tenseness of his forehead and jaw reflected his fear — and determination. He had several scratches on his face, mostly from running through the heavy brush. Looking down, his right hand was bloody, as was his left side, where a small hole pierced his buckskin jacket at the bottom of his ribcage.

“Not… gonna… make… it!” he panted with difficultly as he stopped to gather his senses — and breath. He ducked behind a tree, concealing his breathing as much as possible. No more than fifty feet away, atop a horse so black it appeared to be a void in the already dim light, dressed in black trousers and a bright red shirt and cape was his nemesis, Bergamiser — or Bignose as he liked to call him, because of his huge red honker.

“I know you’re out there, Taylor,” the man called as he turned the horse in circles, looking each way carefully. “I know I winged you, too. Just give me the box and we’ll get ya patched up.” He tapped his gun, which was lying across his legs, impatiently. He heard a crack of a twig in the opposite direction, turned his horse and sped off in pursuit.

Taylor breathed what seemed like an hour’s worth of breath and sighed, “Thank God he’s as bad at tracking as he is at physics,” he giggled painfully. “And thank God for the trees, or the moonlight would have given me away.”

He pressed his hand against his side and pulled it away, wincing as he stared at the bright red blood on his fingers. He grunted and then continued on, hoping to reach his destination before his body failed.

Twenty minutes later Bergamiser slowed to barely a trot, then a walk. He was about to give up the chase. He was angry and it was getting cold when he saw a large lump in the path ahead.

Taylor watched as Bignose climbed down from his mare and walked over to him. His eyes closed before the man reached him. He was face down, apparently clutching something to his body. Bergamiser carefully pushed Taylor over onto his back with his foot, full of anticipation at recovering his prize — finally. Taylor had died with a grin on his face, and Bignose’s features twisted with fury when he saw what Taylor was holding in his hands — a parchment scrawled in blood that read: “NO TIME FOR YOU! HA HA! J.T.”

 CHAPTER ONE – ALEX

Friday, May 11 — Southern Virginia.

It was a warm morning, but a damp one. The sixty-degree temperature still felt chilly flowing through the open window. The sheer white curtains fluffed in and out in rhythm with the breeze. The chill air felt soothing on Alex’s face as she snuggled in bed with the comforter pulled up around her neck as far as it would go.

The clock said 5:58, it was set to go off at 6:00, but she was always awake before it could ever alarm. Today, like every day except Sunday, she had to — no, wanted to —go to early swim practice. She had the option of going either before or after school, but she always did both. Alex loved swimming and was good at it.

She opened one eye and stared at her medals and ribbons, which were all hanging from hooks she made her father install on the front of a six-foot mantle built over her bed to hold her trophies.

The ribbons swayed gently above her. She remembered winning each one, starting with her first, a green fifth-place ribbon when she was just five years old, competing in the five- to eight-year-old category. The rest were all blue, first-place, from the time she was seven until now at twelve. She thought that would change soon and she actually looked forward to possibly losing again when she would begin competing nationally in the twelve- to fifteen-year-old group this summer.

“You’re too young to compete nationally,” her dad had always said. Until this year.

Alex’s dad was Richard (Rick) Williamson. His medals, her most prized possessions, were hanging from hooks in the ceiling above the mantle: three gold and two silver from the 1991 National Invitational. He was going to try for the Olympics in ‘92 but decided he wasn’t quite ready. By 1996, Alex was in his life and he had gladly given up the idea of Olympic gold and instead went for the gold in family and employment. He managed to acquire his dream job: senior designer and tester for one of the top gaming software companies in the world.

Alex often felt she had ruined his dreams, but he always assured her she was more valuable than a thousand gold medals, and even better than a world record in the hundred meter butterfly, which he had destroyed in practice many times.

On the far wall, she had a picture of her dad and his coach when he was only fifteen and had set several state records in the open division of the state championships for freestyle and butterfly as well as I.M. He was holding up seven first-place ribbons to show the camera.

Other than that, Alex’s room was the typical teen girl’s room: teen idol posters were pasted up randomly around the walls. She had a fluffy, frilly bed with matching desk, dresser and nightstand. A giant net took up an entire corner of the room, filled with stuffed animals, all carefully placed, not thrown, and mostly Care Bears.

The room was painted two tones of blue; dark blue on the bottom, light blue on top with a wave border in between. A blown-up picture of her swimming taken last year, decorated the waterline. The carpet completed the pool illusion, being light blue with what looked like the sunlight patterns you would see on the bottom of a pool being constantly rippled by a slight breeze.

She also had a huge walk-in closet on the same wall as the entry door. It was always kept closed, mainly because it was stuffed with too many shoes, too many dresses, too many coats, jackets, hats, and of course, toys littering the floor and shelves. She had a full-length mirror in the opposite corner and a sectional sofa with pull-out bed under the net. Rick had allowed her to paint and decorate the room however she wished each year, and continuously added touches like the huge flat-screen TV mounted across from the couch. It was a dream room for any young girl, and the layout was mirrored on the other side of a shared bathroom for Jessie’s room.

The bathroom connecting the two sisters’ rooms was fourteen feet long, with one side totally taken up by countertop with double sinks and a mirror spanning the entire wall. The other side held a six-foot sunken Jacuzzi, enclosed toilet closet, and glass door shower stall.

Beyond the luxurious bathroom was what Alex called Hurricane Jessie. Unless the area was in use, the girls left the doors open on both ends of the bathroom because they loved the breeze blowing through their rooms from opposite sides of the house when the weather was nice enough to keep the windows open.

At 6:00, Alex turned the alarm off as soon as it buzzed, slung the covers back and swung her feet around to the floor where she had fuzzy bunny slippers awaiting her feet — pink to match her pink pajamas.

She used the bathroom with the lights off so as to not awaken the beast in the next room, and glanced into the mirror. Her emerald eyes looked wide awake, but her short brown hair was a mess. She decided not to bother fixing it — she was going swimming anyway and no other kids were ever up early enough to see her between the house and the rec center.

Outside her room the upstairs hallway formed a balcony which overlooked the entryway, kitchen, and dining room. A large, curved staircase wound down to the first floor and continued on into the basement.

The entire first floor was open from floor to ceiling, save for a single counter that denoted the boundary of the kitchen. A huge pewter chandelier was suspended from the ceiling in the kitchen area and another in the dining area. Matching wall sconces graced both sides of the fireplace in the living room area. A single large globe dangled in the entryway. Nothing but tiled floor demarcated the area called the kitchen, wood floors defined the dining and living rooms, and stone distinguished the entry.

She could smell the biscuits, eggs, sausage, bacon, and gravy as soon as she opened her bedroom door. She bounced down the stairs and trotted over to the counter, where she could see Rick placing two plates full of the scrumptious-smelling breakfast.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Rick said as he poured them each a glass of orange juice.

“Morning, Dad. Good job on the breakfast! How do you always know what I want?”

“Father’s intuition,” he said, shrugging playfully as he finished pouring. He kissed her on the head and sat down beside her to eat.

“I broke 28 seconds yesterday in the fly,” she announced with a huge grin on her face which got even bigger as she saw Rick’s startled look. “You know that’s second in the nation in my age group?”

“Wow,” he finally said. “And no, that’s first in your age group — the only other girl who broke 28 seconds is sixteen now, so she won’t be in your age group for the Nationals.”

Alex was shocked that he had the information in his head, “How did you know that?”

“All of us old has-been swimmers keep up with that kind of stuff,” he answered with a straight face.

“Yeah, Dad, like you always kept up on the twelve to fifteen girls’ stats…”

“I have ever since I knew someone who would be at the top of it.”

“In the fly, maybe. You know that’s my favorite…”

“Like your dad, eh?”

“What are you getting at, Dad?” She didn’t like the questioning look on his face.

“You’re not trying to, um, live up to someone else’s expectations, are you?”

She raised an eyebrow and then looked back down at her food, “Dad, I do work three times as hard at the fly. Not because it was your best, but because I like it the best too. It’s the one stroke that can set you apart from everyone else.”

“Honey, I’m just worried that you’re working too hard. You practice almost five hours a day counting the gym work. You’re gonna burn out.”

“Uh! Dad! I do it because I want to. If I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t worry about whether or not you approved of it.”

“Your coach told me you spend the entire morning practice on the butterfly. He says you’re obsessed with it. Honey, that doesn’t sound healthy.”

“You told me you worked on the fly three hours a day, Dad,” she argued.

“When I was twenty, Alex, not twelve. When I was twelve I was shooting things with my BB gun and blowing up stuff with firecrackers.”

“So, you want me to become more destructive?” she said sarcastically.

“No, silly. I want you to be a kid. Have fun, don’t work all day. You leave here at 6:30 and don’t get home until 6:30 in the evening. Sometimes later. That’s more than I work!”

“But you’re a geeky video game nut — you play video games sixteen hours a day sometimes!”

“I, uh, enjoy that, honey—”

“I enjoy swimming, Dad. I’d do it all day if it weren’t for school. It’s what I enjoy doing. It’s like video games to you, or like Barbie dolls for Jessie when she was little, or like explosives to you—”

“OK, OK, I get your point.”

“Is that not good enough for you? Are you going to force me to play with dolls or something?”

“No, honey, I won’t. But that’s the only answer I would have accepted,” he said with a knowing smile as she gave him a puzzled look. “Look, I just wanted to make sure you’re not trying to walk in my footsteps. I want you to take your own path.”

“I am. But some of the paths you enjoyed walking down are just as beautiful to me as they were to you. You don’t see me building fortresses in your strategy games or fragging space marines with rocket launchers in your shoot-‘em-up games. I don’t like everything you do; I just like swimming!”

Rick just smiled at her tenderly.

“What?” she blasted in frustration.

“I love you, Alex.”

“Does that mean I can skip school and swim all day?”

“Uh, no. That means I’m happy you enjoy what you’re doing and I’ll help any way I can!”

“Cool, so you’ll build an Olympic-size swimming pool out back? Ours isn’t big enough.”

“I said any way I can; we don’t even have room—”

“I know, Dad, thanks for worrying about me,” she gulped the last of her orange juice and slammed the glass down on the counter. “Now I gotta hurry up and get to practice.”

She shot out of her seat and kissed him quickly on the cheek before running upstairs. Rick was still pondering their conversation when she flew past him and out the kitchen door to the garage. She slung her backpack over her shoulder, hopped on her bike, and sped off to practice.

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