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Published Spring 2011!
Book Two - The Hourglass Institute Series
Everyone is searching for pieces of 'The Crown of Knossos:' historical artefacts which when assembled allow
control over all of history in this and in the Twisted reality. The Hourglass Institute, Redfeld's masters and even
the Directorate are soon in the hunt. One by one the pieces are found but eventually Tom and the others
discover who is really after The Crown and what their motivations are. It is only then that they realise the
extent of the danger, for 'Yesterday's Treasures' can mean the destruction of tomorrow.
Excerpt : Chapter One - The Fort
The bronze gun barrel loomed over the narrow strip of water, keeping a silent watch upon the straits it had once, long ago, been positioned here to guard. Thomas Oakley peered down its length imagining for a moment that he was a gunner aiming at a distant target. Then he turned and gazed along the fort's battlements, which stood like a silent sentinel upon the coast. 'Fort Belam' - that was the name of the place. His dad had fancied coming here when he saw it
in a holiday brochure.
“It's an old fort built back in Napoleonic times to keep an eye out for a French invasion," he had explained to the rest of the family. “Been turned into a holiday camp now with cottages and apartments. Fancy going there this summer?”
The suggestion had not been enthusiastically received. Tom’s sister, Emma, wanted to stay at Centre Parks and Tom and his mother both preferred the idea of an 'all inclusive' vacation in Corfu, but his dad, having lost his job that spring and only just got a new one, had said that money was tight; so a cottage in North Wales was where they went.
In the end, it was not as bad as it had first sounded. The weather was a bit mixed, but when it was dry there were beaches not far away, a number of towns with amusement arcades, interesting shops and castles to visit. Nearby,
the mountains of Snowdonia loomed over the skyline; it was great scenery and there was plenty to do.
Thinking back, Tom had to admit that he had certainly needed a break. The year so far had involved some unpleasant, dangerous adventures; he had been quite ready for - and had enjoyed - the two weeks they had spent at the fort: two weeks of peace and quiet with no complications. He sighed with satisfaction, feeling relaxed and happy.
Tomorrow they were going home and in a couple of days the new school term would start, so, after lunch, his mum,
dad and sister had gone to nearby Caernarfon to buy some souvenirs and presents. Tom had turned down the offer, fancying instead a few hours alone in the cottage and a final look around the fort.
Bringing his camera with him he strolled along the battlements stopping every so often to take a photo of a cannon; the fort; Anglesey across the bay in one direction and the distant mountains in the other. On the top of the fort a Union Flag fluttered in the breeze and he snapped that. Then he checked the image in the small screen on the back, staring at it in amazement as it came into view.
"Uh?" he muttered as he studied the picture. It clearly showed the flagpole and on the top of it a flag. However, this was not the familiar red and blue crosses on a white background that he expected to see, but an altogether different flag:
one with three broad stripes of red, white and blue. It was the tricolour of France!
Shading his eyes, he peered up at the flagpole and the standard that flapped about in the gentle breeze coming in off
the Irish Sea. It was, without a doubt, the Union Flag. Baffled, Tom turned his head to glance around the fort, but he
could not see a second flagpole anywhere nearby.
"That's stupid!" he muttered. Then he slapped his forehead and smiled. This image was obviously an earlier photo left on the memory card from another day. He checked the image date and time then frowned: the date it recorded was today and the time a couple of minutes ago. ‘No complications’, he had thought to himself only moments before – he should have known better! His pulse beginning to race, he murmured, “So what is this all about?”
Shaking his head, he looked again at the flagpole and gaped as he now saw the French flag hanging there. He was certain it had been the British one. Behind him he heard footsteps coming closer. He looked around; there was no one in sight. His skin prickled. As he stood there and stared at the empty battlements he felt something brush past his right
arm and heard the footsteps pass on by.
"Oh flip!" he muttered to himself. The guide book to the place had mentioned a ghost that was supposed to haunt the battlements but, like all visitors, Tom had dismissed the story. Was whatever it was that had just passed him a ghost?
A chill passed down his spine and he felt goose pimples creep along his arms.
"Come on Tom!" he chided himself. "There are no such things as ghosts." Not convinced that he actually believed this, he decided to go back to the cottage. He walked a few paces towards the stone steps that ran down inside the fort to ground level.
"Garçon, arrêtes-toi!" bellowed a voice behind him.
Tom's heart seemed to leap in his chest and he spun around. He gulped as he saw that he was gazing right down the
end of a gun barrel. Not a modern gun, like a shotgun or rifle, but an old fashioned one: a musket. That was frightening enough, but even more terrifying was the man holding the musket. His face was scarred on the right cheek as well as above the left eye, and he leered at Tom with a dangerous expression that threatened violence. He was in uniform: a blue jacket and white trousers. On his head he wore an odd hat - tall, round and black with a brass plate bearing the number 31 and a green pompom on the front.
Tom stared at him for a moment, then slowly he relaxed. This was no ghost. He knew who this was - or rather what
kind of man it was. Almost he laughed.
"You're a re-enactor aren't you? Here to re-fight a battle or something? I've seen that kind of thing before. You had
me going there for a minute," he smiled.
"Comment t'appeles-tu?" The man demanded.
"Oh, I get it, you like to play the role. Ok then, Je m'appelle Tom Oakley. J'ai douze ans..."
"Es-tu un espion?"
"What ... I mean, Je ne vous comprend pas," Tom said, forehead wrinkling under the effort of remembering his French lessons. It was no good though: he had no idea what 'espion' meant.
"He said, are you a spy?" another very heavily accented voice replied, but this time in English and coming from behind Tom. He turned around and saw another man in similar uniform, although smarter looking and adorned with some gold braid - an officer perhaps. This man was brandishing a long curving sabre in one hand and a pistol in the other.
"Well, are you?" he asked pointing the sword at Tom.
"Say, you guys really take the part seriously, I'll give you that. So then, when is the battle? I would love to see it. Only we go home tonight and I think ..." he trailed off as he noticed the officer shaking his head.
"I am afraid you will not be going anywhere mon ami unless it is the cells. Now, speak: what is all this about a battle? Is the English army finally coming to face us? Or are the mountain rebels planning an attack on this fort? Mon Dieu but I dearly hope so ... we will teach them a lesson for that raid on Conwy last month. I will have half a dozen strung up by nightfall if they come here."
"I ... what?" Tom asked, now utterly confused.
"Come with me!" The man ordered and turned to walk towards the steps.
"Wait ... this is fun and all but joking aside, I'll just go back to my cottage. If we are still about, we will come and see the battle if you tell me what time."
The officer glared back at Tom.
"Vite, maintenant!" he shouted and Tom was suddenly and violently thrust along the battlements by the other man - the one with the musket.
"Wait ... wait ..." Tom stuttered, then a terrible thought dawned upon him. That French flag above this Welsh fort, these men dressed as French soldiers from the Napoleonic wars of two hundred years ago and what the officer said offhand about rebels in the mountains and a raid on Conwy: all these facts fell in to place and he suddenly realised where he was.
"Oh God, this is the Twisted Reality isn't it? How did that happen?"
The only answer was a puzzled glance from the officer and another painful shove from behind, but Tom knew he was right. The Twisted Reality: a world parallel to his own, but where history had taken different paths. Tom had been there before earlier in the year and visited Britain in the twentieth century: but it had been a Britain where the Nazis had won World War Two. Now, he seemed to be in that other world again, but at an earlier date, when the French under Napoleon had invaded Britain. In Tom’s world, Napoleon had been defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, but clearly, in the Twisted Reality the outcome had been different and the French had occupied at least part of the country. Tom frowned, so how did he get here? A third shove from the musket butt told him that it did not matter, at least not for the moment: what mattered was to get away.
He needed to find a place to get his bearings and then he could transport himself back to his world. He stumbled along a few feet until he was just behind the officer and then took off and barging past him, landed on the top step and careered down them, two at a time.
There was a loud bang from behind. Glancing over his shoulder Tom saw a cloud of smoke around the soldier's musket. Having discharged his weapon and missed, the Frenchman was quickly fastening a bayonet to the end of the musket as he scuttled after his quarry.
Tom carried on down the steps and landed with a crunch on the packed earth of the fort interior. Thirty yards away
were the fort gates - both open and apparently unguarded. Tom made for them, but after ten strides stopped in his tracks. The gates were open because a horseman was coming through them. The man wore a green jacket and a shiny brass helmet and he sat on a huge, dark brown horse. His eyes narrowed as he took in the sight of the officer and soldier chasing after Tom. He drew his sword with a metallic swish and dug in his heels. The horse leapt forward at the gallop - heading straight for Tom.
Behind, the soldiers had almost caught up with him. Desperately, Tom reached out in his mind for the Map - the connection he had with the world about him and the tool by which he could transport himself anywhere. But in his panic he could not focus on it. The thundering beast charged down upon him and the cavalryman's sword arm went back ready to strike down and cut him to pieces.
Tom closed his eyes and waited for the blow!