Time To Repair

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Chapter 3

Northampton England, Wednesday August 6th 2262

09:05:47 hours

“Momentarily I will tell you all about this exciting new building that you have just port into,” said Simon as the children of SRK 6-1 stood in excited anticipation.

“First though, I must check that we have you all here.”

He studied his dat-com strap. “Oh dear, it appears we have a problem.”

He frowned. “I’ve had ten of you arrive in the teleporters, but I’m only picking up nine of you on my strap… I’m guessing one of you isn’t wearing their dat-com strap.” A good start, he thought as he looked over the children.

“Right… I want everyone to check their wrist and put up their hand if they have their strap on.”

The children checked their wrists, hands started shooting up sporadically around the group. After a few seconds all hands were aloft, apart from one little girl who stood there looking down at her cherry-red buckled shoes. Simon walked over to her and crouched down in front of her to be at her height.

“And what might your name be?” He asked affectionately of the English girl who was trying desperately not to cry.

“Gillian,” she mumbled through pursed lips; still not looking up from her shoes.

“Am I right in saying that you’re not wearing your strap this morning?” He asked. The other children had put down their hands and gathered round.

“It might be in my rucksack,” Gillian answered sheepishly to the floor.

“If it was in your rucksack then my dat-com strap would have picked up your signal,” Simon pointed out. Gillian remained silent.

“Look at me please,” said Simon.

Gillian slowly looked up. “Why are you not wearing it Gillian?”

“I don’t know,” she answered after a moment’s thought.

“Did you forget to put it on this morning before you left home?” He asked, wondering what sort of parents she had if they let her leave home without it. She shook her head first but then nodded, her long auburn hair swaying about the shoulders of her white long-sleeved top.

“Do I need it today?” she asked innocently.

Jeez. Simon thought, what kind of an upbringing was this poor child having? Several of the other children giggled.

“Do you know what a data and communications strap is used for?” He asked, perhaps a bit too sternly. Gillian looked down at the port floor again. She wasn’t going to reply.

“For a start,” Simon said, standing back up. “It tells me and everyone else that has access to your details, including your parents, exactly where you are in the world. It also allows you to communicate with other people that don’t speak the same language as you,” he paused as he checked his own. “How are you going to speak to Megumi here if you’re not wearing it?” He asked, pointing to the dark-haired Japanese girl. Gillian said nothing. Megumi smiled.

“Should you fall ill and you’re not wearing your strap, how will we know? We won’t know what is wrong with you or how to treat you before you start feeling poorly.”

Not expecting her to answer he continued. “You could make us all ill with your germs before we even realised you were sick yourself.”

This was all pretty rudimentary; information a child of this age should be fully aware of. Again, he questioned the responsibility of her parents. He would have to send a full report to her now, something he could have done without.

Gillian started to cry quietly, fat tears were running down her freckled cheeks. Simon felt a little guilty. He crouched down in front of her again and handed her a clean tissue from his pocket.

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said softly. “I just want you to see how important it is that you wear your strap in future.”

Gillian wiped the tears from her face.

“It’s only been a few minutes since you arrived, will one of your parents still be at home?”

“Yes. I…I think so,” Gillian stammered.

“Good,” Simon answered with a smile. “We can sort out this unfortunate situation without too much bother. We will contact them and ask them to teleport your dat-com strap to us.” Simon stood up again and spoke into his own.

“Contact the port floor manager, strap display.”

Simon’s strap started to pulse against his wrist, moments later contacting Colin MacKenzie appeared on the display. The strap stopped pulsing as Colin answered; his head and shoulders filling the small screen.

His location materialised in text form at the bottom as Simon lowered his wrist slightly to chat.

“Hello Simon, nice to meet you, how can I help?” Colin chirped in a distinct Scottish twang.

“Hi Colin, good to see you too,” replied Simon. “I have a six year old girl here without a strap,” he added, getting straight to the point.

“Oh dear.”

“She has only just arrived so there is a strong chance one, or both of her parents, are still at home and could port it in to us,” Simon informed him.

“Let’s hope so,” Colin replied. “I will send someone over to collect the child; they can then find her details on the database and contact her parents.”

“Great!” Simon said cheerfully.

“I see that you are half way down row H,” said Colin, checking his own strap. “I will have someone with you in a few minutes.”

“Thanks Colin, much appreciated... End call.” The connection was terminated.

Simon turned to Gillian. “Someone will come and collect you in a few minutes.” Gillian nodded.

“Okay,” Simon announced, as he stepped back to address all the children. “Let me tell you all about this amazing place!”

The children’s earlier surge of excitement returned.

“We have to wait here until someone comes for Gillian,” he explained. “So we will start our lesson here.”

The children hung onto his every word.

“I want everyone to move to the middle of the aisle so that we are not in the way of anyone using a teleporter.” They followed him to the centre of the aisle. He raised his arm and spoke into his strap again.

“Lock out and activate audio recording for SRK 6-1.” It pulsed to acknowledge the command. The children’s straps pulsed as they were overridden by Simon.

“Your dat-com straps are now recording the audio for our lesson,” he informed them. “All features on it, other than emergency contact and health alerts, have been disabled for the duration; so there will be no sneaky listening to music while you’re with me!” He quipped. Several of the children giggled.

“Gillian, when you get yours it will catch up with what we have done so far; so don’t worry about missing anything. She nodded again.

“We are in the newest museum in the country,” he announced. “With this and the other buildings included, as well as the grounds and outside exhibits, it is also one of the biggest in the world!” Simon revelled in the amazement and happiness on the faces of the children.

He continued. “The main building, which we are in right now, is forty floors high. We are on the top floor which, as you can see, is the port floor. Over the next year you will get to see a lot of the exhibits and artefacts we have here; and even interact with technology from our ancestors. You will learn how the human race used to live throughout different eras. At times we will go back hundreds of years. You will learn a lot; but will have some fun along the way too.” Simon suddenly noticed a female member of staff had joined the group; she was waiting patiently for a suitable time to announce her presence.

“Hello Simon, I’m Valerie, I’ve come to collect your strapless child.” Valerie had short blonde hair and looked immaculate in her long grey-checked skirt and matching jacket. Her lips had a fiery red covering of lipstick. Simon smiled, a little flustered by her beauty.

“Ah, good… I...I mean hello Valerie. Sorry. Gillian, will you go with Valerie so she can get your strap for you.” Gillian walked over to Valerie and looked up at her.

Valerie smiled. “Hello Gillian; you silly sausage you.” Gillian smiled back.

Valerie turned to Simon. “I will check where you are when we have reunited young Gillian here with her strap and bring her back.”

Simon smiled again. Were all the women here going to be so attractive, he thought?

“We will be looking at travel and transport today,” he said quickly, having paused momentarily too long. “We will be outside looking at vehicles in section M1.”

“Okay, hopefully we won’t be too long,” she replied. “Come on then Gillian, let’s go.”

Valerie turned and walked away, Gillian skipped after her. Simon watched for a few seconds before turning back to the remaining children.

“As I said, for your very first history lesson we will start with travel and transport. We will be learning about some of the earliest forms of travel, from public transport to personal… Now follow me and we will make our way to the traversolls.”

The group meandered through the lively port floor and up to the traversolls. While they waited for number six, Simon asked. “Has everyone taken their sun repellent tablet this morning? We are going to be spending most of our lesson outside; I don’t want anyone getting sun stroke.”

All the children confirmed that they had. He dictated a message to Valerie, which she would receive in text form on her strap, asking her to check whether Gillian had taken her tablet. If any of the parents were going to have forgotten, it was going to be hers.

After a short wait the doors opened and they all got inside.

“Section M1.” Simon announced, putting his thumb on the pad. The doors closed.

The traversoll shot down forty floors in a matter of seconds pausing briefly below ground level. The children chatted excitedly to each other as it now sped at high speed to the left. They would now be out of the main building, Simon surmised as the journey continued. They came to a halt again and ascended briefly before stopping for the last time. The doors opened. “Section M1,” the female voice announced.

“Here we are!” said Simon in a singsong voice. The children giggled. “Follow me!” he added, stepping out onto coarse dry grass. They were at the top of a high bank. The heat from the morning sun felt good; a wise decision after all not to be wearing a jacket, he thought.

The children congregated on the grass in front him, taking in the view in stunned silence. Simon was a little taken aback also.

“This, children, is what used to be the longest section of road in the country. When this was open for public use, travelling in motorised vehicles was one of our ancestor’s favourite forms of transport.” He paused. “This is the M1 motorway and parked on it, as far as you can see in both directions, are a vast selection of the vehicles that would have used it during the time it was open. We are near what was Junction 15A,” he said pointing at the junction. “If you were travelling on the M1 in a vehicle, and wanted to visit Northampton, you would get off it at this junction. This is one of the few remaining stretches of the motorway left,” he added. “It goes back as far as Junction 16 in that direction,” he pointed north, “and nearly up to what was Junction 15 in that direction. That one isn’t there anymore.” Simon’s strap pulsed, he glanced down at his wrist. There was a message on the screen from Valerie.

Gillian has now been reunited with her strap, she’s confirmed that she has

taken her sun repellent tablet this morning. We are on our way to Section M1.

Simon continued. “The first section of the M1 was opened in November 1959, which is just over 300 years ago. It was extended several times over the years, the last part being opened, a little later than planned, in the spring of 2060 to mark its 100th birthday. His Royal Highness King Henry IX opened the new section. In honour of Harry’s late mother there was a ten mile underpass beneath Durham named after her. Diana Spencer Pass became quite a tourist attraction. It was at this point that the opening ceremony took place.”

“Why did you call him Harry?” asked one of the children. Simon glanced down at his strap; it indicated on the display that the boy who had asked was Douglas.

“A good question Douglas,” Simon commended. “In his younger days King Henry Charles Albert David IX, to give him his full name, was more commonly known as Harry. During his days as a Prince he was referred to as Prince Harry. It was only when he became king that he was known as Henry.”

“What happened to his mum?” Douglas asked.

Simon sighed. “Sadly she died in France in late 1997. One night there was a terrible road accident involving the car that she was travelling in. The accident and her subsequent passing away, shocked the world. There were a lot of conspiracy theories concerning her tragic death; investigations went on for decades. It took over thirty years for a frightened witness on their death bed to open up and for the truth to finally come out.”

Simon sensed a certain amount of unease among some of the children so swiftly changed the subject. “Getting back to the M1… Now, with the latest stretch open, you could drive the three hundred and sixty eight miles from London to Edinburgh on just one motorway.”

“Wouldn’t that have taken a really really long time?” asked another of the children. Simon checked his strap, the question had come from Harry. He could tell from the boy’s strong Mexamerican accent that he hadn’t lived in England long.

“Well spotted Harry, not many people would want to spend the seven or eight hours that it would take you to drive that distance squashed into a small vehicle,” he replied. “There would have been quicker and more comfortable ways of getting there. Can anyone name one?”

Four of the children shot their hands up eagerly. “Yes,” said Simon, pointing to one of the boys who had put their hands up.

“Samolot!” Came the eager reply from the Polish boy, Ryszard.

The dat-com straps of the rest of the group pulsed as they picked up the sound wave of the foreign language and converted it to the home language of the wearer. Simon felt the faint tingle as the converted sound wave hit his arm’s radius bone as a vibration. It then travelled up to the humerus bone, onto the scapula and clavicle of his shoulder before reaching his spinal column. From here it was picked up by his skull’s temporal bone and inner ear as the converted sound wave. His brain processed the information and he heard the words ’an aeroplane!’ The translation had only taken a second.

“Very good Ryszard!” he praised the boy, who grinned from ear to ear having just had the words translated to Polish by his own strap. “It would certainly have been the quickest way to get there,” he added.

" Będziemy dzisiaj ogladac samoloty?” asked Ryszard.

“Will we be looking at any aeroplanes today?” Came the translation.

“No. That is something you will be learning about in a few weeks from now,” Simon replied. “You will be porting to an old airport for that lesson; with someone different.”

Simon looked round the group again at the raised hands and pointed at Douglas. “What transport have you come up with?”

“A train!” he answered swiftly and enthusiastically.

“Very good again!” Simon replied.

“That wouldn’t have been as quick as an aeroplane but probably would have been a cheaper way to travel. Again trains are something to be covered in detail in a future lesson.”

The doors to the traversoll opened up behind them, Valerie stepped out with a happier Gillian.

“Hello again Gillian,” Simon said with a caring smile.

“Hello!” she replied as she joined the other children. Valerie beckoned Simon over with a slight tilt to her head and widened eyes. Simon joined her in front of the traversoll doors.

“Not as straightforward as we would have hoped,” Valerie said in a hushed voice. “That poor child has some issues at home that need addressing. I’ve just had the pleasure of speaking to both her so called parents.”

“I suspected as much,” Simon sympathised with a sigh. “Some people should never have children.”

“Very true,” Valerie agreed. “I will put a report together this morning about my concerns and send you a copy of it too.”

“Thank you,” Simon stared into the deep blue pools that were her eyes. “I plan to do the very same thing when I get back to my office.” He pictured himself going in to kiss her luscious red lips.

“See you later,” she said, and re-entered the traversoll.

“Thanks again Valerie, bye.”

The last thing he saw of her was the full red lipped smile she gave him as the doors met. He sighed and turned back to the children.

“Update Gillian’s strap with the current lesson,” he commanded softly into his own.

He could see the children were eager to run down the grassy bank in front of them and start exploring the many vehicles.

“Gillian, all you have missed so far is a bit of the history of this large road in front of us which is called the M1. On it are vehicles that would have used it during the time it was open.”

Gillian nodded.

Simon added. “Your strap has been updated now; you can catch up on the bit that you missed on your home study day.” He looked at her sweet face and wondered what input her parents would have on her home study day.

He continued. “We have a bit more history to cover and then we will make our way down the bank to the ten lanes below and start looking at all the different types of vehicle!”

An excited buzz rippled out among the children.

“We now know when the motorway was opened; it was officially closed for public use in the year 2137. So it was in daily use for…” He looked up at the sky and pretended to count on his fingers. The children giggled. “One hundred and seventy eight years!” he declared. “Now, who would like to guess why the motorway closed?” The Indian boy put his hand up. “Yes Saadah.” Simon had remembered his name from the study of the group’s notes earlier.

“Because it got too old?” he answered hesitantly in perfect English.

“Well it was very old by the time it closed,” Simon replied. “But that wasn’t the main reason. Anyone else want to have a guess?”

A Japanese girl put her hand up. “テレポートがもう発明されたからですか。”

Was it because teleporters had been invented?’ Came the translation.

“Well done Atsuko!” Simon praised the girl. She blushed a little and giggled behind her delicate hands.

“As Atsuko pointed out,” Simon continued. “Teleporters had become very popular by that time, and a motorway of this size needed regular maintenance and constant repairs; both of which were very expensive. Gradually people around the world got less afraid of teleporting and more and more of them switched from the motor vehicle to the teleporter. The cost of using a vehicle on the road by this time was very high. It had risen sharply over the previous hundred years or so as fuel to run them got harder to find,” Simon paused for a breath. “Teleporters were first introduced to the public on October 11th 2132; about five years before the M1 closed. Initially, because of the expense of using one, they were mainly used for long-distance travel, holidays and business trips abroad. Not all countries then believed they were safe to use and wouldn’t invest in the technology. Others that did wouldn’t allow foreigners to teleport into their country for fear of terrorism and espionage, Russia still being one of these. The cost of teleporting came down steadily about a year or two after their launch, by the time the motorway closed it was cheaper to teleport than it was to drive one of these,” he pointed down to the numerous vehicles below. “It was also better for the environment. The majority of these vehicles ran on petroleum or diesel, when they were being used they would send choking black fumes into the sky from pipes at the back of them. The fumes were very harmful. Sadly our ancestors back then didn’t really seem to care that much. Those were very different times compared to now.”

The group had been riveted by his words.

The Mexamerican girl put her hand up and, without waiting for Simon to address her, said “My name is Mary and I want to know what pert… pertrolinum and diesel are.”

Simon was amused by her brashness. “Well Mary, petroleum; or petrol for short, and diesel, were the fuel that was put into most of these vehicles to make them move. Both were made from fossil fuels which were found deep below the ground and pumped up to the surface.”

“Wow… Cool! ” Mary said.

“If you all look over there,” Simon said, pointing to his left. “That group of old-fashioned buildings; just off of the road is a service station. If you were on a long journey and you needed to stop for more fuel; or to rest, or perhaps you wanted something to eat, you could do all of those things here.

The service station has been preserved so it still looks and works pretty much the same today as it did when the motorway closed. We will be having a look round that in awhile. First though we will descend carefully down to the road below and have a look at some of the vehicles!”

Anonymous audio diary 1

Discovered in 2087during the extension of the Moscow Kalininskaya metro line

I find myself twenty-three years in the past in the year 2262. I’ve confirmed that the date is Tuesday February 4th as we planned and, as expected, Northampton has been subjected to the most horrendous winter storm. The disruption caused has made it possible for me to arrive unnoticed.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the concept of time travel… and also the death of T; seeing her slaughtered before my eyes as I left is something that will stay with me forever. I had grown very fond of her once again; something I would have never thought possible. What did she see in a prematurely-aged grey old man? Perhaps she clung on to the memories that we created in the past; and saw passed my wizened tired old face and grey thinning hair… every time I see my hideous reflection it makes me want to weep. What happened to me? I don’t believe for one minute the story I was told...

I will miss T and always hold a place for her in my heart; if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here now. I’ve lost two of the most important people in my life and a third has taken their own because of my selfish act… If… no, when Plan A succeeds it will put everything right… it has to put everything right.

Now I must get on to the first part of Plan A. T just won’t believe it when I turn up out of the blue after all these years.

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