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Out of Time – Excerpt

My SF Book Out of Time

The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester – Vol 1, Out of Time.

Copyright © 2015 Bruce Macfarlane

Here is Elizabeth’s description of her first trip on an airplane from my Book, Out of Time.

I stood in a bright white hall, the size of a cathedral. Hundreds of people milled around me. It reminded me of St Pancras on the weekend of the newly introduced Bank Holiday or St. Lubock’s Day as it was popularly referred to by the working classes.
James was rather taken aback by the size of my luggage and blamed Jill quite unfairly in advising what I should take. He was good enough to carry most of it though not without comment.
“Are you sure you have bought enough there, Elizabeth?” Said James lifting my five bags into a cart. I played him.
“No, James, I have left three hat boxes behind as Jill said that you had your limits in this area.”
Poor man did looked suitably shocked.
“Actually I was more worried how Easyjet was going to fit it all in the hold and how many passengers would have to be left behind.”
“A lady requires a lot of effort to be acceptable in polite company.”
“But with your natural looks, Elizabeth, I didn’t know effort was required.” Before I bit he gave a smile that indicated he appreciated how much effort I had put in and proceeded to push my luggage along the hall. In this world compliments to a lady are so different but so much more rewarding.
We passed on our luggage to the female porter at the baggage reception who on regarding my items gave a surprised look similar to James and I’m sure almost took pity on him before she caught my eye. Then we went to the main hall for embarkation. It was almost the size of one of the new London train termini. On one side great windows almost thirty feet square, perfectly transparent and without blemish, allowed a view of the white and coloured sleek birds I had often seen flying high up in the evening sky. I cannot describe their size with their enormous wings swept back waiting in rows but I think the great transatlantic steamers I had seen on occasion at Southampton would compare. Then one began to move. It trundled across the field like a great beast and came to a halt. Then as though briefly surveying its surrounds it unleashed an immense hidden power which caused it to accelerate. I had expected steam or a rocket trail but saw nothing. Faster and faster it went until I became convinced that this great bird would never leave the ground. But just as I had almost given up hope and that it would end in a terrible accident, to my relief its nose lifted towards the sky and it rose from the ground so slowly that I thought it must still crash but up and up it went, until sharply turning, disappeared into the clouds.
I was much concerned that I might not survive travelling at such a speed for I had learnt that planes travel ten times faster than James’ carriage! Would the air keep up? Would we be able to speak or would our voices be left behind? And they fly so high that apparently if one went outside one would either freeze to death or die of asphyxiation for lack of air! I was not reassured by James telling me not to worry as passengers were prohibited from leaving the plane whilst flying. Soon it was our turn. James took me down a tunnel with dozens of other people. Some were with children who I could see were very excited at the prospect of flying, and seemed to view being catapulted into the sky as fun as visiting a Steam Fair. I resolved to be brave as them. But then children always think they are immortal. At the end of the tunnel was a door which I quickly realised was the entrance to our plane. The noise from what I took to be the engines was almost deafening. A uniformed usherette wearing more paint on her face than she probably needed showed us in. The inside of the plane was like a cylindrical tube with dozens of seats with a small passageway between them. Some were already occupied. I held James hand tightly for I was feeling a little claustrophobic.
We found two narrow chairs amongst a group who judging by their accents, manners and beachwear had come from one of the northern industrial towns and had overindulged on a trip to the seaside. Their familiarity was quite trying but thankfully humorous though their compliments towards me were rather direct. When they saw me blush after one rather crude innuendo, one suggested that James should take me for a ‘good night’ in Hartlepool which would ensure that I never blushed again. I looked at James for support who at first reassured me by saying that he had no intention of ever going to Hartlepool with me but then joined in the ‘banter’ by saying he was going to take me for a ‘good night’ in Helmsley instead!
I would seriously advise any other ladies from my time who find themselves stranded in this world to abandon all hope of finding a chivalrous gentleman who would defend her honour.
I asked James if he could afford to move to a first class compartment to which one of the party who overheard replied in their peculiar vernacular.
“You’re already in it, pet.”
At this point I had to laugh for I could now see there was no class at all.
James had sat me next to a porthole through which I could see the outside world. I could feel the noise of the engines and strange mechanical movements below me though I noticed no one was worried. Just as I had almost convinced myself that I would be safe, to my horror one of the uniformed usherettes decided to explain to us what do if we fell out of the sky! Why she wanted to remind us of what I feared the most I do not know. I listened intently but to my surprise she did not dwell on how to arrest a fall but on what to do in the unlikely event that one landed and survived such a disaster. She then pointed to two small doors through which we could escape if such an event occurred. The operation of opening the doors suggested it required a man of herculean strength which looked beyond the powers of the frail gentleman sitting next to them. Then when she produced a small yellow bag and told us it was an aid to buoyancy if we fell in the sea I began to suspect that this was some macabre amusement to test our mettle. This was reinforced by the complete absence of any fear or even, incredibly, any interest in this performance amongst the passengers and led me to the conclusion that either everyone had volunteered for the Suicide Express or such disasters were a rarity.
I looked out of the porthole for distraction and had a weird sensation that the buildings outside were beginning to move! I grabbed James’ hand before I realised rather foolishly that it was us. Lights flashed, bells rang and a sign appeared telling us not to smoke. Why anyone would think of smoking a cigar at this moment and in such a confined space I have no idea. Then James told me to sit back in my seat and ‘relax’ for we were about to ‘take off’. His checking of the strap across my waist did not aid my relaxation. I was conscious that I was squeezing his hand very tight. Suddenly the noise of the engines started to grow louder and louder. I closed my eyes tight. The engines sounded like they would explode. What power is needed to lift into the sky such a gigantic bird? Then we started to move faster and faster. I could not believe the speed. The plane started to shake. I opened my eyes momentarily and saw buildings and planes rushing past. Then the wings changed shape! But before I could say anything an invisible hand pushed me back into the chair. My head pressed against the cushion. I could not move! What incredible force held me? Buildings flashed by. I was almost convinced that we would not lift off the ground and end in a mangled death but then we began to rise leaving the ground. My stomach churned. If someone had told me I was on a charabanc that had shot in the air and detached itself from its moorings I would believe it.
Then, Oh my god! I was leaving the earth! I forced myself to look out the window. The land, the houses, dropped away becoming smaller and smaller. What speed were we going? I looked up and could see clouds then wisps of mist fly past us which grew thicker until we were in a complete fog. How could the driver see for I could see nothing? Suddenly the plane almost turned on its side. There were mechanical noises and the sound of groaning metal. My stomach churned again. Just as I thought we were really going to meet our maker a little earlier than expected, I was floating above the clouds and the invisible force pressing me into my chair abated. I ventured to look out. There was nothing below me save white fleeced clouds scurrying across tiny fields and hedgerows and up above a blue, sunlit sky. I was flying like a bird! Oh, who would imagine such a thing could really happen? I was a wondrous child. What power had been harnessed?
We were floating far above a sea of clouds. An immense calm came over me. I felt we were on a sailing ship or a balloon. Only the occasional tiny silver bird darting across the sky reminded me what speed we were travelling.
The landing of the plane, however, I prefer not to describe for we descended for what seemed an eternity through a thick fog and the only indication that we had returned safely to Mother Earth was an almighty jolt followed by much pitching about which gave me the distinct impression we were all riding a gigantic Wiz Bang set off by a malevolent, demonic child. If this was not enough to make me think about my Maker we suddenly all lurched forward to a stop as though we had hit the buffers at the end of a train station! This was met by spontaneous cheering from the passengers which suggested that falling out of the sky was not as rare as James had implied.
We were the last to leave the plane. The fog enveloped us affording no view through the port hole.
Apparently we had arrived or should I say dropped out of the sky at a place called Durham-Tees Valley. James said its only claim to fame was that it wasn’t in Durham or in a valley.
The usherette waved goodbye and hoped we would come again. I thanked her for her offer though with not much conviction. We walked down a steep portable stair case on to a wide concrete surface. The other passengers must have gone ahead for we found ourselves on our own. Our luggage was waiting for us at the bottom of the steps.
I commented that I was surprised there were no porters to help us,
“That’s weird,” said James, “There’s usual a truck to carry the bags to the terminal. Perhaps there wasn’t room for all yours.”
“Perhaps that’s the price one must pay for not travelling first class.”
Before James could reply I said, “However as no porters are to be found we must carry them ourselves.”
James did his best to carry what I thought was his fair share.
The fog was thick upon the ground. I could not see the other passengers but I could just see a building ahead of us. It looked remarkably like a provincial train station.
As we approached the building I was sure I could smell something familiar to me. I asked James.
“I think it’s the local farmers muck spreading.”
“No, James, something else.” Then I remembered – it was steam, the smell of a steam engine.
We were back in the nineteenth century but in the wrong clothes!
Chapter Fifteen
I never thought when I first met James on that cricket field at Hamgreen that it would result in finding myself in a coal yard at the back of a train station in a state of considerable undress with him in a similar state trying to change our clothes. I can only tell you that the thought of being caught by the local constabulary wearing a modern skirt which reached only to my knees spurred me on. Thank God for the fog!
This time travel might sound like a wondrous adventure but one needs to be prepared to abandon all modesty when the need arises.

I was quite surprised how quickly Elizabeth was prepared to remove her clothes when the need arose, though I kept that thought to myself.

End of excerpt

A Drift Out of Time -Excerpt

Volume 2 of Out of Time

A Drift Out of Time -Excerpt
Copyright 2016 Bruce Macfarlane

Here is an extract from Elizabeth’s and James’ diaries. Elizabeth & James have returned from Mars and find themselves back in the nineteenth century.


James opened the door to the tunnel.
“Oh dear looks like we need the candles”
We lit them and walked along until we came to the corridor to the crypt.
“Elizabeth. I think I can hear singing.”
I listened. He was right. It sounded like a choir practice. We quietly went up to the door. It became louder. I recognised the practice of an evensong.
I was just about to open the door when James suggested a peep through the keyhole might be prudent. I bent down and looked through. He was right. There were half a dozen ladies and gentleman singing from hymn books and dressed in the fashion of my time. Somehow we had returned to the nineteenth century. If this was not worrying enough I realised I was dressed in the fashion of James’ era which although, how should I say was quite modest, it would have me arrested as a strumpet if I appeared in the church and streets here. Sometimes I do feel that men do impose rather unnecessary restrictions on women. I can only conclude it is for their benefit and not ours for I have not found a change of fashion has changed greatly my moral outlook. But maybe that says something about my moral fibre. I will leave that there for my moral integrity was about to be challenged in a different and more serious way , for James’ solution to this problem of clothing involved ‘borrowing’ overcoats from the vestry when the choristers had returned to the nave. This was beyond the ‘Pale’ even by James standards and I am afraid to say I admonished him quite severely for his suggestion. He agreed entirely that seeing a broadsheet with an article regarding a lady of reasonable means arrested and taken to the circuit judge for stealing clothes from good parishioners in a church would banish her from acceptable society for ever. And he also accepted that it would place an unbearable stigma on her family necessitating them packing up post haste and moving ‘up north’ to a God forsaken town in the Potteries where the colour of their character would quickly blend with their surrounds.
I should also note that what he thought was a generous offer to ‘look after me’ if such a brush with the law occurred was not well received either.
Which makes it rather difficult to admit, I am rather appalled to say, and it was a measure of our situation that I eventually acquiesced to his proposal! For I could see no other solution. If anyone ever reads this and comments on my momentary moral dereliction my only defence or excuse was of fear of being seen half-naked so to speak.
Though on second thoughts if these diaries were made public in court I imagine I would be regarded as a mad women and locked up in Bedlam immediately!
And so to the crime. We waited for about half an hour in the tunnel like two felons who felt they were going to be “fingered” as Mr Dickens says. Then when the singing stopped and the crypt was quiet we opened the door. Seeing no one we quietly walked on tip toe to the vestry where I ‘acquired’ a plain burgundy overcoat and James’ a brown one. I had now done the crime. I swear if anyone had entered at the moment the guilt on our faces would have led them quickly to the conclusion we were ‘lifting’ the church silver!
James later said he was so scared by our actions that if we had been accused of stealing the silver and the lead off the roof he would have confessed to them as well.
Unfortunately in planning our crime I realised we had not planned a means of escape. I should record a little panic arose at that moment which brought not a few tears to my eyes.
There were only two ‘opportunities’. The first to walk through the church and possibly meet the owners of the coats where we would attempt to discuss jocularly how common was the fashion for brown and burgundy. The second was to continue to the Inn where we might find our room occupied and try to explain to the occupants how we had lost our way and were surprised as they were. Neither of these plans felt safe. Nor did James help to placate me by saying that after stealing the coats, silver and roof lead, a little bit of burglary would not add a great deal to our sentence. And besides, he added, I should not worry too much as he had been to Australia and found the convicts quite friendly.
Sometimes I do worry about how James deals with adversity.

We decided to go back to the Inn. Luckily there was no one in the chamber so we went out through the door and down the stairs to the Inn. It was quite crowded and the smell of pie made me almost ravenous but we couldn’t afford to be recognised. Unluckily we were spotted by the Inn keeper as we tried to make for the exit.
“Hello again Sir, Madam. Have you enjoyed your stay here?”
Oh what would I give for a stable time world?
“Yes we did thank you very much.” I replied trying to figure out where and when we’d been. And then I remembered just in time.
“How much do we you owe for the lodgings?”
“Nothing sir. That is all payed for by Mr Wells. He intimated you are well known for your comings and goings and how can I say, sometimes forgetful in your obligations and he quite generously ensured everything would be alright.”
“I must thank him. Is he in town?”
“I believe he is in London.”
I had hoped he was in Midhurst because it would have made a perfect bolt hole and also may be answered a lot of questions.
We went out into the street. I spotted a paper boy and glancing at the sheets found it was 1873, the year I first met Elizabeth. So much for Rolleston sending me home. We decided to leave town. I would have preferred the train but Elizabeth convinced me that the sooner we left the better and persuaded me to take a cab or bone shaker as I called it to Cocking which she thought would be sufficiently remote from anyone she knew. On arriving we found a pub and treated ourselves to a well-earned three courser. After we had finished I said.
“So Elizabeth what shall we do now?”
“It’s time for you to meet my father.”
“You will like him James. He is quite witty for his age and has the tolerance of a father who has two daughters”
“Or the intolerance of a father who jealously guards his daughters from all suitors.”
“We will have to see. I’m sure when you explain how you led his daughter into a life of crime he will be quite receptive.”
“That’s not fair. I don’t remember you coming up with anything better.”
“I know James”, she said holding my hand and then with that melting smile of hers, “We do have fun do we not James? And afterwards I always say I would not have missed it for the world. Now drink up it is time to meet him.”

Reviews of Time Travel Diaries

I’ve had over 950 downloads of my books on the Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester and one review on Smashwords for “A Drift Out of Time” – 5 stars (thank you).

As I don’t ask my friends or family to do reviews as they may be a little biased, if any one would like to give an honest review it would be appreciated so I can see what improvements I can make.  The books are free on Smashwords, iBooks, Nook and Kobo  until the end of April.

The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester

My three books on the time travel adventures of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester are now linked as a series on Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords.


The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester

Since the beginning of 2016 I’ve had a total of  nearly 840  downloads from Smashwords, Nook and  iBooks.

Three Tales Out of Time 294
A Drift Out of Time 266
Out of Time 187

A Drift Out of Time

Volume 2 of Out of Time

My new sequel to my novel ‘Out of Time’ will be available on Smashwords and Kindle this week.

A Drift Out of Time‘ continues the adventures of James Urquhart, minor science lecturer and sometime rambler, living in 2015 and Elizabeth Bicester, lady of leisure of Hamgreen Lodge whom he stumbles upon at a cricket match in 1873.

After stopping a Martian invasion of Earth and ruining the Weber Institute plan to take over the world, James and Elizabeth have returned home for a bit of peace and quiet to find they are not only in a different future but a different aspect of themselves. Morover the Martians are still trying to colonise Earth after their failed invasion and Marco is loose in time trying to reconnect the interplanetary dark net to help them.
In their quest to get back to their own world James and Elizabeth travel back and forth between Mars and Earth and find themselves drifting across time and space through different pasts and futures until eventually they find a home and in the process discover who the Martians really are.


A Companion to Out of Time

cover for companionbookI’ve put together my notes on the background to my Science Fantasy novel ‘Out of Time’ and published it as a booklet on Smashwords and on Kindle


If you like what I have written then I am offering my novel ‘Out of Time’ free until 14 February on Smashwords

The coupon code is EA89J (not case-sensitive).

.Just Enter the code prior to completing your checkout on Smashwords