Warning – the following post contains spoilers for Time Rep: Continuum. If you don’t want to know what happens at the end of that book, do not read on! On the other hand, if you have read Time Rep: Continuum or just don’t care, go for it!
If you’ve been keeping up with the story of Time Rep so far, you’ll know that the last book ended with Geoff being given permission by the bosses at Time Tours to take his friend Zoë out on a date, which he wasn’t allowed to do in the original timeline. However, to make sure that Geoff doesn’t change time too significantly (which could cause serious damage to the space-time continuum), they allow the date to happen on one condition: under no circumstances must he tell Zoë that he is a Time Rep.
So here’s the first chapter from Time Rep: Pandemonium, which picks up where Time Rep: Continuum left off, and joins Zoë and Geoff on thier date right after Geoff disobeys Time Tours and tells Zoë he’s a Time Rep. One thing you’ll notice is that whereas the previous two books have been told form Geoff’s perspective, this one is told from Zoë ‘s. I hope you enjoy it!
“You’re a what?” Zoë asked, leaning back in her
chair and taking another sip of her wine.
“I’m a Time Rep,” Geoff
repeated. He let the words hang in the air with such a sense of gravity, Zoë
felt he was expecting her to react as though he’d just revealed himself to be
the true identity of some sort of masked Superhero.
No – the amazing… GeoffMan!
She smiled to herself.
“What are you smiling about?”
Zoë took a large gulp of wine
and swallowed it slowly. This gave her all the time she needed to regain her
composure and forget the mental image she’d just conjured up of Geoff standing
with his hands on his hips, a cape fanning behind him.
“Oh nothing,” she replied,
casting her eyes around the restaurant before settling her gaze on the balcony view
they had of the river Thames, the water reflecting the stars in the clear night
sky. In the corner of the room, a pianist in a tuxedo was sat behind a glossy
black grand piano, treating the diners to some polite jazz numbers. “Just
thinking about what a nice place this is, that’s all…”
“Uh-huh,” Geoff said, narrowing
his eyes. He tugged at the collar of his shirt.
She wasn’t used to Geoff being
dressed this smart before, and from the way he kept pulling at his cuffs and adjusting
his suit jacket, it seemed Geoff wasn’t either. If this had been anyone else, Zoë
would have found all this fidgeting somewhat annoying, but with Geoff it was
endearing. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she thought it
might have even bordered on cute.
He really had made an effort this
She also had to admit – as
far as first-date venues were concerned, Geoff’s choice had certainly exceeded
her expectations. When he’d asked her out for dinner last week (a move that,
whilst not unwelcome, had caught her a little off-guard, given how long they’d
known each other as nothing more than friends), she’d given him a little more
credit than to suggest they spend a nice romantic evening pigging out on a
boxed meal deal down the local pizza takeaway. But she wasn’t expecting
anything like this. Whilst she wasn’t exactly an expert on what made a good
restaurant, she knew from extensively watching Titanic in her teenage years (something she would now strenuously deny
if questioned) that the more cutlery you had in front of you, the posher the establishment.
And right now she counted
three sets of forks, knives and spoons in front of her, which made this place
three times posher than anywhere she’d ever been taken out for dinner to before.
And by that logic, it was infinitely better than the local pizza takeaway,
because you didn’t even get cutlery there. The closest thing you got to a knife
there was when they made the potato wedges too thin and served them burnt.
As she’d been thinking, she
noticed Geoff gazing at the tattoo of a butterfly on her left shoulder.
“Is that new?” he asked,
nodding towards it.
“It is,” Zoë replied, pleased
that he’d noticed. “I had it done a couple of weeks ago. Thought it would go
well with the owl on my back.”
“Yeah, it looks good,” Geoff
said. “Sorry – I don’t mean to stare.”
“It’s okay Geoff,” Zoë
smiled. “I don’t mind.”
Geoff blushed and looked
“So what do you mean, you’re
a ‘Time Rep’?” Zoë said. “Is that like, a new class you’ve unlocked in that
JRPG you’ve been playing or something?”
“No, nothing like that,” he
said, looking back at her. “I mean that’s my job. It’s what I do.”
“Oh – so you’ve got a new
job? When did this happen?”
“New job? No – it’s nothing
“Then what are you talking
Geoff looked over his
shoulder for a second, before looking back at her again.
“You know how you’ve always
thought I was a holiday rep?” he said.
“Yes…” If she recalled
correctly, the reason she thought this stemmed from a conversation they had a
couple of years ago when he’d said ‘Zoë – I’ve got a new job as a holiday Rep…’
“Well I’m not a holiday rep,”
Geoff said. “I’m actually a Time Rep.”
Zoë paused for a moment. He
wasn’t really answering her question about what a Time Rep was. He was just
telling her he was a Time Rep again.
But she’d already got that
“So it’s a different job?”
she asked. “You don’t meet tourists and show them around London?”
“No – it’s the same job. I
still do that.”
Zoë took another sip of her
wine. She began considering whether she should just order a whole bottle,
because at this rate, she was going to need it.
“So let me get this straight –
you’re still doing the same job, but you’re not a holiday rep – you’re a Time
Rep. But being a Time Rep is basically the same as being a holiday rep.”
“That’s right!” Geoff folded
his arms and nodded.
“Okay…” Zoë said. “So… am I
missing something? Why is that important?”
“Well, although it’s technically
the same job,” Geoff said, “there is one slight difference…”
Zoë leaned on her elbows. “And
Geoff took a deep breath and drummed
his fingers on the table. “I’m probably going to get into a hell of a lot of
trouble for telling you this, but I don’t care. So here goes – the tourists I
meet aren’t from other countries. They’re from….”
But before Geoff had a chance
to finish his sentence, a very tall waiter with gelled black hair glided over
to their table as if he’d been pushed towards them on a skateboard.
“Some olives for you,” the
waiter said, placing a small dish in the middle of the table. He folded his
arms behind his back. “Are you both ready to order?”
“Could you come back in one minute?” Geoff said. He raised his
hand and pinched his thumb and forefinger together as if the minute he was
referring to was actually an imaginary mouse he was holding up by its tail.
“Yes, my friend here was in
the middle of telling me a fascinating story about a new job he doesn’t have,”
Zoë added, smiling.
“As you wish,” the waiter
said, and glided away silently.
“You were saying?” Zoë said,
spearing an olive with a cocktail stick and popping it in her mouth.
“Right,” Geoff said, helping
himself to an olive as well. “They’re from the future.”
“The tourists are from the
“Okay… and when you say they’re
from the future…”
“I mean they’re from the
“The… future future? As in, a
point in time that hasn’t happened yet?” She jabbed another olive with her
cocktail stick and put it in her mouth.
“That’s right – the future
future. Middle of the 31st Century to be precise.”
“I see…” Zoë said, chewing
the olive. She swallowed it and pursed her lips. “Listen, Geoff – you haven’t
been staying up late playing video games too much have you? Because you know –
sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of mental health problems…”
“I’m not making this up Zoë,”
Geoff said. “I swear to you – in the distant future, people travel back to all
sorts of different time periods for their holidays, and Time Reps like me meet
them and show them around. We’re employed across hundreds of different historical
Zoë shook her head. Poor,
gullible Geoff. Clearly, this tour company, or whoever it was he worked for,
had fed him some fantasy story to make the job seem more interesting than it
actually was. But Geoff wasn’t stupid – how could he have fallen for this?
“I know what you’re
thinking,” Geoff said, “but this isn’t like that time you tricked me into
thinking those cod-liver oil tablets were actually alien eggs you’d found at
the bottom of your garden. This is different, Zoë – it’s real. I’ve seen it
with my own eyes…”
“I’ve seen the future. In the
31st Century they’ve got this incredible Timeport that lets tourists
travel anywhere, they’ve got this massive supercomputer that…”
“Wait a minute,” Zoë said,
holding up her hands. “What’s a Timeport?”
“It’s sort of like an
airport, but people use it to travel to different time periods.”
said, looking to one side.
“I tell you Zoë,” Geoff
continued, apparently oblivious to the scepticism she thought she was quite
obviously telegraphing, “over the past couple of years I’ve been to places you
wouldn’t believe: I’ve been back to prehistoric times to see the dinosaurs, I’ve
witnessed the Great Fire of London in 1666 – I’ve even been into outer space!”
Zoë smirked. “You’ve been into Outer Space?” She wasn’t sure why chose to take particular issue with Geoff going into space, as if going back in time to see the dinosaurs or the Great Fire of London weren’t just as ridiculous.
Geoff looked up at the
ceiling as if he was staring through it at the night sky above.
“Being in space was amazing.
You see, in the future, humanity has this massive fleet of spaceships – some as
big as cities – and I’ve actually been on board one! That’s quite a story in
itself actually, because it was when we had to defend the planet from being
invaded by this alien race called the Varsarians. There was this amazing battle
with lasers and explosion, and… and…”
“Yes?” Geoff said, returning
his gaze to Zoë.
“Are you deliberately trying
to wind me up?” She didn’t understand why he was doing this. Normally he was such
a wonderful guy to talk to – funny without forcing his humour into a
conversation, supportive without being afraid of saying things she might not
want to hear, and above all else he was a great listener; someone who would put
real thought into what she was saying and respond with helpful advice. It was
one of things she always appreciated about him; something that attracted her to
him more than anything.
So why was he suddenly being
such a dick?
“I’m not winding you up, Zoë –
I promise. If anything, what I’ve told you is just for starters!”
The tall waiter seemed to
appear out of nowhere, like a silent assassin armed with a notepad.
“Did I hear you say you were
ready to order starters?” he asked, licking his pencil. For a split second, she
caught his eyes wandering over the piercings in her left ear, the stud in her
nose and the bar going through her eyebrow and wondered if she held the record
for the diner with the most metal in their face who had ever eaten here.
Geoff opened his mouth to presumably
dismiss the waiter again, but with her stomach beginning to rumble, Zoë was
quicker off the mark.
“We may as well order,” she
said, opening her menu and running her finger down the list of mouth-watering
dishes. She made a mental note not to order any seafood that might involve
using one of those little hammers that people use to crack the shells open –
the last time she’d used one it had slipped out of her hand and hit her date square
in the face.
“I’ll have the crab paté
please,” Zoë said. It sounded like a safe choice, assuming she wouldn’t have to
hammer the crabmeat into a paté herself. “And for mains, the lamb.” She closed
the menu and handed it to the waiter.
“And for you, sir?” the
waiter said, turning to Geoff.
Geoff sighed and looked
through his menu.
“I think I’ll try the stuffed
mushrooms,” he said. “I’ve always liked mushrooms. And then the beef.”
“And could we get some water
for the table please?” Zoë added. She wasn’t particularly thirsty, she just
thought it would be good to have something to hand to throw in Geoff’s face if
he persisted with this conversation; something that didn’t involve wasting any
“Very good,” the waiter said.
He relieved Geoff of his menu and left.
Zoë stared at Geoff in silence
for a few moments. Now felt like an excellent moment to draw on her experience
in changing the subject – a skill she’d developed from years of dealing with
relatives / friends of the family who were seemingly obsessed with asking her
if she was any closer to settling down and starting a family, even though she
was still only in her late twenties.
Perhaps – heaven forbid –
they could talk about her for a bit?
As they’d been talking, she’d
been half-listening to the pianist play, and this reminded her about her music
– following Geoff’s encouragement, she’d recently been dedicating a lot more
time to playing the guitar and practicing with her band mates, and actually had
a few gigs coming up later in the month. Surely he’d be happy to hear about
“So, asides from being a Time
Rep and defending the Earth from an alien invasion,” she said, pretending to
look for something in her handbag, “what else has been going on with you? Oh –
did I mention the girls and I are entering a ‘battle of the bands’ competition
later this month?”
Geoff shut his eyes.
“You don’t believe me.”
She dropped her bag to the
“No – I don’t believe you,
Geoff.” She said, looking across the restaurant to see how the waiter was
coming along with her water. “Have you told Tim this crackpot story?”
“Tim?” Geoff said, opening
his eyes again.
“Yes, Tim! You know – your
best friend? The guy who took you in when you lost your job and didn’t have
anywhere to stay?”
Geoff raised his eyebrows.
“Well here’s the interesting
thing,” he said, leaning closer to Zoe.
Zoë responded by leaning
“Tim’s actually from the
future too. He’s a headhunter for Time
Tours, would you believe!”
“Time Tours? Wait – let me guess. Is this who you both work for?”
“That’s right. Tim’s job is to
identify potential Time Rep candidates throughout history to work for Time Tours, and I was one of them!
That’s why he offered me a place to stay when I lost my job as a paperboy all
those years ago, you remember? It was all so he could keep an eye on me, reduce
my level of social interaction, and groom me for the job. Admittedly, I wasn’t
too happy with him when I first found this out, but it turns out time heals wounds…”
Zoë tilted her head to one
side. She could feel her cheeks going red.
“That was a joke,” Geoff
decided to add.
She began to wonder if she
could order a starter that used one of those little seafood hammers after all.
“Geoff!” she snapped, half-lifting
herself out of her chair. “I’m not finding any of this very funny, alright? Cut
it out!” The couple on the next table flashed a glance at her, then quickly got
back to eating their meals.
“Look – do you want to be
dining alone this evening?”
Geoff looked down into his
lap and let out a deep breath.
“Zoë – I know this all sounds
crazy, but you have to trust me – you know I wouldn’t lie to you. I reacted
exactly the same way when all of this was first explained to me. I thought it
was utterly ridiculous. But it’s real.” He raised his gaze to meet hers. “All
Zoë looked at Geoff a little
closer. With her hands gripping the sides of her chair, she was on the verge of
getting up and leaving, but as mad as this all sounded, he really did look
sincere. She lowered herself back into her chair and listened.
“You’ve got to understand,”
he continued, looking into her eyes. “I’ve been desperate to tell you all this
for such a long time, but Time Tours were
always holding me back, telling me that if I ever went on date with you or told
you anything about time-tourism whatsoever, it could cause irreparable damage
to the space-time continuum. But you’ve no idea what it’s like lying to someone
you care about for so long. Now though, things are different. Time Tours at least gave me the freedom
to ask you out on a date, but if they had their way, I’d still be lying to you
about being a Time Rep. So I’ve chosen to ignore them. And if that means a few
cracks start to appear in the space-time continuum, then so be it.”
Zoë rested her hands on the
table in front of her, looked at Geoff and smiled. What he was saying sounded
like complete nonsense, but his tone of voice and the general gist of the words
as they came out of his mouth sounded quite nice.
She looked across the
restaurant and noticed their waiter threading his way through the tables,
carrying a glass jug of water and two tumblers on a tray.
“Here comes our water,” she
But just as she spoke, the
waiter accidentally tripped on the back leg of a diner’s chair, and the jug of
water went flying through the air directly towards her face.
Zoë instinctively shut her
eyes and raised her arms around her head to protect herself from the impact of
the jug, not to mention the litre of water that was about to drench her. As she
waited to be soaked, all she could think was how fortunate it was that she’d
brought her leather biker jacket for the walk home. At least if that got wet,
the water would just brush off.
The next few seconds went by
with her arms raised and eyes closed, but the jug didn’t seem to make contact
with her head.
Nor did the water.
That was strange – flying
jugs of water weren’t exactly in the habit of changing their minds about where
they landed, and the one in question had been heading directly for her.
She supposed she could have
misjudged its trajectory, but what was even stranger was that she hadn’t heard
the glass break against any sort of surface, or heard the water splash, or even
felt the slightest spray of water against her skin.
Come to think of it, unless
she was imagining things, she couldn’t hear anything – not even the background
murmur of the restaurant, which she would have thought would have been somewhat
elevated under the circumstances. After all, there’s always some idiot who thinks
it’s an excellent idea to shout “Way-hay!” whenever someone breaks a glass in a
bar or restaurant, no matter how posh the clientele supposedly are.
No, the first sound Zoë heard
was Geoff’s voice, and the first thing she felt was his hand on her forearm.
“I-I think you can lower your
arms, Zoë,” he said. His voice was trembling.
Zoë did just that. Her eyes
“You can open your eyes too…”
Zoë opened her eyes.
What she saw before her
defied any rational explanation – somehow, the jug of water was pointing right
at her, but suspended in the air in mid-flight. A stream of water extended from
the rim of the jug towards her face, but it was paused in mid-air as well.
Behind the jug, the waiter had half-collapsed into a lady sitting at a table a
couple of metres away, her chair in the mid-way point of tipping over, but they
too were frozen. As Zoë looked around, it seemed everything in the restaurant
had stopped, as if someone had pressed the pause button on reality.
Even the pianist wasn’t
moving – his hands suspended over the keys as if he’d suddenly forgotten how to
play. The only things that weren’t paused were herself, and Geoff.
Either this was the most
elaborate game of musical statues she’d ever seen, or something was up.
“Why is nothing moving?”
“That’s an exceptionally good
She agreed. In fact she thought
it was the best possible question anyone could have asked in these
“I don’t suppose you have an
exceptionally good answer?” was her next question, which she also thought was a
good thing to ask.
“Erm… I can’t say one is immediately
springing to mind, no…”
It was at this point that a
tiny voice in the back of her mind raised the possibility that Geoff might have
actually been telling the truth.
“Wait – didn’t you say
something about being warned that you might cause irreparable damage to the
space-time whatsit if you told me about being a Time thingy?”
Geoff didn’t say anything. He
looked distracted by the scene to his left, where a champagne cork was paused
just as it was popping from the bottle.
“Geoff! Look at me!”
“Hmm? Oh – yes… I did say
something about that, didn’t I?”
“Yes. You did.”
“Um… Shit?” he shrugged, as
if that was somehow supposed to make her feel better.
Brilliant. Of all the things
that could have gone wrong on a first date, breaking time was the last thing
Zoë got out of her chair, stepped
away from their table and looked at the couple sitting next to them. They
looked to be in their early fifties. The man had just inserted a fork into his
mouth, his teeth digging in to a piece of steak. The lady opposite was in the
middle of slicing a piece of chicken in half.
Zoë reached out to touch the
man’s arm, but as her hand got closer, she could feel a strange resistance,
like two magnets of the same polarisation resisting contact.
“Geoff!” she said, snapping her
hand back, “I’ve got to be honest with you – I’m really scared…”
“Me too,” Geoff said, taking
a step towards her, “but I suppose on the bright side, this proves I wasn’t
Zoë could feel her heart
racing. Regardless of whether Geoff had been telling the truth or not, all she
could think about what the fact that nothing was moving, and that this was not
normal. So she decided to do what she always did when she was feeling a bit
stressed, and looked out of the window.
To her surprise, although
time inside the restaurant seemed to be frozen, time on the outside seemed to
be normal. People were walking along the South Bank enjoying their evening,
cars could be seen driving through the streets, and the River Thames was
She turned to Geoff, who was
using the opportunity of time being paused to help himself to a breadstick from
a nearby table.
“I was just seeing if the
breadsticks were affected,” he said, dropping it back into the holder.
“Forget about the breadsticks
– what the hell is happening?”
“I think I might be able to answer that,” a voice said from across the room.
Time Rep: Pandemonium is coming soon, along with a re-release of the previous two Time Rep books. Stay tuned for a release date!