There’s lots of research in writing a time travel book–or at least there should be.
The novel won’t be out for a long time. We (the wife and I) recently watched yet another movie of the ilk, The Fountain (2006, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz; a good one). I d finally getting around to reading Paulo Coelho’s book, the Alchemist. Yes, the book of my dreams will be about Derek. Check out the Alchemist, you’ll understand.
That’s all part of the explanation about why I keep dropping Derek on you here, even though the book is far off–in time.
So here’s a mashup that will likely be substantially expanded, edited and filled in with more characters, dialogue, etc. Hope you find it worthwhile in this abbreviated form. (You may recognize a couple of the short Maine bits from previous blog posts).
Derek, Here and There
With aching muscles burning, Derek paddled slowly through the cold water, watching walleyes leap in his midst. He regretted nothing of this journey, admiring the birch, aspen, spruce and fir. Visions of his voyageur ancestor warming his soul. Two centuries ago and more, the kernel of recall tickled his mind.
He must make camp soon, before the freezing night. Mosquitoes and flies were gone, replaced by a biting breeze. Snow and ice might visit you, warned the outfitter. Derek had no choice. Darjeeling—and then Maine, took longer than expected.
A gust struck, carrying him back in time. He had yet to control that trigger for the time-shift. His fur-laden canoe rode low in the water. Three pipes the map said, from the last to the next portage. He had smoked the third just as the gale blew him onshore. Like a latter day powerlifter, Luc jerked the beached canoe onto his shoulders with a half twist.
Derek, cum Luc, took the weight in stride. He had felt heavy burdens before. Beaver pelts lashed between the padded thwarts along with supplies. How long, he wondered, before he could put it all down. How long will this visit with his forebear be?
Luc stumbled on a root, nearly dropping the cargo, “sacré bleu!” Luc cursed. Je dois arrêter, Luc thought.
Yes, he must stop; he’s as tired as me, Derek realized.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?, muttered Luc, sensing Derek’s commentary.
Damn, I must be more subdued in the subconscious, Derek reminded himself.
Luc unshouldered the canoe in a clearing off the trail. He scratched his beard reflexively, as a deer fly buzzed round his head. Time to reapply the bear grease and skunk urine.
Damn, that stuff is nasty, Derek thought. No DEET back then.
But why here—why now? There must some significance in this trip in the life of Luc. An opportunity to make a change, a minor one, so as not to disturb the timeline too dramatically—or dangerously.
Derek swatted at a bug. No—not Maine, not now! The Mainahs call lobstahs bugs, a memory flash. He needed to remain with Luc. These bounces are getting out of control!
Luc looked right and left, startled again at Derek’s outburst in his head, just as Derek found himself in Maine, in the middle of a mystery story he’d read—The Dipping Bowls. It started like this:
“Never seen nothin’ like this Sheriff. I mean, we’ve had a few drunks; a few punks takin’ drugs but if we find out we get ’em outta heah real fast. We’ah real careful who we rent to.”
“I’m sure you are Fred. Why don’t you go out on the porch and sit down now, you’re still shakin. We can handle this in heah. We got any more questions, we’ll come out and talk with you.”
The bodies were still fresh, with the cold nights of early June in central Maine. Fred, the cabin owner discovered them. The renters were two days late checking out, so he went for a look see.
Derek read the tale while recovering in the hospital in Darjeeling. He went to sample the tea, riding the Himalayan National Railway “Toy Train.” An attempted side trip on the two-cup line caused the delay. “It’s been abandoned for decades, sir. No one speaks of it anymore—a bit of a scandal you see,” the station agent said.
Aunt Jane’s news clippings said nothing about that. Just a brief feature of his great granduncle Joffrey working as a conductor. His own research showed it offered female companions on special trips. Well, at least I can walk the railway path, Derek had thought. A brisk breeze blew along the abandoned railway. He found himself as a track maintenance worker, not as Joffrey. Just as Derek entered his mind, the man fell from a wagon hitting his head. Derek awoke in the hospital, his head bandaged, with his host in a coma. Strangely, Derek could read the mystery—the staff none the wiser.
The story demanded of Derek a physical trip to Maine, before heading to Minnesota. That’s why he didn’t get in the canoe until late October. He spent some time in Windham, where his seventh great grandfather settled in 1735. Genealogy seemed a good idea for a time traveler. From there headed for a camp on Schoodic Lake. That’s where he learned that’s what cottages were called in Maine if open only part of the year.
He met a girl from the neighboring camp. She saw him sitting alone, looking at the lake and walked over to say hello. He had some muffins.
“C’mon ovah’ “ she said, “I’ve got some coffee on.”
He did. He buttered the cornbread muffin with nearly melted butter. She accepted it with grace. She’d have preferred cranberry orange, but that could be her offering in a future encounter should the first bloom into something more.
She poured the strong coffee, thick with the sweet syrup of a local maple. An acquired taste in Maine. She thought he might like it, despite his choice of a corn muffin. She turned away briefly at the call of a loon and looked back at the hint of a smile forming on his face as he put down the mug.
“Well, can’t say I’ve ever had coffee like that,” his grin growing.
“It’s better with a bit of buttered rum,” she said, “it cuts the sweetness some.”
A gust off the lake took him back to Luc. How is this possible? A rerun journey—cut off? Ah well, it’s Luc’s time here and now–I’ll figure out what needs to happen.