The Barlow Bridge Machine

D.S. Hodges



Chapter 1

17 May 1940: A time tear


We had gone back in time. Only a few days, but it would be enough. Wacker and I hid in a closed thicket on the far side of the river from the French gun emplacement. A perfect spring day. Buds hung off the thick shrub bank. A sweet spring smell floated on the soft gossamer wind. Song birds played hide and go seek through the branches while bees and butterflies danced in the air. The spring mid-afternoon sun, bright and piercing like a searchlight, made us shield our eyes. We hid, like two wanted men, waiting for our time to go, waiting for hell. We lay there, concealed, even though the French had no guards, no patrols. They were confident on their own land, behind their thick, banked hedge.

We knew them. We had drunk and eaten with them, yet still we hid. Guilt? Guilt that we knew they would soon be dead? Their souls ripped from their bodies? Probably. The Phoney War had carried on for months while the French army rotted in their defensive positions, waiting. They did not train, they just waited, day after endless day, week after countless week. When the invasion of France started, just seven days ago, the Allies were wrong footed, and had been trying to stem an unstoppable tide. This counterattack by the Allies would eventually fail. Our job was to buy enough time for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to retreat to England.

Wacker and I synchronised watches. Wacker, broad as a tank, his face set hard in concentration, set his watch to mine. I warned him not to change anything. We must only do what we set out to do: plant a package into the dead lieutenant’s pocket. If we did anything more, we would alter the past and that would cause a ‘tear’ in time. That tear would become a rip, and then more rips would form. More and more until a conflux of rips would rupture time into a parallel universe.

One hour. We crossed the bridge and walked a little way along the road. It was potted and patched with dirt. Our feet crunched like popcorn on the gritty surface. The sun was lower now, our shadows longer, but the birds still swooped and fed as insects danced across the blossom. We picked our spot where the hedge looked thinner, and then clambered up the bank and through the hedgerow, sliding down through the prickles and weeds into the field. Its crop was hand high. Wheat. We made our way along the field boundary to behind the French emplacement. We drew closer, steadily creeping along the edge of the field. Why? I did not know, but it felt like intruding, spying on something that should be left unseen.

There were voices now, caught on the zephyr breeze. Happy, laughing. A sing-song voice, a deeper voice, a brickbat noise. Then the distinctive sound of mortars howling through the sky. Soon, a deeper roar of German artillery. We hit the ground, the smell of dirt in my nostrils; my hands over my ears, nearly deafened by the noise. Then silence as if the whole world was stunned. A smell of burnt flesh, high explosives, and melted metal hung low above the field. We choked in the fog of war. In that hanging stillness, Wacker and I again crept forward. The French camp was a shambles—taken completely by surprise.

They began to come to. Their number one gun was destroyed. Around their number two gun were a few injured men, their groans clear in the sizzling after effects. French calls and shouts, orders barked. Then a French gun boomed.

The Barlow Bridge Machine Description:

This book is set during the 2nd World War. It follows the adventures of the characters at Blaise Hall. Blaise Hall is a secret facility where scientists are brought together to develop a time machine. A Barlow Bridge time machine.

They find out how the machine can be used, they fumble their way through the rules of traveling in time. What can, and cannot be done.

The story is told by Dr ‘Bumblebee’ Jones. He seems nice enough at first, but he is not what he seems.
There is adventure, there is violence, there is sex. But it is war. War is a nasty business.

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