Adam's father is a time-travel taxi driver for Chronos Travel, chauffeuring passengers forwards and backwards in time. For Adam, time-travelling with his father is normal-boring, even. As far as Adam is concerned, he leads a normal life. He cycles with his friend, Don, or they both hang out at the skate park with Roslyn, eating ice creams, texting, and instant messaging. In September, the three friends were going to go back to school and continue their normal lives, like normal fourteen-year-olds do. All that is about to change.
Frightened and desperate, Evelyn Walker runs into the time taxi seeking Adam's help. In his moment of indecision, she is arrested. Unable to forget her, Adam searches for Evelyn, not knowing that if he finds her again, everything he once considered normal-his life, his friends, and even his world-could be changed forever.
In this science-fiction tale, two teenagers embark on a dangerous adventure through time and uncover a shocking truth about mankind that will cause them to question everything they have ever known about themselves.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.22(d)|
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Time and Time Again
By John Settle
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 John Settle
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI'm at the park with donny wanna come?
That's Ros texting me, but I can't really get to the park, 'cause I'm at Dad's work, and something weird's going on. I'm reading my book, sitting on one of those high metal stools in the driver's booth of Dad's time taxi, when I notice a commotion in the top left-hand window on the computer screen. Something is happening at the security desk—my grandma would call it a kerfluffle.
I'm at the terminal right now. I'll see you later! I text back.
Dad's the driver. He's taking an unscheduled washroom break, and Shirley, the security guard, is holding up the next load of passengers. I can see her back. She's waving her arms and moving from side to side like a soccer goalie. I wonder if the passengers are getting impatient, but it's only been a minute. Maybe I'm imagining there's a problem, because any break in the routine would be welcome. Driving a time taxi is about as exciting as school—unless you're one of those kids who find school exciting, like my friend Don does!
About five years ago, when I was nine, Dad brought me to work for the first time, and he let Don and Ros come along. I've known them both since kindergarten. Ros always lent us her neon crayons, and Don pretty much taught us both how to read. We didn't think it would be boring—the time taxi, I mean. We thought, Cool! Time travel! See the past, the future! What could be more exciting? I think we'd been listening to too many commercials.
We came by subway. Ros had her ears and nose pierced and her hair dyed, even when she was nine. Her hair was bright blue that day, I remember, with sparkles in it. Her jeans were ripped, and she was wearing a black hoodie. Don had on too-short jeans and a plain T-shirt, the kind you get at a thrift store. His dad left when he was a baby, and money's a bit tight for his mom. Ros was practically jumping up and down about going to the terminal.
"This is so exciting!" she squealed.
Don gave her a funny look. Of course, any look from Don is kind of funny, because he has one of those lazy eyes—his right one. You know, it doesn't move with the other one. It usually gives people the impression that he's dumb when quite the reverse is true.
"It is safe, right?" Don asked me. He was looking kind of nervous.
I looked up at Dad. "There haven't been any accidents in twelve years. Right, Dad?" I was both excited, like Ros, and worried, like Don. Dad smiled and nodded.
As our crowded escalator rose from subway level to the Chronos Travel time taxi terminal, we saw hundreds of hurrying feet going in all directions.
"They're mostly commuters," Dad said. "They work in a different year from the year they live in."
"They have to pay an exchange rate on their money, right, Dad?" I wanted to show I knew something about time travel.
"That's right, Adam. Otherwise everyone would want to work in the future, because the salaries are much higher due to inflation."
"And they can't invest, right?" I didn't really understand investing; I was just showing off!
Dad smiled, leading us through the crowds. "There are all kinds of laws about investing, or interfering in other time periods in any way. It could create quite a problem if people began trying to change the past or the future. That's why we have time police, hired by Chronos Travel, to make sure people are obeying the laws. Otherwise Chronos Travel would get in trouble, and the government might close it down."
Dad led us down his corridor, past rows of posters advertising the different time periods and even a few display cases exhibiting past and future items. Coo-ool! I thought. A lineup of phones showed the history of telephone technology from 1896 to 2035. There was one video-game console from the future—2052, I think—that was just a headset with glasses. The glasses are the screen. You wear sensitized gloves and shoes, and you play by just talking into the microphone or by moving your hands and feet. One good thing about time travel is that you can see firsthand how technology evolves.
We passed the security desk, where people were lined up already, even though we were early, and we entered Dad's taxi. The taxi holds twenty-five people maximum. There are shelves for luggage, seats along the sides if passengers want to use them, and warning signs for people with weak hearts. Dad says first-timers and tourists usually sit, but commuters stand. Loops hang down from the ceiling in case they want something to hold on to.
We sat in the driver's booth, where there was—and still is—a large touch-screen computer from which Dad operates everything. In the booth, we're protected from the crowds by a soundproof wall with a window. If they want to talk to us, they have to push the intercom button.
Dad brought in extra stools for us. Don didn't just sit—he clung to his stool! He's a daredevil cyclist now, but he's still scared of time travel. I asked him about that once, and he said the difference is that he can understand a bicycle, but he cannot understand time travel, and that's saying something, coming from a kid as smart as Don. Ros was too excited to sit. She was bouncing up and down, watching every move Dad made. We all were—well, without the bouncing! I was thinking, Someday I'm gonna be a driver like Dad!
Over the external intercom (Dad calls it the outercom, as opposed to the intercom; he's pretty amusing sometimes), the security guard announced, "The passengers will now commence boarding."
The entry of the passengers was eerie due to the soundproofing; it looked as if we were transporting ghosts!
Dad made sure the door was sealed and then welcomed the passengers over the intercom, warning them that we were about to demoleculize. (That's a new word—a time-travel word. Language evolves along with technology, I guess. Usually we just say "demol." It means that we're all going to be disintegrated into individual molecules for the journey. If that isn't freaky, I don't know what is!) Dad warned them of a momentary darkness, like going to sleep, and of possible slight nausea and dizziness that would pass shortly.
Don's face turned pale. To tell the truth, I was kind of scared too. I mean, demoleculization? Isn't that basically being ripped apart? Dad had told me about it before, but now it was actually going to happen to me. My heart raced. I was starting to sweat, and my breathing was shallow. Would I even exist as a person when I was demolled? I glanced up at my dad, and he smiled at me. It didn't help.
Dad input the time destination on the computer screen. Then he touched the button.
After a slight delay—during which I wanted to shout, "Stop!"—I, like, blacked out for a sec, as Dad had described, and then ... nothing. I was sitting on my stool in the driver's taxi, and nothing had changed. Dad was still smiling at me; Ros was still bouncing; pale-faced Don was clinging to his stool. I guessed we'd remoleculized, along with Dad and the passengers, and we were there (or, I should say, we were then, since we hadn't really gone anywhere—it was just a different time).
Dad said, "Thank you for traveling with Chronos Travel! Have a nice day!" and touched the screen to open the door. (Later on, Dad let us take turns doing that, which is kind of cool when you're nine, because it's really two doors that open and close like a mouth: an interior taxi door that closes down, and an exterior "housing" door that closes up.) The people left, all excited, talking about how it felt and where they were going, and the next load crowded in.
All day long, it was the same!
I've ridden with my dad a lot since then. I can ride for free, but it's boring. We never leave the terminal. It's like riding an elevator eight hours a day! Dad even agrees. He's put in for a transfer. He's heard that in the future, the driving is more interesting, but apparently there's a waiting list.
If I come to work with Dad, I always bring a book, or some homework, or something. Sometimes I play games on my cell phone, but that gets boring too, after a while. Besides, every time you demol, the phone shuts off—and when you turn it on again, the games are all different. Sometimes the phone doesn't even work.
But today is looking different. This kerfluffle looks serious.
My phone beeps. One new message: K. That's Roslyn getting back to me about the park.
Suddenly, a girl breaks past Shirley and runs into the taxi. She's about my age: fourteen.
I know something's wrong right away, because security never lets people in one at a time, and no one is supposed to enter until my dad gets back. On the computer, I can see Shirley's face now, and she's angry, but she can't leave her desk. She has the other passengers to worry about.
Looking at the girl, I know something is really wrong, because she's out of breath. Her long, streaky blonde hair is totally disheveled, which no girl my age would put up with. And her eyes! Man, her eyes are wild, wide, and darting everywhere—and a deep, electric blue, which I can't help noticing.
Her lips move frantically, but I can't hear what she's saying because of the soundproofing. She stares at my blank expression for a couple of seconds and then angrily punches the intercom button.
"Close the door!" she says—no, she commands—but she's all breathless and scared—and really pretty, which I also can't help noticing (smooth, perfect skin). I do as she says.
I lock it.
"You gotta help me!" she says, those electric eyes pleading with me. She's brushing her hair out of her face, but it's clinging to the sweat on her forehead. She's wearing designer jeans and one of those tops that leave one shoulder exposed and, like, a little hint of boobs. (The top never falls off, 'cause it really has two layers, and the outer one is attached to the tank-top layer below. Roslyn explained this trick to me. It's less sexy when you know how it's made, 'cause before, you're always thinking—and hoping—the top layer will slide down!) No teenage girl dressed like that gets sweaty! (I don't know how they stay slim, but they never get sweaty.) But she's sweaty!
I manage to say, "What?" I'm all caught up in my thoughts about how I'm gonna get in trouble for closing the door, how she looks—all attractive and yet sweaty—and how her eyes are like fire and ice at the same time.
"The police are after me!"
Okay, now I'm skeptical! The police are after a fourteen-year-old girl in designer clothes? I don't think so! Well, unless she stole the clothes. There are stores in the terminal, and everything's really expensive. But her hair is fashionable too, and her lip gloss is perfect! Her teeth are white and straight, like she has a good orthodontist. She looks rich. She doesn't look like someone who would have to steal clothes. I notice the bulge of her cell phone in her front jeans pocket. Her jeans are tight. They fit like they're tailor-made, not stolen five minutes ago in a time terminal.
She must've read the skepticism in my face, 'cause she says, "Adam—it is Adam, right?" I nod, stupefied. "Just take us somewhen, anywhen, and I'll explain. But if we stay now, they'll arrest me!" Beads of sweat are forming on her upper lip. I realize she must be an experienced traveler, because no one talks like that unless they've time-traveled a lot. I don't even talk like that, and I've time-traveled way more than average.
I'm trying to figure out how she knows my name. She looks vaguely familiar, but I can't think from where. The outercom startles me, and I realize I've been staring at the girl's lips with my mouth agape.
"Adam?" It's Shirley. She sounds ticked off. "Adam, you have to open the door. It's against regulations to have someone in the taxi without a licensed driver."
The girl's eyes open wider, which I didn't think was possible, and she shakes her head. She looks at me, open mouthed, and then at the door, and then back at me. I haven't opened the door. I would have to take my eyes off her to do that, and right now that seems impossible!
"Look, I'm not a criminal, okay? I just broke a rule ... well, a couple ... and now the cops are after me."
"Well, if you just broke a couple of rules, what's the big deal?" It's the first real sentence I've spoken since she ran in, and I realize I sound like a jerk! Who is she?
"Adam? Open the door!" That's Shirley again, and she's getting more insistent. She can't open the door herself, 'cause there's a security override code that she would need, for safety reasons, and most guards don't have clearance for that.
The girl looks at the door again, and I really want to know her name, but it doesn't seem the right moment to ask.
"I stole a taxi," she confesses. "And I went back further than you're supposed to, and ... and I saw some ... some things ... and they tracked me, 'cause they can track all taxis ... and ... and I'm in deep trouble, Adam! So will you please just get us out of here?" She's got her hand pressed up against the glass like an animal in a zoo.
I want to match my hand to hers, see the size difference, make a kind of connection through the glass, but luckily I restrain myself. I'm thinking like a moron and don't know how to stop myself. I'm not doing anything. I'm thinking about her—about her eyes, her skin, her tight jeans, her bare shoulder, and how she's like a specimen under glass for my observation, and about my dad and getting into trouble and what would actually happen if I took us somewhen, because I could. It's simple enough after you've watched your father do it a million times. I'm also thinking about why the cops might want to arrest her. All these thoughts are going through my mind faster than the speed of light, but I'm doing and saying nothing. I've said one thing—a thing that made me sound like a jerk—and I can't seem to say anything else. I open my mouth, as if I'm finally going to speak, and then ...
"Adam?" It's my dad this time. "Adam, apparently you have a girl in there with you: Evelyn Walker. There are a couple of officers here who would like a word with her. Open the door, son."
Well, if it was your dad, what would you do? There's a split second during which Evelyn's face goes from frightened and alert to defeated and angry. I die in that second. Her eyes close briefly, and her jaw sets. Her jaw muscles actually bulge.
I open the door.
Right away—and I do mean right away, before the mouth door has totally opened—two uniformed police officers step in at a crouch, take Evelyn by an elbow each, and forcibly escort her from the taxi. They're not the real police, not the metro cops. They're time cops, one step above security guards. As Evelyn is carried out, her legs dangling limply, she looks over her bare shoulder, back at me—and her eyes are ice.
* * *
"Dad," I ask after we get home, "how did you know Evelyn's name?"
He's preparing supper and doesn't look at me, which is a good thing, because I don't really want him to see how interested I am in Evelyn.
"She's Theresa Walker's daughter. Theresa's another driver, a friend of mine. She and her husband got divorced about the time your mother died. We helped each other through some hard times. Anyway, she was looking for Evelyn today and ran right into me on my way back from the washroom. She wouldn't say what Evelyn did, but she looked quite worried. What did Evelyn say to you?"
I don't really hear his question, because I'm thinking about Evelyn being a driver's daughter. I'm pretty sure Theresa Walker didn't want the police to find her daughter first, but I guess my dad hadn't thought of that when he let them walk right in and take her ... when I let them walk right in, I mean.
Dad says, "Whatever she's done, I'm sure it can't be too serious. They probably let her go before we left the terminal this afternoon."
I hope he's right.
Excerpted from Time and Time Again by John Settle Copyright © 2012 by John Settle. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Imagine a world in which time travel is not only possible, but commonplace. Terminals in major cities house “time taxis”, which are used by tourists and commuters alike to journey to different years – subject to strict regulations which prevent the system’s abuse, of course. Fourteen-year-old Adam grew up in this world, and is easily bored by his father’s job as a time-taxi-driver. But Adam’s life changes when he meets the mysterious Evelyn, only moments before the police whisk her away. What starts out as a search for this captivating girl leads Adam to discoveries far beyond his expectations. Aimed at young adults, John Settle’s first novel Time and Time Again is a fast-paced science fiction adventure. It is written in the voice of its protagonist, Adam, and Settle does an excellent job of incorporating the scattered thought process of a believable fourteen-year-old boy into an intelligent story. And when Adam finds himself in the middle of the age-old debate between science and religion, it is handled in a way that does not come across as biased toward either side. The book is thought-provoking as well as entertaining, and I would recommend it to teens and adults alike.