Time Slice

Time Slice

by Kerry Downing




Newly retired workaholic Roy Washburn is not ready for a life of leisure. On a trip to the mall with his wife, he finds a small metal cylinder with odd markings. One nudge of the cylinder's triangle-shaped pointer and Roy finds himself embarking on an exciting new adventure in the Time Stream. There he meets The Traveler, a tall, gangly being who shows Roy how to use the cylinder to visit other civilizations that co-exist on "his" Earth, each occupying a different, thin Time Slice. The Traveler solicits Roy's help in recovering an object invented by his murdered father and beyond his own reach. Roy is his last hope. At first it seems that the Traveler's wish might be easily granted. But after Roy's wife Emily becomes ill and his daughter's long-held resentments rise to the surface, he can no longer "travel" at a moment's notice. He also discovers the very real physical and mental risks involved in roaming the Time Stream. Despite the dangers, Roy is determined to help the Traveler. But he can't do it alone. Fortunately he has a loving wife and a core group of loyal friends. But first he must convince them-and his daughter-that he isn't crazy ...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603818520
Publisher: Epicenter Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)

Read an Excerpt


Roy Washburn sat in his favorite chair next to the window. Sunlight streamed through the partially closed venetian blinds, casting alternating dark and light bands like prison bars across his lap. He didn't notice.

Roy had been in that chair for ... two days? Three? He didn't know and it didn't matter. Nothing mattered any longer to him as he sat, head bowed, staring at his tired old hands in his tired old lap.

Visitors had been streaming through the house for the past week, all stopping in to wish him well and convey their condolences, but he barely registered their existence. Roy's daughter, Ann, had been by several times to try and get him to eat, but he had no appetite. She always left in a huff, but there was nothing new about that.

As Roy maintained his vigil by the window, he sometimes felt as if someone were watching him, especially when he was the room's only occupant. Had he been his normal self, he would have recognized that feeling for what it was and found comfort in it. But not now.

Many who came by were afraid that Roy had lapsed into a coma or a catatonic state, but he knew better. He was quite lucid. It was just that he had nothing to say. No words to help those who were trying to help him. No weak smiles letting people know that he would be okay because, as far as he knew, he wasn't going to be okay. Things were never going to be okay again.

So, he sat. Quiet. Still. Alone.

* * *

Daylight slowly melted away, giving way to evening. As it did, Roy began to stir. Slowly he moved a tired arm, grabbed hold of the cord attached to the venetian blinds, and gave it a tug. The blinds raised six inches or so. He repeated the movement and they rose again. Had he been interested enough to look out the window of his second story bedroom, Roy would have seen one of his favorite sights: the sun slowly dipping below the horizon, drowning itself in the Pacific Ocean. Instead, he noticed his arm, thin and gaunt, skin hanging loosely. My God, he thought, I look like a skeleton!

No sooner had this thought crossed his mind, another came. This new thought sent shivers down his spine, yet it was strangely appealing. He mulled it over in his tired mind for a few moments then, muttering "What the hell" to the empty room around him, raised himself out of the chair and began slowly shuffling across the hardwood floor to the dresser that sat next to his side of the bed.

He slowly eased himself onto the bed, reached down, and pulled open the bottom drawer. He slipped his hand in, letting his fingers feel their way around in the dark. He knew he had found what he was looking for when cold steel met flesh. He grasped the object and slowly pulled it out.

It was heavier than he remembered. Or maybe he was weaker. Either way, the .45 pistol gave off a dull glow in the evening light, and Roy felt a strange rush of adrenaline run through his body.

Crap. Have I become so pathetic that the thought of offing myself gives me a thrill? He looked at the gun again, running his hands over the barrel and down around the handle. The shiver of excitement was there again. "I guess I have become that pathetic," he whispered.

As he started to rise and head back toward the window, something else in the drawer caught his eye. He sat back down on the bed, laid the gun next to him, and pulled out the object.

It, too, was made of metal, but that was the only similarity it bore to the gun Roy had been holding. This object was a perfect cylinder, silver in color.

Remembering what the cylinder could do, the rush of adrenaline returned, this time even stronger. A slight smile flickered across Roy's sallow face. He turned the object over in his hands. There was the black, triangular pointer aimed directly at zero, as it should be, and the scale with its tick marks. His mind wandered back to the first time he slid the pointer away from the zero mark.

Roy placed the gun back in the drawer and pushed it shut.

"Well," he said to the empty room, "this might be worth living for."

* * *

"Are you sure you don't want to come in with me, dear? I won't be a minute."

Roy shook his head emphatically. "No thanks. My heart can't take any more excitement. I'll just sit here quietly and wait for you."

His wife, Emily, smiled at him. "Okay, suit yourself." Roy watched as Emily turned and disappeared into the clothing store. She still had a trim, sexy figure and Roy smiled in appreciation as she swished back and forth.

Roy wandered over to the bench next to Auntie Anne's Pretzels and took a seat.

Geesh, I've been retired less than six months and already I'm being dragged around by the nose ... at the mall no less! Then he smiled. Emily was happy to have him there and that was enough. And he surely was happy to finally be retired from the working world. His forty-three-year career as a civil engineer was over and he was glad. He still loved the job but knew in his heart that he couldn't do it as well as when he was younger. It was definitely time to call it a career and focus on other things. Like doing just what he was doing today — getting reacquainted with his wife.

As Roy sat waiting, he reflected on his new life since retirement. One aspect had certainly improved: mealtime. Emily had always been a terrific cook, but he had rarely been home to take advantage of her skills. Now that he was home every day for dinner, lunch, and the occasional breakfast, he had discovered just how talented she was. He patted his stomach — hard and lean not long ago but now hanging a bit over his belt. Maybe she was too good of a cook. Or maybe he would have to grow a little taller than his current 5' 10" height to better accommodate his new weight.

Apart from eating better, what else was he going to do with his life, now that work was no longer a part of it? He had waited year upon endless year for this time. Now that it was here, was he bored? Will I ever be happy? Roy wondered for about the thousandth time since he had retired. I always thought it was my job getting me down, but maybe it's just me. Roy shook his head to clear the thought from his mind. He would worry about that later. Emily was happy and that was enough. For now.

As he sat, Roy noticed a shiny object peeking out from underneath a discarded pretzel wrapper on the ground beneath the far end of the bench. He slid down to get a closer look.

From his new vantage point, Roy could see that the object was a cylinder. It wasn't huge — maybe eight inches long and a half inch in diameter — but it wasn't so small that it was easily missed either. The object was silver in color. Roy brushed the pretzel wrapper aside and picked up the cylinder.

It was much heavier than anticipated and he tightened his grip to make sure he didn't drop it.

Roy turned the cylinder over in his hands. As he did so, a small, black triangle came into view. At first he thought the triangle was painted on, but upon closer inspection he saw that the black triangle was actually a thing apart from the cylinder itself.

Along with the triangle there was also a thin, narrow channel machined into the cylinder running along its entire length. Parallel to and slightly below this channel was a series of tick marks. The tick mark in the center of the cylinder was labeled zero; that was where one tip of the triangle was currently pointing. The tick marks to the left of the zero mark were numbered in increasingly negative numbers, from –1 to –20. Tick marks to the right were numbered upwards from 1 to 20.

As Roy looked more closely, he saw that the black triangle was designed to slide along the channel. Roy nudged the triangle to the left, toward the negative numbers. It slid easily and clicked into position at the tick mark labeled –1.

Roy's vision began to blur. He looked at the ground and tried to steady himself. The pretzel wrapper that had covered the cylinder was slowly spinning and melting into the floor. Roy grabbed the side of the bench and held on to keep from falling.

He looked toward the clothing store where Emily had gone. What he saw took his breath away.

There was no clothing store. There was no mall. Instead, Roy was sitting on the top of a hill, looking out over a seemingly endless green, rolling pasture. In the distance he could see a herd of cows grazing contentedly. Or at least he thought they were cows. They were the same general shape but slightly smaller in stature, with big, thick legs. One of the animals looked in his direction and let out a raucous moo.

Overhead, large puffy white clouds floated in a peaceful evening sky. He could hear birds in the distance and smell the sweet fresh air of the country.

Where in the hell am I? How can an entire mall just disappear? Where's Emily!?

Suddenly, Roy sensed movement to his left and swung his head around in that direction. What he saw made the green pasture populated with strange cows seem normal.

There stood a ... a creature was the only word Roy's mind could come up with. The thing looked somewhat human; it had a head with two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, all of the usual accessories a head should have. It had two arms attached in the right places, two legs attached where they should be. Its skin was tan/brown in color, nothing unusual. It was the proportion of these things that made the creature look so strange.

Everything about the creature was thin and elongated, at least when compared to normal human standards. Maybe it was the fact that Roy was sitting and the creature was standing, but Roy guessed that it was easily 8 feet tall and couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds soaking wet.

The clothing it was wearing didn't help either. The creature was wearing blue jeans and a tee shirt, items that wouldn't raise an eyebrow on a normal human, but on the creature the garments looked strange. Maybe it was the fact that Roy had never seen a pair of jeans that long or narrow, or maybe it was the fact that emblazoned across the tee were the words, "I'm with Stupid." Either way, Roy's mind told him to run, yet he remained riveted in place.

The creature moved toward Roy. Roy noticed that it was very light on its feet; it almost seemed to float above the ground.

As Roy gazed upwards into the creature's face, it began to speak.

"Finally," the creature said in a deep, booming voice — a voice completely at odds with its thin and frail exterior. "I have been waiting so long." The creature reached out a long, thin hand toward Roy. "We need your help. I need your help."

Roy stared, mesmerized, into the strange face, its long black hair stirring in the gentle country breeze. Roy was struck by an overwhelming sense of sadness. He could see it in the creature's eyes.

The creature spoke again, its voice resonating in Roy's ears. "I see you found our device." The creature pointed a long, thin finger at the cylinder in Roy's hand.

Roy tore his gaze away from the creature's oddly beautiful face and looked down at the cylinder. The cylinder! It must have something to do with what was going on.

Tentatively, he slid the black triangular pointer back to the right until it clicked at the zero position.

The green pasture and the cows began to swirl away from him, as if going down a drain. The sight made him dizzy and nauseous. The thing that had been speaking to him elongated even more as its body was pulled into the invisible force that was taking the rest of the countryside with it.

Roy could hear the creature wail as it disappeared, "Pleeeeaasssseee ..." Then it was gone.

Roy took in a sharp breath and blinked twice, rapidly. He was back at the mall, sitting on the bench with the cylinder in his hand and the pretzel wrapper at his feet. His overloaded system gave up and Roy passed out.

When Roy came to, he was disoriented. He looked around and saw nothing but a sea of unfamiliar faces. A big man in a security guard uniform was kneeling next to him holding out a cup of water. He felt as if he might faint again when he heard a familiar voice.

"Roy!" Emily shouted, as she burst through the crowd. "What happened?"

Roy smiled weakly. "I'm fine, dear. Just a little lightheaded, that's all."

Suddenly, feeling self-conscious about the group of people gathering around him, Roy looked up. "Thank you all for your help but I'm fine now." The crowd slowly began to dissipate.

Emily wasn't so easily convinced. She grabbed Roy's hand and squeezed it tightly. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Roy returned the squeeze. "I'm fine. Not sure what exactly happened, but I feel fine now. Let's say we go home, okay?"

Emily started at Roy for a long moment. "Okay, but this is so unlike you."

Roy looked up at his wife, noting the concern in her eyes, in the way her forehead wrinkled, in the way her mouth turned down at the corners. He had also noticed the strange emphasis she had put on the word you. They had been married a long time and he knew that she chose her words carefully, especially when she was worried. He peered at her for a second, debating whether or not to continue the conversation, but before he could decide, Emily got up off the bench and turned to leave.

As Roy got up, he noticed the cylinder lying on the bench. He reached down, snatched it up, and slid it into his jacket pocket.


Roy picked at his dinner, his appetite nonexistent.

"Aren't you hungry?" Emily inquired. "Fried chicken is normally one of your favorites, and you've barely touched it."

"No, not really. I'm just feeling a little ..." He shrugged his shoulders, unable to complete the sentence.

Emily put down her fork and placed her hands on the table. She pressed her lips tightly together and her brow furrowed. She leaned forward and, in a voice barely above a whisper, said, "Is it what happened earlier today at the mall? Is there something wrong?"

Roy pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. "No, no, nothing wrong." His voice sounded harsher than he had intended. Emily continued to stare at him, silent.

Roy looked at his wife. He could see the concern in her blue eyes. He walked around the table and stood next to her.

In a gentle voice he said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you. It's just ..."

Emily looked up at her husband. "It's just what?" she asked quietly. "Now that you don't have to go to work you're already bored with me?" She smiled as she said this but Roy knew the question was serious.

Roy knelt down and took his wife's hand in his. "Of course it's not that, dear. I love you. You are, and have always been, the best thing in my life." Emily smiled.

Roy got up and began to pace. "I will admit to feeling a certain kind of ... dullness is the only word I can think of ... since I've been retired. I was so ready to retire, but I guess I wasn't really prepared for what retirement meant. Do you know what I mean?"

"I'm not sure," Emily said. "Keep talking."

"I just mean that I had no plan for what I would do with my time. With work, every minute of the day was taken up, and when I wasn't at work, the downtime was necessary. Now it's all downtime. They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well I think all play and no work does the same thing."

"I can see your point," Emily said. "I guess I never thought about it, either. I always pictured you and me going everywhere hand-in-hand, but we can't go shopping at the mall every day." She smiled.

Roy groaned. "Thank God for that!"

Emily laughed. She motioned for Roy to come sit next to her. "Well, I know something that will keep you busy for a few hours."

Roy's face brightened as he snuggled in close to his wife. "A few hours? That's pretty optimistic, but I'll do my best." The smell of her perfume was strong in his nostrils. He buried his face in her neck.

"No, no, not that," she giggled. "I meant we're going to drive down to the city and visit Ann. You remember your daughter, Ann, don't you?" She pulled away from him.

"Oh yes, Ann. Short kid with freckles. Is that her?"

"Well, that used to be her," Emily said. "Now she's the tall, strikingly beautiful blonde that takes after her mother."

"Oh, that Ann," Roy said. "Will Jodie be there?"

"Of course she will. Where else would a four-year-old be but with her mother?"

Roy smiled. "Just checking. I always love to see my little granddaughter." He began to walk back to his place at the table. "Just let me finish eating."

"Nonsense. You said you weren't that hungry anyway, so let's just get going. I'll do these dishes later."


Excerpted from "Time Slice"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Kerry Downing.
Excerpted by permission of Coffeetown Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Time Slice 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
celticlady53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Time Slice starts off with a bang and doesn't let go until the very end and even then I wished the story would continue. Even though this is sci/fi/time travel etc., it is written very well and not with the usual gobbledygook that a sci-fi book will have. Imagine if you had a device that you could go to different time slices of our world.. that is exactly what Roy Washburn has done with a little device he finds while he is at the mall with his wife. At first he thought he was losing it but then realized that it really happened. Roy is at a point in his life where he is not sure where to go next or what he should be doing. After his first trip he finds out his wife has a serious illness and feels that his daughter hates him. He meets the Traveler and is asked to do something that he is totally skeptical about. Without giving away any more of the story I have to say that I really enjoyed this well written and unique concept. A poignant, at times sad and inspiring book. A must for the sci-fi fan.
pinkcrayon99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Last year, I stuck my foot in the "science fiction" waters when I read Octavia Butler's, Kindred, and enjoyed it, therefore, when Tribute Books, approached me about hosting a date on their blog tour for a new science fiction novel,Time Slice, I agreed. I must admit when I read the summary I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" this is going to be some word salad type of novel for a "trekkie." I was pleasantly surprised when this novel proved to be the total opposite.Roy Washburn and his wife Emily had settled in to enjoy a life of retirement when life's unexpected events began to happen. Roy's encounter with a metal cylinder he randomly picked up off the floor made life exciting for him again. The cylinder allowed him to travel to different "time slices" and enjoy new environments and while doing so he met a new friend, the Traveler. The Traveler happened to be an alien type creature whose father made the cylinder. While enjoying his travels Roy was hit with a family tragedy that dealt him a mighty blow. While enjoying the sci-fi portion of this novel one can't help but notice how Downing deals with the dynamics of relationships. Roy and Emily, his wife, have a great marriage but their daughter, Ann, resents Roy. Ann remembers her father as a workaholic that was never there for her when she needed him the most. Ann's daughter, Jodie, on the other hand simply adores her grandfather. Downing also shows us how real friends rally around in times of pain and listen when the stories are far fetched. I enjoyed this novel the sci-fi portion was not overwhelming nor over the top and the aliens were nice. What I was most surprised by was the fact that Downing gave the reader great "heart" in this novel. I enjoyed how Downing took us on suspenseful journeys through time with aliens but also showed us how families cope with tragedy and healing old wounds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dee224 More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. It was like nothing I have ever read before. It was different in a really good way. Time Slice is a mix of both Contemporary and Fantasy/Science Fiction writing. This book blew me away. I am the type of person that doesn't really love Contemporary but when it is mixed with fantasy I am all game because it definitely brought this book to a whole new level. I want to take the time to explain the premise of Time Slice. Basically in a nut shell the time stream is filled with many different time slices where none of the different dimensions of sorts knows about each other. Roy the main character finds himself on an adventure to help a fellow traveler that helps bring excitement back into his life. Roy is a very likeable and relatable character. All of the characters throughout Time Slice were really likeable. You actually felt for them and what they all were going through together. There were some twists and turns that caught me off guard and I wasn't really expecting. The whole story just was perfect from the beginning to the end. I am glad that I got the opportunity to read it. What I really loved about this book was the feeling that the author put into his writing. You can really tell that the emotions portrayed in the novel have real feeling and really struck me as I read it. Kerry Downing is a really talented writer. I was surprised at how well he could mix the two genres and make it feel completely natural and real. Time Slice is a really cool Sci-Fi book with real emotion and feeling added in. The premise that Kerry came up with is completely genius. I can acutally believe that time slices could actually exist and are real all throughout the time stream. I mean whole different worlds could be right beside us and we could never even know that they are there. If you get a chance go out and buy this book and read it. It really took me by surprise at how good it was. I can't say enough about it. It brings about a whole new unique way to think about Time Travel. I really loved time slice. I really wish the author could right more. I didn't want the book to end. I now really can't wait to see what else Kerry Downing can come up with and write about. =]
lynette355 More than 1 year ago
Now this is a book that I so enjoy getting lost in. Time Slice has more emotion than most Sci-Fi books have. Also it is more to my taste in Sci-Fi as it does not have witches, werewolves, vampires or faeries in it. To me those are to be listed as fantasy. Here we enjoy a story based on several parallel universes that are all here on earth but are accessed only through the time stream. I like that the book has a lil Arthur C. Clarke feel to it. I grew up reading him along with Heinlein, Delany and many authors like him. And always loved the thought that what they were saying could be reality if we just had the knowledge to follow the theories they put forward. That is also just how I felt with Time Slice. I also have always felt that an inventive person who takes the unknown path has often been viewed as a lil over the top or nutso. You know what I mean. But they are also the ones who show us our new futures too. This was another thing I enjoyed in Time Slice. That Roy was experiencing a new reality that could open doors that had never been there before. Well you know how I can go on...and on. So instead let me share the summary with you. Roy Washburn is not ready for a life of leisure lil on full fledge retirement. Thankfully he finds a small metal cylinder with odd markings that then takes his life on a new path. Roy finds himself embarking on an exciting new adventure in the Time Stream where he meets The Traveler. It is The Traveler that shows Roy how the cylinder works to visit other civilizations that occupy different, thin Time Slices. When Roy's wife becomes ill and his daughter shows the resentments she has held on to, Roy finds that he can not "travel" at a moment's notice. There are physical and mental risks involved in roaming the Time Stream too. His family and friends are very supportive but are beginning to think that Roy may have lost it. With all of this Roy still feels compelled to help The Traveler on his own quest. Now he just has to get everyone else to see he isn't crazy at all.
Icecream18JA More than 1 year ago
What would you do after retirement? When Roy, the main character, accompanies his wife to the mall, he finds an odd cylindrical object. When he somehow activates the object, he finds himself in the mysterious time stream. It is there that he meets The Traveler, a boy on a mission. The Traveler begs for Roy's aid and Roy decides to help him. Little does he know that there will be plenty of complications to make his mission that much harder. As a character, Roy is easy to like. He is a helpful individual who can be kind and inquisitive. The other characters are interesting to get to know, the reader will want to know more about The Traveler, an unusual character. The events were fast-paced and fun to read about, the author took the idea of time traveling, added a mission, and threw in complications to make the whole idea even more exciting. There were several twists and unexpected events along the way, adding to the readers' anticipation. There is plenty of action, especially when Roy deals with the "bad guys." The author writes with plenty of detail and with a fast pace. The reader will connect to Roy rather quickly and warm up to the other characters. This book is recommended to young adult/adults readers.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Roy Washburn is recently retired, but as he sits vigil in his chair, just like he has over the last two or three days, he is bored. His daughter Ann and friends have streamed by to wish him well, but he finds the visits enervating. Used to working much of every day, to Roy leisure denotes ennui. While accompanying his wife Emily on a non energizing trip to the mall, Roy notices a small metal cylinder with odd markings. He touches the triangular pointer; and to his shock Roy is in the time stream. There he meets The Traveler, who instructs him on the use of the gizmo that enable the user to tour other civilizations co-existing other Earths with that of Roy's. Roy joins the Traveler on his quest to recover a stolen object from the person who murdered his father. However, Emily becomes ill and Ann increasingly displays her anger and resentment for her dad not being there; which limits his time as do other perils inside the Time Stream. Roy needs help to assist the Traveler starting with Emily and Ann, but never expected his granddaughter Jodie to be his sidekick. This is a fun lighthearted young adult quest fantasy with a serious family values underpinning. The story line is action-packed once the retired lead character picks up the gadget and never slows down as he confronts villains like Mr. Clean in his stream and nastier sorts on some of the others. Readers will enjoy taking time out for this entertaining frolic as three generations learn what matters in life's short Time Slice. Harriet Klausner