Tag Archives: time travel

Living in the Past

You may remember that Durosimi O’Stoat’s failed experiment had sent young Freya Draycott hurtling back a thousand years in time, to a green and fertile Hopeless, where a peaceful Danish settlement flourished, and a loving family greeted her with open arms. No one, including Durosimi, had any inkling of where the child might be, but to save face he had fashioned a tableau of thought-forms to give the impression that, on returning to the orphanage, Freya had been lifted into the sky by a huge raptor.

Miss Calder, whose ghostly presence was crucial to the smooth running of the Pallid Rock Orphanage, was incensed regarding the disappearance of Freya. Although the orphan had certainly appeared to have been transported into the heavens by a bird of prey, Miss Calder was convinced that, somehow, Durosimi had a hand in matters, and her preternatural senses smelt a rat, or, in this instance, an O’Stoat. Her eyes were bright to the point of incandescence as she relayed the events of the day to her friends, Philomena Bucket and the ghost of Marjorie Toadsmoor, who both listened, appalled. Marjorie, one of the first women to be admitted to Oxford University, had helped at the orphanage both before and after her untimely death; it seemed the most natural thing in the world to do. At least, it seemed the most natural thing to do on the decidedly strange island of Hopeless, Maine.

Unlike Marjorie, Philomena was not familiar with the word ‘refulgent’. This is a pity, as it would have been useful later that day, when trying describe, to Ariadne Middlestreet, the strange light that had glowed in Miss Calder’s eyes. Whether Ariadne would have been aware of the meaning of the word is, of course, another matter.

“If the O’Stoats are involved – especially Durosimi – you’d be well advised to let things be,” said Ariadne, earnestly. “If Miss Calder wants to take him on, that’s up to her. After all, he can hardly kill her, can he? Whatever other horrors he could inflict on her, though, is anybody’s guess.”

“Yes, you’re right,” agreed Philomena, adding, “but you couldn’t help but love little Freya. I hope that she’s okay, wherever she is.”

Ariadne said nothing. If an overgrown hawk had really snatched the girl, she didn’t give a lot for her chances.

You or I, or indeed, Durosimi O’Stoat, might not know where to start in ascertaining Freya’s whereabouts. Not so, Miss Calder. For all of her attachment to the orphanage, she is, after all, a ghost and, by definition, inhabits a liminal landscape beyond our imagining, where the portal between life and death is a two-way door. It is a realm outside time and space as we know it. This is how she realised that Freya was still alive, for it was clear that the child’s shade had never walked those paths. It took a millennium of listening – a millennium condensed into mere seconds – for her to hear the voice of Helga, the vǫlva, the wise woman of the Danish settlement, welcoming Freya to her village.

It must be remembered that the role of the vǫlva, in Viking society, was much more than that of being a healer and herbalist; she was both revered and feared as a powerful shaman, intimate with the ways of the spirit-world. And so it was, while in a deep shamanic trance, that Helga sensed the presence of Miss Calder, probing the centuries with silver tendrils of esoteric energy, in her search for Freya. Spirit reached out to spirit and, without speech or language, Helga assured Miss Calder that the child was safe, well and very happy.

Miss Calder wasted no time in informing Reverend Davies of Freya’s fate. She was still angry, but grateful that no apparent harm had befallen the child. For his part, the Reverend had been adamant that he had no idea that Durosimi would use the girl in such a way, but that he would remonstrate with the man at the first opportunity. Being somewhat fearful of Durosimi, he effected this by asking Doc Willoughby to “have a quiet word with O’Stoat”.  The Doc, having scant desire to stir up trouble for himself, did little more than drop the issue into general conversation.

“I hear from Reverend Davies that young Freya has been deposited in the distant past,” Doc Willoughby told Durosimi. “Back to the Viking era, or so it appears.”

“Is that a fact?” replied Durosimi, seemingly unconcerned. “I don’t think you can put the blame squarely on my shoulders, Willoughby. After all, you were the one who brought her to me.”

“True… but I distinctly saw that huge bird take her away, and so did Reverend Davies and Miss Calder,” said the Doc, defensively. “It must have somehow dropped her through some wormhole to an earlier age. Obviously this is nothing to do with either of us.”

“Indeed,” agreed Durosimi. “These things happen.”

It was an hour later, after the Doc had left, that Durosimi allowed himself to think about the implications of that which he had done. He was not concerned about the orphan. There were more than enough of those already on Hopeless. Presumably the goat, his first subject, had been sent to that era as well. He was not too worried about that, either. What did give him pause for thought, however, was the half-dozen spoonwalkers that he had trapped and experimented with, while waiting for Freya to be delivered from the orphanage. It was safe to assume that they, too, had been transported to the Danish settlement. As far as he was aware, Hopeless at that time was free of the eternal fog and attendant horrors that haunted it now. It would seem, therefore, that those half-dozen spoonwalkers were, paradoxically, their own ancestors. If this was the case, and looking at things another way, had they not been sent there, no antecedents would have been in evidence to spawn future generations. This confusing state of affairs left Durosimi to conclude that spoonwalkers only existed on Hopeless today because he had sent six of the little nuisances back in time.

“I need a drink,” he thought to himself, massaging his head in an effort to make sense of things.

Meanwhile, and a thousand years earlier, Freya had been getting to grips with a new language, and doing well. Her skills were such that she fully understood when her adopted parents spoke in hushed tones about Lars Pedersen, the spoon-whittler. It seems that when he found that his stock of spoons and collection of gulls eggs had been stolen, he blamed a group of strange little demons that tottered around on stilts.

“Old Lars is definitely going crazy,” said Bendt to his wife, Sigrid. “Demons on stilts, indeed!”

Freya watched as Lars wandered blindly down the dusty road, as if in a trance. She knew all about spoonwalkers, and, like all of the orphans, was all too familiar with the legend of the ghostly Eggless Norseman of Creepy Hollow. Lars was not a ghost yet, she observed, but by the looks of him it would not be too long before he was. For one so young, Freya had a wise head on her shoulders, and decided that it would probably be best to keep this information to herself. After all, who would believe her? No, they would probably think that she was as crazy as Lars.

The Tulpa

Owing to a bungled experiment, conducted by Durosimi O’Stoat, the nine-year old orphan, Freya Draycott, had found herself enjoying a substantial degree of warmth, happiness and traditional Scandinavian family-life, in the distant past of Hopeless, Maine. It was one of those periods in time when the island had shrugged off its default state of fog-strewn horror and, for reasons best known to itself, had adopted a more agreeable aspect. So happy was Freya, that wild spoonwalkers would have been unable to drag her back to her own time, even if they had possessed sturdy enough cutlery to have allowed them to do so. In view of that, it is there that we must leave her.

There was a definite sense of frostiness in the air of the Pallid Rock Orphanage, which had nothing to do with the miserable chill and all-pervading fog of a typical Hopeless day. Miss Calder was no longer on speaking-terms with Reverend Davies, following his decision to allow Durosimi to recruit Freya as an assistant. She fluttered around the orphanage exuding an iciness which had given her wraith a strangely glacial, bluish aspect. For his part, Reverend Davies was somewhat aggrieved that two weeks had passed and there had been no word from Durosimi regarding the child’s welfare. Normally such an omission would not have bothered him too much, but with Miss Calder literally giving him the cold shoulder, he needed to find out what Durosimi was up to.

“I wish I knew what is going on, Willoughby,” he grumbled to the Doc. “Durosimi assured me that the girl would be returned to the orphanage after a few days.”

Doc Willoughby, who disliked being referred to by his surname, disliked even more the fact that Freya had been absent for so long. You may recall that Durosimi had been trying to replicate the spell that had deposited Rhys Cranham back a century or so into the past. Despite living there for two full months, the Night-Soil Man had been restored to present-day Hopeless within a few hours of his leaving. The Doc had reasoned that by flitting back and forth through time in this manner, it would be possible to become virtually immortal. With this in mind, he had secretly conspired with Durosimi to send first a goat, then a human guinea-pig, back in time with instructions to seek out one of the O’Stoat clan. For as long as they had been on Hopeless, the O’Stoats had produced a steady supply of sorcerers, witches, necromancers and tea-leaf readers. There was bound to be an O’Stoat lurking around somewhere on the island with the wherewithal to return the occasional time-traveller. Naturally, the goat lacked the vocal skills to pull this off successfully, but surely, pondered the Doc, the child had been bright enough to carry it through.

“I’ll go and talk to Durosimi myself,” declared the Doc, magnanimously. “I am sure that there is a simple explanation. Why, the girl is probably having such a pleasant vacation that she is in no hurry to get back to that draughty old orphanage of yours at any time soon.”

The Reverend harrumphed and spluttered a little, but was relieved not to have confront O’Stoat himself.

“Very well,” he conceded, “but do try and bring her back. Miss Calder is making my life a misery.”

“What do you mean, she didn’t come back?” demanded the Doc.

“I mean,” said Durosimi, his voice hardening, “that the child did not damned well come back. What else could I have meant, Willoughby?”

The Doc winced under the force of the man’s tone, but was not inclined to give up just yet.

“And do you know why that might be…?” he ventured, nervously.

“Of course I don’t.” Said Durosimi angrily. “The past is a big place. Maybe I put too much mandrake into the mix… she might be riding around on a woolly mammoth for all that I know.”

“Or being eaten by one,” observed the Doc, drily.

“Unlikely. I think you will find that they were herbivores,” said Durosimi, “but that is beside the point. I regret to say that pinpointing a precise period in history and depositing someone there is, at the moment, beyond my ability. At least for now, the experiment is over.”

“But what shall I tell Reverend Davies?” blustered the Doc. “If the girl does not get back, Miss Calder will probably leave the orphanage and seep into the ether, never to return.”

“That would be a shame,” conceded Durosimi. “I have always rather admired Miss Calder, even when she was alive.”

“Is there nothing you can do?” asked the Doc.

Durosimi thought for a moment.

“I can make Freya’s disappearance seem to be an untimely accident, rather than the fault of Reverend Davies or myself? Would that soothe matters?”

“Possibly,” said the Doc, “but how would you do that?”

“Do you know what a tulpa is, Willoughby?”

The Doc hated having to admit ignorance of anything, but was forced to shake his head in bewilderment.

“A tulpa,” said Durosimi, warming to his subject, “is, if you would prefer, a thought-form, of sorts. Creating such a creature would take me a few days to achieve, but yes, I could fashion a facsimile of Freya which should satisfy Miss Calder’s scrutiny… at least from a distance. If the child appears to return to the orphanage, at least Davies and I will be square with each other. After all, I cannot be held responsible for anything that befalls her after she leaves my care.”

Durosimi pondered for a few seconds, then added,

“Tell Reverend Davies to expect her at noon in three days… no, no, on second thoughts, make that a week today. I need there to be a certain degree of drama, or the illusion will fall flat.”

Doc Willoughby had absolutely no idea what Durosimi was planning to do, but had no wish to risk upsetting him any further with needless questions. He returned to the orphanage and conveyed the message that Freya would be returned to them in one week’s time. While Miss Calder was dubious, she allowed her manner to soften a little towards Reverend Davies, and the atmosphere at the orphanage thawed by a degree or two.

Exactly one week later the hall clock announced the fact that it was noon, with twelve jarring clangs. Reverend Davies, the ghostly Miss Calder and a somewhat curious Doc Willoughby were standing in front of the orphanage, eagerly awaiting the promised arrival of Freya. The Reverend allowed himself an audible sigh of relief as a familiar fair-haired figure bobbed into sight, skipping through the fronds of mist towards them. It was definitely Freya, waving happily and looking even a little taller than she had before. Miss Calder clapped her hands with delight and even Doc Willoughby gave a passing semblance of a smile.

All seemed well, until the dark and ominous shape of a huge, eagle-like bird screeched out of the foggy air and scooped Freya up in its talons.

“Pamola!” exclaimed the Reverend, real fear gripping him, “It’s the evil demon, Pamola.”

The Reverend was well aware of the tale of how Pamola, many years earlier, had snatched the orphan, Daniel Rooksmoor, and taken him to his eyrie on Mount Katahdin.

‘No it isn’t,’ thought the Doc, but kept his own counsel. What was it Durosimi had promised to send? A tulpa, that was it. Well, the old boy had surpassed himself, and sent two. No wonder he needed the extra few days to do it.

Miss Calder clasped her hands to her face, which by now had become quite skeletal, as she watched the child being whisked away. Reverend Davies groaned.

“Well, that’s a pity,” said the Doc conversationally. “Still, never mind. It’s no one’s fault, eh?”

Miss Calder looked at him quizzically. The Doc could be brusque and cold-hearted when he wanted to be, but this attitude seemed callous beyond words.

“I suppose you’re right Willoughby,” sighed the Reverend.

Miss Calder watched as the two walked away, deep in conversation.

She had no idea what had just happened, but there was more to this than met the eye. For now, she would give Durosimi the benefit of the doubt, but swore to herself that, before long, she would discover the truth.


“Mr O’Stoat is a wise and learned man, Freya. It will be a marvellous opportunity,” said Reverend Davies, encouragingly, his fingers crossed behind his back.

He beamed down at the diminutive figure standing before him. A least, he imagined himself to be beaming. The smile more resembled a somewhat terrifying rictus, which did little to reassure the child.

Looking for a human guinea-pig to send into the past, and hopefully return relatively safely, Durosimi O’Stoat had approached the Reverend, asking for his cooperation in procuring one of the orphans of the Pallid Rock Orphanage to act as his assistant. Fixing Reverend Davies with an intimidating gaze, he had been characteristically vague with regard to the nature of the work involved, but had promised that it would not be at all arduous. His only requirements were that the child must be docile, biddable and not given to being noisy. In the normal course of events the Reverend would have dismissed the request out of hand, not from any moral standpoint, but that these stipulations ruled out virtually all of the youngsters currently in the care of the orphanage. The truth was that, being very wary, not to say fearful, of Durosimi, Reverend Davies was not inclined to upset someone who was more than equipped to make his life extremely difficult.  It was only when his eye alighted upon Freya Draycott, nine years old, pale-skinned, bookish and painfully shy, that his troubles seemed to be over. Freya would fit the bill nicely. He would deliver her to Durosimi himself, that very afternoon.

“You have done what???” The normally placid Miss Calder was literally incandescent with rage. Reverend Davies had never before seen her wraithlike form glow with such a ghastly green intensity. The pleasing face and figure that haunted the corridors of the orphanage had become horribly skeletal and fiery, such was the intensity of her fury.

“Durosimi assured me that Freya would enjoy the best of working conditions…”

“And you trust him?” Miss Calder was almost screaming. “You would leave that defenceless child in the care of such a monster?”

“Oh, come, come, Miss Calder,” said the Reverend, terrified that Durosimi might be within hearing distance. “You have no right to assume…”

“I have every right! I know exactly what that man is capable of. Why does he want her? And don’t say as an assistant!”

Before Reverend Davies could reply she stormed from the room, leaving trails of angry green ectoplasm in her wake.

It was deep into the night when Miss Calder, who had composed herself sufficiently to have reverted to her usual form, stood outside Durosimi’s house. Despite the lateness of the hour, pale light shone through several windows. Summoning her courage, for she had no idea whether Durosimi would have any power over her, she drifted towards the door, knowing that locks and bolts would be no barrier. 

Miss Calder was within touching distance of the house when the shockwaves hit. Her wraith was flung back several yards. Had anyone been watching, they would have been horrified to witness her going through every stage of decomposition, before landing on the ground, where she gradually retained her preferred shape. Flickering unsteadily into a standing position, she commenced to circle the building, aware that some unseen force was preventing her, or anyone else, from getting inside.

“Well, that proves that Durosimi is up to no good,” she said sadly to herself as she fluttered back to the orphanage. Miss Calder vowed never to forgive him, or Reverend Davies, if Freya came to harm.

Freya lay in a comfortable bed and wondered when Mr O’Stoat would need her to do any work. She had been with him for three days and nights, and during that time had been left to her own devices. She had seen very little of her new master. Despite his forbidding appearance, he had not been unkind and gave her the run of much of his house. There were books everywhere, which pleased Freya, though most of them were beyond her understanding. She missed her friends at the orphanage, but all in all, it seemed that she had nothing to complain about.

It was on the fourth night, however, some little time after she had settled down to sleep, that her world was suddenly turned upside down.

Sigrid hummed quietly to herself as she removed the warm loaves from the clay oven. The Allfather had been generous once more; the harvest had been bountiful the previous year. Since settling on this little island, life had been good. There was rich pasture land for the livestock and plenty of wild birds and animals for her husband, Bendt, to hunt. Her only sorrow was her inability to conceive a child. In desperation Sigrid had consulted Helga, the vǫlva, or wise woman, who, for a small payment, cast a handful of runes before slipping into a trance state in order to petition the gods on Sigrid’s behalf. Helga was confident that the plea had been a success, for she had been told that there would, indeed, be a child gracing the Holmen household before the feast of Lithasblot, or Midsummer.

 “Well,” mused Sigrid, still as slender as a willow, “that’s all very well, but spring has arrived and midsummer is just a couple of months away. So much for the intervention of a wise-woman!”

As has been mentioned before in these tales, the climate of Hopeless has not always been as it is today. There have been pockets of time throughout its history when the island has enjoyed warmth, sunshine and general abundance. So attractive was the place to the Norsemen, who arrived in their Dragon Boats, that they sent messengers back, bidding their families to join them. For a century or so, before the fog rolled in with its accompanying horrors, the Vikings lay down their weapons, and lived here in peace and plenty.

Freya awoke to find herself lying on a grassy bank. There was the fragrant smell in the air of sweet meadow flowers, and a golden sun smiled down through faint wisps of cloud. This was a world that Freya had never before seen. She looked around her in awe, then spotted the elderly, but still handsome woman with plaited grey hair who stood motionless, a few yards away.

Helga had watched the child slowly materialise before her startled eyes. This was an unusual spectacle, even for one who spent time, as she did, in the liminal landscape that lies between the realms of flesh and spirit. There could only be one explanation; surely she must have been sent by the gods, as they had promised, the daughter for Sigrid and Bendt. But when Helga spoke to the girl it was clear that she could not understand a word of what was being said. The wise-woman rolled her eyes. Why was she not surprised? The gods were so predictable; so capricious. This was typical of one of their tricks. Well, she could beat them at their own game. The child was young enough to learn.

She put her hand on own her breast and said, “Helga”, then she pointed to the girl.

Freya was quick on the uptake, and realised that she was being asked for her name.

When she heard the reply, Helga’s face broke into a smile,

“Freya… Freyja” she repeated.  

The child’s name was Freyja. Here indeed was a gift from the goddess herself.

Helga extended a hand and Freya took it, instinctively trusting her new friend. She did not care how she had arrived here, or even where she was; this place was so much more pleasant than Hopeless. There was no fog, no eyes in the sky and, so far, no monsters with fangs and tentacles. She knew that she could be happy here, and walked contentedly with Helga in the spring sunshine, out towards the settlement that nestled snugly in the shelter of a range of low hills.

“That’s strange,” Freya thought to herself, eyeing the scene in front of her. “They look just like the Gydynaps.”

Michael Dalloway – lost in time

By Frampton Jones

Michael Dalloway was always confident that his wife would be along any day now, to collect him. If he told a true tale, and she really was a time traveller, then it may be supposed that his death will be no great barrier to this.

Time is such a troublesome thing that I have no idea why anyone would try to further complicate their relationship with it. Mr Dalloway of course is hardly the first visitor we’ve had for whom the time of departure for the journey that led here is as much a conundrum as the place of it. I can only assume that there is more to time and space than I am able to imagine. This thought does not comfort me.

I find, as I try to write something to mark the passing of Michael Dalloway, that I know far less about him than I do his wife. This is curious, having never met her. Many were the tales he told of her time travelling exploits, her detective work, and a talking dog called Elgie. Was any of it real? We shall never know. I have heard so many fancy and improbable tales from shipwrecked folk that I must either believe that all the world beyond Hopeless is mad, or that shipwrecking here drives people out of their wits. This seems likely, to me.

What we know then, of Michael is that he told a good tale and that perhaps this is more important than whether those tales were objectively true. Perhaps the belief in a time travelling wife who would one day rescue him kept him going in these otherwise bleak circumstances. Perhaps, in our anarchic culture, the idea of solving crime and handing out justice acted as a balm. He certainly kept us entertained, and I think that is how we will remember him.

And not the bit at the end. The messy bit. It is so easy to allow death to define the life before it, especially when writing one of these, but perhaps we should not. Perhaps we should remember the stories, and imagine that she really did come for him in the end, and not dwell too much on the infestation, or what he eventually did with his own entrails.


You can find time travelling detective Deirde Dalloway here – http://detectivedalloway.com/ 

Kim Lakin-Smith has finally run out of time

According to my best mathematical efforts, Kim Lakin-Smith lived to be one hundred and three years old. She confusingly first appeared on the island seven years ago, while her second appearance reputedly pre-dates that of the Founding Families. Her third appearance, and the one for which she is best known, occurred twenty years ago and for most of us, she has continued as a resident since that time.

Despite her best efforts, Kim was unable to persuade her time travelling machine to take her anywhere other than here. Prior to entering our uncanny environs, she had been able to wander at will through space and time. Hopeless however thwarted her, as it has thwarted so many people over the years. Technologies we are assured worked just fine when they were built develop strange quirks when they come here. I blame the demons.

Through Kim we have learned that our little island home might have a slightly odd relationship with time. It is hard to tell from those who shipwreck where they have come from, and ‘when?’ is such an awkward question when we have so little to compare our local calendars with. However, as a confident and experienced traveller in the realms of time, Kim was certain that something here isn’t as it should be.

There is nothing any of us can do about this, but it suggests that attempts at building our own time travel devices will likely prove futile. This may be as well, because while Kim was able to handle the risk of paradox rather well and had the restraint not to meet herself when visits one and three collided, many of us do not have the good sense for this sort of thing. I dread to think what the young folk of today would do if they had the means to go poking about in either the past or the future!

As an extra precaution, Kim is to be buried in her time travel device, and has expressed an intention to haunt it so that no one can do anything foolish. These arrangements were carefully laid out in her will, assuming, as she commented there, that she cannot finally get out by having deceased.