In Trapped in Time, Noah Greenly at age 12 wakes up to discover all his tech-stuff has de-evolved: computer becomes a notebook, DVD player a LP turntable, solar calculator a slide rule. His cellphone has completely vanished. And what’s worse, he has a new school bully, Dalt Hardiman, determined to dunk his head in a toilet. But after seeing Noah in two places at once―cafeteria and homeroom―Dalt steals Noah’s time journals for the secret.
Soon, scientists vanish―Tesla, Jules Verne, Edison, Bill Gates―along with their collaborative invention the computer. Noah traces the first missing link to Mark Twain who never wrote a word. Noah must restore Twain’s destiny, thus resetting history. So begins Noah’s cat and mouse chase through time to retrieve his journals and uncover Dalt’s nefarious plans. If Noah fails, he might return to 2020 and find the only available history is pictured on cave walls.
The Time Pendulum #1Trapped in Time - Words 64,000Chapter 1 – It Came in the Night Noah Greenly heard monsters under his bed. He’d seen it on TV a million times, how demons and goblins slithered into a bedroom through a hidden inter-dimensional portal to torment little kids, unsuspected stuffed clowns, or snotty teenagers at a summer camp. When he was littler, his mom warned that if he snuck out of bed during the night, monsters waited to eat his feet. And he believed her. But now, at age twelve, the budding scientist inside him said the Laws of Physics always explained away the bumps in the night. Always. He might have to rethink that idea. This time, they were real. His entire bed had actually risen an inch and dropped back down, made an awful thud on the wooden floor. It shook him awake, sat him up gasping, sent his heart galloping and eyes blazing in the dim night light; he still slept with the nightstand lamp on. He was too petrified to even breathe. His monsters must have crawled out of their tunnel, laid on their backs and together rammed their scaly feet against the mattress, pushing it upward and the bed. With him in it! Yeah, that had to be how. But it didn’t explain the sound he heard along with the bumpy ride. All around him, the aftermath of a weird echo hung in the air. He likened it to thunder. But not thunder. More like . . . a strong single piano note, banged-out on the lowest octave, the C1―BONG! It radiated his room, hurt his ears and shuddered his belongings―desk, dresser, the bed. The pull-cord on the nightstand lamp still tinkled. Could be a landslide. An earthquake. Maybe a meteor exploded over the house. Wasn’t he too grown to believe in monsters? Now he smelled smoke. But not smoke exactly. More like . . . From sparklers. In stormy weather, lightning often split atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen molecules and formed ozone that smelled bitter, almost like fish. But this scent was charcoal, and definitely real. He reached across his bed and pushed aside the curtains. No storm outside, only the start of sunrise and more Nevada; blistering heat year-round, little rain, few trees, lots of stars, no friends. He and his father moved here to Boulder City only last week from Hannibal, Missouri. His dad was excited, had gotten a new job as the electrical engineer supervisor at Hoover Dam. Noah was not so thrilled about the desert. But after his mom passed away, and to please his dad . . . Noah threw back the covers and swung his pajama-covered legs over the bedside. He flared his nostrils and sniffed the air. That worrisome smell wasn’t an everyday aroma. An electrical fire would smell like burning plastic. Buring wood would smell like soot. Food on the stove just smelled like food, and it was a little early for Dad downstairs burning breakfast. He usually scorched the skillet butter. Using fingers, Noah settled the swaying lamp pull-cord as he sniffed more air. That pesky odor stung his nose, made his eyes tear. He leaned forward and gazed down at his bare feet. They seemed okay. He wiggled his toes. Had all ten. There was no sign of . . . Then he saw them. Just beyond the bedframe edge, hiding in the blackness, waiting to pounce. To munch. To make a meal out of him. To shred his feet of skin and muscle. Right down to the bones. Blood-dripping red fangs. He reacted like his video game ninjas. In a swift and athletic manner, he jerked his feet above the floor, saving his toes, rolled to the left and sprang upon his knees, bouncing on the mattress as he grabbed the only weapon at hand. His pillow. Poised to beat that miscreant into tomorrow, he . . . He . . . “Oh, shi . . . Shoot.” He was an idiot. He dropped the pillow and his self-defense then flattened out onto his stomach, draping his arms over the mattress edge. He reached down under the bed and pulled into view his favorite slippers, the dinosaur ones; overstuffed, hairy, with red toes. Red toes. Not fangs. Boy, he felt stupid. And embarrassed. He slid the slippers back where they could do no harm. He climbed upon his knees then plopped onto the bed edge, planting his feet back upon the floor. While he waited for his childishness to seep away, he glanced around his room. Noah didn’t see any damage caused by the strange bong. The poster of his favorite movie, 1960’s The Time Machine, remained untorn and tacked to the back of his door. The desk remained cluttered with his backpack and school books. The overloaded bookcase shelves didn’t spill any paperbacks, encyclopedias, or Omni magazines, which had been invaluable to his scientific awakening. In fact, one copy had a picture of the Hoover Dam computer mainframe, a room he hoped to visit day after tomorrow on Sunday after his dad agreed to take him for a tour. Noah loved tech stuff. He could strip down a home computer tower and reassemble it before someone snapped their fingers. It suddenly occurred to him that if monsters didn’t cause the problems in his bedroom, then poltergeists might have, though he didn’t believe in them either. But he was living in his granddad’s spooky old house. He and his dad inherited this place, a sunbaked, gloomy brown two-story home with a deep basement, all so rickety a single breath might blow it over. Every door hinge squeaked, and the staircase sagged underfoot. The basement door practically screeched. Just in case there really was a phantom entity, which would explain the smell, demon breath, Noah decided it best to wake his father, even though the time was― Wait. What-what happened to his nightstand clock? Oddly, his digital clock with the red glowing numbers had been switched with a vintage model like the ones he’d seen in antique shops when shopping with his mom. It had big and small hands, a ticking second hand, a sleep button on top, and a face that glowed in the dark. Hey! Where was his cellphone? He distinctly remembered placing his phone on this nightstand, sat it near his mother’s picture frame. He patted his hand on the blank spot, checked down along the floor. He always recharged it overnight. Always. Suddenly, the fire and peculiar odor no longer concerned him. Because when he glanced about his room again, he discovered more of his most valuable possessions had gone missing. The Apple laptop and printer from his desk was replaced with several three-ring binders. The unopened Xbox One that he leaned against the wall was replaced with an Ouija Board. The flatscreen TV that sat on his dresser was replaced with a tube-style television with rabbit ear antennas. His Fujifilm digital camera that usually waited atop the bookcase was replaced with what looked like a Polaroid Instant camera. And his stereo cabinet was now storing different components, CD and DVD players replaced with a record changer turntable like the one his dad kept in his room. Plus, all the discs had been replaced with LPs. All one hundred titles! This couldn’t be a robbery. No thief in the world would bring in antiques. This couldn’t be a joke. April Fools’ was months away. And Noah had no enemies yet who’d prank him, like toilet papering his house. So, what was going on? What kind of strange phenomenon was he experiencing? His things changed during the night, modern stuff switched for antiques. While he was in the room! Whoever did this couldn’t have gotten to everything. So, he jetted to the desk, hoping to find the slightest miscalculation. Pulling open the left side drawer, however, Noah noticed also gone was his group of replacement printer ink cartridges, the Bluetooth Portable Speaker, two pairs of wireless earphones, the . . . He dashed to the righthand desk drawer and yanked it open wide and clear. He dug around inside. No Bose noise-cancelling headphones. No gift cards received last Christmas. The old and new iPods. The . . . Gone. All gone. “What the H, E, double hockey sticks―” Ah! Inspiration. He dug his fingers along the back of the desk and tugged, exposing the wall behind. No internet modem. No wires. Not even the wall socket or cable port, reconstructed to be only smooth wallpaper. How can that possibly have happened again with him in the room? He needed his dad, and right now. “Dad! You’re not going to believe this.” Noah always admired his father. Hal Greenly might be an old man in his forties, but he didn’t look old; no gray hair, no potbelly, no weaknesses of any kind, the most admired Boy Scout leader; the troops shed tears at the moving-away party. His dad always offered Noah a comforting smirk and a rewarding shoulder squeeze. Always. When Noah was littler, he could count on his father’s heroics. Like, at age six when Noah skinned his right knee while running in a school track race. His dad came dashing from the stands to lift and dust him off. Like, at age eight when visiting a neighbor’s pool and he cut his big toe on a metal drain skimmer. His dad rushed him to the emergency room for two stitches. And the little things, too. Dropping spare nickels into his piggy bank. Letting him keep his bike training wheels on an extra month. Explaining where babies came from; the stork, of course. But the best was at nighttime. His dad always whispered that whenever mom was overprotective, he’d be there to smooth out the bumps in the night. Always. Noah spun around with every intention of racing to the door until he spotted more strangeness. His eyes caught a bookshelf where gone were his favorite author’s books; Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the one about time travel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the . . . All of them. He also kept a copy of Huck Finn in his back jeans pocket. He bet the culprit didn’t know about that little gem. He pulled out the desk chair and feverishly wrestled with his pants. Yep. Pockets empty. Finn gone. He turned back to the bookshelf and ran his fingers along the spines where Twain’s books usually leaned against one another, just to be sure―now all dictionaries. He scratched his head. Who got to his collections and why? He saved those books right here. Reread them over and over. They were right here. This was driving him crazy. “Dad!” Noah darted out into the hallway, turned right, and dashed down to his father’s bedroom next door. It was open, and he stuck his head inside. His first thought was his dad’s room hadn’t changed. Still there was his dad’s stereo and record turntable with LPs; said records were best for sound quality. Still there was the chipped and scuffed mahogany TV cabinet; said it once belonged to his grandmother and couldn’t part with it, though the TV was not cable ready. Also, there in the corner was the weight set and barbells his dad never used; said he kept it for sentimental reasons. Noah’s mom always used it. But there was one thing that was gone. The most important of all. His dad. Noah whispered, “Dad, where are you?”
The Time Pendulum #2Mining Time - Words 58,000Chapter 1 – Step Out of Time A blood-curdling scream erupted off to Noah's right, across the dirt street perhaps thirty feet away. It came from an older woman standing on a front porch outside the Hannibal Mercantile store where rocking chairs lined tall windows and a brass spittoon guarded the door. Her trembling, flattened hands covered her mouth and her terrified eyes blazed white. Noah guested she was upset that her woven basket, which lay upturned at her feet, sent her purchase of flour and sugar cascading down the half dozen wood steps toward the sidewalk below. She acted as if she'd seen a ghost. In broad daylight! She kept screaming. Over and over. Full volume, too. Powerful lungs for someone her age. The sound waves blasted past Noah like a gunshot and bounced about the town square; to the brick bank, past the jail, on to the blacksmith stable at the end of the street, then back to the two-story motel across from the saloon, and finally to a pair of sweaty brown horses pulling a wagon piled high with cut wheat. They turned their heads to look at her. She even startled men and women who stepped out of buildings and stores to aim their curiosity. It was as if a gigantic alarm clock woke the entire town. Noah wondered what made this woman so distressed. It couldn't be him, a boy of twelve, a seventh grader, a science whiz with a 132 IQ who also owned his own time machine. For this timeseeing trip, his best friend Beaver dressed him in authentic moccasins, well-worn tan work pants, a chained pocket watch, and a double-pouch leather saddlebag, all matching this time period. No way could he be mistaken as a kid from the future. See, during his first trip here a week ago when he came to meet his favorite author Mark Twain, he'd been branded a witch by two woodsman who saw him step out of his Time Pendulum vortex. Noah had landed on a Mississippi riverbank, fallen into the water, and pulled to dry land by young Sam Clemens, also twelve, destined to grow-up and become Mark Twain. The frightened woodsmen raced their horses into Hannibal and brought back the sheriff and deputy who branded both he and Sam as witches. How ridiculous was that? This all happened because Noah had transposed the digits of his destination date from 1874 to 1847, thus meeting Twain as a boy rather than the adult future writer. It was Sam's clever hornswoggling of the lawman that helped them escape and avoid arrest, Sam racing him to meet his outbound vortex for home. But when Noah finally returned to 2020, he discovered history had been changed. Every one of his Mark Twain books was erased from history. Though he had made sure Sam did not see his vortex, it was not he who'd done the damage. He learned from Beaver that Dalt Hardiman, his middle-school nemesis, had used his newly built time machine to travel back and somehow stop Sam from becoming a writer, the reason for doing so still unknown. Noah also learned that meeting young Sam was no accident. Beaver explained Noah and Sam were destined to meet, thanks to the River of Time linking their fates from the start of history. Noah had returned to Hannibal moments ago through his time vortex so he could stop Dalt and restore Mark Twain's rightful destiny. But first, he must find young Sam Clemens. He hoped the boy hadn't— What a minute. Vortex. Vortex? Of course. This woman saw his time vortex, the swirling bluish energy through which he traveled, Beaver's Wormhole, the one he stepped out of smack-dab in the middle of the Hannibal town square. In the middle! Her ghost was him. “Witch!” screamed the old woman as she pointed a quivering finger at Noah, eyes still blazed white. Noah did the only thing a time-traveler could do. He ran. He turned toward the blacksmith’s stable down the street with every intention of running past it, but took one step and sunk his right foot deep into fresh horse manure. Disgusting. Why would anyone leave― And in the street? He remembered. Cars were decades away. These people only had horses. No time to scrap his shoe against the sidewalk edge. Running directly toward him came a burly man with a scruffy beard and a brandished rifle. The man reached; a hero determined to capture the witch. Noah ducked as the man’s huge hand swept overhead. He pivoted and took off at full throttle. Clutching his valuable saddlebag and its contents under an arm like a quarterback protecting the football, Noah beelined it right down the middle of the street. People were coming at him from all directions: two men from the saloon holding beer glasses, a man from the barbershop wearing a white bib, a man with thick eyeglasses from a lawyer’s office, a woman from a bakery wielding an umbrella, and the sheriff from the jail with 10-gallon hat, sidearms, everything; a complete cowboy. This man had attempted to arrest him during his first timeseeing trip. Blindsided from the left, a man managed to grab Noah with strong arms, trapping his arms at his sides. But Noah wiggled his way to freedom, kicked the man’s shin and left him hopping on one foot while clutching his leg. Noah continued to run, leaving that man behind and vowing revenge. Up ahead, more manure. Noah managed to leap in time and protected his left shoe as he sailed over the disgusting heap of sh― “I―” After impacting the dusty street, he dug in his heels, gained speed, determined to avoid capture, and followed the road that led out of town toward a forest. He’d find seclusion there. He hoped. Up ahead, more you-know-what. He jumped. “Hate―” Landing surefooted again, he maintained course, the end of town not far ahead. But a group of men appeared to his left, blocking his pathway. He veered right and aimed for the bank where two ladies crowded the entrance. As he neared, they screamed. One lady raised her arms and sent her wad of cash flowing into the summer breeze. Noah punched through that money, nearly knocking the ladies down. Inside he searched for a back door, an exit, a way to escape this craziness and those men chasing him. But no back door existed. So, he zigzagged through waiting patrons, sped around the autograph desk, nearly crashed into a teller carrying a tray of coins, and whipped back toward the front door. As he punched through the entrance and the panicked ladies, he caught a glimpse of his chasers crashing into that teller, the coins splashing through the air. Back outside and into the dirt street, Noah again leaped over that same pile of― “Manure!” When he touched down this time, the deputy had emerged from the jail and in pursuit through the street. So, Noah veered left this time, aimed for the nearby saloon, the entrance crammed with curious men. He punched through them as if they were paper. And he kept on running through the cluster of round wooden tables and chairs, zigzagging left and right, sideswiping men watching the action, up to the bar where the barkeeper with a grizzly mustache retrieved a rifle from under the counter, past a saloon girl wearing a feather encrusted hat, and back toward the front entrance―no back door either. As quick as before, he was back racing through the street toward the blacksmith stable. But more angry townsfolk were now swarming the street. Noah knew his time was running out. Sooner or later one of these men― He veered again, this time toward the motel. But he made it only a few yards when an angry mob attempted to surround him, corral him, capture him for the town lawman. He turned blindly and ran face and chest-first into the bulging stomach of a horse that pulled the wheat filled wagon. The horse reared onto its hind legs and whinnied in terror, jabbing at the air with its front hooves, the wheat pouring out the wagon and onto the dusty road. Another pile of― In that moment of dizziness, Noah bounced backward and into the arms of many men who rapidly took control of him, clawed at him as they grabbed his arms and neck to ensure he could not escape, which he couldn’t, though he kept tugging his arms and kicking at the legs surrounding him, all in vain. Now held in place, Noah saw the sheriff and deputy approaching through the street and the swarm of onlookers squeezing together for a closer look. Each lawman hosted the same sneer he’d see on their faces during his last encounter with them on the Mississippi riverbank, with Sam at his side. These men meant business. “Ain’t no point in fightin’, boy,” said the sheriff with a smug grin. “I'm lockin' you up.”
The Time Pendulum #3Race to Save Time - 57,000Chapter 1 – A New Threat Noah Greenly stared at the most terrifying sight that history had ever shown this twelve-year-old time traveler. It occurred a few hundred yards away, out among the parched sand dunes under a blistering hazy-orange sun. This was Yucca Flat territory, a desert wasteland home to rattlesnakes and bird-murdering tarantulas. But what he saw and its potential meaning was out of this world. “Do you see that?” he asked of the friends beside him. He stood in front of a train tunnel where minutes ago he watched a forty-foot silver missile with its rocket engine fully engaged punch through that tunnel. It took off out over the desert, crashed among the dunes, and exploded in a grand fireball. It now lay sad and split open with its innards aflame while a column of black smoke drifted skyward. The nosecone was what caught Noah’s concern. At the bottom of that fire, there sizzled an ember that radiated a red glow more intense than the fire itself―ruby red. “There. See it? The red glow?” Noah knew his science. Fire was basically yellow, orange, and the cooler portion black, like sunspots which also appeared black on the sun’s molten orange surface. To get green, blue, pink, or even red fire, like in fireworks, salts and chlorides were added. But there were no fireworks here in the desert. And he was a long way from any sunspots. “The nosecone. Look.” Before leaking fuel ignited the engine and launched that rocket, Noah had taken a hatchet, split open the nosecone outer casing, and mangled a satellite inside, the payload. He’d found sensitive instruments, copper panels, wires, gizmos, and metal support rods, plus maneuvering thrusters which burned ammonia gas as fuel. But no part of this machine would burn red. So, something else was inside that satellite. “I don’t see anything,” answered Beaver, Noah’s best friend who stood at Noah’s left side. Beaver was forty-four-years old here in 2052, thirty-two years away from the seventh grade when he and Noah attended school together in Boulder City, back in 2020 when they were both twelve-years-old. It was also the same time Noah discovered a time machine built by his grandfather and hidden in his basement. After Noah went on his time travel adventures and deemed missing by his brokenhearted father, Beaver grew up to buy their old home. He discovered the time chamber and had been helping Noah repair the damage inflicted on history. Noah’d also traveled here to confront the one person who had caused the most damage to the past. “Are you blind? It’s right there.” “No, I’m not,” answered Beaver. “But what I do see is a time traveler who should be celebrating. Why today, Noah, you survived drowning in a toilet, helped blow up a mad scientist’s lair, foiled the diabolical plot of a monster, and got kissed by a girl. That’s a full day.” Yes, all that was good. Noah especially enjoyed being kissed by a girl, Ginger Clarice Cole, the red-haired twelve-year-old from his 2020 school bus. She had traveled into this future moment in 2052 to be here with him. She stood to his right with an arm around his waist, her thank you for his protecting her while inside that mad scientist’s lair. “Ginger, you see the red, don’t you?” “Well, now that you mention it, I think I see it.” “You think? Look at the sparks. They’re red too.” He wondered why he was the only one to notice. Maybe the desert heat had gotten to him, gave him mirages, played with his mind, infected everyone. No, he dismissed that notion. The red was real. And the mysterious meaning of it was what he feared. This all started when he and Ginger arrived in Yucca Flat. They’d snuck aboard a freight train bound for this tunnel gouged out of the hilly rock. Noah’s 2020 school bully, Dalt Hardiman now age forty-five, had hidden a time machine that he built; he’d stolen five of Noah’s six journals―one recaptured by Ginger―that contained the secrets of time travel. Dalt was busy taking over the world by changing history, and Noah and Ginger were on a mission to stop the man. They were members of Time Miners, a secret organization led by the adult Ginger of this 2052 time period that repaired damages to history. Noah found his books here in Yucca Flat and was planning to destroy Dalt’s time machine when he and Ginger were captured by Dalt’s military-style assault team. When Beaver arrived with his team of defenders, a skirmish broke out. During that firefight, Dalt grabbed Noah’s remaining four books and escaped into a time vortex that someone had sent specifically for him. And that vortex was red. Noah knew the science of vortexes too. Halions, an energetic particle siphoned from the solar wind, initiated time Wormholes and turned the swirling eddies blue. Dalt’s vortexes were purple made of halions mixed with plasma residue, like that found in the aurora borealis. But for a vortex to be red, like the one that helped Dalt escape, meant some other exotic particle helped to generate that vortex. It also meant Dalt had discovered an entirely new form of energy, and that was just plain dangerous. Dalt could further alter history and, even worse, time itself. For all Noah knew, he, Ginger, and Beaver could be standing in a completely different universe. That meant he might never be reunited with his father, his ultimate goal in all this. “We need to bring Hermie Shellhammer here,” Noah suggested. “He’s the expert who built that satellite. He’ll know what’s burning.” “I hate to breakup this mutual admiration society,” said John, standing to Beaver’s left. “But I need to address a problem more urgent.” John Duc Pow was the combat training instructor from Time Miners that led Beaver’s resistant assault team. The name was a handle; John Duck or Get Pow-ed, punched. He was a bearded grizzly Irishman with orange/red eyebrows and piercing green maniacal eyes, and he enjoyed busting up the enemy. Almost singlehandedly, he took on Dalt’s men. But when it became known that the rocket fuel was about to explode inside Dalt’s hideout, the fighting stopped and everyone rushed to find safety. Dalt escaped through a red vortex. His dozen assault goons escaped into their purple vortexes. But John and his men were forced to run through the train tunnel; their vortex emitters had ceased functioning, drained of halion energy by a hidden deactivating radiation, another secret weapon of Dalt’s. John was still ticked off about that too. “This heat is grueling. I need to get my men to safety.” His dozen team members were scouring the sand for their dropped rifles and helmets. The oppressive heat was rapidly zapping their strength. “Water and cool air are what we all need.” “Noah,” interrupted Ginger. “Why is that red glare so important?” “Excuse me.” John added irritation to his voice. “We’ll address your concerns in a minute,” Beaver said. “Go on, Noah, tell us what you think.” “Well, I’m a tinkerer. I like to understand how things work. I believe the red color is coming from a new form of energy that Dalt went into the future and stole, then brought it back for Hermie to build into that satellite. Plus, we have no idea what it is and what its capabilities are.” “And that makes it dangerous?” Ginger asked. “Yes, but that’s not the only thing that’s bad,” Noah answered. “What else is there?” “This energy source, this new power, is in the hands of a madman.”