“Time was not the thing that I, or anyone else, had always thought it was.”
“Time was never some regular thread of sequence; it was never the perpetual tick of seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years…”
Twenty-two-year-old Lyndall Huxley wakes to find herself thousands of years into the future.
Something went wrong with the programme for which she volunteered – a programme that employs Einstein’s laws of relativity to send travellers forward in time. The ruins overrun by green woodland in which she wakes are a far cry from the urbanised world she left behind in the 2200’s.
Lyndall embarks upon a journey that will leave her questioning her very identity. She must choose between the new life that beckons and the old life from which, even thousands of years later, she cannot escape.
She will discover that the mission was never about sending people into the future. Much more is at stake.
“And when you find yourself thousands of years from the life you have known, those years can’t be undone. You’re stranded; and your only consolation becomes a bundle of memories. But those with whom you share these memories are forever gone.”
“The description of our future world seemed entirely plausible given current views about globalisation” – JA du Toit
About the Author
Hannah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, England. After teaching English in Florence, Italy, for a time she moved to London, where she recently completed a Master’s in Modernist Literature at University College London. Prior to that, she studied English Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, where she graduated with first-class honours. She now lives in London with her husband.
Threads in Time is Hannah’s debut novel. To sample more of her writing – her blog, poetry, and short stories – visit her website
The first thing I remember about my strange new world was the green. When I finally opened my eyes, it was a moment of surreal calmness: staring up at foliage weaving in and out against the blue backdrop. And in those few seconds before I could register where I was – in the moment between waking and sleeping – I was peaceful. It was greenness that I’d never known in my world.
But reality inevitably descended. And when I sat up, I found myself in a coffin-shaped container. My Bunkie. The lid had opened automatically. It had been the last thing I’d seen when I’d gone to sleep, at a time that felt like yesterday. But of course it wasn’t yesterday. That was the most disorientating: I had no idea where, or when, I was. “Your body might ache when you wake,” they’d warned me. But it didn’t. All I felt was overwhelming hunger.
Opposite was another coffin-shaped container. It was attached to my own Bunkie so that the whole vehicle resembled a pontoon boat. There was no person in the twin container; it was stocked with supplies instead. The army rations didn’t look appetising but I didn’t care. When I started gorging on cold minestrone soup, I began to feel normal again – or as normal as I could in the situation. Hunger sated, I could finally assess my surroundings.
The Bunkie had landed in a small clearing of a wood or forest. It was not dark enough to be sinister, but the surrounding trees were dense. The leaves suggested that it was spring. They had that green luminosity that accompanies winter morphing into a new season. It used to be one of my favourite colours. In my old life.
My old life.
I didn’t yet know how much time had passed but the pain felt as real as it had before I’d gone to sleep. Before, the term “bereavement” was an unfamiliar concept: just a word I’d heard pertaining to the condition of others. But when it becomes a personal label, the inadequacy of the word stings. It doesn’t capture the pain of grief. Perhaps no word can. In that area, language is always insufficient. I learned personally that grief can feel like physical pain. The heaviness is not metaphorical, but real and substantial. If I had to use a metaphor, grief would be a sack of rocks that drags the bereaved down to the bottom of a pool: cut off from the world, unable to breathe. An unforgiving state.
Yet without my grief, I’d never have volunteered.
So here I was.
The surrounding scene was unexpected. But we hadn’t known exactly what awaited us on the other side. That was the programme’s appeal: it was a risk – a gamble. If you send someone back in time instead (hypothetically, as it’s impossible), at least that person has an understanding of what they’ll find. History dictates that we know a certain amount about our predecessors. There is no such guarantee when travelling into the future. It is venturing into the unknown.
Time consists of the past, present, and future. The first two are quantifiable. They are knowable. But the latter isn’t. It isn’t real because it hasn’t yet been realised. The future is but an unknown entity yet to materialise; a story yet to be written. I was in a future that had only been a distant concept for my family and friends. And for me these family and friends – in turn – were only memories: they would increasingly become half-remembered dreams from another life. All that exists is the present. So here and now, I needed to examine mine. I had to learn more about the new world into which I’d tumbled.
I left the clearing but it was important not to stray too far, since the supplies in the Bunkie were indispensable. The vehicle was too heavy to carry so I had no choice but to leave it. Improvised markers helped me keep track of the path I was taking – a stick balanced on a boulder here, an assortment of stones there. I wandered through row upon row of trees. It was so quiet; and so beautiful.
In the place, or time, I came from, woods and forests were rare. There were certainly none left in the United Kingdom. I’d seen the odd clump of trees before, in a London park, but never a forest. Consequently, as I absorbed the sights and smells around me I was reduced to a child again: discovering a bedazzling world for the first time. But I had no idea where in the world this was. More unnervingly, I didn’t know when.