Tim pops up in my Twitter stream every now and then, where I was surpirsed to find him talking about his ebook recently. I'd always assumed he was a programmer of some sort. I was even more surprised to find out that his book was about a protag who develops the power of teleportation. My fave kind of super power. It's about more than too, as it turns out, but you'll have to buy it to see. In the extract below we meet young Londoner Darius Ibrahim, who's discovered he can teleport. But it has to be between seemingly random underground railway stations. As soon as he doesm he's hunted by a mysterious alien force.. Arriving in Melbourne, he befriends a local, Vivien Henderson, and tries to unravel how his power works. Then, just as he thinks he’s slipped his pursuers, a probe appears…
Above them, the silver sphere, the size of a basketball now, had reached the height of the taller city buildings. Humming quietly, it rotated on its vertical axis. Then it stopped, and darted instantly down to street level. It zipped rapidly along the centre of the roadway above the tram cables, moving with certainty as it locked onto its target.
Viv and Darius hurtled down the slope of Little Lonsdale Street, a narrow lane between two major thoroughfares. There were fewer pedestrians here. People stared curiously at their headlong rush, but usually stepped aside to let them through, and they were able to run along the roadway occasionally to avoid collisions. No-one else had yet spotted the threat above them, it seemed.
Pausing at an intersection to catch their breath, Darius glanced behind him. He could see the sphere at a distance, heading in their direction. Viv saw it too as he gestured.
‘Let’s go!’ he yelled.
As they reached the bottom of the slope, Viv jerked Darius to the left. ‘Down here,’ she said, gasping. ‘Might confuse it.’
They ran into a narrow alleyway between nondescript red brick buildings, old warehouses by the look of it. Thick electrical cables snaked above their heads between the structures, and the occasional parked car slowed their progress. They turned right again, then skidded to a halt, startled. Ahead of them, just a few metres away, was the silver sphere.
Before they could move again, it darted toward them and stopped about ten centimetres from Darius’s face. Clicking faintly, it darkened for a moment. Then, glowing brightly, it shot into the sky beyond view.
They stood, recovering from the shock. ‘What the ...??’ began Darius.
Viv grabbed him by the hand and pulled him forward. ‘Come on, the station’s just around the corner.’
They stumbled out of the alley, onto another major street. Crossing via the traffic lights, fortuitously green, they reached the entrance of Melbourne Central station. Pushing their way down the escalator past grumbling travellers, they reached the underground concourse.
‘You’re supposed to walk down on the right while people are standing on the left,’ gasped Viv, catching her breath.
‘It’s the other way round in London,’ replied Darius, darting glances around the concourse.
‘So now what? Why are we here?’
‘We’ve got to go down,’ replied Darius, pointing in that direction.
Viv thought about it. ‘You still have your Myki handy, right?,” she said, referring to the local public transport card she’d bought him after the bar visit. “Let’s head down to the platforms.”
As they passed through the station’s ticket barriers, Darius pondered the strange sphere that had tailed them. Rather than threatening them, it had disappeared once they were located. Could it be a scout of some sort? Then … Darius felt his stomach turn cold as he followed the thought through.
‘We’ve gotta hurry, Viv,’ he said. ‘Get down as deep as we can.’
‘Here, then,’ she said, and guided him down the escalator to Platforms Three and Four. ‘I was hoping to avoid the workplace today, but my stall’s on the lowest set of platforms. But what train do you want to catch?’
‘I don’t,’ he shouted – then turned in response to shocked cries behind him.
The area on their side of the ticket barriers had suddenly been sealed off by a glowing shield of pearly light.
‘Oh no,’ said Darius, terror rising. ‘Not again.’
He grabbed Viv’s hand and they ran down the escalator to the platforms below.
‘What was –?’
‘Just trust me!’ he said sharply as he looked around the platform. It was indeed the place where he’d arrived in Melbourne. Ignoring the coffee stall, they hurried down the far end of the platform to the quiet spot where he’d encountered the cleaner.
He held Viv’s hands as he faced her. ‘I’m sorry, Viv. I just wanted you to show me the way, then I planned to get out of your life. But now I’ve landed you in it too.’
She swept her wayward fringe out of the way with one hand, then looked directly at him. ‘Kiss and run, eh? Should’ve known.’ She smiled, but there was fear beneath it.
Above them, screams and shouts broke out again. Darius cursed, then instinctively lunged forward and grasped Viv in a tight embrace. She returned it with a tight grip. As they held each other, Darius forced his mind to return to the sensations he’d felt before, the swirling, nauseous feelings that had provoked the sea of colours within his mind.
Above him, the concourse was in chaos. Soldiers in black reflective suits fired their weapons at the mouth of the escalator, as more of their number joined them through the pearly barrier. People fell as they were hit by the beams, or ran in terror toward the far end of the concourse.
Satisfied that the way was clear, the squad leader waved his team members forward. They began to run down the escalator, weapons at the ready.
Darius could dimly sense his surroundings, but his mind was focused on invoking the strange sensation he’d felt twice before. This time it seemed clearer, stronger, with less nausea attached. Holding tight to Viv, he felt them sliding away from the reality represented by the cold concrete and tiles around them. Sliding away from Melbourne.
The squad leader reached the platform and swung around to face Darius. The target was locked in embrace with a local, but that didn’t change his orders. He raised his weapon … just in time to see Darius and Viv vanish from the platform. The space where they’d stood was empty, as if they’d never been there.
Metallic walls glowed a dull green under the glare of fluorescent lighting. There was no-one here, no noise other than the faint whistling of the air as it moved through the space.
Then, instantly, two people appeared, holding each other. It was impossible to actually see the transition, instantaneous as it was. One moment you couldn’t see them, the next you could.
The two separated, mouths open and eyes wide.
Viv gasped. ‘What … where …?’ she stammered.
Darius darted away from her, scanning the walls. ‘Brilliant!’ he yelled, punching the air. He turned to face Viv. ‘Yes! I did it!’
‘Did what?’ she managed, faintly.
Darius didn’t reply. Instead, he gestured at a sign set into the metallic wall behind him.
Viv moved to look at it. In large capital letters, it said MUZEUM.
Then she passed out.
Read more at Mind the Gap, $2.99 from all your favourite ebook retailers. More at http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Mind-Gap-Tim-Richards/?isbn=9781460704028