Ahead of his time

Ahead of his time

A Story by joshua rainbird
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Written in response to writing challenge set on the Pantechnicon.net forum. We had to write a story based on a theme of Victoriana.

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Ahead of his time



‘One has to consider the utility of every discovery: our fellows like to cause ripples not crashing waves.  Whilst the Geographical Society is indebted to the toil of talented amateurs, such as yourself, each submission must be met with careful consideration.’


       ‘I understand, fully.’  Little beads of sweat were beginning to glisten on Perkin’s brow as he guided the official to his study.  In his eagerness for secrecy he had taken the liberty of dismissing his servants for the evening and now feeling lost within his empty home he had mislaid the key to his tantalus.  Would it seem impolite not to offer his guest a small brandy?


       ‘You’ve a fine collection.  Only apes?’ the official noted staring at a row of skulls arranged in order of size.  He plumped himself casually into a red leather chair; a little too presumptuously for Perkin’s taste. 


       ‘All of the known great apes.’


       ‘Except homo sapiens,’ the guest noted. 


       ‘I keep that skull safely in here.’  Perkin grinned as he tapped his head.  His guest remained stoic.  ‘It’s but a modest selection, recently acquired after I heard of Mr Darwin’s discoveries in the Galapagos Islands.  His theories on natural selection were both stimulating and disturbing.’  Perkin sighed as he remembered the long dark night of his soul when his faith was challenged by a new scientific paradigm.  ‘A friend of mine, Charles Dawson, and I have a small wager as to who will discover the missing link first, but I fear that Sussex, his preferred hunting grounds, only yields Bronze Age forts and cream teas.’  The amateur waited to see if there would be any response in his guest’s expression but nothing was forthcoming.  ‘Alas, I may have stifled all of our ambitions. My discovery is quite unique.’


       Theatrically Perkin pulled on his watch chain and produced a small key which he excitedly unlocked a drawer in a nearby bureau.  A waft of lavender and mothballs filled the room as he struggled with a heavy object wrapped in hessian.  He thudded the object onto his desk with a relieved sigh.


       The official waited nonchalantly for an explanation.


‘It’s a fossil unlike any other!  I found it in Lulworth Cove quite by accident, near Stair Hole.’  The eager host ushered the official closer.  ‘With this rock I may prove that the Earth is but a few thousand years old.’


       They both peeled back the coarse cloth.  In the grey stone there glistened an odd flint-coloured shape, fractured yet distinguishable.


       ‘I think it’s a caligus.’ 


       ‘Let’s not get carried away with ourselves,’ the official said as he stared at the petrified sole, ‘what makes you think this is a Roman shoe?’


       ‘Look at the inscription.  It’s dedicated to the goddess of victory - Nike! Look at the craftsmanship – the Ancients were truly gifted. Perhaps it’s an artefact from Atlantis.’


       ‘It’s certainly baffling,’ the guest said coolly, ‘naturally I will have to discuss this with the Society before I can confirm its acceptance but I feel that would be just a formality.’


       ‘Naturally,’ Perkin replied excitedly.  Then remembering where he had hidden the key to the tantalus he scampered to gather some glasses.  ‘This calls for a celebration.’

Checking that Perkin was beyond earshot the guest pulled out a brass pocket watch and allowed it to gather light from the gas lamp.  He whispered, ‘Immanuel Perkin, archaeology, 1897’ a faint image flickered on its dial responding to his voice pattern –

amateur archaeologist disappeared under mysterious circumstances in August 1897.


‘Charles Dawson, same.’  The screen flashed red with text –

cross reference Piltdown Man hoax.

         He quickly digested the information then slipped the watch back into his pocket.  Then picking up the fossil he waited for his host to return.


        The blow came suddenly.  Perkin careered across the room and fell face first onto his desk.  The guest checked his pulse – he was dead.  ‘Sorry old chap but if they’re struggling with evolution how will they comprehend temporal mechanics?’ 


        The official wiped his brow before making his call.  The killing was a necessary evil.  ‘I’ve found Brandt, well traces of her.  That stupid b***h only jumped back to the Cretaceous, one of her trainers is fossilised amongst some ammonites.’


        ‘Who knows about this?’ a voice hissed from the watch.


        ‘It’s not a problem.  Just bring the carriage quickly.  I have everything here that I need  – Perkin always wanted to be in the history books and I’m about to grant him that wish.  His friend will be pleased, too.  I promise there'll be no more c**k-ups with the timeline.’  Carefully the man picked through the ape skulls measuring a jawbone to fit Perkin’s skull.


        Then, opening his pocket watch, he said, ‘Piltdown, England – location?’

 

© 2008 joshua rainbird


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Featured Review

Disclaimer - Look. This crit doesn't come from a book critic or an editor or even a guy who ever got an "A" in English. So if my crit isn't as glowing as you would hope, you would be well within your rights (and probably correct) in saying "What the heck does that snook know? He's no expert." I can occasionally be helpful by finding typos for you or that one sentence that doesn't read quite right. But please take my crit for what it is ... just one guys opinion.

Spelling & Grammar Nitpicks:
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>>>Theatrically Perkin pulled on his watch chain and produced a small key which he excitedly unlocked a drawer in a nearby bureau.

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This story has a really nice plotline and a lot of potential, but right now it's not very appealing. For starters you don't have NEAR enough background information about any of the characters which leaves the reader in the dark the whole time. You need to provide information, so we know what's going on in the story. Also, you need to work some more on character development. This story seemes like one big dialogue without any description (direct or indirect) of the characters. You need to definitely put mre deatail into this story. I don't even know what any of the characters look like, and that's a problem. Make the setting more apparent than just some study in one guy's house. This story's plot is great, but it lacks being able to truly be good because of it doesn't have any background information, details, and lacks characterization.

However, this story could be made into a masterpiece, but that would take a lot of work.

Overall: This story needs A LOT of work!!!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is a very good and very interesting story. You've done just what Science Fiction requires, in providing facts and making it all seen right for the time era. And at the same time, you've opened up a window for us to see the larger story going on in the background. This would be a very good prologue or first chapter to a full story.

I really like the way you had me believing that this was all just 'normal' until the pocketwatch came about. Very well done.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I had a hard time following this because I don't know much about this topic. I don't know what your goal is for this story but if you're focusing it toward a general audience, you might consider using terms and references that your average person can relate to.

Other than that, I think you're a great writer. This read very smoothly.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Disclaimer - Look. This crit doesn't come from a book critic or an editor or even a guy who ever got an "A" in English. So if my crit isn't as glowing as you would hope, you would be well within your rights (and probably correct) in saying "What the heck does that snook know? He's no expert." I can occasionally be helpful by finding typos for you or that one sentence that doesn't read quite right. But please take my crit for what it is ... just one guys opinion.

Spelling & Grammar Nitpicks:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>Theatrically Perkin pulled on his watch chain and produced a small key which he excitedly unlocked a drawer in a nearby bureau.

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

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Roy
Lovely scene setup and structure. You DO have a way with words, Sire, and I congratulate you for that. Loved every moment. I loved this one:
"... Perkin always wanted to be in the history books and I'm about to grant him that wish."

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 8, 2008

Author

joshua rainbird
joshua rainbird

South Coast, England



About
I've been writing for around a year and a half now. My first short story Intracranial Biomodem was published in the second edition of Pantechnicon e-zine back in Jan 2007 ( www.pantechnicon.net ). S.. more..

Writing