You spend too much time alone, too much time watching television, and too little time cultivating the inner man. You live in a squalid little flat in what is referred to as a no-go zone from which your friends, of whom you see less and less, have all fled for the suburbs long ago with wives and sprogs in tow. You are exceedingly unlucky in love, having invested years in a romantic relationship which, as you know only too well, is neither romantic nor much of a relationship. In short, you have all the social prospects of a garden gnome.
Here’s to dodgy adventures with disreputable relatives!
A ley line is what might be called a field of force, a trail of telluric energy. There are hundreds of them, perhaps thousands, all over Britain, and they’ve been around since the Stone Age.
Early man recognised these lines of force and marked them out on the landscape with, well, any old thing, really—standing stones, ditches, mounds, tumps, sacred wells, and that sort of thing. And, later on, with churches, market crosses, crossroads, and whatnot.
You see, this universe we inhabit is made up of billions of galaxies—literally beyond counting—and this is only one universe.
These dimensions impinge on one another. They touch. They interpenetrate. And where one dimension touches or passes through another, it forms a line of force on the landscape.
We in our present generation stand on the cusp of a new and glorious dawn when mastery of these energies lies fully within our grasp as secret yields to inquiry, which yields to experimentation, which leads to verification and duplication, which, in the final course, leads to knowledge.
When next you turn your eyes to the vast reaches of heaven, gentlemen, you would be well advised to remember that not only is it far more magnificent than the human mind can fathom, it is far more subtle. All the universe is permeated, upheld, knit together, conjoined, encompassed, and contained by the Elemental Ether, which we recognise as an all-pervading, responsive, and intelligent field of energy, eternal and inexhaustible, which is nothing less than the ground of our very being and the wellspring of our existence—that which in ages past and present men have been pleased to call God.
But isn’t that hazardous—messing with events?
You’re changing the course of history. I thought that sort of thing was strictly forbidden.
See here, if a simple act of kindness or generosity, such as buying a loaf of bread for some poor working women, can mean that wholesale death and destruction will be avoided—why, a man would be a monster who had it in his power to alleviate all that suffering yet stood by and did nothing.
Alea iacta est. The die has been cast.
London had vanished. In place of the lively, thrusting metropolitan conurbation was an empty rural wilderness of damp brown fields under low autumnal skies.
People did not go jumping from one place to another with nothing in between. It simply did not happen.
Getting lost is the least of your worries.
Jump blind and you might find yourself on the rim of a raging volcano, or smack in the middle of a battlefield during a savage war, or on a swiftly tilting ice floe in a tempest-tossed sea.
Even well-known words were often pronounced differently and could have unfamiliar meanings; connotations were not fixed, but fluid. Definitions drifted. He was constantly brought up short by the sudden realization that what he thought he had said was not at all what he meant—at least as it had been understood by his hearers. Still, he was coming to grips with the slippery speech, and his confidence was growing.
The very idea of a near-infinite array of universes made his head swim.
“If the heat doesn’t kill you,” he mused, “the flies surely will.”
He was a stranger in a strange land: lost in the cosmos, a man with neither compass nor guide, sitting in a tomb in Egypt surrounded by the dead, with Giles—a man his own age, but separated by class and sensibility and four hundred years—looking to him for answers.
Once again he felt the now-familiar tingle on his skin, as when, just before a lightning strike, the air becomes electrically charged.
How very bright this empire of stars, he mused. Which poet had said that?
His last thought, as sleep overtook him, was that it was true what Cosimo had said: the universe was far stranger than anyone imagined, or could imagine.
Before Egypt, long before travelling to that time and place—or any other—became even a remote possibility, Mina had paid her dues. Haltingly, painstakingly, maddeningly.
If her hunch was right, the earl’s explorations were connected in some way to ley travel: that peculiar phenomenon that had plucked her from the twenty-first century and dropped her so rudely into the seventeenth.
Little Archie’s story is darker, more desperate, and yet drearily familiar.
A favourite saying in China—which she had heard on occasion from her own grandmother—was that the threads of life are easy to weave, but difficult to untangle.
It had long been an ambition to find the line of force that might lead to the Holy Land in the time of Christ.
The great hulking eminence of the stone-age mound stood out as an ominous dark shadow.
The air crackled with the presage of lightning, and a heavy mist descended around them.
“Time is the central mystery of our existence. It confines and defines us in many ways.”
“None of us ever knows what impact we have on the world around us.”
“Contrary to what many may think, immortality is not a fairy tale invented to compensate for an unhappy life.”
Certainty sent a sick dread snaking through his gut: he was being stalked.