The Whispering Gallery

by Luca

Chapter 2

Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, 1962.

It felt like a journey without end, Sarah had been travelling halfway across northern Europe, London presented itself as the final destination. She walked briskly across the still damp pavement. Half an hour earlier the skies were dark with rain clouds, she'd watched the downpour through the window of the taxi. Chance was on her side, as she stepped from the black cab the rain evaporated. For the moment she was safe.

Safe from getting wet, but safe had a lot of meanings, not least the knowledge she carried something important. She had the code, or one half. End to end encryption, Hamilton told her. She wiped all those thoughts from her mind, only one image was in her had, Zachary. It had been months and she'd missed him. A seven year old needs his mum.

Hamilton Gode was standing there at the entrance. She spotted him immediately and there beside him was Zachary. The boy turned as Hamilton caught sight of her and looked in her direction. She picked up her pace, then ran towards her son and he burst from the Hamilton's side and sprinted to meet her. She wrapped her arms around his small frame and lifted him up, whirling him around and planting a kiss on his cheek.

Zachary usually didn't like his mum kissing him, but this time he forgot it in an instant, he was so pleased to be reunited. Sarah looked back across the street, she could not shake off the thought that someone was there, in the shadows, although everything was normal, there were no shadows. She said nothing to Hamilton, nothing about her apprehension.

They made their way inside the cathedral.

"You got it," Hamilton confirmed, smiling.

She nodded and tapped her forehead. "In here."

His smile became a broad grin.

"We have a rendez-vous in one hour," he told her. "At a little back street venue, not far. Then we go to the lab."

"You mean," she paused, turning to him, "there's a working lab. Here in London?"

"Well, it should be working when you get there with the code."

Someone entered the Cathedral, slipping along the side aisle. She didn't notice, concentrating instead on Zachary and processing what Hamilton had said. They climbed the stairs up towards the Whispering Gallery and it was then everything went wrong.

Her intuition was right, she should have paid more attention. As they made their way around the gallery, Hamilton was ahead, Zachary had his ear to the curved wall and she was staring at the figure who had followed them up. The figure whose arm was raised. Automatically she called out to Zachary and Hamilton, both at the same time.

"Zachary! Hamilton!" She screamed. Shots echoed around the dome. The figure in dark clothing pushed past her, she fell.

Hamilton turned back. "Zachary, jump," he shouted.

Zachary stood still, frozen like stone, unable to move.


He heard his father's voice like far away echo. He saw his mother lying on the gallery floor. Something pricked his neck and he was floating. Flying over the balustrade and floating through candyfloss clouds.

"It's what he did," Violetta was saying, "here, in London."

"What he did?" Zachary was puzzled. He looked across at Christopher.

"They tweaked the multiverse," Christopher explained. "And we think here is where it all started. Thirty-three years ago. Hamilton shouted at you to jump. To jump from over the balustrade in Saint Paul's. The tweak was the needle that sent you into some kind of altered state.Zachary stared blankly, but although this explanation was totally weird, he recognised something.

"You," Christopher emphasised, "triggered it all."

"I kinda feel you're telling me something I already know, but forgot."

Zachary glanced from Christopher to Violetta.

"Exactly!" Violetta exclaimed, a little excited. "You had to forget for everything else to happen. Everything that followed.

It was, still is, hard to imagine a person is the key. The presence of someone in a place and time was the lynch pin holding that universe together, keeping it in place. Even more difficult to believe and certainly impossible to come to terms with was the knowledge your own son might be that person.

Sarah watched the sun set over the ocean. The wind caused the sails to gentle flap and the ropes made little tapping sounds accentuated by the clink of metal as the rigging moved. A storm was brewing, but Hamilton assured her they were quite safe in the cove. Protected from the elements, a much better idea than being caught out at sea.

It was a sort of time slip, perhaps better labelled a universe slip. They had entered a kaleidoscope when they were being chased. In, of all places, it was where they least expected any confrontation, but where they found it.

She had no idea if there was something intentional on Hamilton's part, but he had the switch box with him and she had the code. In her head, memorised, stolen from the Russians.

Sarah referred to it as the switch because their access or its use was curtailed. She never expected to use it like that, but didn't hesitate to activate it. Zachary had jumped!

"The code," Hamilton had almost screamed.

He threw her the box. She caught it. Tapped in the code. It was as if time slowed. Then it blinked. The code was good and here they were, transported to a yatcht, anchored in a cove, sheltering from the storm.

Zachary's head poked up from below deck. "This is too good!" he smiled.

She was happy he was happy, but wondered what he thought about suddenly being here and previously being chased around Saint Paul's. The answer was about to be revealed.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked him.

Zachary screwed up his face. "No," he told her.

She looked at him, a little concerned, a questioning look.

"I had this very weird dream."

Sarah nodded, urging him to continue, her lips tight, a certain apprehension gripping her.

"Yeah, you, me and dad were being chased. I jumped, but never landed."

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Are you alright now?"

"Guess so," he replied, and came up on deck.

The boat was moving in the water and very quickly the sky was darkening, clouds were massing and the wind was getting stronger.

Hamilton came around from the front, the other side of the tail mast.

"All done," he said, "all secured. We should go below, it's about to rain and I mean rain."

Actually, you could feel it in the air. In confirmation a loud crack of thunder boomed out from somewhere over the far side of the island. The waves were rolling in and crashing over the small rocks at the point of the cove.

They went down below into the comfortable bowels of the vessel. Hamilton sealed shut the hatch and Sarah switched on the lights. They seated themselves around the little table.

"There is something I have to tell you Zack," he began, but got no further.

The boat rocked and threw them backwards. An explosion ripped the boat apart from the bow, flames licked across the wooden partition.

Hamilton's finger hit the button on the switch box, but without the code who knew where they would end up?

Zachary stared at Lowerstoff, their eyes locked and something passed between them, the room was charged, emotions teetering on a knife edge. Outside, the world was shattered by several explosions, a background noise that they'd somehow grown used to. Living in a ruin in the middle of a war zone there was really no choice other than to adapt.

"It's unbelievable," Lowerstoff said.

"I know, but it's true."

Zachary held up the tiny switch box, the little device he held in the palm of his hand was a means to control what happened next. Actually, not to control, maybe influence, because its operation was haphazard and totaly unpredictable, and if it catapulted them into familiar situations, it also found them in totally new ones.

"We we on a yacht..." Zachary explained where he had been. The weirdest thing was how he'd moved from there to here. Lowerstoff sat on the edge of the bed, he listened, and because he'd experienced himself some of these switches he didn't question what Zachary was describing.

"You know," he interrupted, "what's really weird is how the switch moves universes. It looks to me like all of us are fixed in a place on the board, you flick the switch, or someone does, and our places change. And that happens wherever we are, no matter if we're miles apart or in a different space, a different universe. But how?"

"How, really doesn't matter," Zachary told him, "not anymore. What matters is fixing the rift, mending the quantum shift and preventing total annihilation!"

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