TimeShifter

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Genre: Paranormal, Romance

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“He was brought in yesterday,” the policeman explained. “Beach Patrol weren’t sure what to do with him – not sure of his mental state – and he didn’t actually commit any crime.”

Chloe walked with him down the long corridor. ”Inspector Bennett said he was found naked on the beach in the middle of the night, is that right?” she enquired.

“Yeah,” the policeman, Vuyo, shook his head. “No ID, no shoes, clothes, nothing. And his fingerprints, so far, have come up clean.”

They had reached the single cell at the end of the corridor and Chloe focused her mind on the task ahead. The man was sitting on the cold concrete floor, leaning back against the grimy wall. He looked up as Chloe and Vuyo approached.

“We’ve brought someone to see you,” Vuyo’s voice sounded harsh, which surprised Chloe, as she knew him to be a kind man. “This lady is a counsellor, sent here to help you, so make sure you behave yourself.”

Chloe’s senses sharpened. The light in the cell was dim, but not dim enough to hide the harsh planes of the man’s face. She stared into his pale blue eyes and felt her professional mask slip – not just because of their strange and unusual colour, but because they were the coldest eyes she’d ever seen – and she’d seen plenty. She dragged her gaze away from him as Vuyo unlocked the gate.

“You want me to come inside with you?” he asked softly.

Chloe hesitated for a second; then shook her head. Speaking to suspects in front of the police was a waste of time. “No thanks Vuyo, I’ll be fine,” she said with more confidence than she felt.

The gate banged closed behind her and Vuyo turned his back on them, folding his arms and leaning back against the bars.

The cell was small and very basic. A single metal framed bed, covered with a scratchy brown blanket, was set against one wall, a stainless-steel toilet in the corner and a small barred window, which Chloe knew faced the barren courtyard of the police station. She shivered, this was not a pleasant place to be, and in spite of the warm African sun outside, she knew it would be cold in this miserable cell at night.

Chloe sat down on the edge of the bed and tried not to stare at the man sitting on the floor opposite her. He was wearing an off-white, cotton shirt and faded, baggy jeans, which someone must have dug out of the lost property box. His shirt was unbuttoned and though his knees were bent in front of him, she couldn’t help but notice the lean, hard muscles of his chest and stomach. Despite the ill-fitting clothes; with his smooth olive skin, thick dark hair and the harsh beauty of his face, he reminded Chloe of a male model straight out of a glossy magazine. His relaxed posture only added to the illusion, but as he stared back at her, through hooded, hard eyes, Chloe knew instinctively that the laid-back pose was just that – a pose.

“My name is Chloe Webster and I’m a counsellor here at Sea Point police station,” she managed to keep her voice steady as his strange, pale eyes moved over her – not missing a thing – from her fair hair scraped back in a pony tail to her over-sized shirt and combat pants. She always wore loose clothes when she visited the station, in fact she always wore baggy clothes full stop. The Chloe who once wore feminine short skirts and tight fitting jeans, seemed like a different person from a different lifetime.

Chloe forced her mind back to the present. “Can you tell me your name?”

He continued to stare at her, until she thought he was not going to answer at all, and then, finally, he spoke. “You can call me Zack.”

His voice was low with a gravelly edge to it that sent shivers down Chloe’s spine. “And your surname – Zack?”

There was another long silence, his eyes slid away from her, staring up at the barred window. ‘It doesn’t matter.”

Chloe let out a long, slow breath. Hoping that he couldn’t notice how tense and aware of him she actually was. But then his piercing eyes focused on her again and she knew in her bones that he noticed everything.

“Ok.” She shrugged. “Do you remember how you came to be found on the beach – without any clothes or possessions?’

“Not exactly,” he leaned his head back against the grubby wall, still watching her. “But that’s to be expected.”

She was trying to place his accent and for a moment didn’t register his cryptic reply. The accent was unusual, definitely not South African, perhaps American like herself?

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11 Responses to “TimeShifter”

  1. Sunila Vig June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    Reading this was like plunging right into the story and there’s no time to back out of reading the rest of it 🙂 I found it really good Leela, but also felt distracted by having to thihk of the mystery man and then Chloe and back and forth…very promising and would like to read the rest of it and see the mystery unravel. all the best 🙂

    • leela atherton July 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Dear Sunila
      Thank you for your constructive criticism. I am thinking of turning TimeShifter into a novella rather than a novel, which may be why there’s so much information about both characters, back and forth. But I’m pleased that you would still like to read the rest of it.
      Warm regards
      Leela

  2. Kanchana June 4, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    I really like the start. You have brought in the tension very well. and I liked the line about Chloe that talks about her wearing feminine short dresses from another time. makes me wonder what happened to her to make her change her dress so drastically. I would certainly like to go on reading.

    • leela atherton June 4, 2014 at 8:44 am #

      Dear Kanchana

      Thank you for your positive feedback, it’s much appreciated.

      Another critic thought I’d brought Chloe’s ‘issues’ into the story a little too soon, and I sort of agreed with her. Now I’m even more confused! But that’s what editors are there for – so important.

      Once again many thanks for your feedback – very motivating and uplifting.

      Warm regards

      Leela

  3. Devika Fernando May 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Oh, a very promising beginning! Hops right into the action and throws up a lot of questions. As this is classified as paranormal fiction, I kept wondering what ‘creature’ he might be. I love the description of the cell and of him. For the first time since I’m following the Feedback Friday posts here, I don’t have anything to criticize. 🙂

    • leela atherton June 4, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      Dear Devika

      Wow! What a great review. Made my day.

      Thank you so, so much.

      Regards

      Leela

  4. Sabahat Muhammad May 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Definitely an intriguing start, and nicely built up. I get a great sense of the dingy cell and the author has me curious about the stranger. I’d be a little wary of the ‘baggy clothes’ routine to signify abuse or battery for Chloe – it’s a little too obvious and doesn’t need to appear so close to the beginning of the story. I would have concentrated on Zack, on the mystery of a man washing up on the beach.

    There is also a hint of trouble between the cop and Zack, beautifully placed for a pick up later in the chapter. This is a great example of how body language and dialogue indicates far more than needs to be said.

    • leela atherton May 31, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Dear Sabahar

      Many thanks for your constructive critique of TimeShifter. I fully agree with your comment on the ‘baggy clothes,’ too much info, too soon.

      Otherwise your positive feedback made my day.

      Much appreciated

      Leela

      • Sabahat Muhammad May 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

        Leela,

        This is a great start to the book because it makes you want to read on. And I like your style, it’s simple and descriptive without being verbose or dragging. If I picked this up in a bookstore and only had this excerpt to go on, I would buy it.

  5. Inderpreet Kaur Uppal May 30, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    The story starts of on a very promising note. The author manages to generate interest in the characters as well as the story.

    Well written till now. ..will like to read more and delve into the characters and the mystery in the story.

    • leela atherton May 31, 2014 at 10:25 am #

      Dear Inderpreet

      Many thanks for your positive and constructive feedback on my TimeShifter story.

      Best regards

      Leela

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