Have you ever dreamt of travelling through time? Andy and Hayden Abercrombie hadn’t, but it happened to them anyway. From racing in a chariot to being chased by a T-Rex, from singing with mediaeval knights to fighting hungry snake dragons, the brothers squabble their way through one extraordinary adventure after another. If the brothers can stop fighting each other they may be able to find, damsel in distress, Blythe Fairweather’s missing brother and work out a way for them all to get home.
Written with readers aged 8 to 13 in mind, The Incredible Time Travelling Marble Contraption is a hilarious dash through history for both boys and girls to enjoy.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I am obsessed with time travel. The very thought of it makes me go all tingly. I read The Time Machine (HG Wells) in my early teens and the possibility of travelling back in time has intrigued me ever since. And, of course, there is my biggest inspiration … The Doctor …
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
At the time of inception, I wrote The Incredible Time Travelling Marble Contraption for my 3 nephews (I now have 6!). The first few drafts of the story followed the adventures of 3 brothers, whose personalities were closely based on their real life counterparts. However, I felt the manuscript needed to be faster paced and tighter, so I amalgamated the 3 brothers into 2.
Chapter 21 : Ruff, Wuff, Rufty, Wuff, Ruff, Wuff
‘Hayden, we are not calling the flipping dog Toto and that is the end of it!’ Andy was not amused with the naffness of his little brother’s suggestions, ‘…and we’re not calling it Lassie, Pongo, Gromit, Snoopy, Odie or Scooby-flipping-doo. I am the oldest so I get to choose and we are calling it Barf.’
‘That’s not a proper action-dog name. How is this dog supposed to help us on our adventures if we don’t give it a proper action-dog name?’ Hayden mumbled under his breath as he trailed behind Andy and the newly named Barf. Oldest shmoldest. Whose nose had the dog licked first? Surely that gave him first dibs on names. One minute, you are in a dark tunnel getting your arms and legs yanked in opposite directions; the next minute, you are flat on your back staring into clear, blue sky with a scruffy mutt plonked on your chest breathing dog-breath all your over your face. Miffed at his brother pooh-poohing his inspired naming suggestions Hayden went on the offensive, ‘Since you’re the oldest then, Mister Clever Clogs, you’ll be able to figure out where we are exactly.’
Andy had been pondering this very question. He had never seen a sky as blue as the one they now stood under, certainly not in real life, and certainly not in Stoneybrook. Perhaps only in Brian Wheeler’s holiday photos from Florida. But he did not think this was America, there were no roller-coasters (phew) or flume parks (boo). No yellow taxis or hot dog stalls. No cowboys. No gangsta rappers. Definitely not America then. A few trees dotted the otherwise barren, hilly landscape. The black blobs hanging from the branches looked like those minging olive things you picked off your pizza and chucked away.
‘We are in Europe,’ Andy announced.
‘Europe isn’t a country so that doesn’t count.’
‘It is a place. People go to Europe on their holidays. Britney Henderson’s big cousin went backpacking around Europe, himself. Barcelona is in Europe, Inter Milan is in Europe, Manchester United is in Europe. So there.’
‘Europe is an incontinent, Andy, everyone knows that.’
‘Ha Ha wrong! The word is continent, Hayden, CON-TIN-ENT. Muppet.’ To confirm his superior intellect Andy added, ‘There are five of them.’
‘Name another one then, smarty pants.’ Hayden was not going to give up without a fight.
‘Er, Amer, er, Americalasia,’ Andy mumbled.
‘Ha ha … Andy is a spanner! It’s North America, South America, Austria and … well, I’m not telling you any-more. Andy is a spanner. La la la la la la.’ Hayden skipped in front of Andy, forming an “L” with his finger and thumb on his forehead, ‘Loser. Andy is such a Looooooser.’
Andy made a “W” with his hands, thumbs tip-to-tip, and pushed them in Hayden’s face. ‘Whatever.’
The near-death experiences they had recently shared could not simply erase eight years of brotherly loathing. They had been born to bicker. If truth be told, both boys were happy with this state of affairs, which brought a sense of normality to their bizarre and, if they stopped to think about it, scary situation.
‘Ruff, wuff,’ Barf scampered on ahead, stopping every now and then to jump round in circles ruffing and wuffing as he went. ‘RUFF, WUFF!’
Hayden was ecstatic, ‘Look Andy! Toto, I mean, Barf, is trying to tell us something. I knew he was an action-dog, I knew it. What is it boy? Whaddya find? Is Timmy stuck down the well?’
‘Oh get real, Hayden.’ Andy rolled his eyes. Out of spite, Andy was tempted to walk in the opposite direction to the overexcited dog but, hey, dogs have a good sense of smell, so maybe this one had sniffed out some grub. Andy did not fancy living on olives for the rest of his life, so following Barf seemed as good an option as any he could come up with.
Barf dashed on ahead, racing to the top of a nearby hill, then he sat down, thumping his tail on the ground in the way happy dogs are inclined to. Hayden was first to catch up.
‘What is it boy? Whaddya find? Is Bobby trapped in the burning… Wow!’ Hayden looked down the other side of the hill into the valley below.
‘Hayden will you give it a rest with all the whaddya finds … Wow!’ Andy, too, was gobsmacked by what he saw.
There were hundreds and thousands of people in the valley below, the majority of which were crammed into a roofless stadium carved into the side of the hill. Andy and Hayden lay down on their tummies, commando-like.
From their vantage point, they could see that the men were wearing white sheets, of one form or another. The younger men had opted for chic short versions. Hairy legs and knobbly knees abounded, so perhaps it was just as well that the older men favoured the, more flattering, full-length design. The ladies wore a similar get-up, but much more colourful. If Andy and Hayden had cared they could have admired the elaborate designs embroidered on the clothes. Coloured threads of purple, red, indigo, violet and yellow were woven together to form a multitude of cloth emblems depicting animals, birds, fish, even complex battle scenes (quite a lot of red thread used on those). But Andy and Hayden’s eyes were glued to the procession that had entered the arena through the grand stone archway of the stadium. A massive cheer rose from the crowd, not unlike the one heard at football grounds when the home team score the winning goal in the last minute of extra time. The old man heading the procession made his way to the centre of arena and raised his arms. The crowd fell silent.
‘Fellow citizens of the Greek states, I welcome you to Delphi. I welcome you to the Pythian Games. I welcome …’ the man began.
‘Greeks! How on earth have we ended up in Greece?’ Andy was confused, for not only were they in Greece, they seemed to be in a Greece that had existed a very, very long time ago. Andy had never heard of the Pythian Games, perhaps they were like the Olympic Games, but more Pythiany than Olympicky.
‘… competitors from all the Greek states. From Caria…’ A few half-hearted cheers from one side of the stadium. The away support, Andy reasoned.
‘… competitors from Athens, Corinth, Megara …’ Various members of the procession waved to the crowd.
‘… Sparta…’ A huge boo from the home support. The elderly man waved his hand to silence the crowd.
‘There is something a bit strange about this, Hayden.’ Andy was getting another one of his funny feelings.
‘Brother, in the last couple of days I have been catapulted from a roller-coaster, danced with a knight, been nearly hacked to death by a sword-wielding nutter, crawled through a sewer infested with rats and poos, only to be zapped into a Greek fancy dress party. Of course there is something a bit strange going on! We are time travelling!’ Hayden said.
‘No it’s not that, well, of course there is that, but, well, don’t you find it strange that we can understand everything these Greek dudes are saying? I thought they spoke Greek and that’s even harder than Ancient Stoneybrookish, from what Dad says.’
‘Er, well maybe, well, er, I suppose.’ Hayden’s imagination kicked in, ‘I wouldn’t worry about that. We can understand them cos that’s what happens when you travel through time, you know, like Dr Who. Stands to reason really, there would be no point in being able to travel through time and the galaxy and everything if you couldn’t understand what people were saying when you got there.’
‘But … Dr Who has a translator-gadget-thingy for sussing out what people were saying. We don’t have a translator-gadget-thingy,’ Andy was not convinced.
‘Don’t worry about it brother, just go with the flow.’
‘Ruff wuff… bruff,’ Barf was clearly siding with Hayden on the issue, Hayden thought.
‘We need to find out what is going on here. We need to find out how to get out of here. And we need to get home.’ Andy looked for a way down the hillside to the stadium below.
‘And find Blythe.’ Hayden reminded Andy of his new bestest friend.
‘Yes, and Blythe. Come on then, let’s go find your girlfriend.’
‘She’s not my girlfr…’
They made their way down to the arena, a-squabbling and a-bickering as they went.
Fiona Mackinnon is a Glaswegian, endeavouring to be a cool Aunty to six nephews. She gave up a hectic career in the IT industry to concentrate on being a full-time children’s writer. The ideas for her books come to her in dreams (lame – ed), er, spooky visions then (lamer – ed), during really bad headaches (plausible – ed), (not true though – Fiona) …. staring out the window eating pizza (happy now? – Fiona) (yes – ed).
Fiona lives with her very patient fiancé in Glasgow. When not writing about aliens, witches, time travel, castles and nutritional food like broccoli (and definitely not pizza, honest) she spends her time running after her little black lab puppy, Iggy.
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