Almost Yesterday by Dennis Higgins by Dennis Higgins - Read Online



Beautiful Cathy Callahan found love at the most unexpected time and place...1906 in San Francisco. It was during the most destructive earthquakes in US history. The trouble is she fell in love a hundred and ten years before she was born. Could her best friend Dawn, keep her from staying in the past? Meet the most powerful time traveler of them all, a lovable Golden Retriever named Hickory Dickory Doc. Discover his unique and surprising origin. Follow the adventures of the Time Pilgrims as they travel to many fascinating times of the past. Go with Katya and Cyrus to England where they investigate the appearance of the Titanic in the Southampton docks, meet the Beatles and experience the London Blitz firsthand. Chase a mysterious man across time with Lesley and Seth as they experience three romantic world's fairs in Chicago—1893, 1933 and 2033. During one, Lesley runs into her teenaged self.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611606546
List price: $3.99
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Almost Yesterday - Dennis Higgins

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Published by


Whiskey Creek Press

PO Box 51052

Casper, WY 82605-1052

Copyright Ó 2013 by Dennis Higgins

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-61160-654-6

Cover Artist: Harris Channing

Editor: Dave Field

Printed in the United States of America


For my kids, Jessica, Matthew and Aaron who are the best fans an author or dad could want. Also for my grandson, Henry and son-in-law, Jon. And as always, my wonderful wife, Trina.

Chapter 1

The Mouse Ran Up the Clock

Sussex, England, March 23, 2037

She followed him up the steep hill. He was able to run much faster than her but she trudged on, climbing higher and higher. He stopped at the top and turned to wait, his eyes fixed on her. Once she reached him she fell to her knees, out of breath, and threw her arms around his neck. He panted and nudged his head into her chest, then wagged his tail.

You have to slow down, boy, Katya said to her companion. I just can’t run uphill that fast. Now take me to Cyrus. Come on, Dickory; show me where Cyrus is, boy.

Katya’s new friend was a large yellow mixed-breed of the canine variety. He was probably part Retriever of some sort. Although she didn’t know his breed mixture, Katya saw him as one hundred percent lovable. She and Cyrus found him wandering around there in Sussex, England after their car had broken down. On his collar was an old tarnished brass tag that had the inscription, Hickory Dickory Doc, KC 06, but no address could be found. Cyrus had said the natural thing for him would have been to call him Doc but for some reason, Katya started referring to him as Dickory.

He led her onward as if with urgency. When they approached the town square around the castle, music could be heard. Katya blinked as she saw medieval people dancing with merriment and playing instruments. She stood there with her mouth opened in amazement. Had she time-traveled over a thousand years in the past without even knowing it?

* * * *

Katya and Cyrus were on a time pilgrimage to Southampton where the Titanic had magically appeared at Gate 4. It was a complete mystery, not only to the British government but also to his parents’ time research facility in Elgin, called National, in which they were both employed. How could the Titanic come forward in time seemingly before the sinking in 1912, when the knowledge of the fateful event was still known in the present year of 2037? The question remained, why didn’t it change the timeline?

Cyrus’s parents, National’s owners, Kevin and Cheryl Callahan, said they could vacation a bit in England, as long as they found answers. They were instructed, however, to stay clear of the adversarial organization known as Sundial, located in Greenwich. They would surely be recognized.

Katya and Cyrus decided to check into a hotel in Brighton, overlooking the world-famous rebuilt West Pier. Hopefully they would be able to visit Stonehenge and Bath after their trip to Southampton. Their rented or hired car, as they say in England, was a 2037 Vauxhall Deluxe. Cyrus had trouble driving on the left side of the road and kept bumping into curbs so Katya took the wheel. He marveled at how she could instinctively adapt so quickly.

They were heading west on the A27 and Katya handled the roundabouts like a pro.

Can we eat fish and chips at a pub today for lunch, Cy? asked Katya.

Of course we can, hearts. Are you hungry yet?

A little, but not really, she answered. I can wait. Oh, check it out, up on that hill, it’s a castle. I love English castles. Let’s hit it on the way back.

Hit it? asked Cyrus. Why would we want to hit a castle?

As they passed, Cyrus noticed a little sign pointing towards the right which simply stated Castle. Cyrus checked the navigation on the car’s 3-D display and it told him that they were passing the town of Arundel.

Hearts, this is our first real trip together. Cyrus looked out the window as he spoke. I like being here with you. Do you realize that we haven’t time-traveled once yet since we’ve been here?

Well, look at you, Cyrus Callahan, Katya said with a laugh. Mister all-business travel has changed his tune.

Yeah, well, I owe that all to you. Besides, I know this is a business trip but it doesn’t feel like one.

She turned to look at him. That’s because you’re traveling with your rad fav...

Katya, look out! Cyrus suddenly yelled.

Katya slammed on her brakes and turned the wheel hard left to avoid hitting an animal that had appeared in front of the car. They hit the embankment with a crash and felt their virtual airbags deploy.

Are you all right, Cy?

Yeah, I’m okay. I never experienced an accident bad enough to deploy the Invisi-shield. They really work. He looked over at Katya who was holding her head. What about you? Are you all right?

I’m okay, just a little shaken, she said. "What was that in the road?"

But just when she asked, the answer came walking up to them. Popping his head in Katya’s side of the window was a large yellow dog with happy eyes. He licked Katya’s face and nudged her arm with his cold, wet nose.

Katya and Cyrus exited the car and Katya grabbed a hold of their canine assailant by the collar.

His name is Hickory Dickory Doc but there isn’t an owner’s name, address or phone number anywhere, just this name tag, she said. So what was the big idea of jumping in front of us, huh, Dickory?

I better go for help, said Cyrus. The energy required to deploy the Invisi-shield drained the power cells and wiped out our tablets along with them. Nice innovation for electric cars but they’re intended for one use only. I’ll run back to that castle town… Arundel was it?

Should I go with you? asked Katya, still holding onto Dickory’s collar so he wouldn’t run into traffic again.

Maybe you should stay with the car in case help comes, said Cyrus.

He started to walk away when Dickory forced himself out of Katya’s grip and ran to walk with Cyrus.

I guess he wants to go with you, Cy. Hurry back!

Katya waited next to the car as people passing by slowed down to look, but no emergency vehicles came. She tried her Mini-tablet but it was completely dead. She thought about time-traveling just to occupy her mind. She admired the bracelet on her wrist that bore the name Cyrus. She thought about this custom. Boys giving their steady girlfriends bracelets with their names etched on them seemed an odd comeback in this modern day. She remembered receiving one from a boy back in 1966. The thought made her sad because it was back when she couldn’t control her time-jumping. She was at the drive-in with the boy, watching a James Bond movie when she vanished right before their first kiss. She never made it back.

She looked around to see when there might be a break in the traffic when she noticed Dickory trotting along the side of the road, coming right towards her.

Dickory, where’s Cyrus? What happened?

The dog just walked in circles and gave a high-pitched whining sound. He acted like he wanted her to follow him.

Maybe there’s something wrong, she thought.

All right, boy, take me to Cyrus.

Dickory sprang forward, occasionally turning to look back at her.

He led her up the steep road and into the town square near the castle. This is where she heard the music and watched merry, medieval people dancing and playing instruments. Had she time-traveled back over a thousand years? The feeling was magical until she noticed a modern car and a few normally dressed people watching. There was also a banner which read, Arundel Festival 2037. She wanted to stay and watch but Dickory nudged her to continue their trek forward.

He finally led her to a less populated area in town and right up to an abandoned building. She peered in the window and saw that it may have once been a pub of some sort. But it was in ruins.

Dickory beckoned her to walk through the door.

We can’t go in there, it doesn’t look safe. Is Cyrus in there, boy?

She checked the door and it opened. She carefully walked inside and called out to her boyfriend. The floor creaked. Just then Dickory came up behind her and brushed her legs with his furry body. All at once, she was standing in a bustling pub with drinks pouring, music playing and people singing.

One of the men at the bar called out in a loud voice, Eh, will ya look at the bird that ole HD dragged in.

Everybody laughed.

Well, come on in and have yourself a drink now, love. Any friend of Hickory Dickory is a friend of ours.

Then she noticed that Cyrus was talking to a group of people over in the corner. He looked up and waved her over.

She noticed that he had a beer in his hand and this made her angry.

Cyrus, what’s the big idea, I’ve been waiting on the side of the road for an hour and I find you in here drinking.

What do you mean, an hour? I just walked in here with that dog, not five minutes ago. These nice people bought me a beer while they started to explain things to me. You see, our dog friend here is special. He’s a time-traveler, hearts.

That’s right, dearie, said a young woman who Katya thought was sitting much too close to Cyrus. He’s a time-traveler all right; it’s because of him that this place even exists.

So what year are we in? asked Katya, staring straight into the girl’s eyes.

Ha, same year you were in a minute ago, she answered with a laugh. This place is unique because it exists in almost yesterday.

Yeah, chimed in one of her mates. In fact, that’s what we call it. You are privileged to be in the not-so-famous pub called The Almost Yesterday.

He’s right, continued the young woman, but then turned to the barman. Carl, get the young lady a drink. Whadaya fancy, dearie?

I’ll take a blonde in a black dress please, Katya yelled to Carl. Is there a charging station for my mobile Mini-tablet? Katya asked.

Carl pointed towards the station and then went back to pour her order.

Cyrus looked at her. You’ll take a what?

Oi, she knows her stuff for a yank, the woman said. I’m impressed. By the way, I’m Nancy.

She stuck out her hand for Katya to shake. Katya shook it firmly and reached for her pint of Guinness.

Nancy continued. And this here bloke is Jeremy. We’re sort of an item, mainly ’cause he fancies me, so I said, why not. Anyway, I was just about to tell your boyfriend here that most of us in here work for a place called Sundial South.

Katya looked at Cyrus and wondered how it was that they were sitting there drinking beers with the enemy.

Yeah, and since old HD brought you in here, that means you have to be time-travelers yourself, said Jeremy.

Cyrus decided to just come clean and tell them that they were from National. He was sure they were already thinking it. But their reaction wasn’t what he expected.

So you’re from Elgin. I always wanted to visit there, said Nancy.

Aren’t we on opposite sides? asked Katya.

Opposite sides of the pond, yeah, what else?

Isn’t Benjamin Hall your boss? asked Cyrus. He tried to kill us.

I’m not surprised, Jeremy answered. Most of us have never met him personally. We’re just a bunch of working class stiffs. We can’t help that we work for a bunch of ruddy villains.

That’s why we come here, said Nancy, to get away from it all. You see this place only exists in what you Americans call ‘out of phase’. It’s between real time and yesterday. It was Hickory Dickory who first brought us here but we had to build it ourselves. Carl here volunteers to be our barman. We also have Iris, who acts as our server and a couple of blokes in the back who cook for us. How about we treat you to the best pub food you’ll find in any time period?

That would be super-duper, said Katya. I’m starving. I’m sorry I was so cautious of you. She then put her hand on Nancy’s shoulder. Friends, like books, should be few and well chosen. I have chosen you as my favorite novel.

Sure ya have, dearie, said a confused Nancy.

* * * *

Elgin National, March 23, 2037, Present Day

Cathy Callahan was confused when her friend, Dawn Knight, had grabbed her by the hand and walked down the hall towards the office section. Dawn carefully looked around to see if anybody was watching. They were standing at the entrance of the Lady Elgin room. Cathy’s mom and employer, Cheryl Callahan, was not sitting in it. Dawn looked around once more and entered the office.

Why are we in here? asked Cathy. Don’t you think we’ll find out soon enough?

Shhh, I just can’t wait any more, said Dawn. Your parents have been sitting on this information way too long.

Yeah, I think it’s been nearly two hours now, said Cathy and laughed.

Dawn scowled at her. Come on, girl, where’s your sense of adventure?

Dawn started looking around Cheryl’s desk and in her old-school, inbox tray. She picked up a tablet sitting on the side of the desk.

I wish I had the password, she said, half to herself.

A strong voice came from the entrance door. Maybe it’s Route 66 or parallel roads—have you tried Kevin or National?

The girls looked up to see Cheryl standing there with her arms crossed.

Oh, hey Mrs. C, answered Dawn. I was just admiring this brand of tablet and was wondering how the holographics on the 3-D display looked. She gave a nervous laugh.

I’ve never felt like I had to lock my office when I stepped out, Cheryl scolded. But I don’t like my personal belongings gone through. Were you in on this too, Cathy?

No way, Mom, I tried to stop her.

Oh, thanks a lot, Miss Turncoat Callahan, quipped Dawn.

Cheryl looked back at Dawn. Cathy knew that she had always been one of Cheryl’s favorite pilgrims from back in the day when she dated her son, Cyrus. She had been a source of comfort to her and Kevin when Katya and Cyrus went missing in time last year in the Chicago Fire.

Come on, Dawn, the truth now; what were you looking for in here? Cheryl stared sternly into Dawn’s nervous brown eyes which were framed by her pretty African American features.

Dawn anxiously adjusted her glasses. It’s just that we’ve been dying to know if Cathy passed her time pilgrim exams.

Oh, that, exclaimed Cheryl. Why didn’t you just come and ask me? I posted that in our company newsletter an hour ago. Have you checked your inbox lately?

No, I—Dawn started.

Cathy interrupted. So what is it, did I pass?

Just then Kevin, who’d heard the whole conversation from his own office, the Lord Elgin room, came out and stood by the door.

Mom, Dad, did I pass? Cathy looked from Kevin to Cheryl.

Tell her, Kev, said Cheryl.

Kevin looked into her pleading eyes. I finally get to broadcast some news. He cleared his throat. I am pleased to announce to you, the addition of our latest time pilgrim to the National family, Cathy Callahan.

Dawn screamed. "Snap! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Way to go girl…and since we’re already time partners, when do we get to go on our first pilgrimage?"

Now that, said Cheryl, "you will have to wait for. You’ll start out like everyone else, on data collecting."

Blah! Oh well, thanks, Mister and Mrs. C, said Dawn. Come on, partner, it’s time for lunch. I have to see my one and only XCL, Louie.

* * * *

Louis Cartier was a soft-spoken person. His ancestry was in what was once referred to as Creole of Color. He and Dawn started dating last year on Dawn’s birthday.

When Dawn and Cathy walked into the cafeteria, Dawn spotted Louie sitting with Centehua. Louie had met Centehua at his church and soon discovered that she had the time-travel ability. She was the youngest employee at National. Centehua was born in Mexico and was very strong in her Catholic faith.

Dawn wasn’t crazy about Louie and Centehua’s friendship but she couldn’t help but to like her.

Louie stood to kiss Dawn when she made it to his table.

Hi, Dawn, hey, Cathy, he started. Come on, grab some food and sit. Centehua here was just telling me about the new trainer who replaced Professor Hamilton.

Hello, Centehua said sheepishly.

So you’ve met Professor Phelps, asked Cathy.

Yes, she’s my trainer, answered Centehua. She is very nice. I can time-travel easier just being next to her. I don’t even have to be touching her.

Mrs. Ansonia Phelps was transferred to Elgin from the Callahan’s Waltham division. She was a gifted time-traveler and trainer. Cheryl was currently looking for her replacement on the east coast but felt that her talents would be better utilized in Elgin, along with fellow instructor, Joe Bulova. Ansonia was an average height woman in her upper thirties. Her auburn hair was shoulder-length and her green eyes danced as she talked. Kevin and Cheryl were happy that she’d agreed to transfer along with her husband, two kids and a cat. They were put up in one of the Sunset Park homes that the Callahan family owned. They could see Katya’s little gray, Cape Cod house from their backyard.

Centehua continued. She told me that I could be a time pilgrim in about two years if I can keep up my good work. I only have trouble with the essay tests because I don’t write in English as nice as I talk. But she is working with me on that too.

Dawn looked over at Louie, who was sitting with his chin in his hand, soaking in every word. She frowned.

Well, Dawn said, grabbing Louie’s hand and changing the subject, Cathy has good news for you all; she is officially a time pilgrim. Dawn had blurted the news before Cathy could even open her mouth.

That’s great, said Louie. Congratulations!

Centehua stood and gave Cathy a big hug.

Thanks, guys, Dawn and I can’t wait to go on an official pilgrimage together. I miss Cyrus and Katya. Hey, have you seen Lesley and Seth around? I’m dying to tell them too.

Lesley Longines and Seth Thomas were getting ready for a pilgrimage to three of the major fairs hosted by the city of Chicago. They were to visit the time periods of 1893, 1933 and 2033. They would be the first pilgrims to officially break the old one hundred year limit and travel back to the 1800s due to Katya’s dongle invention. The new limit had been set for two hundred years, since time-travel still remains unstable after that mark.

Sundial’s Edmond Jaeger who defected to National the previous year had discovered the same man in old photos of expos and world fairs over the centuries. He thought he’d recognized him from Sundial but wasn’t exactly sure.

* * * *

Seth and Lesley stood in the Spiess Room looking at themselves in the mirror.

Did Asian girls dress like this in the 1800s? asked Lesley. She was wearing a modest peach-colored period dress and bonnet.

If they lived in Chicago and went to the world’s fair they did, barked Claire. Are you questioning my knowledge of historical fashion, Miss Longines?

No I, uh, just wasn’t sure if maybe they wore traditional Asian attire, Lesley stuttered because Claire McCardell made her nervous.

Believe me, you’ll stand out much less dressed like this than in a kimono, replied Claire.

Um, you do know that I’m not Japanese, don’t you?

Of course I know that, shouted Claire. Your mother is Laotian and your dad was part Chinese and part French. But when all of you time-travel to different periods, you have to be like actors playing various parts. Don’t worry about this dress, it’ll work.

Lesley turned to Seth. Well, hearts, she started, you look as handsome as I’ve ever seen you.

Lesley was a good inch taller than Seth but neither of them seemed to mind. She placed her hand in the crook of his arm and beheld their image in the mirror.

"Come on, you two, Mister Callahan told me that you have to catch a train to the city. You’ll make the jump back from behind the Museum of Science and Industry. That should put you in the