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Dimension Slip
Dimension Slip
Dimension Slip
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Dimension Slip

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‘I’m all right, Dad – just changed!’ When Jay Romero and his friend Mike go off camping in Bucknell Woods near their home town of Brackthorpe, Northants, it seems that nothing can go wrong. Then the two teenagers are caught in an electric storm and Jay is in the tent when it's hit by a lightning strike! But he survives – or rather, they survive. For Jay has entered a Dimension Rift and he now has a terrible alter ego – his ‘dark side’ come to life – who wreaks havoc and death in the quiet English town where the friends live. Can Mike and Jay get to grips with the ‘other’ Jay? Can they keep Jay’s peculiar problem a secret? Will they save humanity from a savage fate? Read about their grim showdown in the wilds of Dartmoor, and be glad that growing up doesn’t always involve a Jekyll-and-Hyde horror show of the sort Jay Romero experiences in this psycho-thriller.

Release dateDec 19, 2019
Dimension Slip
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Oliver Franklin

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    Dimension Slip - Oliver Franklin



    Dimension Slip

    Copyright © 2015 Oliver Franklin

    First Published in 2004 by Athena Press. This edition published by Buddlewood House 2015

    Cover by P J Truscott – https://pjtruscott.wixsite.com/pjay/

    ‘A faint murmur of relief…’ is a quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Copyright © J. K. Rowling

    Typesetting, page design and layout by DocumentsandManuscripts.com.

    All Rights Reserved: No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by photocopying or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from both the copyright holder and the publisher of this book.




    Chapter 1

    Looking Forwards

    This adventure is set in the present time; but, for most of us, time is only a concept by which we live, so…

    It was the first day of the summer holidays. The sun shone on the small market town of Brackthorpe in Northamptonshire. A private hire cab blasted its horn somewhere down the street, signalling to someone it was there; as it did so, Jay woke up.

    He had been on the verge of waking for several minutes, but it was the horn that really did it. He rubbed his eyes and struggled out from the tangle of blankets. Looking out of the half-open window along Westbury Drive, he saw a young couple moving towards a white cab, which had parked on the pavement. They seemed to be continuing an argument that presumably they’d begun while they were still indoors.

    Jay frowned as he took a deep breath of fresh air. The summer holidays, he thought to himself, no more school for seven weeks! That was nearly two whole months of freedom and he had something else to look forward to: his fourteenth birthday, in just two weeks. His thoughts were interrupted by his mother’s voice from downstairs.

    ‘Are you up yet? It’s nine o’clock already – breakfast’s going cold!’

    ‘Coming, Mum! I’ll just take a shower,’ he called. As he grabbed some fresh clothes, a clink sounded from the kitchen below, like a pan being taken off the cooker. Jay’s mother, Carol Romero, was married to Robert, a second-generation Italian of Gypsy descent. He worked as a software engineer for a local firm, and the family lived happily in a leafy suburb of the town. Their younger daughter had got up much earlier and was already running around somewhere in the next-door neighbour’s garden, which happened to be particularly large.

    Ten minutes later, Jay appeared in the kitchen with damp hair. ‘Fried breakfast! Nice one, Mum,’ he said and started loading his plate with eggs and bacon.

    ‘So, what have you got planned for today then?’ his mother asked from over by the window, where she was watering a fine selection of house plants.

    ‘Thought I’d go to Mike’s. We still need to sort out our camp. I think we’re going this week instead of next week.’

    ‘Is it definitely still on, then?’ she asked.

    ‘Of course,’ said Jay. ‘It should be great. Everything we need to know is in that SAS survival handbook he got last Christmas.’

    ‘Well, if you’re sure Dear. You’re old enough to decide for yourself now. Just make sure the two of you don’t get into any trouble, all right?’

    This topic of conversation had been well trodden over the last few days and Jay was anxious to escape his mother’s coddling. He loved and respected his parents but they didn’t seem to realize he was growing up. ‘We’re only going to the woods. It’s five miles away, Mum; nothing’s going to happen to us.’

    Mrs Romero sighed quietly but didn’t answer.

    At ten o’clock Jay stuffed twenty pounds and some loose change into the pocket of his jacket – his wages from his paper round – and walked down the garden path. Mike Murkin, his best friend, lived across the other side of town, and it was a fifteen-minute walk. His sister and her friend waved at him from behind a tree, in the garden next door, as he passed but he took no notice. Younger sisters were okay but they were also a pain, especially with their giggly friends. Alice Romero was ten and her neighbour, Jenny Hampton, nine – about the worst possible age, it seemed to Jay at any rate. The Hampton family, who lived next door, were very well off and rather posh but they were quite friendly people, and the two girls got on like a house on fire.

    Jay and Mike had been thinking about a camping expedition for some time but had decided it would be best left until the holidays. So, they did not have to worry about getting back in time for school. Mike said he had camped outdoors before, many years ago, when he had been a Cub Scout; but Jay had never done. All in all, it had him rather excited.

    He stopped at the newsagent to pick up a Sci-Fi magazine called Trek. Science fiction was probably his greatest interest these days. At home, he had every episode of Star Trek ever made and all the other science fiction films released in the last ten years. He often borrowed books on astrophysics and cosmology from the library, just to find out how far things were from being like the films. He didn’t understand much of what he read but it definitely impressed his school mates, and that was worth something.

    By the time he reached Mike’s street, he was thoroughly engrossed in an interesting article about a proposed method of time travel. He had his nose in the magazine and didn’t see the large youth standing on the corner, smoking. With a jolt, he bumped straight into him.

    ‘Oi, prat! What d’you think you’re doing?’

    Jay sprang backwards apologising. ‘S-Sorry Col! I wasn’t looking where I was going,’ he stammered.

    Colin Davis was nineteen and unemployed – not someone to bump into if you could avoid it. The worst part was, he had two of his gang with him, and all three of them were much bigger than Jay.

    ‘Little tosser!’ Colin snarled. ‘I ought to shove that magazine up your arse! Give it here.’ Jay flinched as Colin grabbed the magazine out of his hand and glanced down it. Fear began rising in Jay’s chest. This could get nasty, he thought silently.

    ‘Time travel…? Bollocks!’ Colin said and he ripped the magazine in half and threw it over the hedge. His two colleagues had moved over and they laughed at Jay’s groan.

    ‘That cost me three pounds!’ he moaned.

    ‘Three quid,’ growled one of the other two. ‘That sounds about right. Give us three quid each and we won’t beat you up!’


    ‘No, five quid each!’ barked Colin.

    ‘Five… each? I can’t—’

    ‘Or we break your nose, you Gyppo git!’ Colin hissed.

    Jay edged backwards, getting ready to run for it. He reckoned he could probably out run Colin fairly easily, but he had no idea how fast the other two were. Just as he was about to bolt, a yell came from further up the street. It was Mike on his mountain bike. Jay paused as the three youths turned to look. Even with Mike’s timely arrival, they were still outnumbered and Jay felt little safer. However, it seemed Mike had the situation well in hand. He stopped over the other side of the road and turned his bike around.

    ‘What d’you want, Blondie?’ shouted the other one of Colin’s mates. ‘Come to watch your little friend cop it?’

    ‘No!’ Mike yelled across the street. ‘I’ve come to watch three fat pricks make fools of themselves!’

    Immediately he stood up in his seat and peddled away. Colin swore and he and the other two charged after him. Mike tore off up Grosvenor Road, dodging cars and lampposts. The three of them pursued him all the way up the street, narrowly missing being run over at the junction by a large white van.

    Meanwhile, Jay stood alone watching, catching his breath and hoping Mike could peddle fast enough and, to his relief, he appeared to be getting away. Jay turned and headed quickly down a side road. He would go to Mike’s house another way.

    When he knocked on the door a short while later at the far end of the road, he was pleased to find Mike opened it. He was pink and out of breath but flushed with success. ‘Thanks Mate,’ Jay said, smiling at him.

    ‘Lucky I came by! Mum sent me off for a pint of milk because we ran out,’ he gasped. ‘Anyway what do you think of that, then? Led them right round the park. They gave up chasing me by the railway bridge. Suckers! I knew they’d forget you and go for me.’

    ‘I had things under control,’ Jay answered, unconvincingly. ‘I was just about to leg it when you turned up.’

    ‘Yeah, right, you were shaking like a jelly. Pity about the magazine though. Any good?’

    ‘Not bad,’ Jay said. ‘C’mon, let’s go inside.’

    Mrs Murkin offered the two of them coffee and cake the moment they walked into the lounge. She was quite used to Jay coming over, and regarded him a bit like another son. The same was pretty much true if Mike went to Jay’s house.

    ‘Hey, you’ve got Matrix Reloaded on DVD, wide-screen, cool!’ Jay’s eyes roved the shelf of videos and DVDs beside the television.

    ‘Yeah, got it last week. Sorry, forgot to mention it,’ said Mike, as he settled into the sofa and balanced a plate of cake on the arm of the chair next to him.

    ‘Who were those two thugs with Davis? Do you know?’ Jay asked, his eyes having left the shelf by the television.

    ‘I think one of them’s called Curt – he’s been inside, I heard. No idea who the fat bloke was though.’ Mike then changed subject. ‘Our trip,’ he announced. ‘Next week then?’

    ‘Great!’ said Jay. ‘We ought to make a list of everything we’ll need to take. I’ve got some cash for food and matches and stuff.’

    ‘Excellent, and Dad gave me a tenner and he said he can give us a lift on the way to work, if we get up early enough.’

    ‘How early is early?’ Jay asked.

    ‘Er… I guess about eight, but that’s not too bad is it?’ Mike replied. ‘Shall we go Monday?’

    ‘Monday it is,’ said Jay, with a feeling of expectation that this would somehow be a rite of passage, as well as an adventure.

    Mike, who had finished munching chocolate cake and now charged upstairs, emerged back in the room with a large black and white book in his hand, the SAS Survival Handbook. It was almost a cult, must-read book in some circles. Mike had had to refuse several people who had wanted to borrow it.

    ‘I’ve read up on plants and fungi you can eat,’ he said eagerly. ‘I can’t wait to try nettle soup.’

    ‘What, you mean stinging nettles? You can’t eat them, surely?’ Jay asked.

    ‘You can if you boil them,’ said Mike. His face glowed at the prospect, but Jay wasn’t quite so keen on the thought.

    The two boys then buried themselves in reading and, at the same time, compiled a list of food and other provisions. The expedition was planned to last two or three days. That seemed to be the limit that their financial resources would allow.

    By the time the list was finished, and Mike was busily telling Jay about large deadfall traps, designed to kill deer that could also kill people if they accidentally triggered them, Mrs Murkin came in and asked Jay if he was staying for lunch. Jay thanked her and the two of them decided to go into town afterwards, and pick up all the gear they needed. They had managed to borrow a tent from someone in school but almost everything else, they would need to buy.

    Later that evening, a large box full of food and camping supplies stood on the floor in Mike’s bedroom, alongside a two-man tent rolled up in its green bag. Mike was sitting at his desk dripping hot wax from a burning candle over the heads of matches, one by one, to waterproof them. He was about half way through the box and had burnt himself twice. Jay, meanwhile, was reading the Trek magazine again. He had retrieved it from behind the hedge, where Colin had chucked it and sellotaped it back together.

    ‘Damn it!’ muttered Mike, as he got wax on his fingers for the third time.

    Jay looked up and saw him waving his left hand in the air. ‘Do you want me to help?’ he asked.

    ‘No, I’ll be okay,’ he responded. ‘I’ve done about fifty; that should be enough anyway.’

    Jay closed his damaged magazine and said, ‘Mike, do you believe in time travel and in other dimensions?’

    Mike thought for a moment. ‘Well, Mr Roberts mentioned that stuff once in Physics, remember? He said it’s theoretically possible.’

    ‘Yeah, but what do you think?’ Jay said.

    ‘I’m not sure; I suppose one day it’ll be possible. You know, in the future?’

    Mike quite liked Sci-Fi talk but he wasn’t a fanatic like Jay. He preferred football to space travel; it was more realistic. On his bedroom wall, there was a huge poster of Manchester City football team pinned up. As he said, ‘Ninety percent of all football fans in the entire world support Man United, so I feel I should try and balance things a bit.’

    ‘I think I believe it,’ Jay continued, ‘but I don’t think science has all the answers.’

    Mike began packing everything back in the box and made one last check against the list. ‘It’s all there,’ he declared, ‘all ready for the off. Fancy a Coke? Then we can watch Matrix Reloaded, if you like.’

    ‘Great idea!’ said Jay enthusiastically.

    At eleven that evening Mike’s father dropped Jay back home. He went straight to bed, hoping that Sunday would pass as quickly as possible. Then it would be Monday and they would be off.

    He found it quite hard to get to sleep. Perhaps it was the excitement about the camping trip, he thought to himself, but then he wondered why: it wasn’t going to be that exciting, was it? Fair enough, it would be his first time sleeping under canvass in the great outdoors, but why should that be keeping him awake? He rolled over and looked at the clock. The hands were illuminated and it read half past two. Irritated, he rolled back and didn’t remember thinking much at all after that.

    Sunday passed fairly quickly, as Jay had hoped, but not without incident. A motorbike came round the corner too fast at the end of the street at lunch time and lost control, smashing into a phone box on the other side of the bend. The man riding it wasn’t badly hurt, but the phone box was destroyed and all the kids in the street found this very exciting, especially as it had only been installed a few weeks before.

    Monday duly arrived and Jay’s alarm rang at six, far earlier than necessary. His things were already packed and he didn’t have much to do, except wait nervously for the clock to tick round. At a quarter to eight, after a hurried breakfast and a hug from his parents, he set off for Mike’s house, complete with rucksack and map. Mike and his father had already loaded the car when Jay arrived just after eight. Mike himself had been waiting expectantly by the front gate for him to get there.

    ‘All ready?’ said Mr Murkin jovially. ‘Let’s get going then, come on.’

    Jay heaved the rucksack into the car boot and got in. As Mr Murkin pulled out into the road, he turned in his seat. ‘So where exactly do you two want dropping off?’

    ‘Bucknell Wood,’ answered Mike.

    ‘Or somewhere near to it,’ said Jay.

    ‘No problem, we should be there in ten minutes, and I won’t be late for the office.’

    Bucknell Wood lay a short drive to the north-east of Brackthorpe town and covered an area of a few square miles. It was certainly large enough to get yourself quite well lost in. Mike took great delight in telling Jay how, on one occasion, the Cub Scout troop had gone there for an early evening hike and split up into teams. Everything had gone to plan until one of the teams got lost. Everyone had found it really funny when they turned up dishevelled and angry in the middle of the night. Their team leader, a man called Brian Mason whom they nicknamed Snail, lost considerable face.

    By the time Mike had ended his story, they had arrived at the entrance to the wood. A large wooden gate stood across a dirty track. As the two of them unloaded their kit, Mike’s father wound down the car window. ‘Any problems at all, give your mum and me a ring. You’ve got the mobile on you, haven’t you?’

    ‘Yep,’ chirped Mike. And then Mr Murkin reached for something inside the glove compartment.

    ‘Almost forgot,’ he said. ‘Early birthday present, Jay, from Janet and me.’

    He passed a brown paper bag out to Jay, who took it eagerly.

    ‘Thanks a lot, Mr Murkin!’

    ‘We were going to save it until next week, but seeing that the two of you are off earlier than—’

    ‘Wow!’ Jay interrupted with a shout. ‘A Swiss army knife, stainless steel, special edition!’ He goggled at the smooth and shiny, satin-finish handle.

    ‘Come off it, Dad, you should have got me one too!’ complained Mike.

    He eyed the penknife with more than a hint of jealousy, as he picked up his rucksack – but it didn’t last long, when his father said, ‘Do you remember how much that new bike cost?’ Mike was three months older than Jay and he had got the mountain bike as a birthday present.

    ‘I’m off now,’ Mr Murkin said. He started the car and began to reverse out of the track. He waved and Jay swung his rucksack over his shoulder. Mike had pulled out a new waterproof Ordnance Survey map and started examining it.

    ‘Can I see it then?’ asked Mike as they set off along the path.

    There were two designated walks through Bucknell Wood. A shorter one of about two-and-a-half miles and a longer one of about six. As the wood was managed by the Forestry Commission, neither of the routes were particularly difficult or interesting. In fact, Mike thought they were both quite boring, and the two of them had agreed to wander as far off the beaten track as it was possible to, hopefully without getting lost.

    ‘But we’ve always got the map,’ Jay said some time later, as he and Mike discussed where to head for. ‘So we’re pretty safe.’

    The track opened up into a wide picnic area, where gravel had been laid to form a hard surface for cars to park on. The trees, which were mainly evergreens, made a ring enclosing half a dozen rustic-looking wooden tables and benches. Mike frowned; it felt far too close to civilisation to him. ‘Let’s get off this track,’ he urged.

    ‘We could make for the top of that hill in the distance,’ answered Jay. They checked the map and immediately turned right and marched off the path and straight through the wall of trees. It became darker under the green canopy they provided, but was better than going by a recommended route.

    ‘You can have this back now; I’ve finished looking at it,’ Mike said as he handed the knife back to Jay.

    Jay clipped it on to his belt and readjusted his rucksack straps. He was carrying a five-litre bottle of water and it felt heavier than he had bargained for. Mike had opted for the tent in his pack. It was bulkier but probably lighter, Jay thought wistfully.

    As they approached the hill, the tall trees began to thin out, sending more light down to their level, but they met a thicket of shrubs and brambles at the same time. They pressed on but, after a while, it became tiring as the thicket was heavy going.

    Jay ripped his trousers as he stumbled through the undergrowth and Mike, wiping sweat off his face, called, ‘This is what makes it more fun, leaving the path.’

    Jay had been about to say something back but, as he opened his mouth, something huge, brown and feathered erupted from a bush by his feet. His heart jumped into his throat as a great flurry of wings flew up in front of him and took flight.

    ‘A pheasant!’ exclaimed Mike breathlessly. Jay swallowed and allowed himself a moment to regain his composure, as the bird disappeared in the distance. ‘You should’ve grabbed it; we could have had that for tea!’

    Five minutes later they did stop for a tea break, but decided to have cans of Coke instead.

    ‘How are we going to cook anything?’ Jay asked. ‘That sign by the entrance said lighting fires is prohibited.’

    ‘Easy,’ Mike smiled. ‘We keep the fire small and out of sight.’

    ‘We won’t be arrested for starting a fire in here, will we?’

    ‘Relax, Jay! Have you ever seen a warden around here?’

    Jay hadn’t, and this felt somewhat comforting. Still, they would be breaking the rules…

    It took another hour to navigate their way to the hill, and they began to climb the slope. The grass grew lush underfoot and often protruded in small tufts. Jay felt quite out of breath as they reached the summit, and his legs and shoulders were aching from the abnormal load he was carrying. In the midst of a large clearing stood a tall conifer, alone and majestic. Mike flung his rucksack down and immediately collapsed under the tree. Jay followed suit moments afterwards. They both spent a minute or two taking in the view of surrounding farmland while getting their breath back.

    Mike gazed up into the branches overhead. ‘How high do you reckon this tree is?’

    ‘Twenty metres, maybe twenty five,’ Jay said. ‘Why?’

    ‘I reckon I can climb all

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