So, here's a short extract. Tina is in Rome on a school trip. Her teacher, the mysterious Mr. Verdigris, asks her to do a strange thing, about which she must tell no-one. She must find a missing Stradivarius violin. She has no idea how she will accomplish this but soon, as she's visiting the Colosseum, she's swept up, up and away....
".....Suddenly, a movement in the corner of Tina’s eyes caught her attention. She turned and saw one of their helpers beckoning to her.
It was that weird one with the black headscarf.
What on earth does she want?
She indicated to Beth that she would only be a moment. Little did she know! No sooner had she reached the old woman than she realised at last why she looked so familiar.
‘Oh, you look just like Miss Pinchtuck – from my dance class,’ she said in confusion. ‘But, what are you doing with our group from school?’
Tina was really really surprised. It was not often that someone from one part of her life collided into another. Really, her Saturday dance classes at the Rainbow School of Dance had nothing whatsoever to do with Kingsbridge School, so she was amazed that the old woman was here as a helper. But right here, at the Colosseum in
, was where she
undoubtedly was. There was no mistaking
her now, with that bent body and horrible warts all over her face. Rome
Miss Pinchtuck cackled and rubbed her hands together with glee. ‘I wondered how long it would take you, child, to recognise me. But at least, as an over-65, I got in for free!’ She paused awhile and looked ahead of her whilst nodding slowly to herself. Yes, that just might do it! But first she needed to entice the child towards and through those two central gothic pillars over there, the ones with the flaking masonry hanging in shreds right down to the ground. Yes, those are the ones, she smiled to herself. The ones with that arch above them – the arch with the seven grooves in it……But how to lure the child over there?
Miss Pinchtuck strained her painful neck muscles backwards so that she could look straight up into the clear blue sky, a sky so translucent that it was a perfect dome for the Colosseum beneath. Why, it was almost as if they were all spectators in what was to be the greatest show on earth. She brought her head straight again and looked at the arch directly in front of her. A voice came into her addled brains. Keep it simple, Mildred…(for that was her name, a name that no-one ever used any more because it sounded like mildew)….keep it simple.
‘Child,’ she said, turning again to Tina, who was shuffling from one foot to the other anxious to get back to Beth again. Tina was frightened she would lose sight of the rest of the group and become hopelessly lost in the milling crowds all around. ‘You couldn’t do me a favour, could you?’ said the old woman, smiling in the best way she could, despite her yellowing, decayed teeth.
Tina nodded, but saying ‘Yes, but can you make it quick. I’m sure I’ll lose sight of my friends if I don’t hurry up.’
‘Yes, yes, dear. It won’t take a moment…a mere second in life’s precious passage of time.’
‘What?’ What on earth was the old woman going on about now? thought Tina, growing increasingly irritated.
‘You see those pillars over there – the ones with the arch above linking them both together? Miss Pinchtuck pointed to the exact place she wanted the child to be.
‘I simply need you to fetch my handkerchief which I’m sure I dropped just the other side. You can’t fail to recognise it – it’s got rainbow bands all around the edges.’
Tina thought oh, anything to get rid of her, so quickly agreed. ‘Just between those arches, you say?’ as she ran off in the direction the old woman had said.
Shouldn’t take long.
As the child sped off, Miss Pinchtuck stuck her bony hand inside her bodice and extracted a rainbow-shaped charm hanging on a gilt chain around her wrinkled neck. She raised her other hand in an arch above her short-sighted, hooded eyes, the better to see exactly when the child was in the correct position.
She peered through the sparkling sunlight until her eyes suddenly focused.
‘Yes, yes, you old fool. Now. Now.!’ With that, she rubbed the rainbow charm in an anti-clockwise direction, mumbling an ancient spell she had concocted specially for this moment.
Nimble, nimble, child be quick
Don’t be slow, for here’s the trick
By all that’s holy, all sublime
By magic’s grace, GO BACK IN TIME!
Tina found the pillars, the ones underneath the archway, but as she ran through them searching for that elusive handkerchief, something very strange happened. She found herself growing dizzy, all of a sudden. She put her clammy hand up to her head in an effort to still the throbbing vein in her temples, but it made no difference. She suddenly felt worse, much worse. The whole world had started to spin in an anti-clockwise direction, herself in the centre. She felt as though she was in the middle of a giant tornado, in the very eye of the needle, twirling, twirling, round and round. Everything went first grey, then black, as she was flung helplessly along.
Every so often, the twisting fabric of her life would pick up elements of years gone by. Images of people, their thoughts, collided in a quickening and roaring pace, each phase superseded by another, then another.
Hours passed, days disappeared, followed by years, then centuries, as the loose sheets of the world’s calendar were torn off one by one. And still she spun in that vortex, like a helpless spider being sucked ever downwards into the giant plughole of time.
In a fleeting moment of consciousness she kept repeating to herself, over and over, in a never-ending mantra:
Where am I?
What am I?
Where am I going?
Soon, very soon, she would find out.
It would be like nothing she had ever experienced before....."
Here's the link for all 3 in this series: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B013IDLQ4O
Do hope a youngster in your family enjoys them.
Don't miss, next Wednesday, an extract from the 3rd book: Saffron, who's a child of mixed race who visits the Taj Mahal in India in search of her late grandmother's love token. Don't miss it!