An Attempt Again At My Novel

March 23, 2012

This is the first chapter of Out of Thyme, a novel I’ve been trying to write since November. This is not, however, the novel I started for NaNoWriMo – I still have that version but this is a rewrite. Different beginning, different style, different feel. Changing how I’m approaching the characters. I hope you like it.

In other news, there’s a possibility that I may be shopping for investors soon. Looking forward to that. I still need all of the help I can get for the mean time, though, so if you’ve got a few dollars to spare please consider Donating or Subscribing to The Writing Engine on your Kindle. It’s all greatly appreciated.

Also, this post is prepared ahead of time and I’m telling you this and ruining the illusion because I’m seeing The Hunger Games tonight and I’m very, very excited. I will probably be exuberant about it tomorrow if you catch me on G+, Facebook, or Twitter. I read the entire trilogy a few weeks ago and I loved it. The movie looks amazing. I’m kind of squeeing, at least as much as my sardonic and stoic countenance can squee.

To the story!


 The most frightening thing about memories is ownership. I sit between two worlds, the one where I am fighting for my life alongside the good doctor Daniel Lehrer and one that started almost a year ago, being replayed through my memories for everyone to see. A year ago all I knew about the people now caring for me could be summed up in a single statement; completely mad, dangerous, and must be stopped for Queen and Country. Now they are the only thing that stands between Queen Victoria, her army, and my continued existence. Perhaps, though, we should start in the earlier world, before I knew these people, and before the situation came to be as it is now.

First, let me introduce myself. I am Donovan Thyme, Agent First Class in Her Majesty’s Extraordinary Circumstances division of the Ministry of Intelligence. One hundred and forty seven years ago, during a foray into Africa, a rare metal with unique properties was discovered. Named for the sitting Queen, Victoria, this Victorinium seemed to have curious effects when struck with a tuning fork set to certain harmonic frequencies. It can boil water, weld metals, compress air, and even suture skin. The metal gives off a peculiar combination of electromagnetic and harmonic frequencies when vibrating, and twenty years after these discoveries we started to find that there were detrimental effects on some of the people who were examining the frequencies we did not yet understand. Some went mad. Others developed peculiar traits.

There are two particular traits that are of interest to us, in the examination of the story. The first is the Magus Complex, a set of unique mental traits that give the afflicted a genius level intellect, an obsession with information, and a deep and intuitive understanding of a particular intersection of technology and science. Each Magus that’s discovered is quickly sent to one of the many special schools that the Queen had constructed after the effects were known, training the lucky men and women to harness their gifts for the good of the Empire. One particular Magus who worked with Isembard Kingdom Brunell is the reason why both Sir Brunell and Her Majesty are still with us today. Were it not for her Everliving Casks these great minds, and their ideas, would have died out long ago. Instead they have seen the turn of two centuries and are striding proudly toward the end of at least this year, 2012 of the common era. So, to the Magus, the laws of nature and physics are, at best, suggestions. They find incredible, unimaginable, ways to make the universe do what they will.

The second effect which will be important to the story is one I am afflicted with. The official name for it among the Magus schools is Hyperspacial Temporal Awareness, or HTA, but we’re called Dilators or Agents colloquially. This is because some aspect of our minds have been warped and we can dilate our perceptions of time to the point that it practically stops while our mind does not. Some are better at this than others, slowing time down to a crawl or perhaps just to some form of slow motion. Others, like me, can practically freeze time when we’re at our strongest. We all share one problem, however; the longer we hold that frozen moment, the more our brains heat up. Afterward, the harder you pushed your brain, the greater the headache. For some Dilators there has been permanent brain damage afterward, and a few have had bouts of intense static electricity afterward. The Magus Daniel Lehrer also discovered one other curious fact about Dilators; thanks to the time dilation, we record our memories in perfect clarity and they can be summoned back from our mind with the appropriate equipment. Currently, I’m watching important events from the last year through a device that he’s created to do just that. Consequently, since this is a journal of my thoughts, you will be able to enjoy exactly what has been going on, from past to present, as if you were there.

I hope you enjoy the show.


My orders always arrive at precisely nine in the morning, one week before the assignment is to start. They arrive in a sealed black envelope with the seal of the Imperial Army on them, Her Majesty’s coat of arms, and my own agency’s seal, all in a neat row down the front. It is brought first to my doorman by a courier from the Imperial Seat. My doorman brings it up discretely and waits at the front door of my apartments for the first person to check for the grocer’s deliveries. He then hands the envelope to one of the few people in my household, which they leave on the coffee table in our sitting room for my perusal when I wake.

Just like many orders before, this were no different. There they sat, waiting for me with a cup of tea and a light breakfast of yogurt and fruit. Apparently one of my lovely cohorts thought my diet had been too great as of late since I only found this in the morning when she was feeling both charitable and disciplinary. So I sat down with my tea and breakfast, opened the envelope and examined the contents.

Within this package you will find the following; one (1) ticket to board the Vega airship and gambling city, one (1) parcel of photographs for known accomplices of the Target, one (1) parcel of train admissions for use when needed, four-thousand (4,000) Imperial Pounds-Sterling in notes of varying denominations, your immediate orders, as well as authorization for extradition and termination of the Target as is requested by Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria. These orders carry the authorization of the Crown to execute them as you see fit. Imperial Intelligence will rectify any issues you encounter during the execution of your mission. If questioned, you are to disavow your mission to any but Imperial Intelligence. If queried, Imperial Intelligence will deny your existence and the proposed purpose of your mission. This mission has no termination date. You will continue to pursue it from this moment until completion. Tactical and material support will be provided within the parameters defined in Section Seven of the Agency Support Manual.

Her Imperial Majesty has given you the following assignment;

Three weeks ago, the registered Magus for your sector, Daniel Roland Lehrer, has recently gone rogue. It is of the utmost importance that you infiltrate his organization, silence him and the Magus Heena, also known as The Witch of the West, and their closest support staff. They have become active liabilities to the Empire through assistance to our enemies afield in Africa and Central Asia. There is a possibility of the Magus Lehrer using unknown and advanced technologies within his Workshop to escape from Imperial jurisdiction. We require these technologies to be secured for the good of the Empire. The Workshop that this technology may be located in is south of the city of Neumunich, it is located in a designated research zone surrounded by orange fields. Photographs of the building are included. When the mission is complete and the Workshop secure, you will signal using a device to be provided later and the Imperial Special Detachment will secure the building itself.

Good luck, Agent Thyme. We expect nothing less then your best, for Queen and Country.

Assassination. Intrigue. Travel. One thing I can say about my life since becoming an Agent is that it is never boring. I shook out the remaining contents, listed in the letter, and pulled out a small piece of paper that itemized equipment I was going to be provided in London and an advisement to take the next train available.

“Kanta!” I moved to the kitchen, reading through the equipment list and placed my now-empty bowl in the sink. “It looks like I’ll be away on business for a while again. Please tell Byron whenever he returns from whatever wave of darkness he’s under this week.”

I turned toward the bedroom and saw her, concern written on her face. Last time I had been away, I came back scarred and couldn’t sleep right for a week. She had demanded I leave the Agency, for her health and mine.

I reached out for her and took her in my arms and whispered, “It’ll be the last one, I swear.”

She squeezed me gently and whispered back, “If it isn’t, I’ll kill you myself.”


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