The four had stepped into the brightened doorway as one, and instantly felt themselves lift from the ground and slowly tumble. Cheers and applause from the gathered crowd faded into a distant hum as colours consumed them like a vivid kaleidoscopic dream. The air was chilled. Frosty breath swirled from their mouths, and goose bumps swept across their skin. After what seemed like forever, but was really only seconds, a sphere of bright light swelled and then faded to reveal a ball of shimmering water that hovered in the air. Small droplets and mist drifted from the surface, cooling the contiguous night air.
The target location was a rundown park off a side street in a small town in New Mexico. A town known as Roswell, which until recently had been anonymous to the wider world. The precise date and co-ordinates of the luminous event were 8-July-1947, Latitude 33.394266°, Longitude -104.523024°.
It was almost dawn and the surrounds were clear of activity and signs of life. As the last of the bright light faded, the ball of twinkling water slowly swirled and dissolved. A group of figures quietly lowered to the ground and murky darkness returned to its nightly battle with the dim glow of the streetlights. As their eyes adjusted, the travellers warily surveyed their surroundings. They stood next to a rusted and weathered slide in a silent and seldom used playground.
Eva was instantly worried. “Razer! Where’s Razer?” she said to Lewis and Max.
The boys scanned the scene. They couldn’t see her either. Even though the teens had only recently met, a bond had already formed. Eva’s heart pounded at the thought that her new friend had gone missing between Time Square and Roswell.
Lewis sprang to his feet and called into the inky darkness. “Razer, where are you?”
“Oh, Lewis. She can’t be lost already. Why does everything always go wrong?” complained Eva.
“Over here,” called Max. “I think I heard something. It was only faint though. Razer, can you hear me?”
A weak sound teased them from beyond the realm of the streetlight. “I heard something too,” said Eva, as she bravely crept into the darkness. “Razer, is that you?”
A breeze swept through the park. Leaves rolled and rattled along the pathway and the trees surrounding the travellers swished and swirled in a symphonic trance. The boys followed Eva with semi-bravery that only allowed them to linger a few paces behind. A dog barked in the distance, making the three to jump at its unexpected call. Shadows moved and spilled over everything around them like creatures stalking prey.
“I don’t like this, Lewis. This place gives me the creeps,” said Eva over her shoulder as she edged forward.
“Razer! Are you there? Answer us, Razer,” called Max. He was starting to worry. In all his years of travelling he’d never heard of anyone not making it through the portal. They were only in the first minutes of their first mission and everything had already gone pear-shaped.
Max and Razer had time-travelled plenty of times before, especially Max, but for Lewis and Eva Hudson it was their first. Losing Razer wasn’t the best way to start their new time-travel careers. It would be a black mark against their names, for sure. Only a matter of days earlier, Lewis and Eva had been living a normal life in 1930s Washington, D.C. Their dad was a part-time archaeologist who had brought home a crusty old obelisk from some place called Machu Picchu in Peru. As it turned out, it wasn’t just your average obelisk relic. It was way more important than they could ever have known. While their dad, Dr Rex Hudson, was showing it to them and giving it a bit of a clean, it had suddenly started glowing and sucked their dad’s arms deep into its surface. To say it was a surprise would be an understatement. It was downright disturbing. Its pull was so powerful that it actually dragged all three of them into another dimension, to a place called Time Square. The centre of all time. The place that controls time. The place that is time. So, even though Eva and Lewis had technically travelled through time to get to Time Square, it’d been more of a kidnapping than time-travel. The trip to Roswell with Max and Razer was their first real voluntary time-travel.
Dr Hudson’s hasty decision to move the obelisk from Peru to Washington, D.C. had caused a major problem for Time Square. It had actually caused damage to time itself. In fact, Time Square was literally inside the old crusty obelisk, so moving it halfway across the world hadn’t been one of the doctor’s best ideas. Fast forward a little, and Time Square was rocked by a series of nasty events; known as Shifts. Sort of like earthquakes with a bonus feature of impacting time everywhere. The only way to stop the Shifts before the much dreaded big one hit, was for the Hudsons to return the obelisk to its secret location in Peru. But, just before they got a chance to do so, the big Shift hit, rocking Time Square like nothing had done before. On top of that, the obelisk was stolen from the Hudson’s basement by some shifty gangster, which meant that they could no longer return home. Talk about bad luck! It was one of those really bad days. A total disaster that just seemed to get worse by the minute.
Then, just when the dust was settling from the big Shift, its full impact on Time Square blew everybody away. One hundred and sixty three time-travellers had gone missing. Unfortunately, any travellers arcing between time portals at the precise moment the big one hit were scattered to random dates and locations. Nothing like it had ever happened at Time Square before. So, the Department of the Lost was created, headed up by the goose who caused the problem, Dr Rex Hudson, and Operation Slingshot was born. Almost two hundred volunteers were readied to embark on a series of missions to find the missing travellers and bring them safely back to Time Square. The Roswell rescue was team ELMR’s first mission, and so far it looked like a big fail.