Chapter 1

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Alina And The Masters Of Time

8.09pm Tuesday December 11th 2018, Moscow, Russia in an Alternative Space and Time

But the door was gone and, in its place – though it was never there, not on this side of space, time and reality, they saw the pink painted wall of his bedroom, the tall rectangle of his triple glazed, frost rimed, snow peppered window, his pretty, light shade matching floral curtains open to reveal the full moon that dominated the star-lit, night sky and the snow-capped roofs, buildings, spires and wide avenues and streets below it. But a moon appearing closer than any moon they had ever seen – though Adriana and Rudy would beg to differ, having seen not one, but three, similar moons, when they escaped from the ghosts of the Toba Men in the spider crawled, and Griffin circling overhead, extinct, Amazon volcano, into another world. A world of dinosaurs they barely escaped with their lives back to their own time, though that proved equally dangerous with Luckyboyjam and the monstrous snake he woke to kill them.

A moon not just closer, but brighter, whiter, bigger and sort of rounder than the earths familiar moon and with a distinctive red corona. And below the windowsill was his grey tubular desk and chair, on which, three computers sat in a comfortable arc, the middle one turned on, but frozen and pixelated, as Adriana and Rudy saw it was. And beside them were several books, one of them open, an A4 writing pad, a pink, girly sort of clear plastic pencil case full of pens and pencils and a soft dog-like toy with a legend on its white T-shirt. Which read, Russia 2018, were neatly arranged.

'Where are we?' Asked Lauder, utterly amazed and dumbfounded.

'Russia,' said Rudy, turning his astonished eyes from Zabivaka, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Mascot on the boy's desk. A tournament won by the French national team, who, despite his loyalty to the Israeli national team, who didn't qualify for the final round and England, his second choice, as they were for many Israeli's, who did, were worthy winners. Not a dog, as many supposed it was but a wolf, wearing orange safety glasses, a white T-shirt and red shorts. 'Mmm,' he sighed, his eyes now turned to the world map on the wall above the sleeping boy's bed. Everywhere written in Russian Cyrillic script, as were the posters on his walls, which, oddly, he thought, were pictures of handsome young men, posters of pop stars, sports stars and film stars decorating the bedrooms of most teenage girls in America, Great Britain and Israel. And to his surprise saw a second, larger window opposite his bed on the long side of the room. The same floral curtains drawn open and a second, even bigger, bluer moon astonishingly low in the sky above and behind the snow topped cupolas and towers of Moscow's famous, Kremlin. Giving a wonderfully clear view of the Bolshoi Theatre and the vast space that was Red Square. The colourfully striped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, remarkably free of snow appearing like Christmas tree balls suspended in that truly winter wonderland. 'And to be precise we are in Moscow and the date on that calendar over there, is December 11th, 2018, not the present time we come from but close enough. As the date on that digital clock beside his bed and on that soft toy shows it is. Spooky, or what?' He said, thinking this was every bit as terrifying as being in Eden on the other side of the missing door. If, what he now dared to think, was true? As Adriana had guessed it was. Eden was – though it had yet to be proved it was, a computer generated, virtual reality and this parallel earth and parallel Moscow was where it was generated and everything in it, except for Montard, O'Brien, York, Rochester, Luckyboyjam, Bandana boy, Trapper boy, Chinese boy, Browning boy and, of course, them, the Beasts of Amun-Ra, and the pieces of the Rebus were animations. A game played by the sleeping boy on the computer behind them, and she had no doubt by others across Russia and perhaps even the world gaming with him. Which would explain the uncoordinated movements of the robots and the pristine appearance of the Flag Ship. Part of which now filled the computer screen and pointed to the others, it did.

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