Slow Dreaming is a time travel short novella set in 2012 Wellington.
As an agent for the Tempus Institute, Jason Adams’ task is to observe the past, not change it. But when he’s sent to 21st-century Wellington, New Zealand, during the last week of aspiring songwriter Sean Henderson’s life, Jason finds he can’t just watch from a distance. He and Sean quickly become friends and then lovers, and when the song that’s haunted Jason for years connects them in a way he never anticipated, he’ll risk changing history for the chance of sharing a future with Sean.
Sean pulled his jacket tighter around himself as a shiver went through him. His old gran would have said someone had walked over his grave. “Who the hell are you, Jason, and what’s so secret that you can’t be honest about where you’re from?”
“No one special.” Jason bit his lip then looked out to sea. The crests of the waves were almost white, closer to a dirty grey, as though hiding secrets of their own. “I’m not asking for anything from you, Sean, and I promise I don’t mean you any harm. I just thought… I’m only here for a few days and I’d rather not spend them alone. That’s all, and all it’s ever going to be.”
Something about Jason tugged at Sean. He moved closer, his instincts winning out over his better judgment. Whatever Jason was involved in, whatever this assignment was, it was eating at him. He sounded as though he could do with a friend. Sean could do that. In fact, it might be just what he needed too.
“Okay.” He took a deep breath. “I like you, Jason. I’m probably crazy, but there’s something about you that screams at me that I want to get to know you better.”
“Yeah, okay.” Jason smiled wanly. He reached out and tentatively took Sean’s hand in his. “I can’t tell you the specifics of my assignment, or about this article I’m writing, but I won’t lie to you, not anymore.”
Sean nodded and squeezed Jason’s hand, the skin-to-skin contact a welcome warmth. “Where are you from, Jason?” Surely the question wouldn’t conflict with the rest of Jason’s whole need-to-know thing?
“Here,” Jason said softly. “Not some other country like I told you, but here.”
“Here?” Sean raised one eyebrow. He couldn’t help but glance out towards the harbour again.
“But you just said you never thought you’d see the sea. You can’t live around here and claim to never have seen it. We’re in a small country surrounded by water.” He shrugged. “Ruth’s lived here since the sixties. She says this beach looks much the same now as it always has and that it’s just the suburb itself that’s changed. Petone used to be all secondhand shops. Now it’s cafés and the like.”
“I guess a kid’s memory of a place is different from the reality of it so it wasn’t quite what I expected.” Jason’s eyes glazed over. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I’m not very good at explaining myself, am I?”
“I thought you were a travel writer,” Sean teased, regretting the words when Jason bit his lip and turned away.
“Yeah, well, I never said I was a good one,” he murmured.
Behind the scenes
I had a lot of fun writing this story, particularly as it’s set in the same suburb where I grew up. There’s not enough stories set here, so I’m doing something about that.
About part way through this story I realised that as Sean is a songwriter, and one of his songs, Slow Dreaming, plays a huge part in the story, I’d have to write the lyrics for the song. It was more fun than I thought it would be, and I enjoyed being able to include music in that way.
The plot was something I’d toyed with for a few years, as I love timey-wimey stories and am a huge Dr Who fan. Although this is a shorter story, I’m not finished with the Tempus Institute yet and have a few ideas for other books set in this universe, although I have a huge backlog of stories to write, and republish before I get that far. This story is set in what was contemporary Wellington when I wrote it, but as Jason’s from the future, I loved being able to contemplate the differences between here and now, although he wasn’t very forthcoming about a lot of those.
I’m also a huge fan of easter eggs in books, so keep your eyes out for a subtle mention of one of the side characters in this in another series.
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