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Blurb - It’s 1991, and a group of English football fans are driving across Belgium; their trip takes them through the site of a former battle, and that’s when a strange sequence of events begins. For Dennis and Allan, colleagues who cordially dislike each other, this means journeying further still – into what appears to be the past, and into the lives of two men who travelled this way seventy-five years earlier, whose unfinished love-affair remains to be played out in full. As they move backwards and forwards in time Dennis and Allan have only themselves to rely on, no markers to show them where they’re going, and no real certainty of ever finding their way home again.
Something in his rising agitation flipped a switch in Dennis’s head; childhood trips in his grandfather’s car, the one with the smelly red leather seats, and Dennis’s obnoxious little brother sitting for hours at a stretch with his stomach heaving, clutching dementedly at the refuge represented by a plastic bowl. “Oh shit, I think he’s going to be sick. Fuck it, Gus, we’ll have to stop!”
Heaving a theatrical sigh of exasperation, Gus obediently stood on the brake; there was nowhere close at hand where they could safely pull off the road, which in any case was barely wider than the track of the Toyota’s wheels, but the absence of other traffic should at least mean they would be all right where they were as long as they were relatively quick. “Dennis, open the door and let the bugger out; he’s not throwing up in my bloody bus if I can help it!”
Dennis, galvanised into action, fumbled with the catch, pushing the side door open and allowing thick fog into the van’s interior. It was cold, wet; it wrapped itself around their faces like the sticky tendrils of candy-floss
“Come on you,” he commanded Allan, “out! There’s a nice big ditch out here; you can chuck up into that!” And so there was, six feet wide and full of shining black water, on the surface of which the mist was floating lightly.
Dennis virtually bundled Allan out shivering onto the road, pushed him out the way a jump-master pushes a reluctant parachutist; would have kicked him up the backside, too, if only their respective positions in the van had allowed it.
“You stupid sods, don’t you understand? Can’t you see what’s happening? The bastards are waiting for us, further up the road!”
“What? Who are? You’re not making any sense, you wazzuck; there’s nobody waiting for us; nobody even knows we’re here!” Which was not, now that he came to think about it, quite the comforting sentiment Dennis had been intending to impart, and far from calming Allan all he had really succeeded in doing was further disconcerting himself.
But Allan was too distracted to continue the conversation on any level, comforting or not. He was staring around himself wildly, as if trapped and desperately seeking an escape route. Then without preamble he turned and, taking only a couple of steps by way of a run-up, quickly leaped away across the drainage ditch beside the road and scrambled up the bank at the far side of it, his long legs carrying him off at high speed into the uncharted darkness of some anonymous farmer’s field until he was completely swallowed up from sight inside a dense band of the all-enveloping wet fog.“Oh shit,” groaned Dennis, staring after him with his brain calcified into total inactivity and a sinking sensation in his stomach. “What the bloody hell are we supposed to do now?”
~ * ~