Past, Present & Nowhere

Jack Davril is an internationally famous teen pop star. He's riding high - but he's about to fall. His new song, Ain't No Fun, includes the lines 'Don't give me that essay, don't give me that look; I'm gonna grab me a match and burn your book'.

The song gets out of control - fans walk out of school lessons and burn their books. But worse, Jack is confronted by two men who claim to be from a government agency. Suddenly, he's on the run - from the men, from his fans - and from himself. Can the mysterious Jane be his saviour?

Past Present & Nowhere (previously called Burn This Book) aims to be a fast-paced adventure, looking at how fame can change us, how a friend can save us, and how living for today sometimes means looking back.

This will be a full-length novel, and these are the first chapters. While it is a contemporary story, there is a lot here of interest to fans of historical fiction (I hope).


2. Can't Get You Out of My Head

Chapter Two: Can’t Get You Out of my Head

A lot of what I’m going to tell you about is so weird, you’re going to think it was a dream, and at the end I’m going to go ‘…and then I woke up’. But it wasn’t a dream. So don’t wait for me to wake up.

But that night, I did have a dream - a dream of something real that haunts me almost every night. I’m on Wimbledon Common, and I’m 10. Wimbledon Common was always a great place to go - loads of space to run, and tons of trees to hide behind. We used to go up there - dad, mum, my sisters and Nick – that’s right, he was my mate from way back.

Me and Nick used to make up all these mad games, playing at soldiers, Robin Hood with stones instead of bows and arrows, all the usual stuff. But the best was when we found a dead fish by the pond. I don't know how it got there - I suppose a fisherman had caught it then left it behind.

Either that or the fish decided to explore the universe beyond his little pond and jumped out. Maybe fish in that pond to this day talk about the famous astronaut fish who leaped out of the pond, never to be seen again. Whatever, we found him, Captain Picard fish, dead, his scales shining in the sunlight. So much for space travel.

Anyway, so we found the fish, and decided on some fun. We sneaked through the trees until we heard voices.

"...but we can't build there because the place is protected," said one of them. "Just because the place is old? It's ridiculous. Surely that's why we should be knocking it down!"  I had no idea what he was talking about, and didn't really care. There was a low hedge between us and whoever was speaking, so we quietly hid ourselves behind it.

"This one's going straight on the green," said a second voice. We peered over the hedge, and saw two old men in red jumpers, one picking a club out of his golf bag. I looked at Nick. He looked at me. We both grinned.

“Now!” I hurled the fish and, thanks to my practice as a stone-throwing Robin Hood, it hit one of the men right in the mouth. He was so surprised he let go of the club and it went flying, head over handle, swooshing into the trees. And he said something too, but he had a mouthful of fish so it came out as "Pfstht!"

His friend stood and stared, and I'm sure after a moment they would have looked behind the hedge to find out who was throwing fish at them, but Nick and I had gone. Not far, mind you, as we were laughing so hard we couldn't run straight, but we holed up behind an old oak tree, and laughed our socks off. Then we made a pledge always to remember Captain Picard Fish, and his heroic journey into the unknown.

We mucked around for a bit longer, but it was getting late so we headed back to the car park. Even as we worked our way through the trees I could hear my dad's voice yelling for us.

"Jack! Jack!"  He had a great voice, my dad. He came from Edinburgh, so he had this Scottish lilt, which sounded much better than my south London whine.

"Three. We've got three. Not five. Oh no. We're supposed to have five, but it's always three." Looking back now, I realise how tired he was sounding, how strained that great voice was. But I didn't notice at the time. I didn't really notice anything at the time, apart from the next way of annoying him.

"Let's just leave him, dear. He'll find his way home. Don't let him upset you like this." That was my mum. Down-to-earth, practical. Preferred my sisters.

"Jack! Jack!"

Nick and me burst out of the trees, still laughing.

"Here I am dad." Dad stared at me, a cross look on his face. Well, he thought it was a cross look, but I knew him too well. He never stayed annoyed at me for long.

"Answer me straight, Jack. None of your normal invention, none of your famed creativity, just answer me straight. Have you, in the last hour, hit anyone with a fish?" 

None of my normal invention? None of my famed creativity? Even then I couldn't ignore a big build up.

"Do you know what gets me, dad?"

Dad sighed. "No, I don't know what gets you. I really don't want to know what gets you. All I want to know is, am I going to receive another complaint from the golf club?"

"Why do they wear red jumpers, dad?"

"Jack!" interrupted my mum. "Just button it and come home..." But dad listened to me. Unfortunately.

"It's okay, my love. What did you ask, son?"

"All the golfers. They wear red jumpers."

Nick chipped in. "They look stupid, Mr Davril."

"Yes dad. They look stupid."

"Is that why you insist on throwing fish at them?"  See. He was pretending to be cross but he could never stay annoyed at me for long. Especially when he was probably wishing he'd thrown a fish himself. There was the sound of laughter, as two of the golfers in their stupid red jumpers walked across the car park to a car.

"But why do they do it, dad?" I said.

"Because they have always done it, Jack."

"I'd never do anything just because people have always done it, that's stupid," I said, not noticing until too late what was happening around me. My dad, slumping onto his knees, a confused look on his face. His arms going out in front of him to stop his fall. Behind him, my mum screaming, her face full of anguish. Then his arms buckling, and his face hitting the gravel. A sigh, a final sigh, came out of his mouth, and he was gone.

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