Beckett tumbled and spun as he moved through a tunnel of bright blue lights. He was not sure if he was falling or flying. He tried to get a sense of what direction he was moving in, but could not get his bearings.
Well, I'm still alive. Beckett thought. It was the only comfort he took.
With a thud, Beckett landed on his behind in the dirt. He checked his wrist to see that the watch was still there. It was. He breathed deep. The air was fresh. Beckett stood up, dusted himself off, and looked around. He was on a hill and could see no sign of civilisation. As far as he could tell, he could be anywhere and in any time. There were no signs of where or when he was. It didn't look like Burnaby, or anywhere in Canada he had been for that matter. But that wasn't enough to tell him whether he was in Gaul, let alone in the past.
Where am I? Beckett thought. Might as well start moving.
Beckett started hiking to the top of the hill. Then, as he reached the top, all doubts as to where and when he was disappeared.
Annie did it, Beckett thought as he looked down the tree-covered hill. Eventually, the hill flattened out. Beyond that there was the open sea. Between the hill and the sea on that flat area, Beckett could see a massive walled fortification: Romans! Within the walls were tents of varying sizes. From where Beckett stood, he could not make out too many details, but the Roman fortress was large, nearly the size of his school yard. At the top of the walls he could see turrets, where soldier stood guard.
Beckett pinched his arm, just to be sure he wasn't dreaming. Nope, he thought. This is real. Beckett looked down the coastline and just saw open rock beaches and cliffs that extended out into the bay. The view was so magnificent that it almost made Beckett forget the even more impressive fact that he had just gone back in time.
Space and time. Beckett thought back to what Annie had mentioned in her basement laboratory. This is going to change the world.
Beckett looked at the return switch on his wrist. He thought briefly about pushing the button, and going back to tell Annie that her invention worked. She knows it works, Beckett pondered. But this is a bit bigger than going back 15 minutes. He weighed the options briefly. She'll know it works, and that she can actually go back quite far in time. But she wanted to see if my presence in the past could have an impact on the time line. She'll also be quite annoyed if I go back too early. I'll stay. I might as well see what's happening here. I'll get a closer look at the Romans.
Beckett looked out into the bay. He could make out that a number of boats had assembled; this was the battle that would soon take place. There were dozens of large boats with white sails to the north of the Roman encampment, while to the left Beckett could see that a number of boats were arriving. These boats were smaller, but Beckett recognised them from the illustrations in his father's books. They were Roman triremes. These were boats that were powered by rowers who sat under the deck.
Beckett began to walk down the hill. There were enough trees on it that you'd have to look pretty hard in order to see him coming. After about 10 minutes he came up closer to the camp. He could make out that the walls had been made from trees fashioned into large wooden poles. They looked thick and impenetrable, but there were a number of tents set up outside it where there were a number of people moving about. He walked slowly among the tents.
The people who were outside the fortress were working. Some were washing clothes, and others preparing food. Outside one of the tents, Beckett saw a man sharpening an axe. Beckett stared at it. It looked dirty, and possibly blood-stained. It was far different from the shiny silver axes he saw in video games.
As Beckett stared, the man sharpening the axe looked back at Beckett and shouted at him.
What is he saying? Beckett thought to himself, continuing to stare. Beckett remembered the Latin words his father used to quiz him on as a child. It kind of sounded like 'strange' and 'look'. It really doesn't sound like the Latin dad taught me.
Beckett looked at this arms and legs.
My clothes! Beckett realised, looking at his jeans and jacket. This must look quite strange. I'm gonna need to find some proper clothing if I'm going to stay here.
Beckett ran, getting odd glances from the large men hustling about the tents. He came across a tent where he saw a number of men washing sheets. Beckett saw a number of sheets hanging from lines that hung between the tents and the fortress wall. Among the sheets were smaller pieces that looked like the tunics that Beckett remembered seeing in a chapter that described civilian life in Rome. He had seen people dressed in simple white garments in the illustrations in his book on Roman history. These were not the clean white clothes of the book, however. They looked as if they had been well used. Beckett grabbed one that looked a bit smaller and as though it might fit him, and ran into the tent.
Beckett stripped down to his boxers and put on the garment. It had no sleeves or legs. It went down just below his knees. Good enough. Beckett thought. He wrapped his own belt around his waist. He rolled up his jeans and jacket and threw them into the corner of the tent. He saw a pair of sandals on the floor and strapped them on. A bit large, Beckett thought. But they'll do.
Beckett emerged from the tent, and slowly began moving towards the wall of the camp. He tried to not to look nervous, but the odd looks he continued to receive indicated he wasn't doing a great job of it. He followed the wall until he came around the corner, where he could see the coast. He walked towards the bay. He could see the Veneti boats in the distance. They were large, with great white sails. The Roman triremes to the south were far smaller, and they had a galley below the main deck where the large oars came out. As he stared, he did not hear the voices coming up behind him, but as they came closer he began to recognise the Latin he had heard earlier. The voices were different, but the accent similar.
*battle begins soon* Beckett recognised. He looked to his left and saw the men standing there. Beckett recognised them as Roman soldiers. Wearing brown leather armour pulled tight over their tunics, they looked similar to what he had seen in his father's book
*best way end quickly?* One of the men asked. Beckett began to watch them carefully as he tried to understand their Latin.
Beckett was staring again.
*run boy dangerous* one of the men said to him.
Beckett froze. The men turned back to the other soldiers.
Beckett went to speak, but no words came out. He turned to look back out at the back, but then looked back, took a deep breath and spoke *I am looking for Caesar.* He said in the Latin his father had taught him.
The entire group looked at him for a few seconds. Then they burst out laughing.
*He speaks* One of them laughed. He approached Beckett. *Tell me. Where learn our words?*
Beckett looked at the man in front of him. He looked strong, and had dark hair and a cleanly shaven face.
*Answer me.* The man said. Beckett was beginning to understand the differences between what he had been taught and how these men were speaking.
*My father...* Beckett began, then took a second to remember the past tense of 'teach', *taught me*
*Who is your father?*
Beckett did not answer. He suddenly realised how odd the answer would sound, but he also could not think of the Latin word for lawyer.
*General Antoni, we must go.* One of the men said. A small boat had come closer to the beach and the men climbed aboard.
As the man named Antoni turned away, his eye caught the watch on Beckett's wrist.
*Now what is this? Jewellery?*
Beckett hid his wrist behind his back, but Antoni was fast. In a sudden movement, Antoni grabbed Beckett's wrist, pulled the watch off, and shoved Beckett down onto the ground. Grinning, he walked into the water to join the men on the boat.
Beckett got up slowly. He looked at his bare wrist and then over to the boat. Antoni had already climbed aboard, and the boat had made its way into the sea. Beckett panicked. Without the watch, he was trapped. Beckett ran into the sea, but he quickly found himself swimming. The water quickly disappeared from under him, and Beckett had to use his old swimming lessons to chase after the boat. It came back to him quickly: twist your hips and keep your hands straight.
Beckett could not see it, but the men in the boat stared in awe as he made his way towards them at high speed. Beckett came up to the boat.
*Pull him in.* Antoni said. Two of the other men pulled a sopping wet Beckett out of the water. *We just might find you useful after all.*
Beckett looked up at Antoni. *Give me what is mine.* He said, shivering.