CONGRATULATIONS!  Here it is: The SHIFT Snippet
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The story so far:

In 2054 astronaut John Bruce became the first man to enter 'new' space. Two years after his triumphant return a second John Bruce appears ... as personality number thirteen of Peter Pendennis, a killer with multiple personalities. Is Pendennis a fake? A manipulating attention-seeker hiding behind layers of sham personalities?

Or is something else going on? Desperate to prove his identity, the 'new' John Bruce asks to see Louise Callander, an old girlfriend from his school days in England. He's very convincing. She's shocked. As are the doctors at Upper Heywood Secure Psychiatric Unit.

Only one person might know what's happening - Nick Stubbs, professor of Astropsychology and guru of Higher Dimensional Theory. And Louise was going to find him.


What did she think she was doing? Driving to Oxford, searching for some obscure professor, all because of what? Some madman and his delusions? And yet it had all seemed so real in the hospital. Outside, she wasn't so sure.

And even less sure after her visit to St. Olaves. She’d found the Astropsychology department, but no Professor Stubbs. He was spending the month at Framlingham Hall, out on the Banbury Road.

"You can leave a message if you want but it could be days before he checks his messages. Always out and about, that one," the receptionist had told her.

Was this fate giving Louise another chance to back out? What was it her mother used to say? That fate gave everyone three chances to change their minds. Three chances and then the page turned and the future set.

Was this her third chance?

She could easily back out. She hadn’t committed herself to anything. She and John had drifted apart years ago. What help could she be?

Of course their parents had kept in touch, cards at Christmas - that sort of thing. Little notes saying this and that, how they were doing, what was Oxford like these days? With little pieces of news thrown in - how proud John's dad had been when he followed him into the Air Force, John's transfer to NASA, his selection for the SHIFT mission. After that who needed cards? John was headline news. The first man to travel the new space, the quiet-spoken hero. And then the political John Bruce, the master of the photo opportunity, the born again darling of right-wing Middle America.

But the hype had never registered with Louise. She'd known the boy, not the man. As far as she was concerned, it could have been a complete stranger on the holovision. But today … she’d met the boy again.

It must have been that which drove her down the Banbury Road, that and her love of abandoned animals. For, whoever it was that inhabited the recesses of Peter Pendennis's brain, whether John or not, they’d been abandoned there as much as any neglected dog or goat.

She pulled up outside Framlingham Hall; one of those early Victorian statements of wealth: gothic, grey and rambling. She climbed down from the pick-up and looked up at the crumbling facade; the dirty grey stone, the cracked windows and paint-peeling woodwork. It couldn’t have been lived in for years.

The gardens showed the same level of neglect. Once-formal regularity replaced by haphazard colonisation. Lawns grown wild; long grass and nettles folded over by winter snows, yellowed by frost and criss-crossed by nocturnal paths. Leaves and broken branches left where they fell.

She crunched along the gravel drive and stopped by the entrance porch. Her last chance to turn back. An ugly brass knocker stared back at her, daring her to knock. She grasped it with her right hand and rapped twice.

A silence followed. Louise glanced back towards her pick-up and wondered how long she could wait before giving up. A few seconds, a minute? Shouldn’t she just turn round now and let John become someone else’s problem?

The door opened.

"Professor Stubbs?"


He was younger than Louise expected, and scruffier. He looked like a student straight out of the ‘40s - tall and lean with long unkempt hair and a straggly beard. And a fashion sense to match.

Not that she could claim to be an expert on fashion. Her wardrobe came straight off the shelves of Two Counties Farmers. Discount clothing for the rural poor, hard-wearing and cheap.

She held out her hand. "My name's Louise Callander, I was referred to you by a Doctor Ziegler - from Upper Heywood?"

His eyes widened. "You've escaped? I always thought Upper Heywood looked after their patients better than that."

"No, it’s…" She was flustered. "It's not for me. I was only visiting…"

"That's what they all say, Ms. Callander. Now tell me, are you very, very violent or just mildly homicidal?"

To read Chapters One and Two click here

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