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Ghosts of Futures Past

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Saintly Matters". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: New Year's Eve 1966, and the Saint runs into something odd in a bar. BtVS / The Saint, complete.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Crime > Author: Leslie CharterisMarcusRowlandFR1312,170081,43330 Dec 0530 Dec 05Yes
This is a crossover between the Saint stories by Leslie Charteris and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the 1960s Saint has an encounter with the supernatural. It's a sequel to my earlier stories Hyperion and Dead Pool, but can be read on its own without reference to the earlier stories. For more on the long history of The Saint see the afterword to Hyperion. For this era you may want to imagine the version of The Saint played by Roger Moore on TV from 1962 to 1969.

All characters belong to their respective creators; this is not an authorised use of them, and it may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.

Ghosts of Futures Past

By Marcus L. Rowland


IllustrationIllustrationSimon Templar, better known to his enemies and the press as the Saint, rarely went out looking for adventure or strange events. He didn't have to, they came looking for him. On New Years Eve in 1966 they came looking for him in the cocktail bar of the Topofthetower, the new rotating restaurant of the Post Office Tower, nearly six hundred feet above London. It hadn't been Simon's idea to celebrate the New Year there; the name of the place struck him as over-cute, the menu as pretentious, and the fact that it was owned by the Butlins holiday chain didn't fill him with confidence. On the other hand the cocktails seemed adequate, the view was astonishing, and it wasn't over-crowded yet, though it would be packed by midnight.

Simon was waiting for Patricia Holm, once his lover and still a good friend, and her husband. Some people would have been uncomfortable about such a meeting, Simon simply wondered if the food was going to be edible. He owed Pat's husband Tom a lot; he'd been there for her at a difficult time, when Simon had been unable to contemplate marriage; he had too many enemies, and a wife and children would be too tempting a target for them.

Simon lit a cigarette and looked out of the window, watching London revolve slowly below him, and wondered what the new year would bring. Reflected dimly in the glass was a group sitting at the next table, a man and three women. One of the women looked familiar, somehow, though he couldn't place her, so did the man. The others were strangers. He glanced at the table to get a better view and blinked with surprise. It was empty.

Simon took a sip of his drink, decided that it wasn't that strong, wondered for a moment about drugs, and looked towards the window again. The same four people were sitting there. A man in his fifties, tall and greying, and three attractive women in their early twenties. They seemed to be talking animatedly, but he couldn't hear anything. There was something odd about their casual clothing; nothing extreme, but the lapels and cut of the man's suit were slightly unfamiliar, the women wore jeans and shirts unlike anything he remembered seeing on fashion pages, and he was reasonably sure that the redhead wasn't wearing a bra. There was an empty seat at the reflected table; Simon fought temptation for a few seconds, then picked up his glass, went to look out of the window for a moment, then pretended to return to the wrong table. He sat in the seat that was empty in the reflection, and watched the reflected table while pretending to look out of the window. All four of them seemed to have seen him sit, and he guessed that they were discussing him, but he couldn't hear anything. He closed his eyes and listened, and slowly began to hear the voices.

"...can't see us." A woman's voice, an American accent.

"Are you sure, Willow?" Another American woman.

"He's in the past, Dawn. All of them are. See the sign reflected there, that's nineteen sixty-six. New Years Eve. This is just... an echo, an impression that the past left here. Not even a proper haunting."

"Shame really, he's pretty good looking. Kinda old for me but..."

"He'd be about eighty now," said the first woman.

"I guess."

"So why sixty-six?" said the man, "And why the Post Office Tower?" He had a well-educated British accent. "Not exactly the most exciting place and time in recorded history."

"How would you know?" said the first woman. Willow? "What were you, ten?"

"Twelve." Simon did the maths. If the man was in his fifties, than that meant that they were about forty years in the future, the twenty-first century. If it wasn't some sort of hallucination, of course. He opened his eyes again, looked back towards the window, and found that he could see them and could still hear the voices. "Heyday of the Beatles and the Stones, of course," said the man, "but hardly a pivotal era."

"So what's the plan?" said the second woman - Dawn, she'd been called. In the window Simon saw that she was an attractive brunette, younger than the others.

"We've got this floor to ourselves for the night," said the man. "We'll observe for a while, then we'd better try to end this. The people who work here are starting to notice, that's why we were called in."

"You don't really need Dawn and me for that," said the woman who hadn't spoken before. Another American, a blonde, the woman he'd thought familiar. "What's the idea?"

"I've never had the chance to come here before, they haven't let the public up the tower since the seventies." Simon wondered why. "I thought you might want to see it too. Also, shutting this down is going to take a certain amount of magic, and we don't want any accidents. If things get out of hand you two can keep things under control while Willow and I complete the spell."

"The view is pretty spectacular," said Dawn. The other woman nodded and said "I guess. How long is this likely to to take?"

"Let's see," said Willow. "I can do it in a few minutes if I rush things, but to be really sure I'd prefer to use another ritual that takes about half an hour. That one works best at midnight, so we'll need to start casting the spell in about three hours."

"Four," said the man, "remember, we're on British Summer Time here. It'll be true midnight at one in the morning. I've arranged for some food to be laid on in an hour or so."

"Wonder what the time is in sixty-six?"

Without a second's hesitation Simon glanced at his watch and said "Seven-thirty."

"Oh crap," said Willow.

"What?" said the man.

"Didn't you hear? He just said 'Seven-thirty.'"

"Are you sure?"

"Just listen for a second and look at the reflection. Mister, if you can really hear us, tap your watch with your finger."

Simon did as he was asked.

"Bloody hell," said the man. "If you can hear me please do that again." Simon obliged.

"Damn."

"Are you in nineteen-sixty-six?" asked Dawn. Simon murmured "Yes. It's New Years Eve."

"I think I heard that," said the man.

"Me too," said Dawn.

"Sorry," said the other woman. "I'm not getting a thing."

"He said 'yes' and that it was New Year's Eve," said Willow.

"I keep thinking there's something familiar about him," said the man. "Who are you? Would I know your name?"

Simon thought for a second, then said "I'll tell you if you'll promise not to tell me if I'm dead in your time."

"Of course not. We can't tell you anything that might change the past."

"All right. I'm Simon Templar."

"The Saint?" said the man. Simon nodded.

"Good grief. Ladies, please be very careful in anything you say. No names, no events in the past."

"How come?" asked the blonde.

"Because he's... he's a moderately important figure in the sixties, and for a good while... damn, forget I said that please."

Simon smiled and nodded slightly, and wondered if it was really happening or just a weird dream. It didn't feel like one.

"Is there anything unusual going on there, any reason why this might be happening?"

"Not that I can see," murmured Simon.

"Is everything all right, sir?"

Simon looked around to see a waiter who looked a little worried. Maybe he'd been talking to himself a little too loudly. "I'm fine, but I'll have another Martini." The waiter seemed to be about to say something, hesitated, then went off to get the drink.

"What did he want?" asked Dawn.

"I think he was worried I was talking to myself."

"Are you psychic at all?" asked Willow, "I think that's how this is working. You probably don't need to say the words out loud."

"I've seen a few things," Simon thought as 'loudly' as he could, "But nothing I could really prove."

"Such as?"

"Vampires, demons, giant ants and the Loch Ness monster."

"Holy crap!" said Dawn

"No need to be rude," said the blonde. "I think I just got that, did you really say the Loch Ness monster?"

"Yes. It killed somone who had a shotgun pointed at my head so I can't really complain."

"It's possible," said the man, "it was last active in... I'm sorry, I shouldn't say more."

"You don't seem too surprised about the rest of it," thought Simon.

"We run into vampires and demons a lot," said Willow. "Not so much with the giant ants though."

"Mad scientist."

"That figures."

"Giles," said Dawn, "I think we're gonna have to go with the spell right now, not wait until midnight. If he can see us, there's no guarantee that other people can't, and even if it's only him we're bound to say something we shouldn't. Every second increases the chance of a time paradox."

"You're right," said Giles, regret in his voice. "Mister Templar, we'll have to close this link now. I'd suggest you move to another table, then we won't distract you too much while we're casting the spell. I'm sorry if we've disturbed your evening."

"Not at all," thought Simon, "just waiting for friends. If I'm still around in your day, drop by for a drink." He kept a poker face. They'd just told him much more than they knew.

"We'll do that," said Willow. "'Bye!"

Simon picked up his glass and went to look out of the window, keeping an eye on the reflected table. They were doing something there with candles and a pestle and mortar, and he thought he could hear a faint Latin chant. There was a sudden flare of white light, then nothing. When he looked again the table was empty.

"What was that?" said the waiter, bringing Simon's drink.

"Someone letting off fireworks a little early, I think."

"For a second it looked like it was inside the bar." Simon took his drink, and went back to his original table. He had a feeling that the show was over, at least until the real fireworks started at midnight. He'd just taken the first sip when his guests arrived. Simon quickly stood and said "Patricia, Tom, it's lovely to see you again."

Patricia gave him a gentle kiss, and Tom shook his hand. He smiled and said "Married life seems to be suiting you both."

"Never a dull moment," said Tom, "especially now the boy's at the awkward age."

"I'm sure he'll grow out of it," said Simon. "So... what's he up to these days? How old is he anyway? Ten?"

"Twelve," said Patricia, laughing, "as you well know. He wants to join the RAF. Or was it become a green-grocer?"

"Though I'm hoping that he'll eventually work with me," said Tom.

"Whatever he does," Simon said with absolute certainty, still wondering why he'd been given a glimpse of his son's future, "I'm sure that Rupert will be good at it. What can I get you...?"

End.

Author's note: Patricia Holm, Simon Templar's occasional mistress for more than twenty years, last appeared in the Saint stories in the 1940s. There is allegedly a 1990 draft script by Leslie Charteris which features her return with his illegitimate son, which suggested this story. I've assumed that they finally parted in the early 1950s.

Opened in 1966, the Post Office Tower, later renamed the Telecom Tower and now the BT Tower, is one of London's iconic landmarks. It's 652 feet tall and relays a major proportion of Britain's telephone traffic. It originally had a revolving restaurant and observation galleries which were open to the public, but in October 1971 a terrorist bomb seriously damaged the public areas of the tower and the galleries were closed. The restaurant re-opened two years later but did poorly, and closed when its lease expired in 1980. Although the tower is visible across much of London, was featured on postcards etc., and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, its location was classified as an official secret until the mid-1990s and omitted from maps published in the UK!

The End

You have reached the end of "Ghosts of Futures Past". This story is complete.

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