We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

An extract from Jodi Taylor’s SAVING TIME

Saving Time banner


Voice communication from Commander Hay, officer commanding Time Police HQ, to Captain Farenden


Time: 0908 UTC
Charlie, what the bloody hell’s going on with Team 236? Are they in or out? Are their Form D12s completed yet? How can one small team make such a business of deciding which department to grace with their presence? Put a rocket up someone’s backside and get it sorted.

Electronic communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis, officer i/c Team 236
Time: 0915 UTC
Matthew, has your bunch of shambling misfits completed their training yet? Any idea which unfortunate department(s) will be bearing the brunt of them in future?

Voice communication to all members of Team 236 from Major Ellis
Time: 0916 UTC
Have you lot sorted yourselves out yet? You qualify in a week’s time. Department heads want to know which, if any of you, they can expect to welcome. As does Commander Hay. As do I. Get on it. Now.

Voice communication from Major Ellis to Captain Farenden
Time: 1421 UTC
My compliments to Commander Hay. Team 236 are still considering their options.

Voice communication from Commander Hay to Captain Farenden across her desk
Time: 1422 UTC
Options? What do they mean, options? My compliments to Major Ellis and tell him to tell his team they’re in the Time Police now. Not some fire-trucking holiday camp.


Electronic communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis
Time: 1423 UTC
For God’s sake, Matthew – get your team sorted out. She’s reaching for her paper knife again.

Electronic communication from Major Ellis to Captain Farenden
Time: 1427 UTC
Just hide the bloody thing, Charlie, and we’ll all be fine.

Voice communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis
Time: 1428 UTC
Get your team’s Form D12s on my desk by Friday or I swear I will go off sick and leave you to handle this by yourself.

Electronic communication from Major Ellis to Captain Farenden
Time: 1428 UTC
Being shot has not improved your temper much, has it?


Electronic communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis
Time: 1428 UTC
Shooting your fire-trucking team would go a long way towards improving everyone’s temper. Never have I more longed for the good old days when Parrish, Lockland and Farrell would certainly have been blasted into fiery oblivion by the first real Time Police officer whose path they crossed.

Electronic communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis
Time: 1627 UTC
I haven’t heard from you. Did you get my message?


Electronic communication from Major Ellis to Captain Farenden
Time: 1628 UTC
Yes. Did you get my hurt silence?


Voice communication from Commander Hay to Captain Farenden conveyed through her office intercom
Time: 1650 UTC
What the fire truck is happening with those idiots in 236, Charlie? Give them one week and then shoot the lot of them and we’ll start again.

Electronic communication from Captain Farenden to Major Ellis
Time: 1650 UTC
Matthew – be warned. She’s warming up the firing squad.

Electronic communication from Major Ellis to Commander Hay
Time: 1651 UTC
Subject: Team 236 – Trainees Farrell, Lockland and Parrish
I have the honour to inform you Team 236 have officially completed their training period and, with effect from next week, will be available for assignment as fully qualified Time Police officers.
Form D12s have yet to materialise but are, I am convinced, imminent.


Electronic communication from Commander Hay to Major Ellis
Time: 1652 UTC
Don’t give me that crap. Find out what they’re doing and advise soonest. Don’t make me come down there, Major.

Automatic Reply from the desk of Major Ellis
Time: 1652 UTC
Major Ellis is not currently available. For urgent matters, contact Captain Farenden, who is providing cover until his return.


Chapter 1


Commander Hay settled herself at her desk, opened up her scratchpad, picked up her coffee and gazed expectantly at her adjutant.

‘You’re wearing your bad news face, Charlie.’

‘A whole shedload for you this morning, ma’am.’

‘Oh – you’re going to come straight out with it, are you? Normally there’s a bit of banter and obfuscation as you slip me the details of our latest debacle and hope I won’t notice.’

‘Not today, ma’am. I’m not even going to try.’

She sighed. ‘Go on, then. Let’s have it all over with at once. Rip the plaster off, Charlie, but don’t blame me if I scream.’

He sighed. ‘Well, in no particular order: Imogen Farnborough’s appeal has failed. The date of her execution is yet to be determined, but certainly within the next twenty-eight days.’

‘Well, that’s no surprise, is it? She was lucky to escape the consequences of her first offence – there was no chance of escaping her second.’ She thought for a moment. ‘Make a note to ask Ellis to keep an eye on Parrish, will you? He and Farnborough used to know each other well – I’m not sure how he will react.’

‘She tried to have him killed, ma’am.’


‘Very true, but given their former relationship and the possible involvement of his father at Site X, I still think his reactions should be closely monitored. What about our other prisoner – the ghastly Mr Geoffrey?’

‘The oil-slick Geoffrey sang like the proverbial cassowary, ma’am. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know as much as he thought he did, and a lot of his supposedly valuable intel turned out to be . . . shall we say, considerably enhanced, and didn’t really tell us any more than we knew already. Yes, we picked up a lot of their lower- and mid-level people, but those at the very top appear to have slipped through our net. Geoffrey was promised his death sentence would be commuted, however, so it’ll be life for him. I don’t suppose it matters because he’s not the type to thrive in our prison system. I believe bets are being laid on how long he’ll last. A projected lifespan of about six months appears to be the most optimistic estimate.’

‘Put me down for seven weeks and two days, Charlie. What’s next on your list?’

‘The word on the street is that Farnborough’s mother, the Right Honourable Patricia, will resign from the government any day now.’

Commander Hay sighed. ‘Damn. Go on.’

‘Site X is being dismantled. The components manufactured by Parrish Industries are generic and not, according to Parrish Industries’ legal eagles, manufactured for a specific client or purpose. Their legal department wishes to point out that Parrish Industries abhors the use to which their product has been put, but they take no responsibility for said use once their product has left the factory. They regret they are unable to assist further with our enquiries.’


She sighed. ‘And the worst news?’

Captain Farenden stared out of the window. The air lanes were thick with rush-hour traffic. The Belfast shuttle chugged past on its way to Croydon. He was conscious of a wish that he was on it.

Taking a deep breath, he said, ‘Eric Portman, Farnborough’s boyfriend – the one who got her into all this – got off. We didn’t have enough to hold him. Forty-five people are willing to swear he was with them at the times in question. Including two MPs.

Not that their word counts for much. The official explanation is that an imposter has been taking the Portman name in vain.’

Commander Hay’s face in no way registered her intense frustration at this news, but to be fair, her face rarely registered any expression at all. In her youth, during a particularly bloody chapter of the Time Wars, there had been an accident. The door had blown off her pod in mid-jump. The results had not been pretty. Lt Marietta Hay had been the only survivor, and when they’d eventually managed to get her out, half of her face was considerably older than the other half. It had been some time before she had been able to accept her survival for the miracle she was continually being told it was.

Taking a deep breath, she said, ‘Are Portman’s lawyers actually suggesting Imogen Farnborough didn’t know who she was dating? They went out for three months, for heaven’s sake.’

‘His team did an excellent job of discrediting her evidence. They argued that her obvious mental instability rendered it unreliable and referred to the fact that, at her trial, even her own defence team had tried to claim she wasn’t fit to plead. That defence failed, as we know, but it did allow the Portmans’ legal team to highlight her unreliability and throw massive doubt on her statement. They followed that up with lots of outraged innocence from the Portman family themselves, who made a few minor endowments to worthy causes to show the world what nice people they are, together with a couple of massive donations to those who matter, and that was the end of it. I suspect he’s celebrating in a bar at this very moment.’

‘Damn and blast, Charlie.’

‘Indeed, ma’am.’

Hay pushed her chair back and began to pace. ‘We had them. We had their people, their pods, we had Shoreditch, we had Site X, we had what they were doing to those poor sods in the Stone Age. And still the top dogs got away from us. I’d happily return Imogen Farnborough to the wild if we could have got just one of them.’

‘Well, looking on the bright side, ma’am, which as your adjutant I am required to do no matter what the personal risk, we have dismantled Site X. No more experimentation on Neanders. Big Pharma has retired back to its lair, muttering. A large and sophisticated Temporal Tourism operation has been shut down before it did any real harm. Fifty-six arrests and five pods impounded. And, with luck, Eric Portman looking over his shoulder every moment of every day for the rest of his life.’

‘We lost Nuñez and Klein. We nearly lost Lockland and Parrish, as well. Parrish lost two fingers.’

‘Well, as to that, ma’am, yes – Nuñez and Klein were unfortunate but they were buried with full honours, if that makes a difference. And their sacrifice ultimately led us to Site X. Lockland and Parrish survived their ordeal in the snow. Yes, Parrish lost two fingers to frostbite but he now struts the corridors with a dramatic black glove on his left hand, threatening to hire a
redhead to cut up his meat for him.’

She blinked. ‘Why a redhead?’

‘Apparently he already has a blonde and a brunette and requires a redhead to complete the set.’

She sat back down again. ‘How is he even still alive?’

‘I don’t believe losing a few fingers is generally fatal, ma’am.’

‘It wasn’t his missing fingers I was referring to.’

‘Oh. Well, much as it pains me to admit ignorance in the face of my commanding officer, I don’t know. I suspect if I tried even half the things he seems to get away with, I’d be floating face down in the Thames by now while the entire female population of London lined the banks and cheered. He just . . . gets away with it, ma’am.’

Hay sighed again.

Captain Farenden tapped his scratchpad. ‘Major Callen has requested a slot for his monthly meeting, ma’am.’ He waited.

‘I want you present, Charlie. Nothing formal. Just tuck yourself away in a corner  and take notes. In fact, I don’t ever want to find myself alone with him, however briefly. Make sure you’re always there.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

He waited but nothing more was forthcoming. ‘Moving on, ma’am, I do have one final piece of news you may or may not regard as good.’

‘Go on, Charlie, hit me with it.’

‘It’s taken a while, ma’am. About two months longer than . . .’ He stopped, apparently groping for a word.

‘Than what?’


‘I’m struggling to construct a sentence that doesn’t contain the word “normal”, ma’am. Ah, I have it. It’s only taken about two months longer than more conventional teams, ma’am, but, believe it or not – Team Two-Three-Six graduate tomorrow.’

‘Only two months longer? From where I’m sitting it’s seemed endless.’

‘A fact I hope you won’t mention at their formal swearing-in tomorrow afternoon, ma’am.’

‘No. Wheel them up here. They can retake the oath. I’ll hand them their flashes and give them my famous Welcome to the Time Police speech. You hand them details of their Death in Service benefits and we both wish them good luck for the future.’

‘And following that, ma’am, I suppose we step back and let them get on with it.’

‘Well, there’s the mandatory one month’s hands-off supervision – I expect Ellis and North will split that between them – and then off they go. Out into the wild blue yonder.’

Farenden grinned. ‘It’s going to be interesting to watch their progress, ma’am. On a slightly related matter, Officer North has requested an appointment this morning.’

She sighed. ‘After what Lt Grint and his team did to her . . .’

‘Indeed, ma’am, but you will remember the expected fallout over that unfortunate incident failed to materialise.’

‘I believe that has been mainly due to the mature attitude adopted by North herself. There was a great deal of support for her at the time and at one point I feared we’d be blocking the walls with our Time Police dead. That there weren’t more casualties was entirely due to her intelligent handling of the situation.’


‘Yes, she would have had a spectacular career with us.’

‘She still can – if we can persuade her to stay.’

‘I’ve pencilled her in for 1100 hours.’

‘Was she clutching her resignation?’

‘Not that I was aware, ma’am, but she made the appointment via her com link so it was difficult for me to tell.’

‘I’m not going to let her go, Charlie, even if I have to nail her to a desk.’

‘An innovative solution to our staffing difficulties, ma’am, and, simultaneously, a warning to the rest of us.’

Hay’s hand drifted towards her paper knife.

‘I’m so sorry, ma’am – did I say warning? Obviously, I meant inspiration.’

Hay’s hand drifted away from her paper knife. ‘I thought you did.’

An hour later, Captain Farenden ushered Officer North into Commander Hay’s office. The commander, who had spent much of the intervening time marshalling her arguments against Officer North leaving the Time Police, was cheered to see her carrying a file under one arm.

‘Good morning, Officer North.’

‘Good morning, ma’am. Thank you for seeing me.’

‘I believe you had something to discuss.’

‘Ma’am, arising out of the unfortunate incident at Versailles when, perhaps, some officers paid less attention to the briefing than they could have done, I’ve put together a recommendation that all teams be provided with historical context before they embark on a jump. It shouldn’t be over-detailed – we’re not St Mary’s – but it would give a background and perspective for each individual mission that may prevent similar incidents occurring in future.’

She passed over the folder and sat staring out of the window as the commander read it through.

‘And this would be provided by you?’

‘My opinion is that I would be the best person for the job. I have the background knowledge.’


‘You think they would listen to you?’

‘Yes. I believe I have hit on an innovative way of gaining and retaining their attention, ma’am. And I do think the more perceptive among them will recognise the value of attending.’

‘And the less perceptive?’

‘May not be around long enough to regret not listening to the historical background and perspective that might have saved their lives. A striking example of Darwinism in action. However, I hope to make clear the wisdom of attending briefings which have been tailored to their team’s individual requirements.’

‘What will you do if no one attends?’

‘Without actually saying so, ma’am, I shall endeavour to give the impression that anyone failing to take advantage of this useful and possibly life-saving opportunity has slightly fewer brain cells than testicles.’

The words ‘Lt Grint’ were not spoken.

‘So, it is only male officers from whom you expect to encounter difficulties?’

‘Frankly, ma’am, yes, but the insult works even better for our few female officers.’

‘Is your continuing presence in the Time Police contingent upon my consent and approval?’


North hesitated. ‘I don’t want to leave the Time Police, but now that I’m no longer a Hunter, I have to find another role for myself. I have discussed this with Major Ellis who was very encouraging.’

If Commander Hay considered Major Ellis had his own reasons for North- related encouragement and none of them had anything to do with providing historical perspectives, she did not say so.

‘In addition, ma’am, Team Two-Three-Six will soon be qualified . . .’ She tailed away.

‘I am always very reluctant to lose a good officer.’ Commander Hay closed the file. ‘Shall we say a trial period of three months? I’ll leave it up to you to decide the depth and detail of your briefings and the form they will take. This will be your project, Officer North. At the end of three months, I will be requesting evaluation reports from my senior officers as to the success of your initiative. And from you too.’

North nodded. ‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘In theory, I think this might work very well. You are aware your former boss – Dr Maxwell – once provided something very similar during her mercifully short  secondment here.’

‘I am aware, ma’am, and I believe they were quite successful.’

‘Well, no one died, which is always my criteria for a successful initiative. Keep me informed, Officer North, and good luck.’

‘Thank you, ma’am.’