William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale – Plot Synopsis: A Matter of Time
David Morgan (12) is a natural scientist. He is already obsessed with what is destined to become his lifework: the design and construction of a time travel machine, what David affectionately refers to as the “Tasmo” – Time and Space Modulator. But the path of a boy genius in a small and conventional town can be thorny. David’s father, Alan, would rather see him out on the playingfield with a baseball than in the annals of history; to add insult to injury David is failing all his subjects except science, and even his teacher, the bookish spinster Miss Jameson, is beginning to lose faith that the Tasmo will ever work …
A mysterious newcomer to Alverton seems to know and understand more about David, his work and his problems than anyone else. What does the middleaged, balding and paunchy Donald Wells have to do with young David’s life? When Alan’s shop is broken into and the prototype Tasmo stolen, Donald seems the obvious suspect.
But Donald Wells is from the future – he’s been sent to ensure David does get the Tasmo back, because without it the development of time travel is impossible. He meets David “accidentally” in the park, and drops a clue as to the true identity of the thief that David can barely credit. In his groundbreaking work on the Tasmo, David has miscalculated more than the chronology determinator: dowdy Miss Jameson is not – or not simply – the altruistic mentor she seems. While essentially good-hearted, she has fallen desperately in love with the school headmaster, the cold and manipulative Eamonn Dodds, and at his urging has entered into a money-making scheme to get them out of Alverton forever – together. The Tasmo is a hair’s-breadth away from actually working – and the plan is to steal it from David and sell it to the highest bidder.
So David and Donald join forces. If Miss Jameson has stolen the Tasmo, then David must steal it back. He and Donald creep into the school in the dead of the night together – but the burglary goes badly wrong when David makes a shocking discovery: that Donald knows so much about him and his tensions with his father not because he was exceptionally well briefed, but because he is David – as David will be in 2035 …
This isn’t the future as David imagined it – and if rescuing the Tasmo means that David will grow into the balding and overweight Donald, then it’s time to change the course of history! David runs away, leaving Donald behind to be caught in the school grounds and arrested for breaking and entering – but not before he has hidden the Tasmo.
Donald has had a pointed conversation or two with Alan, too – and when Alan realises that David has abruptly lost all interest in time travel and turned overnight into a superjock wannabe, he is more anxious than gratified. David refuses to discuss his change of heart, leaving his father very worried … When he sees David being shepherded into the headmaster’s car and driven away, his concern turns to fear.
Dodds is of course frantic to find the Tasmo again – but his interrogation of David is of no use: David doesn’t know where it is either, and at this stage, couldn’t care less. Miss Jameson, who has been becoming more and more uneasy about the part she has played in the skulduggery, is shocked and disgusted by Dodds’ bullying of who is, after all, her favourite pupil. Alan bursts in at the critical moment – and duplicitous Dodds draws a gun on all three of them.
But Alan remains resolute under fire: he tells David he must do what he wants with his life, not what Alan or Dodds or Miss Jameson want … Dodds sneers, but he would have done better to have kept alert: the moment she sees he is distracted, Miss Jameson creeps up behind her erstwhile suitor and knocks him unconscious with a vase. As Dodds falls, the vase shatters – and there in the shards lies the Tasmo, David’s historic invention – and his future.