I ought to mention that what I am now telling you came to me second-hand... I showed up towards the end of the party.
Well, the lights came on and there was quite a bit of shock all around. Corporal Wells commented in Bavarian, "you have already committed TWO errors- not very good if cannot afford any,"
Not ONLY had Von Schuller landed in the middle of an Allied camp, he opened his mouth in Prussian German and announced his desire to speak with the Commandant of the 12th SS Panzer. Then the lights came on- there he was, decked out in not just ANY three-star American General's outfit, but the signature jodhpurs and riding boots of no less than George S. Patton. Impersonating a commanding General in times of war is a quick ticket to a firing squad or a rope dance, depending on the nature and mood of who catches you.
The Baron had brass, I gotta give him that-after he took stock of his situation, he held up his silenced, laser guided Smith and announced, in English this time, "all right you troglodytes- THIS weapon can eliminate all of you in an instant- you are all my prisoner! YOU will take me to the 12th SS RIGHT NOW!!"
Benihr Singe Bhati stood between him and the gate- he and his twin brother Baldihr are Guhrkas as well as commandoes- and in the VERY polite Nepal singsong inform him, "Sahib, the Sargent Howard, he has said there will be no smoking in this tent,"
"... and WHAT will YOU do about ..."- the fellow NEVER finished the question- Benihr Singe kicked him hard enough in the crotch to lift him off the ground. Baldihr Singe caught the pipe as it flew from his mouth. Nadreh Singe Nehru then turned the man around to face Bill Sykes, the leader of group 24. Bill then proceeded to beat the stuffings out of him while Benir Singe and Baldihr Singe relived him of his wallet, firearm, wristwatch, chequebook and anything else he could find. There was a moment of confusion when the PIG was removed- the General's uniform was replaced with mundane civilian cloths- but that only caused a momentary pause in Sykes' rhythm. About this time, Private First Class Jonathan Stanton Moss (known as 'Moose') became somewhat offended that several people saw fit to beat one man in this manner. He walks over to this spectacle and taps Sykes on the shoulder to express his opinion of the matter- Sykes tells him to "BUGGER OFF," ... or at least that's what I'm told. Not satisfied, 'Moose' taps him on the shoulder again- this time, Sykes slams him in the face with one punch. There are witnesses that SWEAR Moose's eyes glowed red...
Next, Sykes and Moose are at it hammer and tongs and the boys of the 29th are waving money in the air screaming their bets and shouting at the two combatants. The three Nepali Commandoes see their group leader otherwise engaged and proceed with the beating on their own.
I should point out that Sargent Howard and Captain Simmons were not totally idle at this time- when Benihr Singe kicked the Baron, Captain Simmons asked Sgt. Howard if that was part of the Guhrkas' training. Sargent Howard's response was classic- "... er, 'training' is a rather ... formal.. word when you talk about Guhrkas, Sir,"... then when Sykes started pummelling him, the Captain asked, "what is Sykes doing?"
"... ah.... that is his particular style of interrogation, Sir,"
"Sargent, doesn't interrogation involved asking questions of the prisoner?"
"... er, yes, well... Sykes likes to put them in a talkative mood first... he finds it saves time..."
Finally, when Sykes struck Moose, Captain Simmons told Sargent Howard that this needs to stop- Sargent Howard told the Captain that it's too late for that and placed $20 on Moose to win.
Such was the situation when I stepped through the door and into the tent- three Guhrkas beating Von Schuller right in front of me and two BIG bruisers slamming it out by the other main tent pole, surrounded by noisy enlisted men waving money in the air... this just after flying the vomit comet from Second Bull Run. To say the least, it was a bit confusing.
Two of the Guhrkas looked up at my sudden appearance, causing the third to turn his head and look. I saw the decision go through his head instantly- subdue, THEN identify. I saw him subtly shift his weight and knew what was coming. His heel missed my face close enough for me to feel the breeze... perfectly executed round-house kick, just this time his opponent was prepared. My sweep of his supporting leg dropped him flat on his back, knocking the wind out of him. Another Guhrka came at me- a snap-kick to his chest sent him flying into the remaining Guhrka, the Baron and the tent pole. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a largish mass slam into the other pole of the tent. The tent was now coming down- and to my amazement, I watched as the Baron scuttled crab-like to the edge of the tent and duck under it to escape.
That's when I heard her yelling- not in fear, but anger- and saw a face I had seen before, only this time it was in colour instead of sepia. What's more, this time it wasn't stationary. I had only the moment to absorb this fact before I gave chase to the Baron.
I slipped under the tent wall- the morning was already quite warm and bright. Von Sculler's tracks were not difficult to find or follow- I suspect that he had not even considered my intervention at this point. I followed down to a light stream that might have been drinkable some three centuries prior and found him sitting on a large rock, apparently taking inventory of his injuries.
"I see you wore out your welcome here," I stated as I held the Uzi on him.
He turned suddenly, then gasped in pain- bruised or broken ribs, I suspected at the time- his one good eye starting to swell shut with a trophy-quality shiner. What with the light trickle of blood in both corners of his mouth, several swelling lumps on his face and the overall battered appearance ( I wondered how many teeth remained), it was hard to consider this man a fearful adversary.
"DAMN YOU, HAVANA!! Come to gloat? Or finish it, perhaps?" the sneer in his voice was unmistakable, even if his face couldn't mange it.
"You know why I've come- you're coming back with me to answer some charges. I don't play judge- I just bring your worthless hide to somebody else who does that,"
"And how do you intend to do that?" the sneer was even more pronounced... a pretty good trick, given the size of his lower lip.
" You have the right to shut the Hell up, as anything you say can and will irritate me to manslaughter. You have the right to attempt resisting arrest- should you decide to resist arrest, I will then SWISS your mangy carcass with this submachine gun- do you understand your rights?"
"You have not answered my question, Havana- how do you intend to do that?"
I looked him over- he no longer had the PADAT or the PIG with him... meaning that these items were now in the hands of the people in the tent. I saw the helmet that saw American Service from WWII to Viet Nam... that narrows it down somewhat... there were M-1 Garands and I'm sure I saw a BAR... plus the Guhrkas had STENs ... OK, WWII and the computer is in Allied hands, but where are we?
A quick glance around told me that this was likely Europe, only because it did NOT look like a Pacific Island... but where? And when? Had to be post June 6th... or pre- Dunkerque? No- not with that many Americans here... besides, there was that small tank with a circle around the white star- that was a D-Day marking. OK, so it is somewhere between June 6th , 1944 and November 23rd, 1946.
Abuelita Bethy was there!!! Abuelita Bethy was there with American soldiers and British Commandoes- I've heard that story so many times before, how only Abuelito Joseph came back alive and became the soldier nobody wanted- how this would be the fourth time a tank was blown out from under him and only he lived. This was August 15th, 1944- the day Field Marshal Von Kluge tried to surrender to General Patton, only to have both killed by the ambush set up by the 12th SS... except, I don't remember ANYTHING about a brawl breaking out in the middle of the briefing, or strangers popping out of a magical door to nowhere. We've already changed history, it would seem-
"Well... looks like I have to take you back to camp for some proper introductions... I'm sure once they see I have you in tow, they might be a bit more receptive of me," - it wasn't my best thinking, but at the time it did sound reasonable. Understand that my circumstances were completely unreasonable- and I was desperate to get my hands on the PADAT, as there was no other way to return to our time.
He snorted his disgust with the idea- "Had you simply killed me, you would have done me a favour- I suppose you're too DECENT to do otherwise, in spite of your butchery of Miranda. Do you suppose your Allied friends will simply hand over the PADAT and bid you bon voyage? We're in the middle of a war, in case you haven't noticed- and right now they have sufficient reason to shoot or hang me- THAT might not sit well with your plans- and they DID see you come from the same door as myself, who's to say they don't put you in the same category? I don't suppose you have a plan, do you? Or is that too much to hope for...?"
"You know, you're actually pretty articulate for somebody with that much face left... I never knew... well, Herr Baron, I suggest..." but I never got the sentence finished-
"HANDEN HOCH!!" bellowed a voice from the other side of the stream- the Baron responded with "Bitte, nicht Siessen!" - I responded with a burst of suppressive fire and a quick jump for cover.
Once behind the rock, I got off another burst and scanned the situation- I got a good look at the German as he was handling Von Shuller away into the cover of marshland before they both disappeared. I got up to pursue when a soft voice behind me said, "Naw... y'all ain't goin' yonder,"- then, to emphasise the point, I heard the bolt of his Garand slam home. I turned around, dangling my Uzi by the butt of the pistol grip. The fair, freckled towhead that had addressed me had me dead in his sights- yet his manner was that of a family member who had just caught you doing something naughty and was relishing the idea that you were now in trouble. He wasn't afraid of me- and he saw no reason for me to fear him... as long as I did as I was told. I'm willing to bet that his fatigues were the first shirt and pair of pants he ever owned without holes already in them. His stance was more in line with somebody holding a pitchfork instead of a rifle. I have to admit I was more amused than concerned.
"Shame we cudn't git th' other varmit, Sack," he mentioned to another soldier who toted a BAR. This man was a different animal altogether- eyes that would make a Basset Hound look cheerful, a face aged beyond it's time. Something had hurt this man, something awful. There's no mistaking the 'thousand yard stare'. This one looked me over, then motioned with his BAR to head back to the tent, like talking took too much energy.
They parted wide and I passed between them once 'Lil' Abner' took my Uzi. This was not in the plans, but I had to work with it- "Play the Ball where the Monkey Drops it" is rule 17 of the Bombay Golf Course... well, the monkey DEFINITELY has the ball at this point.
We were not far from the tent to begin with, so it took no time to get back. Upon entry, I noticed the poles were already replaced and there was a Sargent reading the riot act to the two bruisers I saw brawling opposite of Von Shuller and the three Guhrkas.
"...bad enough you can't contain this stupidity at all, you have to loose ALL control in front of your own CO, NCOIC and a British Nurse... to say nothing of the GAMBLING problem this sort of ... BRAWLING.. Encourages..."
- at this point, Super-Hayseed steps forward with some green folding stuff saying, "... sorry, Sarge, Ah done fergit- yar's yer winnin's..."
In an exasperate whisper, the Sargent replied, "Not now, McCrary," and waved the man off. He turned to the two antagonists, seemed to try to regain his thoughts when the big American in coveralls opened his mouth as if to speak- and SHOT a load of vomit across the tent- then fell over.
Abuelita Bethy scampered over to the man and examined his eyes, then his shaved head. "My GOD! He has a depressed skull fracture- and a cerebral haemorrhage! WE NEED A SURGEON RIGHT NOW OR HE WILL DIE!!"
It was well after the fact that I learned about protocol regarding the secrets of the PADAT, or altering history, or ANY of the standing orders pertaining to time travel- I certainly was not versed on such things prior, as it was not anticipated that I would travel through time. Even so, certain concepts regarding such things should have been obvious to me, second nature to somebody with my background and foremost on my mind under the circumstances in spite of the chaotic events I see in front of me. But you see, Abuelita Bethy... Great-Grandmother Bessie... seldom raised her voice. When she did, it was worth your while to heed. She died when I was not quite four- yet even now the impact she made on me out-ranked any commander or supervisor I ever served. AND RIGHT THEN SHE NEEDED A SURGEON!
The PADAT was open on one of the bedframes, being studied by the Corporal and the Captain until they saw their comrade collapse. I knew the PADAT would voice activate-
"COMPUTER! FIND QUALIFIED NEUROSURGEON IMMEDIATELY!"
Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked at me... until the PADAT spoke... then they stared in absolute amazement at it.
"Searching.... acquired... opening corridor... portal opening now,"
... and the glowing white translucent frame of the door began to glow and grow in an open spot of the tent....
... unknown to the population of the tent, the other end of the corridor was seeking a dismal, filthy alley in 1886 London- the Whitecastle district to be exact- where a rather feral figure in frock coat and silk top hat ran with the speed of a gazelle and the silence of a cat. A sudden 'tappity tappity tap' broke out from behind the creature, causing him to halt and cock a hand to his ear. Listening, he deciphered the tapping quite easily- this was in fact the early '10-code' of the day, a Morse code short-hand developed by the Constables On Patrol (the source of the word,"COP"). Tapping their nightsticks on the cobblestones, they communicated to each other- and they were in pursuit of this very creature who now checked their progress intently.
It is to be noted that the Constables were referred to by two different names, depending on which side of the law you felt most comfortable with. Those who abided by the law called them 'Bobbies'- those who did not called them 'Pealers'- either way, one paid homage to their creator, (Sir) Robert Peal... the creature now in contemplation referred to them as 'Stupid bloody Pealers' so that the reader has no doubt as to his intentions and nature. He was also quite pleased that his tracks were undiscovered- and was at the verge of congratulating himself when a white form began to glow and grow before his astonished eyes. Searching the door for rhyme or reason, he noticed the twirling vortex- and became quite giddy with the invitation he saw before him. Gleeful as a child he jumped into mass, a wide smile of too many pointed teeth and a volley of giggles- swallowed by the living, pulsing energy that is time....
The door was open for only thirty seconds when a strange character in frock and topper stepped out and sized us up. His hands were spidery, his teeth pointed and his eyes... I have never seen eyes like those, at least not on a human... his eyes had a very furtive look to them. Quite frankly, he looked like a Hollywood Vampire. There was a moment of mutual appraisal, then this... personage... turned abruptly to re-enter the door- only to have it evaporate. Returning to face us, he threw on a smile that raised the hair on the back of my neck and asked, "I do beg your pardon- you have me at a disadvantage... with whom do I find myself accompanied?"
This produced a confused silence- I was the one who finally broke it-
"Are you a Surgeon?"
There was an unmistakable flash of triumph in his eyes with this question-
"I beg your pardon? Are you asking me if I am a Surgeon?"
"Yes, are you a Neurosurgeon?"
"I'm sorry, no I am not- why, do you have need of one?"
Abuelita Bethy spoke up- and violently blushed when the creature gauzed upon her-"This man is dying- he needs a burr-hole procedure immediately!"
There seemed to be an argument going on within the creature- I really didn't consider him human- as he appeared to mutter to someone that HE clearly thought to be there which he settled with 'on YOUR head it be, then,' before he faced us and stated, "very well, I will produce for you a Neurosurgeon- but you might not want to witness this, I believe you might find it unpleasant. Just a mo'," and without further explanation produced a test tube from inside his frock, pulled the cork and drank the contents.
That which followed, I do not even know how to describe- but with some strange convolutions that even Hollywood couldn't think up, this creature turned into a very respectable looking gentleman with sideburns and long chin, a very benevolent nature to him (and healthier skin tone, I might add), who immediately started barking orders to Abuelita Bethy - "You then are a Nurse, right? I need a brace with a number three burr attached. Where is the injury?"
Bethy was still stunned by what she had just seen.
"Please my Dear! Snap out of it! I realise that what you have seen was extraordinary, but there is a life at stake right now!"
"Oh, yes, quite so- Depressed fracture of the right parietal, left pupil blown and fixed, right pupil mildly reactive. Projectile vomiting but a few minutes ago- blunt trauma about ten, thirteen minutes prior," she stated as she ransacked a sterile supply cabinet to gather the necessary goods.
"Excellent report, Nurse! Left pupil, eh? We will drill at the periphery of the right occipital, just above the mastoid process- do you prep with boric acid?"
"OH! Heavens no- betadyne solution will provide enough aseptic technique, I'm afraid we haven't time for a truly sterile field, but we do have sulfa drugs-"
"Sulfa? I'm afraid I don't know that one..."
"Antibiotics, Sir... certainly you've heard of such things...?"
"No- you can fill me in later- what are you loading into that syringe?"
" Lydocain with epinephrine sir- local anaesthesia and haemostasis for the scalp, Sir,"
"Excellent! Never heard of it before, I need to catch up on a few things it seems- be grand if it works... YOU good fellows, gives us a hand here, place him up in sitting position with his back towards be on three.... one, two, THREEE! Perfect! Now I need a field of sorts- yes, secure the towels with tenaculem, there- there and... there... good! Now that ... what do you call this again?"
"Right- well, follow standard protocol... you know this stuff, I don't... now the local...? am I to lance the skin subcuticular while injecting? That would seem logical..."
"That IS how it's done, Sir..."
"Grand! Like so... so... and there... and here as well... what do we have for retraction?"
"Weitlanders, Sir- self retraction with more than enough room for a number three,"
The thing my Abuelita was holding for the Doctor was indeed a funny looking device with tiny ... fingers... designed to hold the wound open and lock in place. The Doctor gauzed upon it with wonder- more and more I came to realise that this man was snatched from another century.
He broke free of his revery- "Very good- a number fifteen blade, please,"
Abuelita handed him something that looked like an out-of-date exacto knife.
"Good Heavens! This blade is DISPOSABLE?!? How well do they work?"
"Sir- you're about to find out..."
"Oh, yes... So I am..." And he sunk the blade into the shiny, brown-painted head.
"I think I rather like these things... yes, quite functional... how long do they stay sharp?"
"It depends on how hard they see use... we have been known to re-sharpen and re-sterilize them... not supposed to, but things do get dear you know,"
"Well I do... excellent haemostasis, by the by- I see but a trickle where I expect a flood... ah, HERE's what we are looking for- that retractor, now if you please- yes, right down to the bone (scrrrrritch!) Lovely! Now the brace and bit... rather like and old carpenter here, eh? This is where it gets tricky, as you well know a plunge can be quite costly... I believe I have found dura... yes, that's dura, see how dark it is? Clearly we have found the haemorrhage... stand back... (shplicht!)...there's the spurt... he ought to start..." was as far as he went with that thought...
The big fellow grunted, and started to reach his right hand up to the site of the hole.
" MOOSE!! DROP THAT ARM! THAT's A DIRECT ORDER!" bellowed the Sargent.
"Uh, Skipper- what's going on?" this 'Moose" asked- and with a thud, the Captain hit the ground.
"Oh dear," commented the Doctor, "he's not a medical officer, is he?"
"Naw- he's Infantry," replied the Sargent.
".... even worse..." muttered the Doctor to himself, "... but now, YOU'RE an American, right? And it seems to me that this fellow I'm working on is the same, eh? Rather a noticeable accent I perceive from the lot of you ... except this young Lady, Nurse...? "
"Stokes, Elizabeth Stokes... Civilian contract Registered Nurse for the Royal Nursing Corps..."
"And by any chance, are you Dr. Jekyll?" This was the first words I heard spoken by Abuelito Jotheph (Corporal Wells) since I arrived in this time frame. He pronounced the name "JEE kul", which I later learned to be the correct manner.
The Doctor looked confused, "... No... my name is Jenkins... Thomas Jenkins of Sidewell Row,"
Abuelito looked at him very seriously- "... are you familiar with Robert Louise Stevenson?"
The Doctor smiled somewhat and replied, "He is not only a patient, but a close friend- why do you ask?"
Abuelito did not show any emotion- "... how much does he know about your .....experiments?"
"...he HAS been asking some rather pointed questions here lately, why do you..." his expression changed to concern- "... you asked me if I am Dr. ... Jekyll, did you say? ... and you ask if Louise knows about my experiments...
... what, exactly , has Louise done?"