"There's Always Tomorrow." A Rocketman Story By John Pirillo. Harry's mission brought him back in time, but which past, and to whom?
"There's Always Tomorrow."
A Rocketman Story
By John Pirillo
Harry had felt a kind of wavering of his consciousness, kind of like you feel when you're surfacing from a particularly difficult sleep and you're not quite back in your body yet, and still submerged partially in your dream state. He had been traveling from West Berlin on a special assignment for the Allied Resistance. Now that the power domes had been lit up all over the planet, the Allies had bent their every resource to a way of passing through the domes without being instantly incinerated.
Their first clue had come from Harry himself. His brave dive that had brought him beneath the dome had revealed their limitations, that the power fueling the domes did have its limits, though it appeared to be almost limitless on the surface. Even so, beneath the hot zones of the domes the bubbles tapered off. They had weak spots. Not many. But they had them. Trouble was unless you had a jet suit like Harry that was more like a guided missile than a back pack, you couldn't survive the transition.
Harry frowned. He knew that because some of the brave men who had attempted to do so had either fried before they could complete their transition or their vehicles had exploded from the heat. The domes transition zone measured at a mere depth of a few centimeters, but the radiation and heat were their most intense in the middle centimeters, and that's the barrier they had yet to overcome.
Except for Harry's rocket suit, none had successfully been able to transit the domes of energy. Until today. What had been built by man's brain, was now being undone by man's brain. Einstein and Tesla had come up with a transition device, not much larger than one's thumb, which counteracted the dome field, causing a strong enough disruption for any vehicle or man entering it to pass through safely. Even as he weighed those thoughts in his mind Hitler and his nefarious regime of criminals would be surprised when dozens of their deeply secret bases all blew up at the same time and the domes went down. Permanently.
"Once the master dome is down, Harry." Einstein had told him, his face somber at the moment in the light of predawn overheads in the secret base. "Once it's down, you will go immediately to West Berlin and destroy its base."
"I don't understand, Al. If the dome's are down, isn't that enough?"
General Brighton, the lead commander at the base had returned from a mission in America with some of their scientists. It had been a scouting mission and successful. They had mated up with their companions in the underground of San Diego. There they had come up with the blueprints and plans for a simultaneous destruction of the domes. It had cost them almost ninety percent of their men to return safely with the plans, but they had done it.
General Brighton was one of the few British military leaders still left from World War Two, when it was still just bombs and bullets, instead of zombies and energy weapons. He was an old man of sixty now, but still wiry as hell and energetic enough to make a Chihuahua jealous.
"You need to understand, Captain." He cut in with his usual brisk British accented voice. "That the bloody place is protected by another dome, inverted about the power center that controls all the domes. Without that in ruins, the domes can be brought back on line within a matter of months, if not weeks."
Harry considered that. Jet stood to his left, chin lowered. Deep in thought. "He's going to need more than a rocket suit to take out that place, Sir."
The General eyed Jet and nodded. "And that's why you'll be leading the team that parapets in behind Harry and take out the guards and sub power stations. With enough of those blown, Harry'll be able to penetrate the inverted dome and blow up the rest."
Al finally gave everyone his usual boyish smile. "Which means it'll take them years to rebuild. If they ever do."
Tesla played the devil's advocate. "Of course by then, the bastards will probably have come up with something else equally as diabolical."
Jet smacked Tesla on his shoulders. "You're my man, Doctor."
Tesla gave him a crooked smile. "Just making sure you realize the tenacity of our enemy."
Everyone laughed. There wasn't a man there who didn't know the enemy was as determined in this day as the last. With their continued subversion of the remaining survivors into zombies, they had less and less resistance internally to deal with and could concentrate their forces and energies on coming up with more ways to uproot the Allied Resistance.
But that had been this morning, now Harry was on his way to complete his mission and something had gone wrong. Horribly wrong. He could feel it in ever bone of his body, when the uneasy feeling subsided. The air about him had changed. Not dramatically, but subtlely. He checked below him and then to his right and left. The domes were gone. He was high above their reach and he should have been able to spot their tell tale flares of bright incandescent energies, but there were none. Had his Allied friends already dropped the domes?
He checked his internal time and it was still ten minutes before detonation. What was up?
He did the only thing he could. "Jet. I seem to have a little problem."
There was a long pause of nothing but static.
"Jet, can you read me, over?"
The static intensified, then as suddenly as it had come, it vanished.
He heard his friend screaming like a child who'd just had Santa dump all a ton of Christmas gifts in his lap. "Jesus! Harry! Where the hell have you been?"
"Where are you?"
"On target for the detonations of the domes."
"Detonation of the what?"
"The..." Then Harry got it. He felt every nerve in his body light up as if it were the 4th of July. "Jet, am I home?"
"Harry, you all right?" Jet's worried voice called to him.
"Home me in, Jet. I seem to be suffering from some battle fatigue. I don't trust my own senses right now."
"Gotcha, pal!" Jet chimed in.
A moment later his suit made a pinging sound and went to automatic pilot. He shut his eyes. All he had to do now was relax and everything would be okay. Then alarms sounded. His eyes shot open, the suit was dropping rapidly.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing? You have to maintain power to the thrusters or you'll drop like a Nazi bomb!"
Harry was almost in too much shock to think, but he got the thrusters back under control. "I thought you pinged me."
Harry's mind was racing. What was happening?
"Jet, quickly what year is this?"
Harry let out a whoop of triumph. "I'm back!"
"Back from what, Harry?"
A new voice broke through Jet's. "Harry, this is Al, please describe what you think has happened?"
Harry went into every detail of his mission starting from that morning. When he was finished, the radio went deathly silent for a long time.
Jet's voice came back on abruptly. "Harry. Alter your course to the following co-ordinates."
Jet gave them and followed them. He had had a long day already. His sleep had been terrible, as it often was before a big battle and the battle fatigue was catching up to him again. He fought to keep alert as he followed the co-ordinates. It wasn't until he spotted a familiar sight that he woke up, as if someone had thrown cold water in his face. It couldn't be. Yet it was. He refused to believe it, even though he had already figured out he wasn't any longer in his own time line. Question was, which timeline was he in now?
He had already fought in the original timeline. That's when he had transitioned from a secret war against the Nazis into an alternate timeline where Super Storm Troopers guarded a base of intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear devices. He had been cast unconscious into the freezing lakes of the Swiss Alps, then later recovered by a female scientist to carry on the war with the Resistance of that world which had been nuked to destruction by the Nazi empire.
Then he had found himself switched into a yet different timeline, evidently some side effect of the energies of his rocket suit, which had been built for him by Tesla and Einstein. The radiation sparked some kind of intermittent cross time travel, which he had absolutely no control over. He was a puppet of destiny, wherein he was fighting the Nazis, who seemed to always be winning in every world he ended up in.
He cut back on his jets and as the dust settled, was immediately surrounded by a platoon of British Marines. Something odd about them, though he couldn't figure out what it was at first. Then as he unhinged the front of his suit and stepped down, a very beautiful red head came flying between the troops and flung her arms around him. She gave him a kiss that would've melted the side of a battleship, then pushed him back and slapped his face. "How dare you run off like that into battle and not tell me, Harry!"
Harry stood there stunned a moment. He eyed her closely, noting that she had blue eyes and her hair was a true red, but tinted with shades or orange as well, and then said. "Who are you?"
She gave him a shocked look, then dropped back, finally giving his suit an odd look. She dropped even further back as he pushed through the troops. Jet had a thick beard and mustache. He didn't have the battle fatigues on the other soldiers did. Instead, he wore professorial glasses and a doctor's smock.. "Harry?"
They stood looking at each other a long time, trying to absorb the differences they both saw. Then Jet spied the rocket suit behind Harry. "I don't know where you've been, Harry. But that's not the suit you took off in when you were assigned to fly to Paris and blow up the Eiffel Tower."
Harry's turn to be shocked. "But the Eiffel Tower was destroyed by Hitler's nukes at the end of the war. The nukes I failed to stop."
Jet and Harry eyed each other silently a long time. Finally, Jet nodded to the Platoon and they scattered, returning to their positions. "Someone wants to talk to you, Harry. We'll sort this out later."
The redhead scooted back in close to Harry again, taking his right hand and clenching it so tightly he almost screamed with pain. "We're going to get through this, Harry. I promise!"
They walked towards a large tent. The Tower of Big Ben hovered in the background. Harry stopped for a moment and pointed. "That shouldn't be there. This shouldn't be here." He pointed to the camp. It should be a nuclear pothole."
Jet eyed Harry warily. "Amigo, you sure got some head injury. Don't know what Nukes are, but they sound truly nasty."
Jet gave Harry a second and longer appraising look, then they went inside. There, General Eisenhower and Albert Einstein stood before a large tactical map. Except that General Eisenhower looked different. Even Al; he had brown skin. The General yellow like a Chinese.
Eisenhower turned a fierce glance on Harry. His almond eyes appraised Harry thoughtfully a moment, then sharply. "Report, Captain."
Harry immediately saluted, even though he was still in a state of shock.
"Captain Harry Jackson, Air Command. Rocketman reporting as commanded."
"Sir." Eisenhower growled in an oriental accent.
"Sir!" Harry repeated, saluting smartly yet again.
Eisenhower came closer, examined Harry with eyes as fierce as hawks. This man was a lot fiercer looking than the strong, but milder man he knew back in his home timeline. Harry glanced towards Al. A black Al. He could never have imagined such a thing. But there he was, the same face, but framed by spiky white hair. Al smiled out a cigar and lit it.
"Al, where's your pipe, why are you brown?" Harry stammered.
He looked at the red head. "Who are you? Why did you kiss me so...swell?"
She almost choked with laughter. "Swell! Harry no one talks like that anymore."
He turned to Jet. "You don't need glasses."
"You've got eyes like an eagle."
"Sorry, Amigo, but that hasn't been true for a decade."
Al continued to gaze at Harry in a relaxed manner. He indicated a beat up stool. "I suggest you sit down, young man. You've got a lot to digest I fear."
At first he didn't believe a word he was hearing. He was in a kind of battle shock. The alteration of timelines had yet again caught him in its grips and this time in a more rigorous manner. Britain was a nation of Orientals. Jet was a doctor like Al, and Al was Latino. The red head was his fiancée in this time line. But there were more shocks to come. And ones he didn't like one bit.
He kept giving her side glances. She didn't look like Nurse Sally exactly, what with blue eyes instead of green, but...
She kept looking at him, like a child who's found themselves in a horrible nightmare that can't wake up from. "Stop looking at me like I've turned into some kind of monster?"
"It's not that, it's just..."
She shook her head, fighting off tears, then couldn't hold it anymore. Her heart was breaking. She burst into tears finally and ran from the tent.
Al looked at Eisenhower. "Ike, I think I should..."
"She deserves some help right about now. Go ahead."
Al smiled gratefully and slipped from the tent to follow Red.
The General's eyes gazed solemnly at Harry. "Just answer one question, son."
Harry nodded, the fatigue and shock taking a toll on his energies. He could barely keep his eyes open. "Yes, sir. Anything."
"What do I look like in your timeline?"
Harry burst into laughter. The Ike he knew of his timeline would never, have never ever asked such a question. And he sure as hell wouldn't have let Harry off the hook so swiftly. He would have dogged him until he had wrung every single bit of Intel he could, then wring him again."
The General finally lost his solemn look. He clapped a hand to Harry's shoulder and turned to Jet. "See that he gets a warm meal and a bed to rest on. We'll figure this mess out tomorrow. Time enough for questions, right Doctor?"
Jet nodded, though he didn't act as certain as the General. He gave Harry a long look, then nodded again, indicating the exit.
As Harry was being led out he looked back. The General was still watching him. "Tomorrow, Harry. Tomorrow. There's always tomorrow." He chuckled. "Especially for you."
Harry followed Jet, who had yet to gather his own senses together. When they reached a tent, Jet opened it. Two cots were inside. "Yours is the one on the left."
"Jet, what happened to me?"
Jet looked him in the eyes. "I don't know, Harry. You're still Harry, but you're different somehow. The fact that you looked like you were in shock when Red smacked you with those gorgeous lips clued me in really fast that you were not my Harry."
He paused, then grinned. "Either that or you were giving her one of the biggest cons a Romeo like you can do."
"Harry, everyone knows Reds just one of a dozen ladies you got on the hook." Harry laughed again and slapped Harry on his back. "Amigo, there isn't a soldier in this camp that wouldn't love to trade places with you."
Harry gave him a blank look. None of it made sense. He'd never hang one woman up to dry to be with another and that many at the same time. He bit his lower lip. Evidently these multiple time lines were not only different in how the Nazis won the war, but also, how the people acted. At that moment he determined not to let what Jet had said about him be his real self, whatever that might have been.
Then he got a really, really horrible thought. What if his alternate Harry was also thrust into his last timeline instead of him? What happened there...would it affect him here? And did what he do here affect there? His mind was reeling from the implications of what had happened to him...yet again. The first times the timelines had been altered only by the amount of time, but this time...
Jet gave him a searching look. "Harry, you don't look so good. You all right, amigo?"
Harry shook his head. "Would you be?
"Last thing I remember was flying a mission to destroy the energy domes surrounding the continents."
Jet's jaw dropped. "Energy domes around the continents! Where the hell you been, amigo, what happened to you?"
"I don't know. Yet. So now what's going to happen?"
Jet smiled. "I imagine you'll wake up bright and early and go through another, deeper and more thorough briefing, then you'll probably be off to war again like all of us. Like all of us, Harry. Only..."
He started to say more, then waved it off. "Just rest, Harry. You've can re-rig your brain tomorrow. Time enough then." Jet slapped Harry on the back again. "Good to have you back with us safe and sound, amigo. Sleep well. You've earned it."
Without another word Jet exited.
Harry collapsed on his bunk. He didn't even bother to kick off his boots. The moment he hit the bunk he was out like a light. Then he felt something warm press against him. He awoke to find Red laying next to him, her arms about his neck, snuggled against his chest.
Harry started to wake her, then pulled back.
"Tomorrow, Harry." He whispered to himself. "There's always tomorrow, Rocketman."
Then he fell into a deep and restful sleep.
At least until the air raid sirens began to wail.
Red was gone. Jet rushed through into the tent. "Rocketman, we need you!"